Data diarrhea: my epic post about reader survey results #Site News#blogs December 17 2013 | Ariel arielmstallings Here's an overview of what y'all told us you wanted to see more of on the site. I've written on the Offbeat Empire business blog about why I'm not doing my usual massive multi-site reader survey this year. Nevertheless, Offbeat Home & Life has undergone a lot of changes in 2013, so it felt important to do a little mini-reader survey specific to this site. Big thanks to the thousand of you who took us up on the invitation to share your feedback, and apologies again for the technical difficulties we experienced in the first few hours of the survey. This post is going to be long, but for those of you who are into data and/or invested in the future of Offbeat Home & Life, it's going to be fun. We've got stuff about Facebook, family-related content, and the kinds of posts y'all hate. Come along! How long have you been reading Offbeat Home & Life? This surprised me. Of course the whole idea with this website has always been building a more long-term community. Since Offbeat Bride has such a transient readership, I've always hoped that Offbeat Home & Life readers would be the type to stick around… but I didn't realize so many of you actually were! Almost two thirds of you have been reading since 2011, the year we launched. I think it's fair to generalize that the majority of you have been reading for a couple years or so. This surprises me because, with a few exceptions, I don't feel like I know all of you very well. I can think of maybe a dozen repeat guestpost contributors, and maybe 30 frequent commenters… but that's maybe 50 people total. We have about 200,000 monthly readers, and even if we skew the percentages, this means thousands of you have been reading for years! It makes me a little sad. Considering how long many of you have been reading, I wish I felt like I knew y'all better. Related Post Offbeat Home & Life: new family, new header, new Tugboat (…wait, what?) Holy shit, you guys. It's a big day for site news. We're welcome another editor (and readers!) to the site, adding a new character to... Read more What now? I hope some of you will consider stepping out of the shadows and becoming more active via comments or guestposts or advice questions. Or heck, even patronage! Clearly, lots of y'all have settled in with us for the long haul… so let's chat! Let me know if there's anything we can do (BESIDES starting a forum, which we've decided not to do) to help y'all feel more comfortable getting involved. Are you an Offbeat Bride "graduate," or Offbeat Families "refugee"? Of course the Offbeat Empire blogs are designed to complement each other, with Offbeat Home & Life being the place that former Offbeat Bride readers feel they can continue their time with us. But we threw a wrench in things when we ceased publication on Offbeat Families. Neither of the numbers here surprise me: about 80% of y'all come to us from Offbeat Bride, which is the massively-trafficked flagship of the Offbeat Empire. And roughly 15% of you were Offbeat Families readers who have shuffled over here to see if we can fill the hole that Families left. What now? We're just going to keep doing what we're doing: steadily reminding Offbeat Brides that there's a website for non-wedding stuff, and reminding Offbeat Families that they should read Offbeat Home & Life if they want new posts that are sometimes family-relevant. (Lots more about this later.) Do you follow us via social media or other tools? This was a dumb question since we have follower counts for each follow method, and the situation was made dumber by Polldaddy requiring a response for every answer which meant you had to answer yes to all of them. SURVEY FAIL. Sorry about that. Realistically, we already know we have 8600 Facebook followers, 8100 Pinterest followers, 1900 Twitter followers, 1300 email newsletter subscribers, ~1000 RSS followers, and 480 Tumblr followers. What now? Uh, ask fewer dumb survey questions? Facebook follower questions: how do you feel about the quantity & type of posts you see on our Facebook page? Offbeat Home & Life's Facebook page is the biggest business mystery I have right now. Your average Offbeat Bride Facebook post is seen by about a fourth of its 31k followers. Offbeat Families Facebook posts are often seen by half its 12k followers. Offbeat Home & Life Facebook posts, however, are typically seen by less than 10% of our 8600 followers. This means that most posts on Offbeat Home & Life's Facebook page only reach about 500 of you, and sometimes as few as 100 of you. We've tried posting different kinds of content (new posts! old posts! pictures! staff gossip! exactly the stuff you're telling us you like!) and every once in a while a post will be seen by as many as 15% of our followers. But unless we syndicate the link to Bride's or Families' Facebook pages, Offbeat Home posts DO NOT get traction. I've managed Facebook pages for years, and I do everything the same way on Offbeat Home & Life's page as I do on the other Empire pages, but wow. It is really the ugly duckling of the lot, and I have no idea why. What now? If you're part of the 11% of Facebook followers who wishes they saw more posts from us on Facebook, you need to engage with all the posts from us that you DO see. Click it, like it, comment on it, share it, whatever. If you want to see more from us (or any other page) on Facebook, you need to interact with the content as frequently as possible. What are your favorite kinds of posts? I know there was some drama with this question on the survey, and for a few hours some of you could only select 5 favorites instead of 10. Sorry about that, but ultimately whether five or 10 doesn't matter too much to me: I just wanted to see the big picture patterns. Related Post Offbeat Home is now Offbeat Home & LIFE! We got this same feedback again and again: "I'm not a bride, not a mom, not a homeowner, so where's my site?" And it exactly... Read more Our "…& Life" categories have been around for less than a year, but they've quickly become favorites: Relationships, Families, Budget & Career, It Worked For Me all did well. Of course y'all like some of the more focused HOME categories too, like DIY, Food, and Organizing, too… but it's clear that our expansion almost a year ago to include more lifestyle content has been a good one. What now? These favorites mostly line up with the editorial strategy we've been aiming for, although you should know that none of the site editors are foodies or DIY queens, so if you want to see more of that, you'll need to git submittin'! What are your LEAST favorite kinds of posts? We'd already gotten the feedback loud and clear via Offbeat Empire's blog comments that y'all don't like the "Where Are They Now?" posts. We've got the last one slated for this Friday, and then we can forget we ever had that idea. Real Estate Porn shouldn't have even been included, because we basically stopped doing those after last year's reader survey, when you told us you hated 'em. We'll be folding the category into a higher-level category so it won't show up on future surveys. Skipping ahead a bit, I was flabbergasted to see so little love for our Style & Beauty posts. These posts are consistently some of the most clicked, most commented, and most shared. I'm almost wondering if some of you were responding to the WORDS "style & beauty" … which can trigger mental images of weight loss tips and make-up etiquette instead of wool underwear, non-aluminum-based deodorants, and weirdo ambassadors. Now, we need to talk about Sponsors & Shopping. 14% of you said you don't like these kinds of posts, and to you I say: do you guys want Offbeat Home & Life to go the way of Offbeat Families? The Sponsors & Shopping posts are how Offbeat Home & Life is (barely) able to cover its expenses, and if you want to have a site to read… then you want us to cover our expenses. That said, maybe y'all were using this vote to cast your weight in favor of our experiments with a more reader-supported business model? Maybe you were saying that instead of Sponsors or Shopping posts, you'd rather become a supporter? What now? If we got to a place where we had, say, 50 monthly subscribers, 50 annual subscribers, and 2 patrons each month, I could TOTALLY get rid of those Sponsors and Shopping posts. If that's a future you want to move towards… FUCKING AWESOME. What topics do you wish you saw more of on Offbeat Home & Life? Let's talk about that top search result there: Families. If you want lots and lots of family-related content, Offbeat Home & Life is probably never going to be wholly satisfying. I published Offbeat Families for four years, and it was not a success. I ceased publication of that site for a reason, and I do not intend to duplicate that failure on Offbeat Home & Life. ….BUT! I do hear y'all loud and clear, and here are some things we can all do: Lots of us said you wanted more of the awesome LGBT family content we had on Offbeat Families, and YES! That is totally the kind of parenting identity stuff we totally want to be running on Offbeat Home & Life. That said, none of us are LGBT parents — so if you are, you need to share your story with us! We'll be syndicating a few of our very favorite posts from Offbeat Families here on Offbeat Home & Life. These will mostly be catered towards the earlier phases of family like deciding if or when to have kids, and trying to conceive. If you want a guided tour of Offbeat Families' deep archives (2400 posts!), we totally suggest following Offbeat Families on Facebook. We share a couple links a day to all kinds of posts — birth stories, adoption stories, breastfeeding advice, childhood education issues, etc. Yes, Offbeat Families no longer publishes new content, but the Offbeat Families Facebook page is totally vibrant! We're getting the message that you want more personal posts from us and well… wow. We're quite flattered, really. In general, the Offbeat Empire's editors try to stand back from the blogs a bit — these are not our personal websites, and we're mostly focused on our community and the community's stories. But we hear you, and all the Empire's editors will be sharing more personal stories here in coming weeks (including pop culture stuff). We hope you like these more personal posts as much as you think you will? Eep. What now? I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but we'd LOVE to share more subcultural stories, LGBT and academia issues, and inspiring stories from our gracefully-aging 40+ offbeat lifestyle experts… we're a community-driven site, so if you wish there was more of something represented, we warmly invite you to submit! What about the OTHER OPTION suggestions? Well, as you could see from the tag cloud image, it's hard to give an at-a-glance perspective on qualitative data like we get in the "OTHER" feedback field. 111 of you gave feedback and if I had to do an anecdotal break-down, I'd say it tended toward polyamory, specific requests for family-related stuff (babies! trans* parents! adoption! special needs!), and varying requests for what I'mma call "DINK" content — not literally "double income, no kids" but content related to that post-wedding/pre-kids phase of a relationship. I also noticed a general trend of a cluster of you aching for the kind of stuff that Cat Rocketship used to do way more of back in her era as editor: homesteading, eco-conscious, cleaning product DIY, etc. I got a chuckle out of this because I remember back when Cat was editor, we got feedback that Offbeat Home & Life "felt like the Cat Rocketship show" … a show that some of you now miss! We'll see if we can bring some of that stuff back in. What now? Many of you revealed a lot about yourselves through your requests… you want more content that reflects your personal challenges and pains. And (this is the last time I'll say it), we can't share those stories unless you share them with us. Seriously. We LOVE reading your submissions and publish the vast majority of them (although of course we can't promise to publish them all). If you get nothing else from this enormous 2000-word post, get this: We love you. We want to get to know you. We can't wait to share the story of YOUR Offbeat Home & Life. Sometimes people email to ask if their guestpost idea is "offbeat enough" and our answer is always the same: if someone who reads Offbeat Home & Life (e.g. YOU) is interested in it, then it's offbeat enough. Get submitting! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Ariel Author of the Offbeat Bride book, Ariel acts as the publisher of all the Offbeat Empire websites. She lives in Seattle with her son, and if she's not reading or writing books, chances are good that she's dancing or happy-crying. You can get to know her better on her Insta stories. PREVIOUS How to get out of your head, and into the moment NEXT My "starting over" Christmas tree Show/Hide comments [ 153 ] Okay, okay, I give, I'll write that guestpost even though it feels ookay and overly-personal and maybe not something I want to publish under my regular name. Reply And that is an awesome facet of the Offbeat Empire: publishing something with some layer of anonymity if needed! Reply I did a guest post with a fake name. I would have never shared most of the information I did if my real name had been attached! Reply I feel bad saying this "out-loud" on the internet, but I wish there was less baby/kid articles on OffBeat Home. I cringed when OBB-Families shut down and a kids birthday party showed up here. Also, I loved the Cat Rocketship show. Reply Yep. This is why we're committed to keeping family-related content pretty light. Basically, if folks want lots of family stuff, they should dig into http://offbeatfamilies.com or follow Offbeat Families on Facebook. And don't feel bad: I'm a parent, and even I don't want too much kid stuff on this site. Reply Twinning. I appreciate this post for showing me definitively that there's real interest in family content from people who aren't Families refugees–and that hey, yeah, there are some refugees! I like the frequency of Families-related posts as it is now, but it's good to see that I'm not the vast majority. My real issue isn't that the content exists–I can skip that post and be totally happy–but. For me, Offbeat Home & Life – Families was my one little corner where I was continually reassured that I could totally have a home and a life without considering my home occupants a family. And I really do feel like The Great Merge handled it well–the Families posts aren't judgy of my childlessness and aren't so frequent that it feels–like a lot of home/life sites–an assumption that babies are, will or have been a part of the picture. Just. The idea of more family-related content makes me roll my eyes. And I feel shitty for being like that! I get that it's just because I'm not into it. But ughhhh kids are so grossssss and sticky. I just imagine a future in which the layout of Offbeat Home & Life includes old milk-soaked Fruit Loops stuck to every page. (hyperbole but lolz it's how I imagine every parenthood website.) Reply I like the family-types of posts about older children, education, and difficulties parents face. I also like the posts about defining what family means for you. But I agree with Dootsie that I'm less interested in stories about breastfeeding, birth, etc…you know all the "sticky" topics. Reply Dude, you will never have to worry about a milk-soaked Fruit Looped Home & Life as long as I'm here. That shit don't fly in MY virtual house. 😉 Reply Um, i don't think it's the intent, but I'm suddenly feeling unwelcome :-\ One of the things I loved about offbeat families was that it talked about being yourself Whilst dealing with having a baby/child, rather than being pushed into just being a 'mother' (etc). I clung to ariel's post about not just being a mother, i shared the post about you'll seeeeee to everyone I knew pre baby. It was the one site I could read whilst the first few months of having a baby made me totally totally depressed, which gave me hope that things would get better. And I've never seen anywhere else online that does that. So I get a bit stressed and sad when people go 'urgh babies' because…well some of us are you guys too, it's just we have babies now and we need this site to help us feel like we can still be us and there are more of us out there who aren't towing the Incredibly insistent line on how you have to be when you have a baby and such like. Reply Luckily for you strawbs, there are three editors who work on Offbeat Home & Life, and baby-hating Megan is only one of them. 😉 The other two of us have kids. tl;dr Not everyone's going to like babies, and that's ok. So i've been trying to put my finger on a feeling I've been having since becoming a OBF refugee. And I think this line from the above comment helped me figure it out: "I loved about offbeat families was that it talked about being yourself Whilst dealing with having a baby/child, rather than being pushed into just being a 'mother' (etc)" All the 'Ugh babies' stuff (even when it's tongue in cheek like it is here), can feel like relegating the parents into the 'just parents' role. When ever the inevitable 'ugh babies' comment thread appears on OBH or other blogs I usually just role my eyes and move on. It just gets a little old. I like posts about star wars themed play rooms – you like posts about star wars themed holiday ornaments. lets move just focus on how cool star wars is. It's totally cool to not like reading about babies and OBH doesn't need to be OBF but it's also equally cool to love all the sticky fruit loop covered pages that might (or might not) come with babies. Ok, that didn't really get to the feelings my brain is having but I'm going to leave this comment nonetheless. **also, as a side note to the commenter who said they felt bad for saying it – don't ever apologize for thinking 'Ugh babies' we all have something that makes us go 'Ugh'. I totally think we have a good balance of baby-lovers and haters on our editorial team. So, what I meant with my flippant comment is that Offbeat Home will never lean too heavily in the "milk-soaked Fruit Loops," nor the "babies suck" direction. For every time I say "ugh, babies," Stephanie will be happily presenting awesome kid-related goodness. One of the things I loved about offbeat families was that it talked about being yourself Whilst dealing with having a baby/child, rather than being pushed into just being a 'mother' (etc). I clung to ariel's post about not just being a mother Strawbs, I've been thinking about your comment a lot, and wanted to share something. That post you mention (Being a mom is not my most interesting feature) was everything I wanted Offbeat Families to be… everything that the site mostly was not. I wrote that post because every submission we were getting at that time was myopically focused on "mothering identity = EVERYTHING." I wrote that post in a desperate attempt to model the kinds of posts I wanted to be doing more of on the site. You'll notice that the post concludes with a call for submissions that WEREN'T focused on parent-as-primary-identity, and I'm here to tell you that for the most part…. that call went unheeded. Honestly, part of why I shuttered Offbeat Families was because the majority of our submissions and comments supported parenthood as a primary identity. In fact, the posts that we published that were NOT about that frequently got negative responses (I'm thinking specifically here of the mountaineering post, which readers hated because the author sounded "selfish"). While I *LOVE* hearing that for you, Offbeat Families was exactly what I intended it to be… based on submissions, comments, traffic, most readers wanted Offbeat Families to be about parenting as one's primary identity. I've had all sorts of theories about why this might be (the current popularity of attachment parenting, the percentage of readers who were stay at home parents, American parenting culture in general) but ultimately for me as publisher, it was pretty frustrating… especially considering the site didn't even make any money. I guess what I'm saying here is that I mourn the Offbeat Families that could have been… but that, in my mind, never actually was. I'm with strawbs. I don't want to feelingsbomb all over the place, but I found the empire after my munchkin was born. I was among the first of our friends to make/aquire a tiny human, so Offbeat Families was a great space of other parents who were offbeat, and parents, but still people as opposed to just mommies and daddies. Also, the Star Wars nursery? Awesome! I know home is never going to be what families was, and I know that not everyone likes children, but . . . feelings I cannot articulate well about being discounted/left out/etc due to parenthood/fear? Just to throw in a flip-side: for me, it's less an issue of "urgh, babies" and more a modicum of disappointment that the slice of the OBE where I actually felt most welcome as a single, childfree person now has to perform double duty. I read OBB and OBF before OBH was launched because I love the premise – doing all these life things that often come with a traditional script, but doing them in an offbeat way. I'm definitely not put-off by posts about experiences that don't directly apply to me, but I never really felt like I had a niche here until OBH. I know that, for example, the greater number of family-related posts and the "Where are they now?" series combined to make me feel just a little awesome about that niche. This kind of a reaction may explain at least some of the push-back you are describing. Just wanna say…I'm 100% of the side of "ugh, babies," but I absolutely love reading posts about offbeat families and their children and parenting techniques. I know someday I will have my own family (I simultaneously cannot stand other peoples children and desperately want ones of my own) and I really enjoyed reading about how other people handled such an important duty. Everything else I've read online sounded preachy and was completely uninteresting to those who were single and childless. So I say, bring on the baby posts! Just don't drown the site in them and I think everyone will be happy 🙂 Yeah I'm with Dootsie, Sarah and Pixy on the Ugh babies. I feel like this is another space where I was free to be me that has been taken away and turned into a parent haven, albeit an offbeat parent haven with occasional cool stories but a parent haven nevertheless, it's just so cookie cutter in a way 1. Go to OBB 2. "Graduate" to OBH. Then again the whole results of the survey make it abundantly clear I am in the small minority on OBHL in that I wanted far less relationship and families content and more home, eco, travel, gardening stuff. Since OBF came over to OBHL I have been steadily dropping off my readership from every single day to maybe once a month, I assume as the survey results take place I'll stop coming all together. I have submitted posts about topics I like but to be honest, it's not that fun reading my own posts. Blegh. After reading the survey feedback I have been left with extremely disappointed, lonerish and 'Ugh Babies' feels. I've lost a website that I loved, there is no way to replace it and it's obvious, as usual, that I am some freak in the minority way of thinking who everyone doesn't like or agree with. Sigh. Back to looking at images of offbeat homes and lives with no actual content to read. Ok, you guys. Deep breath. We seem to have dueling fears that Offbeat Home & Life is a baby-hating parent-hostile den of snakes AND/OR Offbeat Home & Life is going to become a series of breastfeeding tips, cloth diaper tutorials, and placenta encapsulation meditations. I totally sympathize with both these feelings. I get it. That said, the separation between Families and Home was always a bit awkward. Our posts about stuff like living child-free and birth control lived on Families, even though we KNOW tons of you reading Home are child-free and thinking about birth control. Likewise, posts about raising a family in a small space have always lived on Home — despite the fact that many Families readers are doing exactly that. This is all to say, the separation of the content has always been somewhat arbitrary and imperfect. Also, I want to remind y'all that it's not like we're on opposite teams here — Offbeat Empire readers may have different interests, but part of what I love about this community is that we all make an effort to learn from each other and see how each other's lessons can apply to our own lives. My hope is that everyone, parents and "ugh babies" alike can have a little faith that we can co-mingle and have a great time together. (Also, some of us are on both teams simultaneously.) Most importantly, I'm honored that you guys have such strong feelings about the Offbeat Empire websites. It's a great privilege to have such invested readers, and a responsibility I take pretty seriously. I hope you can trust that I'm doing my best to make as many of you feel great about the sites that I can — but also know that I empower each of you to make your own decisions about what's working for you. DEEP BREATH! GROUP HUG! But…but Ariel! We're not a "baby-hating parent-hostile den of snakes." We've very clearly always been an anti-vegan pit of snakes. @Jackie 10 points to gryffindor for remembering the anti-vegan snakes commentroversy! HA. What you said about not liking the WORDS Style and Beauty was right on. Even though this entire site is offbeat, my mind didn't insert the word Offbeat in front of Style. I do actually like the posts in that category! Reply Yep. I for one thought the underwear post was amazing. I've been stalking that site, hoping to be able to afford merino underwear since. 🙂 Reply You too? Glad to know I'm not the only one waiting to afford $30 to spend on a pair of panties. Reply In general, I had trouble remembering which types of posts went with each category in the survey. Reply Yeah, me too. I loved all of those posts that Ariel mentioned up there, but didn't mentally head them "Style and Beauty". To me, that = lipstick. Reply Exactly this. I'm not interested in "Style and Beauty" — but I sure as hell am interested in merino wool (and wearing six pieces of merino clothing right now), and no-pooing, and cutting my own hair, and that sort of stuff. But I think of makeup and trends when I read those words. Reply I realize statistically it looks like only a handful of posts are being read via Facebook by a handful of people. Home & Life does have a wide array of categories, which I absolutely love, but I believe not everyone might be interested in all of them. Also, I often click on a single post and move on to the next while I'm already on the web site, I wonder if this might be a reason why Facebook numbers show up like that? I don't have anything against sponsors either, but personally, being single/broke/living outside the States makes me a pretty hard target for most of the services or goods they provide. Actually that makes me a pretty hard target for anything 🙁 But I do enjoy shopping posts nonetheless! Reply There are lots of ways to engage with those sponsored posts besides spending money. Commenting is always free! More about this: http://offbeatempire.com/2013/09/readers-support Reply Yes, being outside of the US, even just in Canada, makes some of the sponsor posts pretty irrelevent as well, services are out, and I will not be paying 30 $ shipping + duty fees for a 40 $ item (just an example). Reply In regards to super expensive shipping: I haven't tried this website because I live in the US, but have you heard of Hop Shop Go? http://www.hopshopgo.com/ Reply My husband tried to order something from one of the sponsors and he ran into the same thing, crazy shipping costs and then duty at the border, to ship to Canada. It was an item that easily could have been sent through regular US post but the company only used courier services and said they don't use the US postal service. He spoke with someone in shipping about it and told them to consider making changes if they actually want to sell things to Canadians, we noticed after about 6 months that they announced some new choices in how they ship to Canada, so it is worth to talk to them even though it took some time for the company to make the change. Reply We noticed after about 6 months that they announced some new choices in how they ship to Canada, so it is worth to talk to them even though it took some time for the company to make the change. Exactly this. We've seen this a LOT…. sponsors often take feedback from our readers to heart. Reply Could we have more reader-involved sponsor/shopping posts? Like favorite offbeat shopping sites that could encourage them to sign up to be sponsors, shared OBH wishlists, polls, etc? I buy 'offbeat stuff' quite often, but because of budget/style/already own it I'm not that likely to buy the things from these posts, but would be happy to share shopping experiences that I'm happy with and see more sponsors that I already buy from. Reply I know for me, when I voted for Families as a more category, I mean that in a really broad way. It doesn't to me just mean kids, like Offbeat Families more tended toward. I guess for me it's all kinds of longer-term relationships (relationships with your parents, siblings, extended family, roommates, significant others and other romantic partners, long-term roommates, long-time friends, etc., as well as kids of one's own). So, maybe relationships of all sorts, but not so much dating/single life type relationships. Reply Me too! Like I'd love to see lots of different family type stuff…grandparents travelling the world or a single person with their family of cats volunteering for charities (the person, not the cats), etc. Families is so broad, doesn't just mean bebes…though those are cute, too 😉 Reply Volunteering cats would make a pretty interesting post…and there are therapy animals that visit hospitals and senior centers. Reply This is definitely what I meant when I selected families as a category. We don't have kids and aren't looking to any time soon, if ever. But we still have in-laws, siblings, friends like family, and more to juggle relationships with. I love seeing how fellow Off-beat members handle family situations – of all kinds. Reply I'm the same way. I mean all kinds of families. Sure, I like those with kids because I have them too but really, I have kids sooooo I see that all the time around my own house. I really like to read about families that aren't a cookie cutter of mine, siblings, people who live together (partners, friends, chosen families), however people arrange themselves…I guess that all goes under Relationships and not Families? Reply Sibling relationships! I should totally do a post about having my sister move in with us as her transition from living at home to living on her own. Maybe I can even get her to write the same post from her perspective 😛 Reply Totally agree, I was envisaging the how to deal with nightmare relatives constructively type posts rather than kids-based stuff. Although that's cool too. Reply I'll toss out there that I'm okay with sponsor posts because (a) I know that they are 100% necessary to keep this show running, and (b) the sponsors you guys find (or that find you?) are often pretty interesting and for products or services that I may not have known existed. So I guess I'm saying thanks, sponsors, for keeping OBH&L up and going! 🙂 Reply Oh no I'm one of the 'reading since 2011' people who rarely comments! And now I feel terrible about not engaging more! I came from offbeat bride – but not as a bride, just as someone who found the website goodness knows how (I can't remember!), thought it was cool and then found offbeat home and I guess I always felt a bit shy about commenting. It's taken me a couple of years to feel comfy. I second the person above who said she misunderstood 'style and beauty' – I too didn't immediately think of 'offbeat style' which is terrible because I love the posts on hairstyles especially! ANYHOW in an attempt to engage more and support the website I love, would anybody like a guestpost about my pretty offbeat-embracing job (archaeologist) that now seems to be impinging on my offbeat identity, requiring me (subtly) to become more 'onbeat' to move up the career ladder? Is this something that people in other careers are facing or only applicable to me? It's something I'd be interested in reading, would others? Reply I would love a post like that! Reply Definitely write that! You sound like you've got a cool job! Reply "would anybody like a guestpost about my pretty offbeat-embracing job (archaeologist)…" Ooh ooh! Me! Me! You have my childhood dream job. Please submit. Reply Yay I'll do it! I'm somehow more excited about this than being asked to write a paper about my research for a journal recently! More people read Offbeat Home than probably read that journal… Reply 😀 that made me giggle. Reply I know that the sponsored and shopping posts are necessary, but I (for one, maybe this doesn't apply to others) did not choose them as "least favorite" because I'd rather pay money for an entirely sponsor-free site. I clicked them simply because I answered the question in the most straightforward way possible – they are among my less favorite kinds of posts. I still comment on them and occasionally enjoy them, but you asked, so I answered. 😉 I'm happy to read and comment on them and have Offbeat Home as is. Reply I might be willing to do an annual membership/subscription or something, but it would probably end up depending on how high the cost. It's not that it's not worth paying a subscription or that I don't love Offbeat Home–I do, and as an RSS subscriber, reading posts is one of the first things I do when I get on my computer (almost) every day. Our budget is super-tight at current (two master's recipients in the US who are trying not to starve, and who have a baby on the way later next year: let's just say, our accounts are in lockdown mode). If it were comparable to most magazine subscriptions, maybe. I value the opportunity to read about so many different opinions and experiences. I'm always amazed how I read about something here, then discover a few months later that it's become a trend or suddenly a major mainstream news source publishes something on it. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful with the survey this year, but it looks like most of the feedback was close to what I would have voted. A few exceptions: I personally like the families posts (nothing like finding out you're pregnant, then days later finding out the Offbeat Families is no longer going to produce new articles), and the "style & beauty" articles–I'm all for non-synthetic skin products and no-poo hair care! Two other things: First, I did like the things that Cat used to post. Second, in theory, I "follow" you on Facebook, but for some reason, I don't receive the posts any more, either. Sorry for the long post. Just know, I probably could have rambled more than I did. Reply I might be willing to do an annual membership/subscription or something, but it would probably end up depending on how high the cost. The pricing starts at $5: http://tugboatyards.com/offbeatempire Second, in theory, I "follow" you on Facebook, but for some reason, I don't receive the posts any more, either. This is likely because you didn't engage with the posts — Facebook's algorithms are trying to help you by not showing you posts from a page it thinks you don't like. Your best bet if you want to start seeing our posts on Facebook again is to go to our Facebook page and like, share, and comment on some stuff: http://facebook.com/offbeathome Alternately, check and make sure you have notifications from the page enabled. Reply I dunno… I feel kinda torn. As a commenter, contributor, AND sponsor, I still voted that I don't like the sponsored posts! On one hand, lots of them have nothing to do with me and seem a lot more corporate-y than the Offbeat Bride stuff. On the other hand, as a sponsor myself, I found this was pretty much where I felt like home and where I felt I could reach the bad-ass audience I want to rock my stuff. But I juuuuuust barely made a profit on the ad, though all the comments and feedback I got were helpful and awesome. Maybe the sponsors should all have to write a cool guest post and just include their sponsored product at the end or something? It just seems like a lot of the other sponsored stuff I see is like "shop at this website that has a few cool knicknacky things" vs. "here is a maker and a home-grown business that makes offbeat stuff" (recent chainmaille shop not included- can't wait to go there when I head to Chicago next week!!!). Tl:dr, even sponsors are torn about sponsors. Reply Maybe the sponsors should all have to write a cool guest post and just include their sponsored product at the end or something? We actually totally do this — Angie Gaul from Milestone Images is one example: http://offbeatbride.com/2011/11/new-york-wedding-photography-charitable-discounts That said, it only works with sponsors who are A) good writers and B) longtime Offbeat Empire readers who understand the community. I know Megan's posts aren't always perfect — but I can't imagine most readers would prefer sponsored posts that read like spam, written by marketers. Here's an example of a sponsor-written sponsored post that appeared on Offbeat Home & Life last week due to a glitch with our third-party ad platform: http://www.tend.com/teaching-toys-5-ways-to-encourage-learning-through-play/ You can bet I had an email from a reader complaining about it within a few hours, noting "This just doesn't sound like you guys…" I totally love when sponsors do guestposts (here's another great example: http://offbeatbride.com/2013/07/wedding-photography-secrets), but it's just not that many who have the right voice to fit in with the kind of writing our readers are used to. Reply OH…. yeah, that sucks a lot more. Probably hard to find people who A) make stuff you'd want to feature, B) have an ad budget, and C) can also write something that fits in. Hmmmm. Also, in a post like the Milestone Images one, is that still considered a sponsored post and costs the same, or is that a different type of thing? It's still listed under "sponsors". I guess what I'm realizing I'm trying to say is that I much prefer the micro and small businesses over the bigger online retailers that pop up. People with stories and who work with their hands will get my money, but not so much with the Amazon lists. I know I may be part of a small-but-growing minority (yay for buynothingchristmas.org), but those other, bigger sponsors seem much less appealing and much less of a fit for the site to me. Reply Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think what you're noticing is the difference between "sponsors" and "shopping" — "sponsors" being primarily indie businesses, and "shopping" posts being mostly Amazon, etc. I LOVE looking at the products on the shopping posts. It's like a mini-pinterest. However, for ethical reasons, I'm trying to avoid Amazon for the same reasons I avoid Wal-Mart (she says having just made a $100 purchase – but I was given a gift card!). So while I enjoy these posts a lot and tend to be super excited about them (they're kinda my substitute for the old Monday montage) I'm not really gonna buy anything off of them. Of course, I don't tend to buy anything from the Sponsors either since they are usually out of my price range :-/ But I am a Tugboat Yard subscriber and that soothes my conscience. Because I actually DO enjoy all the shopping posts, and am willing to pay for the posts if not the products. Yeah, I go back and forth about small businesses. They are where I look first, but you can't always get what you need. I went to 3 local independently owned locally sourced stores looking for beeswax recently, and they were all out of stock, so I resorted to amazon. My shopping strategy for christmas this year was first a craft fair of all locally owned businesses, many of which were owned by women. Second stop was a local gift shop that buys from local artists and crafters. But I couldn't complete my list, so I used Megan's shopping and board games post and the links to amazon from this site! So I like both, really. But a lot of the sponsors are across the country, so I tend to support my local independent businesses. Megan has a tough job, but someone's got to do it! Even though the shopping posts aren't always my favorites, she does a great job with what there is, finding cool stuff for us from the wilds of the internet (as others have noted in these comments already). Reply Yay! I love to hear good things about the shopping posts. They're seriously some of my favorite things to put together for several reasons. And it pleases me to NO END when I happen to find the right thing for one of my Homies. I really enjoy the sponsor posts. I feel like you guys do a great job of finding new and interesting businesses that I may have not otherwise been exposed to. The shopping posts are always fun and filled with awesome products. I think it's balanced well between readers and the need for marketing dollars. Reply Oh no! I didn't know people hated the "Where are they now?" posts!!! I love having the follow-up on the relationships I've seen before, and I always walk away from those posts feeling more confident from the bits of advice from the newlyweds. I'll be sad to see them go, but I appreciate that you're giving the general audience what they want. Reply I like them too! I didn't realize they were unpopular… I can survive without them, but I did enjoy them. Reply Agree on this! I think that was originally held my hand and led me over here from OBB. But I understand and respect the power of the masses. Reply Thirded – I liked the "Where Are They Now" posts (but it may be that most of them I recognized from my time on the Tribe…), and I will be sad to see them go. Ah well – c'est la vie! I will say, though, that I didn't get the feeling that they were enforcing the "first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby and a baby carriage" trope – the WATN posts I recall reading didn't mention anything about the couple having children. I respect and understand that marriage isn't for everyone – but I feel somewhat sad that the WATN made people feel like it was ramming marriage down their throats. 🙁 Reply I'm one of the people who absolutely hates the Where Are They Now posts but it's not because I felt like anyone was ramming marriage down my throat. Mostly it's because I spend very little time on OBB and don't read the wedding profiles (I do look at the pictures sometimes…but not very often) so they were completely uninteresting. I don't know those couples so I don't really care where they are now…I didn't know where they were then! Reply I was one of the ones who loved the idea… and then I didn't . I THINK that for me, I wanted more posts about relationships, but I then realized that I didn't want them to be framed by the fact that they had, at some point, gotten married. Reply I kind of liked them, but there is/was room for improvement. Once a month certainly felt better for me than once a week, for example. Maybe if there were less emphasis on the wedding side, and more on the relationship and advice side, I would like them better. The wedding questions seemed like a good way to get perspective, but were slanted more for Offbeat Bride readers, not Offbeat Home. The advice for how to be in a long-term relationship and views of what that can look like were the most valuable part to me. The one that stuck in my mind the most was from Lara, who had divorced. Hers and the other profiles that delve into tough issues speak to me more than the ones that don't (and thus could perpetuate unrealistic expectations of wedded bliss, even if it's reasonable as a summary). I understand that people who go through the tougher stuff may not want to share, though, so I appreciate the ones that did! Reply Yeah… a lot of the WATN felt kind of holiday-letter style? "Since we spoke last, Gertrude has run three marathons and got a well-deserved promotion. And Byron is experimenting with home fermentation, please enjoy the tiny container of saurkraut included in this envelope." I think the posts would be a lot more interesting to me if there was a narrative structure beyond "what has changed in the last x years". Reply I just wanted to throw out there that on the least favorite kinds of posts, whatever options I picked weren't necessarily because I don't like the posts. I pretty much like most of what is on here, and if a specific post doesn't speak to me I don't read it. But since I had to pick something, it was more of a rating system to me… I prefer certain posts over others – but that doesn't mean I dislike any of the other types. So basically, that's my long way of saying maybe other people feel the same, and you can't put too much stock in those statistics? Reply Oh, absolutely. All I was looking for with those questions was overviews of content that's consistently not resonating with the most people. Some of the feedback I ignore (like Style & Beauty), and some of it matches up with what I've heard and felt, so I listen to it (like Where Are They Now posts, which consistently have low traffic and low comments). In other words, don't worry that I feel beholden to every piece of feedback that comes in… but there ARE patterns between the survey feedback and my web stats, and THAT I absolutely listen to. Reply Gotcha – yeah that section was just tough for me because I didn't really want to vote for anything. And I definitely understand the need for sponsored posts. The Where Are They Now posts are probably harder to connect to, because if you missed the original post, you'd have to go back and read it to get a sense of who the people are. Reply Ariel – I hope you know that even those most people aren't so into the Where Are They Now posts, I'm sure if you did anything else following Pushba, I think we'd all enjoying swooning over her beautiful family again! Reply This! I mean, I wouldn't read a website solely full of sponsor posts, whereas I *would* read solely about many of the other subjects. By default, it's not one of my favorite areas, because the other areas are MORE awesome. But that doesn't mean I dislike the shopping posts- in fact when my mom told me she wanted a wine bottle stopper for Christmas OBHL was my first stop. I remembered the wine stopper post and used it to buy the "Mr Happy" (I think?) stopper, yay. Reply I find it really interesting that I said some of my favorite posts were some of the least favorites among everyone else. It could for sure be the names of the categories, like style and beauty, that turned people off. As for the shopping and sponsors I really love them because I don't have the patience to do the research or even legwork to find some of the amazing things that Megan does. Example I got a new laptop as a post NaNoWriMo congrats/early Christmas present from my hubby, now I am in need of a new case/cover. Looking on Amazon, even when choosing the appropriate size, gave me 400 pages of results!! That is more than I ever want to look through, I am the kind of person who needs limited choices to make a decision. All this to say that, Megan I love your shopping posts and I love that you love combing the depths of Amazon for people like me who hate it. Reply RayRay! I loves ya! 🙂 Reply How else would I have known about the gloriousness that is the rainbow Christmas tree if not for Megan's post? Reply brilliant article – I love how you share this with us, and highlight to us that ultimately we have a choice. (I am all for realising that we actually have a lot more choice that we think, it's easier said than done, but that's a good example, I don't want all of the sites to go the way Family went) For what it's worth, I wanted to be an annual supporter, but the TugboatYard website doesn't take my (Irish) credit card. Is there any other payment option that would be more inclusive? Reply Paypal, if you want to go that route? Email me: http://offbeatempire.com/contact Reply done! Reply Reply "I also noticed a general trend of a cluster of you aching for the kind of stuff that Cat Rocketship used to do way more of back in her era as editor: homesteading, eco-conscious, cleaning product DIY, etc." It was those posts that really made me fall in love with OBH&L! Even when I took the survey I found myself thinking about those posts. But, I assumed that the gardening, organizing, and cleaning categories covered those subjects. And thus, I did not ask for more. but i wants it… Reply I agree. Cat's posts insured that I was really interested in 60-80% of what was posted. (they weren't necessarily relevant to my life, but I was stoked to read them). Now its maybe 30-50%. More homesteading/eco-concious/DIY! Reply …sounds like you have some guestposts to get writing, hmmmmm? http://offbeathome.com/submissions Reply But I'm not good enough to write homesteading posts yet! That's why I need more homesteading posts to read! Yes, yes, Cat gave us a long list of other homesteading blogs to follow, but I always forget about them and can't find them again. 🙁 Reply You don't need to be good to write a post about something, though! You could totally do a "these were my pitfalls – learn from them" kind of post, or "I ain't got no tips but this is why it's fun and you should try it"! 🙂 Reading the survey results totally prompted me to submit a homesteading piece. I grew up on a homestead farm my entire life. I guess I didn't think anyone would be interested in reading something like that. But with everyone saying how interesting the subject is, I was inspired. Thanks for the info! I totally like the style and beauty stuff and even most of the shopping stuff. I do totally buy lots of stuff on the internet. Was it though you guys that I found my pizza cutter shaped like the Starship Enterprise? I don't remember, but it's awesome either way. My rant: The thing I actually CANNOT STAND are Tuesdays-With-Morrie-style inspirational posts. Which are thankfully few and far between. But oh man. There's already way too much internet telling me to live in the moment and be thankful and keep my platitudes close or whatever. But I'm guessing a lot of people actually really like that stuff, so I'll just keep skipping past to the things I like. Reply This. This so much. I think my other problem with the "inspirational" posts is that they often seem to be more on they poorly-written side. The ones that seem better often involve an actual story (such as, someone experiences a an actual difficult situation, like a death or job loss, then learns XYZ). Reply Ha, guilty. I love the navel-gazey shit. I've been mulling over one that I'm planning to submit myself soon, and E has given me the motivation to try to really make it engaging. Reply I'm going to leave a comment because I am one of these lurky people who has been reading the site for a couple of years now and has left like … 2 comments so I am clearly part of the problem. I'm honestly just not interested in engaging with most of the internet (I like to hide in a corner and not talk to strangers) so it takes quite a bit to move me to comment. HOWEVER I do love what you guys do and want to engage more so I will definitely work on that. (And as soon as I get engaged you know I will be all OVER Offbeat Bride because I loves me some weddings.) Also just to echo what previous posters have said about the 'what posts don't you like' question: I had to choose some categories so I chose the ones which were least relevant to me. I think there have been posts in every category that I have enjoyed and truthfully it took me ages to answer that question because I genuinely like almost all of your content. I put down sponsored posts not because I think you should get rid of them (you are always clear about this being a business and I respect that) but because I've never bought anything from one of them and so they haven't yet been relevant to me. Also count me in the (apparently small) group of people who is sad that you will be getting rid of the 'Where are they now' posts. It was like a OBB/OBH crossover and I loved it. What I should have probably said at the end of the survey was: keep doing you, OBH&L. You guys are awesome. Reply I too am okay with the sponsor ads because (a) i like seeing new things and (b) i understand the need. and, the article on city allotment gardening i have been considering for two years i will submit next summer! Reply I totally goofed on the "Style + Beauty" words. You mean OFFBEAT style and beauty? OOOOHHHHHHHHHH. 🙂 I would love to someday contribute guestposts, I feel like I have tons of weird life experiences, but pulling it out of my brain and into a logical arrangements of words and phrases? Bwaa? Reply I've submitted some very short and/or disjointed thoughts about things, so I think you should too! 🙂 Reply Yeah, our editors excel at making sense of y'all's posts. 🙂 Reply I'm one of the been-here-since-the-beginning folks, and I comment a few times a month. One reason I don't engage more is the all-or-nothing way of getting other comments sent to me. I've been on LiveJournal since they had invite codes, and there any replies to your comment are emailed to you. I like knowing that someone's replied to me as soon as it happens. Here, I have to either get all comments emailed, or check back myself which I'm too lazy/forgetful to do more than once. Do other people have this issue? Or is there a way around it that I don't know about? (And did I just finish this comment as if I was submitting an advice post?) Reply I have that same issue. I don't necessarily want to get 100 comments emailed to me, but I'm likely to forget to check back to see if anyone has replied to my specific comment/question. I really liked the homesteading/eco type stuff, I think that's how I wound up on the Empire a couple of years ago. I was very sad to see Cat Rocketship leave, and following on Twitter is a weak substitute. I dislike the families content, as I don't have kids, and none of my friends or siblings do either, so it's generally irrelevant. I didn't like where are they now posts because I was never on OBB, so they're strangers to me. I would prefer those posts stuck to that website. I like the shopping posts, but soooo many of them won't ship to New Zealand which sucks. Stupid living at the end of the earth! Reply Livejournal had the best comment notifications ever. Unless we want to switch to a third-party commenting platform like Disqus (which I know some people deeply loathe and refuse to use) there aren't any easy solutions for the comment notification thing… Reply Yes – and now they've been bought by some Russian company, so whenever I get spammed by a foreign robot, I know about it right away! Thanks for letting us know what the issue is, though. My programming knowledge is limited to sticking links in my comments, so I had no idea if this was a doable fix that no one knew people wanted, or whether it's a big challenge. Reply Now that I think of it, another comment gripe, and I'm not sure how much work would be involved in the fix: when comments go on to multiple pages, and I'm subscribed to comments via email, I'll get a link to go straight to the comment. But the link will be http://offbeathome.com/2013/12/reader-survey-results#comment-98616 when it should be http://offbeathome.com/2013/12/reader-survey-results/comment-page-2#comment-98616 (for example). I like being able to click through to see all the new comments, but it's annoying when the link doesn't actually take me to where the comment is on posts that have more than one page of comments. Reply Hmm! Thanks for reporting this. The comment notification is a function of Jetpack, a WordPress plugin. I've reported this issue to them and will be super curious to hear what they have to say: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/email-notification-for-new-blog-comments-permalinks-do-not-include-pagination Reply Jackie, thanks to your comment, the makers of Jetpack have totally logged the issue as a bug: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/email-notification-for-new-blog-comments-permalinks-do-not-include-pagination?replies=2#post-5018750 This is great news, because that means they can fix it! Thanks again for flagging it. 🙂 Reply Yay! Glad to help. It's been bugging me for a while, so lesson learned–next time I'll just say something! Thanks for passing it along. Reply I love your rundowns about your surveys! I think every single one of them has inspired me to write something that other people would like to read about. I'm just over here living my life and don't think about the things in it that would interest other people. So when you spell out "people like articles about xyz" I think: Ah hah! I've done xyz, I should write about that! Reply My wish for sponsored posts is that they be less like an advertisement and a little more informative. Trying to sell jewelry? Tell me about your process, your inspiration, fun facts about how it's made. I'm much more likely to read and engage with fun facts and interesting stories about the product, its materials, or creators. Reply That's what we're always aiming for, although it sounds like maybe we're falling short. 🙁 Reply Truly, I do try my very bestest to strike a good balance between "this is the stuff I'm being paid to tell you" and "holy shit this is cool and interesting." If I may get pat myself on the back for a sec: I think I do a pretty good job of even making even paid advertisement not suck so much (I learned from the master, Ms Stallings). But I'm open to suggestions, since I really want to make our paid content mutually beneficial! Reply I am one of those who has lurked since 2011 and am only just coming out and commenting on posts. It's taken a long time to really know that offbeat home is a welcoming place (hangover from always being offbeat, believing that someone is going to tell me to go away). I am coming out of my hidden corner after 2 years of reading positive happy comments and feel welcomed into the community. I was one who said I didn't like the style and beauty stuff, and totally because I thought 'style' and 'beauty' and not 'offbeat style' or 'offbeat beauty', I didn't even consider the meino wool knickers or wierdo ambassadors to be in this category. I love the offbeat ambassadors posts! And you have convinced me to write a guest post I didn't even know was a guest post bubbling away in my mind. Reply To anyone on the fence about submitting a guest post, you should absolutely DO IT! This past year I submitted two, one of which was a philosophical brain-dump which I was so glad to see resonate with some lovely people, and the other of which was a style post that got lots of commenting love. Both times, it was the highlight of my day when it went up and it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to be in a place where people GET me. I just submitted an advice question (which is a bit antithetical to the shopping/sponsors issue, oops) and have another philosophical brain-dump in the works which I'm really excited about. Yay submissions! Reply I miss Cat Rocketship. I always loved her posts, and they were relevant to my life and interesting in ways that many of the featured posts now just aren't. No offense, I still obviously love this site, but since she left I really feel like the focus is on a crowd that I don't fit in as well with and I miss the homesteading and self-sufficency stuff especially. And I'll cop to being one of those whose most disliked posts were the sponsored posts. I get it, this site has to sustain itself and sponsors are a big part of that…but it does not mean that I don't feel a little disappointed when I visit this page for my morning OBH fix and I see a post that is pretty much "Look at this cute stuff you can buy from our sponsor!" Not saying, again, that I don't understand why those posts exist. But I don't have a lot of money and I don't buy a lot of stuff, so those posts are the ones that are least interesting to me. Overall a lot of the time I feel like I am not really the demographic that this site is aimed at anymore. I'm a self sufficient homemaking hippie; I like to read about that kind of stuff. Much of the video game and pop culture themed stuff goes right over my head. I don't mind the occasional families stuff, but I admit to skipping those posts as I'm an "ugh, babies" person, too. And I can promise you that (no offense to anyone else's lifestyle, just my personal preference) I would be terribly bored and annoyed by posts about polyamory. For some reason that seems to be a trendy topic on several blog sites I used to enjoy, and I find myself skipping them now. Overall, I find myself stopping by here a few times a week now instead of every day. I think that you guys are doing a great job, I don't mean to imply otherwise; just not as much here to interest me as in past years…and I feel that's probably me, not you. Reply Do you follow Cat's writing online? http://twitter.com/catrocketship She's totally still doin' her thang! 🙂 Reply Are you guys interested in guestposts that happen on a monthly basis, like a sort of serial guestposting thing? Cause I will tell you, I am the queen of dabbling in 70 different kinds of crafty stuff and I would TOTALLY do a monthly DIY thing. I will answer my own question and just write one DIY guestpost and send it off! 🙂 Reply Long time reader, occasional commenter, one time question asker, and have about four guest posts half finished waiting for me to have the guts to submit them. I love OBH, and really appreciate all the hardwork y'all put into this site! I also loved this data diarrhea; I find it very helpful. I promise I have a couple of guest posts that I'm working on to submit…just gotta find time in my crazy schedule! Reply So, chiming in here from an almost never-commenter, but daily reader. I love being exposed to so many perspectives through the offbeat empire. In fact, I feel like it makes me better at my job, every day. I'm a psychologist, and by reading the offbeat empire, I am continually reminded not to make assumptions about people, but to ask them. I think the empire has helped me be a more open-minded person in general, in addition to helping my clinical work in really significant ways, and I'm so grateful to this site for that (I bet my clients are too). One of the reasons I rarely comment probably relates to my own…. "issues" for lack of a better word. I'm a serious introvert. I have several close friends, but they really don't know each other. I've always had extreme insecurity trying to become part of, well, any group. There's this weird tension between feeling like an active part of the empire, but also feeling on the "outside" somehow. So I lurk. I'd feel more at home wearing an offbeat empire t-shirt than I would commenting, and I don't know quite how to explain that. It's kinda scary. I mean y'all are so cool… if I comment… I risk feeling more outside than I do by just choosing to lurk. The whole being vulnerable in a community thing is hard for me. Just sayin'. Reply You're amazing. Just sayin. And if I ever need to visit a psychologist I hope I can find one as respectful as you are. Reply Hi! ::waves:: Reply Active participating in online communities certainly isn't for everyone, and it's definitely important to take care of yourself and do what's comfortable for you. But I'm going to share my lil' story, since I've noticed a lot of "Long Time Reader, First Time Commenter" comments here. This may not be helpful for anybody, but I thought I'd put it out there in case somebody needed to hear it. I'm a former Empire Lurker. Since I started commenting and participating (including guest posts), my experience has been overwhelmingly positive! I always have intense insecurity about commenting and "joining" an online community–a fact that would probably surprise some folks around these parts! It's just so far out of my comfort zone to actively try to be part of a group and I have a lot of anxiety about what I say. When I first found Offbeat Bride, I was sort of only vaguely thinking about getting married and I just didn't feel like I had much to contribute. I noticed that there definitely seemed to be some "regulars" and the commenting policy honestly scared me a little. I was afraid I was going to hurt some feelings or have nothing of value to say–which I assumed would be annoying and unwanted. I was really wrong about that. At very least, just saying "This wedding is a stunner" makes the people involved feel good, and everyone here supports that. I've had questions answered that I never would've even asked anywhere else… and I've answered some of those sorts of questions, too. And yeah, I've made some friends! And in the interest of full-disclosure, I've made some comments that didn't sit well with some people and I've had comments deleted. But by and large, commenters on the Empire are so respectful and I'm so aware of the moderation end that I came away from each situation a little more informed. And I feel like that's why it's been so easy for me to go from Lurker to Commenter–I know that pretty much every person sitting in the comment section wants me and everyone else to succeed and be heard! That's pretty gosh-darn awesome. I do get overwhelmed sometimes with the connectedyness of it all, so when that happens… I just take a break from commenting for a while. And there's no pressure to get back into the swing of participating (which happens a lot of forums, I've noticed). Anyway, all of this to say… I'd love to hear from you if you ever do comment, but we're all glad you're out there, either way. 🙂 Reply I can't even conceive of a world in which you are an Empire Lurker! Wow. Reply I can't conceive of one where we deleted your comment! Reply It was about placentas. (Placenti? Placentrices? Placentopodes?) Trust me, I geddit. Pronounced "plah-sen-TIP-eh-deez" I'm going to group my few points into one long comment-diarrhea (wow, can't believe I spelled that correctly first time!) – I'm an offbeat families refugee (I 'graduated' there from offbeat bride) and although I completely understand why OBFamilies had to stop publishing new posts, I still feel like there is a gaping hole in the internet. I have found nowhere else that reflects my experience of becoming a parent, and nowhere else that gave me the space to consider that maybe it isn't all awesome and that you can have 'ugh babies' and 'yay my child' at the same time and that that's ok. I haven't found anywhere else either that really treats parents (especially mothers) as people in their own right, and not just baby machines. I'm trying to think of a guest post, but to be honest, I think you have my experiences pretty much well covered by other posters already. Thanks Ariel for posting the link to the offbeat families Facebook page. I'd tried picking random posts from the archive to satisfy my offbeat families fix, but following on Facebook is much easier. It makes me feel like the blog is still publishing – yay! -I think I also clicked 'sponsored posts' as one of my least favorites. That doesn't mean I don't like them – I do! I just like them less than some other posts. But I still read them and enjoy them! And I'd definitely rather read sponsored posts than see a subscription-based model. – Ok, I've diarreahed enough that I've forgotten my other point now. Can't have been that important 🙂 Reply "I haven't found anywhere else either that really treats parents (especially mothers) as people in their own right, and not just baby machines." As the former editor of Families, I just wanna say I totally agree with you! RIP, Families. Reply I am one of the lurkers!…. and started reading offbeat life because I was on off beat bride. Thanks for sharing all the data from the survey it was really interesting. I have to admit I was turned off a bit when I started seeing all the family postings because part of what I loved about coming here is I knew I could read through some fun posts with out being reminded I don't have kids. I wouldn't have to see a super cute adorable picture of some kid with their family all smiling so perfectly I want to Lennie hug them. Their smiles screaming "Hey lady are you ovulating cause you should go get knocked up!" But once I understood the whole deal with the sites merging, I got over it. Also it was really nice being exposed to the articles with the offbeat perspectives on families. Someone mentioned one I liked a lot eariler in the comments, the one about motherhood not becoming someones entire identity. Also I agree with a previous commenter that the frequency of family type posts is at a good level. Above all <3 you offbeatwhatever! Reply Hi! I've been thinking of submitting an advice question for a while, but I haven't done it because I wasn't sure how it would work. Will you tell me soon-ish if you're gotten it and plan to publish it? And will you tell me in advance when you'll publish it or will it just appear one day in 6 months or something and if I don't check the site that day I will miss it? (Not trying to sound critical all all, I'm just genuinely wondering how you organize these things!) Thanks! Reply We send out emails every Sunday to all guestposters/advice askers, letting them know their posts are going up that week. Reply I'm assuming you don't run every advice post submitted, right? So if I send an advice request in, will I know in advance if you've decided to publish it? Or will I not know until a Sunday, potentially several months later? Reply Correct: we can't run every question we get, and we don't email to reject questions we don't publish. For advice questions we already have answers to, we email back immediately with a links to relevant posts and existing discussions. Reply Okay, I see! Thank you! I must say, I've been so pleased to receive speedy and thorough responses to advice questions. I had one questions published and received some fan-fucking-tastic responses from other readers and had another question responded to with a ton of useful links. Hooray! Maybe consider taking Sponsor posts off the list of categories that are rated in the survey? You need them to survive, so they're gonna stay on anyway–but obviously, nobody likes feeling like something's being sold to them, so no one is gonna rate Sponsor posts as #1. I know I certainly didn't put them at the top of my list, even though I KNOW they're required and I don't mind seeing them. So yeah. Maybe a separate question, something like 'how could we improve sponsor posts? [blank entry field OR choice of answers]'? Sorry if I come off a little blunt, I'm not very good at this. I've been reading Offbeatbride since I was 19-20, and I'm 25 now. I hopped on OBH as soon as it came into existence, and was briefly hooked on OBF. I never comment mainly because I'm not anywhere NEAR the 'life stage' that (I think?) the average OB member is: I live with my parents so most house stuff is out of the question, I'm still (STILL!!) in school so my budget is nonexistent, and I'm not engaged or even in a relationship! I read OB blogs because I find them inspiring, in a 'someday….in the future…!!' kind of way, or just to look at cool stories from awesome people. I don't really have anything to contribute, so I don't. I think I commented once on a 'what board games are good for sore losers?' post, and immediately regretted it when I got comment mail in my inbox for like, two weeks after. :|b It's not all bad, though–I make a point NEVER to read the comments section on any site. Except OB. You guys are like Tumblr for me, except for real-world non-fandom stuff. Y'all rock. ♥ /waves from the peanut gallery!! Reply Hey, so I'm 25, live at my parents' home, am unemployed and have less than no budget. I've also submitted numerous guest posts!! So I think that you fit right in, and I'm sure you have cool stuff to contribute, even if it's just a comment 😀 Reply I like your suggestions about the sponsored posts. Thanks for that! I think I commented once on a 'what board games are good for sore losers?' post, and immediately regretted it when I got comment mail in my inbox for like, two weeks after. You know there's an unsubscribe link in the footer of every comment notification email, right? RIGHT!? I hate to think of you not commenting because you feel spammed. 🙁 Reply Oh yeah and re: living with parents! Not only do we love that topic, but we have a whole archive of posts dedicated to them: http://offbeathome.com/tag/living-with-parents If it's an issue in YOUR life, it's probably an issue in other Offbeat Homies' lives. 🙂 Reply What I really liked about "Where are they now" is reading about divorce, and splitting up. I like hearing about how people's lives change. Can we get more of that content? Reply I don't interact with the site as I've greatly reduced the amount of time I spend online. I'm one of those who misses Cat's voice. You've brought up that 'Cat Rocket ship show' comment before and I've always thought it was an asshole remark. The challenges of finding/developing content in the early phases of a site can me monumental and well, when you're living a life that is inspiring then why the fuck not share it? I liked the idea of the 'Where Are They Now' posts, and enjoyed reading about people from my OBT days. I'm very surprised they weren't well received. Reply Yeah, the "Cat Rocketship show" goes down in history as one of the jerkier pieces of reader survey feedback EVER. I mean, we got much meaner… but that one somehow just felt particularly cruel. Of course a site is going to reflect its editor(s) and her/their interests. That said, there was a kernel of truth in the feedback, which was that Cat compensated for a lack of reader submissions by just writing every single post herself — which was a LOT of work. Too much work, really. Now I try to make sure that editors balance their own writing with community submissions, so that the site reflects both OUR interests, AND the community's. Reply Hi! I just wanted to put in my 2 cents about the "Where are they now" posts…I am one of the people who didn't like them, but for me it was because I DIDN'T come here from OBB. So, I had no idea who any of those people were and no real desire to read about their weddings to find out who they were. I might have clicked and skimmed if there was something interesting to me in the title, but that was about it. I can see, however, that it might be interesting to read about if you'd already read about the couple on OBB. 🙂 Reply That makes mucho sense. Thank you for that perspective! Reply Hah, I actually really enjoy reading these survey breakdowns. 🙂 And I have a couple submissions in the works! Reply I'm not really surprised by the outcome. I'm really interested in how the results will effect the blog in the future :)… I just made a submission last week. I'm really excited now :). I'll try to make some more because I looooove OBH :). Reply I love reading about the survey, its so interesting and i love stuff about people opinions and behaviour, so nosey! Being from England, i like the posts about people in places other than the U.S. On the same topic, i have figured out monthly subsciption is actually very cheap so i will set it up next month 🙂 I may have to submit a post too, i have considered several, some relationsship/friends type stuff, could do 100,000 craft ones, but also many food ones. I will record my making of this Christmas vegan nut loaf as its AMAZING (and i totes made up the recipe myself) and submit it for next year. Does it matter how 'finished' a submitted post is? Im pretty confident im a reasonable writer, but wouldnt want to be making loads of work for you guys if its actually utter crap! Aside from all that, big peace and love to the empire, happy with all the content as its broadening my horizons if nothing else 🙂 Reply Does it matter how 'finished' a submitted post is? Im pretty confident im a reasonable writer, but wouldnt want to be making loads of work for you guys if its actually utter crap! This is a tough question to know how to answer, because it's so relative. As we say on the submission page: "You don't need to be a professional writer, but your post should have a thoughtful, specific focus and narrative structure. Be conscientious about capitalization, proofreading, spelling, etc." In other words, it needs to be coherent and readable, and you should run spellcheck — but our expectations are pretty realistic when it comes to community writing, and we do edit posts. Your best way to get a feel is to look at the posts we run on the site, and ask yourself "Could I write that?" If yes, then yes! Reply When you make a submission is what you submit the end of it, or is there any dialog on the piece and opportunity for additional editing or changes? Reply There IS a dialog, but in the interest of time, we don't do rounds of revisions. Every once and a while we'll be like, "Can you clarify this part?" but for the most part, if you've been generous enough to submit, we don't want to then reward you by taking up your time with revisions and changes. Reply So this post made me realise WHY I don't see OBH on my feed… It's not that I don't interact with the content, it's that I never "liked" the page! DOH! Hopefully I'll miss things less now. I really dislike facebook, but I do like being able to condense my "catching up" into one place: friends, HuffPo, Think Progress, OBB, and, finally, OBH. Reply Why hello strangers! Okay, so, for me the reason for lack of commentage is simply that OBH and OBE are more likely to be my once-every-couple-of-weeks reading binge, with the side effect of by the time I read the thing I might otherwise comment on, it's either two weeks old, or has 700 million comments saying vaguely what i intended to say, or both. so that's why I've been pretty absent on the commenting for the last couple of years… but active on the THIS!-ing! 😀 Reply I am similar. I don't tend to read things right when they're posted and when something already has a ton of comments on it, I'm much less likely to contribute. Reply This is me too. Maybe a topic on FB will catch my eye, then once a week I will come over here and read all the posts for the last week or so if they interest me. And if there are too many comments I just skip it. No sense repeating what everyone has already said. Reply Me too. I comment anyway, though, because I figure if I'm coming late to the party, maybe somebody else will be even later than me. 😉 The internet lives foreverrrrr… Reply I totally have submission ideas! My husband and I just downsized to a studio and I want to write about that, and give a tour of our tiny place. I have questions/musings about not being ready for kids when your partner is, about life as a substitute teacher, about moving away from your home town for the first time, about navigating poly-life when you're more into it then your partner. I just can't seem to find the g*damn time write any of it out. Soon! I hope you'll see something from me soon! Reply Long time reader, occasional commenter, and have submitted two stories that you published. THANKS. I am one that is saddened by the leaving of Where are they now. I never thought of them as Offbeat Bride left overs. I didn't know half of them. I focused on the relationship aspect after the wedding. So I am so surprised that so many people skipped over them just because they came from OBB. Fascinating. I also find it interesting that so many readers equate FAMILIES to Husband, wife, baby. Family is so much more than that! I am single handedly hitting several of your categories. LOL. Over 40, child free, Infertility struggles, married, divorced, remarried, and now I am a step parent. That's fun. LOL. And I am still trying to figure out who or what I want to be when I grow up. That;s why I visit Offbeat. It makes me feel a bit more normal. (I LOVE all the new relationship subjects that would otherwise be taboo..Poly, Gay and Lesbian, etc…Would love to see some "Swinger" posts and other alternative lifestyle posts!) Reply It's actually a nice and useful piece of information. I'm happy that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing. Reply It's actually very complex in this busy life to listen news on Television, therefore I simply use web for that purpose, and obtain the newest information. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Subscribe me to your mailing list No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.