Reviewing our agenda: a two-year retrospective

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!

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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10 Responses to Reviewing our agenda: a two-year retrospective

  1. Ace in Translation says:

    Yay! blog anniversary!

    “When we want to bang our heads against walls or whatever it is that people find appealing about Tumblr”
    hehe yeah that’s exactly what Tumblr is about…

    I think this Tumblr / wordpress blogosphere is a great crossover community that really works for me personally. AVEN is great too, but I find it difficult to really delve into 201 discussions over there, mainly because the format doesn’t really allow for very long indepth development of thought. And, like you, I hope there will come more blogs. (oh dang now I agreed with everything you wrote..)

  2. Aydan says:

    The last item on our agenda is world domination. Oh, but we’re not even supposed to start on that one until next year.

    Oh really? Clearly I never told you what I stepped down to do instead. *plotting hands*

  3. Jo says:

    It’s weird, everyone always talks about this AVEN/tumblr divide thing, but I’ve never actually seen it myself. I occasionally browse tumblr and AVEN but don’t really get much out of either, because I also prefer blogs as a platform. But I’ve never really paid enough attention to see any differences beyond ‘tumblr people are constantly going on about aces and queer inclusivity’ and ‘AVEN is largely dominated by newbies figuring things out.’ I guess the sorts of topics and themes I’m interested in reading about are just easier and more thought out on blogging platforms?

  4. The reason I never got into AVEN is that I don’t like discussion forums (to be honest, my thought when I first encountered it was “how 2001”). Tumblr’s format annoys me regularly, but it feels like more of a community than a stand-alone blog, hence I have a Tumblr blog. Asexuality is pretty much the only thing I use Tumblr for, since otherwise I prefer standard blogs.

  5. Victrix says:

    I didn’t expect to get mentioned in the list of blogs that you linked to in there. Might actually have to post something up soon.

    It’s interesting when you say people also don’t disagree with people, as I think it’s more a case of people don’t voice their disagreement.

    In the platform discussion, I’m not for or against any of them, I have my preferences and find that they all have different strengths which can make them useful in different ways. I find the attacks on the each other a bit tiring though.

    • Siggy says:

      I have a strong attraction to these sort of grand inter-community disputes, the same way I’m drawn to disagreement. I always wonder though if this is distorting my view, like maybe most people just don’t care about the finer points of two websites on the internet. 😉

  6. Andrew says:

    To quickly investigate whether blogs are a “dying medium” I tried to get some stats for the largest blogging platforms. A quick search didn’t get me anything for amount of content posted over time, but has some noteworthy data. You have to pay to get access to more than the past two year’s information, but their current numbers are that worldwide, ranks 17th (14th in the US), and ranks 23rd (24th in the US). It is true that outranks both (9th worldwide, 7th in the US), but the numbers hardly suggest a dying medium.

    • Siggy says:

      I’ve never been able to figure out how to evaluate the idea that blogs are dying. Website rankings aren’t easily available, and I think you’d need more than two years of data. It’s entirely possible that news sites talking about the death of the blog are just waving their arms wildly, just like every other article about current cultural trends. In fact, that would have to be true unless they had access to website rankings that we don’t.

  7. Aqua says:

    I first found the asexual community 2 years ago, right around this time. I still remember the many conflicts that were going on between tumblr and AVEN at the time. I found out about them around the same time, but it was the tumblr community that I got involved in first, though I also liked to read asexual blogs, and sometimes lurk for information in AVEN. When I joined AVEN, I nearly forgot about the tumblr community and the other asexual blogs.

    I found AVEN to be a lot more organized, where it’s easier to find specific information, and easier to keep track of discussions, than on tumblr. However, the asexual blogs and tumblr community have a wider range of topics, I like that there’s more addressing of advanced topics like community issues, and they do a better job making less-heard voices get heard. I’m honored to have been interviewed for the Asexual Agenda!

    As much as I like helping answer peoples’ questions, and welcoming newbies on AVEN, it was a mistake for me to see AVEN as a replacement for my time that used to be spent in the tumblr and asexual blog communities. At times, it gets lonely on AVEN, because a lot newbies I meet end up leaving after their questions were answered. So many people have come and gone, but that’s the nature of a 101-level forum.

    I now see AVEN, tumblr, and the asexual blogs as being complementary; none of them are meant to replace the others, and each have different niches.

    I’d like to get involved in the blogging community, but I think I’m still more of a forum person, so the site that I created and am the admin of, is a forum.

  8. Pingback: After three years, looking forward | The Asexual Agenda

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