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State of the Blog, 2011

December 29, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I want to work on this blog going forward – and obviously I’ve been thinking about that more than I’ve actually been posting here. Women’s Health News has been around since May 2005, and has always focused on women’s health – but tending to focus on reproductive health and rights, and always with my own kind of feminist take on the politics. The last several years have provided plenty of fodder in that area – the constant churn of anti-woman, anti-choice attacks is a source of material, but it’s also somewhat tiring. Just when you think you’re getting somewhere, things get Sebeliused.

The question is, what do I want to get out of it, and am I getting that out of it now, more than 5 years in. I’ve never been doing this for recognition, or to spin into a book deal, or to take over my own corner of some feminist/repro rights blogging empire. I get an amount of traffic I’m happy with. I get fewer comments than I’d like, and wonder about how useful long form stuff or pointing people to important information is when people can get everything, everywhere, in short snippets – or at least feel like they do.

I get some good things out of this – I’ve met a lot of great people, I get to practice forming arguments or compiling information and writing about them in a coherent way, and it forces me to always, always, keep reading and learning.

I’m unwilling and unable to do the kind of constant cross-commenting and link promotion and building stables of bloggers and community bloggers and contests and so on that seems to be part of the slick blogging machine these days.

I don’t know, I think I’m just looking at the new year, and deciding that I either need to stop worrying about not posting some poorly-defined “enough,” or put in the work to post more. I’d like more comments in a click/reshare age, but I’m not sure we’re going back there without more work than I’m willing to put in on building commenters just for the sake of it.

Is it enough to put information out there and hope it’s useful to someone who sees it when they need it? I’m a librarian – you’d think I’d have a firm answer on that subject.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 29, 2011 1:53 pm

    Rachel –

    Having similar thoughts myself in this new year. Blogging seems to have been an important force in the beginning, but I wonder now as more and more folk have entered the space, and as mainstream media has figured out how to have a meaningful presence here, what the future is for the individual blogger. For me, it’s gone from being just an outlet for my own voice to a necessary means of controlling the content out there related to my name and reputation.

    But we’re all becoming overwhelmed, aren’t we? How much can we read and tweet and facebook and blog? At what point do we have social media burnout? How many “friends” can one person have before the word becomes meaningless (if it hasn’t already)?

    Part of me longs for the early days of the internet, before it got so damned crowded with folks trying to sell us something. I really wish there were a way to create a non-commercial space for conversation. But it will never exist.

    Oh well – here’s to another year of blogging. (and tweeting…) Hope yours is a happy and a healthy one!


    • December 29, 2011 4:12 pm

      Thanks for your comment – I appreciate hearing that someone else struggles with the same things. I think there’s a signal/noise issue that you hit on – it’s hard to put work into exploring something to have it fly relatively unnoticed in a flood of tweets, etc., but I always hope that things at least hit a few people where/when they need it.

      I hope you have a great new year as well!

  2. December 30, 2011 11:26 pm


    Thanx for finally for a update and I’m with you. I’m also with what Peggy said as well. As for me really haven’t been following your blog or Our Bodies and Ourselves Blog or commenting as much as I used to. Because I found I really don’t have anything to contribute to and etc. Even though I try my best. This also applies to my own blog (no longer maintained and etc), other sites and etc.

  3. Sarah C. permalink
    January 2, 2012 12:25 am

    Hi Rachel,

    I have lurked on Women’s Health News for about a year now. I have found it very useful, and it has inspired me to be more active and vocal about women’s issues. I understand your position, but I can honestly say that I would miss your excellent curation of news stories.

    Apologies for never commenting before now. I find that I am so far out of the loop that I am simply a consumer of your fine work. Nevertheless, i read regularly, and it does make me a better citizen.

    Whatever you decide about the future of your blog, I wish you all the best in 2012.

  4. Diane permalink
    January 2, 2012 2:11 pm

    You need to do what is best for you, but I, for one, would miss your blog if it goes completely silent. Lots of food for thought here and I look forward to new posts. I’m in the Pacific NW and I enjoy your perspective from a different part of the country–your voice is refreshing in a homogenized world.

  5. LibGirl09 permalink
    January 7, 2012 2:34 pm

    Another lurker here. I’ve been reading your blog for the past year or so. Your posts are always very informative and thought-provoking. I guess I don’t comment as others have said, because I don’t feel that I’m informed enough to contribute.

    However, as a blogger, I understand the desire for more comments. If you choose to continue, I’ll try to participate more as well.

    Thanks for all the knowledge you have shared so far. 🙂

  6. January 7, 2012 2:46 pm

    Thanks, you all, I appreciate your comments. I’m just trying to find what is going to work best for me, I guess. And of course, as soon as I’ve said this, I have several topics in mind that I want to explore and likely post on. Thanks for your kind words.

  7. January 22, 2012 4:04 am

    I feel terribly guilty that I’ve never told you how much I appreciate your blog and the links it leads me to. I originally found you from a link from a NY Times sidebar. I thought, as a link from the auspicious NY Times, “this must be some big official institutional website sponsored by the government or some commercial interest.” Imagine my delight on discovering you: a medical librarian with a particular interest in spreading news affecting women’s health (and other tidbits of interest to you)!
    I’m visiting less often lately, as I’m in the middle of my own overwhelming endeavor that takes me, coincidentally, to your “greater workplace” from Seattle once a month. I visit today because one of my classes is discussing evidence-based practice. The discussion has turned to access to research and how people with limited resources can access the information that is at our fingertips in academic settings. I immediately thought of your recent post about the Research Works Act. I paid a visit to refresh my memory and because I knew your blog would have a link to the actual legislation. (Thanks for saving me hours of searching!)
    So. Thanks for the information you’ve provided and the new world views you’ve introduced me to through your many links. If you continue to blog I will continue to read. If you do not continue to blog, I will miss you. But I understand seasons of life and will hold no grudges 🙂

    P.S. I’ve got a bit of a crush on your lovely city. I will miss my regular visits when graduation rolls around.

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