It’s really hard to believe that another A2Z Challenge has come and gone. I told myself that this year, I would stay on top of things and for the most part, I did. I completed the challenge with not one blog, but two. This was only possible by writing and scheduling posts for one of the blogs ahead of time. What I still found incredibly difficult with this challenge was visiting others’ blogs during the challenge. The volume of participants is enormous. It creates a huge amount of pressure and anxiety, at least it does in me. It is probably the one aspect of the challenge that makes me question whether or not to participate each year.
I must say though that the quality of posts this year has been amazing. I’ve only read a small fraction of the participating blogs, but those I have read so far have blown me away. There are so many gifted bloggers out there and the A2Z brings out the best in them all.
I also learned a few interesting things that I would love to share:
- Feedly became an invaluable tool for me. I added nearly every blog that participated in the challenge to it. Hopefully this will enable me to go back after the challenge and read A2Zs without needing to check the sign-up list every day. So if I haven’t visited you yet, please know, you are on my Feedly and I will get around to you eventually!
- Using a signature this year improved my chances of visitors to my blog. I use WordPress and Blogger is not all that friendly toward us WordPress users when it comes to allowing us to comment under our WP ids on Blogger accounts. The signature gave me the freedom to just comment and go with minimal fuss. I will admit that sometimes Blogger still frustrated me with the hoops you must jump through to prove you are not a robot. Now along with checking the little box, you have to identify pictures of things. Often the pictures are so small and unidentifiable and it became very frustrating.
- One area that I am still quite irritated with though is the lack of Archives, Calendars and even in some cases, no Categories sections on some people’s blogs. This put me off more than anything last year and it is still an issue in some cases this year. I’ve decided that when I go back to visit other blogs this year, that if none of these things are present (which would force me to scroll through months of posts to find the A2Z posts), then I will just not be reading those blogs.
- Another minor irritant is that some people have their comments section set to close comments after a certain set time period. They may not even be aware that they have this set as an option, but if they do, then it makes no sense to me. Don’t you want someone say in two months to be able to comment on your post? I know I would. Still, this is a minor thing as I rarely run across it, but when I do, it is irritating.
I am not sure I have many suggestions for the facilitators of this challenge. I think you all do an amazing job hosting this each year. I cannot even begin to imagine all of the planning it must take to put this together and have it run smoothly. I really enjoyed the tips that were posted on the A2Z blog before the challenge and all of the wonderful words of encouragement posted during the challenge. Those made a huge difference for me and really helped me have an enjoyable experience this year.
The only area that I wish there could be improvements made is the category codes. I wish they were mandatory, that if you didn’t include a code, then your blog would be deleted. It would really help to know what ALL of the blogs are categorized as. This way I could direct my attentions say on just hobby related or writing related. I don’t much care for surprises or wasting my time on things I would never have an interest in. Gosh that sounds horrid, but it is honestly how I feel. One thing I was thinking about during the challenge was I wish there were separate sign-ups for each category. I know that would probably cause a lot more work for the facilitators, but it would certainly make things easier for those of us interested in just certain topics. And I wish the categories lined up with the themes of the A2Z and not what the blog itself is all about. Some blogs are so random as to not even have a theme. And well, I guess not everyone does themes either, but those could be in a category titled random or general. The only area I would see a conflict is for blogs that post Adult Content. But I am sure there would be a way to work that out. Like using two codes instead of just one. Anyway, just a thought that I am sure will never be implemented.
Here are a few stats from my A2Z posts:
- Most viewed post: Adele (didn’t really surprise me as it was the first post)
- Least viewed post: Billy Zane (again, no surprise as it was the last)
- Most liked post: Buddha
- Least liked post: W.B. Yeats (huge surprise)
- Most commented on post: Adele
- Least commented on post: tie between John Updike and W.B. Yeats (huge surprise too)
- Most viewed post: Adam 2.0 (not that big a surprise as it was the first)
- Least viewed post: Signaled (huge surprise as I was prompting a friend’s book that day too)
- Most liked post: Byal’s Mission
- Least liked post: Signaled (again, huge surprise)
- Most commented on post: Centran Awakens
- Least commented on post: Quiescent No More (this one received ZERO comments. Huge surprise)
Well, that about wraps up my Reflections for this year. I enjoyed the challenge and I look forward to visiting more of the A2Z posts on others’ blogs now that the challenge is over. See you all again next year!
16 thoughts on “A-to-Z Reflections”
TWO??? Wow, you are ambitious to participate in the challenge with two blogs. Well done. I’m happy to have survived with my one (first year).
I appreciate that you took the time to spell your suggestions out. I agree with your idea to have sign ups by category. I spend a lot of time opening blogs that were of no interest to me. I have no patience with the blogs that are hard to navigate are cluttered, and hard to read. Your idea that a category must be included is a good place to start If you have a minute, explain to me Feedly. This is a new one on me. Thanks for your reflection, a big help to the #Challenge.
My pleasure, Stepheny. Feedly is a tool where you add the URL to places you visit frequently. It collects all of their posts and displays them for you daily. It helped a lot to keep up with blogs I want to visit later
Fab reflections, I agree that the tags should reflect the A to Z theme rather than the blog’s main theme as they are often different. I do like visiting blogs in categories that I wouldn’t necessarily write in though, sometimes those surprises are the best finds!
Thanks, Debbie.. Oh I found some other categories that were different from my usual.. like tons of knitters and crafters, genealogy blogs, even one on Zombies! *shivers* but it would still be nice to know what I am reading upfront. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me!
This was my first year participating, and I so echo your comments about categories. I was one that didn’t choose one, simply because I didn’t think my blog / theme fit in any available. However, I soon found it tough to locate quickly blogs that I thought would hold my interest. That, in turn, makes it tough to comment meaningfully. I hope they expand the categories somehow next year.
I used feedly, too, but only when I found a blog I liked. I like the idea of adding more (most? all?) and going back to read later. Will probably do that next time around.
Good observations and tips!
Thank you! I too would like to see the categories expanded… some just didn’t fall into any of the available ones at all… hopefully they will work to improve it. Did you have a good time participating in the A2Z? It can be both fun and exhausting! Will be by to check out your blog soon! Have a great week!
Another great recap post. Yours is the first I’ve seen that mentioned using Feedly. I am struggling with finding a workable way to support other bloggers by making some attempt to follow their blogs in some meaningful way. I usually elect to be notified of new comments or posts, rather than sign up for their email list. But my inbox is already overflowing. Chances are excellent they will just get lost in the flow. I have had some luck following them on Twitter, then putting them into a Twitter List to keep them from being lost in the tweet torrent. That seems to work fairly well, but not everyone is on Twitter. As for Feedly as well as Google Alerts – they work great, but again I just have sooooo many to look through, I haven’t come up with an effective way to deal with all the volume.
I’m still working my way through as many participants as I can. I have yet to find a single blog that had comments disabled. But I’m only about halfway through the 1300, so maybe they are all in the second half LOL.
Lastly, re surprising lack of comments on some posts, wonder if it is less about post and more about challenge doldrums. Am thinking specifically about the Q post. Q is sort of in the afternoon nap section of the alphabet. Maybe people were just getting fatigued and had either given up on the challenge or hadn’t gotten their final burst to the finish line yet.
Thanks for your insights, Lissa.. I hope you find a way to work through your blogging dilemma (and let me know if you do so I can try it too!). As for the comments, the ones I had issues with were from last year when I went back a couple months later during the Road Trip to view their blogs and comment. They apparently had comments set to close after 30 days. So that left me unable to comment. Felt like a waste of time even if I enjoyed their content.
You may be right about the lack of comments. I know I didn’t get to visit nearly as many blogs during the challenge and comment.
Whoa, Lori! That was an awesome post!!!
Thank you, Calen 🙂
I don’t like the idea of having to decide on a category when you sign up. I didn’t decide on my A-Z focus until a week or so before April, and I signed up in either February or March! Just because you know you want to participate doesn’t mean you know how you want to participate.
I think it’s interesting that you were frustrated by a lack of calendars/archives. Rather than worrying about posting on A-Z posts, I just posted on any post I found interesting when I clicked through to a blog. Sometimes the posts I commented on were crazy old, but I thought that was ok. I didn’t mention commenting because of A-Z though. Despite being true, I felt commenting was something I really should be doing regardless of A-Z. If they commented on my blog, I wanted it to be because my post was interesting and not just one more comment to be checked off of someone’s list.
I may have to consider doing a signature next year. I did give a lot of comments, but didn’t receive as many back. Of course, I was also going down 2015’s list on accident. Oops. So maybe next year I’ll actually go down the correct list. 🙂 I only hope I can come up with a creative A-Z topic for next year.
Will you be participating in 2017?
I’m with you on categories even though I didn’t have one. I thought the categories weren’t all that helpful in selecting which blogs to visit because after a while, I don’t even remember what the initials meant. also, adult content – that certainly deserves it’s own page or something because I have to keep refusing to view a page because of it.
anyway, congrats on finishing the challenge even with 2 blogs. have a lovely day.
Congratulations on getting through another year’s A/Z! I like your suggestions, too, and yes blogger is hard to deal with. One more is I wish everyone would have a follow by email thing, because I never even think to go to the reader part. Unless I get an email notice, I never see them again.
I don’t know how you manage to write as much as you do, Lori!! Looking at your list of posts, I’ve missed reading a few of yours. I try to get to them all. Now I’m going to have to go and check whether I have a set time limit on my blog for comments ! Another bit of learning ….
I was amazed earlier in April that you were doing two blogs. Great suggestion that blogs have to use categories. Some of the other family history bloggers have suggested it would be nice to have a family history category. I’m sure other have good suggestions too.