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Sunday Salon: Thoughts?

Maxine of Petrona posted some thoughtful comments the other day about the Salon--where it's going, whether it works. Her post has attracted a large number of comments already. Jacob Russell posted his own thoughts over at his Barking Dog blog. They raise interesting questions, and I'm hoping their posts continue to inspire discussion about the Salon. As a small response I just added an addendum to my introduction to the Salon over at the main site. I wrote:

Addendum, May 2008: 1. The Salon's membership has grown so large that it's no longer possible for any one Salonist to read all of the Salon posts every week, much less comment on them meaningfully. Salonists should not feel any pressure to do so. Please feel free to skim around, to read what appeals, to visit the blogs that are of interest and forgo the rest. 2. Salonists should feel free also not to post some weeks if they haven't the time to read.

And I'm going to add a link to this post also so that people will be able to comment here.

In short, I invite further discussion about the Salon: whether it's working, and more specifically, whether there are any concrete changes that could be made to make it work better. So if you have any thoughts, please feel free to discuss them in the comments to this post.

Comments

1.

Even without such a high number, not all of us will have the same taste in books. From the beginning, I comment on the blogs I feel I have something to say and leave the rest. I've also added these blogs to my Google Reader so that I may post on those blogs during the week.

I view The Sunday Salon as a way to expand our circle of on-line friends by making new ones.

In Petrona's post, I was reminded of the group's original purpose. I am one of the people who get off topic. It's a bad habit and I'll try to stay more focused on Sunday. :)

2.

Thanks for this very useful post, Debra. I am at a loss, really, as I love the salon and the fact that most people in it are readers and love reading. Other groups that I have joined have, for me, been too focused towards authors encouraging one to read their books.
However, as with the post at Barking dog to which you link (which in my browser was so full of corruptions in the code that it was hard to follow), there are just too many posts about too many books and/or topics that don't interest me or I don't "get". It is not possible just to decide "not to read them all" as even that process now takes too much time, to skim them and decide what to focus on --- so I just do not know what to do. (I write as someone with far too many demands on her time for the hours available, a familiar situation to many, I am sure).
The only solution I can so far come up with is to de-subscribe from the salon and to subscribe on an individal basis to the blogs I've discovered via the salon that I like. (I already subscribe to you, Clare, Kerrie, and a few others.)
But this seems a bit mean.

3.

Thanks, J. and Maxine. (I don't have a problem with the code on Jacob's blog, by the way.)

One possibility people might think of is whether posts should circumscribed in content. Or in length. Or if we might ask that their titles be more informative, so that one could make a judgment more quickly.

Anyway, I don't have any answers either right now.

4.

I have all of the Sunday salon coming into my RSS Reader and I am doing just what you suggest: scanning for ones that interest me, and popping out to comment on ones that do.

There are a couple of blogs that regularly "embed" video that seem to generate code problems in my reader and that is annoying, but they just throw up popup boxes asking me whether I want a script to run.

I've been guilty of perhaps making my posts a bit too long, and will try to be briefer this week.

However, like Maxine, I don't want posts that have nothing to do with reading or books. I like to hear what people are reading and that is why I joined the group.

5.

I love the Salon - I love reading what other people are reading - and the fact that I make time for myself to read. I enjoy reading about bookish things as well as what people actually think of a book they're reading. As long as it's book related then I'll read it.

I like people who write good titles so I can see what the post is about - I can't physically read all of them so i need a way to skim through and pick the interesting looking ones.

If you don't put your full feed in then I don't read your post - I don't like clicking through to someone's site - I choose to read posts in a reader so I like to see full feeds.

If your post is interesting I'll click through and read other posts - and maybe subscribe to your normal feed.

I'm interested to see whether Petrona's discussion has any impact on tomorrow's Salon :)

6.

You know what we should perhaps do? Go back to the Salon's origins. As originally conceived the Salon was intended to be a mini read-a-thon. You read on Sunday, and you blog about what you're reading on that day, including perhaps time spent. Here's what I wrote on the Salon page as an idea for constructing a post:
===
Blog about your reading as you go, as frequently and extensively as you like. Information you might include in your blog posts:

-- time spent reading
-- pages read
-- information about current reading
-- your reaction to the book
-- link to this page
===

In other words, Sunday Salon posts should perhaps be reserved for this kind of immediate reaction to reading done on that day alone. It would reduce the number of posts, I imagine.

Thoughts on this?

7.

I think it gets very hard to prescribe or control what people write, now that the number is so large. And I'm sure that nobody wants to be "policing" the posts.
I guess that what will happen is that people will stick with it if they like it (as certainly a hard core of people seem to do, which is great), and others will drift away. I just hope that people aren't using it too blatantly to increase traffic, by labelling posts "Sunday Salon" because more people will read them (they think).
But my basic thought is that you can't predict or direct what people do on the internet, they'll just each "do their own thing".
There may be people that we haven't heard from who don't read as many blogs as, say you or I, so to them it is no big deal -- whereas in my case I'm receiving Salon as well as 200 plus other RSS feeds. Most members haven't commented on these issues, unfortunately, out of 130 plus members, only 20-odd have commented, so it is a bit hard to know what most people would like best.

8.

Thank you, Maxine. I think you're probably right: no way to police, no particular desire to police.

Well, I think for myself, then, I'm going to go back to the origins and only post about what I've read that day--if I've read. Takes away the onus of feeling I have to post. And it preserves the function of the Salon for me as I originally conceived it.

9.

Hello, hello! I am coming in rather late but saw Petrona's post and so hopped on over. I missed the discussion last week partly because I skipped skimming any Sunday Salon post whatsoever because I was checking the day after and there was simply too many. Before I would try to start checking my feed ASAP so I could manage my SS readings throughout the day but it is becoming too much of a trial for me because many are not sticking to bookish topics.

It is easier for me to decide whether I would be interested in a post or not if at a glance I can tell what kind of book they're reading and how they feel about it. I don't think people would be satisfied with "policing" either. I shall just see how I manage and if I can't (I too have a limited amount of time to spend) I will follow Maxine's approach. I do think this was all a lovely idea though Debra and you executed it excellently.

10.

Thanks, Imani! I guess people will make of it what they will in the end.

11.

Alongwith personal anecdotes, SS should be about books and reading.

However, many deviate.

Although, I read and comment on many Salon posts, I get very low traffic. That's ok, I think!

12.

After reading Maxine's post and yours, I did an extremely unscientific count today of the Salon posts so far. I may have undercounted some, double-counted others, etc. But I just wanted to get an idea of what was coming across. I clicked through even those I couldn't tell the books being read, just to see what was there. Here's my results:

Reading thoughts (48 total):
Total about what a person is reading this Sunday: 36
What a person is reading this Sunday (but no or extremely brief thoughts): 12

Other stuff (total 12):
About writing: 1
About book signings: 1
About book festivals: 1
Book Meme: 1
Links to prior book reviews: 3
Plan for reading the next week: 3
Completely duplicate post: 1
Some classroom discussion of Shakespeare: 1

No text in RSS feed at all (and no book in title, today only I clicked through these to put them in the categories above): 2
Old posts flagged as new for some reason: 1

Anyway, it looks to me like about 20% of posts aren't really about a person's Sunday reading.

13.

Wow, King Rat. Thanks for all the work! Put that way, it seems like Salon posts are mostly on target.

I'm not sure what to write.... What I'm *thinking* is that the post about the book signing was really interesting, and I'm glad to have read it, and I wouldn't have read it, probably, if it hadn't been earmarked for the Salon. So, I don't know.

14.

Some of the off-topic ones were interesting, and we'd probably miss them otherwise. And the really brief on-topic ones were kind of frustrating, because it's hard to comment when a person doesn't say any more than "I'm halfway through and liking it so far."

As I noted over on Maxine's blog, the bulk of the mid-week posts I'm seeing are actually old posts that Yahoo Pipes/Google Reader is tagging as new.

15.

I'm coming quite late to this thread, and have been irregular for some time now in Sunday Salon due to travel schedule.

I found the discussion interesting, partly because I didn't notice any issues with the format. I've been a little bit divergent from other Saloners from the beginning since I use the format more as a place for book reviews and to talk about books that I have read in the last week, and questions that result from those books.

Partly this is my reading style. I don't discuss books as I read. I read them, and then go back for review, notes and consideration. This is (for me) as much part of my reading experience as the original turning of the pages. I've asked before if this "counts" and seem to have gotten a positive response from a variety of other Sunday Salon readers, but perhaps I should ask it again as part of this conversation.

I would be sorry to lose the Sunday Salon, since I have discovered many great blogs that way. I do wish that it would focus more on conversation and I take the point to not allow too-many non-reading related posts sneak in (I've been guilty of writing about book fairs and plays as literature in the past). It also doesn't bother me if I can't read all the participating blogs.

Where are we now with this discussion?

16.

Hi, Frumious. Thanks for your thoughts. It's a good question. I don't think anything was resolved. I think we've just agreed to let the Salon take its natural course, without policing or the institution of rules. My sense is that if you're getting a positive response to your posts, to take that as a sign that you're on the mark.

I've decided not to feel guilty about not reading all the posts too. Now that I have my Google Reader hooked up to my Gmail, I do find it easier to incorporate RSS reading into my day. But I still don't read all the posts. I'll skim them all. If I'm hooked in the first sentence or two, I read on. If a book is under discussion that I'm interested in, I'll read it. But we can't do everything!

Two more members to add this morning, I see in my inbox.

17.

This is about the RSS feed for this site.
The feed could be much easier to maintain, if a Google spreadsheet was used in junction with Yahoo! Pipes.
This link goes into some details.
http://discuss.pipes.yahoo.com/Message_Boards_for_Pipes/threadview?bn=pip-DeveloperHelp&tid=2798&mid=2799

18.

Thanks, Hap. I'm going to look into this. It may be over my head, but I'll investigate. It would be nice to simplify the process if possible.

19.

Well, I've put in a lot of time this morning trying to figure this out, but I'm stuck. I can't figure out how to do the sub-pipe in the loop. This is way beyond what I've done with Pipes before.

20.

I've tried again tonight, and was almost ready to report success, but no. Copying your pipes and making the necessary changes I got something that would spit out some (but seemingly not all; not sure) results within editing. But then when I ran it it didn't have results. Tried removing that keyword input box thing you have but that didn't seem to work. Giving up for now.

21.

Got it! Pretty sure I'll be able to implement this. I'll work on it more tomorrow.

22.

I'm a new member. Just thought I would ask around here on how to start. Do I just read any books I want to during the week then blog my reviews on sunday? And so long I put "Sunday Salon" on my post title, then it will be linked to the sunday salon site?

23.

It's me again. Rgd the RSS feed - does it reflect on my blog which will be easier or I receive them through email? Another ques is whether feed includes non-book-related blogs, then we'll have to scroll on & on to randomely find those which is books related? Sorry if this seems a silly ques, still very new to blogging and learning along the way. Thanks for explaining.

24.

Hi, Sal. No problem at all. To answer your questions:

There's no set format for Salon posts. You blog about books on Sunday and put "Sunday Salon" somewhere in the title of the post. The post will be picked up and included with the other Salon posts. People who subscribe to the Salon's RSS feed will then see your post, and also it will eventually appear on the site itself.

The RSS feed only picks up posts from Salon members that have Sunday Salon in the title (or TSS in the title). So you won't see their non-Salon posts. So all the posts should be book-related.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed by email. Probably easier to subscribe using an RSS reader such as Google Reader (http://reader.google.com) or bloglines (http://www.bloglines.com).

I hope that helps. Let us know if you have any further questions.

25.

From looking at your previous responses, it looks like content is a biggie. Is possible to pipe by genre? or by time zone? I'm still not seeing my posts in the pipes but the list is so long, I probably have just given up too soon. I do enjoy reading other's posts. Thanks for doing this - did you ever dream it would be so large???

26.

Hi, Brenda. Thanks for your note. It would be possible, surely, but I don't necessarily want to put any more work into it, to tell you the truth. I've got it down to a nice system now where updating the pipe doesn't take too much work.

Definitely didn't think it would get this big! Initially it was just a few of us who wanted an excuse to read a lot on Sundays. It didn't quite turn out like that, but happily people seem to be getting a lot of value out of it.

27.

I have subscribed to the sunday salon pipes list but would like it to have a longer and bigger list shown instead of just located in a small column where I can't see all the text. How do I do that? Have tried to copy the script onto my page but turns out only showing the link. I like reading the postings but it's overwhelming reading all the coming to 500 subscribers postings instead of just those who have the latest TSS postings about books and the literary subject. Anyone could tell me how to go about? Thanks a bunch.

28.

Hi, Sal. It is overwhelming, I agree.

For regular reading I would recommend subscribing by RSS so that you can see the posts as they come in. I wouldn't want to read the posts myself in the column format.

The badge, though (which I'm not getting to work at all at the moment), can be customized, if you'd like it to be wider, for example. When you click the "Get this badge" link you'll see a link in the popup to customize the size, etc. of the badge. It's all incredibly slow and annoying, however.

29.

Since the badge worked on your site, Sal, it inspired me to figure out what I was doing wrong on the Salon page. I've got things working again, actually more nicely than before, so I'm pleased with that. As you can see, the badge can expand to fill available space, so if you wanted a wider reading area you could move it to another page for your own viewing, for example.

30.

Why don't you find a few blogs that have some space for an extra "Salon" page and partner with them. That way a certain number of your Salonists can continue to participate with your outlined format just through a partnered site. This would idea would basically be as if there was a church who broke up into small groups for deeper discussion.

-Sea
readingwithsea.wordpress.com

31.

Well, to tell you the truth, this sounds like it would take a lot of work to arrange, more than I'd care to devote to it. I suppose it could work, though.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Reading Herodotus: A Guided Tour through the Wild Boars, Dancing Suitors, and Crazy Tyrants of The History. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
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