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 old—at 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-controversial—a devotional thought, or a lighthearted diary-entry-style item—there 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 think—but better. I hope you like it.

And thanks for helping make PyroManiac such a popular stop in the blogosphere.

Phil's signature

66 comments:

Libbie said...

Well, that's started my day off like a slap in the face with a wet fish, lol.
Wise move, though. Group blogging looks good fun, and less stress.

1 L Loyd said...

I've only read your blog for about a month now, but that is long enough to see you are right. God's blessing on you and your group blog. I hope you get to the topic of "feeling" God's will. =)

Phillip M. Way said...

More like a slap with a Costco slab of beef.....

I understand, Phil, and look forward to reading what you posts along with the other PyroManiacs - bloggers I usually check out often anyway!

I would almost suggest that you not have comments!! (but that would take some of the fun out of it).

Keep up the good work. I'll see you on the new site.

~pastorway

Kim said...

Good for you, Phil! I'm sure this will be a great way to approach things!

BlackCalvinist said...

Okay, I'm genuinely sad.

Phil, don't you know that my girl (whom I plan on marrying next year - we start pre-marital counseling later this year) met me via a comment I left on your blog ? (I'm dead serious. Here's the story).

I know you're not leaving blogging completely, but.... Pyromaniac has become a staple of sorts in the blogsphere.

I understand where you are, though. Like PastorWay said, you could just take the comments out and blog every once in a while. :D

Ahhh well. All good things (except salvation) must come to an end. Sort of.

I don't feel like going to work now. :(

Theteak said...

I expect to get 18,000 hits sometime in the winter of 2123.
Thanks for everything, you've greatly encouraged a forgiven sinner over the past few months.

art said...

understandable...yet completely dissappointing...

Jonathan Moorhead said...

I agree with Art, but I'm sure the new site will be just as profitable. I look forward to Pyromaniacs!

Randy said...

Sorry to hear it Phil. I do understand why though. I will be sure to update my bookmarks.

Steve said...

Can you not just turn off the comments Phil?

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Sounds like a wise decision.

BReformed said...

It's a lesson in cessationism! :)

Daniel said...

Excellent.

No, I love the blog and all, but even on my tiny little insignificant blog I find answering comments can be very time consuming - and I am not even having my friends, family, character, and/or minsitry attacked on a daily basis!

This is a well thought out solution, may God bless it as he has blessed this first effort.

marc said...

Daniel,
I'd be happy to stop by and start atacking your friends and family if it would make you feel more blogworthy.

Phil,
I know the feeling, enjoy the change,and the sort of break.

Kyle said...

Yuck. Group blogs never fail to irritate me. I typically read each individual blog for a single person's voice. Adding other people to the mix just seems to increase the noise to signal ratio for me.

That said, I'll subscribe to the new thing and see if I can find the time for all the new voices. We'll see. However, I think you'll probably find that getting rid of the comments will be a necessary solution either way. Once you pass a certain level of popularity, it becomes a huge hassle.

Mike Perrigoue said...

Wise move...and what a ride it's been, huh?

LeeC said...

Yeah I'm sad, but mainly because I was right in my assesment on the vitriol I've seen, and the toll it takes on people I respect.

You have held out for longer than I, in a much cooler fashion than I could have shown at this point in my walk Phil.

It seems like if nothing else (and there is much more) this blog has been fruitfull in hopefully clearing the air with some brethren that might have been harboring a root of bitterness. I pray that is the case.

I pray your new endeavor will be less taxing upon you, and I look forward to seeing its fruit!

Grace and Peace,

Lee

Calvinist Gadfly said...

Phil, indeed, group blogging = salvaging. I know the feeling ;-)

Ken Fields said...

Being the "irritator" I am...I wanted to complain. But I won't...rather, I'll just read what you and your buddies have to say. And thanks for not leaving the blogospher altogether! Looking forward to tomorrow!

Eek said...

Phil,

I understand the need to do what you are doing, but I must admit I'm still disappointed... mostly because I enjoy your writing but also because its sad that blog commenting often brings out the worst in people.

I am hoping that although the new blog will be a team effort that you will still be the chief contributor. Write often and leave dealing with the trolls to your teammates!

In Christ,
Eek

James Spurgeon said...

eek wrote: I am hoping that although the new blog will be a team effort that you will still be the chief contributor.

I echo that sentiment. As for the vitriol, having grown up indy fundy Baptist I never noticed any of that around here. It always looked like a relatively peaceful place to me. My only previous experience in any sort of on-line community was the fightin' fundamentalist forums. Now that was a cat fight.

DJP said...

blackcalvinist --

What a great story! Thanks for sharing it.

Tried to leave you a comment at your site, and the page crashed. Drop me an email, if you've the time.

Steve said...

Given all your other responsibilities, Phil, there's no doubt this is the best decision for you. But do know your blog was used to sharpen and bless me (and many others).

My hope is this will give you considerably more freedom to do what you really NEED to do.

And I suppose now that you're closing shop, those comic covers and that logo sticker are going to become real collectibles.

Keep up the good fight,

Steve

mrclm said...

Group blogging is a great way to go, so I'm glad the blogosphere isn't loosing the joy of Phil Johnson all together. Keep up the good stuff, thanks for sharing your thoughts this past year.

Big Chris
Because I said so blog

Frank Martens said...

Phil,

I commend you! I think this will be for the better... I'm a big fan of the multi-person blogs anyways. Also, if you're thinking about adding another person to the team-pyro, maybe one of the guys from fide-o :)

Cheers

bean said...

On the bright side, I bet this will make the value of our Pyromaniac bumper sticker skyrocket...

Mike Garner said...

Indeed, sad day. Thanks for all of the time you've spent here! Look forward to the new blog.

mike

JRODFOSS said...

Weeping and nashing of teeth.

I can't blame you for for making the move given the level of hostility that seems to find your site.

I look forward to reading your new group blog.

Jerod

mjbeasley said...

Pyromaniac has been a profitable weblog, but I absolutely agree with your earnestness to preserve your time and energy according to what is most important. For myself, should I ever conclude that my own website has become something that doesn't strengthen my overall ministry, then it will be no more. Life is short, our time is limited, and thus we all need to be careful with every precious day that the Lord gives us...

Ephesians 5:15-16: 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

MJB

djbtmom said...

I am very disappointed, but I do understand. It is very saddening that people cannot keep their comments to the subject and leave personal attacks out of it. I will be looking forward to your group blog being as God-centered and though provoking as your own. I very much appreciated that way you handled the article about the movie "End of the Spear" by focusing on the facts and allowing us to get to know the marytered missionaries by using their own words.

Tom said...

Phil,

I am sorry to see you go as the sole contributer, but I do think that the Lord will honor the decision you have made. I can't wait to see who your fellow contributors will be. Knowing the clan you run with I know we won't be disappointed.

Scott Hill said...

I was originally upset when I heard there would be less Pyro. Then I thought about the fact that you have only done about 3 real post since December. So I guess a little help may not be a bad thing.

puritanicoal said...

I've always wondered how you could keep up. Impressive team you've put together, too.

. . . I still think you can handle Osama on your own, though.

Nate said...

I have loved the time that I have spent here as well as the great reformed thought.

As a Presbyterian I hope that I have not added to the pains here. I know of e-jerks that visit me too!

One Salient Oversight said...

I was sad until I read Fide-o's comments. If Fide-o thinks your wonderful then you're obviously not.

Yes that's a joke.

I don't think there is any reason to shut down the blog. You can post once every 6 months or so. Eric conveys an Emotion and The Best page in the universe still garner thousands of hits per day and they haven't updated their sites for 12 months or more.

Not that I think Pyromaniac is as good as Maddox. That would defy the laws of physics...

Timotheos said...

Phil,
It was inevitable. Many of us had to see this coming. There just isn't the time to engage in ongoing debate, diaglogue and defense for a husband, father, clergyman, and humble servant today. Seriously, many of us wondered how you would have the time to continue a dialogue with those that were set in their beliefs.
God Bless on your Continuing endeavor to honor our Lord,

Tim

donsands said...

You're an exceptional man of the Word. Keep on.

Tolle, Blogge said...

A group blog? You mean, kind of like a tavern?

Char said...

r reeves:
I was waiting for someone to notice that... :)

Good luck to the new blog contributors! Because you know the crazies will just follow Phil over there.

chamblee54 said...

You can't quit. You haven't banned me from commenting.
Also, I would like to comment on something that was said before I started reading.
Your chances of seeing Osama Bin Laden at your neighborhood Costco are about the same as the chances of your being hit by lightning, while playing quarterback in the super bowl for the New Orleans Saints.
And, as any fan of "The Alfred Hitchcock Show" knows, the preferred weapon is a frozen leg of lamb.

Searaptor said...

wow, this is depressing. The two blogs I read the most pyromaniac and calvinist Gadfly are taking on radically different stances.

God bless you.

Chris Freeland said...

Anyone want to buy a slightly used Pyromaniac bumper sticker?

I love the dream team idea - Now Pecadillo can bring back the Monday Lingerie feature that used to make Monday blogreading worthwhile.

Scott Hill said...

Hey, when did we start getting kicked for light hearted-comments. I think I am going to quit blogging this is just too much.

Eek said...

Phil,

Since you are going to do all the "heavy lifting" over at TeamPyro now, why not keep this blog just for your personal stuff?... you could post your sermon notes from your GraceLife messages, etc.

Whataya think?
Eric

Daniel Calle said...

¿Monday Lingerie?

Phil Johnson said...

Scott: Sorry about your deleted comment. I didn't delete it because it was lighthearted. I deleted it because the word "no" with a thousand o's messed up the template.

Eric: Yeah, that's just what I need: TWO blogs to maintain.

Chamblee: In the whole 8-month history of the blog, I banned only one person. There's still the opportunity for you to get banned at the new group blog, tho.

Rreeves: It will be more like a diner than a booze-hall. No liquor. No cigars. The only vices permitted will be coffee and hash browns.

Vermigli said...

I enjoyed your blog, Phil. I Look forward to the joint blogging effort you're undertaking.

FJ De Angelis

Jim said...

Well that stinks. I'll keep reading at the new url though.

Joe said...

Totally understandable!

Your blog gave me much incouragement when I entered the blogosphere.

I did get frustrated when the comments took on a life of their own and left the premise of the post.

Hope it all works out well and I will visit as often as I can.

In His Name.

Brian said...

I've been a regular reader now for about two months. I found the content to be inspiring and became excited about jumping into blogging. I nearly instantly realized the amount of work this could become. It amazes me you’ve kept up the frequency and quality of Pyromaniac postings while having a life.
All the best Phil, and I look forward to reading your group blog adventure.

Dave said...

I heartily applaud your choice. You have your priorities straight. I enjoy your blog, but you need to enjoy your life.

Cheers and best wishes!

Andrew said...

your artwork rocks, as i have said before.

but when are you going to allow non-blogspot users (like me on typepad) to sign in with our own identities?

(hint - the anonymous comments in the panel)

Nutria Boy said...

Phil, what this event has shown me is that you should be writing your own books at some point.

I've been uber-busy with the relief ministry here in the New Orleans ministry leaving me little time to blog or ever read them myself.

Keep the faith. Stand fast.

EE

TulipGirl said...

We'll miss you. . . glad you aren't giving it up entirely. *hug*

MTG said...

My favorite blogs always go away when I travel (sigh) oh well at least we will still have you on the new url. I am very sorry that you had to endure the idiocy that occurs when wanna be theologians wake up and think they have an intelligent thought. (IMHO :))

SolaMeanie said...

Phil,

It's Joel from Perspective Underground. Having just begun my own blog, I look forward to absorbing the abusive comments once aimed your way. I'll sort of consider it as a running Screwtape Letters dialogue. Who knows..maybe some of it will be publishable!

I will certainly add your new group blog to my list. Although you might think twice about closing Pyromaniac. It's become a legend, and is too relevant to go the way of the Ampex Reel to Reel tape recorder.

Andrew said...

Phil

excuse my earlier comment. I didnt realize you were closing for good.

You did exceedingly well with this blog which looked stunning and proved that a new blog can quickly rise up the ranks if it is FIT.

I think you lifted the level of graphic design on many christian blogs.

The move to a group blog is a wise one. Every blessing.

jane said...

Phil, sounds like a wise decision. I've been tempted to do the same--in fact, I did do it, but then dropped out of the group blog I started (Intellectuelle) because I couldn't keep up both blogs. Since then, I've been tempted to make the reverse move like you're doing (for some of the same reasons), but once an only child, always an only child ;)

rllowery said...

I thank God for how he has used you to bless me.

Rick Chase said...

I'm not surprised. I always enjoyed the quality of this blog, i didn't always agree with everything, but so what? Some people who call themselves Christians are so quick to slander and bring division- too bad!

BlackCalvinist said...

Phil, you should surprise everyone and make ONE post here. :)

BReformed said...

Sigh....

InChains620 said...

I like this blog a lot, keep up the good work.

siminz said...

a few soundbites of Phil preaching can be found at theologybites.blogspot.com

EJ Hill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DJP said...

How can you be a "former Armenian"?

Once Armenian, always Armenian.