A to Z Challenge 2017 Postmortem

As part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, it’s a yearly tradition to write a reflections post discussing the previous month. Looking bad, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I’m already turning over what I might do next year. After a month talking about players and a month talking about monsters, I feel like it’s only right that I talk about something DM-based to finish a trilogy themed after Core books. I am hitting walls around the hard letters; I haven’t run any NPCs, or had any dungeons, or run any neat adventures that begin with X. I guess I have a year to shore that up, and if I go with my current plan to run multiple shorter campaigns I’ll have plenty of opportunities. But my main issue is that I can’t think of any topic about which I’m especially excited, and considering how this year went I may not participate next year at all.

The bad news is that there were some changes to the administration of the A to Z Challenge. Last year, there was a large list of participating blogs on the official website. Blogs were tagged with their genre (gaming, lifestyle, etc.) and participants were encouraged to find similar blogs and follow them. I searched the list at the beginning of the month, I found a few blogs I liked, and I added them to my bookmarks to watch them every day. I still follow most of them. This year, that list went away. Instead authors were asked to comment on the main blog every day with a link to their blog post, and comment on the official Facebook page, and also tweet about it with a specific hashtag.

I didn’t do any of this. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, so anybody who posted there was completely lost to me and vice versa. I also schedule my blog posts in advance, so asking me to comment somewhere every day subverts the preemptive effort I put into making sure posts happen on time. As a result, I felt largely left out of the challenge as a whole, and it was a thing I did because it was neat rather than a thing I did because it made me a part of a larger community. I also don’t see how removing standards for finding blogs makes it easier to find blogs because in my experience things work in exactly the opposite way. There was no “gaming” tag, there was a loose association of links where I got to read through hundreds of comments looking for the one or two relevant to my interests. That puts the onus on people to find blogs they like, which was already the case before the challenge existed. I’ve had more success finding blogs with a Google search than with this year’s format.

It’s also clear things won’t be changing in the future. The end-of-challenge survey was incredibly passive-aggressive toward people who preferred having the list, and the main way to express my dissatisfaction was to click a checkbox that said “No, I don’t want to spend five minutes a day promoting my blog”. Perhaps it’s that easy for somebody who is already actively promoting themselves, but blogging is my quinary career at best. I don’t want it to be a central point of my life, and I sort of resent the implication that this means I’m not allowed to do it with everybody else. It’s like trying to run campaigns only with people who are own every rulebook and know every errata. You don’t end up with a better campaign for it, you just end up with fewer players.

But regardless of what happens next year, this year is in the books, and I’ve updated the “Blogging from A to Z 2017” page in the header in case you want to read through my lovely rhyme scheme. I’ve also added the doodles on which I fell behind, all done by my lovely wife. She’d like everybody to know she’s a better writer than she is an artist and she has a website to prove it. It only took me 280 posts to link there.

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