It was two years ago that I launched The Asexual Agenda, so it’s a good time to reflect on whether the blog has fulfilled its goals.
The Asexual Agenda has become a big deal. At this time, we are definitively the most authoritative asexual blog around. I try to be modest (I’m just the admin, and I’m not the most popular writer here), but even I have to admit our success. But that was just the first goal.
The second goal was to be a “201 blog”, or as the subtitle puts it “furthering upper-level discussions of asexuality.” I think we’ve got that one down, because as it turns out, it’s not too hard. The main ingredients are: 1) we target ace audiences, 2) we explicitly don’t do 101, and redirect people who want 101, 3) we do a little screening of potential contributors, and lightly moderate comments. That’s pretty much all we needed.
The third goal was to be one of many asexual blogs.
When I started this blog, I was personally motivated by my idiosyncratic reactions (overreactions?) to the trends of the time. In 2012, the big thing is the emergence of the Tumblr ace community. It was the beginning of the diaspora from AVEN, which has dominated asexual communities for about a decade. So arguments over Tumblr vs AVEN were on everyone’s mind. But I myself liked neither Tumblr nor AVEN. And my complaints were not based on the politics of either community, but based on the formats.
I am a blogging supremacist: I believe blogging is the Best Format. AVEN’s forum felt like a constant stream of new faces, like a shapeshifter with no personality and perpetual amnesia. Tumblr was a labyrinth of incoherent excerpts traced in water. Blogs, on the other hand, lead to the deepest discussions on specific topics that can be readily accessed by anyone. (Also, I’m already used to putting up with copious text, RSS feeds, and new-blog-discovery.) Some say that blogs are a dying medium. If so, it just goes to show that not all change is good.
My goal was to make a space for asexual blogs, dying medium or not. Just being one popular blog isn’t enough, we need to encourage other blogs, and help them become popular too.
My mental model for what this would look like was (perhaps unwisely) based on my experience with atheist/skeptical/science blogs. In comparison to my ridiculous fantasy, there are several good blogs around (such as The Ace Theist, The Thinking Asexual, The Notes Which Do Not Fit, and Reflective Ace), but there aren’t as many as I’d hoped. It also seems like everyone is always agreeing with each other, despite my increasingly brazen attempts to be wrong about everything (that’s a joke–we all know the problem is I’m right about everything).
What we’ve created is something different: a Tumblr/Blogging hybrid community. Some people follow Tumblr tags, or their favorite Tumblrs, and in this way see links to The Asexual Agenda and others. Some people have difficulty following Tumblr, and therefore only see what’s mentioned in our linkspam or on other blogs. I know this is what’s happening because the bulk of our traffic is from Tumblr, and whenever I run into readers in meatspace they always talk about how great our linkspam is.
And I guess… that’s fine. Everyone gets to use their preferred format, and doesn’t miss out on any important activity. When we want threaded comments, there are blogs for that. When we want to bang our heads against walls or whatever it is that people find appealing about Tumblr, there are tumbls for that. The only people left out are the AVENites, who hardly ever link to us or vice versa.
It’s funny that even though I am neutral on AVEN vs Tumblr, The Asexual Agenda ends up being squarely on the Tumblr side. So, you know, if inter-community conflict is a sport, score one for Tumblr. The basic problem is that AVEN is a forum, which is just miles away from the blogging format. My general impression of contributor applicants from AVEN is that many do not even know what a blog is. They also tend to view us as a vis/ed project. We’re not really a vis/ed project, because we’re not trying to reach allosexuals, we’re trying to start discussion among aces.
The last item on our agenda is world domination. Oh, but we’re not even supposed to start on that one until next year. I hope you stick around until then!