Belatedly recognizing newfound flexibility

Boy, I just love meaningful titles…good thing I’m not out to Maximize Blog Views for Fun and Profit (particularly now that I’ve removed the Google AdSense code–and yes, they paid me the $10 I’d earned over several months).

This is a two-part incidental post.

Part 1: I’ve just consciously recognized something about Cites & Insights that has been true for a while, but I’ve been resisting it.

To wit, while it’s a “print publication delivered via the web,” it’s also–and perhaps more significantly–a publication that wouldn’t be feasible without the web, and a big part of that is flexibility.


Bear with me.

C&I began as an experiment to complement my Library Hi Tech News mini-newsletter (“Crawford’s Corner”), providing more up-to-date stuff than the 8-10 pages of the LHTN section. I really hoped to turn it into a subscription print newsletter, maybe 12 pages (brief enough so it could be mailed at 2oz. first-class rates), maybe $100-$150/year. (Run the economics of very-short-run newsletter printing and mailing, assuming your time is worth $20 an hour or more, and you’ll see why subscription rates are high.)

That didn’t happen. I stopped doing the LHTN section. I rapidly abandoned the idea of doing a paid print subscription newsletter. And, after a while, 16 pages became a goal that was typically exceeded. (Also, the monthly schedule immediately became a minimum: every volume has had at least 13 issues.)

In the last two or three years, there have been several occasions where an essay or group of closely-related essays were long enough to require single-essay issues or significantly longer issues. The extreme case was one 32-page essay–not all that much shorter than a Library Technology Reports edition if I used larger type and bigger margins. (I did an LTR edition last year, v. 41 #2, “Policy and Library Technology,” so I know whereof I speak.)

Every time I had an essay more than 6 pages long–the longest that could ever fit into a real newsletter–I thought about chopping it back to a short piece. Most times, I failed.

Then I looked at the most widely-read and widely-cited issues and essays. Almost uniformly, they were the long ones. And the long ones were long for a reason: I needed that much space to tell the story.

So, OK, I finally get it. C&I is still designed for printing–it’s always going to be an even number of pages with no more than a quarter-column empty space at the end, if I can possibly manage that. And I don’t intend to produce issues even longer than this year’s have been–but that’s not a promise.

C&I allows me to do something that traditional outlets wouldn’t: Expore a story at the length that’s right for that story, even when–as is frequently the case–that length is much longer than would fit in a library magazine (typically 2,000 words or so, rarely more than 3,500 words) and much shorter than could justify being called a book (say 35,000 words). That flexibility allows for deeper exploration and the inclusion of more viewpoints. Those too-long-for-an-essay essays seem to be the most widely read and most lasting.

C&I is something genuinely new (and possibly unique). I should deal with it as it is, not pretend that it’s something else.

Yes, of course, this applies to the issue I’m currently working on. More on that a bit later, maybe this evening.

Part 2: Spam spam spam spam…

Spam Karma 2’s working pretty well. The number at the bottom of the screen is legitimate, although WordPress’ own controls would have trapped a lot of those (and trackbacks aren’t supposed to work at all in this blog). I’ve had to moderate half a dozen spamments as spam in the last month, I think one or two temporarily made it through to comments until I removed them–and I think two legitimate comments were flagged as spam. For that reason, as long as it’s feasible, I do actually go through the spamments, 20 at a time, before fully deleting them. (Next time we go on a long vacation, that might not happen…)

Spamments come in waves. I thought I’d summarize the last 20 hours:

Porn: 50. Chinese URLs or text: 44. “Are you there?” with the ad in the URL: 10. Travel: 15. Cell phones and ringtones: 8, but these come by the hundreds some days. Meds: Only two; email spam seems to be the big outlet for meds. “Hello, nice site” and similar “social engineering”: Just three. True mystery spam (apparent news items vaguely related to the post, but clearly not legitimate comments): 2. Miscellaneous products and services: 11.

Number that made it through: Zero.

4 Responses to “Belatedly recognizing newfound flexibility”

  1. Blake says:

    You *should* be getting far less spam now. About 2 weeks ago I added a BUNCH of new mod_security rules that are killing a TON of spam on comments & trackbacks. Some sites get hit ALLOT harder than yours and I’ve written special rules for Tame The Web in particular that seem to have turned a flood into a trickle for him.

  2. walt says:

    Actually, it’s stayed reasonably constant, about 100-150 a day. Which probably isn’t all that bad…

  3. Jane says:

    I am glad someone else besides myself finds the content of spam mildly amusing.

  4. walt says:

    Ah, Jane, I suspect you’re far from the only one. Checking the flow once a day reminds me of the absurdity of most of it. Posting the exact same trackback or comment to ten different year-old blog posts over a period of two minutes: Yep, that sure does convince me that these are legitimate comments. [I hadn’t even thought about readers who can’t read this particular post, or maybe the whole blog, now that I used one of the Big Filtered Words, you know, peon or something like that.]