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Well, I do. Anytime I find a new blogger who seems interesting, the first thing I do is look at their archives and category lists to see what else they’ve written. It’s fun to stumble across someone who has addressed a subject that interests me.

However, I suspect I am in the minority. When I asked for advice on redesigning this blog, quite a few of my readers and fellow bloggers said they rarely look at sidebars, and from all indications, few of their readers look at the sidebars on their blogs. And my impression from my traffic stats is that visitors almost never look back through the archives or browse a particular category. And never mind the “ads”, which is effectively what the book icons are. My hunch is that people have been trained by internet marketing tactics to automatically ignore anything that looks like an ad.

Given that, is it worth having these sidebars if only a small percentage of visitors use them? It seems like a waste of space for the majority of users. And yet almost all blogs have them, including some very widely-read ones.

I admit, I have a slightly irrational attachment to my sidebars—they represent a gateway to nine years’ worth of writing, and I’d be reluctant to lose that unless readers say it actively harms the site’s usability.

But I still can’t help wondering if that space could be used better. Devoting 35% of the blog to content that 80-90% of users ignore seems inefficient.

<RUSH TRANSCRIPT>

Honorable readers, distinguished authors, and fellow bloggers:

Tonight, it is my honor and privilege to appear before you to mark the 9th anniversary of this blog. I can think of no date more fitting for me to make such an address.

(laughter, boos from the opposition)

I’m pleased to report that the state of the blog is strong, thanks in part to wonderful authors and interviewees like Carrie Rubin and Audrey Driscoll, who have kindly allowed me to post their insightful and thoughtful answers to my questions here.

(applause)

I’m grateful also to readers like Eurobrat, l33tminion and Phillip McCollum,

(applause)

…who have contributed to the discussions on this blog on a number of topics, from politics to the craft of writing.

Now, while the blog is stronger than ever, I recognize that there are still improvements to make. And that’s why I’m glad to have input from Pat Prescott, Mark Paxson, and Barb Knowles

(applause)

…on how to better the site. I am therefore launching an Executive Initiative to improve the readability and layout of the site, some elements of which have already been implemented. It has, in my opinion, certainly gone no worse than any such initiative can be expected to, in that it at least vaguely resembles what the people have asked for.

(laughter, boos from the opposition)

With all this in mind, and most of all, with the insightful attention and comments of readers like you, I will continue to preserve, protect, and to post on this blog, to the best of my ability.

Thank you.

<END TRANSCRIPT>

On this day of counting blessings, here is what I’m thankful for:

‘Tis you who read this blog and keep coming back for more!

While some may speak of all that’s wrong on ye olde internet,

Myself I’m full of gratitude to all the lovely folks I’ve met:

There’s good Pat Prescott, the historian and bard

who wrote of Optimus: Praetorian Guard.

There’s l33tminion, who always has good things to say

whenever he (or she) comes passing ‘round this way.

And Thingy, who’s prolific in prose and in rhyme—

I hope she brings back her blog real soon some time!

Eurobrat, with social commentaries dark and biting,

is as good as any satirist at strong, arresting writing.

Barb Knowles, who writes with wit and candor all

the time—must be descended from a very sharp Neanderthal!

Ben Trube, author of the thriller Surreality,

Who can both make fractals and write mystery.

Shannon Selin, one of the finest writers on

what might’ve been for old Napoleon.

And Natalie gets loads and loads of votes

for her great blogging work at boatsofoats.

Mark Paxson (or KingMidget, if I use his proper title)

has tips that any writer should consider vital.

Lydia Schoch, who writes on topics int’resting and various

that can be thought-provoking or hilarious.

Andrew Crowther is a lover of light verse, as I’m,

and I hope that he’ll forgive this rather awkward rhyme!

When it comes to G&S discussion, I’m always glad to have it,

and so I’m in debt to Charlee Hutton and Mike Pavitt.

My knowledge of the East Roman Empire isn’t e’en

a tenth of what Eileen Stephenson knows about the Byzantine.

Phillip McCollum (who is also known as beatbox32)

is writing fifty-two short stories—and really good ones, too!

And then to round it out, last but surely not the least–

ensuring good nutrition at this e-Thanksgiving feast:

is Dr. Carrie Rubin, keeping all our reading dishes full

with thrillers like The Seneca Scourge and Eating Bull.

And to all those many other readers who

I’ve left unlisted here—why, yes, that does refer to you!

My gratitude to all above for coming here,

both on this day of thanks, and all throughout the year!