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Edited to Add: WE DID IT! YOU DID IT!

Ads will be turned off June 1 and stay off as long as Patreon funding stays at current levels. THANK YOU.

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Hello friends! Some kind folks have sent me messages like this this week:

Hi Captain,

This isn’t exactly a question, but more of a problem with your site. I know that you have ads to support things and whatever, but recently, video ads have been pulling me down the screen, and no matter how much I try to scroll back up, it keeps pulling me down to the ads, so it becomes difficult to near-impossible to actually read your posts. I don’t know if this is something you can fix, but I thought you should be aware that this happens, and I didn’t know how else to let you know. I didn’t want to derail the comments section with technical difficulties. Thanks, and have a great week!

Thank you for alerting me! I am also running into this – every time I post a new entry, it wants to show me a video ad before I can read my own stuff that I just wrote on my own website. RUDE.

This is unacceptable behavior, and I know it’s made me click the back button when I’m reading other sites.

Unfortunately, I alone cannot fix this – I am not the one controlling the ad placement or how they behave and I haven’t been able to successfully screencap anything. I will alert WordPress.com, but you can also help me.

What I suggest:
  • Screencap the issue if you can.
  • Describe and report the issue here  (ad support) or here (WordPress.com support).
  • Those links are also good if you ever see something offensive. Which ads display for you are targeted regionally and using cookies, so I won’t necessarily ever see what you see.
  • If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, please let me know immediately. We are one of the most-read blogs on the platform and that should count for something.

Personally I find that as the ads get more intrusive and take up more screen real estate, the financial reward for letting WordPress stick them all over the site has seriously diminished and the way that ad revenue is reported and delivered has gotten less transparent and less frequent. I do depend on revenue from the site, but that doesn’t have to be AD revenue. In other words, if my Patreon goes over $2000/month this summer, I’ll turn them off in a heartbeat and keep them off as long as we stay above that threshhold. We’re so close!

A christmas ornament that combines a star and the Texas flag.

As you read this, I’m either on my way or already in Texas and will be there about 10 days visiting boyfriend’s family. It’s his first Christmas home in years and years (the curse of the retail worker), so his mom is pretty darn excited about it.

I’ll have irregular, “reading this on my phone” internet access. I’ll do my best to clean the spam filter periodically, but I’m closing questions for a bit so I don’t come back to a pile-up. Twitter will probably be the easiest way to reach me if you need something quick, and the forums will likely be hopping.

In the meantime, I wish you happy (Happyish? Coping? At least there’s decent liquor/one nice person I can talk to here?) winter holiday of the next week or so. We’ll talk again in 2014.

 

 

 

Rakefail

I am the rake and my inbox was the leaves.

Since we last spoke, I went home to New England to visit my folks, caught the edges of Hurricane Sandy in Boston (everyone in my family is safe and has power back, thankfully. I hope readers can say the same). I turned in some job applications for tenure-track film professor jobs, graded all the things, voted, started working on a feature documentary, started to dig my apartment out of the shitstorm of recent renovations, and finally called my doctor to try to deal with this 6-week cough I’ve been running.

I’ll be back to regular posting at the end of this week. In the meantime, I’d like to announce a few changes around these parts.

1. Alphakitty, PomperaFirpa, SexyTypewriter, ElodieUnderGlass & Cliff Pervocracy are joining us as semi-regular guest bloggers. I’ll be passing them questions roughly once/month, and you can also indicate if you want someone specific to answer your question. SweetMachine and Commander Logic are sticking around, and I plan to also ping Ensign Perception, General Expression, Xenu, and PFC Marie with the occasional question in coming months.

2. This past weekend I deleted all unanswered questions from my inbox. We’re starting over.

I realize that to some of you that might seem like a disrespectful and drastic solution, especially when you have been so generous with your stories and questions and the site would not exist without you. So, let me try to explain. Since the beginning of summer, I’ve been getting between 5 and 15 new questions every single day. Even if the site were my full-time paid profession, even if I wrote a post per day for the next two years, I would never be able to catch up with all of them or stay on top of the resulting commentstorm. The volume, which I recognize is a sign of the success of the site and the awesomeness of the community (good problems!), still meant some negative things for me. Namely;

  • I was trying to answer questions as quickly (instead of as thoughtfully) as I could and looking at them as something to “get through.”
  • I felt like I was repeating myself by choosing things that were easy to answer because it was too overwhelming to read through everything and try to choose something intelligently. Do I go back to a year ago (there are unanswered questions from a year ago) and try to work in order? Do I work with what just came in today? Do I ignore important, serious questions to answer “fun” things? Do I write back to people privately when I know I’m not going to be able to create a post? At what point does that stop saving time and turn into sending lots of private emails that don’t contribute to the blog? Do I email everyone individually and say “Hey, are you okay, is this still a problem?
  • I didn’t have time to find images and write captions, one of my favorite things about writing the blog.
  • I felt like my writing (and some of the comment moderation) was taking on a cranky tone that was serving no one.
Pike's Pond in Charlton, Massachusetts

This Henry David Thoreau-looking-#$@% is in the woods behind my folks’ house.

So. Your question, if you sent one, is gone from my inbox forever. But not from your outbox, hopefully. You are welcome & encouraged to resubmit. In fact, I literally have nothing to answer unless you do.

Going forward:

  • The additional roster of guest-posters should relieve the workload and bring some different and awesome perspectives to the site. I will hopefully get some mojo back and post more thoughtful answers and funny pictures again. Also, I plan to do more topic-based open threads like the recent one about holidays & family, where people can share stories and questions with each other directly. We’ll also have an open thread where letter writers can update us on how things worked out. Eventually I may put a forum in place with moderators chosen from the community where people can talk to each other, but I’m not quite ready for that step yet.
  • I really need people to keep their questions under 400 words. If you have a long, involved, complex situation, go ahead and write the whole thing out in a text editor and get it out of your head! Then please boil it down to the essentials before you send it. If in the process you find you answered your own question and don’t need to send it anymore, awesome.
  • Please do a quick search of the archives before submitting a question.
Tree in Bay Path Cemetery, Charlton, MA

Happy belated Halloween from this awesomely creepy tree in Bay Path Cemetery, Charlton, MA. The slate graves in front date from just after the Revolutionary war.

  • This isn’t a crisis hotline. People considering suicide, people suffering from the immediate aftermath or threat of violence, please get a trained professional into your life ASAP. Please. You are important, your problem is important, and it can’t afford to wait for me. Many hotline links and resources from around the world are collected in this thread. Here is a guide for finding low-cost mental health services in the U.S. and Canada – can you find something similar where you are?

Thanks always for being the best commenting community on the internet. Writing this site has been an amazing experience for me, so I hope these changes will restore some sanity to my life and make the blog more fun and useful for everyone.