While a few kindly regular readers often text me or email comments on posts, only a small number ever leave a comment. Apparently, they tell me, it's a bit too much of a faff as you have to log in to do it. I know the feeling: you click the comment box to leave the most important observation ever, and by the time you've mistyped your email address, forgotten a password and squinted at the characters designed to make sure you're not a robot or a spider or whatever they call them, it doesn't seem that important any more. The poll, by contrast, requires no such effort.
My most prolific comment-leaver, Michael, one of my oldest friends (he's at least 50) isn't even into birds - politics is more his thing. Brett gives a thumbs up now and again, confirms my tentative identifications and offers tips on which way up to hold my camera. Jol sends texts in lieu of comments. His wife Caroline can't even manage that but she does dictate texts to him sometimes. Anj makes encouraging noises but only when I write not about birds. A few of the other Dorset birders urge me to keep going from time to time, which makes me feel slightly less like I'm pishing into the wind, to mis-apply a piece of birding terminology.
A significant proportion of my comment-leavers are not, apparently, genuine admirers. Take this one for instance: on a post called Rock Pools and Pipits, a misguided marketing man at a manufacturer of swimming pool paraphernalia left a complement and encouraged me to visit his website to peruse his wide range of swimming pool related products. For reasons I have still to fathom, another desperate commercial enterprise adorned my bitter post about dipping on a Rock Thrush with the almost irresistible offer to sell me a stairlift.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not fishing for comments - to be perfectly honest if no one ever read this or said anything I'd still write it: with my deteriorating memory it's sometimes the only way I can tell what I did last week. It's like a diary that I just happen to leave lying around on a park bench in that sense. But in my job as a meddlesome pen-pusher (I threw that in for Brett, who takes a dim view of bureaucracy, my chosen profession) I'm always banging on about the importance of community engagement, so it's time to practice what I preach. My initial editorial policy was, after all, based on that of Pravda (that's for Michael, fellow politics graduate, Brunel class of '91): it took me about a year to even allow comments. Then another year to realise that there weren't any. So don't squander this opportunity to make your vote count.
Yes indeed, after the Berlin Wall and the Arab Spring, this poll is my version of democratic revolution. You don't have to log in, and it's a secret ballot so I can't hunt you down if you give me the answer I don't want. Though I'll be crushed if those who I've name checked don't vote at least. I know where some of you live. At the end of it all, as well as giving the impression that I care about your views, this convenient device will have bought me some time while I decide what to do next regardless of your opinions. Just like in a real democracy in fact. In the process, you will be transformed from a passive slave to my propaganda into an empowered cyber-citizen. I know, I can feel the rush too. Transparency is obviously important, so you should be aware that I will rig the vote if it looks like going the wrong way.
I appreciate the blog post titles don't necessarily give you much of a clue, so the manifesto for each is below, with a teaser pic for each:
|YouTubenose: seabirds in the sunshine from the Isles of Scilly.|
|Waders and a lost lark: birds from Scilly which weren't seen on pelagics. Vote for this for yet more bird-based punnery and my favourite photo from August.|
|Book of the month: a shameless plug for a new book in which I have some photos published. I'm not on commission, or the plug would be more shameless, and on more widely-read media than this.|
|Warbling around Portland - twitching warblers with me and Bobby McGee|