Buried in e-mail

Ever since I started blogging 15 months ago, I had always wondered if this day would come, if my blog would ever become popular enough for this day to come, something that was hard to imagine back when I was averaging less than 50 visits a day to this blog.

Finally it has.

I can no longer respond to everyone’s e-mails. It just isn’t feasible anymore.

The volume has just gotten to the point where it takes too much time, and, over the last week, as I fell farther and farther behind, I decided that I have to rethink my practice with regard to e-mail on this blog or risk being buried. It was starting to seriously cut into the time I carefully aside to write for this blog just trying to keep up with responding to everyone’s e-mail. The same thing goes for my diving into the comments. When I have time, I’ll try to respond to everyone and respond to a lot of the comments or criticisms in the comments, but when I don’t have time, I won’t. For those of you who may have tried to e-mail me over the last couple of weeks and didn’t get a response, now you know the reason.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to read all the e-mails, nor does it mean that I won’t still read every comment. However, I can no longer continue to torture myself trying to respond to everyone, just to what I have time to respond to. It’s nothing personal, and I thought a long time about this before making this decision. (In fact, I wrote this several days ago and only now decided to post it.) It’s necessary to keep my sanity. If it’s something that you consider really important and I don’t respond to your e-mails, try again.

Thanks for your continued support, and I hope you understand. I actually wrote this post two weeks ago, but sat on it because I couldn’t make up my mind whether to post this.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

It also occurs to me now that, given the dust-up that happened over at Tara’s blog over comments, I really should put in wriiting a more formal comment policy. Look for that sometime in the next week or two.


  1. #1 Abel PharmBoy
    March 18, 2006

    Be careful what we wish for, eh?

    What I really hate are commenters whose comments are so long that they should just refer to their own posts on their own damn blogs.

    Sort of reminds me when I first got my work e-mail account in ’94 or so. It was actually fun, and I looked forward to opening the app every day – until it became more popular for students to use e-mail, even before spam. Then, I got two more accounts after being at two more institutions but they became overwhelming – and I don’t even treat patients. So, I got a home account, just for family and friends – can’t even keep up with that. Then, I started a blog that barely anyone reads and a guy named Orac told me to be sure to have my comments fed to that e-mail account so I could keep up with folks who comment on old open threads. But my traffic was still kinda low, so I decided to post my e-mail acct on the front page of the blog so people could send in story tips and ideas.

    I asked for it, as did you, but it makes me want to occasionally go camp in a canyon in Colorado where my Treo 650 can’t even get a signal. Amazing what happens on these here internets in a mere 15 months.

    This is why famous musicians and the like often spawn fan clubs who serve as intermediaries between the celebrity and the adoring fans (as with our mutual hero, Bowie). Are there any Orac groupies to whom you could delegate in order to maintain your personal touch while keeping you from feeling tortured? Perhaps Seed could have a central office with 8 X 10 glossies of invertebrates, exotic birds, and cheap sci-fi computers that could be autographed and sent out to adoring commenters in lieu of personalized responses?

    In all seriousness, this is the dilemma faced by anyone who truly and deeply cares about people, their opinions and a good reasoned debate and discussion, as opposed to those who are just in it for narcissism.

    So, don’t be too bummed out about apologizing to us – none is needed, but the explanation is appreciated – of course, with the exception of my haughty expectation of a response to my e-mail about your availability for a beer at our next scientific conference.

  2. #2 Tim Kanwar
    March 18, 2006

    Comment Etiquette

    What I really hate are commenters whose comments are so long that they should just refer to their own posts on their own damn blogs.

    That leads me to a question about comment etiquette: if you have something substantive to say in response to a post, is it more appropriate to post the substance on your blog, and a link in the comments section of the original post (or a trackback if applicable), or is it better to include your thoughts immediately below the post?

    As a relatively new blogger I struggle with this question: when I have something to say I usually put my thoughts up on my own blog. But, given the minimal traffic I receive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll be heard or read, and posting a link doesn’t ensure that anybody will click through. Anyway, I’m curious what other people think: how long a comment is “too long”, and is posting a link instead of a lengthy comment a preferable technique?

  3. #3 impatientpatient
    March 18, 2006

    I would love to see what the answer to Tim’s question is too. I have written what I think is too much, and am kind of embarrassed at times. Except that I have had my questions answered – and I have appreciated that more than anyone will ever know.

    Let us know what is appropriate please, because like Tim, I do not have enough of an audience on my blog for anyone to actually answer my questions.

  4. #4 Abel Pharmboy
    March 18, 2006

    For the new blogger friends (like I’m an old-timer at 4 months?), I was being tongue-in-cheek with writing an intentionally long comment.

    I’ll be very interested to hear Orac’s suggestions and guidelines. I, too, am at a point where I’d be pleased with any comment regardless of length. However, this blog, like Tara’s, has been the target of nuts who often don’t have the initiative to start their own blogs but, rather, make inflammatory comments for their unreasoned causes simply because they know the size of readership here (or because they are trying to sell a book, etc.).

    I think that anything that adds to the conversation is valuable, but brevity is appreciated – I need to take my own advice, as well. Y’all are welcome to come over to my place and leave dissertations if anything I’m saying there is worthy of comment.

  5. #5 Kristjan Wager
    March 19, 2006

    Tim, as a longtime blogreader, I’d suggest writing a blogpost, and then link it with a brief synopsis. Comment sections are usually not very good for long comments.

    Of course, if you have a lengthy response to one of the other comments, it should probably go into the comment section, as you can’t expect people to travel to other blogs to read comments to other comments.

  6. #6 Orac
    March 19, 2006

    That leads me to a question about comment etiquette: if you have something substantive to say in response to a post, is it more appropriate to post the substance on your blog, and a link in the comments section of the original post (or a trackback if applicable), or is it better to include your thoughts immediately below the post?

    If you don’t have a blog, then comment away. I don’t guarantee a substantive reply if your comment is long or extensive. However, if you start dominating the comments section with long rambling comments, I will not be pleased, nor will anyone else.

    If you do have a blog and want to comment extensively, it’s probably better to write a blog post and then send me a Trackback. (Thanks to comment spammers, they’re all moderated; so don’t be concerned if your Trackback doesn’t show up right away. If the comment spam problem gets worse, Trackbacks may have to be turned off someday.) If you don’t know how to send a trackback, leave a brief comment and link in the comments section.

  7. #7 Tim Kanwar
    March 19, 2006

    Orac, et. al.: Thanks for the general guidelines. They sound, more or less, like common sense rules which shouldn’t be too hard for most of us to follow.

  8. #8 Jim Hu
    March 21, 2006

    Orac- I think you mean trackback spam. There’s comment spam too; it shows up in comments sections. Related but nonidentical pestilences of the blogosphere.

    All the trackbacks are moderated? I hope you mean those that pass a blacklist. My tiny blog filters more than 10K spammy trackbacks/month. Fortunately, it’s almost all automated…and I think it’s easier to filter trackbacks, since they always have to supply a URL. I hope the ScienceBlogs folks have filters set up for you, so you can keep trackbacks open…as I expect to send the occasional ping your way.

  9. #9 Orac
    March 21, 2006

    I get both comment and trackback spam, but more of what I get is trackback spam.

    And yes, we do have a blacklist filter. Even so, trackbacks that pass the blacklist spam filter get moderated.

  10. #10 Jim Hu
    March 22, 2006

    YMMV, but I find it easier to not moderate the ones that get by the filter, and then delete them en masse if a burst gets through. The spams tend to target older posts, and while they dominate my recent trackbacks list if, as tonight, there’s a cluster of new keys I need to add to the filters…but the trackbacks to individual recent posts show up right away (which also reduces multiple pinging of legit trackbacks when the pinger thinks something went wrong).

    I keep the recent trackbacks list so I can quickly see if I need to adjust the blacklist. It also helps that when I add a new key to the blacklist, I can delete all of the offending items with just a few clicks.

    It seems that the spammers have gone into a spring offensive recently, though. It’s a shame, since I fear that the low signal/noise will lead lots of bloggers to turn off trackbacks altogether…but it’s how I often find interesting new blogs.

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