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Your host, PM 'Papa' Carpenter


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December 30, 2015


Patience grasshopper. On behalf of all your readers but principally myself I'd like to ask, what are your intentions? Recognizing right up front that a man and his family gotta eat and that providing this little nook requires considerable poorly compensated effort what then, as Tolstoy asked, must we do? What do you need? Readers? Commenters? Does quality matter? I would venture to suggest it isn't sycophantic concurrence. This I know. I think we can help but guidance on goals is required. I have my own opinions. ( no surprise there)

You have an excellent commentariat but many rarely comment or offer either concurring or dissenting opinions. One of the things that would generate improvement would be to elicit more voices to comment. This might not result in direct economic improvement but it would I think generate more traffic. So what kind of traffic would you like? A little Duffer leaveneth the loaf but one wouldn't want too much yeast. That sort of thing can become exhausting and before you know it moderators are required. I wrote on another thread of the evolution of blogs, specifically of the lost voices who disappeared from their blogging homes for failure to concur and disgust with the strident conformity that many places require. I actually had your blog in mind as a healthy alternative for those willing to test their opinions and beliefs. This is a natural home for those very people. I admired quite a few of them even as I strongly disagreed with them. Given the nature of your writing you need smart people. Not necessarily those who've had plenty of formal education. But they must be intelligent. It's the well developed frontal lobe thing again. Must have. That's the kind of traffic I think you need if this blog is not ultimately to turn into a bothersome bore. That's what I think you need.

But now I have to ask you to do the thing you rarely do and directly answer the question: what do you think you need? Tell us.

A: More readers like you and other commenters and all my contributors, simple as that. The readership is self-selecting — my FB ad frames this page as a "center-left" site "sympathetic to Burkean conservatism." The peculiar wording was deliberate, in that it alone, I should think, whittles away maybe 95 percent of online political readers. I want to reach the reflective, thoughtful, non-tribal 5 percent. Just reach them, that's all. It's then up to me to keep them.

It'll be okay. I'll hop on over to FB and give you a good ol' fuck you.

I hope I liked the right FB page. I try to support this site as much and as often as I can. I sent money a couple of weeks ago, I hope you got it. Wish it could have been more.

No further reply is necessary. That's what I wanted confirmed. I think we can help. I'm not a particularly talented marketer myself but I have studied the subject as applied psychology. It's one of those things anyone in business must consider whether they enjoy it or not. Your problem sucks I'm afraid. It is the marketer's nightmare. You need intelligent people of strong and uncommon opinion who are nevertheless reasonably tolerant and respectful of other's opinions. And I want a unicorn. The audience and participants you seek are relatively rare but all is not lost. They invented this thing to bring widely separated people of common interest together. It is called the Internet. I think it is possible to do what you need.

Let me bore you all with a few marketing examples. When Chanel no 5 was first marketed it was designed to be a high quality product with expensive ingredients but sold at an affordable price. Volume over margin. And they couldn't give it away because no one believed that the two were compatible. Returned to the market at triple the price it sold like hot cakes. Such is the value of exclusivity or the perception thereof. Next consider National Geographc. Few enough are old enough to remember this but once upon a time you could not simply subscribe to Nat Geo. You had to be sponsored by an existing subscriber who would vouch for your high moral standing. I'm not kidding.

So if I had to build what you want to build I would take advantage of a couple of salient features. A bug must become a feature. Your prose is sometimes a little daunting. You could dumb it down but that would be a mistake. The selling point for me is not that this place required knowledge but that it was a place where it could be acquired. You are at your best when giving historical perspective. So no dumbing down.

On the other hand, you want to be the place where the smart people hang out. So does every blog yet I am aware (ahem left and right) that many of them are mistaken. Self selection will work here but winnowing is required. The key will be for us, your current readership, to build this place the way a multi-level marketing would, as a quasi-exclusive club to which not all are suitable members. Sadly you cannot do your own horn blowing. And I cannot speak for anyone else but I don't actually know that many people personally that I would nominate and vouch for to bring into the club. But I know a few. I imagine we all do. Which means the process of expansion must necessarily be slow.

I shall have to give some thought to how to go about finding the disappeared ones. I know them only as anonymous persons with names like Ricky and Andy K. I know they would join this club. A quote by Ricky of a mysterious dude named PM Carpenter is how I backtracked here in the first place.

My wife had an online business for a while and hired people to game Google so her site would come up near the top of related searches. I don't know if that's still possible, though. There's always the unsolicited submission route to get some notice, but that's no fun and I have the rejection letters (from many years ago) to prove it (though I did get published in a small magazine once and was paid enough for a night out by myself). Blog sites usually let you leave a link with a comment. Other than that I got nothing.

Come to think of it Boing Boing accepts submissions. Probably other sites do too.

'a "center-left" site "sympathetic to Burkean conservatism." The peculiar wording was deliberate, in that it alone, I should think, whittles away maybe 95 percent of online political readers.'

So sad, so true

Even more dispiriting is that when I read that peculiar wording I felt it described me quite well. Why is such a sensible outlook so rare?

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