"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Commentary & Conversation

A couple of days ago I received notice that Haloscan, the comments widget I've used for years, will cease to exist on February 11. This is extremely unsettling news, coming at a most inconvenient time. I've investigated Echo, the paid replacement of Haloscan. Don't much like it. User comments are not encouraging. I considered signing on with a yearly subscription--I'd gladly pay 10 bucks to buy a only few more months to figure out what to do. My priorities right now are my legislative responsibilities (it's the busy season), my novel, diocesan commitments, my personal life (all the stuff I mostly don't share here), and being a supportive and available friend. Depending on the day, the hierarchy of importance changes.

But...did I say I really don't like Echo?

I've customised my original Blogger template to the point that I don't think I can easily resurrect the Blogger comment feature. Even if I could, I can't import my archive of Haloscan comments. I've looked into Wordpress as an option, I think I can import Haloscan. Not sure about the Blog template. My author website host has blogging software but I've never used it. Getting up to speed with it or with Wordpress would be extremely time-consuming during weeks when I have not a moment to spare.

My investigations turned up the interesting fact that some Blogger/Haloscan folk are cutting and pasting their archives of visitor comments directly into the old blogposts to preserve them. That's an easy workaround...except that I've written over 1000 posts here. And while my comments section doesn't begin to reflect actual visitor numbers, just opening up the majority of my posts to insert the comments is a mind-boggling operation. Especially right now. Even if I did it selectively. There's a chance I could harvest my archive from the Haloscan website (while it still exists) and save the comments in a document and export them at a later date, over time.

It's hard for me to put into words how greatly I value the comments I receive here. I've never cared about the volume or frequency of comments, but I do cherish every single one. They provide the connection with my blog visitors, and create a sense of community and friendship that is, for me, extremely important. I have been touched and oh, so grateful for things people said in times of joy (progress on the book, election or re-election, birthdays, anniversaries, achievements) or sadness (loss of a pet or family member or close friend). I share with you my activities, thoughts, my photos, my dogs' antics, my gardens, my lake views, and when you reply it becomes a conversation.

The prospect of losing the record of that conversation on a date certain makes me want to weep. I remind myself that the internet is both permanent and ephemeral. Blogs I used to read regularly have vanished without a trace. Others remain, dormant for years, preserved in amber.

Going with Haloscan was a calculated risk for me and a lot of others. I wish I'd received the announcement sooner...apparently the changeover has been known since December. I can't explain why I am the last to know.

I'm not sure what to do about the archive. I'm not sure what I can do in the time left.

I'll keep up my investigations, hoping for quick and not-to-complicated solution. But I have to admit my optimism is waning.

So all I'll say for now is thank you, thank you to everyone who responds to my postings. There will most certainly be a platform for comments in the future...but I have no idea what will happen with all those meaningful ones from the past.

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