Monday, February 28, 2011

Recent Comments Now Displayed -- And Why

As you may have already noticed, I've added to the right of the screen (and down a little) a listing of the recent comments posted onto this blog. I'd like to take a moment and explain the two reasons why I've decided to do this now. The first has to do with me, and the second with you.

Learning about history, like learning about anything, is a constantly growing and evolving thing. One of the things I struggle with most in writing these posts is when to draw the line, stop researching, and just write the stinkin' post. Very often I come into a topic thinking I'll just look into quickly, find a few things, then write up a short post. What ends up happening, though, is that I keep finding interesting little tidbits related to the subject and I end up with one (or both) of two problems. Either I've found a number of (I think) interesting facts that I struggle to horn into the post and still keep a modicum of flow, or I keep digging for facts, putting off writing (or finishing) the post, because I'm sure the next really cool discovery is sure to be in the next place I look.

Another "problem" I run into a lot is finding information (or having it find me) related to a post after I've already put the post up. If it's something really significant, I might do a follow-up post, as I've done a few times already. Usually, though, what I find is not really enough to warrant a separate post, so I end up just filing away the fact and not using it. Once or twice I've gone back and (visibly) edited posts when I've found new information, but I never wanted to do that too often or too long after the original post, for fear it would go unnoticed. If someone was interested enough to read the post in the first place, I'd really like for them to know if I've added to or changed anything with it later. Using the comments is the best plan I've come up with so far. Hopefully, this is will be a quick, easy way for readers (especially regular readers) to know when something has been added to an existing post. This way, when I come across a piece of information related to an old post, I can share it and have everyone know that there's something new there. What I'll most likely do is put any new information I have into a post, and maybe add a footnote marking into the post if I think it's necessary.

The second reason for displaying the comments here is that I'm hoping this may prompt more feedback from readers. Far from being "finished", "closed" articles, I've always thought of these blog posts as being the starting point of discussion and learning about the particular topic. By no means do I claim to know everything about any topic, and the way I figure it, any subject I write about, there's at least one person (probably many) out there who knows more than I do. If you ever happen to be that person, feel free to chime in. You may know something or have access to something I don't, or you may remember hearing something (even a vague rumor) about the topic at some point. Maybe you even have a personal tie to a person or place that you don't mind sharing. This way, with the recent comments displayed on the main page, you know people will see what you write.

I know this is not a political or current events blog (in fact, it's about as opposite from a current events blog as you can get) where all the focus is on the most recent post, so readers and comments are as likely to pop up on old posts as on new ones. I hope this way, all contributions to the site (and to our collective historical knowledge) will be easy to keep up on. Also, it should make it easier for me to add little interesting tidbits to old posts when I come across them. As always, if you have something you want to contribute but don't want to use the comments (or are having trouble with them), you can always email me any time. Your correspondence can stay just between us, or I can add your input into a comment, with or without your name. From the bottom of my heart, "Thank You" to everyone who takes the time to read this site, and especially to everyone who has contributed to it, or has generously offered their unique knowledge or insight to me. I hope you have half as much fun reading these posts as I do writing them. Now, let's get back to discovering the fascinating history of our area...

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