This month, the theme of the Carnival of Aces is the carnival itself. As someone who has been around since the Carnival started, and who has managed it for most of its lifetime, I’d like to explain its history. It’s nothing too deep, just a bit of trivia.
Asexual blogs have been around for a while, dating at least as far back as David Jay’s blog, which launched in 2006. But I would say that the big growth in activity happened around 2010-2011, when Sciatrix’s blog Writing from Factor X was active. That blog was a sort of spiritual predecessor to The Asexual Agenda, hosting regular linkspams and wanting to discuss asexuality on a higher level.
In March 2011, in a comment on Writing from Factor X, I proposed the idea of a blogging carnival. Many other commenters liked the idea, and so Sciatrix started the carnival. In 2012, when I launched The Asexual Agenda, Sciatrix was one of the cofounders. Sciatrix thought it would be best for The Asexual Agenda to host the carnival from that point on, so we did.
I wouldn’t take too much credit for the idea of a blogging carnival, since Sciatrix definitely had experience with blog carnivals too. In fact, the month before, Sciatrix had hosted Spectral Amoebas, a one-shot carnival on asexuality and autism. It was also Sciatrix’s idea, not mine, that each month the Carnival of Aces would have a theme.
When I proposed the idea of the carnival, I was mostly influenced by two carnivals that I had read and participated in, in my early years of blogging. Namely, the Carnival of Skeptics, and Carnival of the Godless. I say this with some embarrassment, as I am no longer on good terms with either the skeptical or godless communities, for reasons I won’t get into. Both the Carnival of Skeptics and Carnival of the Godless were similar in structure, having regularly rotating hosts, who would first put up a call for submissions, followed by links to all the submissions. But they didn’t have monthly themes, which is why I didn’t think of them. And–this seems odd in retrospect–the carnival hosts would often string together an elaborate frame narrative for the link roundups. (I am glad we never set up such an expectation, as it would be too stressful for hosts.)
Both of those carnivals had long been defunct in 2011. But they were actually quite active in their heyday, far more so than A Carnival of Aces. I think they collapsed because they were trying to connect together communities that were far too sprawling and incohesive. Basically, there was far too much to read, a lot of it wasn’t good, and it was far too intimidating to contribute to it. But I’m only speculating. The Carnival of Aces is different, suffering more from inactivity than from bloat.
My initial argument for a carnival was that it would make it easier to discover new blogs, and to advertise the asexual blogosphere to other online asexual communities. But I think blogging carnivals also serve other purposes. The themes function as writing prompts for bloggers who occasionally have difficulty finding inspiration. Hosts can select themes that encourage discussion on topics that might otherwise get ignored. Finally, the Carnival of Aces archive is a resource in itself.
Everyone wants to know, is it “A Carnival of Aces”, “The Carnival of Aces,” or just “Carnival of Aces”? Sciatrix always called it “A Carnival of Aces”, but that name violates my internal sense of grammar, so I just call it whatever, and you can too.
Another bit of trivia, is that the Carnival of Aces used to be offset by a month. That is, if the Carnival of Aces was for March, it used to be that the call for submissions would appear at the beginning of February, and the roundup at the beginning of March. I found this confusing so I secretly changed it and nobody noticed.
From my perspective as the manager, the reason the carnival has been around so long is that it’s low maintenance. I don’t do a whole lot, mostly maintaining the archives. To the extent that the Carnival is successful at what it does, I credit the writers and hosts. Thank you all for contributing!