Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reader Hate Mail

Does it matter that this blog has no readers? Does the blog need improvement to merit readers? I took this second question to a group of colleagues last week, a focus group if you will. Two members of this group of three women were sent the blog link. Each deleted it after barely glancing at it.

They did have some suggestions. First, they said the blog needed to be more relevant to people’s lives. They needed coupons, they said, something that could be redeemed at a place like Starbucks. Second, they said I needed to write more often about women. (I’ll try to redress the problem in the near future). And while I was at it, why didn’t I put more sex in the blog? People wanted to read about sex. Third, they said I needed an organizing principle, a thesis statement if you will, as well as a purpose or goal. What did I wish to achieve, they asked? Fifth, they said I needed photos to retain the interest of readers. Sixth, they argued that I needed labels to help search engines find me. Seventh, I needed to make my posts weirder, more bizarre, and more creative. Eighth, I needed to explain myself on a personal level: why was the subject interesting to me? One reader said she scanned the blog for some evidence of the origin of my obsession, and found none. Ninth, I needed to hook up with real scholars (they hadn’t realized that my lazy co-blogger—apologies Nick Blabbermouth--has a PhD). Tenth, they said I needed to make a more concerted effort to identify and encourage a targeted readership (military buffs, they suggested, ignoring my shudder). All good advice that I will follow as faithfully as possible. Any other advice out there? No profanities please. My favorite comment was: "Are you TRYING to put me to sleep?" Ouch.

Paris Hilton and her many pets - 17 minature dogs!


  1. Isn't your underlying theme the question of historical change? Do things change? Can they change? And can they change without bloodshed? These questions seem especially pertinent given the current American government's mandate of 'change.' My question is this: how can understanding Russian and Soviet history help us understand the American empire and its ostensible efforts to change course?

  2. Cool questions, good material for future posts.

    I'm working on a thesis, and certainly time and change is a part of that thesis. But I don't take America's efforts to change course seriously, notwithstanding the Nobel committee's opinion. Anyhow, I remember Clinton using the "it's time for a change" campaign theme, which seemed to be a pretty absurd political or philosophical statement, but no worse than "Yes we can..."

  3. Interest in Soviet/Russian life is a unifying theme, is it not? If so, you're attracting the correct target readership with your blog title, as grad students studying Soviet history (like me) are irresistibly drawn to read your work. Good writing, combined with the useful hint about making yourself findable through search engines, are the best way to keep attracting people like me, if we do happen to be your target audience.

  4. Thanks for the kind feedback....It's very much appreciated. Grad student readers would be a great target audience....