by B.B. Pelletier
Today is the second time in the life of this blog that I have not written about airguns. The other time was years ago when robot spammers attempted to hijack the blog for their own use. I had to initiate the word verification you all hate. We still get spams even with word verification turned on, but it’s much harder for them to do and, most importantly, it sucks up their time. They don’t like that.
Time is today’s issue, as well. My time.
For the past several months, I’ve been taking longer than ever to respond to the reader comments. Every day I get 60 to 100+ comments addressed to me or buried so far in the past that only I know they have come in. I cannot continue to answer comments like I have been–there’s simply not enough time in the day. A blog posting takes me from 2 to 6 hours, depending on what’s involved. If I have to go to the range, disassemble an airgun, do a lot of comparative testing or take a lot of pictures, it takes longer. I bet I don’t write two blogs a month that take less than three hours.
For many years that was okay. I could keep up with the blogs and the comments because my workday can expand into the evening and weekends. However, a year ago my wife and I started taking Saturdays off, just to get a break. Our work doesn’t leave us out of breath or give us sore muscles, but it does consume a lot of time. And now I have run out of time.
Something has to change for this blog to continue. Please understand that I want this blog to continue very much. Some of you may be aware that when we ran The Airgun Letter, we suddenly and without warning shut down The Airgun Forum one day. I was the one who made the decision to do it, because it was taking 18 hours of our time every day to administer. That’s seven days a week! No slack for holidays. If that forum went down or even slowed for any reason, our email box began filling up and the phone began to ring. I shut it down in self-defense.
This blog is far more significant than The Airgun Letter. It doesn’t cost anyone anything to read, while the newsletter required a subscription. We had only a couple thousand paid subscribers, while many thousands of others were receiving copies from their friends. But this blog is free and publishes 2.5 to 5 times more airgun information than the newsletter ever did. There were only 99 newsletters published in nine years, but there have been over a thousand blog postings in less than four years. This is definitely the way to go.
I’ve asked the more knowledgeable readers to help out with the answers to comment, and they’ve done a good job. Unlike me, they cannot easily see those questions about the “Benjamin Franklin” air pistols that trickle in every day on a 2005 post. I use that as an example, but they come from everywhere, and they cover the entire airgun spectrum.
When a person asks me a question, the teacher in me is motivated to give them the entire answer–even if they don’t fully understand all they’ve asked. If I give a short answer, I may raise 20 more questions, and that’s a trend that I see happening more often these days. I say something and the person turns out to want a short course in how all airguns work. “Define the universe and give three examples.”
All of this is happening because this blog is a huge freakin’ success! Other airgun blogs are ghost towns compared to this one. I want that trend to continue and even to continue to grow. To do that successfully, there have to be some changes.
I don’t know what all the changes will be. I’m just alerting you to the fact that they will be coming.
One thing I will begin doing starting today is responding less to the comments. Yesterday it took me from 6:30 to 10:30 in the morning just to clear out all the questions that were on the computer when I started. Last Friday the same thing took until 3:00 p.m!
But yesterday I answered Wayne so fast that the whole answer was wrong. I find myself worrying more about volume rather than correctness in my answers, and that’s a disturbing trend that’s been on the increase for many months. If I continue to do that, pretty soon I won’t make any sense at all.
I’m no longer going to respond to as many comments. I’m not being standoffish or thinking I’m a rock star, I’m just trying to preserve my time for things that will benefit as many people as possible. This will take some learning and adjusting for me, and I welcome all the help you readers can give.
A year ago I used to shoot airguns for 10 percent of my working hours. Now it’s a fraction of that. I need to get that shooting time back, or I’ll start to become a legend in my own mind–a gun writer who relies more on a Smith-Corona than a Smith & Wesson to get the job done. That’s an age-weighted wry comment that may tickle people over 55 years of age. The rest of you can do a Google search on “typewriter.”
This editorial took me about 90 minutes to compose and edit. It was the fastest blog I’ve written in many years. That’s not because there was no substance to it, but because these issues have been flooding my mind a long time, and today the dam burst.
What can YOU do?
I don’t want any of you to change in any way. Keep on asking your questions, Keep on offering your opinions. Keep on being the readers who have made this blog the success it is. And know that I still enjoy you all, even if I don’t say it to you individually as often from now on.
I will still answer reader comments, but I’m going to be more selective about those I answer.