24 January 2006
The downside of blogging
Click on the image above to go to the new gangblog.
A major announcement
When I launched this weblog in June, it was intended to be a modest experiment. I knew some of my immediate friends and family could be persuaded to read semi-regularly. I hoped some of the people in my fellowship group at church would want to read and get more insight into the mind of the guy who teaches them on Sundays. And I knew from experience that there are people all over the world who look to the blogosphere as a way to gain information about trends, conflicts, and new ideas in the evangelical world. I figured some of them would read my thoughts, too.
So I guestimated that (in the best-case scenario) the blog might build a readership of some 300 people per day by the time it was a year oldat which time I would be able to decide whether to keep blogging or quit.
I was completely unprepared for the actual number of readers who come daily. In the past week (my slowest posting week ever), PyroManiac racked up some 18,000 hits. That doesn't count the people who download posts via RSS feed.
Of course, more readers equals more comments. More comments bring more critical scrutiny, requiring more follow-up posts, clarifications, rebuttals, and further elucidation. All of that means more work, more stress, and (above all) more time. Before you know it, it's not so much fun anymore.
Blogging with open comments also gives angry or disgruntled people an easy, public opportunity to air whatever complaints they may be nursing against my pastor, my church, my friends, or organizations I'm affiliated with. I don't mind dealing with objective, rational differences of opinion; and I even try to let most of the petty personal attacks slide, as long as I'm the only target. But when someone uses my blog to make a personal attack on others whom I love, that is a major grief.
PyroManiac also seems to have brought people out of the woodwork who have personal axes to grind with me. Recently in unrelated incidents, I corresponded privately with two commenters whose feedback seemed persistently insulting in a much-too-personal way. Turns out both of them were nursing grudges over things they had heard me teach years before I began the blog. I barely knew either of them, and neither had ever tried to discuss their grievances with me personally, but the blog gave them an opportunity to go public and remain at least partly anonymous. Unfortunately, it's been something of a magnet for that sort of hostility.
Meanwhile, I seem to find new and unexpected ways to irritate new people daily. Some of that is unavoidable, of course (Luke 6:26). On most of the matters that we've focused on here at the blog, I have strong convictions and I tend to express my opinion robustly. I'm neither surprised nor offended when people express strong disagreements. What does surprise me, however, is that even when I post on something that ought to be totally non-controversiala devotional thought, or a lighthearted diary-entry-style itemthere always seems to be someone in the wings looking for a reason to pick a fight.
On top of that, blogging tempts me to write when I ought to be reading. It's virtually impossible to do any serious or in-depth study every day and also read all the blogs and blogcomments in my blogroll, while answering all the extra e-mail the blog generates.
My blog has become more than I can handle by myself in my spare time. In order to maintain it by myself and achieve the standard of excellence I want, it would require full-time maintenance. I simply cannot do that, and I don't want it to be mediocre.
If that all sounds like a convincing argument for the closure of PyroManiac, that's what I thought, too.
Instead, I've decided to make a radical change. I think a group blog is the way to go. That way the pressure isn't entirely on me to write every post and answer every question.
So as of this morning, PyroManiac is officially closed. Starting tomorrow noon, you'll find me at a new blogaddress, here, where I've recruited a few friends to help keep the fires burning.
I hope you'll join us there and update your RSS feed. I realize I'm forfeiting my standing with all the blog indexes by changing URLs, but the change fairly demanded a new URL and a new start.
The rest will look very familiar to you, I thinkbut better. I hope you like it.
And thanks for helping make PyroManiac such a popular stop in the blogosphere.