What is the use of a blog without pictures?

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Comments, concerns, clarifications and complaints

I received this in my inbox from my younger brother:

Would you stop it with the advertising? Ya big sell-out... You want to become one of those disgusting pages with ads on the top and bottom and sides and between arbitrary paragraphs? Put the firefox image ad on the left above the google toolbar. Keep the navigation on the right clean for quick and easy navigation. You could also write a quick blog and ask for comments on what pisses your readers off in terms of blog design. Sell-out...

Let me clarify something about the firefox ad: I put it there because it is a link I use and am prepared to use, and I endorse the use of firefox. I haven't put up a Google AdSense link (even though I may well get paid considerably more for it) because I don't necessarily endorse, recommend or promote its use for others.

As for being a sell-out, the things I am interested in in the blog are the content, the interactions with readers, and occasionally playing around with script to learn how to write things in html and in php. To me, everything else is peripheral, and I'm not really fussed. If Google required that I change my comment policy, or I change what I write, or anything related to something that interests me about my site, I would no longer have Google ads. Simple as that. If they require that I change the colours to a flouro pink and an olive green background, I may well be prepared to do that for an appropriate sum of money because it is not something which I am concerned about one way or another.

Similarly, if my readers want me to change what I write, it will only happen if it coincides with what I want to do. If I change something on my site just to please my readers, does it make me any less a sell-out than putting ads on my site?

On the other hand, if anyone does have suggestions as to features they'd like, changes they want or anything like that, I'm always happy to take it on board. Hopefully everyone has seen the comments section and knows how to fill it out. For this particular entry, I will actually add the comments to the main page rather than the comments page. Please take the time to write about what you think.

And a little stroll down memory lane for the first time I majorly sold out an artistic vision because of outside influences. The year was 1995. I was an innocent Japanese student preparing to take part in a Japanese dialogue competition sponsored by JAL. I wrote a piece which involved me and my co-presenter Dion as aeroplane pilots. Complete with things such as being bored and introducing turbulence, forgetting to fill up with fuel, accidentally leaving the intercom on, and an unscheduled stop in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I wanted to have the final bit as "thank you for flying JAL. We hope that if you survive you choose to fly with us again." My teacher told us "No" and wouldn't accept "artistic vision" as a prevailing argument, and we changed it from JAL to "kiddie airlines" (don't ask me to translate into Japanese - my Japanese is somewhere between rusty, forgotten and non-existant) and had us finish as kids talking about how maybe we don't want to be pilots when we grow up, after all.

Comment from Gillian

Well, now...doing as your teacher suggests isn't necessarily a sell-out. It's better construed as accepting advice from someone who can be assumed to know better what would go over well in a competition.

As for being a sell-out...it was you who first suggested that you were. In this instance, though, I can concede that you can be 'a little bit pregnant'-you can be a sell-out to a greater or lesser degree. Personally, I don't see anything wrong with the ads. They don't impinge in the content(except for that annoying firefox thing!) and I don't have to click on them if I don't want to.

Changing what on your site to please your readers? Content, no. That would make you a sell-out (except for spelling and grammatical mistakes. Correcting them is simply common courtesy.) But responding to things that drive your readers crazy in terms of positioning etc? That's not selling out. I accept that people write for themselves primarily, but any writer would be lying if they said they didn't care about whether they had readers or not.

I respond

doing as your teacher suggests isn't necessarily a sell-out

Removing what was a more-or-less politically inspired piece of artistry because my teacher didn't feel the politics appropriate is selling out. I wrote what I thought was amusing and entertaining and made the appropriate points. To change it for the reasons I did was selling out.

What's wrong with the firefox positioning? I have it there because I find it a convenient place to put it for when I want someone to use it.

Comment from Revi

The problem with the Position of the firefox button is that it interferes with navigation. To simplify my reading I always click on the very useful quicklinks on the right. If they're marked visited then I know I've read it all. If they're right at the top then they're easy to find. If you put them somewhere in the middle then they become lost.

With the current position the first thing I see is ads by google on the left and... what have we here? And ad for a google product on the right. None of our useful navigation tools - just some ads and a little text. If you put the button on the equivalent position on the left it would still be easy to find without obstructing navigation elements.

Your posts are typically long enough that even if you put the ads at the bottom on the left (under the useful stuff) then anyone who cares to look will see them. As a reader, my first concern is content, my second is functionality (or ease of use). If you have no concern for readers ease of use you might as well just write in a private journal.

I respond

Ok, I've moved it. Are you happy now? Does anyone have any other requests for site appearance or functionality?

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Please feel free to comment. I value dialogue and want other people's involvement. Please put your email address in. I will publish pretty much any comment which is made, but if you do not give your email address, I reserve the right not to publish your comment. I will not pass on or publish an email address (unless you specifically ask me to), but I may want to verify details, and cannot do this without an email address. Besides, its polite. Also, feel free to put in html tags. If you don't, I will stick them in, but I will just stick in simple ones. If you want anything more, you'll have to do it yourself.

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