A week after the great A to Z Challenge announcement, I thought I’d try to make some sort of sense of it all before making a final decision for this year.

In short, the organisers have decided not to do a Linky List this year, where everyone participating signs up and the list becomes a resource for visiting other blogs.  Instead, they have announced that participants will post their links each day, in comments to the AtoZ blog’s own letter of the day, and on their AtoZ Facebook page, and on Twitter (hashtag #atozchallenge), to give maximum exposure.

Points in favour

  • One of the disappointing things about The List each year is visiting blogs that signed up but aren’t participating, or (late on) have dropped out.
    • To help overcome that, the organisers have a large team of co-hosts, supported by minions (I was one in 2013), who visit 10-20 sign-ups a day to see if they are active and to offer support and encouragement.  Making nice comments on those blogs is fun.  Feeding back the inactive ones leads to their names being taken off The List.  It is a lot of work for the organisers, and some of it just doesn’t happen, especially the taking off inactive blogs from The List.  So maybe there is a problem in doing that which is not in the open.
  • It’s nice to have co-hosts to offer support to blogs, and guarantees that someone will visit your posts!
  • AtoZ Facebook page has been doing a daily ‘add your (letter of the day) post here for extra visitors’ for the last couple of years.
  • If you tweet your link using the hashtag #atozchallenge, or include the @AprilA2Z username, people looking at the Twitter feed can pick up more active links.

General reaction to the announcement

The very many comments on the AtoZ blog announcement split fairly evenly into:

  • no we love the list, we put up with dead links, and we use it either sequentially or with the ‘interest’ tags (like Books, or Travel) to go to the blog subjects we like and all our blogs are prescheduled because we might not be here to physically add a link

and

  • great idea, we hate dead links, it’ll be much better putting our links on active threads so people can visit.

My main points (which I debate with myself)

My first thoughts are roughly

  • How on earth am I going to find the time to put each link up on your daily post, plus Facebook, plus Twitter and still have time to go and visit some other people who might have beaten me to it
    • I’d have to physically go to the new daily post and not just have The List open in a tab in my browser all month
    • I’d have to be logged into FB as Jemima all month (which I don’t like to do), since you can’t post a comment as a page in FB
    • I think I can fix the Twitter hashtag issue by putting the hashtag in the post title (like this one)
    • If nobody’s posted before me I can check the previous day’s list
    • How much extra time am I talking about here?  Two minutes?
  • Facebook doesn’t show me your posts, or sometimes does on a whim, because that’s Facebook for you
    • come on, go and visit the AtoZ page, it’s not that hard
    • but I’d still have to be logged in as Jemima
    • … and your point is?
    • Besides, didn’t someone give you the tip of logging into FB on a different browser so you could stay with your home account on your usual one?
  • What about bloggers who don’t do Facebook or Twitter
    • surely everyone does at least one, and even then, there’s still the A to Z blog post
  • I’m not going to be network-accessible every day in April to post my links
    • maybe I can team up with some buddies to help each other out
    • would three links make that much difference?

So, logically, there’s nothing so hard that can’t be overcome.  But you know what the real problem is?

Loyal AtoZers, who have been with the Challenge four or five years or more, who have been working on their posts since October, have had this sprung on them, and sprung two weeks later than the usual date for The List to be opened.  In other words, AtoZ have done a really bad marketing and customer service job here.

  • There was no consultation
  • There were no options
  • There was no warning (save, we’re announcing something ‘next week’, which was already a week behind normal timings)
  • There seemed to be no consideration of looking for more minions to take up the workload. (When I saw Csenge was a co-host, I considered offering her my services)  It’s like ‘we don’t like organising this, it’s too difficult, so we’ll make it easier for ourselves.’
  • And they have a weekly blog post, circulated to thousands of participants, which they couldn’t use when they started the debate among themselves, to test the ideas, or, maybe put up a poll?

Frankly, it’s the management of this issue that disappoints me.  Doing this ‘posting my post links’ is irritating, but not the end of the world.  I may even post something next week on how to make life easier, and use some screenshots to give you help if you need it, although I think the AtoZ team are also doing that.

The revised Badges are now out, though, and they look very stylish as always – thanks to Jeremy at jmhdesign.com!

I’m still not sure I’m going to bother with the Challenge at all this year, though.  It’s a Blogging Challenge, not a social media one.

 

 

 

 

More thoughts on the 2017 #AtoZChallenge

14 thoughts on “More thoughts on the 2017 #AtoZChallenge

  • 13 February, 2017 at 8:26 am
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    Hi Jemima – I love the challenge, but was unable to do it last year … this year I’m ready. Yet I don’t do FB or Twitter … so hit a blank … I’ll do what I can … and I hope I meet a few new people … but we’ll see what happens – I’m sure the organisers will be keeping tabs on notes and ideas etc. However your point about it being a Blogging Challenge is right … that I do totally agree with -but thanks for writing this up for us .. cheers Hilary

    Reply
    • 13 February, 2017 at 3:59 pm
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      I’m glad you’re ready for it this year — hmm, as long as someone sends you the promised photos :O

      Reply
      • 15 February, 2017 at 10:49 am
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        could help? Thank you!!

        Reply
  • 13 February, 2017 at 9:09 am
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    I did the challenge in 2014 and 15 and was going to do it last year but I didn’t get my act together in time. I’m struggling to blog even weekly at the moment so I decided early on to give this year a miss too, even though I have a couple of itheme deas. I don’t think adding social media links would be too much trouble, but the thought of ploughing through other people’s tweets and FB comments is too much – it would be so random, unlike working through a list.

    Reply
    • 13 February, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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      Yes, I agree. The guinea pigs wanted to do it this year, so I think I’ll have enough trouble helping them!

      Reply
  • 13 February, 2017 at 2:01 pm
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    This is a very thorough and thoughtful post, Jemima. I never minded the dead links, just went to another one. I think because of all the extra things one needs to do this year, my decision not to take part this year was a wise one.

    Reply
    • 13 February, 2017 at 3:57 pm
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      I think I’m going to dump my plan and just do my normal schedule of posts – just try to tie in with the letter of the day. The important thing sometimes, is just to go visiting, and the Twitter feed will give me enough of that to do – and my stored Pinterest board of buddies!
      And anyway, I don’t give your blog the attention it deserves, so why do I want more?

      Reply
      • 13 February, 2017 at 5:18 pm
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        Interesting point about doing your usual posts but tying them in. Seems like the new format lends itself to various fudges that might still allow one to get some of year benefits of participation.

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        • 13 February, 2017 at 6:03 pm
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          Yeah, it may not be Blogging from A to Z, but but does show support for the idea of the Challenge. Others can look at it another way if they like. And after all, I\ve nearly always tried to tie in my AtoZ posts with my usual blog features – Friday flash, Saturday review… and more recently the monthly features like IWSG and Fi50….

          I just have to see whether I have any suitable books lined up to read & review – some years that’s a problem!

          Reply
  • 13 February, 2017 at 3:06 pm
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    I’m non-pulsed about this change, but that’s just me. I roll with things.

    I’d say, from being a part of a group that runs a blog, they may have opted not to ask for more help because it’s hard to find good help. People say they’ll help all the time, but then mysteriously vanish when the time is needed. It’s very frustrating to be someone doing all the work and have another doing nothing. So I get why they may have just decided to try something completely new and see what happens.

    Reply
    • 13 February, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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      Yes, it’s possible I didn’t see that when I helped Damyanti, Patricia. Her minions were a very active bunch – so much so that I felt a bit outclassed at the start!

      Reply
  • 15 February, 2017 at 5:57 pm
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    This is really a great post and I think it summarises most of what people think about it.

    Personally, I don’t find the new suggested methode particularly bothersome. As you pointed out, it will take maybe a couple of minutes. Nothing I can’t manage, even in a busy moment like the AtoZ.
    I don’t have FB, but I do have Twitter. Last year, I didn’t use either to follow the blogs I was interested in, I used what I normally do to follow blogs: Feedly. Twitter was a fun addition, I liked retwitting and finding new blog that way. I really used the list very little, though I feel a bit sad that it will be gone.
    But then, I honestly think that this is totally manageable, and it will help the organisers, because I really think the load of work has become heavy for them. We should remember this shoudl be fun for them too, not just for us 😉

    Reply
    • 15 February, 2017 at 8:45 pm
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      That’s a very good point, Jazz. As usual, I’m only thinking of myself 🙂

      Reply
      • 10 March, 2017 at 12:06 pm
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        Hi all and Jemima – I will be floundering around nearer the time … the social media things give me the heebie jeebies … so we’ll see how it goes – but as I’ll be out and about commenting I guess I it’ll be ok – even though I probably won’t have overcome the social medial aspects … I just found the list helpful! Cheers Hilary

        Reply

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