Thursday, February 19, 2009

Last Thoughts

The traditional LFCA is below this post, just scroll down. I just wanted to finish off some thoughts from yesterday's discussion.

I think the comments reflected the diversity of the community. Everyone expressed a desire for support, but their viewpoints on how that support should come (have someone else notice their news, submit their own news, just read, leave a comment, etc) were so varied that it made it impossible to define what would make the LFCA better or readers more helpful. I am also drawing knowledge from comments from a discussion that took place a while back about leaving support where the community was split as well. Some said it would help greatly to simply get a "me too" or "I'm abiding with you." Others said they'd rather not have something written at all if the comment was going to be brief and unpersonal. Again, different opinions and therefore, there will always be people who state the point the anonymous commenter made.

It pains me greatly when I hear that someone didn't get the support they need. The thirteen-year-old girl who still lives on inside of me (something akin to emotional Asherman's syndrome since internal scarring from the middle school years is so intense that it remains with you indefinitely. If only someone could invent a lap that could remove that) imagines that person sitting alone at the lunch table. And I think we all know how much that sucks.

And at the same time, unless this becomes my job, there is only so much I can do. There will always be people I miss because there are just too many people. Even posts that I read and commented on but didn't make note of the news and I forgot it by the time I started writing the LFCA. Literally, I'm stating this here so it's in black-and-white: there are no guarantees that your news will be in LFCA unless you submit it. It is not a commentary on how much people care or how much people want to be thoughtful. It is a factor in having a community so large and without limits to its growth in place that as the circle widens, more people slip through the cracks when they wait until others take care of them.

I told Josh when we got married that I didn't want more than 106 people at the wedding. Because I knew what 107 students looked like and that was the tipping point for me. Where a kid could go through their whole day without interacting with me because there were simply too many kids in one space.

And yet, I will never put a limit on the blogroll beyond the general guidelines we already have in place (namely, that you need to be part of the ALI community). So what do you do when the group grows beyond what you are capable of interacting with successfully?

I listened to all sides of the story: the people who said the LFCA helped them and they thought it worked. The people who said they felt left out and really wanted someone reading their blog to submit their news. The people who said that they found the fact that people clicked over and didn't comment unhelpful and somewhat hurtful in its trainwreckiness. The people who said that they didn't mind if people didn't comment as long as they cared enough to click over and read their words. The people who said that they didn't realize they could submit their own news and now will.

One other factor that people should understand is that no one knows which blurbs were sent in by the person, which were added by me, and which were added by Clickers or friends. Even I don't pay attention to that (um...except the blurbs I write...I'm sort of aware of those). The email address is only there for the few times when I've had a question or need a clarification. I just wanted to clear that up in the cases where people were mentioning shyness about sending in their own news. No one knows because I change all blurbs to third-person.

The badges have already begun working. I used one yesterday and when I clicked over to my form to make sure it uploaded, I saw that three other people had sent the same blurb for the same person, so I had the blurb from the person, from me, and from two of their readers. Will it continue to work indefinitely? I'm not sure. I think it can help people if you put a link to the form at the bottom of the post or place the badge on your sidebar. It certainly serves as a reminder and a clear clue that you want it sent.

At the same time, if you know you want it sent, I personally would just send it. This isn't about testing your readers or testing me or seeing how much people care about you. People can care a great deal about you, but they can't read your mind. They may truly not know that it matters to you to appear on the LFCA.

By which I mean, at a basic level, we all know that it's nice when someone links to us and tells us that our words were heard. But even knowing that, there are people that I know love the LFCA and people that I wasn't sure cared about the space until they left a comment about it yesterday. And your readers may not know how you feel--if you care deeply that your news is sent; if it would be nice, but not the end-all and be-all; or if you would rather not have people coming over who aren't normal readers. As you can see from the responses, there were a wide range of comments that included both ends of the spectrum.

Let me put it this way: if I have a post I picked to Kirtsy and then someone sends me their post and asks me to Kirtsy it, I will go 9 times out of 10 with the one someone sent in. The reason is that if both posts contain important ideas or are great, I'm going to go with the one where I know it matters to the person. I want to get great writing out there and I want the general world to understand our community. But I also want to make someone happy who is clearly telling me that this will make them happy. And the same is somewhat true for the LFCA. Anything sent in gets in with few exceptions. But 9 times out of 10, I use my time uploading what was sent in, rather than looking for more to add. What I personally add comes from my daily reading route or random places I clicked over to read. But I first make sure all the people who essentially said to me, "this is what I want" get what they want.

I wasn't hurt by the anonymous comment that kicked this off--my experience via emails and comments has been that LFCA helps more people than it hurts. And by my mid-30s, I've realized that I can't make all people happy nor is it my job. I mean, it literally isn't my job. I have an hour to myself each day and I use a third of it to make the LFCA post. I'm happy to do so because I have often used the LFCA myself for support. I'm not complaining about the work--I'm merely stating it to keep things in perspective. I can only do so much and still have time to do my paid job, not have the house fall apart, raise the twins, make Josh vegan chicken sandwiches, send Jendeis emails about fingerboarding, and watch every Brothers & Sisters episode on continual play.

So someone can complain, but the answer is that I'm doing all I can do in terms of scope. And that the only direction is to streamline the process more or get more people involved in helping. I am at capacity.

I don't think the nature of the LFCA is going to change at its core even from this discussion. I hope that more people will click over today and will leave comments. But I also think the nature of the blogosphere itself is to read more than comment and to scan more than click over. So if you are unhappy with the LFCA itself and don't wish for your blog to be included, I encourage you to let me know. Years ago, when we started the LFCA, there was an initial discussion about posting the news without asking and 100% of the people who responded said go for it because the news was already posted publically on the person's blog. All the LFCA does is direct people towards where news exists. I do not post anything that is on a password-protected blog unless the person submitted it and I leave birthdays that are on the calendar vague in terms of date if the person hasn't posted about their birthday yet (by the way, when you submit any anniversary-like news that repeated yearly, I add it to the calendar to pop up each year). But if you never want your news included, let me know and I can keep out any updates on your blog. And if there is ever a blurb you want removed, let me know and I can take it down.

Certainly the solution is not to throw out the whole concept, but to have conversations like this where people can weigh in with ideas on how to make the system work better. In addition, no one needs to formally become a Clicker--you can simply take the job upon yourself and send in news as you see it. In fact, with the size of the blogroll (and Cassandra and I have been working for a while to prune it of deadlinks and she deserves a huge thank you for all of the work she has done on that and for the LFCA in general), I think the Clicker system no longer works at all and so the answer is not to get more of them but for everyone to consider themselves a Clicker and submit any news they see.

Keeping going down to get to today's LFCA. And take to heart what people said yesterday in terms of what type of support helps.


nancy said...

Although I do want everyone to feel supported, I feel bad that you have to go through such explanation. This is something that works for the majority and something you worked on and put a lot of hours into - to support others. Yet you are the one "under attack" (i know you aren't upset) at trying to make sure everyone is happy. I know you already know this, you'll never make everyone happy regardless of how much you do or how "fair" you try to make it.

I believe in the bottom line. Simply put - you want support? Put it in yourself. However the snippet got to LFCA, the request for support is there.

I also have something to say about people who click over yet may not comment. I don't comment all the time, but I do put "good vibes" out there for the person. The reasons I don't comment vary. Since I have 3 kids after my own IF journey, I'm not always the one they want to "see" comments coming from. Or maybe I just don't know what to say in special circumstances. I tried, but I'm unsure of it. I hope that when people see clicks w/out the same number of comments, they do understand there is unspoken support too. I hope it makes them feel less alone - that their story was shared with other people out there. That should definitely count.

areyoukiddingme said...

I just want to thank you for doing all of this. I find it amazing that you have time to organize all of these things, read tons of blogs, write insightful and interesting posts and article, and do all of the other everyday stuff that makes up a life (although I am curious about how to make a vegan chicken sandwich. Isn't that an oxymoron?)

I'm frequently one of Nancy's unspoken supporters...I read what people have to say, but find myself unable to craft a response that I think will be adequate to the situation. Maybe it would help some people to have the gadget that keeps track of idea for ASOHWT?

Lori Lavender Luz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori Lavender Luz said...

First, a shout-out to you for your 5x-weekly contribution to this community gathering place.

And to Cassandra for her time/effort in tidying it up.

Second, an idea to replace the Clicker concept:

When we take a group of kids to a swim park or on a hike, we use a buddy system so that each person has ready support.

For people who want to have their stuff submitted but not submit it themselves, I say find yourself a buddy. Someone who will read you faithfully and pass on your news to LFCA. And someone with whom you reciprocate the favor.

Peace out.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

I think Lori's buddy system idea is fantastic. It's reciprocal so people aren't just doing things for you--both people are doing things for each other.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mel,
I completely agree with Nancy's post...and I appreciate the LFCA so much!

Sometimes I don't comment either, because I can't think of the right thing to say. But I too am thinking of that person and sending out positive thoughts their way.

Thank you for doing all of this!!

Oh, and I love the buddy-system idea!

Jendeis said...

I've hit the big time; I'm f-ing famous!

Many thanks to Cassandra for her work in pruning the blogroll.

Many thanks to you for your tireless efforts on behalf of all of us. Much love to you!

Anonymous said...

I came to ask you to explain Kirsty to me-if you want to email or do another HEY DUMMY THIS IS HOW IT WORKS post that is cool too.

But now I have to say I love the buddy system idea too! The clickers are unimaginably busy-I have though about being one, but don't have the time right now. Yet if I had a buddy or a group of buddies within my listing (PCOS) I would be happy to post their news.

Let me know if I can help if this gets off the ground.

'Murgdan' said...

I just want to thank you for all you do.

Nadine said...

I'm with Nancy, I like what you do, and appreciate it. I'm one of those peopel who read and don't comment, because I may not have anything to say (I've never misscarried or been pregnant or given birth etc, etc, etc) so I don't write anything, it's not mean of me, I still think good thoughts for the people, sometimes, I just got nothing to say. I never take it personally when people read and don't comment (not everyone has something to say about surrogacy).
Thanks for all your hard work,

Anonymous said...

I love the buddy system idea. I'd love to volunteer to be someone's buddy.

MrsSpock said...

Lori has a great idea!

Jamie said...

I want to echo the previous comments about how much you are appreciated.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm such a n00b so I kinda missed posting in the previous LFCA comments section, but I visit a few blogs, I just physically can't visit as many as I'd like but I like the make the ones that I do visit worth it, by leaving a comment. I do visit the LFCA especially if someone has posted news in the 'needing support' area.

If there is nothing I can really say b/c I don't really identify or have the experience, I don't say anything.

I also like the buddy system and I must admit despite being a newb I really dig and NEED the support the online community has, because truthfully, I don't get this 'understanding' in my real life, where my infertility is a cloaked thief in the night, stealing my sanity.

I completely appreciate what you and Cassandra do (although I must admit I had no idea how huge it was until recently), its awesome to have found this place. And seeing as my job kinda fired me for IVF, I have a heap of spare time if y'all need a 'newby' hand with anything during the week.

Thanks again.


bleu said...

Ya know why I like even the tiny one or two word comments? Because they mean I was heard, and when I am in a rough place, just being heard seems to be what helps me. LFCA , for me, is about being heard, and even better understood, that is whewre I get my healing. Thanks to you Mel I have had a lot of healing through it.

Me said...

Again, I say, LFCA rocks. Thank you.

Bea said...

The buddy system is great.

I would also like to add that blogging doesn't work for everyone. Stuff happens in the blogosphere, like, people click over and don't comment, or they say "me too" even though you don't personally like that, or you get missed on these blogrolls, or specific commenters drop in and out and you were really relying on that particular person. It took me a while to get comfortable with the way the blogosphere works and what I could expect from it.

The workings of LFCA is a certain slice of the way it works in general. Some prefer one "mode" of blogging and some another - but some may feel more supported through means other than the blogosphere, and that's ok - we all have different buttons and need different things from our network.