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Introducing the Calmer, Less Angry Digital Reader Blog

Anyone who has been reading this blog for more than a few months is probably familiar with my writing style, and you may have noticed a marked change to that style over the past few weeks.

The posts on this blog have been shorter, more numerous, less snarky, and covered a broader range of topics than what I was writing 6 months or a year ago, and they’re going to stay that way.

I’m announcing a new editorial policy today. I’ve been trying a few new ideas for the past several weeks, and based on the increase in traffic I plan to keep doing what I am doing. Aside from The Morning Coffee, which will not change, future posts will continue to be brief and to the point, with only a minimum of snark. (The post this morning about Rakuten and endangered animals is a mistake I don’t plan to repeat.)

Don’t get me wrong, I like snark, but unfortunately I often cannot tell the difference between wit, snark, sarcasm, or bile. I am happy to write any of the 4; I am enough of a misanthrope that I enjoy it. But since hardly anyone wants to read the latter two it’s best to avoid them all.

For those who are interested, this change in policy is entirely driven by website traffic. My site traffic should be trending downwards this time of year after peaking around Christmas, but over the past month it has been trending up week over week. As I see it, whatever I am doing to pick up readers – in a down season no less – is worth repeating.

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Bart Anderson March 20, 2014 um 12:24 am

Good for you, Nate, in taking on board some of the comments.

The Digital Reader does a great job on staying on top of the news. I work on a similar website (though with different subject matter) and I know how much effort goes into it. As a fellow practitioner, I say, "Well done!"

I have gotten into it with readers from time to time. I’ve had to develop ways to express my viewpoints so that people feel I’m being fair, even if they don’t agree with me.

For example, being careful not to attack people personally. Presenting the facts fairly, whether or not they agree with my personal viewpoint. Admitting the truth in opposing viewpoints.

One thing that seems to help is telling stories about *why* one holds a particular opinion. For example, in one exchange Mercy Pilkington over at goodereader told how much the coming of Amazon meant to her, living as she does (did?) in a small town in the South, cut off from things that we in metropolitan areas take for granted.

Please keep up The Digital Reader!

Tom March 20, 2014 um 4:30 am

You could make a new section on your blog: The Angry Reader…
I like a good bit of sarcasm from time to time 😉

Nate Hoffelder March 20, 2014 um 9:14 am

For a while there I did consider renaming the blog Angry Nate’s Angry Tech Blog.

puzzled March 20, 2014 um 4:35 am


mieiri March 20, 2014 um 6:54 am

Congrats on the increasing traffic. I’ve been reading you for more than a year now and we changed a word or two. You, mate, are a good writer and I like the way you see this market and agree with a lot of articles in this blog. Keep the good work!

fjtorres March 20, 2014 um 7:33 am

A day without snark is like a day without sunshine: a dreary drag.
I doubt you can go cold turkey: birds gotta fly and the snarky gotta snark.

Nate Hoffelder March 20, 2014 um 9:05 am

True. I did snark about Turow.

fjtorres March 20, 2014 um 10:23 am

But who doesn’t snark him? Outside his relatives and employees, that is?
Some folks paint bullseyes on their backs and then wonder at the arrows that arrive.

Bob W March 20, 2014 um 9:12 am

Is it April fools day already? I must have slept in.

ief March 20, 2014 um 9:18 am

i’ve only recently discovered your blog through mobilereads and it’s a great find, thanks a lot for all the work you put into it, man! And hey, I found the rakuten post pretty interesting. It is entirely up to the reader to digest that post and interpret it in his or her own way – we’re all adults here with the ability to process information in our own way – so no, don’t think you made a mistake there – but that’s just my two cents. Anyway, keep up the good work!

Lori G March 20, 2014 um 9:33 am

A little snark now and then doesn’t hurt. I actually started reading you because of the snark.

Scott Tuttle March 20, 2014 um 9:50 am

I guess that means we’re going to have to crank up the snark in comments.

Chuck F. March 20, 2014 um 10:24 am

I love bile. And now you’re saying, "no more bile." Well Mr. Bile-Less, consider my subscription to the Digital Reader, officially cancelled.

And I want a refund.

puzzled March 20, 2014 um 4:29 pm

You can have your errant comma refunded…

Chris Meadows March 20, 2014 um 11:26 am

So what you’re saying, Nate, is that we wouldn’t like you when you’re angry? 🙂

Nate Hoffelder March 20, 2014 um 2:19 pm

Hmm, you’ve just given me a new idea for a twitter account:

puzzled March 20, 2014 um 4:31 pm

I’m tempted to get a Twitter account just to be the first follower…

Steve Nagel March 20, 2014 um 12:43 pm

Hire a distant relative of the Macalope to snark it up once a week. The best snark is like a political cartoon. Uses laughs and smarts both. It grabs the bat from the big bad guy and bashes him with it. Think Colbert.

Greg Strandberg March 20, 2014 um 6:28 pm

Are you going to add a "boring meter" to your site as well? Tread carefully with this.

Alexander Inglis March 20, 2014 um 8:35 pm

Bravo. There is enough anger and bile in the public discourse. A thoughtful discussion of the facts is a breath of fresh air. Not to mention that evidence is a heck of a lot more credible than snarky opinion.

Bart Anderson March 21, 2014 um 12:59 pm

Sounds like there is an audience for snark! It’s like hot sauce – a little bit adds piquancy but too much makes the dish inedible.

Also, it might be a matter of age.
– Snark fits 24-year-olds.
– At 44, if someone is still snarking, it feels like something is wrong with them.
– At 64, snarkiness is obnoxious and the old guy is yelling at the youngsters to stay off the lawn.

Bob March 29, 2014 um 9:31 am

I’ve read you for a few months, and I really enjoy your coverage. I don’t think I was reading when the tone was different, so I cannot compare you to you, but the digital reader has become one of my first to check feeds, and I click through to your full articles as often as my other favorite sites.

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