Blame the Content Nerds

Tomorrow is a blogging anniversary for me, but not the kind people normally announce on their blogs. This blog began on July 3rd, in 2011, but I had been blogging for over two years by then. My first blog post was on March 30, 2009. Earlier that month, I had given a presentation about how we (the company I worked for) were using Microsoft SharePoint to help us with Content Management. During the Q&A of that presentation, a woman asked me if I had a blog. I did not. She said, “I think you should start one, because you have such great stories.” There was a modicum of applause and I began looking into blogging.

“SharePoint Stories” was launched on Google’s Blogger platform, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I decided to focus on what that woman liked, stories. You see, there were lots and lots of technical blogs about SharePoint. I didn’t see any point in trying to compete with people whose blogs I was frequently turning to for advice. I knew from the presentations I had given, that I had an advantage. I made mistakes, and I could talk about them.

People liked hearing about projects that failed. Well, failed isn’t the right word – most of the projects were ultimately successful – but our projects tended to be rocky roads, and I don’t mean ice cream. Consultants in the content space didn’t want to talk about failure. Businesspeople in large organizations didn’t want to talk about failure. Microsoft employees certainly didn’t want to talk about failure – in fact, it was made clear to me that Microsoft didn’t appreciate me talking about failure.

But failure is how we learn. At least it has always been a big part of how I learn. Still, standing in front of an audience and explaining how my project went off the rails, into a field and was threatening a small city, was a little scary – especially since my presentations had to be approved by my boss. He looked at the slide deck of one presentation and jokingly said, “do I pay you to do this?” But he understood the value of failure and the value of trying to do new things.

Fairly early in the life of that blog, I started introducing personal stories. One of the other things that I could do, as a “user” was to talk about other people. One of my early blog posts featured a quote from James Whitlock, Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force Medical. He was talking about an Air Force information portal and he said :

If your site isn’t useful, people won’t use it.

That struck me; I mean Air Force – people have rank, they give orders, they carry weapons – if they can’t make people use things, who can?

That made me think about the work we were doing in the office, and it made me think about blogging. If people didn’t find value in what I wrote, why would they read it? But they were reading it. Apparently, people liked what I was offering, which was, according to the tag line of that blog,

Observations ◦ ideas ◦ things I’ve learned the hard way ◦ things I’ve learned from others and things that drive me crazy about Information Management.

It wasn’t long before I was including lyrics from Ten Thousand Maniacs, lessons I learned while pursuing a degree in chemistry, observations from my vacations, images of furniture that I had made, lessons I learned in my father’s workshop and lessons I was passing on to our daughter in my workshop.

Although I published posts on Saturday morning, historically, that blog’s most popular time was Monday at 11:00. My rationalization of that time was, “people get to work, clear their desk and their inbox and then read my blog – yay!” Yeah, I kid myself.

The nicest compliment I ever received was when a friend, and bona fide SharePoint guru, Marc D. Anderson said that SharePoint Stories was “a Saturday kind of read.”

I thought about that comment a lot, and I realized that that was what I wanted to write. Something people would enjoy reading on a Saturday. Thursday mornings have surpassed Saturday as the most popular time for No Facilities, since I started hosting Thursday Doors, but Saturday has always been the best day for my stuff.

See you at the bar.

95 comments

  1. I always like the personal stuff on blogs best – just people living their everyday lives and sharing their ideas, experiences, etc. that allow us all to connect as real people :-)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am sorry, GP. I have seen so many long time followers showing up as “…is now following you.” I really don’t understand. They do seem to be making a push to get people out of the Classic Editor. I hope we don’t lose any god bloggers. Thanks so much for finding and following again (and again).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dan, forgive me for butting in on GP’s comment, but I too woke up to a drastic change in my WordPress this week…. and no more option for the Classic Editor. I tried for 30 minutes to use the Block editor, and then had a Yosemite Sam-level meltdown. Once I sobered up, I set to searching… and GP, you CAN still get the Classic editor back for now, and without any plugins.

      Go to “Account Settings”. You can find this by clicking your profile picture in the top right corner of the WordPress toolbar, next to your notification bell. When the page opens, you’ll see Account Settings on the left under Profile. (Sorry, you probably know how to find that, but I had a hard time finding it!). Scroll down to “Interface settings” and look for “Dashboard Appearance”. Toggle ON the option “Show advanced dashboard pages”, then click “Save Interface Settings”. And that’s it! It will refresh your WordPress back to the old format in Admin, and you’ll once again see the option for using the Classic Editor on posts. :)

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I think what I like most about your blog is the diversity. Yes you do, do some technical stuff which I tend to gloss over but you also pass on pertinent information. You introduced us to a menagerie of critters and your pictures of them are wonderful. We got to meet Maddie, who is a gem in any universe You are funny and personable and you treat your followers like friends. You talk to us. I feel that I have a relationship with you. (Purely ether driven you know!) I look forward to reading your words here on your blog and also on my blog. I feel that way about a few people and that has become important in my life. Of course I credit the Editor for everything!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hahaha – thanks (I think) for that, Pam. She tends to keep me grounded. I do feel that I have honest relationships with many people that I’ve connected with out here. It’s a little weird, but it works. I’m glad you like the various things that I bring here. Early on, I read lots of advice, and most of it said to pick a theme and stick to it so as not to confuse your audience. I can’t do that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations, Dan, on your blogging anniversary. I have to believe that you would have had trouble maintaining a purely technical blog for so long. By sharing your life with us, you have a never-ending source of material (yeah technically there is an endpoint, but let’s not go there). We readers never grow tired of the recurring characters in your life–MuMu, MiMi, Maddie, Jinx, Smokey, and so many others and the differing views of your environment as the seasons come and go. Most importantly, I think that we are attracted to your stories, Dan. I love hearing about your frustrations at work; your commentary on your fellow drivers; your endless list of projects; and, of course, your Saturday chats at the bar. A lot of people have trouble sustaining a blog for year and most have dropped out before they reach a five year point. Given the average lifespan of a blog, I think you need some kind of a multiplier like the one we use with dogs, e.g. you 12 years of blogs should count as 84 or 96 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some days it feels like it’s been 84 years, Mike, as it must for you. It’s been easy to stay because I don’t feel like I’m alone. Everybody brings something to the table. Some daily, some weekly, some, more times than I can count. There are some people that maintain technical blogs for long periods. Marc, the guy I mentioned has had one forever. I got to a point where, when I had a technical question, I would search his blog before calling up Google. But I knew, even if I could keep writing it, sooner or later I was going to retire. I wanted to keep writing (I enjoy it) and I needed new topics. I enjoy being part of this community. I did get a little sad looking at the older posts, and seeing avitars for bloggers who are no longer out here. I miss them. I hope your week is off to a good start.

      Like

  4. I think ‘a Saturday kind of read’ is a nice compliment. My most popular times are Monday morning and Friday afternoon… which makes me think I shock people into a new work week and encourage them to drink on the weekends…. but I could be wrong.
    And thank you for my bunny fix.
    🐰

    Liked by 1 person

    • You shocked me this morning, but… I always thought that was a great compliment. I guess, ifI was trying to be a technical blogger, it might not have been what I should strive for, but despite the advice from the “experts” I can’t “pick an audience and optimize my posts toward them.” I chose to let this place grow organically, and I think I’ve attracted a pretty good group. Nothing wrong with encouraging me to drink on the weekend ;-)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I just throw my weird nonsense out there and see what/who it hooks. I’ve thrown a lot of followers back, but they’re mostly business sites and bots. I’ve never targeted an audience and wouldn’t know who to target even if I tried.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Twelve years is a long time to stay with blogging and consistently post, Dan. Congratulations on your anniversary! I’m so glad I found No Facilities and another fan of football and critters. I may tease you about the math stuff, but it wouldn’t be the same on WordPress without it…or squirrels, dog-walking down the street or beer on a Saturday morning. You’re a wonderful blogger and I hope you stick around for another 12.

    Have a fabulous week!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. I am glad I found the Melange as well. I don’t think I could have kept blogging with a technology blog. I wrote my last post over there in 2016. Long enough, and by then, I had met so many good friends out here, that I wanted to spend more time in the non-technical space. I still follow some of those bloggers, but this community is different. These are special people. I’ve met many friends through you, and I appreciate that.

      I hope you have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Reading your blog is like being with family. Not the weird family members, the good ones! I don’t even blog myself, yet you welcomed me with open arms and made me feel right at home. You introduced me to Pam and Cheryl. ❤️❤️ You share your family with us, the three M’s and all your critters, and I love that. You’ve made me laugh out loud, brought tears to my eyes, and made me think (and that ain’t easy!)

    I too love your stories, especially of your dad because he was very much like my dad. Your encounters with road rage, Customer Service conversations, big box stores, walks and sits with Maddie, adventures with Faith, walking us through your projects, and the way you give the Editor full credit for many of your achievements.

    You’re a good man Charlie Brown. I can’t imagine anyone who reads one of your blogs not becoming a follower. Thank you for your sticktoittiveness Dan. Let me just add…..you attract the most interesting followers. I love reading their comments.

    I’m rambling now, so regarding today’s gallery, I love it all!
    Ginger

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Ginger, and thanks so much for being the loyal reader that you are. I remember searching for your blog, before I didn’t know that you had one, but I love your comments and I love seeing them on other blogs. I think the best times are when I can make people laugh, but I also like making people think. All in all, I just like telling stories and it pleases me that people keep reading them.

      Hold onto something strong today, the wind wants to send us into the ocean. I hope you have a great week.

      Like

  7. Do you know what a rapt audience you would have had at my office if you had spoken about failures?! I’m sure you do. That was the F-word we were never allowed to discuss; it was always success stories or nothing. Some of my coworkers and I would sit in the back of the meeting room and pass judgment on all the ‘greatness’ we had in the office. Yeah, we were bad. Dan, your blog is so much fun. I love reading the comments as much as your posts. I don’t blog on weekends and rarely look at blogs, but I would not miss Saturdays at the bar for nothin’ and nobody! Here’s to many more years of Maddie, MuMu, MiMi, Jinx, Smokey and the others. Congratulations, Dan–signed, a faithful follower.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lois. I still remember finding your blog and wondering what the “prisoners” part meant. I had coworkers who didn’t like talking about failures of Having me use their projects as examples, unless I focused on success. I appreciate your following me, especially on weekends when I know there are better things available.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Phew, I think I’ll be able to hear that deep breath from here, Robbie. I enjoy reading your blog. I don’t know how you find the time to read and write and work, but I’m glad you do.

      Like

  8. Hi Dan – that was fascinating – and so glad I came across you somewhere – who knows where! But I’m still here and have always enjoyed your voice – once you’ve got that on a non-profit blog you’re away … a little niche of great friends awaits … with a wonderful variety of interests. I love being here and seeing what you’ve all been up to – and I quite enjoy some of the techie stuff too. We must have Maddie, Mimi, Mumu, the Editor, Smokey and all critters, including River’s Bunny! Stay safe and enjoy the burgeoning of life … Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Hilary,. I don’t remember how we connected, but I’m glad we have. I enjoy your blog as well. I’m glad you like some of the techie stuff. I’m still drawn to that on occasion. I enjoy being in this community, and learning what is going on around the world at a personal level.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Another milestone – good for you! We do learn by our mistakes and those are the lessons that seem to stick with us for the long term. I feel like most people will read about any topic as long as it is engaging and interesting. That, good sir, is where the talent lies and you seem to have it in spades. Congratulations. I look forward to it all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Maggie. I think you’re right about most people. Those of us who bounce from topic to topic just need to keep it interesting (as you do also). I have had people who follow me after one post where they clearly have an interest and then they disappear, but that’s OK. I guess that says that the “advertising” of my blog works. I don’t think I could be tied down to one subject again. It just wouldn’t be fun.

      Like

  10. The Pinewood Derby! Boy, does that bring back memories! My son competed in that event when he was in the scouts’ ages ago.

    Happy Blogaversary! I’m looking forward to more of your stories they’re always interesting, and educational.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. I remember helping a friend’s son prepare his Pinewood Derby car. I had a drill press, so they would come over every so he could drill the axle hole straight. It’s been so windy here, I’m surprised they were able to even hold the event, but I guess outside was the only option.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. ‘A Saturday kind of read’ is a wonderful compliment. Cozy and thoughtful content is a great way to begin (accompanied with coffee) or end (accompanied with wine, beer, martinia) a day I believe. Congratulations on your many years of blogging Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just read Judy’s blog post about WP frustration, so I’m glad this was more upbeat. Of course we can always find irritating things about WP and I included a few in my response to her. But I enjoyed reading about your blogging start and experiences. I think different people look for different things in a blog and gravitate to blogs that feed into that. Some people only want to look at photos/pictures, some want to mostly read, some want a combination, some want recipes, etc. I started with writing almost exclusively, went to photos mostly, and am trying to combine the two a bit more now. (Plus stories use less room than photos.) :-) I enjoy your posts no matter what, although sometimes I have to skip through the really geeky/math stuff because I don’t get all of it. But that’s OK. It’s just part of the interesting person you are.

    Happy Monday!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Janet. The geeky stuff gets me excited on occasion, but I would never want to make it a regular feature. WordPress rants could easily become a regular feature, but they aren’t listening. I’ve been trying to scale back the number of pictures in the gallery. I managed to go from an average of 18-20 to 16. It would be easier if I could get that down to 12-14, but I have a hard time choosing. I always like your photos, but I do enjoy the stories and the information you share about the photos. I think if it’s interesting, people appreciate the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love your posts and enjoy sitting down in the bar. Never got into Thursday doors since it competed with my Thursday – A Little Personal with Twiggy and Lucy. Happy Anniversary and keep telling those stories. That is some selfie you have there. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  14. We always remember failure and how we worked through it. We definitely learn more and retain it. If you decide to help us block illiterates, I’d love to know if there is a way to keep those editing options from popping up every time you type something, and how to insert a gallery and adjust the photos. I couldn’t find the size of the photo option. I’ll take any suggestions, and I kept your previous post which I referred to for sure. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am going to try to put something together, Judy. The options you’re looking for are all there, but it’s the least intuitive interface I’ve seen in a long time. Galleries are a mess. I still use a Classic block for my galleries. You may have better luck with the new galleries, but I haven’t.

      For individual photos, it is easy to insert them. Click on that Plus sign and choose “Image” block. if that option isn’t visible, start typing the word image, it will show up. I normally inert mine from my media library. Once inserted, Click on the image. Use the Paragraph justification icon (in horizontal menu above) and click right, left or center. You will see little handles on the sides and corners of the image. Click and drag them to resize. Not intuitive, but it does work.

      If you have specific questions, feel free to drop me an email.

      Like

  15. We used Sharepoint mostly for project management probably about 2007. At that point it was more like a configuration management tool. Interesting to hear it evolved into the blogging realm. That one squirrel has a tail you could clean bottles with! Scared or did you have a peanut in your hands?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We all stumble a bit when it comes to blogging. Then if we’re lucky, and pay attention to what works, we find our place in blog land. I’m glad you’ve figured out how you want to maintain your blog, even if your favorite day isn’t your readers favorite day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks JoAnna. I think that’s why we have to write. If it isn’t fun, it’s not worth doing. I’m glad you like those pictures. I’ve been trying to capture the way the sun plays on common objects.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re doing a wonderful job capturing the sun’s play! Now, that I think of it, blogging is not always fun, in the playful sense, but if it’s not fun, it has to be meaningful. I’m looking for a balance of both. Thanks for the opportunity to process that. :)

        Liked by 1 person

  17. After taking my self-inflicted blog-broke again technology break, this post is a delight to read! You’re right, our mistakes and the lessons we learn help us all grow. Thank you for sharing your stories and photos. And congrats on your blog anniversary!! You make the world of blogging a great place to hang out and cheer :-)!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m with you, Dan. Failures are far more interesting than successes, and they’re always a great learning experience. I’m pretty sure I’ve said ‘I’ll never do that again’ hundreds of times. As long as no one is killed or maimed, humour can ultimately be found in any ‘disaster’. Which brings me to one of my favourite expressions – if you haven’t failed lately, you aren’t trying hard enough 😁

    Congratulations on your blogging anniversary! As you’ve discovered, the magic is in the story and life is full of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. What a wonderful post! I love reading how your blog and writing evolved. Everyone likes stories and a ‘Saturday kind of read’. And, that’s exactly what your blog is. Super photo gallery, especially the quote under the flag. Happy weekend, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

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