You may not be aware of this, but I've just spend the first week of NaBloPoMo holed up under my desk building a blogroll containing links to every blog of every person who's participating in this year's month-long blogging riot. I decided at the outset I wasn't going to stress over the job; the last two years I had my thong in a twist trying to get the thing done in no more than a day or two, but the tidal wave of humanity that washed over my inbox this year made it clear that digging out would require calm,
irritability indefatigability, and this shank I made out of a USB hub.
As with any enterprise in which the general population of old-time blog hands mixes with those fresh off the boat from Analogville, forums spring up and FAQs are expanded to deal with the influx of excited confusion. To that end, at the top of the blogroll page I asked people to e-mail me their formatted hyperlinks and gave basic instructions on how to code them, because I just wanted to be able to cut and paste those fuckers into the blogroll as fast as possible.
Nervous, excited people don't enjoy 100% reading comprehension, studies show, and my inbox slowly filled with raw URLs. Or better yet, e-mails that simply said, "Please add me to the blogroll! Thanks!" and nothing else. In the interest of rewarding those who had followed instructions, I let the e-mails that needed further parsing fall to the back of the line and collect dust until which time I could return to them and
passive-aggressively berate further query the sender into apologizing for being a n00b and get their complete information.
Because my hyperlink tutorial included the example of http://www.yourblog.com for a fictitious site called Your Blog, I also started getting hyperlinks where people put in the correct URL for their blog but then named it Your Blog. When I updated my tutorial to give further instruction in how one would take out the parts that say http://www.yourblog.com and Your Blog and put in, for example, the URL for our network and the name NaBloPoMo, I started wondering why people were suddenly naming their blogs "NaBloPoMo" and I began feeling threatened and writing e-mails to tell them to cut it out.
I got farther and farther behind every day. Somehow the people over at LiveJournal became infected by the daily blogging parasite and hundreds of their users joined up. At peak I had about 1,100 e-mails waiting and was roughly six days behind on sorting through them. Naturally, people's assumptions about how long it should take for me to paste a simple link into a list led them to believe, after a day or two, that their e-mail had never arrived. So they sent their link in again. And again. And sometimes even again, some with subtle differences every time. Maybe the blog name would be two words, capitalized (Bread Blog) in the first e-mail, then one word, still capitalized (BreadBlog) in the second, and then two again, lower case, but with an article (the bread blog) in the third. By the fourth time I'd gone in to check if this by now very familiar sounding blog was indeed on the list I was tempted to take it off and ban its owner for good. But I didn't. How could they know? I took a deep breath and went off to Twitter for awhile and then came back refreshed and renewed in my belief that anxiety is everywhere, not just my inbox.
I was indeed offered a few of scripts that would put the whole blogroll submission process into the hands of everyone in the network. But it felt too late to automate, and in the end I kept on doing it by hand because in some odd way I like handling every link. I can check people out as they come in so no weird commercial stuff can slip through, and I get a kick out of some of the blog names. A Geek Tragedy. The Loquacious Barnacle. Snackreligous.
Unfortunately, I get a perverse charge out of not correcting people's punctuation. Yes, "Gods Child" should have an apostrophe in it, but if I were to change that it would also require that someone re-do their business cards and letterhead, wouldn't it? And yes, butterfingers, that q should really be a g -- but it isn't, and so Disquised comes after Disorderly until the blog owner calls me on it.
Still, though, we do need a better system, not just so people can be responsible for their own spelling but so they won't get so frustrated with waiting to see their link appear on the site and they can start getting some NaBlo traffic. It's hard to read forum messages by people complaining about waiting for some mythical "they" to fix these things, as though some giant office full of people is professionally eating Taco Bell and ignoring e-mail, not just one person sitting on the floor with her laptop balanced on a garbage can.
Yes, I'm still sitting on the floor. Actually, I've been sitting on folded quilt all week and my white, Western knees are killing me. At one point I had a swelling the size of half a hard-boiled egg below and to the outside of my right knee and I watched in horrified fascination as over the course of the week it migrated toward my shin and reduced to the size of a painful hazlenut. It doesn't really hurt now that I actually have time to get to the doctor. Antonia suggested I make a stop-motion film of its progress, and I should have.
What I love most about this whole thing is that people are already dropping out and writing brave e-mails to me containing suggestions for what they might do to re-qualify -- blog a few extra days into December to make up for the days they missed in November? -- but our rule is firm: thirty days, thirty posts, from the 1st to the 30th. However, I have instituted a Loser's Prize for the most entertaining excuse for blowing it.
And so! On to week two.