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I’m Back

May 15th, 2013 5 comments

hello-im-back-again

Well, I’m back after a self-imposed hiatus, giving myself a nice long break from blogging. I’ve come back with some personal insights and conclusions firmly in place as a result of my blogging vacation. You’ll notice now on my blog, posts only about resources about Concordia Publishing House (the most awesome Lutheran publishing company in the whole wide world), and posts that focus attention on all the feasts, festivals, saints and commemorations in the Church Year. I’ve decided to bow out of debates, arguments, controversies, and all the drama that one easily can find elsewhere. Thanks for your words of encouragement and support!

Categories: Blogging

Thumbs up for BlueHost

February 2nd, 2013 Comments off

I have used BlueHost for a number of years now to host my domain: cyberbrethren.com. I continue to be impressed by the speed and efficiency of their customer service. I asked them early this morning how I can get my blog’s settings changed to allow me to upload graphics/images larger then 2mgb and within half an hour they responded by saying, “We just increased your upload sizes to 50mgb.” Awesome.

Big “like” for BlueHost!

Categories: Blogging

The Cyberbrethren Blog Year in Review

January 8th, 2013 1 comment

company_blog

It’s been another fun and interesting year blogging. I finally had a chance to take a look at a year-to-year comparison in Google Analytics, always very interesting.

I’ve been blogging so long I don’t think I can say, for sure, when I started blogging. I think it began when WORLD Magazine asked me, as part of a group of other Christian writers, to join their “blogging” something-or-other. They hosted the blog Cyberbrethren for a few years, then discontinued the program, at which point I moved the Cyberbrethren blog to whatever Blogger was called in those days. Then, finally over to an independent domain, with a WordPress installation.

This whole little enterprise began in/around 1992, believe it or not, when I began sending little things of news and note and interest (my interest, of course) to a small little circle of pastor-friends of mine, no more than 15 or 20. From there, I began sharing these e-mails with with anyone who requested to be added to the e-mail distribution list. I think I used Yahoo mail to form a group called Cyberbrethren. Within about six months I had around 2,000 subscribers to the list, then I moved it over to something else, and finally, settled on the blogging format. At any rate, it’s been an interesting twenty years. One of the most hilarious experiences I had through all this was the time my then-boss, Rev. Alvin Barry, president of The LCMS, told me that he had been approached by a few of our church body’s district presidents who, very seriously, informed him that they had it on “very good authority” that I was sending out encoded messages to conservatives in the church body through my messages. So, for example, when I sent a message about some interesting new discovery in archeology, my “followers” would use their encription device (ring? disappearing ink?) to “decode” my message to learn what I was trying to tell them. I’m not making this up!! Dr. Barry and I enjoyed a good belly laugh over that. Oh, the fun I’ve had over the past twenty years.

The more serious side of this has been the ability to communicate, quite literally, with people all around the globe: Christians, non-Christians, Lutherans, non-Lutherans, you name it. Absolutely fascinating.

So, how is the blog doing? I think, in general, blogging has become less of a mainstream activity, being replaced by Facebook, first of all, then, in a distant second, Twitter. Of course Instragram is moving up in popularity now, along with Pinterest. Blogging still reaches a lot of people but it is now probably more “nichey” than ever before. Since Cyberbrethren always has been a “niche” blog to begin with, it has not impacted too much my level of visitors/readers/unique visiters and page views. Those simply have continued to go up every year. It is my opinion that people who were blogging to share personal news/information/family items/gossip, etc. are using Facebook for that, and blogging has settled into a more “serious” writing activity where the goal is not to communicate in 140 characters or less, or in “updates” to profiles/pages, etc. But blogging remains popular, again, in certain ways and in certain circles and demographics.

For instance, I just reviewed the Google Analytics report on Cyberbrethren and in a year-to-year comparison I was quite surprised to see that visits are up nearly 18%, unique visitors up a whopping 48% and overall new visits up 34%. Page views have increased this year by almost 15%. Other interesting comparisons include this one: English language readership is down, this past year, by 3%. Which means more visitors from non-English speaking nations, etc.

Technical information showing what browser people are using and what OS being used, reflects the declining popularity of Internet Explorer. My visitors using Explorer dropped 22% while those using Chrome jumped by nearly 60%! Mozilla use is up nearly 70% and Apple Safari use is up 16%. Fascinating. In terms of operating systems more interesting details emerge showing the ever-shifting landscape in the OS and mobile OS wars. Windows is still the number one source of traffic, with Apple capturing every more turf in terms of desktop OS. For mobile OS, Apple dominates with 45% of visitors using a mobile device, and Android trails with 24%. Other OS systems are spread across various devices, none of which show any particular good trends upward.

Other than direct contact with my blog, Facebook reigns supreme as the number one source of referrals to my blog, obviously from my Facebook page, where I will often link viewers/”fans” to my blog site. That kind of traffic is up nearly 11%, and people finding Cyberbrethren via Google searches is up a whopping 65%. That almost doesn’t make sense, so perhaps there was some change in how Google analytics measures/calculates. People finding Cyberbrethren via searching the Internet is up 35%. Twitter accounts for a pretty small percentage of social engagement with/on my site, while, of course, Facebook continues to sky rocket. Google + accounts for very little, though I’ve not been very active on it.

Where in the world are people coming from? Literally? Well, according to Google Analytics, the largest source of traffic is from the USA, obviously, and from there, visitors have checked in from 212 other countries, with Tonga representing three visits in 2011, but none in 2012. Bummer, since Tonga is a sovereign kingdom of 176 islands scattered over roughly 700,000 square miles.

Last year Cyberbrethren had, according to Google analytics, close to four hundred thousand unique visitors, and nearly 800,000 page views – whatever any of those numbers actually mean.

Keep in mind that any web site claiming huge numbers of “page views” or however it is termed, should realize that if there is a lot of “chatting” back and forth going on on their web site, it is this that accounts for the vast majority of their “visits” and “visitors.” The same relatively small number of “regulars” either participate in the chat or keep “tuning back in” to watch the action. From observing discussion format sites, it remains my firm conviction that what you usually have is about the same twelve people talking about the same six things, over and over and over and over. Boring.

It’s also interesting to observe SPAM bots bombarding my blog daily. Thank goodness for very efficient spam filter plug ins. The one I use to stop comment and backtrack spamming, the most, is Akismet. But I also have a few other plugin tricks up my sleeve that prevent the site from being overwhelmed with the junk coming at it daily. With my home mail box had it. And even though CAPTCHA requires drive us all nuts, it is a huge source of spam blocking as well.

So, all of which is to say, thanks for your reading and participation on this blog site. It’s been another fun, interesting, educational year for me, and I pray God blesses you and yours richly in the new year with His ever present abundant grace and mercy through Christ our Lord.

 

Categories: Blogging

The Cyberbrethren Blog – The Year in Review

January 2nd, 2012 7 comments

 

It’s kind of interesting, once a year, to review activity on the Cyberbrethren blog. It been many years since I started blogging, following many years prior to that sending out notes to an ever expanding e-mail list. It got so large back in the mid-1990s that the computer department at the International Center said I was clogging up the LCMS server system whenever I sent out a message to the Cyberbren mailing list. Times certainly have changed, and I’m sure today it would hardly be an issue, but that is one reason I moved over to a blog, rather than a mailing list.

My first blog was hosted through WORLD magazine, when they asked a group of pastors to blog for them, calling us, coincidentally enough, their “blogging pastors.” I did the whole Lutheran thing for them and they featured Evangelicals and some hard-core Calvinists, who amusingly went into apoplexy each time I posted any sort of image of Christ on my blog. I recall with particular amusement these two Calvinist brothers, both pastors, seriously discussing how even taking family photos may well be a violation of the “Second Commandment.” WORLD Then I set up a blog using, oh, I can’t even remember what I was using. I think I might have started with Blogger then moved to a WordPress blog, but then friends convinced me I need to have my own web site and got me all set up with a WordPress installation with my own domain name, and it’s been going well since, thanks to friends like Ryan Markel who got me set up and running, and then Norm Fisher who has helped since.

I try to provide a mixture of devotional content, reflection on culture/society and current issues facing the Church and, of course, I feature new Lutheran publications from Concordia Publishing House.

So, how many visitors did Cyberbrethren receive? Last year over 500,000 people visited Cyberbrethren, around 1,500 per day or so.

Where do they come from? An interesting change has been happening, confirming my conviction that blog sites now are best seen as extensions of a person’s social networking presence, rather than stand-alone sites. Why do I say this? I’ve been watching traffic sources to the Cyberbrethren blog for years, and I’m noticing an ever increasing source of traffic is, yes, Facebook. No big surprises, but interesting nonetheless. “Organic” Google searches still account for 52% of the incoming traffic, but Facebook is the source of over 30% of visits, and given Facebook’s newer ways for people to “subscribe” to your Facebook page, without being your “friend.” No doubt, this will continue to grow. Facebook is also, by far, the largest source of referrals to my blog site. Confirming what I’ve long thought about Twitter, it only accounts for 11% of referrals, but I’m going to be making more use of hash tags in the new year, so we will see what impact that has on Twitter referrals. But, without a doubt, Facebook is a blogger’s best friend, far more than Twitter or any other social networking source. No surprise, really, considering how Facebook thoroughly dominates social networking applications at this point.

What was the day with the highest traffic on the blog? The day I posted comments about Steve Jobs’ death. Interesting.

Pageviews? Definitely not a great way to gauge visits to the blogs, but on Cyberbrethren last year, approaching one million page views. Again, page views are somewhat meaningless and those who use them to try to promote their blog sites don’t know what they are talking about.

How about the “audience” visiting Cyberbrethren? Interesting statistics here as well. Visits were received from 220 countries. I didn’t even know there were 220 countries in the world. I thought there were only around 195 countries. Where/what is Vanuatu and Kiribati? No surprise that the vast majority of my visitors come from the USA, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Philippines, then Germany. Mostly English speakers visiting.

What kind of hardware/software/devices are people using to visit Cyberbrethren? Very interesting to see how Firefox has really been eating Explorer’s market share, with Explorer now down to 32.4% of user’s browsers, and Firefox at 28.9. Safari was used by nearly 21% of visitors. How about operating systems? Pretty typical, 70/30 percent split between Windows and Mac. The more interesting statistic is looking at Android v. iOS. Apple continues to dominate here with iOS visits coming in from 5.33% of visitors, compared to only 1.96%. But, overall, visitors to the blog tend to use desktop and laptop computers to visit, as opposed to mobile OS devices. It’s interesting to notice that when it comes to devices being used to visit, iPad accounts for the most, followed, somewhat closely, by iPhone, then a large “not set” group…who know? Probably Apple, I would suspect, then iPod, then T-Mobile Garminfone, then Motorola DroidX….but get this, 214 different devices were used to visit the blog. 214!!

So, just some interesting information you may, or may not, find of interest.

Thanks for reading the Cyberbrethren blog.

 

 

Categories: Blogging

Taking a Blogcation

August 10th, 2011 19 comments

 

I’ve found lately that I’ve managed to do to myself, what no doubt I’ve done to so many of you for a long time: bore you. I have grown bored recently with my own blog site! So, I’m going to take a break from blogging for a while. I’m sure I’ll be back, but I don’t like feeling like I “have” to blog. I always have said this is a hobby, and I’m beginning to feel like it is a chore and even a tad of a drudgery. So, I need to shake those feelings and when I do, I’ll be back to blogging. How long? I don’t honestly know. But….thanks for reading and for your support. I’ll keep posting for feasts and festivals and commemorations, but … I need a break from coming up with other content. I’m sure I’ll be back in a few weeks, maybe sooner.

Categories: Blogging

Comments on Blogs: Different Schools of Thoughts

May 31st, 2011 8 comments

When it comes to blog comments, there are basically two schools of thought: open unmoderated comments, on the one hand, to moderated commenting, on the other. I recently experienced, once again, the down side of unmoderated comments. I was engaged in an ongoing conversation on a blog site about a post put up by a pastor. We were having a vigorous back and forth, but finally it kind of devolved into a convoluted mess due to the fact that the blog site where the post is featured allows anyone to post and say anything on any given topic. That’s one approach to dealing with comments on a blog site.

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen it work well, particularly in a linear comment format. It is far too easy to see any good conversation derailed into inane chatter about a host of issues that have nothing to do with the original blog post. And, in this case, this is precisely what happened, in addition to the comment count ballooning to nearly 500 comments, which bogged the entire site’s performance. I’d estimate that 70% of the comments on the post had very little, or nothing, to contribute to the point of the blog post to begin with. And, as is usually the case, with unmoderated comments, what ends up happening is that the same half-dozen people dominate all the conversation. In the case of this particular blog site, there is one person who feels what can only be described as a compulsion to chatter on incessantly about anything that happens to pop into her head. This is why I believe for productive conversations to take place on blog sites, or forums, there needs to be a good, solid comment policy in place to which people are held accountable.

The people who want to dominate conversation on your blog site won’t like it. The people who want to post little nasty-grams won’t like it. It’s always amusing to me that people who whine about their comments not being approved, assume that I have some kind of draconian policy by which I delete comments left and right. Truth be told, I would estimate that 98% of all comments submitted to my blog site get approved and posted. My blog comment policy has served me well, and I’ll share it here again for those who are into blogging. You might find it helpful. I have this posted under the “about this blog” link at the top of the site.

COMMENT POLICY: READ THIS CAREFULLY:
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but please understand that you have no “right” to make a comment on my blog. I welcome them. I appreciate them, and I thank you for them, but every once in a while along comes a particularly crabby person who demands that I post their comment. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If you have a comment to share, feel free to post it. I do moderate comments and reserve the right to reject and/or edit comments, entirely at my discretion. I think of comments as letters to the editor of a newspaper: those that are signed, short, to the point, and make a positive and/or interesting contribution to the post’s topic are much more likely to be be approved. I highly discourage anonymous comments. If you have something to say, be willing to identify yourself and be held accountable for your remarks. If you are looking for a place to engage in extended debate, also known as “comment wars,” this blog won’t be your cup of tea, or coffee. I don’t apologize for the fact that I use comments on this blog to facilitate the purpose of the blog. Finally, if you don’t like my comment policy, I invite you to start your own blog and rant, rave, argue and otherwise pontificate to your heart’s content, just like I do here. That’s what’s fun about blogging!

 

Categories: Blogging

A Comment About Comments

March 17th, 2011 7 comments

The Rob Bell groupies are coming out of the woodwork to defend their hero, and consequently, and predictably, they are doing so anonymously, hiding behind fake names and e-mail addresses. Here again is my comment policy, which, well, you can like it, or you can lump it. I say that with all the warm and cozy feelings in my heart that I can muster!

COMMENT POLICY: READ THIS CAREFULLY
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but please understand that you have no “right” to make a comment on my blog. I welcome them. I appreciate them, and I thank you for them, but every once in a while along comes a particularly crabby person who demands that I post their comment. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way. If you have a comment to share, feel free to post it. I do moderate comments and reserve the right to reject and/or edit comments, entirely at my discretion. I think of comments as letters to the editor of a newspaper: those that are signed, short, to the point, and make a positive and/or interesting contribution to the post’s topic are much more likely to be be approved. I highly discourage anonymous comments. If you have something to say, be willing to identify yourself and be held accountable for your remarks. If you are looking for a place to engage in extended debate, also known as “comment wars,” this blog won’t be your cup of tea, or coffee. I don’t apologize for the fact that I use comments on this blog to facilitate the purpose of the blog. Finally, if you don’t like my comment policy, I invite you to start your own blog and rant, rave, argue and otherwise pontificate to your heart’s content, just like I do here. That’s what’s fun about blogging!

Categories: Blogging

To Bloggers: If You Publish Your Feed Do NOT Use “Summary Only” – Here is Why

January 21st, 2011 6 comments

I expect everyone to say the same thing to me about my blog too…the reason I use a feed reader is that so I can quickly scan/read your blog posts. I do not want to have to click through to your blog to read more than a summary. I won’t, and I don’t, and frankly, people who publish their feeds as summary usually get dropped from my feed reader. Let’s be honest here: there are only a very few bloggers out there who can get away with summary only feeds. I’m not one of them, and you aren’t either. So publish your whole post, not simply a summary of it, please.

Categories: Blogging

Thanks for Reading Cyberbrethren

September 24th, 2010 5 comments

For whatever reason, the number of daily visits to the Cyberbrethren blog site is nearly up to 3,000 visitors, per day, every day. I do not know who you all are, but thanks for reading this blog. I hope you find it helpful and useful, and even if you find yourself disagreeing with what is posted here, I hope it gives you something to think about. It is my hobby and I enjoy sharing information, and of course, “plugging” great resources from Concordia Publishing House.  I have met so many great people through my blog and I appreciate all my loyal readers! Thanks, and God bless. I tried to find the most manly looking “thank you” graphic I could find, but utterly failed.

Categories: Blogging

New Blog Feature: The Facebook Like Button

September 16th, 2010 3 comments

Thanks to my resident WordPress expert, Mr. Norm Fisher, Cyberbrethren posts now have a Facebook “like” button at the end of each entry, for you to, well, “like” if you would like to, ah, rather, if you like the post. Well, you get the point.

One little thing: You have to click on the post itself, that is, on the title, display it in a separate window, and then the like button shows up. I’m consulting with Mr. Fisher about this. More later.

When you “like” a blog post here, your Facebook friends will notice it and it may encourage them to pay a visit and read what you “liked.” So, even if you don’t care to leave a comment, consider “liking” a post, that is, if you do like it.

Thanks Norm!

Categories: Blogging

Blog of the Week on Issues, Etc.

July 18th, 2010 Comments off

Dear readers, one of you just kindly pointed out that my favorite Lutheran radio show, Issues, Etc., named this blog as its “blog of the week” on July 16th. As always, its an honor to be mentioned in the company of so many great Lutheran blogs out there. You can listen Rev. Wilken and Mr. Jeff Schwarz talk about the blogs of the week here.

Categories: Blogging

Why Pastors Should Not Blog Anonymously

April 22nd, 2010 19 comments

I recently had an unpleasant experience with a Lutheran pastor who blogs anonymously. He felt a need, apparently, to vent his spleen in a particularly spectacularly nasty way about something. When it was pointed out to him how thoroughly inappropriate and way over-the-top his comments were, and how egregiously sinful and slanderous his accusations were, all he could do was issue a revised form of a post, along with a lot of self-defensiveness and excuse making, and of course, playing the, “I’m allowed to act like a wild boar, because I’m such a confessional Lutheran and I’m defending the truth” card.

I could not help but once again be reminded of why anonymous blogging is such a bad idea. I refuse to believe that this pastor would have said the things he said, in the way he said them, in the degree to which he said them, if he were blogging openly, using his real name.

Pastors: there is no excuse for anonymous blogging. If you run a blog site, put your name to it.

Consider this: (A) The chances are very high you will not actually remain anonymous, as in this case; (B) Anonymous blog posting is the coward’s way. If you are unwilling, hesitant, or otherwise concerned about putting your name on what you blog about, that should be a strong warning to you that you are heading down a wrong path.

PS – In the spirit of this blog post, if you wish to offer a comment, sign your full name, and location to your remark. I’m trying to encourage the perpetually anonymous-inclined folks here to step out into the light.

Categories: Blogging

Cyberbrethren on Kindle? Yup, that too.

February 19th, 2010 Comments off

Kindle owners can subscribe to Cyberbrethren and have it delivered wirelessly.

Categories: Blogging

Cyberbrethren on iPhone? Yup, there’s a (free!) App for that

February 19th, 2010 8 comments

A month or so ago, Justin Taylor mentioned that Rainsong Media does a nice job making iPhone Apps out of a blog, so I asked them to do an iPhone App for my blog, and they did. It’s now available on iTunes. I’m sure it is worth every penny you have to pay for it. Which is to say, it’s free. Check it out. If you don’t have an iPhone you can’t use it on an iPhone. Just wanted to point that out. Here’s a screen shot of the iTunes App Store page for Cyberbrethren:

Categories: Blogging

250,000 Unique Visitors: Who are you? Where are you from?

January 8th, 2010 58 comments

Pastor Weedon routinely notes the visit count to his blog site and then asks his readers to say who they are, and where they are from. It’s a fun thing to do. So, in the past six months Cyberbrethren has had 250,000 unique visitors. Only a very tiny fraction of you post a comment, so, here’s your chance to tell us who you are, and where you are from. Thanks for reading. Please introduce yourself.

Categories: Blogging