Monday, 9 May 2016

A-OK and not Zero-sum: A-Z Reflections




(: Wah! kya party hai, boss! Pura blogosphere thumakda!* :)



Make your choice, adventurous Stranger (and/or Friend!) and read whichever you prefer :



 The short version



I had great fun this A-Z, as always. Hooked! Beyond delighted to grab my third survivor badge.  Looking forward to my fourth already!






The L-o-ng Version



First off, I got a pile of books, a totally unforeseen bonanza! One of poetry (OMG humongous yay!), one of short stories, (Parallels: Felix Was Here!!! a gem of a book, thoroughly enjoyed it, thoroughly recommend it!), a novel set in Egypt! that I've been hankering to read forever, and then another steampunk/alternate history. Can't believe it still! What’s not to love??  


Heartfelt thanks for these go out to Michelle Wallace at Writer in Transit, Dean K Miller, L. G. Keltner at Writing off the Edge, and last but not least, to Roland Yeomans at Writing in the Crosshairs.  

I rarely look at blog stats, too much like work. But I did run a quick comparison with A-Z last year, and the views were down 10%, the visitor comments went way, way off the charts.  Yup, I know.  It doesn’t make any sense. This is why I don’t look :)



Despite my own happy-baffled state of stats, I saw blogposts with few or no comments. Commenting’s been discussed threadbare many times, so I’m not saying anything new.  A core, relatively small group of bloggers visits and comments/reciprocates every year. The rest don’t engage.   I don’t have the foggiest why. Confused! 


Luckily, this is also something I have no control over, so no need to stress :) What I do have control over is my own involvement and reciprocation, and that's my focus. This year I freed up my time by scheduling practically 100% of the content here, and used that time to read/comment instead. I read heaps of superbly amazing posts, viewed equally mind blowing photographs, learnt a raft of new stuff, connected and reconnected with bloggers known and new.  (
Few blogs that I particularly enjoyed were Relax n RavePotpouri and Samantha Redstreake Geary's.) I did some things better this year than previously. I also found some things which I need to improve at. What more can one ask? Happy.  


One of the negatives I encountered - sites aggressively peddling products on A-Z, a first.  Discreet promotion is fine, embedding links etc, and I appreciate a creative and innovative promotional campaign as well as anybody else.  But pushy, in-my-face, thinly-veiled sales pitches masquerading as posts felt rather off-putting.  



For me, the good mostly outweighs the bad and ugly as a general rule.  Most things, A-Z no exception, have benefits which can't be inserted into any post. I have already mentioned one instance in a March entry. There's also the addition of 26 researched, themed posts into the archives which continue to draw visitors after the blogfest is over. There are the writing related ideas sparked off here and there, the sharpening of the writing itself, the nuggets of self-awareness. 
Okay, let me just say the A-Z acts like a ginormous, diffuse, slow-release prompt. Then there are the connects with individuals, the brightest sparks of all. How does one even put a value on all of these? 


The returns depend on what one invests and also what one wants to get out of it. I personally have never had any cause to complain, always get a decent enough ROI :)  


In short, I had great fun this A-Z, as always. Hooked! Beyond delighted to grab my third survivor badge.  Looking forward to my fourth already!








Posted for the A-Z Reflections, click the link to read other bloggers recap their experience. 

A final round of applause for the A-Z team


Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Jeremy Hawkins @ Hollywood Nuts
Damyanti Biswas @ Daily Write
Heather M. Gardner @ The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Author AJ Lauer
Pam Brown Margolis @ An Unconventional Librarian
Zalka Csenge Virág @ The Multicolored Diary
Joy Campbell @ The Character Depot
John Holton @The Sound of One Hand Typing 


and for the visitors and commenters who kept the morale high and the words fizzing and popping.  

* Borrowing and paraphrasing two famous Bollywood based lines.  ~ Wah, kya scene hai! means wow, what a scene! the title of a 1990's TV programme, and Sara London thumakda is a number from a very successful 2014 Bollywood film, meaning 'the whole of London's dancing'.





67 comments:

  1. There were quite a few that didn't engage. No idea why.
    The ad sites who were actually posting for the Challenge - that might need to be addressed next year. Where do we draw the line on what's acceptable?
    Thanks again for being an awesome Ninja Minion!

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    1. I'm thinking maybe some bloggish bad elves organise a link dumpers/grumpy bloggers re-union every year at the A-Z? :)

      I am not qualified to advise re the drawing of lines, but I did come across shrill posts going something like C is for claim your coupon now...which imho just lowers the tone of the A-Z.

      Commercial sites should be barred from participating. Personal sites which are aggressively promoting their own products should perhaps have mandatory tags warning the other participants, like you guys do for the AC blogs. That way people who are not interested in those types of blogs would know to avoid, and equally people who are, can zoom in. Just my thoughts.

      It was a totally wonderful experience being a Ninja Minion, thank you for the opportunity.

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  2. I have to say that your posts were some of the most entertaining I visited this year. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    Visit Keith's Ramblings

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    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed the posts. As of now, I am completely blank as to what I will do next year. But am not panicking right away :) It will dawn on me in due course no doubt...I still have time :)

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  3. I'd say you summed things up perfectly. It was a very fun April, and your blog was an excellent find for me. Kudos

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    1. I can honestly say I...um...reciprocate your feelings in this matter, no pun intended nor taken I hope :) It has truly been an amazing April, thanks to finding bloggers like you.

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  4. So happy so many people had a great month during April. I have given up trying to figure out blog stats because I think the goal posts keep changing :).
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings

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    1. Haha you totally nailed it re the blog stats Thanks for being here. It's been a great April absolutely!

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  5. Congrats Nilanjana. Was very amazed and amused by your posts. You are so gifted.:)

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    1. Thanks, Seena. You are way more amazing surviving the challenge being a mum with young family. Kudos!

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  6. Hi Nila - loved your posts (even though I didn't participate in the Challenge) - I just wish people would be polite enough to do what's right in the circumstances - follow properly .. comment etc - or just withdraw and leave the time free ...

    But it is fun - and as always some great reads .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary, and many thanks for your support throughout the challenge! Sorely missed your amazing A-Z posts this year, looking forward to reading them next fest.

      There are the grumpy, impolite bloggers but there are also people like yourself who do the decent thing and withdraw... and cheer from the sidelines even if you are not participating. EC is another example, generous souls both. Can't tell you how much I appreciate that! Ciao

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  7. I enjoyed your theme a ton. Glad you had a good time.

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    1. Oh I did indeed! Glad to know you enjoyed the posts. Thanks for being here.

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  8. I really enjoyed my daily visits. Many congratulations on the spectacular writing and for completing the Challenge. Have a great week.

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    1. Thanks, Nicola! You totally summed up the challenge for me with that line about how it was a pleasure to communicate daily with a bunch of super talented bloggers. Binnnggo!

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  9. It was a great learning experience for me on the engagement side, especially your point on creating posts in advance in order to spend more time on blog visits.

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    1. That was my unstated A-Z goal this year, and advance scheduling really worked for me. Glad you found it useful. Thanks for visiting.

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    1. Thanks, Susan! So are you!

      Your posts were beyond superb! I fully intend to catch up on the ones I missed, I know I couldn't go back to your blog as frequently as I would have liked to during April.

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  11. I thought your challenge was great and very creative! I could never come up with one limerick, let alone 26! I'm the worst at commenting (and pretty bad at responding to comments to) and I don't tend to pay that close attention to them in general...but the feel that I'm getting from the Reflections posts is that it does tend to bother some (although you seem pretty cool about it). Guess that's a good goal to strive for next year!

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    1. Thanks for the warm words. This was my third A-Z so I knew what to expect, only 20% of the bloggers return comments. You are right it doesn't bother me so much, because I don't see the point in stressing about things I cannot change. Enough things to worry about without that :)

      However, I must point out that comments are the only way a blogger has to interact with other bloggers, and A-Z provides a perfect platform to reach out to blogs that one wouldn't normally visit. I do feel it's a shame to waste that opportunity. It's all round a fun thing when people blog together, the buzz and the camaraderie are pleasant to experience. I wish you success with your goals next year. All the best.

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  12. You certainly made this fun. Your fans and I appreciate your effort

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    1. Thank you Martin for your lovely words! Though have to say no fans here, only friends and readers :)

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  13. I enjoyed your posts very much and tried to comment often. I put your site on my blogroll very early during the A to Z Challenge, by the way.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement through out! Glad to know that you enjoyed the limericks. It was an experiment, a complete departure from the kind of poetry I normally write, so pretty shaky about the idea.

      Follows and blogroll addition are areas which I could majorly improve, because it kind of spun out of control after the first couple of days. I followed back some, I bookmarked others, it wasn't systematic. Not exactly a streamlined strategy! I have every intention of straightening that out over this month though. I also intend to catch up on all the blogposts I might have missed, not just at yours but others as well.

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  14. I am so very impressed each year at the ingenuity and effort which goes into the A-Z. And loved those of your limericks I read before life demanded time out.

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    1. Thank you, EC! Your being here was entirely the antidote for those grumpy bloggers who didn't return a single comment of mine :) Much valued, much appreciated, truly!

      This time I got a behind-the-scenes peek at the sheer work the co-hosts put in to keep a blogfest as huge as the A-Z, smooth and hitch free for the rest of us, and it is astounding. They have my serious respect.

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  15. Great thoughts, I did the long version but love the short version!

    Luckily I didn't come across any really pushing their sales blogs, I do generally buy some things (books mostly) during the challenge but it's always been an organic thing after reading something and then going to search out the product.

    I love reading about other people's experiences of the challenge, always nice to see where we cross over.

    Mars xx
    http://www.curlingstonesforlegopeople.com/

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    1. Promoting books indirectly is completely fine, many participants do that, some with great innovative posts too. I think the stated objectives of the A-Z include promotion and marketing so no issues there.

      I recall one site selling baby stuff, no writing beyond the product description conforming to the letter for the day.

      I like reading about other peoples' reflections too, get ideas for improving on the aspects that need it, apart from comparing notes :) Thanks for visiting.

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    2. I only picked up one book this year, mostly due to my lack of time but I love it when I read author's blog post whether they're snippets or something else. Getting a feel for their writing means anything I enjoy I can look for the book!

      Mars xx

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  16. Wow, short and sweet Nila! I saw you garnered a lot of comments on many posts. Well done you! Your poetry/prose is wonderful!

    Denise :-)

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    1. Thanks, Denise! This time I kept the posts short and light. And spent as little time here on this blog as possible. I think it's made some difference. Apart from the minionship, of course.

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  17. Nice to see that you are already pumped for 2017's challenge. I enjoyed the challenge this year as well and participating beyond just posts is very important.

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    1. That is so, so true about participating beyond posts being important! Thanks for visiting.

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  18. I enjoyed your posts and your visits to my blog. :) Of the long list of blogs I'd set out to visit each day at the beginning of the month, only a third paid reciprocal visits, which ended up paring down my list to a much more manageable length and made room for several new blogs to be added throughout the month.

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    1. Yeah, that's the good thing about not getting reciprocal visits/comments, they cut down your visit lists :D

      Seriously though, I'd say 33% is a great rate, mine would be close to 20% or so.

      The bottomline is most of us had great fun through out, grumpy bloggers notwithstanding.

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  19. I would have liked to have participated more. As it was, I did comment way more than I normally do. I favorited a few of them on my bloglovin' and went back frequently to those sites. But, as a first-timer, I can say that just keeping up with the writing overwhelmed me a little, but I am proud to say that I am a survivor and I did every day! I enjoyed your reflections. I did not see the commercial sites you were talking about, but I am sure if I had, I would not have returned. I agree that this challenge is about community, not about selling.

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    1. Congrats to you for doing a great job!

      I think that's the overall consensus - that we would have liked to have read more. I started with a vague idea of covering 25% of the sign ups, and I have made that, and I'm okay with that. Much as I would have liked to have done more, it isn't feasible in my situation so no point stressing or hankering. For now just chilling and maybe later revisit blogs that I couldn't last month.

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  20. Last year was my first challenge, and I was a bad blogger by not responding or returning comments. This year was vastly different, as I was prepared ahead of time and set out to make new friends. Despite all that I went through this past month, I was still able to reply and return visits - and yes, even struck out on my own to make new visits. I think it takes dedication and desire to be able to accomplish the task.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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    1. Absolutely agree. If one is looking at the challenge as more than writing/posting serially, and wants to engage with other bloggers, then advance preparation is key. And where there is a will there is a way, as they say. Kudos for sticking to and achieving your objectives, many people in your situation would have been overwhelmed.

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  21. As Mary just wrote: all it takes is the inner resolve to do what has to be done to be a considerate blogger. I enjoyed your posts, Nilanjana. :-)

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    1. Thank you for being here Roland, and thank you for making this year's A-Z extra special :)

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  22. The spammers, brought me down... it's like "have you ever bought anything from a spam site or email"?... yeah me either. We made it...Hope you had a great time, thank you for your Reflection!
    Jeremy [Retro]
    AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2016]

    T-SHIRTS, MUGS, FREE MAGAZINE... OH MY!

    HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
    Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

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    1. Yes, we made it and I think a great time was had by all! Thank you, and other co-hosts, for a wonderful challenge.

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  23. Glad you enjoyed the A-Z challenge! It's a lot of work, but always fun to meet new bloggers.

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    1. Work and fun and great to meet new bloggers, ticks all boxes, yup!

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  24. I'm borrowing your words. I hope you don't mind...

    I had great fun this A-Z, as always. Hooked! Beyond delighted to grab my sixth survivor badge. Looking forward to my seventh already!

    Thank you for the GREAT entertainment during April, Nila! Your posts were AB-FAB! It's such a pleasure to visit your blog.
    It always is.
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Thank you Michelle. Your posts were phenomenal, your whole theme idea was! An illustration of promotion and collaboration and engagement done beautifully. For me it epitomised what the A-Z is all about really.

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  25. I think it's bizarre that people don't want to interact - I guess they are the type of people that expect something for nothing. I love visiting the other blogs, that's the best part!
    Debbie

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    1. Yes agree. Weird and rude. But in the end, it's they who lose out on a huge part of the fun.

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  26. Now i got that song in my head! Thumakte thumakte I got all entangled and tripped over and over again as I giggled my way through all the limericks - sad that the challenge is over. Perhaps I will read again to get my daily dose of laughter :)

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    1. Yeah, end of A-Z is always mixed feelings. Easy May, but easy is a little bit boring too :)

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  27. Just now finding your blog as I begin to read the reflections on the participants list. The #Challenge is a wonderful experience, this my 4th year. Learn something new overtime. I would love to know the number of those who began on April 1, and how many of those finished. Love finding new bloggers who toil away in the vineyard of writing. See you next year for sure.

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    1. Agree. The challenge teaches me something new every single time. 'The vineyard of writing' is completely awesome!!
      See you next year same time, same place! borrowing a friend's words.

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  28. Those who didn't engage might be newbies. I didn't know what I was doing when I first started blogging. I'd post something and sit back and wait for comments. What? I'm supposed to comment on other blogs? (It took a little while for that to sink in.)

    This was one of my favorite stops. Well done.

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    1. True. I was diffident about commenting when I was a newbie too. It took a while to overcome that. A-Z helped me do that in fact :)

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  29. Hey Nila, I finally got out of the hibernation that I went on post the challenge! What an amazing time I had! Loved your reflection post as much as I did all your 26 posts! Commenting and reciprocation does get tough especially if one is ill-prepared, but folks should realize that, that is the main highlight of this challenge! I loved connecting with you and your fabulous blog, a really cool style you have! See you around :)

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    1. The main thing is to get through to Z :) and we did that! Commenting is important if the priority is to connect, and it's great fun to boot. I think you did pretty well on both fronts posting and commenting, tougher to do it if you're not scheduling posts, no two opinions on that. So definitely deserving of extra dollops of praise!! :) Ciao for now.

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  30. The a-z is definitely one of a kind. Some of us get hooked and there is no turning back. I'm one of them and this was my 4th a-z. It did seem different though. I lost and gained followers, and came out even at the end, which I found odd. Unfortunately, I did not get to your blog as often as I wanted, but liked what I saw :) I did try to reciprocate every visit, but struggled when I got behind.

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    1. Your a-z posts were amazing! The quality and diversity of the themes and posts this year was just mind blowing generally.

      Returning comments takes a huge chunk of time, which I sometimes failed to anticipate and so fell behind, but managed to catch up during weekends. One of my challenges is that my weekend does not coincide with the a-z one and I have to build that in as well. All told I too did not get to as many posts as I would have liked, but that's more or less what everybody feels.

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  31. I'm a fellow A to Zer. Shamefully, I did not make it to everyone's blogs. I enjoyed reading a few of your posts today though!

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Thank you for stopping by! If you are here from the A-Z, please leave me your link. A clicky link would be super, but just your url pasted in will do fine too. Just please, please, don't leave me to figure things out from a Google profile! :-)