PyroManiac is now exactly 6 months old.
When the blog launched June 1, I expected readership to be roughly the size of my Sunday-school class. If the hit-counter is to be trusted, there have been a few more readers than that.
I'm not a stats-checker. I honestly can't tell you how many hits the blog gets on an average day. I can't tell you what the trends in my traffic have been, because I just don't pay attention to that. On the few occasions when I have visited sites where stats and rankings are found, it has always seemed to me that the data are unreliable. (I noticed, for example, that PyroManiac was briefly listed as an "insignificant microbe" on TTLB just last week, with not a single link from anywhere in the blogosphere. That cannot be accurate.) But I don't really care about that stuff.
In fact, if Darlene hadn't reminded me on Thursday, I would have forgotten it was the half-anniversary of the blog.
It's a good time to take stock and do some hard assessments. Is the blog worth the time and energy it requires? How long can I keep it up? Are there things I should change? Should I quit needling homeschool moms? Should I post less, solemnize the mood, change the graphic look to something more subtle? Could I save a lot of time and conflict simply by closing the comments?
I'm not really asking for feedback; just sharing some of the questions that have occurred to me from time to time.
Here, in random order, are some of my thoughts about PyroManiac at the six-month mile-marker:
- I've been greatly encouraged by most of the feedback and private e-mails I have received.
- There are, occasionally, some notable exceptions. Just yesterday received a terse, one-sentence e-mail: "Go Away, 'Phil' the internet has enough noise on it." Made me think. The argument he gives is unassailable.
- I'm very thankful for literally dozens of friends I have made through the blog. I've had the privilege of meeting many in person. Practically every week at church, I meet someone new who knows me because of the blog. In July I finally got to meet Dr. Adrian Warnock, with whom I first exchanged e-mail in 1996. And twice now I have had lunch with Frank Turk, a kindred spirit whom I might never have met except through bloglinks. Those kinds of things are the up-side of having open comments.
- I really do despise the conflict in the comments threads and occasional blogwars. The open format more or less invites that, though. It's not like speaking to a live audience, where people aren't likely to talk back. Here, critics seem to be standing in the wings on a daily basis, looking for a point to quarrel with. I've been caught totally off guard by this repeatedlyespecially the recent backlash against my posts about patently false prophecies. I'm still shaking my head over that. (And by the way, I still intend as soon as possible to complete the series I began on "hearing the voice of God").
- This is a weblog, not a pulpit or seminary class, so I have deliberately included some personal-journal-style entries, a high percentage of humor (or well-meant attempts at merriment), and occasional lighter-than-usual fare. But I have lately wondered whether so much farce and frivolity is wasted effort, or even counterproductive to what I really hope to accomplish with the blog. For one thing, American humor doesn't always translate well into other cultures. And I think Southern California humor sometimes isn't even funny in other North American climates. I'd have a lot less 'splainin' to do if I just throttled my humor reflex whenever possible. I like the mildly droll graphics. The trademark comic-book covers may have to go, though.
- When I started, I said I did not intend to post daily. The Blogger website tells me this is my 181st post. That's almost exactly a post a day, even though I took a two-week hiatus at one point. Nobody has that much to say that's worth reading. (OK, there's James White, Michael Haykin, Steve Hays, Tim Challiesand maybe a handful of others. But most of us probably should not entertain the conceit of imagining that so much of what we write is really worthy of blogging about.) Reading back over my blog, I see lots of days when I probably should have gone to bed early and skipped blogging altogether.
- On the other hand, there are a few posts that I'm happy to have written. The "London Journal" series in early July stands out in my memory. The Fad-Driven Church series later that same month also generated a lot of good feedback.
- Amazingly, the single most commented-on post ever was my very first one. Some readers probably think that post was developed over several weeks while I was planning to launch the blog. Actually, I wrote it in an hour and a half the night before the bloglaunch. Until that evening, I had no idea what the first post was going to be. (I had been swamped with other writing deadlines right up to the day the blog launched.)
So what's the sum of my thoughts on all this? In the days to come, look for me to blog a little less obsessively, a little less light-heartedly, and (hopefully) a lot more pointedly. I think the result will be a better blog, even if a less wordy one.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).