In Which I Solicit Feedback on Whatever 2011 (and 2012)

Today I’m having what would best be called an “in-service” day here at Whatever, which is to say I’m thinking a little bit about things I want to do with the site in the upcoming year. In an overall sense the “whatever” ethos — i.e., writing about whatever I want to write about because that’s what I feel like writing about at that moment — will still be the general rule. At the same time, a little planning and forethought wouldn’t be bad either. The site’s had its best year ever in terms of readers (as far as I can tell) and I’d like to keep it trending upward. Also, as a general thing, I’m curious about how people see the site and how they read/use/enjoy it on a day-to-day basis.

So, my dear readers: Tell me, if you would, the things that you’ve enjoyed about Whatever in the last year, what things you’ve not enjoyed, and what you wouldn’t mind seeing more (or less) of in 2012 (That’s you, mind you, don’t focus on what you think others would like/not like. Let them speak for themselves, please). If you have praise, swell. If you have complaints, don’t feel you have to sugarcoat it (although, you know. Don’t be any meaner than you have to). Basically, let me know what you’re thinking about Whatever.


189 Comments on “In Which I Solicit Feedback on Whatever 2011 (and 2012)”

  1. Don’t change a thing. I know that may not be the helpful criticism you were looking for, but I have very much enjoyed your blog as is. Love your even books more. The tweets are ok.

  2. Less poltiics. Seriously, it was majorly off-putting to find you were so ignorant about politics and were completely mind-numbed about President Obama’s almost complete failure as a president.

    You asked…

  3. Generally, the only time I actually visit the site itself is when I want to make a comment, and that doesn’t happen very often. I get nearly all of my Whatever goodness through the RSS feed.

  4. I love reading your opinions about anything and everything. I’d like to read more about your writing process and such, and more about politics. I’m almost tempted to say fewer Big Idea pieces, but that’s only because they consistently cause me to spend money. :D

  5. What I absolutely liked best was the thread for Republican/conservative readers to comment on. I have been continually frustrated in attempts to discuss politics with my more conservative acquaintances, who usually flat out refuse to say what they think or believe. It seems they’ve had bad experiences in the past. So having the opportunity to see these views expressed calmly (for the most part) and reasonably, without a lot of unnecessary hostility and arguing, was something I’ve been wanting for a long time. The hardest part for me was not breaking into that thread with effusive thanks to you and all the commenters. And, in general, I appreciate your moderation policy, which seems to work well in keeping discussions civil while giving everyone a chance to be heard.

    So thank you. Thank you very much.

  6. Really enjoyed Big Ideas, Athena & Krissy posts, posts about your writing/tours, posts about things like “Flying Snowman.”

    Did not enjoy maintenance-posts-what-weren’t-maintenance-posts (e.g. I get excited about your posts so seeing a “I’m doing errands & will post later” post email is slightly disappointing).

    Was intrigued & engaged by, but would REALLY not miss, your politics posts – for entirely different reasons from Scorpius above, since from my perspective Obama has done ten thousand times more for me & people like me than ANY president before him. It’s more that seeing posts like Scorpius’ and getting the instant urge to engage made it difficult to retain your comment rules ;) I don’t mind knowing that this is the kind of experience that is expected here, but I absolutely would not miss the above kind of comment. (That said, a lot of what was discussed in the recent “ohhh, GOPers” thread was interesting & 90% of the commenters didn’t say anything that triggered any of my own stuff.)

    All in all, I have to say if you keep the status quo I’ll still be super-happy I subscribed.

  7. More whatever, please.

    Also, while I generally enjoy The Big Idea, and understand that guesting on it generally serves as PR for *new* books, I wonder if it’d be possible to have guest appearances by established authors willing to hang about in the comments and discuss previous works and related topics.

  8. Hi! I never comment, but I’m subscribed to the RSS feed. I really like the Big Idea pieces; as far as I remember they only come once a week or once every two weeks. Those are usually the posts that I click through to read because I really like your site layout for reading longer pieces. I’ve also enjoyed the occasional fiction that you post, and the youtube videos and artist recommendations.

    I don’t mind the politics because you don’t talk about it constantly, and you’re honest about what you think. The ‘whatever’ premise of the blog is a big part of why I enjoy it so much.

  9. I’m perfectly happy with the site as it is, for the most part. Except for the Big Idea’s. I know some people like them, but I routinely skip them and tend to think of them as a little like spam; someone pushing a product that I maaaay want, but probably don’t.

    Since some people like them, I wouldn’t suggest abolishing them. But maybe scaling them back a bit wouldn’t be a terrible thing to do.

  10. I enjoy your politics. It helps offset the ulta conservative SF writers who blog stuff that makes no sense.

  11. Caveat emptor: I’ve only been following your site for less than three months, so please take all of these suggestions with a grain of salt. Chances are, I have no idea what I am talking about.

    1. The site is engaging in the sense that you share details about your professional life that are really helpful for aspiring authors
    2. Your promotion of other author’s work greatly helps aspiring wrtiers’ careers
    3. You generate interesting discussions that lead to engaging comment threads

    Cons (or Suggestions for Development — for Sensitive Types):
    1. Follow-through: A few days back you asked conservative voters to comment on the current field of candidates, but never revealed why (perhaps you intend to in the future discussion, but if not, that is a problem).
    2. You should include some polls on this site. They tend to improve engagement, and are more useful in soliciting hard data than qualitative questions are. For instance, you could provide authors with an opportunity to opt-in to a poll when you promote their stories. It could provide them with valuable market data that they couldn’t gather on their own because they may not have access to a fan base as large as yours.
    3. More politics. I’m sure it drives your hits through the roof as well.
    4. Invite guest bloggers. Again, it will likely help improve your traffic. And I’m not talking about no-name bloggers like me, but established authors who have their own large fan bases that don’t necessarily intersect with yours.

    Anyway. I hope this helps.

  12. My favorite part of the site is seeing yours and other peoples opinions about, you know, Whatever you feel like writing about. I don’t really remember anything I’d say needs to be changed. But, I also view it as, it’s your site so it’s going to be what you want it to be.

  13. I don’t comment often – I generally read by RSS feed. And I completely skip over The Big Idea posts about 99% of the time. That’s easy enough to do in reader – just press “j”. I love the political posts and the commentary. As goofy as it sounds, like Luminous Flux, I like to see a new post pop up in Reader and get a little disappointed when it’s a “won’t be here, carry on” post.

    Basically, I like it when you post long thoughtful posts on just about any subject.

  14. Oh! And Reader Request Week. I love that. I’ve never asked anything, but I love seeing the variety of topics that pop up.

  15. Personally I like your meatier posts, so I loved many of your Thanksgiving posts this November. Felt like vintage Whatever, which is my favorite kind. :)

    I’ve also really enjoyed your sunset photos this year–they tend to come up towards the end of the afternoon, right when I’m beginning to get tired, and it’s nice to take a short beauty break.

  16. Love the site. I’ve been a daily visitor for about two years now. The posts I enjoy most are the ones wherein you call somebody out on their BS or just plain poor reasoning. It’s especially nice to see a writer with such great chops do critical analysis.

  17. WOW
    I was going to comment about how wonderful the comments were on the “republican voters chime in here” posting. Ignoring a few who didnt actually comment about the candidates, it was refreshing to read comments about people’s choices without the vitriol.

    and then I read scorpius:
    Less poltiics. Seriously, it was majorly off-putting to find you were so ignorant about politics and were completely mind-numbed about President Obama’s almost complete failure as a president.

    One thing that I often look for on Whatever is an IGNORE/BLOCK button for trolls and nut-jobs.
    I use this feature on all the time and it helps get rid of the people who are destructive of civil discourse.

    Plus, we WANT you to continue to post on everything, including politics. The variety is what made “Your hate mail will be graded” such a great read. Politics, writing, religion, family, life, liberty, whatever.

    What I wanted to add to the GOP candidate discussion (but could, esp after getting hammered once :) was that the missing candidate that everyone was looking for was Pawlenty. A moderate GOP candidate who wasnt batshit crazy. It felt that most of the GOP commenters were looking for a better candidate. It felt like Pawlenty was that candidate and he had already dropped out.

    But in the end, dont change anything!!

  18. What I enjoy most is reading whatever is on your mind, closely followed by the comments from others.

  19. I’d like to see some of the twitter streams show up here, preserved in the “stream of consciousness /online party” that makes a twitter jam so fun to be a part of.

    Less politics, please. Just about every other site will be filled with 2012 US Presidential Race sniping. I’d like to have someplace to discuss other items. I did like the specific topic for Republicans, though, and if it was kept to that level of civil discourse, I think it would be much easier to deal with.

  20. I like almost everything about Whatever. I sometimes skip the political posts – especially when they have a LOT of comments – and sometimes don’t: the recent one on what Republicans think of the potential candidates for 2012 I found very interesting (and I’m English, so it doesn’t even affect me). The only thing I’m not keen on is guest writers – I come to Whatever for *your* voice, so I really do skip those. And, I do get that the idea there is to keep the site ticking over. So I don’t mind – it’s your site! – I just skip.

  21. I do enjoy your rants and opinions even if I don’t agree with them. I like when you write about the craft of writing as well as publishing. What I WOULD (how do you make italics on this damn thing?) like to see is advice to writers, much like your older one directed toward high school, except I teach writing to 5th and 6th graders. And you know, as much as loved your comments, I’d like to keep my job!

  22. ok, more after reading posts above
    POLLS are fun!
    Thanksgiving was INSANELY GOOD. It introduced Whatever to a number of new readers who had no idea that you were such a god.
    GOP comments (sarahk)

    So when you put these all together you get a desire to have a “like” / “dislike” button.

  23. I like the posts on politics, the publishing industry, and current events best. I always like your thoughts on an issue, and the comments thread tends to be well worth reading too. I subscribe by email and most of the time these are the only posts I read (though if a post on some other topic intrigues me, I will click through). I’m least interested in cat photos, sunset photos, and Big Ideas.

  24. I like the Big Idea pieces. While it’s not that I’m *dis*interested in SF/F (I’m a huge McCaffrey fan, for example), I’m not familiar enough with the authors in the field to really know at first glance what I might like and what I would not. The Big Idea gives me a chance to knowledgeably expand my reading horizons. Thank you.

    I could do with less politics. Having said that, as a conservative reader it’s nice to see that, when you do talk about politics, you do so in a reasoned manner and not in a “GOP are evil, they must all be destroyed” way. It’s mildly interesting to see you express your political opinions, but since I’m generally inclined to disagree with you I find those posts rather disappointing.

    As others have noted, I’m also not terribly interested in “I have errands to run, back later”. If you have something to say, say it, if not, don’t.

    In the end, though, this is your blog, and you should be able to do what you like with it without worrying about whether or not the rest of us like it. If you like writing about politics, and if you think it’s important to say “gotta run, bbl”, that’s your call and nobody else’s.

  25. I’d also say to not change too much, but since you asked quite nicely:

    The parts of your blog I enjoy most are the posts on general thoughts where you focus on 1 subject and sort of go at it at length. As an example, your post on corporations earlier this year is the most memorable one for me which I enjoyed reading and sharing with friends as well because it dealt with something I was interested in.
    Also, your Film Critic posts I always read, and I always press Play on any YouTube music videos you embed – I like discovering new music, or old music that I like and didn’t know about before.

    It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I’m interested in reading (I’m one of your RSS readers, so I often judge posts by their titles and ‘click for more’ when they and the blurbs/summaries intrigue me), but the subjects I often skip are ones to do with American politics, simply because I’m not American and often having little or no stake in American politics (although everyone’s getting very uppity over the SOPA / Protect IP bills because of their global consequences).

    So really just stick to what interests you, because I’ve found in the years that I’ve been subscribed that there’s a good overlap in our Venn diagram of ‘stuff you write about’ vs ‘stuff I like to read about’, maybe 2 out of 3 things, which as Meatloaf said one time, ain’t bad :)

  26. I’m not a fan of the Big Idea, but don’t object to skipping over them. (just the same, having a jump after the first paragraph would be convenient)

    I love your political posts, as much for the comments as for the posts themselves, and the peeks at your family are a highlight.

  27. I love whatever. I’m bummed when the day goes by with no meaty post from you, but I understand that you do have a life and sometimes might find it, or your paying work, might get in the way of amusing me. But really, you could maybe schedule something ahead of time, for those days when you are going to be tied up… :lol:

    I’ve also thought it would be nice to have a place where new fans, could ask questions of your other readers. Sort of a discuss all things Scalzi forum. For instance, I’ve recently started to read your stuff, loved Fuzzy Nation, and Agent to the Stars. Just finished Androids Dream, but found it more “military” than I like. I want to ask someone about the Old Mans War series… Are they overwhelmingly military? Or are there lots of the lighter moments that made Fuzzy so much fun?

    But really, I look forward to checking in everyday.

  28. I haven’t been reading your blog for very long. I like the Big Idea pieces and have read a couple of books because of them. I can take or leave the politics because I don’t live in the USA but sometimes it’s nice to find out what you folks down there think about things. The posts I don’t read are the film reviews. Sorry but I don’t watch films much and what I do watch I sort of decide for myself based upon reviews in other media. I’m probably in the minority on this and really, it’s no big deal for me to skip over those posts so I’m happy with doing that if you keep them.

  29. I like the site as it is. Keep the politics, and maybe trim back on the Big Ideas a bit (then again, I can always skip them).

    I, too, had been wondering if you were going to follow up on the “conservatives, tell me what you think” post. But having thought about it more, I feel it’s fairest to those who posted replies to let things stand as is. The responses were certainly very informative.

  30. What crosses my mind ? Your posts with photos of the sky around your house (picture me envious!) or cats ; the Thanksgiving series, that was great . Being French, I’m often lost with political posts (not enough background) but I appreciated the diversity and humor and reflexive quality of Whatever,so…

  31. I miss the Preview function before posting a comment. I miss the numbering of the comments. Can you not lobby your site provider to program those features? What I like best about your site is the general civility that most of your commentators bring to the table. That says a lot about you as the blogger and your moderation skills. The only thing I generally skip on the site are the links to music videos that you post from time to time. After MTV abandoned their music videos and moved to reality shows, I pretty much gave up all attempts to watch my music while I listened. Always more cat pictures, please. And here is an idea that ought to challenge your writer’s instincts: Write a series of critical essays of say the top 25 science fiction novels that we Whatever readers should all be sure to read at least once in our lives, from, say, 1950 through 2010. Pick the 25 and every two weeks over a year write a critical review justifying your selection and why we must read that title. Write the series for Athena and her classmates, and let us just read over their shoulders, so to speak. Game?

  32. I like the Big Idea pieces and all the rest. I read it in a classic blog style so I do wonder if you could put the long posts folded to save my scrolling?

    You are a bit right-wing for my tastes but you have a right to your opinion (European socialist joke, I love your incisive and humane views on politics).

    I am quite happy to read posts like “Cleaning the basement, check back tomorrow”.

    I would be intrigued to see for which subjects you would set polls.

  33. I think the ‘mix’ of topics is generally fine. I could do with fewer “Big Ideas” in the mix, but I do find them interesting most of the time. I also like Bearpaw’s idea above of having ‘guest authors’ stick around for a bit of discussion.

  34. Your politics posts are really refreshing, and I think you use comment moderation very well. I would generally be labeled conservative, and I sincerely appreciate a liberal blogger who treats conservative readers and commenters with respect and displays some interest in the thought, principle, and reasoning that have led them to different political positions.

    I’m interested in what liberals have to say, but I get tired of hearing that I must be evil, stupid, or a religious nut to think the way I think. At that point I stop listening. Here, I see none of that, and I appreciate it hugely.

  35. I like the threads that go into writing, story telling, narrative type stuff. I have been learning quite a bit from the “Flying Snowman” thread actually.

    I’m not a huge fan of the “Big Idea” threads as much as others might be. I’m not a huge reader, so when I do buy a new book, I generally go after one of the really good “classics” that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet, rather than some new novel that hasn’t had a lot of exposure. Granted, new doesn’t mean “bad”, but if it hangs around to the point of becoming “classic”, then it means it struck a chord with a large chunk of people. The “Big Idea” seems to be more about giving new authors exposure, and I don’t read enough to get through all the books on my “to read” list plus new authors I haven’t heard of. But on teh other hand it doesn’t really bother me at all that they’re there.

    If you *were* going to reduce the number of Big Idea threads (or some other topic), I’d probably prefer they be replaced with threads about what you’re up to in the writing business. You seem to have an awful lot of “super secret projects” though, so maybe you can’t post any more than you already have. When you were posting stuff about the your Stargate gig, that was usually pretty interesting, and something I could only get from your blog, because it’s stuff you’re working on.

    It’s really cool to see the fund-raiser bidding threads you do, but I don’t have $2k to throw in for a bid, so I read them, nod, and then kind of move on.

  36. I have been reading your blog for only about 6 months or so, but…I will say that your commentary (the meatier posts) are the most intriguing, no matter the subject. I tend to share your political views, so the politics are fine with me, though I loved the thread for Republican opinions on the GOP candidates. I am impressed with your comment monitoring. I really wish other sites did the same. As for dislikes…I love the pictures you post and would like to see more of them, which isn’t so much a dislike as desire for more.

  37. I quite like all the different posts, I just wish that the Big Idea posts actually introduced the book with the blurb, or similar, so I can get the context of the author’s thoughts.

  38. Enjoy your format immensely.
    It is after all YOUR blog, do with it as you will and let the devil take the hindmost.
    As to memorable recent moments in taunting: really stood out for me. I tweeted that one on to the world at large.
    Personally, I enjoy being let in on what crosses your mind, interests you, or fires you up. Politics included FWIW.
    Happy Holidays, Festivus Uber Alles, May the FSM fill your brain with profound novel ideas.
    P.S. Old Man’s War is my favorite recommendation for neophyte adult reader to introduce/re-introduce SpecFic.

  39. I like the mix you have now, although I would like to see a bit more politics from time to time ;-)

    Unlike some commenters, I do check out the “Big Idea” blogs from time to time, because I’m always looking for new stuff to read. You might want to collect them all at one easy to use page at some point though.

  40. No real complaints. I just started following you a few months ago and so far, so good. I really enjoy the fact that you keep the comments civil, while allowing free expression of ideas. Yes, sometimes I want to beat people over the head, but mostly, it is nice to have an intelligent exchange with those I don’t agree with. I often find that people whose political views are different than mine, simply want me to agree with them or assume that I do, without presenting cogent arguments to persuade me. Here, I often find those arguments. I enjoy the Big Idea posts, although I have had mixed luck when following up on the books themselves. Perhaps in conjunction with impartial reviews they would be more helpful. In today’s economy (my budget in particular) I hate buying a book I have to struggle to read, because the idea is better than the execution. So, more reviews, less ideas? No, that doesn’t sound right either.

  41. John,
    I think of Whatever kind of like “John’s Clubhouse”. It’s somewhere I can stop by for a few minutes and have an island of “normalcy” in my life when things are really chaotic. I like that everyone is welcome, differing points of view are welcomed, and you hold the loving Mallet of Corrections for those who can’t or don’t want to follow the rules. I don’t always agree with you or others, but I know I’ll be respected with my comments.

    I like that
    you share yourself and your family; both good news and bad.
    you promote other authors
    you encourage discussion; even those discussions that challenge what you’ve written

    I don’t like:
    If the post is something I don’t like, I just wait till the next one.

    Keep up the good work, John!

  42. Maybe an occasional writing exercise post, like something you’ve seen success with at Clarion? I realize that might require some work on your part, since providing some level of feedback seems like a component of the process — but hey, YOU ASKED.

    I’d also love to hear a little more about books that YOU really dig. Your first post about Barry Hughart earlier this year sent me looking for Bridge of Birds, and it immediately entered my list of top ten favorites of all time.

  43. I subscribe through Google Reader and only click through to leave a comment (next to never) or….well, I don’t really click through very much come to think of it. I do click through to your posts on movies etc though over at Filmcritic.

    I love all the different elements of your blog writing and particularly love your well articulated commentaries on specific topics i.e. the DeKloutify episode. It’s not necessarily the topic, but the way you go about explaining it. I’ve referred more people back to your blog than any other I read, saying “I wish I was so articulate – I totally agree, and John has said it better than I could, so go read it there”

    Also like the Big Ideas, sunsets, family and animal photos, and even the “I’m busy be back later” posts just remind me you’re a family man, and have a life; makes you “real” and not just a blog page.

    The only thing I skip are the political posts as I usually have no idea what they are about – I’m Aussie and your politics are somewhat confusing to me. I do read them now and again, just to get a feel for the currents and comments.

    All in all, if you never changed another thing, I will continue to read so long as you continue to post.

  44. Doggone it, somehow I lost a partially completed response. If you find a dangler in your queue, sorry about that.

    I appreciate it when you check in to say you’re busy and will post later. It’s very thoughtful. Love the cat pix and the mini-chapters from your life (basement cleanout was pretty interesting). Political comments have been valuable, allowing me to think about ideas and opinions I don’t necessarily share. As saruby said, intelligent exchange.

    You do a pretty awesome thing here. Thank you.

  45. I cannot find a negative thing to say. Your political opinion is your own, and it troubles me that readers fault you for stating your beliefs to clearly. I like Huntsman too, of his cohort. You are in the small set of brilliant novelist/bloggers (also includes Charles Stross, David Gerrold, Kristine Rusch) whose explanations of the Writing Industry make perfect sense, to me as one of three successive generations of professional author/editors.

    Your generosity in the Big Idea columns is admirable, and win-win-win (you win as host, those authors win as guests, readers win when they buy based on that). In general, you promote positive, civil, intelligent discourse.

    Your Film Industry insights are spectacular. The only change I’d wish is that you get hyphenate experience as Producer-Director-Writer, and then revisit each major point you’ve analyzed. You have a great Eye, as your own photographs prove. You promote meaningful Family Values.

    I enjoy pointing to you now and then from my Facebook page, and hope that some of my 4,000+ “friends” become regulars, buy your books, and but those of your Big Idea shout-outs.

    I was busy yesterday. Two days ago, a theme Anthology editor FB-messaged me a request to submit a story on that precise topic. I had no such story in my inventory of the roughly 40 works of short fiction I’m most intensively circulating. So I wrote a 1,850 word first chapter, and emailed him. He liked it. So yesterday morning I wrote the remaining 5,100 words of it, to 6,950 words. He’d wanted “short stories in the 3,500-7,000 word range” and was within a curly hair of the upper preference, though he would “consider stories from 2,500-10,000 words.” Why prevail upon a kindly editor to make an exception?

    Yesterday was also my drop-dead deadline for another rewrite, which some had already seen on my Wall “Sumeria to the Stars” to appear in “Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations.” Yesterday I managed a final compression from 57 pages down to 51 pages. I don’t record that as a negative number of words written. Work, though, and hard. Since 6 July 2010 when I doubled my quota to 2,000 words of fiction/day, I’ve thus written 1,093,450 words, including my 12 FB-serialized novels.

    This morning I was lazy. 1,700 words of Ch. 268: “Zhang Yan” of the novel/trilogy Alzheimer’s War; 1,100 words of 32: “Tit for Tat” of Lutetia. 1,200 words of Ch.19: “Eye for an Eye” of I Am Hamlet’s Ghost. Arbormageddon II (the weaker sequel, with only 5,500 homes black out) is over, from the Greater Covina Megalopolis through the rest of the San Gabriel Valley, as opposed to Arbormageddon I (380,000 homes black) which must, by Occam’s razor, have something to do with the Southern California Edison murders in Irwindale.

    I want to thank you, and wish you & Athena & Krissy the very best of this Holiday season.

  46. I enjoyed your posts about your book haul, back when you used to do posts about your book haul. And I liked your twitter feed of your book haul, albeit less than the posts it replaced, back when there was such a twitter feed on this page.

    It doesn’t seem like you’re interested or able to keep it up. That’s perfectly fine: it’s your site, you’ve got lots on your plate, and I enjoy the other things you do. Still, just thought I’d mention it.

  47. I really enjoy the political discourse — if only to see the variety of ways given points can be argued and presented. That’s actually how I found the site in the first place, though I’ve been reading your books for years. I’ve also *really* enjoyed the links you’ve occasionally posted to other sites, like, the YouTube vids, etc.

    The “Big Idea”? Not all that much, though I *have* read a few. Usually after reading some glowing recommedations from Amazon or other book site, I come back here to see if a Big Idea was posted for that book and read the author’s take on what they were trying to communicate. And I’ve been readng your column on FilmCritic, so the alerts that you’ve posted something new there are unnecessary for me, though I’m sure that they’re good for anyone new to the site. Which raises a question — do you suggest only posting comments to FilmCritic to have a single discussion thread? It might be interesting to allow comments on Whatever as well, as the audience is a bit different, and you might get a different take on the column.

    But to be honest, it’s your world, you’ve been wildly successful with it, so do what you will!

  48. Well, I’ll bite.

    First, as somebody who’s been a reader (if not so much commenter) since sometime prior to OMW coming out, thanks for writing here, period. You’re one of two or three blogs that I’ve kept up with for that long, which pretty much tells me that ur doin it rite, as they say. So thanks for that.

    That said:

    Politics: It probably doesn’t hurt that I by and large agree with you on most things, but please keep posting on the subject. Not all the time – I’ll go read a politics blog if I really want that – but I do think you (and the commenters) are generally well-spoken and interesting on the issues. The recent GOP thread in particular was great – it’s hard to have that conversation with my Republican friends (and 90% of my friends are Republicans) without screaming matches and tragic angst.

    Big Idea: I’ll confess, I skip most of these, if only because my abbreviated most-of-my-stuff-is-in-boxes reading list already numbers 10-odd really big books as it is, and it takes a lot for me to want to add to that. Since I’m mostly reading history right now and there’s not much of that represented, well. I check some Big Ideas out, but mostly I skip, which is fine. The only time it gets to be a problem is when the Big Idea posts : you posts ratio starts approaching 1:1, and then I get sad, since I’m mostly coming here to read you (and the odd guest week, for the record), not them.

    tl;dr – Things are pretty good. Thanks, and keep up the excellent work.

  49. Well, I’ve been reading the Whatever since you were plugging Old Man’s War, which I think makes me a bit of an old-timer around here.

    On the content side, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would, if possible, add comment numbering and a preview button for comments. Other than that, color me happy. (Actually, I’m not unhappy about the comment stuff – just “could be happier.”)

  50. After reading Lisa Mann’s comments (which I totally agree with) my first thought was Adult.
    You are an Adult with a completely embraced inner child.
    You require us to be adults when we visit Whatever.
    It is NOT too much to ask for in this increasingly childish world that we live in.

    It is always restful and enjoyable to visit and it makes us better people.

  51. Don’t change a thing! What keeps me coming back is the knowledge that the blog is intelligent and surprising because it resists too much structure or cohesion. As a fan of your books, I hoped your blog would be lively, insightful and a little bit scabrous, and I have not been disappointed.

    Most appreciated was the discovery, through your blog, of Lev Grossman’s “The Magician” and “The Magician King”. I’d heard of him and read much of his journalism but none of his fiction, and your recommendation made me buy the books, both of which I adore. I love that you are a champion of writers and writing.

    As an aspiring writer, I come to be inspired, and gratefully receive the odd kick in the arse.

  52. I enjoy reading your books, and while your opinions may be broader than what is expressed by your characters, or not, they are enjoyable too. I like that, for the most part, the commenters hold a wide variety of opinions as well. Learning about things is fun. I rarely visit (usually once) echo chamber websites. Sunrises, sunsets, cats, dogs, common sense, Big Ideas, it’s all good.

  53. Less Scorpius. Seriously, it was majorly off-putting to find he is so ignorant about politics and completely mind-numbed about President Obama. :)

    Other than that I’ll admit I tend to skip the big idea pieces because I don’t get much out of them. I enjoy hearing about your work & your interactions with fans. Thanks by the way. I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of this site & want to thank you from running such a fine operation.

  54. First off John, as stated last year, thanks for what you do. I realize that a lot of the reason for this blog is promotion, but even if that is so, I’ve rarely been sold to in such an entertaining fashion. Second, I read the blog daily, sometimes multiple times daily, and rarely am not pleased with what I’ve read. I enjoy your books and I am interested in the things that you decide to write about randomly, so I really am pretty happy with the site. I’m disappointed that some of the people that don’t share in your political viewpoint cannot just accept your thoughts as your own and move on, but hey, we have an entire society of that idiocy out there, so why this surprises me is really my own stupidity.

    I am only disappointed when you post that you won’t be posting for the day, so I guess that tells you that I’m happy with what you’ve assembled for the site this year, and look forward to viewing it for another. By the way, let me also state again what a terrific pleasure it has been to see you at a convention this year as well. You are one of the few people that I’ve met that are as terrific in person as they are in their written personality. Thanks for everything!

  55. I’d love to see another writing contest for charity. Clash of the Geeks was great. I want another chance like that, and I’m sure a lot of other newbie writers would as well. It’s not everyday we have a chance to be put together beside established authors such as yourself, and the idea of something I wrote helping others has great appeal.

    Other than that, nothing really needs to change.

  56. In general, I think the best Whatever posts are the political/current events posts. Not to say that your specific political views themselves are the bees knees, but your ability to pick apart and deconstruct the BS that comes from our cultural and political leaders in a humorous and enlightening fashion is par excellence!

    On a personal note, I am still struggling to get past my ignored nomination of Jodie Foster’s character in Contact as a strong female leader in sci-fi that was ignored in your Ripley-led list. Maybe I can in 2012.

    Happy New Year!

  57. I mostly visit here because of writing related posts in the widest sense (especially when there’s industry-wide things happening; stuff like racefail, amazon delisting, self-publishing scams, etc). New books, general geekery and politics also are things I find myself rather interested in.

    I dislike the filmcritic entries (as I have zero interest in them, and it always takes me a a couple of seconds before I figure out “oh, not a regular whatever entry; just an ‘advertorial’ link”). Might be nice if you would actually use the category system for your blog entries, so it’d get a class of category-filmcritic rather than category-uncategorized, and I could write my own user stylesheet to collapse it or make it visually different.

    And I find myself having no interest in the vast majority of the big idea entries. Still, every so often one does snag my attention, so I think the only thing that really bothers me about them are that they’re so consistently long. Things _you_ write I always want to see completely, but for me, guest posts could stand being hidden “behind the cut” after the first paragraph or two, so I can more easily scroll past them on the homepage.

    That said, what I like most about this place is that it’s your blog. And for me the entire point of blogs is that they’re personal, and you can either take them or leave then, but you can never have the right to demand or expect anything from them. So don’t change a thing, unless it’s for your own reasons.

  58. Regarding content I don’t really have any complaints. I like the social issue/political posts when you feel there’s an issue that you want to address and the comments are generally fine. I like the Big Idea posts… I’ve discovered several new authors that way and when a book doesn’t appeal, eh, it’s easy to skip.

    From a technical feature perspective I’d LOVE a way to preview comments. Actually, I’d love a way to edit comments, e.g. via Disqus but just a preview feature would be nice. I know that imposes some limits on what you can do, so I understand why this feature might not be possible, but.. you asked.

    Along the same lines, it would be nice if the posts bore tags or were categorized. Not tightly, but for example, if all of the Big Idea posts were tagged with “Big Idea” you could toss a widget in the sidebar that would let people quickly find all of those posts. Similar for other broad categories like Personal Appearances or Cat Pictures… :)

    Oh and I do have one content change. Ban Scorpius. Permanently. I quite liked your thread on how conservative readers view the Republican field and even though I don’t agree politically with them, it was interesting to read their take on things because they were pretty reasonable. In contrast, Scorpius’ posts are disrespectful, rude and contribute to threads in much the same way as a cat hacking up a hairball in front of my TV contributes to movie night.

  59. I like the intelligence of your current event posts, especially the rants. I sit in a bit of awe at them, and constantly remind myself to never get into an actually debate with you. You’d be wiping the floor with me by the first rebuttal.

    I do consider the Big Idea posts as guest posts, and though my wife and I have often bought books based on them, poorly written ones have often turned me off the author. It’s their stuff and all, but sometimes they’d be better off not writing one.

    There are times where I look at your platform and want to model mine after yours. That’s a compliment. And then I listen to the music you suggest, and I say “hmmmm. Maybe not that part of the platform.”

  60. My favorite posts are the ones where you rail against the wrongness of something (like bad author contracts or people’s foolish notions). I also like the pictures of your pets.

  61. I like the Big Idea posts, like the political posts, like the personal musings, like the pet photos and sunsets. I kind of miss the Whateverettes, though. I often wished there were a forum to discuss or comment on those items, or just +1 them. Perhaps you could shift those to your Google Plus feed? I’m not active on Twitter, so while I find that section intriguing and often very funny, I can’t follow them in context.

    Anyway, thanks for the blog. And thanks again for the occasional pimp threads, especially the holiday gift guides. Happy holidays to you and your family. And more Whatever, please.

  62. I love the random posts. I really do come here to see what the next John Scalzi thought is going to be. Some of my favorites are:

    1. Surveys where we get to pick names of stuff.
    2. Your comments about current events.
    3. Pictures of you being silly.

    Thanks for being awesome!

  63. I have enjoyed your books and specifically value your thoughts on writing and literature in general. I like discussing politics, ESPECIALLY with those who hold different ideas. I hope you can reign in the nutjobs who would rather attack than discuss.

  64. More publishing business background, the different stages that you go through them and all your interactions with different profesionals. Why so long between books? Most authors seem to average one book a year yet you wrote the first draft doing 2000 words a day in about 2 months, isn’t that the hard bit? The bits you have mentioned make me appreciate that published books aren’t just your tiny commission, cost off printing books and fat profit for publishers there are other professionals involved (hence ebooks are not going to be substanlly cheaper) maybe more on what they do?

    Politics good level don’t increase just because it’s election year.
    Big ideas – I always click though to amazon to read synopsis and only read the big ideas for books that interest me. Maybe expand to introductions like in the begining of classic sf books by mordern authors? it doesn’t have to be a big idea?
    Random opionion pieces, yep keep them coming.
    Love hearing about you living with 5 acres in the wilderness. That’s wow so much space, is so alien that it feels like mars.
    less I’m busy post later posts. unless your fans call in the swat team if you haven’t posted in 12 hours. Besides if something were to happen I’m sure anthena can take over it’ll be like reading a grown up version of you.

    Ps keep free stories coming I love the yogurt one.

  65. I love the political posts. I’ve actually learned a lot about what motivates people with a more liberal mindset than myself. Sorry I missed the Republican post, sounds like it was something.

    I also enjoy anything you write about the process of writing.

    As far as The Big Ideas posts, I have to admit I skip most of them. Your personal endorsement of another author like Patrick Rothfuss (except for the stew) means a lot more to me. I would love to see a post where you ask your followers about authors in another genre that they enjoy.

  66. I wouldn’t change a thing (well, we could do with more Ghlaghghee pictures, of course). I’ve only read one of your books (“Old Man’s War”) and I didn’t really like it (my fault, of course), but I’m certainly a big fan of your moderate, sensible and reasonable (and well-reasoned) take on many things, from films to politics (which I love, though I’m from old Europe) to writing, etc. And Big Idea posts are a good source of interesting books and author to watch. So, please, keep writing and posting about Whatever sparks your interest.

  67. Cats – yes
    Weighing in on politics, current events, life in general – yes
    Stories, short or otherwise – yes
    Travel related musings – yes
    Big Ideas – meh… I find about 1/4 to be interesting/worthy of pursuit
    “I’m not dead just busy” – no
    Random youtube videos – no

  68. I’m another RSS reader. This is the first time I’ve commented, and I probably click through to the site about once a month. I also generally skip the Big Idea posts, though I’ve found a few books I enjoyed through them. My favorite posts are the longer ones about cultural and social topics (everything from books, writing process, and the business of writing to film, music, and cons, to poverty and how not to be an ass).

  69. In general, I think you’ve got a good balance of stuff and I don’t see any need for big course corrections. The whole point of Whatever is that it’s about whatever’s on your mind at the time, and that tends for a nice variety of topics. I think Whatever has been as successful as it has been, is because it’s specifically about you, not us. It’s solely based on what you enjoy discussing. So if you are getting bored, or it’s not hitting your sweet spot to the degree that you would like, tweak it along the lines of what you want, rather than what we want. That’s what makes it good, and we readers benefit from that as a byproduct. That said, as a reader, here are my thoughts on recent content, which you should disregard at your pleasure.

    I actively like the Big Idea (although would be interested to have see it opened up to self/indie published authors, but that’s a minor quibble), and have found quite a few authors I never would have heard about otherwise. Yes, there’s lots of them that I have zero interest in whatsoever, but that’s ok. If I find one good thing I really like out of 20 Big Idea posts, it’s well worth it. It’s also good to feel aware of the current scene with the current crop of writers, even if I don’t necessarily have any interest in their stuff.

    I don’t mind the politics threads, despite being one of those Evil Republicans(tm) because you manage to state things in a fair, interesting, and thought provoking fashion and attract generally reasonable discourse in your comments. Basically, it’s not the standard shrill partisan stuff we see way too much of on both sides these days.

    I guess I would like to see some more of your opinion pieces on other things as well. In particular, in the past, you’ve had more topics about Creationism, religion, anti-children people, Why The South Was Bad, etc., and less of those sorts of topics recently. I’m not saying rehash the old topics, but more of those kinds of posts would be awesome.

    You’ve also talked a fair bit about the writing/publishing industry in the past, and less so lately (perhaps due to contractual requirements?). Given that I think there have been some significant changes recently, especially with e-books, agents-as-publishers, and the like, I’d be curious as to your take there.

    But in general, as I’ve said, as a reader, I’m content with things as they are. I read Whatever religiously, despite the fact that I doesn’t actually care much for your actual published fiction (it’s well done, just not to my taste.) Basically, wherever your random musings take us, I’m happy to be along for the ride.

  70. Big Ideas, love that. Like the wide range of other things, BUT….

    Your site, do as you please, but gawd, I am so sick of the politics and culture wars creeping into everything. I love your books and primarily read the site for the scifi/reading/geekin sort of thing. I wish the political discussions could stay on Daily Kos or Red State (see how I mentioned Lefty AND Righty blogs so you can’t ascribe a leaning to me).

  71. My favorite posts have mostly been your thoughts on science fiction and fantasy, like the recent one with “Flying Snowmen.”

    I’m not a huge fan of the political stuff, but I’ve got a tough enough skin and (usually) a calm enough demeanor to just pass over them. I disagree strongly with most of your liberal leanings, but it doesn’t really affect how I approach the things you’ve written, unlike some other celebrity-types, mostly because you seem to have really thought about your positions and post intelligently about them. It was nice to see free space given to those with political opinions counter to your own,

    So, would I miss the political stuff? No. Do I really care one way or the other? Not so much. Just keep posting the interesting bits about sf, fantasy, and, especially, sf/fantasy films and television.

  72. More commentary on current events, and more cat pictures

    Fewer Big Ideas, sunsets, and travel updates

  73. Love the Big Idea pieces. Meh on pet pictures and sunsets, no matter how pretty.

    And I enjoy the political posts, although I usually end up not reading the comments after the first couple hundred because my blood pressure doesn’t need any more elevation. What is it about politics that renders certain people (on all sides) incapable of maintaining a civil tone?

  74. I’d be really interested to hear more about what you are reading va the general big idea posts. Finding out what authors other authors read is always interesting to me (ugh that’s a bad sentence).

  75. I enjoyed the ” Question for Republican/Conservative Readers” post and comments I would love to see some more like this. It’s great to be able to listen to other people’s points of view.
    I always enjoy the “big Idea” posts when I read them, but they can be hard to get into sometimes, and like many readers above, I often skip them. Maybe a short introduction, a paragraph marked as ” Scalzi says..” before we get into the big idea?

  76. I love the Big Idea posts, and I enjoy your political posts about large-scale issues (Occupy Wall Street, for example), but posts about local politics and elections get skimmed because I’m not from the US. Posts about Athena, your Ukelele, Diet Coke, and house all make me smile – I love the occasional post about your life.

    The ‘I’m away today…’ posts are unnecessary for me because Google Reader automatically lets me know when you’re posting, but I can see why they’re useful to have up.

    Thanks for bringing us such a great blog.

  77. Less Politics. More social commentary and entertainment commentary.
    I Like the Big Ideas and the column links, Miss the whateverettes, and ignore anything twitter-related or linked.
    I come here for things I can’t get elsewhere – posts on the craft and business of writing, specific information and news, about your work.
    I don’t participate in or even read the comments much anymore since they have become increasingly orthodox and intolerant.

  78. I like most of what I see and read here. I do glance at the Big Ideas, but usually decide rather quickly if it’s worth the read (for me).

    I wouldn’t mind some video. Perhaps a video post of the week sort of thing.

    I greatly appreciate the opportunities that you provide for writers and others to tout their wares.

  79. I’m here for Scalzi Writing About Some Stuff He’s Been Thinking About. I like the Big Ideas but almost always end up skipping them – those suckers are *long*, and when I want to read a bit of quality snark or a cute domestic anecdote and instead find two pages by someone or other about a topic I’m not already engaged with, it tends to just slip by.

  80. I love any posts about your projects (future and past) and anything to do with your writing, after-all I was reading your books long before your blog.

    I thought the various auctions were simply brilliant ways to help out various causes and give out some pretty cool paraphernalia to the fans.

    I enjoy the various musings on random topics (Coke Zero, Ukelele, your family, various pets, sunsets, etc) though I probably wouldn’t miss them if they were gone either.

    I like the Big Idea posts as I’m always looking for new things to read. I do generally go read some more reviews before getting the book but it’s a nice way to get some initial attention.

    I’m probably in the minority but I really dislike the political posts, especially when they are bunched up together without any of the above posts interspersed. This is your personal soap box and obviously you can talk about whatever you want, I just personally feel that there’s plenty of political BS on the internet already. Also I generally come here for the lighter side of things and the political posts are usually kind of a downer.

  81. Please keep Big Ideas & general awesomeness coming.

    I’m looking forward to hearing your take on the 2012 US election as it unfolds. The Mallet of Loving Correction keeps these discussions civil, which is very welcome.

  82. @Gin… “Maybe a short introduction, a paragraph marked as ” Scalzi says..” before we get into the big idea?” He already does this. The first para or so is John doing some stage setting though it’s not marked as such.

  83. I loved the Thanksgiving Advent Calendar thing! A friend of mine (who also reads Whatever and was inspired by you) did that as well, and I loved reading those posts.

    In general, I like the grab-bag of things. I generally check Whatever once a day, and I like not knowing what’s going to be here. Variety is wonderful!

  84. Hi,

    Well I must admit I tend to only read the material you write [i.e. written by John Scalzi]. Some of the comments can be interesting, many are not, so I guess I am being snobbish. On the other hand, I mostly read blogs written by professional writers, as they are indeed more interesting and better written – they are professionals for a reason. To be fair though, it is also a factor of time, I am busy, so prefer my precious reading time to be the best it can be.

    I do like the Big Ideas in the sense I can look at other writers, some of whom I have not heard of, or am not so sure on. I have borrowed a few of their books from the library and been pleasantly surprised and then buy the book for my collection. If the Big Idea does not interest me quickly I just skip it.

    I like the family updates, pet photos, tour updates and convention info. John makes it all interesting.

    So to be honest John, I would not want to change much, but if you can make it better, go for it!

    Michael H.

  85. I enjoy the variety you have, from interesting to making me cackle with laughter to even causing me some lost sleep. I don’t always take time to read the Big Idea posts, but I’ve bought quite a few books because of them. I can think of only 2 things that would make Whatever better for me:

    I’d like to hear more about what books you read recently that you particularly liked, not a review, just the occasional recommendation, since I figure if I like your books, there’s a chance I’ll also be interested in reading something you liked.

    When you post a link to a song for one reason or another, could you please tell us what it is? Sometimes I’m reading on a device that won’t play them, but if I had the artist and title, I’d at least have an idea of the sentiment.

    And thanks so much!

  86. Not a fan of the sunset posts.
    I like your posts on the business of writing. A lot.
    I’ve found some very interesting books to read through the Big Idea feature.
    I really would LOVE to have the preview function back.
    I miss the side bar with articles by other people you found interesting.
    More anecdotes.
    Thanks for the site!

  87. Love your blog, especially the humorous takes (check it every day, etc.) However, would not mind seeing an occasional guest blogger even when you are not on “vacation”. You know some very cool and well written members of humanity and have introduced me to some of the best & most interesting in the past. Always want more.

  88. I enjoy the Big Idea posts and discussions of your personal experiences at conventions, meeting fans and interactions with other authors. I also enjoy your posts about the writing process and the business aspects of writing. I’m personally not interested in the political posts, but they are infrequent and I just skip them. I’d like to see more posts about reading recommendations. I’m always looking for suggestions on great books to read. Thanks for taking the time to keep the site going and so interesting.

  89. I like it as it is, and I particularly want to put in a good word for “The Big Idea”, as it has led me to several very fine books.

    That said, it’s your blog, and as with your books, I’m willing to take a look at whatever you feel like writing.

  90. A few of technical points:
    1 The calendar in the right sidebar, “Whatever Days” is, IMHO, a waste of screen real estate, that could be used to better purposes.
    2 I think you should make greater use of tags. You used these for the Thanksgiving series, and I believe you use them for the Big Idea, but the vast majority of posts are “Uncategorized.” I think you should add a few other categories, such as Sunsets, Politics/Current Events, Scalzi Pets, etc.
    3. I am also one who would really like a preview function and I really miss the numbering of comments.

    As for content:
    1 The Big Idea is kind of hit or miss with me, but I have no problem simply skipping the ones that don’t interest me.
    2 I like the mix of politics and other topics just fine, and I see no reason for that to change. I will add my voice, though, to those that say we could use a good deal less of Scorpius. Seriously, Scorpius, when Scalzi posts a picture of his cat, he doesn’t mean it as a challenge for you to find some way to relate that to your beefs with the Obama Administration.

  91. What I really really like hmm. Love? Adore? Worship? Ahh, got it: Suggest to others as
    an optimum behavior. How you moderate the comments.
    What I like: The interesting stuff.
    What I don’t like: The boring stuff.
    What I really don’t like: Having to look stuff up ’cause I didn’t understand the reference.
    What I really, really love: Having to look stuff up ’cause I didn’t understand the reference
    and have it remind me of how much I’ve forgotten.
    (Take that last as real either sarcasm, because it is.)

  92. About all I’d like changed is (if it’s not too much trouble) getting a killfile. There are one or two persistent trolls that you’ve chosen not to ban, but they really get on my tits and it’d be nice to never see them.

  93. So lame, replying to myself: “(Take that last as real either sarcasm, because it is.)”
    should be (Take that last as either real or sarcasm, because it is.)

    I saw someone say something about message preview.
    Mehh. I previewed, and missed my bad edit.

  94. I’m glad that you haven’t banned Scorpius. His views are contrarian to much of your readership, but he is generally polite about it. One of the things I like about your blog is that it isn’t an echo chamber– you call people on it when they say dumb stuff, but views other than your own, if intelligently presented, are welcomed.

  95. I really like ideas like the Flying Snowman. I also really enjoyed the Thanksgiving Advent pieces. I actually like it when you do political posts because the generally aren’t run of mill rooting for one side or the other, but more thoughtful takes on individual issues or candidates ( the post on Huntsman, for instance).

    I like the Big Idea posts- It has gotten me to read things I otherwise probably wouldn’t.

    I recently really liked where you opened up and moderated the comments for what Republican primary voters thought about those people. As a Democrat, what I think in that instance, or what other people of my persuasion might think, is far less interesting than those people who are really the judge of that contest. It was one of the few times I have ever seen where limiting a comments section in such a way really worked well… I would definitely ask for more things like that in the future. It gave me more insight than any news program or truly political site.

    Maybe more silly surveys on days when you are more involved with the rest of the world than this site.

    I guess for me, it is when I am going through Scalzi withdrawal that I like the site the least :).

  96. I enjoy the wide range of topics that you discuss, and the discussions that those postings generate.

    I particularly enjoy the balance that you bring to things political – you and I don’t always see eye to eye, but the way you frame things makes it easy to give your ideas a thoughtful hearing. And I like that you support discourse rather than ideological raving. There isn’t enough real discussion in the political realm these days, and it’s valuable where it crops up.

    I also enjoy the pop culture references that have particular ressonance for those of us who are “fourty-something” :).

    Finally, I enjoy the little glimpses that you offer of your personal space, human and furry family members alike.

    Regarding what I don’t like…not much, really. If I’m not interested in a particular entry (which doesn’t happen all that often) it’s easy enough to skip it, and it’s your site.

  97. 1.) Fewer “Not posting” or “Off for the weekend” posts. If anyone who reads this blog regularly can’t figure that one out by now, they’re probably showing up just for the cat pictures. I suggest letting Chang mess with those people. Let his sadistic streak out for a walk. I’m sure he’s game.

    2.) More cow bell.

  98. Since no one has mentioned The Big Idea at all…no, really, I’m alone here, I can say that less than one in ten showcased, or even twenty, has interested me. What I like to read is unique to me, and different from your choices so far, and as such I have been mostly uninterested by most of the authors’ books presented. Would it be better if you peddled well-known authors’ new books? The new Stross, Bear, Hamilton, or Willis? Noooo. Who needs that? The publicity system is already well established for these folk.

    What would I like to see? Poorly known, new authors bound to interest us if only we knew of their work. It is what you’re doing already, unless I misunderstood, but the books showcased have been of no interest to me. Seems your readers are split on this feature. I’d interpret their feelings like this: most if not all like The Big Idea, yet most complain they do not find featured authors/books that pique their interest.

    Oh and please do not die, John Scalzi.

  99. 1 Keep up the Big Idea pieces please – although I’ve spent way too much on new books because of them! I work so much that they are almost the only place I hear about new authors.
    2) I very much enjoy the humour pieces, Nativity Innkeeper was a standout, so would love more of those.
    -but then again if you are going to write I imagine you’d rather be paid for it.
    3) Re the above, given the size of your readership have you considered offering shorts for a fee via your site? I’d happily pay a few dollars for a good laugh in the middle of the working day, and your writing never disappoints.
    4) As a australian I don’t really understand american politics, despite seven seasons of The West Wing, but I am facinated by the apparent knowledge and passion of your commenters on political issues. -we’re a lot more relaxed about such things in australia. (Usually we just say f**kit and go and have a beer.)
    So please keep commenting on political issues if you feel like it.
    5) I disagree with an earlier commenter on guest bloggers – while you’re away as you’ve done is fine, but I come here for the particular flavour of YOUR writing and thoughts, not those of others. Also please don’t make polls a regular feature, they seem a bit lowbrow and childish for Whatever.

  100. I never read the author interviews. Other than that, I read pretty much everything, and I require no changes.

  101. I’d like a list of the Big Idea posts. I like to read them after I’ve read the book, rather than when they are posted, and sometimes it can be a bit tricky to find that particular post. That’s more of a layout tweak than a content change, though.

  102. I don’t need any changes either. I love the look, I like the frequency of your Big Idea posts, and I check 2 or 3 times a day to see what’s new. I don’t subscribe to a feed, but maybe it’s because I’m lazy and I just like checking the main site. I nearly always read comments.

  103. I see a few other requests for fewer Big Idea pieces. I instead would like to see them more balanced. It seems right now they are about 80% fantasy and 20% science fiction. Even if I can’t have that though, the few that are interesting to me are worthwhile.

  104. This was my 1st year and I found that there was much to like. I don’t get to spend as much time here as I might prefer but I enjoyed the discussions of everything from books to life in general. I do like the political and cultural discussions plus your use of the mallot (?) to control the trollish posts that have caused me to leave other places of interest.

  105. @JReynolds – um… you did read his post above, yes? It’s not the contrarian thing that bothers me and if John simply squelched opposing viewpoints I’d hate it. But one can be contrarian and civil and too often I find he isn’t. That, plus making completely offtopic political jibes in non-political threads is annoying. It’s not as if I’m going to stop reading if Scorp is still around… just a quality of life thing.

    Did I mention a Preview button? :)

  106. Two suggestions… oops, make that three: 1) Try a serial. A cliff-hangar serial. Spread it out over a couple of weeks; 2500 – 4000 words total. Hard corps sci-fi. Second, add a troll killer button if WordPress offers it. C. Have read plenty of your Big Ideas and generally like them — have bought 8 or 9 books directly from it. That said, fewer fantasy Big Ideas please. You can only cook dragon / fairy / vampire / wraith stew so many times before it all starts to taste the same.

  107. Let’s see.. I like pet pictures *and* sunsets but this year I missed seeing more pictures that were not one of those two things. I also felt that some weeks the ratio of Big Ideas to substantial posts by you got a little close, and like others here, I was disappointed by posts that essentially said “Busy, don’t have time for this, but I haven’t forgotten you care. Will be back soon.” I often skip the Big Idea Posts, but every so often there’s one that interests me, and when there is I appreciate them. But when there’s little else, like others, I miss the you-ness that really makes the blog tick, like an overly-clever timebomb…

    I found myself wondering if being SFWA president was responsible for what feels like less reporting and commentary on what’s going on in the genre. If so, I hope that picks up again.
    I appreciate the political commentary and stuff about current events. I personally tend to get my news from this and other attentive blogs. When big things happen and you don’t say anything about them, I’m liable to miss them entirely. Which isn’t really your fault, but I feel kind of stupid about it sometimes. :)

    I like polls the way you do them.

    I also like some of your “please comment on this” threads. I appreciate that you have a politically mixed audience. Though I may disagree with people, it’s good to occasionally hear reasoned arguments I disagree with instead of the rote chorus of teh stupid/crazy we see too much in the media. There needs to be more room for non-absolutes in politics. Take Obama. Has he been a disappointment? Yes, though not as much as the current congress. Has he done a fair bit of awesome stuff? Yes. Is he liable to do more of both if we re-elect him? Yes. Will I vote for him? In the current field, oh yeah, you betcha. To try to return to a sane Supreme Court if for no other reason.

    But to summarize how I’m feeling, I’ll agree with the person who said “more Whatever, please.” :)

  108. As to the content, I am really fine with what you have been doing. Further this post is a bit confusing because somewhere on your site you say that this is a blog for you to write “Whatever” you feel like writing so I hadn’t given much thought as to what I like to see here. I do appreciate that you continue to allow comments. I read this via feed on LiveJournal but I often click through just to read and possibly comment here. I have one tiny nitpick with the format changes you sometimes make to the sight. I was reminded of this when I landed on your latest post but was looking for the link to this one and I am still conditioned to go to the top of the post to look for it and then realize it’s at the end of the post now. So maybe you should make fewer changes to the format of the blog site for us old people who don’t like change. :-)

  109. Many more Ghlaghghee photos.
    More pet photos in general, and I love your sunset photos. I think the site is pretty good, which is why I read it everyday. The reader mailbag might be interesting.
    Admit you’re Scorpius?
    And if Whatever is slowing you down from writing novels faster, then do less. As much as I enjoy it, I like novels better.

  110. What do I enjoy? Your musings, a small fraction of Big Idea pieces, and news about your projects and events.

    What don’t I enjoy? Posts proclaiming the lack of posts. (Just don’t post for a day, it’ll be OK). Super-short snark posts.

    What would I change? Do some kind of intro on the Big Idea pieces so we have context about the book. Maybe a 3 sentence publisher blurb?

    But I’m not paying for any of this, so I expect I’ll get what I get.

  111. I would still prefer the link to the comments be at the end of the post and not the front as it is now, but that’s not a big deal either way.
    I really like they way your moderation skills have generally created a large group of commenters that actually have some restraint. A wIde range of outlook, experience and knowledge. Sure, sure, it gets strident at times, but it doesn’t seem to take much to keep things in line. The Mallet of Loving Correction is a wonderful thing.
    I noticed that a few commenters have asked about a specific Big Idea page. Doesn’t that already exist as part of the “Select Blend”?
    I’m good with things as they are, I guess.


  112. I read by rss feed, so I almost never comment. I don’t really enjoy the Big Idea posts most of the time. Once in a while one will grab me, but not usually.

  113. I love The Big Idea posts.

    I miss the “here is the stack of the most interesting books I’ve received recently and a few bits of my thoughts on them” posts. Seems like they went away a bit.

    More photos of you at conventions and readings. Since you haven’t come to Raleigh for recent books. Fix that for Redshirts!

    I’m not so hot on sunsets. (Hey, you asked!)

  114. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the giving end of a meaningful evaluation. I think I’ll try a complement sandwich.

    I tune in mostly for the political and current event pieces. I think the comments make those pieces the most lively. The comment moderation is important, and you do a good job at that. I would suggest cutting the comments off around 200 or so, because it becomes pointless bickering between the usual suspects at that point.

    The posts that aggravate me are the ones that come across as “John is having a bad day and taking it out on the readers.” The first example that I read was “Writing: Find the Time or Don’t.” There were a few others around the time that SG:U was canceled. These post are extremely rare, and the interpretation is probably more my reading than your writing.

    Finally, I want to applaud you for your posts on family life. I think there are too many disinterested or absent fathers in the world, so the more positive role models out there, the better.

  115. O Great One Known as Scalzi…this worm would not dare to presume to change all that you bestow upon us the lowest of the low…

    But hey, since you asked..

    more Big Ideas..

    more , much more, of the inner workings of the Sci-Fi biz.

    and more special effects , worms love FX !

  116. @Rickg 7:25 pm ( short para intro)
    Yeah, you are right- but I still find them hard to get into. I was thinking something more delineated might work? So it was more clear where the “Scalzi says” started and ended? Someone else has suggested more of a publisher blurb, or more scene setting. Maybe this is what I want and I am just really bad at expressing myself.
    I want something, because I always enjoy “Big Ideas” when I read them, but I don’t read them that often.

    Still think the politcal comments threads are the most fascinating!

  117. Ok, so I’m a relatively new reader, brought here by the “10 Things Teenage Writers Should Know About Writing” article and I loved it so much I decided to stick around and read some more. However, I couldn’t figure out exactly what I liked so much. I finally realized what it was, namely, ‘Scalzification.’ Everything –from the ‘vacuuming the cat’ posts to the Big Idea to the less interesting (at least to me) political pieces– is trademark Scalzi and I love it. Do what you do best: whatever.

  118. I think you have a pretty good mix. I enjoy the sunset pictures, the pet pictures, etc. They tend to make me smile, and that is a nice thing to have on tap. I like that you balance posts between the fun/light and serious/contentious. And count me among those who enjoy the ‘Big Idea’ posts even if that aspect can be hard on my budget. I understand that you post every day, and that means that we do end up with the ‘doing chores’ posts, and I was thinking that might be an opportunity for you to throw in a guest blogger or two. I really enjoyed the folks you lined up for your vacation, and wouldn’t mind seeing a few of those folks show up again on a semi-regular basis.

  119. Happy reader here and very occasional commentator. Things I come here for (other than Scalzi’s musings on the world) are:
    – The Big Idea, although to be fair, my Amazon account has suffered serious damage as a result of this feature (possibly coupled with my having a Kindle and poor impulse control and a love of books)
    – Cross posting from film critic and other columns
    – The photos, especially cats and toys
    – The politics threads, especially the recent “Conservative” thread. I think it is a measure both of Scalzi and the commentariat here that it didn’t dissolve into “hurr, libtards are skum” that crops up in so many other places. I liked having a chance to read reasonable descriptions of why people considered themselves conservative/Republican, and I’m looking forward to similar enlightenment when the “Liberal” thread comes about.

    So keep doing what you are doing.

  120. I like whatever because your opinions are balanced and smart in a normal way. For 2012 I would like to read more of what you think about what is happening in the world.

  121. Random thought …

    Charlie Stross does a lot more toss-speculative-fiction-leading-intellectual-or-science-grenade in the pond and see what jumps out on his blog. I suspect that’s in part that he’s more “hard” in following science / nature / technology and you’re “soft”er in the tech side, more focused on people stories, but you do use a lot of tech and science as story elements and plot lines.

    Not that you’re doing anything wrong either on your blog or in your writing, as far as I care at the moment, but I wonder what the effects would be if you do more of that.

    Other than that, my cats wish to know more about your cats and dog, and what it is about the Ohio environment that causes your pets to be so dwarfed compared to the California pets.

  122. I like your content just as it is. I wouldn’t presume to try to edit your process of what to post/write about.

    I would like to see a less cumbersome comment mechanism. Being unable to comment directly to specific comments made on your topics is awkward. This is made more pronounced when your topic is trafficked highly since it seems there are sometimes three or even four conversations leapfrogging down your comments page.

  123. I tend to read via RSS most of the time and usually only click through to comment. I read and enjoy almost everything you post, even the “not here for X reason, carry on!” posts because you usually include something humorous or interesting in them.

    If I were to change anything it would be to see fewer Big Idea posts or, failing that, shorter Big Idea posts. If I had all the time in the world I would read those too but most of the time I open a BI post, sigh at its length and move on.

    Unlike others above, I’d rather not see guest posters unless it’s a rare thing (like, when you take a vacation.) While I enjoy being exposed to new authors and like hearing what you have to say about an author, if I want to read what someone else thinks or writes I’ll go to their blogs or books – I come here to read what you post here. Just sayin’…

    Otherwise, carry on! Whatever is one of my favorite daily (or almost-daily) reads! :)

  124. I *love* the Big Idea posts (it’s become one of my personal reading lists) because I find it fascinating to learn what the author was thinking when they wrote their book. Also love anything you post about the craft of writing and publishing in general.

    I’m not a big fan of the political posts because I’m not a big fan of politics and so I usually, but not always, skip those. I will say that when I do read them, I am always impressed with how you moderate the comments in such an even-handed way.

    Overall, I like the fun and upbeat attitude here on Whatever. It’s never a drag to come and see what’s on your mind.

  125. I like pretty much everything, especially the longer essay-type posts.

    The only thing I would change is the comments link. It should be at the bottom of the post, at least on the main page. I know it’s a small thing, but it drives me crazy because it’s such a bad UI choice. It really makes no sense to make us scroll back up to the top of a long post after reading it. Clicking on the headline brings you to the same page, anyway. If you really feel it needs to be at the top, there’s no reason it can’t be linked twice.

  126. I could live without the ‘Big Idea’ posts. They very seldom grab my attention. Weren’t they going to be spun-off onto a seperate site anyway?

    And since somebody else mentioned it, I don’t feel like I need to see any more sunsets over the Scalzi compound. Quite happy to see more cat photos though. Especially Lopsided Cat – he’s my favourite.

    That said, I enjoy your ruminations on most topics, and the others are simply skipped by a single keystroke in Google reader. You should trust your editorial judgement and not listen too closely to any of our comments!

  127. I’ll admit to reading half of these, not seeing my suggestion, and then skipping to the bottom. It’s 6:15. A guy’s gotta shower sometime. :-)

    Open threads once in a while. Every so often I want to ask you something or try and start a discussion about something here but you’re generally pretty quick with the off-topic whacking stick. That’s not a bad thing in general, mind you, but the occasional “Hey, talk about stuff” thread would be nice.

  128. I like reading the Big Idea posts. First, of course, because I like reading about new books – whether or not I actually want to read a particular one myself. Second, because I like the idea behind the Big Idea: Scalzi offering his bully pulpit to other authors. It’s both generous of him and also downright nice. That makes me happy.

  129. Long time lurker, rare commenter.

    I enjoy pretty much everything that’s you blathering on about ‘whatever’. Home life, politics (even though I’m in Australia), geekery, whatever. I find your thoughts interesting and VERY much appreciate your comment moderating. It’s hard to do well and you do it well.

    Like many others apparently, I like that The Big Idea is here but often skip it. I come here for Scalzi and Big Ideas are great but they aren’t Scalzi. Maybe make the image smaller and put all but your para and the author’s first para behind a cut? Not sure that helps RSS readers but that’s not me :-). I’d like to be able to find them all easily too, as when I’m in the mood I’d like to be able to read a whole pile at once. A separate website would be awesome. I’d go there, for different reasons to coming here.

    I just skip the ‘not here today posts’. I hear you get an Inbox full of people thinking you’re dead if you don’t, so happy to just skip over so you can avoid that.

    However ‘I have a super sekrit project’ posts bore me silly. Tell me about it when you can tell me the details. You saying “it’s awesome” doesn’t make me excited because I’ll decide for myself if it’s awesome when I know all about it. I get it’s promotion, but blah.

    I really enjoy the audience participation threads. The promotion threads, writing competitions, open republican thread – keep that up or increase, it’s great.

    Many other people have mentioned guest posters. That’d be nice occasionally, but the ratio Scalzi:guest should be very large.

    The current cat/pet picture frequency is about right, and I’d be happy to see more. The sunset frequency is at max capacity and I’d be happy to see less :-).

  130. I’m addicted to your blog. This addiction is cutting into my own writing time. SHUT IT DOWN!!!


    Sort of.

    While I don’t read all of the Big Idea posts, I hope to write one of my own someday, so–for karmic purposes if nothing else–they should probably stay at the same quantity. I love your humor pieces, so maybe a couple more of those (yogurt!) Other than that, thanks for providing hours of free entertainment.

  131. I really enjoy the fact that you update the blog more than once a day… it’s my first stop on the internet when I’m fidgety and looking for a quick fix of random blogging. I like The Big Idea features: they’re different from a traditional book review and allow me a unique look at what the author hoped to achieve. A lot of my casual reading this year was inspired by them. I also like your semi-random mix of stuff, so please keep including Krissy, Athena, pets, weird technology, and open threads for Republicans and Libertarians.

  132. I have purchased a, to my mind, significant percentage of books I read about in The Big Idea posts (yes, I know those aren’t actually your posts). The last time I so assiduously read a regular feature about books with an eye to buying was in the days of Spider Robinson reviewing for Galaxy back in the 70’s. I also read the incoming book lists you used to post but now seem to be MIA. Finally, I read your blog daily to see what is on the mind of The Scalzinator. So “whatever” changes you make, don’t change your random taunts, brags and meanderings!

    Thanks for your inspiring blog.

  133. Well, I’m no book critic but I’ve been reading for a long, long time time and the reason I check out your blog practically every day is for the writing. I don’t always care what you are writing about–it’s the real gift you have for expressing your thoughts so cleverly and often, so amusingly. (That’s also the reason I skip a lot of “Big Idea” posts–I know they are authors but many don’t write very enticingly about their own books.) Love pictures of pets, esp. the cats. I tend to agree with your political views as well and it’s comforting. I live in a really, really red state. I also appreciate your generosity in opening your site to those who are promoting charitable projects. And I really liked the Thanksgiving blogs. Tried it myself and was surprised at the number of positive comments I got and how it improved my attitude personally. So thanks–Merry Christmas!

  134. I’m a “lurker”, afraid to write much since I’m not a writer. But I enjoy the hell out of what all you writers write. The politcal talk gets me all riled up with no where to vote, the reports from conventions make me wish I were there, and the family & pet pics make me go ahhhh.

    Don’t change a thing….or do. I’ll enjoy it. I’m easy that way.

  135. I like how the Big Idea pieces allows authors to discuss their books with an audience that is most likely to read them. But the pieces run a little long; I stop reading 2-3 paragraphs in. Also, too often they don’t give enough information about the book. When I see it, I immediately think, “should I spend money on this?” Discussing how the idea for the book evolved doesn’t answer that question. I wouldn’t mind if the Big Ideas turned into short sales pitches.

    Also, more pictures of the dog!

  136. I love what you’re doing in general, so I have no changes to suggest. That being said, you did ask for things we’d particularly like to see… Personally, I really enjoyed the yogurt story, not so much because it was a great story (although it was pretty good) but because it seemed like you had fun creating it.

    And unrelated to Whatever… Uh… I feel slightly ashamed to write this, but I’d actually like to read more of The Shadow War Of The Night Dragons. Since you posted it up, every once in a while it pops into my head (for no good reason) and causes me to burst out laughing, often at inappropriate times. I’d love to see how far you could take it. Or, alternatively, I’d love to see the version where you actually redeem the title. :-)

  137. I enjoy most everything about the site. I often skim the Big Idea entries, but that doesn’t mean I dislike them. They have sold me on a few books, even if the majority of them don’t necessarily grab me. I like the option of having them there.

    Scorpius’ ad-hominem attack aside, I value your political commentary and posting highly and would hate to see it lost. While it helps that I generally align with your views, what is equally nice is the general well-thought and REASONABLE discussions that occur following them. This is owed, in large part, to the loving mallet of correction. It is more and more a rarity both online and off; this alone would make it a welcome feature. Likewise I enjoy your various topics on current events or even what’s running through your head at that particular moment.

    In short the thing I most appreciate about the Whatever is that it has a voice…your voice, obviously. Whatever has a character that makes it daily viewing for me. Whether it’s a screed against local politicians in your area or singing the praises of a particular foodstuff, it engages me in a way most websites do not. And for that I thank you, sir.

  138. I like the variety of topics you cover and the cat pictures. I also liked the guest bloggers that filled in while you were travelling. Maybe you could have a few rotating guests that post occasionally. Many of your peers try to write blogs but can’t manage to do it consistently enough to attract a large following. If those people could add something here, no more than once a week per person, then I could get to read more great writing without having to visit stale blog sites.

  139. More Chang-Not-Chang.

    I like the Big Ideas posts. I’d say I click through to less than half, but I’ve found lots of library leads that way. If you do put it elsewhere, I’ll follow it.

  140. I like pet posts, writing process posts, writing life posts, and family posts. I like you being hilarious about your every day life and current events. Political posts are not my cup of tea. I skim them here and elsewhere, but it’s no problem. I didn’t like The Big Idea at first, but I’ve come to really enjoy that feature, and it’s helped me find some good books to read.

    Like others, I could do without the “I’m not dead” posts.

    I feel like, in the past year or so, the blog has gotten a little more commercial and less personal in a way that’s hard to explain, and I’d love to see it swing back to the personal side. Also, although I am thrilled beyond words for your success, sometimes posts that highlight that success can feel a little alienating. Stuff like “I’m thankful for the piles of money I get from foreign rights” sometimes strike me differently than you may have intended.

    I like the sunsets, and I’m never tired of cat pictures. I think you need more pets, actually, to inspire you to more photography and blogging. I’d like to hear more about what you are reading and thinking about.

  141. Personally, I like the more intensive essays, rather than the shorter updates (I’ll be travelling, etc etc.) because it gives me something to think about, and more than just politics – that doesn’t encompass all of them, but it seems like a dominant theme.

  142. The only thing I routinely skip reading are the Big Idea pieces. I used to read them… I was even intrigued enough to purchase several books. Then the books sucked so hard – every single one of them. Not a good batting average. (Romance novels disguised as Fantasy? Boo!) So now I avoid reading those entries completely.

    So I guess I’m really saying that I’d love to see Big Ideas where the books don’t suck :) (Which is to say, I’d like to see them appeal more to sci-fi and fantasy readers.) Or, hey, maybe I’m the odd one out on this and everyone else loves them.

  143. I just recently subscribed to Whatever. So far I like what I see. I’m new to blogging and am trying to figure out how it is all done. Keep doing whatever you’ve been doing.

  144. I particularly like the posts that provoke visceral responses. It doesn’t really matter which topic theme, just as long as it generates drama. I don’t mean drama for drama’s sake. I mean the kind of drama that moves people to bellow from the mountain tops that THEY are right and why can’t you see it. I enjoy reading the comment threads that show multiple viewpoints coming from various posters who are each convinced that they know best. I am driven to ponder my own convictions and am better for it. Besides, these types of threads are have the highest probability of someone stepping out of bounds. Who isn’t entertained by watching you beat some poor schlep about the head & shoulders with the Mallet of Loving Correction?

  145. I am hesitant to post this, because I’m probably the umpteenth person to tell you this, but I think you are one of the best comment moderators on all of the intertubes.

  146. I really enjoyed the occasional short fiction you released on the site. The Big Idea pieces are ok as long as they’re no more often than once a week. I know you have the AMC gig but additional commentary on TV and film would be great. Thanks for a fun year!

  147. I like Quuux’s idea about putting a blurb about the book at the beginning of the Big Idea posts.

    I wish the link to the next post or to the previous post was at the top … sometimes when I get behind in my reading I have to start over and it would be easier to be able to click past the one’s I’ve already read (especially if they are long) than having to scroll down to the bottom of the post to skip it.

    I like Gary Willis’ idea about a sort of review of your top 25 starter books.

    I actually really like the “I won’t be around today” posts especially if it will be a while. Although I don’t send an e-mail, if there is no post I do sometimes start to think “Is everything OK.” I think your including those posts shows a real understanding of and respect and consideration for your readers.

    I’m not personally a fan of the “business of a writer” posts but occasionally find them interesting so wouldn’t get rid of them. That being said, my niece loves to write (she’s 7) so I’d love to hear your advice about what to do to encourage her at this age.

    I find the political posts interesting but, as someone who really IS a “known pinko commie socialist”, I wasn’t too thrilled about your identifying yourself that way and reinforcing the myth that any centrist who is left of center is a pinko commie socialist, especially when so many of the conservative readers who responded to that post seem to actually believe that Obama’s views and actions are far left. I think I know why you did it and I recognize that it is your blog and you can call yourself anything you want and maybe if so many of the responses hadn’t sincerely reflected that belief it wouldn’t have bothered me, but as it was I found it profoundly disappointing (both that your readers, despite thoughtful and intelligently written comments, did not know enough about the full range of political ideology to recognize how much farther to the left is is possible to be than Obama and that you reinforced that truncated viewpoint).

    I thought about posting this as a comment in today’s post but decided here was a better place.

  148. I have been waiting for this! Thanks for asking.

    I wish that the link to read the comments was at the end of the article, not the beginning.
    I don’t know until I’ve read it if I want to read the comments.

  149. It ain’t broke. Don’t fix it!

    (The only thing I’d change is getting people to stop sending me links to your posts with “OMG, have you read this?” since I’ve assuredly already read them!)

  150. Now that I know there is a Mallet of Loving Correction pre-mallet warning roster, I’d like to see rankings posted. Because noting brings out the best of humanity on the internet quite like otherwise meaningless online rankings.

    One serious suggestion: is there any way to make the comments at the AMC site easier to access? I think this probably discourages discussion there.

    Finally, Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  151. Hmmm. The “Big Idea” series I love. Not that they always excite me to run out and buy, sometimes they convince me otherwise, but the ideas brought to the table are always interesting, they just don’t go in directions that grab me when I first read them. I’ve used google a few times to find a Big Idea that suddenly resonated in my mind a year or two later, when I could remember neither author nor title, but did remember a phrase from the post.

    Gary Willis’s request for the 25 reviews or whatever is interesting. The hard part for you might be choosing only twenty five (or twenty six, for one every two weeks!)

    Politics and controversies. Your righting is clear (sometimes my assumptions make it less so, sorry about that) and leads me to think, whether or not I agree with you. You have a fascinating group of commenters, and wield your mallet well; nearly, if not the, best moderation on the internet.

    What I miss: preview, and numbered posts. Discussion sub-threads can be interesting, but having several conversations going on at once mixes up the ideas, allowing a fun cross-fertilization. Can’t have both, I suppose. I can see a way to program it but I’d hate to try to use it.

    My very best wishes to you and yours for the holiday season. May your years ahead be even better.

  152. I would love to leave some constructive criticism that would make the blog even more awesome, but actually, I like it like it is. Like a perfect food day. Real meals interspersed with itty, bitty, tasty snacks. So, keep on cooking!

  153. I know I’m late to the game. I also know that Scalzi will read this comment, even if few other do. (And apologies if others above have asked; I did search for “indie” and only found one item, not related my request.)

    I am sure I’m not the only who misses the now-long-gone site. I picked up a fair amount of new (back then) music from that site, and some of the artists I still buy. I know that likely took up a fair amount of your time. Probably not feasible to resurrect it.

    Still, one can hope, no? Perhaps that could be subcontracted out? I don’t know….eh, never mind, I guess. Still: I miss it.

  154. I’m late to the party here, but I would love to see Whateverettes come back. You’ve pointed me at some truly amazing stuff that way

  155. I’m with Erica: “I’m late to the party here, but I would love to see Whateverettes come back. You’ve pointed me at some truly amazing stuff that way.” Please re-institute!

  156. Is it possible to have a “back” feature that leads to the previous post with comments? Like, if I’ve missed a few days, I’ll click on a post, and read its comments; then I want to read the whole next post with the comments for that one, etc. Instead I have to always click back to the index page. And there’s no back/ main/ next link from the comments page.

    content wise? I love your site, it’s yours, as long as you keep posting I’ll keep reading. Do what you want!

  157. This might not be the type of feedback you’re seeking, but can you restore the previous/next story links to the top, and the comments link at the bottom of the entries?

    Otherwise, just more of everything, please! :)

  158. Entirely too many Gregs here. Perhaps alienGreg will be unique for a week or so…nah.

    Was about to say you could back down the rate of Big Idea posts, then realized I was being stupid. In the past year, I’ve found a couple of new authors, and had another confirmed, via those posts. I’m chronically short on time, my town isn’t exactly overflowing with Sci-Fi buying opportunities (and I like to buy local, whenever possible), and it seems that the lifespan of a book on a retail shelf keeps getting shorter. Or maybe that’s an artifact of the time issue? Anyway, those posts can be skimmed very quickly. Given how much missing an author I’d like to find and follow sucks for all concerned, keep them coming.

    I’m ambivalent about cat and sunset photos. I’ve seen the sun on the horizon in lots of places, in all seasons. Pets personalize things more, as do family posts. That’s a bit of an object lesson in how well personalization works, really. I know full well that reading those posts don’t mean that I know you or your family, at all. Nor should I–privacy is a basic human need, for anyone who is wired the way I am. But I feel that I do, at least to the point of realizing that there’s a decent guy on the other end of the communication channel. Those are enjoyable posts, for whatever reason.

    The writing-as-a-career stuff is interesting, insofar as posts from you and Stross have given me a bit of insight on what being a writer involves. I’ve no urge to be one–but it has convinced me to be as supportive as possible of the authors I enjoy, in the form of buying the product.

    The politics, sad to say, doesn’t interest me at all. I’m sure you’ve held your fire–a lot. I like that you can dump on either party, and that you make your points well. But I’ve just had entirely too much politics, most intensely from the start of Bush II, onwards. Given some recent evidence that there’s a fair amount of ‘nature’, not just ‘nurture’ involved, having read a couple of things like _The Big Sort_, and being totally cynical about the news cycle and the ‘advertising hole’, I’m just freaking *done*. To my mind, politics is probably the best possible example of an Internet Holy War, which famously accomplish nothing. I’ll probably be skipping, or at at best skimming, those posts.

    Of course things I’m ambivalent about, or will probably skip, do me no harm. It’s not like I’m all foamy about anything. Your community seems a rather nice bunch of people. Perhaps the current ‘something for everyone’ approach would best preserve that community (hard to do on teh Interwebs) and it would be best to not perturb the current state. Software developers (good ones, anyway) have a saying which may be relevant. Premature optimization is the root of all evil. In the absence of a statistically valid signal, and assuming that your audience is growing within the bounds of reasonable expectations, I’d just keep on doing off-the-cuff Whatever. It works.

    Besides which, it keeps you off that slippery slope that that ends in tears and Focus Groups. You might consider just bar-graphing all the input, then taunting everyone involved.

  159. I realize this one treads into territory that most Americans consider quite private, but you used to do it, so I’ll throw this out: I used to find the annual posts where you discussed the layout of your writing income quite handy. In retrospect, I think it was the percentages that were more interesting than the actual numbers, so that might be a compromise — part of that is that it serves as a reminder that writing genre fiction is a lousy way to make a living, but having already written successful genre fiction can leave one quite well-paid.

  160. Your content is an eclectic blend and I like it that way! I miss the Whateverettes, though. Any way to bring them back?
    Maybe this is just my own OCD, but the comments link is in the wrong place. I would love to see it moved to the end of a post.

  161. I was going to sugggest more Sci-Fi & less politics, but it looks like that ship has sailed…

    No biggie, I can filter.

  162. I like the mix of topics and lengths. My favourite pieces are the analytical/critical ones (on whatever topic), since I admire your ability to lay out a well-reasoned argument and to moderate the comments section in a way that produces civil discourse on the topic. I’m personally less interested in the politics, not being American, but hey, you’re interested and it’s your site.

    Beyond that, I like the sunset pictures, the Big Ideas, and anything you post about writing/the writing business/SF&F; I skip all the video and audio clips; I read via RSS and generally only click through when I want to read the comments, so I don’t need “not here today” posts.

  163. I enjoy Whatever for two reasons:

    Firstly, because it gives me a glimpse into who you are as a person. Of course, it will never be a complete representation, not least because it will only show the sides of you that you want to show the public. But it’s much better than simply reading a short bio-blurb about an author on the inside of a book’s dust jacket. That gives me no real idea about who the person is at all. Whatever makes you more than just a name on a book’s cover page.

    Secondly, I enjoy the style of writing and the humour very much. I am more a romance than a sci-fi kind of person, so I hadn’t heard of you before I somehow stumbled onto Whatever (and I can’t remember how that happened). But reading Whatever made me want to read your books. I figured if you’re this interesting when you’re writing fact, your fiction must be fabulous! I’ve got 3 on my to-read pile right now. I have to finish my M.A. dissertation before I can start on them!

    Being a romance kind of person, I really love the posts where you celebrate your wife and/or daughter. In this day and age where divorce is so common, your posts give me hope that strong, loving, lasting marriages — and families — can and do exist.

  164. I’ve always enjoyed the way you write about your personal life and your writing career. I find those types of posts to be down-to-earth and practical while at the same time very inspirational.

  165. More cat pictures.

    Way more bunny pictures.

    I think you have the right proportion of dog and sunset pictures, though.

    And as an aspiring author, I always enjoy what you have to say on writing and publishing.

  166. You actually make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually one thing which I feel I’d never understand. It sort of feels too complicated and extremely extensive for me. I’m looking ahead on your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

  167. This design is spectacular! You certainly knhow how to keep a
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