Still on the subject of backgrounders (because I do tend to make like a pit bull playing tug-o'-war with certain topics, at least until my jaws get tired—heh—), another comment I got under the "Affiliate Website" post that was very helpful to me came from frequent comment contributor David Dyer-Bennet:
Best of luck with the TOP expansion!
While I have no illusions that you run TOP especially for me-me-me!!!, this seems like the sort of occasion where reader feedback is appropriate.
Things I particularly like about TOP:
- A focus on making, taking, capturing, creating, or in some other way obtaining photographs (often by buying books :-) ).
- A literate and reasonably intelligent commentariat, who don't reliably agree with me.
- A policy and tradition of civil debate, which is enforced when necessary.
- Somewhat slow-moving discussions (messages don't often appear within even half an hour of being submitted), which tends to keep the message count down and encourage a bit more thinking before posting. I sometimes find the slow movement frustrating, but on consideration I strongly suspect it's a net positive.
Some things I'd like to see in the future of TOP:
- A more predictable morning update time. For me personally, updating reliably at 11am is better than updating somewhere between 8 and 11, and much better than updating somewhere between 8 and noon. (Those specific times aren't important, just examples.) While for avoiding work, repeated checks not turning up anything sounds like it would be good, I find it frustrating.
- Educational (not quite as low-level as simply instructional) columns, perhaps by temporary columnists who come on to do one series of defined length. Composition, color theory, lens renderings, modern papers for inkjet, B&W conversion, noise reduction; I'm a modern worker. But calotype, view camera movements, sheet-film processing, and so forth too.
- More photos. Maybe ask some people on as photo columnists, to post a photo a week or a month or something? Quite possibly limited-term, as I suggested for other columnists above. Maybe somebody to point us at one good photo publicly posted to the web each week? Or maybe three such people? Or ten doing one a month?
That makes me think of my dead idea of doing occasional "mini-portfolios," which, I have to tell you, foundered. I contacted no fewer than three photographers asking if I could post a mini-portfolio of five to eight examples of their work. None of the three even answered me. So it turns out that people who already know TOP realize that it's a goldmine for PR and that it has some serious reach, but, among people who don't already know it, it has no purchase or sway. You know what they say: Oh well.
That Dead Idea File is disconcertingly large, and contains many ideas that I still think are good ones.
David's comment about the slow pace* reminds me of one of Craig Ferguson's jokes: When you're about to blurt something out just because it came into your head, you need to ask yourself three little questions. 1. Does this need to be said? 2. Does it need to be said by me? and 3. Do I need to say it right now? Of course Craig then adds that it took him three marriages to learn to ask those questions before opening his mouth.
As far as posting by a certain time every morning...I could try. In practice, my son sets the timetable for TOP. When he had to get up for school every morning at 6:00, it meant that I also had to get up by 6:00, and the first post usually went up quite early; now he's home from college for summer break, and stays up till all hours of the night, which usually means that I have to stay up until very late every night too (because otherwise he wakes me up), which in turn means that the posts go up very late in the morning and sometimes not until mid-day. Left to my own devices I'd go to bed by 11:00 or 12:00 and get up by 7:00 or 8:00, but I'm not often in charge of the family schedule.
I could try to auto-post a small blip every morning—I can set the software to do that—but I'd have to write them at night and set them to auto-post at some predetermined time in the morning. The problem with auto-posting while I'm asleep is that then I'm not there to monitor mistakes and check links, and some egregious error might post and then sit there festering for hours. Regardless of all that, though, some serious thought about scheduling and pace might well be in order.
I would say the biggest influence on the pace of posting is that the post itself is only half of the story. The other half is the discussion that follows. Various topics have varying amounts of energy. This week is a great example. Ctein's post about Photoshop CC clearly has a lot of energy (that is, people want to talk about it). Even after I posted on top of it yesterday, comments were still coming in about Adobe and CC. While the way to make more money with a site like this is with lots of short posts at a furious pace, that shuts down the discussions that ensue. I like to let the discussions breathe when it seems like they want to.
Well, 'nuff from me. Speaking of ensuing discussions, how about you? Got anything to contribute about what you like or don't like about TOP, and what you'd like to see in that rose-hued future?
(But do keep in mind what Craig said.)
*Ctein himself was complaining about this just yesterday—I had workmen here and during one stretch didn't get the comments updated for a full 18 hours, which Ctein thinks is a day and a half in Internet time.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
James Sinks (partial comment): "I'd like more pictures on TOP, but keep it a wordy place, rather than a picturey place."
[For James's whole comment, as with any other "partial comment," please see the Comments section. —Ed.]
Art in LA: "Wow, I'm part of the 'reasonably intelligent commentariat'...I'm so marginally awesome!"
adamct (partial comment): "To be honest, I love T.O.P. as it is. That said, I love the idea of trying new things."