Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the category “bloggers”

The Moaning Meme and the Freelance Cynic

About 12 years ago I posted about The moaning meme | Notes from underground:

The Freelance Cynic complains that most memes that circulate in the blogosphere are about things that people like — your favourite book, movie, or whatever. But if you overheard conversations on the bus or in public places, they are usually complaining — about the weather, politics, other people’s habits and so on. One of the major aids to social bonding is moaning, grumbling and so on.

Someone seems to have looked at it recently, so I went to have a look at what I had written, and in the original blog post there was a link to the Freelance Cynic’s blog at, but when I tried to go there the blog had gone, and I was informed that the domain was for sale at $695. I assume that is US dollars, and that is R9728.47 at the current rate of exchange.Now there’s something to moan about.

Did the FreelanceCynic die and bequeath their domain name to whoever is selling it now? Or did they simply abandon their blog and drop the domain name? How much of that $695 will the actual Freelance Cynic get?

Another thing to moan about, if you feel like moaning: Communications:

Meraki Research would like to find out more about the way you communicate in this digital age. The survey will take less than 8 minutes to complete and we have kept it interesting. All answers will be kept anonymous.

If you are in South Africa and see this in February/March 2019, please follow the link and fill in the survey. After that it probably won’t work. Basically what it is about is how you prefer your spam. If you are like me, you will answer “Never” to how you prefer your SMS spam, and so participating in the survey may help to get the message through to SMS spammers.

So here’s my moaning meme for this Week. I’m not tagging anybody in it, anyone can take part.

And, for what it’s worth, I find SMS (“Text”) spam the most annoying.

E-mail spam can usually be removed by filters, though that is becoming more difficult now as more and more people seem to be trying to make their legitimate mail look as much like spam as possible by using HTML and especially “lazy HTML” that tries to incorporate something from a remote site into the body of a message. My e-mail reader automatically tosses those into the “Junk or Suspicious Mail” queue, and is set not to display anything on remote sites.

Newsgroup spamming can also be annoying, most of it these days seems to come via GoogleGroups, and no matter how much you report it to Google, they do little to stop it.

But SMS spam is the most annoying of the lot, because it is immediate. If you are travelling, and expecting an important message about an event you are going to, and you have to pull of the road to read it (like taking the next freeway exit), and then discover it is just some stupid ad, it really is annoying.

The importance of blog comments

Most bloggers really appreciate comments on their blog posts — provided that they are intelligent, on topic, and not spam.

Now one blogger has been investigating this, and asking bloggers to say what their favourite comments are, and why — Why Reader Comments Are The Cat’s Pajamas | Voxate Writing & Editing:

Although time is scarce and we’re often reading other blogs between other must-do’s on our daily schedule, making the time to comment is important – both for the link it may allow you to include to your own blog or site, and to the blogger.

Speaking for myself now, one of the reasons that I write blog posts is that I have some half-baked ideas floating around, and I’m hoping that others will read them and help me to bake them. So it’s pretty discouraging when there are no comments at all. So please read this article on blog comments, and resolve to write a comment on a blog today, or at least this week.

Abandoned Blogs and Internet vandalism

This morning I spent several hours going through the blogroll of my other blog, Khanya, removing dead and broken links. It was sad to see how many blogs had been abandoned or closed.

I knew that some of them had not had new posts for a while, but had kept them in the hope that one day the owner might take up blogging again.

Vandalised library books

But saddest of all were the ones that had been deleted or made “private”.

The problem with that is that all sorts of people make links to blog posts they find interesting. Deleting the blog, or making it inaccessible, is a bit like going to a library and snipping out a whole lot of the footnotes and bibliographical references in a lot of books. It’s a kind of vandalism. It’s actually worse, because it in effect removes the footnote from every copy of that book in the whole world, and indeed from every other book in which that book has been cited.

So even if you abandon your blog, and no longer want to write any more, try not to delete it. Of course if it is a “hosted blog” (something self-styled blog fundis recommend, but is generally a bad idea) you might no longer want to go on paying for the hosting, or you may die and your heirs may not want to go on paying. And of course a free hosting site may go belly-up, like Yahoo abandoning Geocities. Fortunately some others came to the rescue for that, though of course lots of the original links were still broken.

One of the broken links I found offered me the domain name for $1575. Imagine paying that for a “premium” domain name like “”! I wonder how much they paid for it originally before abandoning it?

But it’s all a form of Internet entropy, and makes me wonder what will happen when there are more broken links than working links on the Internet.





South African Blog Awards 2013

I just received a reminder that the registration process for the South African blog awards is now open.

SABA-tiny-bannerAnyone who is interested can go here to register their blog.

I entered my blogs last year, but I think I’ll give it a miss this year. Last years winner wasn’t too bad, but I thought the runners-up were pretty poor quality. If you want to know why I thought that, see here.

The problem is that the “awards” are not really awards at all. It’s more like an election campaign, where the blogger who manages to run around getting the most friends and friends of friends to vote for their blog wins.

I put a little discreet announcement of the thing in the sidebar, and said that if people liked my blog, they could click on the link for vote for it. If they liked it they would, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t. But if you want to get anywhere with such things you need to put a lot of effort into campaigning, and soliciting votes in the same way that people solicit “likes” on Facebook. I don’t like it when people solicit “likes”, and I don’t like soliciting votes for blog awards. The awards say nothing at all about the quality of the blogs, but rather they are a measure of how energetically the bloggers campaigned for votes.

It’s a bit like the lead up to the election of the leader of the ANC at Mangaung last year.

There’s all the politicking, the sucking up, the wheeling and dealing. It’s not about policies, it’s about personalities.

I said last year that I’d like to see Mamphela Ramphele as president of South Africa, which would mean that she would have had to go through all that politicking and wheeling and dealing and infighting and back-stabbing to get anywhere near the top of the heap, and I doubt that that would have been to her taste. And anyone who does find it en0ugh to their taste to get to the top of the heap is unlikely to make a good leader of the country. It was easier to start a new party than to go through all that.

And so with the SA Blog Awards.

They don’t really say much about the quality of the blogs. They are rather a measure of who could sucker enougyh friends and supporters to vote for them. But if you’re willing to put the effort into campaigning, go for it.



Detestable neologisms: “curate” as a verb

About a month ago, in the course of a discussion on the alt.usage.english newsgroup I became aware of “curate” being used as a verb, and since then I’ve been seeing it in lots of places.

To me a “curator” was someone in charge of a museum or art gallery, and seeing it in other contexts just looked very weird.

I read this page on a blog that referred to “curating” a dictionary: Crowd-sourced dictionaries and rare portmanteaus | Sentence first: “For more of my thoughts on Urban Dictionary, and why professionally curated dictionaries are in no danger of displacement, you can read the rest here.”

I queried it, and the author said it had been expanded in meaning, as he explained here: Is linguistic inflation insanely awesome? | Macmillan:

Lately the word curation has been used to refer to the collecting and posting of links on the internet, a curator being someone who does this. Some find it a bit of a stretch, and they have a point. But this often happens to job titles: they get stretched, puffed up, inflated – Subway workers are sandwich artists, cleaning staff are surface technicians, and hairdressers are design directors.

I had hitherto thought that the correct neologism for such a person who collects and posts links on the Internet was “blogger”.But, hey, if it will impress people, I hope you enjoy reading my curation and the links that I have curated above. It is obviously a new trend in the curatosphere.

The dictionary reference made me think of Samuel Johnson, as he must have been the first-ever curator of an English dictionary, and he says:

CURATOR one that has the care and superintendence of any thing.

The curators of Bedlam assure us, that some lunaticks are persons of honour.

That fits in pretty well with the current meaning of “manager”.

But I still feel that referring to Samuel Johnson as the “curator” of the first English dictionary doesn’t fit, and that “compiler” would be a more accurate description.

There are some neologisms, like “curate”, and extensions of the meanings existing words, like “curator”, that I feel compelled to resist. Not that it will stop other people using them, but I will continue to blog, rather than curate, and invite people to read my blog rather than read my curation.

On second thoughts, I think I may use “curator” to take the mickey, and refer to the CEOs of companies as “curating directors”. Perhaps they’ll be flattered.

Ranking blogs by Twitter followers

I recently came across a list of the top 100 Christian blogs ranked by Twitter followers — Top 100 Christian blogs ranked by Number of Twitter followers

…a Top Christian Blogs list with a difference. This list is ranked by another measure of influence that as far as I can see the other lists dont measure: Number of Twitter followers. Interestingly I found almost nobody in the top blog lists who didnt also Tweet, and the vast majority of them post all their blog posts as links to their Twitter feed (usually automatically). If you run a blog and don’t do that yet, its time you sort that out!

I find that rather odd, because I’ve never found a blog that tweets. Bloggers tweet, yes; but blogs, no. At least not in my experience.

And then someone I follow on Twitter tweeted this:

“People you may know” from @twitter is pointless. I don’t use Twitter that way; I don’t think many people do. I follow ppl I DON’T know! :p

And that made me wonder how people use Twitter.

I do follow a number of bloggers on Twitter, because I read their blogs, and want to know when they have posted something new. Similarly, I sometimes, but not always, tweet when I’ve posted something new on one of my blogs. But I tweet about lots of other things, and I’m sure a lot of people who follow me on Twitter never read my blogs at all. So I find it strange that one could measure blog popularity by the number of Twitter followers.

And what makes a “top Christian blog” anyway?

According to Amatomu (when it works), the “top” South African religious blog is a thing called Discerning the world which seems to specialise in venomous attacks on people and churches that the blogger doesn’t like. What she never bothers to tell us, though, is what she does like. Oh, and Adrian Warnock mentioned the absence of female bloggers in many “Top Christian blogs” lists. Well adding Discerning the world should help to remedy that deficiency!

I’m not sure how Amatomu calculates top blogs either. One that ranks consistently high is Dion Forster’s old abandoned blog, Dion’s random ramblings, which his current blog, An uncommon path, somehow never quite manages to catch up with.

Unlike @grahamdowns, whom I also quoted above, I don’t follow people on Twitter because I don’t know them or because I do know them. I follow them because I think they might tweet about stuff that interests me, whether I know them or not. And I often keep caught up by means of the daily digest of tweets, though its criteria for what is interesting don’t always coincide with mine. But that was how I found Adrian Warnock’s post in the first place.

What I find interesting, and use Twitter to help me to find, is not so much blogs as blog posts on topics that interest me. And for that Twitter is most useful if the tweets use hash tags. Adrian Warnock recommends Twitterfeed as a way of automatically notifying Twitter etc of new blog posts. But does Twitterfeed know how to use hash tags? (And, incidentally, that’s one reason I find blogs that ask you to log in before letting you comment annoying. Having to register to post one comment on one post that you find interesting seems a waste of time).

I use hash tags a lot to find tweets by people I don’t follow on subjects that interest me, and some of them, like #missiology, even produce a daily paper if enough people tweet on it.

The Poor Mouth: The plagiarising Polish priest prison palaver.

The Poor Mouth: The plagiarising Polish priest prison palaver.:

Poland’s 28,000 Roman Catholic priests have been told by church authorities that they may be fined if they are discovered to have plagiarised their sermons from the internet, and could even face up to three years in prison. The church has published a self-help book on writing sermons to lure parish priests away from stealing the words of their fellow clergy.

Meanwhile, back home, our bishop sends out weekly printed sermons every week for the clergy to read. He doesn’t write them all himself — he asks other clergy to take a hand in writing them, but it’s a very different attitude to the Polish one.

The Eagle’s Nest: Following Jesus – 2

Here is some more information about the Following Jesus document from Australia.

The Eagle’s Nest: Following Jesus – 2

It was nearly called “The Barton Declaration”, and was similar in ethos to A Message to the People of South Africa published by the South African Council of Churches in 1968.

This has led to some discussion in the Christianity and Society forum about compiling a collection of such documents, which might be useful to church historians, and also to Christians facing conditions in society that call for a Christian response. We already have The Belhar Confession, and are looking for an English translation of The Barmen Declaration pf the Confessing Church in Germany.

PunkMonk San Francisco

If the Orthodox have Punx to monks, the Anglicans have this.

PunkMonk San Francisco

I’m not quite sure how similar it is, though.

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A conservative blog for peace

I blogged this so I can find it again, and look at it a bit more closely. It’s not what it seems.

A conservative blog for peace

But then liberals in a free society are conservatives too, because they have a vested interest in conserving freedom.

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