Another thing that's lasted longer than I would have expected is this blog. I started it in late April of 2008, and clearly did not expect anyone to actually read it, let alone comment and form a tiny, hateful, wonderful little group. We've had about 520 posts on this blog, some of which have been thousands of words long, which is astounding. This is an especially fitting time for reflection, as I started this blog right around comic 400. That means that at this point, half of all xkcd comics have a coressponding xkcdsucks post. Well, technically I started with comic 409, so it's not half until comic 818. But you have to give me a nine comic not-giving-a-fuck margin of error.
In any case, I promised a big announcement, and despite my past history of vile lies, this time I was being serious: I'm going to be making a whole bunch of changes around here. I'm not quite going to stop xkcdsucks or get rid of it, but it's also not going to continue as it has been. Instead, I want to try a new website - a site about webcomics in general, though with the same critical-but-fair attitude I've developed here over the years.
I've been thinking about this for a while, and actually, Person #1 and Aloria helped me set up the url and wordpress structure, and I've posted a handful of things on it already (some of it was also crossposted here, like book reviews). I didn't tell anyone about it though; I figured that I could have it running in the background until I was ready to announce it.
So why am I doing this? There are a few reasons, of course. The idea of getting away from Blogger.com has been around for a while - people particularly hate the comment box, and given that that's how all of you interact with me and everyone else, it seems pretty important. Not important enough that I did anything about it, of course, but still: the idea was there.
When I first started blogging here, I was doing it out of a frustration I no longer feel. That's not to say xkcd has gotten better, of course - in fact, it's gotten worse. But some things have changed: When I started, it was because I felt like no one else seemed to realize that xkcd was getting so terrible. It was just frustrating to feel like I was the only one who "got it", which I know is a super pretentious thing to say, but it's how I felt. I was hoping that someone else online had come to the same conclusion, so naturally I googled "xkcd sucks." I didn't find much. So I decided it was up to me. I had some brief experience with blogger.com, so I set up an account and started posting.
I truly don't know what gave me the energy to keep going at first. But after a few weeks, a man named Jonathan Harford left some encouraging comments, and apparently, that was all I needed. The idea that someone not only agreed with me but that he wanted to talk about it, well, that was simply lovely. The summer of 2008 saw the first real rise in readership, and it's also when a lot of the regulars around here got involved. FUN FACT: You guys know rob? The guy who comments all the time and is good at arguing but bad at posting, and is rumored to weigh over 350 pounds? The one who is basically an ideological xkcd hater? He started out as a total xkcd fanboy! Here's the first comment he left on this blog, in its entirety:
Honestly, and I'm not saying this out of spite or anything, I don't think you're going to manage to convince anyone that XKCD sucks or is overrated through this blag. I also think you're probably analyzing it too much. I couldn't really tell you why the "in popular culture" one was funny, but I laughed at it. It's kind of an absurd notion. Like most humor, when you really analyze it, it fails to stand up.
Have you ever read a Wikipedia article on a joke? Any kind of joke, really. I, for one, have never found humor to be more boring than in the context of analysis.
And of course, There Are No New Ideas. I am of the opinion that people ought to be slapped every time they criticize something because it's been done before. Originality is for bad thrillers (and they still don't manage).
GUYS: HE EVEN USED THE WORD "BLAG." what a goddamned nerd.
Anyway - the audience grew slowly but steadily. Here, you can follow along: my google analytics from september 2008 (when I first started tracking) through today. The biggest spikes are based off prominent links and also one particularly terrible comic.
It's been very weird to go from 50-60 visits a day to the point where 2000 visits would be a bad day. Very weird indeed.
So here's what's different now: I'm not the only one who thinks xkcd sucks. There are you guys, certainly, and I love you all for it. But even elsewhere - it's far more common to hear people say that xkcd is getting a lot worse. I no longer feel like I'm doing anyone a favor by having this blog. That alone, though, wouldn't be enough to stop - I truly do enjoy this sort of thinking and this sort of writing, and the practice is certainly good even if no one is reading. And recently, that's dropped off too - the overarching problem with most recent xkcd comics is not that they are terrible but that they are boring. It's not fun to write about. A lot of the problems in the new comics are the exact same problems as in old comics, so to criticize them properly would be to merely repeat myself. That's not fun.
At the same time, I'm reading tons of other comics. I link to them when I can, but usually the amount of time I spend on xkcd crowds out the rest of the stuff. I want to spend more time reading new comics and writing reviews of those, or writing more book reviews, or interviews. And I want to have a few more voices represented, not just mine.
But all this I had decided long ago - the problem was, I still felt like xkcdsucks should continue too, and I didn't have time for both. So here's my compromise: "xkcdsucks" is now going to be a weekly feature of the new blog. Rather than feel the need to comment on every single xkcd no matter what, this will let me be more adaptable - if only one comic is worth commenting on that particular week, then that's all I'll do. I always say that Randall's problem (ONE of his problems) is that he forces himself to update constantly, regardless of quality. So I shouldn't do that myself.
Hey! I still haven't told you anything about the new site! And this is what I am super excited about, too. So! It's a wordpress blog, right now it's pretty basic visually but I hope to work on that in the comic weeks. If you want to help out that would be cool. I certainly want some nicer images around, and maybe some help with the general visual theme. My idea is that everything can be done through one blog, but that there would be links to only certain by certain features (like, "posts written by this guy" or "interviews," etc.) so it would feel a little more organized than just "all posts here, read in order." I have a few ideas for what to write about - actually a whole lot - so I'm pretty excited to get started. The URL is www.webcomics.me , so that's a pretty nice place for it. I don't have a name for it besides just calling it "webcomics.me" so if you think of a good name let me know. Actually if you think of anything at all let me know.
I know that there are probably a lot of you out there who are going to be disappointed about this decision, and there's nothing I can say to that besides the fact that I'm grateful you like my blog enough that you're mad it's stopping. If you only really like the negative stuff, you probably won't like the new blog as much as the old one. So I feel ok with the idea that many people won't follow me over to the new site. That's ok. I mean, I hope you do - but I understand that it might take another few years to get the audience there up to what it is here now. And that's assuming all goes well. Who knows what will happen! It's going to be fun.
As to some logistics: This site will stay up indefinetly, though I don't plan to update it. I'll include a link to webcomics.me prominently at the top, along with an explanation. But there's far too much content here to just get rid of it. I spent a while thinking about moving everything here over to the new wordpress blog, but I decided against it - they are going to be two different things. I have, however, posted all my book reviews on that site, and may go back and copy some other articles if I think they are relevant and were good enough. I imagine some of Rob's more general-interest articles will end up there as well. Aloria is going to help with some of the backend stuff, and Ves will be writing as well. Rob will probably join as well. And maybe some other folks! If you're interested in writing for it, you can send me an e-mail with some sample articles and maybe we can get that started. I'm particularly interested in some people who know more about art than I do.
So! Here we are. I'm eager to get started on the new site and I hope you join me there.
In closing, it's been a wacky ride for the last two and a half years. I don't want to get sentimental, given that I write a blog that just makes fun of a comic, but still: It's pretty cool that so many of you have spend so much time commenting on this site and being a part of this community. There were plenty of terrible commenters, but they tended to post once or twice and leave - those of you who stuck around, regardless of your opinions, have proven to be truly fun, intelligent, awesome people. I've had many great conversations with a lot of people, both privately by e-mail and publicly by way of the comments, and I have just been so consistently impressed with how interesting, passionate, and intelligent you all are.
Cuddlefish, William Monty Hughes, randallizing wikipedia, comic 631, megan, summer of MADNESS, picto-blog, the Ass Turds...how can I ever forget them...