Getting in contact without social media
- 868 words
- 5 min
Now that I've restarted (and somewhat revamped - I redid some of the templating) this blog, I'm left pondering a few things about how I set things up and what they actually mean for my own usage.
Another thing which you may (if you're particularly nosy) have noticed is that this blog is hosted on GitHub Pages. This is great in that I am able to very easily make changes without having to worry too much about deployment (I just write a markdown file and call it a day) as well as in that everything is in source control, but also not great in two very specific ways.
The first of these is that I have no clue how many people will/would/are visiting the blog (or indeed my main site), with very few options as to how to find it out. One option would be to do the old trick that is used for determining if someone has opened an email -- include an image or css file that is actually a webhook and just increases a counter. This would actually be achievable using IFTTT and a its "Webhook" connection, and is possibly a project for another day. Another option would be to introduce something like Google's Analytics (shiver) to track people as they visit. I'm loathe to voluntarily subject people to more tracking by my own volition, so arguably that's out of the question.
The second problem that I have is that there's no method for interactivity - by which I mean comments. How can I get feedback on topics on a site in which I have the only ability to add anything and there's no contact details? Blogs like Chris Siebenmann's or Chris Wellons' have easy methods for feedback, and regularly include responses to comments on previous topics as new entries. An easy methodology to contact me would also mean that if I should get anything wrong or have issues with understanding some topic, it would be easy for any readers to immediately correct me using that contact method. This problem is a little more complex than the previous in that I both have methods to solving it and do not wish to use those methods, which is further compounded by the fact that there is no way to get in contact to give me additional suggestions that I might use instead.
One potential solution is to include an email address somewhere for people to send mail to. My issue with this solution is threefold. First, I don't know what provider I should put any new mail on, or indeed what the email address should be. It would be possible to set up a Gmail (or equivalent) account, but I already have what feels like far too many Google accounts. I could potentially use/pay for mail hosting from a service provider and use this domain to receive email, however that runs into the issue of needing to pay, which the frugal university student in me cannot allow. Second, I like staying on top of all my email. I've seen many people with thousands of unread emails, and even the thought of such a scenario occurring fills me with dread. As this blog (hopefully) becomes more popular, then equally so the amount of engagement would continue, and my paltry attempts to stay on top of all my emails and reply to all those that need replying to become much more difficult.
Another potential solution to this problem would be to direct people to something like Twitter or Facebook, of which Twitter is arguably the better choice for quick feedback. I do indeed have a Twitter account that has sat dormant for as many days as I have had it, and I firmly intend to keep it that way. I've seen Twitter and other social media accounts take over people's lives to such a degree that I'm not enthused about dipping my toes in more than I need to (even though this self-imposed limitation probably means that this blog is highly unlikely to ever grow). Similarly, whilst I do have a Facebook account (which could probably be found with some rudimentary searching), I don't see messages from people that I'm not friends with, and I don't add people as friends on Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter) that I haven't met in some capacity. All of this means that to me, at the very least, there's very little opportunity for interaction on any social media platform.
Perhaps there are other solutions that I haven't thought of to these problems, but unfortunately, at least for the time being there is no way of getting any of those solutions to me. Ah well, a problem for future me to deal with at some point.