Virtual Ramblings On Virtual Topics

A few computer-related thoughts this week, as I prepare to pack and get my ritual and workshop ready for Midnight Flame:

Oh spammers, is there anything online that you won’t try to ruin? Over the past few days, one or more of ‘em have been trying to post responses into the older entries of this blog, with links to whatever it is they think my five readers will actually give them money for. Actually, I’m sure it’s the imaginary readers of the blog – the search engine crawlers – that they’re really trying to target. Either way, I always drop whatever I’m doing when I get the e-mail notifying me of a comment to go delete them – which is even ore annoying since these spammers only seem to post between 1 and 6 AM Michigan time, making it pretty much the first thing I do in the morning when it happens. And this is with the stupid “type these four characters in” ting turned on, I can only imagine how much worse things would be if it wasn’t. It’s not to the point where I’d want to kill the blog because of it, but damn it’s annoying.

Of course, with so many other blogging sites out there, I could just try moving it. The only reason I chose Bravehost was out of the desire to keep the Grove’s Web services on one server, and once they lobotomized their free Web hosting services, that killed any loyalty I had to keeping the blog here. but I’m not in a hurry to go around telling everyone our new URL, so here it’ll stay for a while at least. It would be nice if we could get some blog software running on our current Web server, but I suspect that the software that’s available is either too costly for us (keeping in mind that $20 a year is too costly for us these days) or just sucky. And there are other things I’d want us to get first, like some kind of chat program so we can do online liturgy meetings in our own virtual space instead of borrowing ADF’s IRC channel. (Speaking of which, don’t forget that we have a liturgy meeting on Tuesday, 7 PM our time, in room #slg on ADF’s IRC channel!)

Speaking of keeping things on one server, I’ve definitely been feeling like we have too many online presences lately, and I’m not sure what to do about it. I’d like our Facebook group a lot more if I could get the blasted thing to e-mail me whenever someone did a wall post, or if anyone seemed to do wall posts there besides folks who want info on the Grove and would probably be better off just e-mailing us. At least we don’t have both a group page *and* a fan page there, which I actually briefly considered. I still think it’s odd that so many of our Groves do the “fan page” thing instead of a religious group page, as others have said, I’d feel weird saying I was a “fan” of my church. And there’s our MySpace page, which I don’t think I’ve visited in nearly a year. (Has anyone?) We still have the Announce list on Yahoogroups, though I don’t know if anyone is really following that list who isn’t already on our discussion list and sees the exact same posts on the discuss list already. But then nobody seems to want to use the discuss list to actually discuss anything, only to let me post announcements there. Or questions or attempts at starting discussions, which nobody ever responds to.

And as though our online efforts weren’t split up enough, some folks actually want us to set up forums instead of a mailing list, which I’ve been resistant to because of my personal hatred of all forum software that I’ve seen in the last ten years (much of which doesn’t even seem as functional as the forum software I used in college in the ‘80’s), and my fear of people seeing months- or years-old discussions and thinking that they’re current. That, or having no recent activity, and people concluding that our Grove is dead. But some people seem to love forums as much as I hate them, and if the Grove ever has one, I don’t dare not read it as long as I’m the Senior Druid. (That might be the event that actually gets me to resign as SD, now that I think about it.) Maybe if someone actually does find forum software that e-mails me everything so I never have to log on to the Web interface to use it, I’d be, well not happy, but at least not annoyed about it.

Okay, that’s enough whiney rambling for this week. Next week, a write-up of the great time I’ll have had at Midnight Flame, assuming I get home early enough to write it up before I collapse.

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes, Grove, ADF

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