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The Future Of This Blog: Readership Poll

Political Blogging 2

To infinity, and beyond…

 

UPDATE – 18 September: Many thanks to all those who have completed the surveys and taken the time to share comments or send me emails with your further thoughts as to the future of this blog – your input is very much appreciated, and the feedback I am getting is very useful. The polls will stay open for a further five days and then I will review the results in detail and blog my response and future plans. In the meantime, business as usual…

 

Driven primarily by the recent EU referendum, 2016 has already been by far the biggest year in the four-year history of Semi-Partisan Politics, with all daily, monthly and annual pageview records easily surpassed and many new readers arriving from around the world – not to mention a successful appearance on the BBC Daily Politics.

I want to thank all of you for your readership and support, and for making my angry and sometimes less-than-coherent rantings a part of your daily reading. To those who made generous financial contributions during the EU referendum campaign – a heartfelt thank you. I could not have sustained the pace of blogging and analysis over that hectic period without your help. And to those who have become regular commenters – you continue to teach me, challenge and stretch my thinking in new directions rather than simply reinforcing my existing prejudices. Your input has made me a more rounded thinker and (I hope) a better writer. Thank you.

But now we must look to the future…

Soon, both the EU referendum and the upcoming historic US presidential election will be receding dots in the rear-view mirror, and at this time of change I wanted to reach out to you, my loyal readers, to get a sense of how you would like to see this blog grow and develop over the next 12 months and beyond. I am particularly keen to know whether you think the current blog format (length and frequency of posts) is about right, or if you would like to see stylistic changes, as well as to get a sense of what you think I should be writing about in terms of issues.

I have my own thoughts on the matter, and may as well put my cards on the table. In order to increase readership (and hopefully engagement) further I am thinking of continuing the current schedule of 1-2 normal length commentaries per day, but to supplement this with an additional number (3-5) of short commentaries or reactions to different political developments or stories, as is common in most successful political blogs. These would just be a couple of paragraphs of commentary in reaction to a developing story or a noteworthy piece published elsewhere.

I am conscious that by only posting once or twice per day this blog fails to articulate a position on a lot of significant stories, and this is something I would like to change. And while I will never equal the prodigious output of my blogging hero, the great Andrew Sullivan, I have come to believe that more frequency and variety of posts will hopefully be of interest, encourage more debate and hopefully force me to grow as a political writer.

But all of that being said, I am open to persuasion. Therefore I would be very grateful if you could answer the three main poll questions shown below, to give me a better sense of what you enjoy at Semi-Partisan Politics and what you think can and should be changed.

The first question relates to the format of the blog, i.e. the length and frequency of posts. Please select your one preferred option here:

 

The second question relates to the topics covered at Semi-Partisan Politics, and whether you think that the site would benefit from a change or sharpening of focus. Here, you can select as many options and topics as you like:

 

While the third question looks at whether or not I should expand into other social media to reach a potentially much larger audience. Again, you can select as many options as you want in this case:

 

I would greatly appreciate your feedback on these key questions. Each mini-poll lets you add in your own answer if none of the pre-set responses accurately capture your preference. But if you have any longer or more general comments, please do use the Comments feature to let me know your more detailed thoughts.

Though this blog remains small and relatively unknown (or at least generally unacknowledged by the Westminster media – increasingly I see themes and analyses first expounded here cropping up some months later in more prestigious publications), I think that over the past year in particular something of a community has been forged here, one which I greatly value. I am eager for this growth to continue, and look forward to receiving your input as to how Semi-Partisan Politics should best adapt to face the future.

Thank you for your continued readership and support.

 

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4 responses

  1. You need to think in terms of a communication strategy. That may sound a bit corporate but you are investing a great deal of time in trying to express and promote your ideas so you need to have a clear idea of what you want to get from the effort you put into using each communications platform. Each one needs to provide something that you don’t get from the other platforms that you use already or it’s a waste of time. Each one should be used in a way that makes the most of its particular strengths.

    I suggest that you keep the blog at the centre of your activities. It gives you a place to discuss ideas at length and have long-running debates with commenters. You need something like this to really explain what you are trying to say. Twitter and Facebook are good for promoting the blog and having more informal discussions and/or blazing rows, but the character limit on Twitter means that debates there will always be prone to misunderstandings and over-simplification.

    If you are going to do video you need to ask yourself the following about each video platform:

    1. How well does the type of content you want to deliver fit into their particular format?
    2. Do you have the time to produce this type of content on a regular basis in addition to your writing?
    3. Will it allow you to reach a new audience?
    4. If you want comments and feedback, will you get it from this source? (I’m particularly thinking of YouTube and its reputation for having comment threads that never rise above the level of “u r fag lol”)

    If you can’t give a positive answer to all of these questions then it’s probably not worth using that particular platform.

    The main reason to have a video presence is that it provides a way to reach people who prefer to get their information in audiovisual form rather than as long text documents. A well-made video is also more likely to catch the eye of the legacy media, especially if it shows you to be someone who might make an interesting guest for a TV or radio show. A low quality video gets you nothing (except perhaps ridicule) so you have to invest in decent recording equipment and the necessary technical skills to do it right.

    As for the content, you need to choose a theme and stick to it. Your best chance of having some influence on the course of national politics is to become an acknowledged expert in a particular field, so that when this topic is in the news people will want to know what Sam says about it. This will also make it easy for you to decide which news events to cover and will allow you to organise your posts, tweets, etc. into a coherent body of work.

    This approach would require a mixture of long and short posts, as you have already suggested that you might use. The long posts would set out your views on the issue. The short posts would use whatever is in the news today to illustrate how the arguments made in the long posts apply to current events. The purpose of them would be to build up a body of evidence in favour of certain propositions.

    The obvious theme to pick, based on what is currently topical and what this blog has focussed on so far, is the politics of identity in its broadest sense. I don’t just mean the divide-and-rule identity politics of the left, although that is part of it. We live in a world of unprecedented mass movement of people, with global trade, an emerging system of global economic governance (all the regulatory stuff that Pete North writes about) and trans-national organisations like the EU trying to neuter or abolish the nation state. We live in a world where technological advances and the economic changes that they produce have overturned traditional gender roles in most advanced countries.

    It’s a world where many national, cultural, gender and other identities are in flux and often in collision. I don’t need to explain why the question of religious identity is such an important part of the mix. Just read the news and you will see the politics of identity everywhere, whether it’s immigration, Brexit, Trump, ISIS, Scottish nationalism or whatever stupid thing the SJWs did this week. The question of identity is at the heart of most of the key political issues of our time.

    But the political class isn’t offering any way forward. Some of them are stuck on old dogmas that have no meaning in the present day. Some of them don’t have any fixed beliefs about anything, and most of the rest try to avoid anything controversial that might lose them more votes than it gains. We can’t expect anything better from the legacy media, who shy away from complexity, or the smug dull metro-left intelligentsia who are more interested in social climbing than hard thinking.

    Quite simply, this is a job for the people. Practical and civilized solutions to all the difficult questions of identity are more likely to emerge from free and robust debate amongst concerned citizens than they are from a distant and irresponsible elite. This in turn means that there are great opportunities for people who are willing to be leading figures in that debate to have a real influence on the course of future events. Covering these issues would necessarily mean covering developments in both the UK and the US because of the close political and cultural links between the two.

    Can you think of anything that would be a better use of your time?

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  2. If you kept the blog exactly the same, I’d still be happy. You cover some great stuff. I like the “stone turner” style of blogs (digging around under the surface of issues) – but they are time-consuming and not all leads provide good enough info for a detailed post. So a mixture of articles is a good idea.

    I’ve had my sights on the next level up from the EU, namely the global bodies. I think there’s going to be a ton of material there since this is largely completely invisible to the general public – a boulder needs rolling to see what’s underneath.

    If you’re anything like ‘the Norths’ you’re big on depth and detail. I’m more of a ‘connector’ sniffing out links between things – so your poll mentions EU issues (of course) and also the Social Justice/Identity Politics stuff. But when you look into many of the EU docs and esp trade deals, they want to tack on socjus add-ons (whether rightly or wrongly). I’m also seeing this A LOT in the modi operandi of several of the UN sub-organizations, and I guess (almost by definition) it’ll be in the workings of NGOs and CSOs too.

    So yah, it’d be nice (if you’re interested in digging into it) to see even a monthly “Excavation Report” digging into something like this, shining a light on how it impacts the EU, the global bodies we’ll need to deal with after Brexit (and their shadowy NGO/CSO sidekicks), how socjus is pushed by them, etc etc.

    (You’ve got my email from this comment, so if you go ahead with something like this in future, feel free to DM me in Twitter or email me; if I’ve got anything in my files – I’m building up a monster file ATM – I’ll share with you.)

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  3. Voted.

    I don’t think you necessarily need to attempt to cover a lot of emerging stories. A lot of those become quite transient – the kind of matter which garners a contemporaneous little stab on the Speccie and wherever. It’s the trend that counts and I think you’d be better off standing back from breaking news to wait until the dust settles, with a more considered account than the early birds attempted. Leave the chaff to the merchants of tittle-tattle.

    Where a story or matter gains real legs you’d then have a better handle on it and a proficient on-line history as to why your accounts should be the go-to sources.

    Otherwise, please continue as you see fit.

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