Yesterday marked the 500th issue of the LFCA--a project that started two and a half years ago in order to create a centralized meeting spot for the community. The actuality of the Internet, the fact that we are thinly connected by words and ideas instead of proximity and tangibility, makes it too easy for people to get lost or to not be heard. LFCA levels the playing field by simply being a clearinghouse for information--the community newspaper--where people can post their news, post their questions, call out for participants in a new project--and it doesn't matter if they have 500 readers at their blog or 5. They can reach the heart of the community in a single space.
So first and foremost, an enormous thank you back to the people who celebrated the LFCA's anniversary in the comment section yesterday. Thank you for recognizing the uniqueness of the space.
The LFCA has changed over the years to include more categories, a new system for submitting blurbs, and the move from Clickers to self-submission. The LFCA has had to change as it went from being utilized by a few hundred to a few thousand people daily. It was no longer feasible to collect up emails during the day so we switched to the form system which makes putting up the LFCA take a few minutes rather than a few hours. Clickers used to oversee each category, making sure that people didn't fall through the cracks. While we still have a few active Clickers and you'll probably notice that some areas of the blogroll are better represented than others in the LFCA because of that, people mostly send in their own news or send in the news for friends.
Wait, stop, read that again: the LFCA exists because of you. Because there are blurbs to upload in the queue. Without your submissions, the LFCA doesn't post because it ceases to be necessary when there is no news to disseminate. And you control what is news-worthy.
There are still some Clickers and they deserve some major recognition for the time and energy spent making sure that their section of the blogroll is covered. Clickers who deserve your thanks are Heather, Billy, April, Jendeis, Babysmiling, Pepper, Mrs. Spock, Kim, Elizabeth, Jen, Angie and Deb who recently stepped down. Please click over to their blogs and thank them if they have your section (check the Clickers list to see where they Click).
Rather than have people formally volunteer for Clickers today, assign yourself by taking a subsection of the blogroll and get to work (open categories that need help are marked as such on the Clicker page). If you want to help, all the information you need can be found right here. After you've done it for a month, email me and I'll formally place you on the Clicker list.
Even if you don't want to be a Clicker, there is plenty you can do too to keep the LFCA going. I think in order to understand how you can help keep the LFCA going for another 500 posts, you need to understand the mission behind the LFCA. It is merely the schedule board at the train station. No one goes to the train station solely to read the schedule board daily. That board is there to send you on your way. And the LFCA operates in the same manner. It isn't to give the reader all the information. Instead, it provides a small blurb so people can click over to read more about the situation and offer support, or read more about the project and decide to participate, or read what the person is celebrating and go toast them. Therefore, blurbs should be short and straightforward.
On that note, I rarely edit the LFCA blurbs. If it looks different from how you submitted it, it generally means that more than one person submitted the same news. I use one blurb and delete the duplicates. In fact, most news is submitted more than once--and that is okay. I would rather have the news come in multiple times and delete out the extra blurbs than not have the news come in at all. So please don't assume that someone else has sent it and you don't need to submit the news. Assume that no one has sent it so no one falls through the cracks. The only other time I edit is when too much information is included and the blurb is too long. I do this to save space, but to also encourage people to click over to read the full information on your blog. Oh, and I put things in third-person if it's submitted in first-person. No one knows who submitted what to the LFCA because it all appears in the same third-person format (in other words--use "she" instead of "I").
There is admittedly frustration on my part when people say, "I didn't know I could submit my own news!" Um...it's at the top of every single LFCA post. It's not a "you may" it's a "please do." I want to put your news in, but the only way it will get in is if you put it in. If it belongs in a category of the LFCA and as long as you are an individual and not a business, it will go up in the LFCA.
Ways you can continue to help the LFCA for the next 500 issues:
- Submit your own news. The button to the form is not only at the top of every LFCA post, but it is at the top of the website too (below the header). When you have something to celebrate or need additional support, when you are asking a question on your blog and need more eyes on it, or are starting a new project, submit your news. All news should be written in third person.
- More in that vein: Three ways to ensure you have my love forever when it comes to the LFCA--(1) make your blurb brief and link to the main chunk of news on your blog. (2) do not put your news in multiple paragraphs. Write your blurb as one paragraph. (3) use the form--do not email me your news or leave it as a comment in the LFCA. Why? (1) the point of the LFCA is to direct them to the right place, not give them all the information they need. (2) paragraphs or adding thanks at the end of your blurb means that it messes up the entire form when it's transferred to the archives. (3) I do this because I can and I love it, but people need to help me out if you don't want me to burn out by making this as straightforward as possible. I compile the news from two spots--the calendar and the form spreadsheet. When you make me pick through comments and emails, it tacks on more time.
- Submit early via email: if you have a blurb that needs to go up in the future, such as a birthday or blogoversary or remembrance day, submit it via email. You only need to submit it once because it will go into a calendar that repeats yearly so your special dates will be uploaded at the appropriate week. You can send these emails at any time and it helps me a lot if you put in the subject line: LFCA calendar.
- Submit the news for friends: you can make this easier for your readers by placing this code on your side bar. It creates a small button icon that is linked to the submission form. People can read news on your blog, quickly click the pictures, and fill out the form. BUT when you wait for other people to submit your news, you may be disappointed. Readers aren't doing it to be thoughtless; but the only way to ensure your news is there is to send it in. Remember, I'd rather get it 10 times than not at all.
- Pick a day: choose a day of the week to go through your Reader and submit anything newsworthy. Even if the news is a few days late, support coming late is better than support coming not at all. Don't just do it this week--make it a habit.
- Click over: the LFCA is great when you're pressed for time and you want to keep up with what is happening in the blogopshere. It's a cheatsheet for when you're on vacation or caught up with work. BUT as I said earlier, the point of the LFCA is to send people on their way to where support or answers are needed. Please make sure you don't just read the blurb, but instead, click over and leave words of support for the person. Answer their question, join their project, celebrate their accomplishments. LFCA isn't about gawking--it's about communicating. Reach out and build a bridge between yourself and a new blogger you meet through their news.
- Spread word about LFCA: twitter about it, Kirtsy the current edition, email it to friends. In other words, do what you can to make sure everyone who reads your blog and perhaps needs support themselves knows about the LFCA. As a way to celebrate the 500th issue, figure out a way to write about LFCA this month.
I do this because I never want someone to feel left out. I do this because I love community and I use the space myself and it makes me feel anchored to all of these really cool writers who have influenced the way I think. I do this because I need to exercise my enormous organizational muscles so those skills don't experience atrophy. I do this because I believe the Beatles were right when they said "and, in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make."
So in honour of the 500th issue, please let me know what LFCA means to you in the comment section below. Since this post is constantly being read in the future as an entry point for new arrivals to LFCA, please continue to keep posting how LFCA has affected your life or blogging world. Here's your space to leave a testimonial about the LFCA for future readers to find in years to come.