Having spent quite some time on the Reader website, for many years as a reader, then a participant, I am winding down, getting tired, allocating my time to other things. It has been an interesting experiment. Here are some things I have noticed, and I solicit your comments, particularly when factual refutation of my observations and (always provisional) "conclusions" are concerned.

I have gotten the impression that, while the best-written material (usually by paid staff) draws a lot of comment, the average blog like this, if read at all, garners few responses. This may be a reflection of the quality of the writing (there have been notable exceptions, but even they get little attention from the Reader's readers). It may be that readers are too busy, and stick to the professionals. But maybe they are too tired and too busy too--to bother commenting. Maybe they do like I will now do most of the time--continue to read my favorite staff-written material, but be much more selective in my "clicking."

One of the best features on the website--I only noticed it recently, is the "50 most recent blog posts" and "50 latest story comments." This has been simultaneously a great facilitator of scanning and a big time-sink.

So, fellow bloggers, if you see a big drop in my comments (many will no doubt breathe a huge sigh of relief), don't conclude that I have stopped reading you, or that I "don' love ya no more." Back in the last century, I used to do a few "opinion" pieces for newspapers (New York Times, Los Angles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, others via "wire," and even the San Diego Union &/ Tribune), but I have stopped that practice, in part since the latter newspaper didn't even send me a tear-sheet, much less the few bucks that I used to get, for the last piece they printed.

Even in those days, responses were very scarce, and I used to worry about that. I came to realize that most people who do read your stuff never comment on it, and you do make an impact--if your stuff is the stuff of substance, not just idle musings. Readers are brutal critics. As they should be. Despite data to the contrary, journalists can't be prima-donnas.

Now, the cup runneth over. Everybody and his or her brother or sister can slap out a comment without licking a stamp and addressing an envelope. Editing is almost passé, although the worst responses can be deleted by the editors.

So blog on, brothers and sisters, and let the devil take the hindmost! Even if it's about next to nothing. The Internet and its sites will mature someday.

More like this:


richzombie July 2, 2011 @ 8:46 a.m.

twister ...did enjoy your comments . For me when the mood strikes writing something on paper has always been like therapy - couldn't afford the real stuff and doubt it would help anyways . I still write on paper but now "posting" seems to work for me too .


nan shartel July 2, 2011 @ 10:41 a.m.

i'm just a poor pitiful poet and practically no one reads me...i however read lots of bloggers here at the READER and find most enter the pool doing a cannonball and don't stay long...

i have to admit i read all the warm fuzzies...even if others might find them insipid...u know the "To Kill A Mockingbird" types....also the authentic writers with talent..even if chaos jumps from word to word like sparks in their blogs

i like the LIKE at FB as without a comment it shows people came and read me

i think i'm a mediocre to terrific poet...and have been writing poetry for many years fully acknowledging the it isn't popular...i see myself as the small fragrant flowers that fill in the borders of the blogs here

the only staffer i read regularly is Garrett Harris..Opera...and am happy to see that the Arts are represented...including the Poetry area

like RichZombie i also write for therapy...and i think many writers do...those who don't consider themselves Journalist or Professional writers

i'm sorry that Humour has disappeared from the Reader blogs...Snarkiness has stayed but Humour has mostly disappeared

poets r mostly childlike and they like to play ;-D


Jay Allen Sanford July 2, 2011 @ 1:35 p.m.

A lack of commentary doesn't necessarily mean a lack of readership. I was stunned to be informed that one recent Reader blog entry had already scored 5,000 page views, even tho the entry's comment field was a ghost town.

I'm not privvy to the daily view stats but, whenever a fellow staffer DOES provide numbers (usually by way of encouraging me to write more view-generating stuff), I'm almost always amazed at how much activity happens on the Reader site.

I think the whole "citizen journalist" experiment, opening up the Reader to user-generated content, has been pretty successful. I really enjoy most all neighborhood blog posts, even if I don't usually agree with which entries get the prize/paycheck nods. Compared to the dead zones that many other newspapers host online, the Reader site has a few cracklin' good reads almost every day. I'd hang out here even if I wasn't already working the staff side ---


Ruth Newell Jan. 29, 2012 @ 7:37 a.m.

This is interesting, Jay. I've got to say that I've learned just a bit since beginning to post (here and elsewhere) about the business side of publishing. But, that bit has been eye opening, to say the least. "View generating", being the paramount point I've absorbed. Read a GOOD article about a month into this venture about how important the title is to generating those 'hits'. Makes sense given this online medium. I'm still not a master at the title bit like you and Chad are--not even close, but then again, I dropped out of journalism school.


Twister July 2, 2011 @ 2:29 p.m.

The Reader is its own animal, that's for sure. The citizen-journalism thing is good--largely because it is NOT perfect!

I agree with you Jay.

Re: jayallen 1:35 p.m., Jul 2, 2011


Twister July 2, 2011 @ 2:36 p.m.

There's no such thing as too much liberty--provided it doesn't hurt more than my sensibilities. So I rest my case on your case--you keep looking for the pony. That's not all bad, eh?

Re: Mindy1114 11:50 p.m., Jul 1, 2011


Twister July 2, 2011 @ 2:37 p.m.

Yeah, the pixel is mightier than the sword!

Re: richzombie 8:46 a.m., Jul 2, 2011


Twister July 2, 2011 @ 2:44 p.m.

Whatever is what you are, that you must be, not something or someone else.

From The Red Shoes movie:

"Lermontov: When we first met ... you asked me a question to which I gave a stupid answer, you asked me whether I wanted to live and I said "Yes". Actually, Miss Page, I want more, much more. I want to create, to make something big out of something little – to make a great dancer out of you. But first, I must ask you the same question, what do you want from life? To live?

"Vicky: To dance."

nan 10:41 a.m., Jul 2, 2011


I Am Stardirt July 2, 2011 @ 11:23 p.m.

Beautiful-I've never seen the Red Shoes movie.Thanks for opening my eyes to another genre I've overlooked.


nan shartel July 2, 2011 @ 7:01 p.m.

thank you Twister...u reckoned me precisely :-D

i want my words to dance


Twister July 2, 2011 @ 9:23 p.m.

Mindy, you're right; that was a bit foggy or at least obscure. I meant that, in the midst of the slings and errors of outrageous fortune, you remain optimistic.

Resist manipulation! Embrace your priceless life in your own way. Plumbing its mysteries is the essence, surrendering to your own true self in the overcoming of abuses.

Re: Mindy1114 9:10 p.m., Jul 2, 2011


Twister Jan. 29, 2012 @ 12:32 p.m.

See Lee, Dorothy. Valuing the Self. (It's not what you might think.)


Ruth Newell Jan. 29, 2012 @ 7:52 a.m.

Don't know how I missed these posting of yours, Twister. I recall your telling me on my Day In the Blogging Life of a Writer Wannabe essay that consistency is key. In that comment you mentioned that you weren't. If now see your point--1000+ comments to now 4 postings. I see your comments all the time, but didn't know you ever wrote--let alone poetry!!! (Very exciting revelation.) Because, like you say, you mostly comment on the socio-political staff writer lead pieces, I have valued the comments you've left on my pieces which are rarely either. Beginning with my travel pieces that I first started here on the Reader with--you were one of the only to leave comments. Granted, that section--the Travel section isn't as easy to track comments--at least not from the writer's account they aren't. SO, when you do actually leave comments on the lesser read blogs, I tend to take note of what you say. Your perspective has value. At least it has for me. Thank you.


Twister Jan. 29, 2012 @ 12:28 p.m.

I have a helluva time finding stuff too, especially since the Reader gremlins no longer maintain their implied promise to list the FIFTY latest blog comments; that's how I navigate the site. As a gleaner and twister, I tend to favor the rejected scraps over the easy-to-find promoted stuff.

The slings and errors of this outrageous life's fortune keep me from being thorough, and I prefer the bad stuff over the good stuff with rare exceptions.

Trouble is, there are more and more exceptions, and I have relatively little computer time . . .

Point me to what I've missed, preferably via a link. (Doncha jest LOVE cyberlingo?)


Twister Feb. 18, 2012 @ 9:08 p.m.

Apologies for not being more responsive to your thoughts, but sometimes it takes time and re-readings to absorb the meaning--and to allow for gestation. Maybe timing is not quite up to snuff sometimes, too. Better to wait.

Being is already beyond success. "Success" is a loaded term, and ironically. It is NOT "appreciation." It is not "fame" or publicity or adoration, much as we think we want those things--that kind of "success" is what makes bubbles on substance, that when they burst causes them to both go down the drain together. Innocent talent exploited by base motives.

So admitting to being a "wannabe," (I've pulled this stunt myself) is a way of deflecting criticism in advance (and oh, how I've often feared criticism), of beating "them" to the punch. When you write, you are a writer. It may be good, it may be not so good, it may be awful, it may be awesome, it may strike a chord that resonates, even creates waves that rise and fall over the oceans of time and thought . . .

When the ego turns in upon itself and becomes that ugly monster, egocentrism, when the bubble balloons beyond self, and when the fantasy fails and one wails that not for me was this to be, we are right--but it's often too late.

Congressional members used to apply a multiplier of 1,000x to ever letter received; I have no idea what the ratio is for email, but that makes four four-thousand. But it doesn't matter, really. The true value of communication of ideas is that it happens, whether or not your dance card is filled--if one of the dancers resonates, even unknown, it is a thing of beauty, a best-fit. Even an almost-fit. A misfit? Hell, YES! Right ON, girl!

Here's a poem I wrote when I was twenty. I liked it, but nobody else did. This, I believe, is the first time it has been in pixels (or, for that matter, print).

Ah, only once, for the love of a flower . . .

His message carried, by wind, by wing, by chance,

To her waiting, never seen.

Finally, hear this: One of the greatest writers in history wrote one novel. It was enough. But probably not her first.

Write, write, write, right or wrong, then write again and again and again. She did not want to go the way of Whitney and so many others, consumed by the Fame Machine, the Great Grinder of souls. (She kept hers despite the unheeded cries for help and her lashing out with great guts, but bamboozled, overwhelmed, so that she could not distinguish friend from foe.


PS: "Never give up. Never, never, never give up!" --Winston Churchill


Ruth Newell Feb. 18, 2012 @ 11:27 p.m.

Can't. It's who I am and I never want to not write, to feel I have to somehow suppress it or diminish it's importance to me ever again. I meant "wannabe" more as a pun, although I am known to deflect compliments, I have lots of experience with criticism and welcome it when delivered constructively. Because for me, it is a craft and I can always--always do better.

No need for apologies. I do not expect you to be responsive to my thoughts but am appreciative when you are.

Who was the author of the single novel to whom you referred, by the way? Silvia Plath?

And your poem, written at 20, is very, very beautiful.


Twister Feb. 19, 2012 @ 8:52 a.m.

One has to be tough to write. And tougher to expose oneself to others. And made of titanium steel to expose one's self, whole and unadorned.


David Dodd Feb. 19, 2012 @ 7:18 p.m.

Writers are also readers. Ask anyone who writes - whether for a paycheck or just because they are compelled to do so - and they will tell you that they also read. But garnering comments, there's no real successful way to predict how that happens. And after writing for a while, I think you stop worrying about that. I know when I've written something good and when I've constructed a complete piece or crap. Oddly, the comments (whether in quantity or quality) from any readers don't often reflect the quality of my work of the lack of it. After a while, you just shrug. You have to. It's not always going to make sense.


nan shartel Feb. 19, 2012 @ 8:10 p.m.

i'm a reader more then a writer...i read all the comments 2


Twister Feb. 19, 2012 @ 9:40 p.m.

Don' forget to look at the picchurs!


nan shartel May 4, 2012 @ 11:18 a.m.

hey u...blog that comment on Don's Junior Seau post

the poet fairy speaks into ur ear


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!