Too Much Bardak

Last week I wrote a post about popular bloggers and how success can be a challenge. As if to prove my point, Steven Den Beste has quit blogging (for the time being, at least). It's not a huge surprise, he's been slowing down for a while, and he's posted a few times about it. He used to have a bulletin board, but he took that down a while ago. He doesn't have comments, nor does he allow trackbacks. The only thing left is email, and it appears that his inbox gets constantly filled with pedantic nitpicking. He once described it thusly:
Almost all of these letters were friendly and helpful. But the cumulative effect of them is like a piledriver... This morning, I started scanning through my mailbox and, for just a moment, considered taking the site down. I really do like receiving mail from readers, and I don't really mind receiving critical mail. But when I receive 50 letters in 12 hours which all hop on the same exact point, then even if nearly all of them are friendly and helpful and supportive, the cumulative effect is ego-crushing. And for a couple of minutes, I found myself asking why I'm bothering with this at all. Why am I spending $200 per month and several hours per day, apparently only to give people someone to sneer at?

It was an unfair reaction on my part; I know full well that most of my readers don't sneer at me.
He's been trying for a while to cut down on annoying emails, to the point where he inserts little notes in his posts which mean "Don't write letters!" For all his efforts, this apparently didn't stop abuse; emails nitpicking minor details (missing the forest for the trees) still flood his inbox.

Last week, I quoted Commisar on why big bloggers don't allow comments, etc... "Too much bardak," he said. But Den Beste posted some examples of the email he gets, and it becomes clear that while he has to shift though his fair share of noise, there is a significant amount of signal that is worthy of attention. Too much, in fact, and I can imagine that would be overwhelming.

The only real solutions left to Den Beste are to stop blogging, or to stop allowing emails. Forbidding emails is probably unrealistic. I'd imagine he wants some sort of feedback, just not the backbreaking quantity he gets now. It's not just that he doesn't get good emails, it's that he gets too many good emails as well. There's no real way to separate duplicate comments or overly intensive requests from the rest, and that's the real problem. I suppose if he did forbid emails, feedback could be garnered through people blogging their comments, but that still leaves something to be desired. From what I know, I think it could work, but it's obviously not ideal. So for now he's stopped blogging.

And as much as I enjoy his blog, I really can't blame him for that. I can't imagine getting that much feedback, and if I did, I'm sure I'd buckle under the pressure far sooner than Den Beste. I will miss his blogging though, and anxiously await his return... but I'm not holding my breath. Happy trails, Captain!