I pretty much never post about the LFCA on the LFCA; meaning, we've rarely had a discussion about how the Lost and Found and Connections Abound (get it? LFCA) is running or suggestions for improvements/additions. Except right now I do have an idea to propose, but it requires an explanation longer than a paragraph as well as a response to a recent comment.
Someone posted anonymously yesterday: This site doesn't work. Your clickers have cliques, and many people are missed who need support.
And it begs the question, does the site work? I think it depends on what you think is the purpose of the site. If you see it as a central meeting spot that people know to check for news, a place to post information that creates a level playing field between a blogger with 500 daily readers and 50 daily readers, or a way to disseminate information across a population, I think it works. I especially think it works if you get behind on your Google Reader and want to have a sense of what is happening across the blogosphere. I may not have important information from blogs that you read in particular, but you can get a general sense of what is happening. The site helps us work collectively instead of individually. In the example of Kirtsy, our Kirtsy'd Pick o' the Day gets on to the front page of Kirtsy 100% of the time. We manage to have a story about infertility, adoption, or loss on the front page of Kirtsy every day. How many communities (beyond the gossip sites) can claim that? And it's only possible because we draw together through the site.
If you believe that all sites listed that day will be flooded with supportive comments, you'll probably be disappointed. It is hard to know that about 1000 people read the LFCA daily and then see how many people click over if the blurb is not stating a crisis or unusual event. But is the fact that the person receives three extra comments they wouldn't have otherwise seen worth it? I think it is. Or the times that two people connect because there is something in the blurb that speaks to their own experience so they find one another? I don't need to see 1000 comments to think that the time put into constructing the daily post is worth it as long as I see that small connections are made here and there. Hopefully you agree.
If you are also waiting for your Clicker to find your information, you're going to be waiting a long time. The Clickers worked best at the beginning of the LFCA two years ago, when there were about 700 blogs on the blogroll and we all talked about how crazy it was that there were 700 blogs. Now there are 1700 blogs on the blogroll and Clickers simply can't keep up with the number of blogs out there.
About 20% of the blurbs come from me, 30% come from the Clickers, and 50% come from the people themselves or one of their readers. In other words, more and more people are submitting their own news or have a friend who submits it. Since I created the form and put a link to it at the top of every LFCA post, more and more people have used it. Which is great--I'd much rather receive the same news 5 times (and this happens daily that I receive the same blurb five times from five different people. I just upload one and delete the rest) than have someone free-floating in the blogosphere without support.
It's really not okay anymore to sit around and say, "but you didn't post my news." Because there is a clear reason for why the news wasn't posted--you didn't submit it. Unless it doesn't adhere to the subject matter posted in LFCA, it gets uploaded to the site. Is it nice when you unexpectedly see your news pop up on the LFCA and know someone out there cared about you? Well, yes, it is. But it's unrealistic with 1700 blogs on the blogroll to sit back and hope your news is found. Even posts that I've commented on cannot be guaranteed to make it into the LFCA. The only guarantee is if you submit it.
This is the analogy Josh uses: would you rather wait to have a surprise party thrown for you or would you rather call your friends over for a party on your birthday? Surprise parties are great and it's fantastic to know that someone cared that much about you to throw the party. But when you wait, you also risk celebrating your birthday alone. When you take matters into your own hands and call your friends over, you get a celebration that is no less caring--the fact that people would drop what they're doing to come over and eat cake and celebrate the day of your birth is actually quite special--and it ensures that you ultimately get what you want. Which is to be surrounded by friends, not testing your friends.
And now, the idea. I have created a badge that people can place on their blogs if they wish. It is connected to both the LFCA in general (in case they don't know what the LFCA is) and specifically to the submission form. It looks like this:
It will hopefully streamline the process so people can quickly submit something they read. In other words, if you're reading blogs today and happen across something LFCA-worthy (and click here to read about what is LFCA-worthy if you have questions) and you see that badge on their sidebar, click it, report it, and move about your day. Again, don't assume someone else already sent it in--it's better to receive it 5 times than not at all.
To get the code for this badge to place on your own blog, click here and then cut-and-paste the HTML onto your own sidebar. If you want others to submit your news for you, I would mention it in a blog post and draw attention to the fact that the badge is there. Hopefully, if a lot of people have the badge on their blog, it will become more commonplace for people to quickly click over and submit the news. Of course, I also caution that if it is truly important, that you submit the news yourself. If you need support, ask for it. If you want people to celebrate with you, ask for it. It's the only way to ensure that you get what you want.
So, a long way of answering the anonymous commenter who criticized the site. I'm always sorry when I hear that someone has slipped through the cracks and not received support. But I'm human, I'm not paid to do this, I need to fit it into an already packed day, and it's uploaded 5 times a week. I enjoy putting it together each day and I'm always happy when someone has a good experience with it. At the same time, if it isn't working for you, you don't need to read it.
I personally think it's an important resource and worth the time even if only one person is helped daily. I always wanted a philanthropy but we don't have the money beyond what I donate from ad revenue. So instead I donate the one resource I can--my time--and use my should-have-been-a-personal-organizer skills to churn out the LFCA daily with about 20 minutes of pasting. Consider it one of my donations this year to a community that gives back so much to me.
LFCA goes back to normal tomorrow. If you have other suggestions, I'd love to hear them as well as whether you agree or disagree with the anonymous commenter on whether the space "works." All of this is only my opinion, you may have a very different point-of-view.
And since I'm posting an out-of-the-ordinary post, I'd like to take this space to first and foremost thank the Clickers and the people who submit news that is not their own. It is a wonderful thing that you do and I certainly don't and can't thank you enough. There are some people who literally submit daily and one Clicker who even arranged for someone to take over her position when she was delivering. I think setting up a substitute Clicker to ensure her section of the blogroll was covered is pretty damn amazing.
I'd like to also thank the people who click over and leave a comment. Sometimes I don't have time to go read the whole post until later in the evening and when I click over and see 8 comments all beginning, "here from the LFCA" it solidifies that it was worth it. Thank you for taking the time to reach out to another person. I know we're all busy but it means a lot when a person knows that their words were heard.
And thank you, Tash and Eden, for weighing in yesterday.
And for people who do want to submit news (their own or someone else's news), you should know that I usually paste the list around 9 a.m. (United States EST). Anything that comes in after that goes in the next day. If the news fits one of the categories, it will always be uploaded (though I sometimes edit things if the LFCA is running long or to make the blurbs uniform for quick reading). If it is a new blog, please heed the numerous reminders all over the form and email those. I have a system for those that streamlines the maintanence of the blogroll. I told you--I should have been a personal organizer.
And if you want a post Kirtsy'd, send that my way too using the guidelines that can be found through the button underneath the header. I can't guarantee that I will Kirtsy every post because it all depends on how many are sent that week and if you've ever had a post Kirtsy'd before. But again, you can't complain that you've never had one Kirtsy'd if you never send one in (just a heads up for this week; I do have posts set for Thursday and Friday).
And I think that's that. The comment box is open for your thoughts. I only have my opinion--I would love to hear your opinion as long as it is respectful. If you agree with the anonymous commenter that the site doesn't work, what would you suggest would make it better?