Sunday, March 30, 2008

Referrer Blogging Redux

To the ‘Checkers’
I see you. I know you’re out there, and I appreciate you — just in case you’ve ever wondered.

I’m speaking directly to those of you who faithfully check this space for new content; those who consider the things I write to be interesting enough that they would take time from their busy days to look in — often on a once or even twice-daily basis — but whom have never left me a comment or sent me an e-mail.

Yeah, I’ve made posts similar to this one in the past, although not in quite awhile, but I consider this a highly necessary thing to do, if for no other reason than to exercise my only direct means of communicating with those of you who wouldn’t otherwise comment; those who prefer to remain in the background as silent observers.

So how do I know about you? Simple; I check my Sitemeter daily to see who visits. Most of you know how these things work. They record the ISP, location, and IP address of all blog visitors, depending on the level of reporting security that their respective ISPs have set up.

Based upon how people get to my blog — i.e.: the links that they use, be they direct links (bookmarks), search engine results, or comment/blogroll links from other sites — I can usually determine whether or not a person finds their way here on purpose or merely by chance.

These days, it’s far more often the latter, as my diminished post count has made my blog less and less relevant as a daily destination for some of the previously more regular readers. But please, don’t take this as AJ whining about his lack o’ traffic again. I have voluntarily curtailed my output over the past two years for reasons that are well-documented; I don’t need to reiterate them here. I post when I can, and no longer rake myself over the coals for it.

But that being said, I do still feel at least a little bit guilty for the sake of those who find my blog more by happenstance — usually based on a Google search for a subject that one of my stories has hit upon — and then decide read a little more, and so on, and so on. Though they may become habitual reader/visitors for a time, they don’t often become commentors.

Consequently I don’t have the opportunity to experience them on a personal level, as has been the case with so many of my Blogland neighbors from years past; some of whom have become genuine RT friends, and whose presence in my life is and always will be precious to me because our bonds are real; they’re based upon that which is internal rather than merely external.

So with that in mind, there are a few of you that I just wanted to acknowledge — some who have been readers for a long time and one in particular who, more recently, has become a daily ‘checker.’ I know it’s kinda weird of me to go this route, but this is truly the only way I know to reach out to you directly.

So please forgive my calling you out. And don’t worry — what I actually know about you is pretty sketchy. I don’t know and wouldn’t try to find out anything more than what Sitemeter tells me, and I will refer to you only as the associated ‘referrer’ information gives me course.

For example, I don’t know where you live, only where your ISP is located. I don’t know where you work, but I have a pretty good idea, given that most of your visits are during business hours. So, equipped with this gunshot spray of would-be empirical data, I’m going to make a general stab at identifying you just enough so that you’ll know who I’m talking to.

To the reader in Upstate New York (Carthage? Watertown?), who appears to work for a telecom company: You have been one of the more hardcore ‘checkers’ my blog has ever known. I hope to give you more of what I believe you’re looking for soon. Thank you for your daily visits.

To the reader in Montgomery Alabama who appears to work in the surgical health services industry: You may or may not read this, as it’s been awhile since I’ve noticed one of your visits. You were a daily ‘checker’ as I recall, a year or more ago, and ever since your streak of daily visits, I’ve wanted to write a post like this one to acknowledge and thank you as well. Thank you so much for your interest.

There are others of whom I have suspicions, but none that I have enough evidence of to determine whether they are one person or simply a glut of visitors with the same ISP.

Family ‘Outing’
I also wanted to take this opportunity to officially thank another former anonymous ‘checker,’ who is no longer on the down-low: my cousin, Jeanté (she just ‘checked’ my blog earlier this evening as a matter of fact).

Jeanté and I have had an interesting rebirth in our relationship. We hardly knew each other prior to a couple years ago. We were a part of our family’s large clan of Indiana cousins as we all grew up together in the 60s. We parted company when I moved to California in 1969, but really hadn’t spent any considerable time together even prior to that.

However in June of 2006, I stupidly brought a printed copy of one of my blog posts about my brother Alex to our annual Cousin’s Reunion held in Anderson. At that point no one in the family knew I blogged other than my eldest brother, Jack, and I only brought the story at his behest. He thought it would be good to have it available to those wondering about Alex’s condition.

I wasn’t real hip to the idea, but I figured it’d be okay.

Little did I know that cousin ‘Té would not only read through that hard copy, but also glam onto my blog address and proceed to plow her way through my entire archive when she got home that night. She read every last word over the next several days.

Oh, did I mention that Jeanté reads for a living?

At any rate, let’s just say her activities didn’t exactly fly under the Sitemeter radar. I took notice of those twice-to-three-times-daily visits of an hour or more each and wondered who the hell in Indiana could suddenly have so much interest in my blog. I knew it wasn’t Jack. Then my above-average power of guestimation went to work. I began the process of eliminating the likely suspects. When I looked up the ISP from Jeanté’s e-mail address, I knew.

At first I didn’t know what to expect in response to someone reading accounts that I had really never intended to be leaked to the motherland. For all the while, as she read through my blog from stem to stern, nary a comment did she utter.

I had to know what she was thinking, so I blew her mind by blowing her cover in a ‘the jig is up’ kind of e-mail. It was all good however, and although she was a bit embarrassed by my family ‘outing,’ that ice-breaking opportunity led to further e-mail correspondence and several phone conversations. It provided the common ground for us to become real friends for the first time as adults. I now truly treasure our relationship and the closeness we share. I hope she feels the same way.

Oh and BTW, she comments all the time now. I can’t shut the girl up! ;)

So out’cherself already
So I guess the primary purpose for this somewhat disjointed post is my invitation to those of you who have been reading for awhile, but have never talked back, to do just that.

I’d love to hear from you. Besides, I know you’re out there; I hear ya breathin.’

G’head. You know you want to.

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