The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Another Memorial for Life at TJ's Place or My Life as a Blogger

I've been thinking of writing a post about the end of Kevin's blog, Life at TJ's Place, and now seems like as good a time as any. However, I can't write this memorial without writing about my own beginnings as a blogger, so here goes.

I started blogging not too long ago in May. Strangely enough, I heard of blogging through Jones Soda. How I managed not to have heard of blogging before, I can only blame on my advancing years and the fact that I still like to play Super Mario Bros. But anyway, I was exploring the Jones Soda website because they accept photo submissions for their labels. A photo of mine on a label would be cool, don't you think? So I did that and then started sniffing around the rest of the site, and that's how I discovered Jones Blogs, with this text at the top: "At JonesSoda.com we're happy to feature blogs and stories from around the web. Think of it as instant messages on the web. Read about blogs, how to get your own blog started, and how to get your blog listed here for others to read." Beneath a listing of their blogs, they had a link to Blogger, and that's how I ended up with a blog of my own.

At the time, Life at TJ's Place was a "Blog of Note" (as was the Moxie Blog, then known as Cinema24). Like many others, once I was exposed to Life at TJ's Place, I was sucked in. It was fascinating reading. Strippers and drunkards and losers, oh my! I know there is some debate about whether or not "Kevin" even worked at a strip club, but that doesn't matter to me. Kevin's way of writing about a strip club was what was important, and if he pulled all his stories out of his ass, I couldn't care less.

I commented on his blog initially, but only a few times. He got 50+ comments to each post, and it seemed like the comments I did make got lost in the mix. I tend to comment for two reasons: one is to let a blogger know that someone out there is reading their writing and enjoying it; the other reason is because comments allow an exchange between the writer of the post and its readership. When someone is getting 50+ comments, they know people are reading their stuff. I only regularly comment on one blog that gets 50+ comments to each post: Vadergrrrl's Rant Page, and I comment there because she responds to my comments and she comments on my blog. Kevin did neither of those things, so I just read what he wrote and enjoyed it without commenting.

As the summer wore on, posts on Life at TJ's Place got less and less frequent. Honestly, they started being less and less interesting as well. He seemed to spend more time writing about his golf game than the strip club, and as far as I know, the only thing more boring than watching golf being played is reading about a man practicing his chip shot in his backyarrd. But Kevin's was the first blog I ever started checking daily. It was the first blog that I bookmarked. I kept coming back for more, even when the more was "I need to work on my putting."

Since I wasn't leaving comments, I didn't tend to read them much either. But when weeks would go by without a post from Kevin, I would satiate my desire for more posts by checking out what others were saying. I noticed that a debate would start up about whether or not Kevin was alive. The thought that he might be dead never crossed my mind. I just thought that he was out of town or busy. I also noticed that as more time went by, the comments would get more demanding and angry: "Where are you?" "We want a new post!" and "I'm angry that you haven't posted anything." Those comments, along with comments like, "I live for your blog," and "My life has no meaning without your blog," freaked me out. I can only imagine that Kevin read that shit and wondered, "What have I gotten myself into here?"

On August 29, 2004, Kevin wrote his last post. The comments got out of hand again. Read them for yourself if you don't believe me. Again, people wondered if Kevin was dead, but I felt certain that it was his crazy fans that drove him away. I've noticed some comments like these on Diary-a from time to time as Rita tells her story. Perhaps I was out of line, but once I cautioned her fans in the comments section to Part 44, "Hey people, chill out. If you go over to Life at TJ's Place, you'll find out what happens [when] readers get demanding. Rita is giving us a gift. We just have to appreciate it, no matter how much or how little she chooses to give us..."

Kevin had a dedicated fanbase. Some of them worshipped him and some seemed to hate him. I guess that's the way it always goes. I wonder what makes someone keep going, even thrive on the attention (both good and bad) and someone who says, "Holy shit!" and packs it in. For instance, Dooce has so many fans that she doesn't even open up her posts to comments very often, and when she does, she gets about 200 comments in a few hours. By the time she'll close comments two days later, she has over 500. On top of that, she gets tons of email, and some of it is hate mail. But she keeps her blog going. She hasn't been thrown off her game.

Kevin and Dooce. Two people, two different reactions. Makes me wonder what I would do if I were in that situation. Like most people, I would love to get 50+ comments to each and every post I write. Who doesn't want to be adored by the masses? But there's a downside, apparently. It isn't all adoration, and for some people, the downside is too great.

21 Comments:

  • Wow, there truly are some obsessive weirdos out there in cyberspace, aren't there? There's a lot of stuff on my website that could identify pretty precisely where I live, so perhaps it's a good thing that my readership numbers around five...

    By Blogger Fyse, at 12:10 PM, October 28, 2004  

  • The key is to write about naked women (strippers for TJ, Leta for Dooce)... and to try and respond to every comment you get, like me. That way your comment count will double automatically! If 6 people leave me a comment, and I reply to them all... hey, hey, hey I'm Fat Albert and I have 12 comments!

    By Blogger Dan, at 1:27 PM, October 28, 2004  

  • This was a GREAT Kevin tribute. Probably the best I have read. How fitting with Halloween too.

    My blog can be a blessing and a curse. I like to get comments, and try to respond to them all, and go visit EACH commentor who comments. This takes hours... lol.

    But I firmly believe it takes comments to get comments. I could not IMAGINE getting 500 in a day. SHEESH. I thought 30 was bad. lol

    I love your writing and your heart. That is why I read your blog, and ALWAYS enjoy your comments.

    *hugs*

    By Blogger Vadergrrrl, at 2:49 PM, October 28, 2004  

  • I like a limited audience. Much easier to handle. What's sad is the fact that I pretty much started my blog because several of my online friends were doing it too. Of about six of us that started them up, only two of us still update our blogs with any kind of regularity. A couple of them see sporadic posting, like MAYBE one a month. A couple of them haven't seen a new post in months, and one has even been taken down completely due to a complete lack of time to post. So now only two or three people read my blog regularly and bother to comment on it. Those comments are much appreciated though.

    By Blogger Newell, at 5:12 PM, October 28, 2004  

  • I had never known what a blog was until Tim plopped me into one of my own. Cool, I thought, and I have enjoyed getting to know you others from blogging. There is a lot of good writing out there I’m finding… I confess to feeling discouraged when days and weeks go by and it seems as though no one is coming over to read my blog, since there are few comments, except for a small handful of stalwarts…like dear Oz. Thank you, Oz! I see some of these folks who get tons of comments and I confess to more than a small bit of envy. Sigh… But then I tell myself that if I had anything actually interesting to say I’d probably get more readers. But I am who I am and I guess that’s that… Good entry dear Oz…

    By Blogger foxymama, at 5:02 PM, October 29, 2004  

  • You know...my views on commenting are the same as yours:
    "I tend to comment for two reasons: one is to let a blogger know that someone out there is reading their writing and enjoying it; the other reason is because comments allow an exchange between the writer of the post and its readership." I couldnt agree more. I like reading other people's blogs and getting to know them better. In some ways, it's like having a friend. And, like FoxyMama said, you do get a bit envious when you read someone's blog and see they have 16 comments in just the first hour after the blog was posted, while you still have "0"...

    By Blogger D.T., at 4:10 AM, October 30, 2004  

  • well I am writing in my blog for myself, I do appreciate any comment but doesnot bother at all about scores on comments, I knew that many reading it and even if one people read it that is enough for me, it is good to write, it is good to know people on what they think and what they do, it is good to try to understand eachother.
    Dariush
    (I am an Iranian living in Japan)

    By Blogger Another Vision, at 4:42 AM, October 30, 2004  

  • Fyse, Luckily for us, we don't seem to inspire that sort of, uh, "enthusaism" shall we say. I am 100% sure that if people knew where Kevin lived, they would be there now. In fact, they were trying to figure it out in those comments--"just to make sure he's okay." Uh-huh.

    Dan, Yes, that is a good trick. I hardly ever write about naked women, and one might think that I would more often, eh?

    Vader, I have read in your response comments that you go to all those blogs that you link to. Sheesh! That's like 100 blogs. To read each of them every day and leave a comment on each one--I can imagine that takes many hours to do. I think it would be easier just to become a Blog of Note and get readership with no effort. Now, if I can just figure out who to sleep with to make that happen.... ;)

    Newell, It seems like blogging can be a 3-4 month phenomenon. There's a burn out that happens around that time. Some push through it. Some just pack it in. It's hard get attached to a blog and then have it die on the vine though.

    Foxy, I don't think that getting comments has much to do with the quality of the writing. I think that has something to do with it, but not nearly as much as visibility. Like Life at TJ's Place. I don't think he got many comments until he became a Blog of Note. Then people saw it and flocked to it. Without being a Blog of Note, the only way to be visible is to 1) hope someone stumbles across your blog through the navbar or the "most recently published," 2) take out an ad--which is actually reasonable priced on Haloscan, or 3) do what Vadergrrrl does and leave TONS AND TONS OF COMMENTS EVERYWHERE. She has a great readership, and she's done it the hard way--reaching out to one blogger at a time.

    DT, You seem to get a bunch of email instead of comments. I wonder why that is?

    Another Vision, I wouldn't say that I am bothered by the fact that I don't get 50 comments. Not at all. I am saying that I would like to get 50 comments. Would you mind that? But I am not doing the things necessary to generate that type of readership, so it's not important enough for me to actually do anything about it.

    Everyone, I just wanted to say that this post was not supposed to be a whining, "I want more comments!" post. I was really trying to make a point about the price of fame--which in the blog world can be judged by the number of comments you receive--and how some people can handle it and others can't. Then I was saying basically, "Yeah, I want to be 'famous' too, (most people do) but I wonder how I would handle it if it happened, because it isn't all roses and light."

    By Blogger Oz, at 9:07 AM, October 30, 2004  

  • I guess the price of blogging fame isn't all that different from the price of fame, fame. If I were to close my blog, I'd like to think I'd be missed but who knows? If you go out big though, chances are you will forever be known as the James Dean of bloggers, with a lot of "what if's" swirling around the Internet for the rest of blogging eternity.

    By Blogger Janet, at 11:28 PM, October 30, 2004  

  • How very interesting...we all crave comments and readers, but after reading Kevin's comments (hilarious stuff, by the way, but I hope he's not realy dead), it kind of makes me want to just journal off line.

    By Blogger Diva, at 1:17 AM, October 31, 2004  

  • Janet, I agree with you about the price of fame being the same. You'd think that you could protect your anonimity (Kevin used a pseudo name) and thereby protect yourself, but people find a way to be assholes anyway. I don't have the Haloscan comments, but I know you do. Can you delete comments from your blog? I know that Dooce will delete really obnoxious comments. Can't blame her.

    Diva, I don't think that Kevin is dead. I think he just decided that things were too crazy. The most conclusive proof that Kevin is not dead is that about a week or two ago, the comments link disappeared from his site. Some dedicated fan still had the Haloscan link (and I stumbled across in in the comments to another blog), which is what I provided in my post, but if you go to Life at TJ's Place, you'll won't find the link. Obviously, he is the one with the passwords, etc., to access his account and change his template, so I'm sure he's out there still. Probably started a new blog somewhere and is quietly posting away.

    By Blogger Oz, at 9:58 AM, November 01, 2004  

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