Peering Through the Screen

Image: World Map, by Grand_Scient / Pixabay.

I have known for a while that I have readers in some pretty far-flung places. Recently I saw a report from tweepsmap, a company that tracks twitter activity, about the location of my Twitter followers. It matches up very consistently with the information I get from wordpress.com about the readers of this blog. No surprise there, since I advertise articles using my Twitter account, @CoffeeShopRabbi.

Much of the info was unsurprising. I have many readers in the larger Jewish centers of population like Southern California, New York City, and Israel. But I also have readers in some places that surprise (and rather delight) me.

I must say, I’m curious and I’d love to hear from more of you.

Apparently there’s a regular reader in Cuzco, Peru. Are you Jewish? What brought you to the blog? I visited Cuzco once and found the people there to be extraordinarily kind.

There are quite a few of you in Dallas and Houston, TX – that makes sense, there are significant Jewish communities there. But what about you in Victoria, TX? How did you find me? Is the blog useful to you? How could I be more useful?

Mexico City was a nice surprise – more than one reader there – but in Guadalajara, too? Cool! How can I be more helpful to you?

I was astonished to find out there’s a reader in Dhaka, Bangladesh.If you are willing to tell me more, I’d love to hear from you.

I was excited to see that there is a reader in Shanghai, China. A number of European Jews took shelter in Shanghai during the Holocaust, and I understand the Chinese were very kind to them.

There are a surprising number of readers living in the Arab world, and in other places where there are very few if any Jews. Again, I wonder what you get out of this blog?  If I can answer questions that you wonder about, I hope you will ask.

Some of you I know. I know the reader in Karlsruhe, Germany. I have corresponded with the reader in Lyon, France. One of the readers in Norwich, UK, is an old friend from 43things.com.

I’m writing this litany because I want to encourage all readers to leave a comment or two. I truly would love to hear from you. I’m curious about your questions and about what interests you. If you are Jewish and isolated, I hope that I cut through some of that isolation. If you aren’t Jewish, how is this blog useful or interesting? Do you have questions I could answer?

Thanks to all of you for reading. I am grateful to you for doing so, and especially grateful when you comment. Torah is not a solitary activity.

Shalom, chaverim! Greetings, friends!

 

 

A Note on Comments

I’ve had some great comments on this blog lately and I’m delighted with them. Whether it’s a correction or a question, I welcome anything constructive that readers have to say. Feel free to discuss, and don’t worry about pleasing me, please!

That said, recently there have also been a rash of non-constructive comments that are nothing more than spam. “This is a great blog – keep up the great work!” is nice on the face of it, until I realize that the “person” posting it is doing it to leave a link for “American Sewer Service” or “Hot Bodies R Us.” My time is valuable, and so is that of my readers, so I delete all comments that I judge to be primarily a cover for free advertising. I also delete anti-Semitic comments, and anything else that seems to be intended as flamebait.

Please do keep on commenting and asking questions! And I will persist in carrying out the trash, so we can have a nice place to chat.

 

 

A Comment on Comments

English: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

Dear Readers,

I’m on vacation for the moment, just checking periodically to clean up spam comments.  I’ve noticed a trend on my blog of people leaving comments that have nothing to do with the topic of the blog entry. They’re basically using the comment section as a little soapbox. Some opinions I agree with, some I don’t. Some are expressed rudely. Some have such poor spelling and grammar it takes a major effort to figure out what they are saying and even then, it’s a puzzle.  Thank goodness, wordpress does a nice job of weeding out the commercial comments before they even hit the board.

Today I went through and un-approved the rude comments, the totally off-topic comments, and the unreadable comments, and it occurs to me that perhaps I should articulate a policy about comments, since now I’m deleting some things.

Here’s the deal:

1.  I love a good discussion.  Feel free to disagree in the comments, or to question what I’ve written.  That is the best possible use for comments.

2. I don’t love off topic rants.  If you want to reach a wide number of people with your soapbox, go build your own blog and build your readership the hard way. Comment on the topic at hand. If there’s a topic you wish I’d address, put that request in the comments – that’s fine. But don’t just post an essay out of the clear blue sky, because it’s wasted effort – I’ll delete it. I do this not because I disagree (or agree) with you, but because I want to be respectful of my readers’ time and interest.

3. If you are rude, talk about “idiots,” or attack another person or group of persons with your words, I will delete the comment the moment I see it. Do that stuff somewhere else, please. Doesn’t matter if we agree or not, it’s gone.

4. Not everyone is a ba’al hadikduk [master of grammar] but please do try to make your message intelligible. If English is not your first language, just do your best and that’s OK – I do understand. However, if I can’t make it out at all, I’ll delete the message whether English is your mother tongue or not.

5. Finally, if you’ve made it this far, don’t let this fussy post of mine prevent you from commenting and questioning my posts.  I really do love a good discussion, and we can only get there with a comment.  Disagree, question my assumptions, ask questions, whatever – mazal tov!  I love that stuff.

As 2012 comes to an end, thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate the readers who follow me regularly, and the people who follow tweets and other breadcrumbs to come check me out. In the coming year, I will try to post more essays and “tips for beginners” of interest, and make the time you spend reading my blog worthwhile.

Blessings to you in the secular New Year!

— Rabbi Ruth Adar