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Misc. News

Good news, everyone!

Hi there, Awkwardeers. There’s stuff.

Holy Crap! Stuff

Sometime over the weekend we hit 9,000,000 total page views since the inception of the blog. Most viewed: Creepy guys. Least viewed: Kind of a tie for loud-sex neighbors, can you invite only half a couple to your wedding (no), and one that’s relevant for the recent job red flags discussion.

Blog Admin Stuff

Questions are open again. There are some changes about how they are being processed at the link.

You’ve probably noticed that they’ve been closed for a while. I’m sorry, I know it’s less than ideal and I have noted your Tweeted, emailed, and Tumblr’d frustration. Let me tell you about that.

  • The last two times I opened up questions, I got between 300-400 in three days. Each time. Overwhelming.
  • Also overwhelming: Running a highly unqualified, highly understaffed, highly reluctant crisis hotline out of my email. “Dear Captain Awkward, help me compose my suicide note so my family won’t be mad” “Dear Captain Awkward, I think I was just raped. Was I raped?”  I am not making fun, those topics represented about 20% of the stuff I was getting, from people who genuinely needed help and didn’t know where else to go. Where a real email address existed I did my best to refer askers to immediate crisis services, and where one didn’t I chewed my nails down to the blood hoping that they were okay. But I started avoiding my email on days when I felt that I couldn’t handle things like this. Days turned into weeks. Weeks turned into months. Months turned into “I want to open questions again, but I will get 300 of them, so, maybe next week?”

This blog runs on questions, and I can’t really hang a shingle out and then be upset that people asked questions. I would really like this to be sustainable and fun for me and useful for the community. So, based on some great suggestions from regular readers with more experience than I, and with the help of some brave volunteers, here’s what’s going to happen.

1. Questions are going to be sent to a mailbox that I have access to but do not check. Instead, a few volunteers will sort through and periodically forward on questions that might make good blog posts. This will “make the job smaller” and much more manageable for me.

I’m currently staffed up on volunteers, but will rotate them over time so no one gets burned out. If you’re interested in volunteering, hold onto that information for now – I will put out a call at some point.

2. Good blog post fodder: Short (<450 words). Not something that’s been answered & discussed many times before. Are you a dude who wants to try dating but you’re confused about feminism? We’re not that blog anymore, sorry.

3. We’ll have more topical open threads like we’ve been doing lately, where like-minded people in similar situations can connect with each other and crowd-source knowledge.

4. I’m looking for a way to do more short-form stuff – Short responses to Twitter questions? Maybe some kind of live chat? Not every question needs an accompanying essay about JENNIFERFEELINGS.

Chicago Event Stuff

On Sunday, August 11, I’ll be reading a story at that night’s That’s All She Wrote show at Swim Cafe at 7:30 pm. Maybe see some of you there? My story is about summer camp, and bullying, and revenge.

Finally, if you’re in Chicago tonight (Tuesday, July 23) and you like board games and friendly new people, The Chicago Game Lovers “newbie” night has been combined with a launch party for the Geek Bar Chicago Kickstarter campaign. Facebook Event = here. Mad River, 2909 N Sheffield, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm. No cover, just a lot of nice people playing games and teaching games, food & drink available for purchase. I will try to be there for a while after about 7pm if dratted deadlines cooperate.

Edited To Add Stuff

Organizers of the Saint Louis meetup, scheduled for this weekend, have a small request:

We had an update for the STL meetup happening on July 28. We’d like to ask anyone coming to bring a stuffed animal or doll or action figure or something similar. We’re (probably) all introverted nerds who don’t like having pictures taken, but my co-host and I thought it would be cool if we could take a group shot of everyone’s stuffed animals to show how many people showed up at the meetup. I’ll be bringing my Borg teddy bear, Locutus of Bear, and a few extra stuffed animals as well for Awkwardeers who would like to borrow one.

Can’t wait to see everyone!
Neat. Have fun.
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47 comments
  1. Congrats on 9,000,000 pageviews! That’s awesome. And the new question system sounds like a really good idea!

  2. Your success is awesome!

    Finding ways to manage the inconvenient side effects of that success is even more awesome! Yay you!

    (Sorry if this duplicates.)

  3. JetGirl said:

    The JENNIFERFEELINGS are usually the best part. That and the amusing illustrations. –A fan who will keep reading whatever you decide

    • k3ilyn said:

      Ditto that

  4. Silver Price said:

    You’re searching through your closet and find an old stuffed animal or doll from your childhood. It starts to bring back a warm memory of a specific night that’s near and dear to your heart. Suddenly, your stuffed companion begins to talk and says, “There’s something you need to know about that night.” Write this scene.

    • JenniferP said:

      I think this might be spam, so I edited out the URL, but I have to say it’s not half bad as a writing prompt.

      • Zen said:

        It is a fairly decent prompt, isn’t it? Oh, spam.

  5. > Instead, a few volunteers will sort through and periodically forward on questions that might make good blog posts.

    This is essentially what Hax does (and probly other people too) for their live chats at the Washington Post. Which is to say, you’re copying a successful formula and that is a smart thing to do. Which isn’t too surprising, on account of you are a smart puppy.

    Thank you for making this here thing that we all get to share with you.

  6. Anisoptera said:

    Thankyou for having this awesome blog. I’ve learnt so much here – it has actually made my life tangibly better.

    Just wanted to say that. 🙂

    The new email system sounds like a great work around – I can’t even imagine opening an inbox like that alone. :-O

  7. graciesonnet said:

    Yay, Jennifer! I am cool with whatever you decide. I’ve only been reading this blog for less than a year but it’s already been super helpful. Go you!

  8. Oh wow, 9 million views? That’s a lot! You rock. 🙂

    I have a suggestion for the short form question format, if it is welcome – you’ve read Ask A Manager I believe, right? I really like her “7 short answers to 7 short questions” segments. Perhaps that would be a good way of encouraging shorter, more manageable questions? I’d imagine that some 3-5 sentence “hey, was that a date that I just went on?” or “I need a short script to set this boundary” type questions would make your inbox feel a bit less overwhelming, and give you an easier place to start from without requiring a huge time and energy commitment on your part for every single post.

  9. I hope this new question system works well for you!
    I get the occasional “was this rape???” or other abuse-related question at my volunteer gig and I’m haunted by all of them for sure; I don’t know what I’d do with dozens of them all at once. I’m glad you have a system in place to take some of that strain off of you.

    • JenniferP said:

      It’s scary because there are so few places where vulnerable people feel like they can ask that question, so we want to be their big damn superheroes! But I have limits, and my limits were definitely reached.

    • Sugar&Snails said:

      I don’t know if this is an appropriate place to suggest resources for specific issues (if not please delete!), but given that there are so few places to have those conversations… The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center has a 24/7 hotline and is really open to survivors (including male and trans* survivors), and they’ll talk to people from anywhere.

      I second the hope that this system works well for you!

  10. This is such great news. It sets such a positive example for other bloggers and writers as well! Also, can I applaud you so much for being an advice columnist PREACHING RADICAL SELF-CARE AND APPLYING IT TO HERSELF. Now that’s radical.

    • Also, in case it’s not clear, sending you lots of awkward love and support, awkwardly.

      • JenniferP said:

        Soooooon I will send you questions. 🙂

    • Seconded! I Support Bloggers Blogging As They Choose (Or Not At All, Or Intermittently, Etc)!

  11. Hazel said:

    The operative question is, why don’t I have a borg teddy bear?

    • I’m guessing it came from the Star Trek Experience in Vegas, which had a variety (mine is a Q-Bear)

  12. Hope it’s ok to post this here as it’s a bit off-topic (related to the inviting a couple one), but I wanted to get a take from Awkwarders – is it ok to not invite half of a couple to your wedding on the basis that you’ve never met them? It seems a bit odd to invite people to celebrate my marriage if I’ve never met one.

    • Hazel said:

      If the couple is married or living together, you really should either invite them both or not invite them both. I know it seems silly to invite people you’ve never met, but your wedding is a celebration of marriage and partnership! If they’re dating but not married/living together, I think it’s okay to only invite one of them. But if, for example, it’s a close work colleague but you’ve never met their spouse, invite them both. Probably the partner you’ve never met has heard all about you over the years and is happy for you, and also excited to finally see you in person, if only from afar.

    • ReanaZ said:

      In general, I’d agree with inviting the partner if the couple is serious. If you really, really don’t want to, I would say it depend on a lot of factors, mainly how well you know the invite, your guess at what the response would be, the size of the wedding, and how awkward you want to make it. I think you will have to have this conversation directly with the invitee and explain why their partner can’t come. (I’ve had good friends handle this with “Sorry, our budget is tight, so not dates. Sorry.”) So doable, but definitely awkward and hurt-feelings-prone.

    • It’s a Big Deal not to invite half of a married couple. It’s almost as big a deal not to invite half of an engaged couple, or a long time cohabiting couple. Less than that… it depends. You stand a good chance of hurting feelings, especially if everyone else has partners at the wedding and they can tell that they’re the odd person out.

      Remember that a lot of people are uncomfortable at weddings, because of all the strangers. They might only know the happy couple, or one or two others. That can be really awkward and uncomfortable, and a lot of people hate that about attending weddings. Being able to bring someone means that if they get stuck at a table full of people they don’t want to talk to — and it’s happened to me, more than once — they at least have one person there to back them up.

      It’s expensive, but inviting couples as couples is a part of being a good host.

      • JenniferP said:

        One way to keep perspective – an invitation is an invitation, not an order, not a referendum.

        People can invite whoever they want, however they want. Someone who will know other people at the wedding and for whom it is not a big deal to have their partner included will happily go. Someone for whom it is a big deal can say “Thanks so much for inviting me! Congratulations, but I won’t be able to make it.” I would never blame someone or be actually mad at them for not inviting my partner – make your guest list how you need to. But it would affect whether I would attend. As carbonatedwit said, if the only people I will know at the event will be the couple getting married, and I can’t bring someone, then my excitement about attending that party decreases severely. Especially if it’s an out-of-town affair or a long drive away. If I can take the eL to it, rock on – I will at least stop by. 🙂

        Long ago Intern Paul and I had an awkward situation where a couple sent us a “Save The Date” card addressed to both of us but when the invitation came it only included him. But we’d already both bought plane tickets. I would have been cool going on the trip but not to the wedding (It was in D.C., where I spent 9 years and can definitely amuse myself) but P. decided it felt weird and asked the maid of honor who asked the bride (both very close friends of his) who said “Oh god, of course!” This was, technically, bad manners on our part but I’m sure by that point they had some no-shows or spots they’d been holding for relatives who couldn’t make it or whatever, so it wasn’t a big deal. It was a lovely wedding, I had a great time, I have literally never seen the bride and groom again in this life, so I definitely would not have been mad at being excluded.

    • InTheWings said:

      I am not really a Holder of Grudges, but I still can’t let go of the time my husband was invited to a wedding without me. Though I feel fairly certain that it wasn’t a malicious omission, and I know it’s petty, I am pretty sure I’m never going to be able to let it go. Not only was I not invited, but my professional musician husband also put a ton of time into arranging, teaching and conducting an a cappella version of a song they chose for their ceremony, for free, and all of the other performing group’s members’ significant others were invited. So basically my husband was invited to provide free entertainment and not even offered the courtesy of bringing his wife as a date. I still get so mad thinking about it! Then again, the bride is the same woman who mounted a two-act variety show tribute to herself in honor of her 40th birthday and demanded that all of her friends drop everything to write and perform original material celebrating her.

      • R.J. said:

        Holy cow, for real? Did you get suckered into going to *that*?

        • InTheWings said:

          Sadly, yes. At least there was free booze?

          • JenniferP said:

            Not enough free booze. Not enough.

    • Vicki said:

      I would add, watch out for unintended messages. That includes things like the person you invited looking around and seeing that someone else’s spouse or long-term partner was invited and theirs wasn’t, and realizing that, if invited, they would have been the only same-sex or only interracial couple there. Even if that wasn’t on your mind—even if you didn’t know that the uninvited spouse was part of an interracial couple—they’re likely to be hurt and/or wary around you.

      That’s separate from the point that you don’t have to invite anyone (except the person you’re marrying, and in most places at least one witness other than the person officiating): there is always the option of inviting neither the unknown-to-you person nor their partner you do know. If you have no idea who second cousin Meg’s husband is, or interest in meeting him, how important is it to invite Meg?

    • DFTBAwkward said:

      I just recently went to a wedding of a couple where I sort of knew the husband from college before my boyfriend and I started dating, and had met the wife once about a month before at another wedding. I didn’t know them well, but my boyfriend did and I was very, very glad to be invited to the wedding. My boyfriend’s group of friends is very close, and while I knew a lot of them from college, bf and I didn’t start dating until after college, so now I’m a relatively new addition to the friend group after the bonds were forged and the group has scattered. It’s hard to get to know everyone! Being invited to things like this makes me feel like I’m a part of the group even though I’m late to the party, and I had a wonderful time with all our friends there. And this is also probably me being snickety, but I don’t like the “cohabitating/engaged” thing as the arbiter of which couples get invited together. I’ve got friends who have been together 3+ years who aren’t cohabitating. Boyfriend and I aren’t even living in the same city due to job/school stuff but are very committed for the long haul. In my opinion it’s not a great way to measure who gets to come. It’s so hard to see into a relationship from the outside and to judge “ok this couple is close enough, this couple isn’t,” and I think it should probably be avoided.

      One distinction I can think of is “what kind of wedding is it?” Like if my partner’s close friend was getting married and I wasn’t invited to go celebrate with all our friends, I’d probably be upset (caveat: noting the Captain’s response that it’s their party and I don’t have to take it personally! she’s right! and I wouldn’t raise a stink about it, but I’d be privately sad). But if it was someone from work getting married, or a grad school colleague, I’d be less likely to be upset. It’s one thing to feel included from a group of friends vs. to feel included from an office environment where I don’t work. So perhaps think about the relationship between yourself and the person you want to invite. I’d still say err on the side of inviting couples as couples, but ultimately you have to make the decision that suits you best.

  13. M Dubz said:

    Captain, all of the props for figuring out how to make this system work for you without getting burned out. Your strategy seems both reasonable and excellent, and I’m glad that there are so many people willing to support you in this endeavor, which is important and also really hard. So many Jedi Hugs!

  14. DFTBAwkward said:

    Future Open Thread idea: long distance relationships. They come up in comments a lot, so I think there are some of us here who would definitely enjoy and benefit from that conversation if you’d like to host it some day! 🙂

    • JenniferP said:

      Good idea!

  15. Jane said:

    Just out of curiosity, would you ever be interested in taking volunteers to generate a more thorough index for the website? I only ask because it’s my experience that a lot of the wealth of this site happens in the comments. The only problem with that is that sometimes questions have been answered by commenters most beautifully and thoroughly that are not intuitively close to the theme of the original question, so they’re a bit hard to find for someone who isn’t combing every possible question looking for any hint of something that might be relevant (ahem.) I mean, it could be like the Captain Awkward glossary that one of the readers put together — not necessarily any higher-tech than a big long list of keywords with links to posts and specific comments within posts.

    Of course, now that I’ve typed that out, I feel like I should just start doing this, and then people can look at my list and see if it’s useful or not.

  16. I wonder if someone (not me, since I have no experience with the tech, although I could take a turn moderating) could set up an awkward chat room or forum for general commentary? That could take some of the community building out of the hands of Jennifer, although it does introduce some level of coordination and other complexity.

    But I’m thinking, we could probably have a space where, instead of sending the email, people could pop in with the question — kind of the way questions show up in comment threads. If it’s a forum it could involve moving comment threads to the forum, and then when someone needs to go off-topic they can, without derailing the ongoing conversation?

    If this existed, you could have a flag in the questions people send, saying that if you decide not to make a post about it, do they mind if it gets posted in the forums for commentariat to discuss.

    It’d be big changes and would probably need lots of thought, but I throw it out there.

    • JenniferP said:

      I would love to do this but flat out do not want to moderate it or be responsible for reading it. If we can figure out a good way the community can talk to each other without me as go-between, I would be super-psyched.

    • I have no idea how hard it is to moderate comments, so this suggestion might be useless, but what about just having an open question post every now and then? We could all just respond to each other.
      I have no experience with this sort of thing, so maybe I’m suggesting a cluster. Apologies if that’s the case.

      • JenniferP said:

        All comment moderation is an equal amount of work whether it’s an open thread or a post I made. Cleaning out spam trap, monitoring discussions to make sure people follow rules and keep things civil, weeding out trolls before they show up here = means I eventually read almost every comment that appears on the site. Which, this site is great. It is actual work, but it’s good work!

        I will keep doing open threads, I think they are useful, but they aren’t easier.

        A forum would mean that members could post things at any time and respond to any time – I’ve been members of communities like that, and I know that the moderation & management of one is NOTHING I want a part of unless it’s my legit 50K + health insurance-having actual paid job. 🙂 I think that’s absolutely a thing we should do, but it will need a staff of volunteer moderators and I want to set expectations from the start.

    • I think this a great idea. There are certainly some awesome advicegivers here in the commentariat (including you, you’re always so thoughtful!) that could help take the pressure off of CA. I like the idea of having a quick way to get some help from commenters you trust.

      Speaking as a moderator in a forum; you need some people to be able to break up a possible fight. For instance: if someone comes in and tries to mansplain, people are going to get angry and things can pile up. The things we deal with here invokes a lot of feelings. Understandable, but could get messy if you don’t have enough support staff. I could see it working as a forum or chat room that is open X hours X times a week. I’d also like a (private) side forum/chat for the support staff to make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the rules and how to deal with hurt feelings.

      • Do you have a suggestion for a space to use? I would prefer not to use facebook or g+ hangouts because they both want to be attached to a real name. I have some negative experiences with yahoo groups. I see a thing that attaches to wordpress but it needs a physical server. I could see a google group working, maybe, I think those are less firmly tied to your google account…

        • Something like a phpBB(.com) forum might work. It’s free. The members have to sign up with a valid e-mail but can use whatever they want for a handle. Only the admin/moderators would be able to see people’s real info. You could keep it open for X hours and lock it otherwise.

          • Okay… phpBB needs a server. There’s forum hosting services, and web hosting services, of varying levels of free-ness and featurefull-ness. I’m investigating further. Do you have a favorite host? Googling for reviews gets a whole lot of suspicious links, like they’ve all hired the same creepy reputation management firm. No, I do not trust forum-hosting-reviews.com!

  17. Canomia said:

    Just wanted to pop in and tell you how much I love this place. It is one of the very few spaces on the internet where I feel completly safe. You keep the trolls out and the comments are so full of care and the wisdom that comes from experience. Your advice and the advice in the comments have helped me so much, you have no idear.

  18. Agnes said:

    I celebrated coming back from my internetless vacation by rereading the entirety of #296, because it’s pretty much the most epic internet ever. And I was curious- did C.S. ever unflounce from his huff and email you again? Inquiring minds want to know. I mean, I guess it doesn’t really matter, because I think that your advice and the subsequent comments are useful to a much larger audience than one person.

    Anyway, congratulations on the hard work you do on this site paying off 9,000,000 times!

    • JenniferP said:

      I blocked his emails once they got insult-y, so we’ll never know. Thanks for the nice words!

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