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Reader-directed blogging: Good idea or boring? How involved do readers want to be?

There's this intriguing trend/theme going around the blogosphere lately: reader-directed blogging.

Many bloggers are picking up a sort of "meme" and asking their readers to ask them questions, which they will answer in a post. I believe it's a twist on the 7 random things type meme.

I think it's cool. I've asked every blogger I read who did it a question and have been thrilled to see all the questions and answers.

Simultaneously, every "how to be a good blogger" site I subscribe to has done an article that either centers on or mentions "reader-directed" blogging, wherein you ask your readers to weigh in on the topics you cover.

I find this approach very intriguing.

Obviously the key tenet in any publishing endeavor is write what readers want to read. This involves "keeping your finger on the pulse of your market" and catching trends, interests, new innovations or concerns, etc. There are a variety of means to do this.

Readers have always had the opportunity to weigh in with publishers: letters to the editor, response to publication, statements of support (or not), and most obviously...purchase or subscribe (or not).

Other than the last one, each of these is always put through an editorial process, and statements are either selected because they further a goal, or rejected. However, most of this process---including what is selected versus what is rejected---is invisible to the reader, who is generally a fairly passive participant.

But blogging is an interesting newer model.

Blogging is more open and immediate. In blogging, readers have a higher participation rate, are more active. Also, readers can see the other comments (usually, unless they go through a moderation process up front). It's free, so anyone who stumbles upon the site can participate with only the cost of time. The blogger has few constraints, such as editorial deadlines or boundaries. Each constraint is blogger-determined.

In many ways, at heart, it is the same as traditional publishing. Bloggers want to write what readers want to read. We want traffic and participation. We employ---mentally at least---a basic mission with internal personal editorial constraints and boundaries.

So I'm intrigued. I've always written as it pleases me, when it pleases me, on topics that appeal to me. Obviously I hope these appeal to people, and often it seems that they do. That pleases me too.

But what would happen if I changed this model? What would happen if instead of functioning as the editor in charge, I handed the reins over....either to a selected or elected group or in an open call to the readers?

Would I get guidance and direction? How deep would the participation go?

Would the canvas be too blank?

Would people like it, or not?

Moreover, it would involve largely asking other content generators to generate content ideas for me. How would they feel about that?

Would people care what I have to say about a particular topic in their minds?

What would I do with all the topic ideas that crowd my head, most of which are somewhat timely?

Would it leave too much space? Or not enough?

How would people respond if their question or topic suggestion didn't get selected or used, or used within what they considered a reasonable time frame? What is a reasonable time frame? If it's four weeks later, will their interest have utterly waned? Blogging is such an immediate gratification sort of medium; do people have a long-term interest or expectation and acceptance of a long wait?

Answering questions from readers sounds easier. Writing on an assigned topic sends me into oppositional defiance disorder inspired tantrum of resistance. (But I don't carry any baggage or bitterness or grudges from my horrid public school days.)

That's why I immediately veered away from questions and towards topic suggestions.

What do you think? Do you have questions you'd like to ask me (within reason)? Topics you'd like to suggest? Are you interested in seeing me and/or other bloggers you read writing on a particular topic? If you are a blogger, what do you think about doing this?

How active do active reader participants want to be?

Is reader-directed blogging brilliant and inspired, a can of worms, or boring?

Note: Hump Day Hmm tomorrow! Remember the topic is:

Two Square Meals was inspired by my Twitter Do or Don't post and suggested for next week (2-6): What are the ethics and mores of social media and social networking? (If you don't think you use social media or networking, think again. You are online, you use it or it uses you, or both. Bloggers you read review products, or you do that yourself. There is an interchange and exchange of linking, passing along of awards, "digging" or "skirting" posts, trading back and forth of comments, community building, and so forth. What is this online space for you? How do you use it? What do you expect of it, in all realms? What behavior---business or personal--crosses a line in your opinion? What are the lines? Write honestly about what this space is for you and what you believe the ethics and mores are.)

Copyright 2008 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
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Robert said…
I think blogging, like any other for of writing, has an interaction with the author and the reader. Blogging just seems to be making that writing more of a conversation than ever before. The Internet in general has brought more opportunities for readers to interact with writers, and certainly I think the culture of immediacy we have today in the media has grown and thrived from these interactions. As more people have tuned in and demonstrated their interest in certain subjects, more has been said on those subjects than perhaps ever before. Whether what is said has value is another matter, and whether it will have historical context even a week later remains to be seen in years to come. That said, I am fascinated with the world of blogging. My friend and I wanted to start a blog before it was even called that. We had a message board for people to respond to articles we wrote. The idea had not caught on, though, and we took down the site. Now we've fired up again and I've probably gotten more comments on one post than we got in the entire history of that site. It has definitely changed what I'm blogging about because I have decided to write more about things people are reading. I like to write on the subject of politics so I was not bothered to shift, but I had chosen the first topics because a friend suggested those would attract readers. Obviously, I have a blog that is driven to attract readers.

As for you, I think you write quite a bit of quality material with only so much impetus from your readers. If you wanted to let readers dicate to you for a week as an experiment, it might be interesting, but I think people like to read your thoughts on what interests you because it sparks your passion. Someone else's ideas might not spark the same passion. Do what you feel you should, but I'm sure you already interact enough with your readers to keep them coming (based on the volume of daily comments).
Magpie said…
I think the question thing can be pretty interesting. It forces a level of detail about some stuff that might have been glossed over, or it goes in some different direction. Like everything else, it's not perfect, and can head off into mediocre minutiae.
le35 said…

I think that you interact with your readers quite a bit. You often ask questions in your posts that you hope we'll respond to. When people ask for a response, they are more likely to get one. I think that the world of blogging is already reader based since readers are encouraged to comment. I love your blog, and I think that the Hump Day Hmm is definately reader consideration. Good luck with this decision
thordora said…
I usually ask the questions for two reasons-one, because I'm lazy and can't think of anything to say on a particular day, and two, because I really do want to know what people are curious about. There are many bloggers who I'd love to ask questions of, because their lives are so different from mine.

I don't like sites without comments, because I want a dialogue. Reader input and direction makes it more a conversation than a lecture. And for me, I like being able to help people sometimes.
Magpie said…
Also, you might like this post ( and the linked article (
Kyla said…
I really enjoy the occasional reader question posts, but as a rule, I wouldn't want to control the content as a reader. I have the responsibility at my own blog, I don't want to direct anyone else's blog. I do like back and forth in blogging, like you do, commenting in response to comments, emails, ect. But I don't think it should be reader driven, exactly.
SciFi Dad said…
Is it wrong that I was thoroughly entertained that the hostess of Hump Day Hmm says, "Writing on an assigned topic sends me into oppositional defiance disorder inspired tantrum of resistance"?

All teasing aside, I have thought a lot about this topic lately. When I first started blogging, I wrote infrequently, whenever I had something to say or share. As I continued, I found myself sliding into somewhat of a schedule, but since my topic generating model was unchanged, I found myself without topics. Enter: news stories, and commentary on them.

Again, it was a once in a while thing. And then during my first foray into NaBloPoMo it was a weekly topic. Some readers expressed a distinct dislike for them (most news items that are worth commenting on are difficult to digest) but some really enjoyed them.

However, as time moved forward, I started to see a trend: people were not commenting (and in some cases, not visiting) on the days where I wrote news commentary. I began to wonder if I was writing the commentaries because I wanted to, because I enjoyed it, or because it was routine. I subsequently decided to stop doing it, partly because the whole process had gotten stale (after a while, there are only so many rants one can do on same-sex couples as parents, for instance) and partly because "the masses had spoken".

Personally, I try to engage the reader with my content by opening up and being honest with them. Sometimes I get emails telling me they appreciate knowing there is someone else who feels that way.

Occasionally I'll ask for topics, but honestly I rarely get feedback other than "more funny stuff about your wife" (it seems everyone wants to read kooky spouse stories).

Anonymous said…
Very interesting topic - will be checking back to see what people say.

It seems to me that dialog blogging is a subset of writing talent. Some people are great at presenting an issue or asking a question in a way that hooks people into telling their own story in comments.

But sometimes I've seen it really fall on its face - it just looks like maybe the blogger didn't think of anything to post about that day and the comments are scarce, and I start to think to myself, 'maybe this person is on their way out - not generating ideas or fishing around for something to say'.

Because my real life is too much about going with the flow and making friends, my blog is dedicated to saying what I think others might find offensive. So for my purposes, reader-directed is contra-indicated.

But that doesn't mean I'm not tempted sometimes :^)
Mad said…
At some level I think that reader directed blogging is a pile of horse crap. I blog b/c I think I have (at times) something worth saying and (at fewer times) something worth being heard. I want you to come to my blog looking for the "aha" of the novel idea or at the very least the "aha" of the tired old idea reframed with new insights. I also want you to come because you like my writing and think that I am a decent bloke of a human being. I don't pretend to succeed on all these fronts but I sure as hell would hate to think I wrote to expectation. I've read bloggers who write to expectation: their blogs rapidly become shtick.

As for those question memes, I have been asking people questions but they aren't necessarily questions I want the answer to. I'm just looking for novel ways to engage people that I already feel I know fairly well. If I did have a question I wanted answered, I wouldn't sit around waiting for the meme to roll through. I would ask it when it dawned on me.

When it comes to blog reading, I'm more than happy to read what another blogger chooses to give me. Challenge me. Wow me. Just don't try to second guess what it is I want to hear.
Michele said…
The think I love about blogs like yours is the chance to get to know you and your family through your words. I'm probably in the minority but I just enjoy hearing what's going on with you and other bloggers I read. It gives me a chance to say, "oh, she is like in that way" or "Oh, she thinks differently than I but I like her angle on that subject," etc. I especially like your parenting style. I almost always learn something from you that I can practice with my own family. However, I'm sure I could come up with a question or two for you if you want : )
Anonymous said…
Sometimes, you want to ask questions and have your friends answer them. Sometimes, you just want to hear what your friends want to talk about. Imagine a real life friend who only told you what you wanted to hear.

Anonymous said…
In the realm of reader-suggested content, how would a story like yesterday's (Persistence and The Zoo) ever emerge? What reader would request that? And yet there was so much shared experience and shared exasperation in the comments over life with 3-year-olds and parking lot rage.

In the few months I've been coming here I have really enjoyed the breadth of topics you cover and the depth at which you explore them: from a grandmother's cruelty to art in the schools to COX-2 inhibitors to sexual harassment. But I love reading it because you are deeply invested and passionate. As Robert said, I doubt that passion would come through if you were writing things you felt obligated to write.

At the end of the day, there's nothing stopping any of your readers from sending you an e-mail with something they'd like to hear more about, or commenting to that effect; and you in turn deciding to write about it.
Gwen said…
I've seen the reader generated content (at least in the form of questions answered) done well, but this was by bloggers whose writing I already enjoy so much, I would be entertained if they told me how to make pumpkin muffins. I hesitate to do it myself because I can't stand the thought of getting no response (yes, yes I am not so secretly insecure). And it's just not what my blog is for, for me. Unlike Mad, I don't think I'm writing things that need to be heard or said--except for me. Most of the time, my blog is a way for me to work out the shit in my head, to figure out what I think, to decide if my memories are valid, to hold myself accountable for things. As narcissistic as that sounds, I don't need reader input on topic, then. (I think I sound like an arrogant bitch right now).

In the bigger picture, reader generated content is ... suspect, I guess. We're already so separated by niche, the idea that you should give the people exactly what they want grates on me, a little.
Mad said…
Hey Gwen,
I guess when I said that I write what is worth saying, I meant that I write what is worth saying for myself. Mainly I write for myself and I try to be honest in how I write in those moments.

When I say that sometimes what I write is worth being heard, I guess by that I mean that I do have posts that I hope people want to listen to b/c they do have some kind of a point--like my Just Post posts and the like.
thailandchani said…
I hope this comment works. :) It's velly, velly slow.

Anyway, I wouldn't want it to be all one way or all the other. When someone asks a question, usually I am willing to answer it - but I don't like the idea of being compelled to do so.

I don't like to write purely personal stuff because it's hard to imagine anyone being all that interested in the minute details of my private life. Some of it is interesting, some of it not. In general, I'd rather not write unless I have something to say, something worthwhile for others to read. The "worthwhileness" of it waxes and wains. Sometimes people like it.. sometimes they don't.

Using the comments section as a forum for discussion makes a lot of sense. If it wasn't for that, I wouldn't blog at all.

Anonymous said…
The only reason I read blogs is for personal pleasure, and I only keep up with blogs where I've established a rapport. By the time it gets to that level, I'm interested in the Blogger, so I'm receptive to just about anything on the blog.

While my favorite blogs are fairly homogenous, within those blogs, I get excited by variety. I want to read posts that make me think, that I can learn from, that make me feel connected to others. The best blogs bring all this and more to the screen from time to time. I enjoy the occasional "assignment" like Hump Day Hmm or Monday Mission. I like the list-y things like Thursday 13 less, but some are clever and creative. Memes are usually fun, and sometimes fluffy is a nice break from heavy content.

I rarely will ask a direct question, but I wouldn't in person either, which is an offshoot of my own reserved nature.

I don't use them, but aren't there forums you can subscribe to for give-and-take communication?
Gina Pintar said…
I like to hear what drives other people. Other points of view and what is important to them. It gets me interested in different things that are not related to what is happening to me at that particular time.

It keeps my perspective fresh.

However, I want to hear who you are endorsing for president now that Edwards is out of the race. I have not made up my mind yet dispite placing a vote today in the primary.

Also, did not get to post about your good news for your dog. Any defense to me is good news. There is hope and something to fight with. Best wishes.
Mary Alice said…
It seems to me that many people would never know if they might like something fascinating you could conceive to write about, if you left it up to reader directed blogging. I mean, how could you imagine eating an exotic fruit, if one was never offered to you?

I vote no on reader directed is the uniqueness of each individual bloggers thoughts on any given day that brings me to their blogs.
Aliki2006 said…
I've always felt very strongly that what I write should be directed by ME and by no one else! I devote very little time to thinking about what readers want to read (perhaps this is why my readership holds fairly steady instead of growing exponentially). I love to know that my friends--virtual or otherwise--are reading me and I love to "talk" with them via comments. I've said this before, but I do take the reciprocity side of blogging fairly seriously. I try and respect my readers, to respond to them, to make sure I add them to my blogroll and that I keep up my end of things. I know many bloggers disagree with the reciprocity side of blogging, but personally, I like to think of blogging as an exchange of ideas and of friendship.

Great post, Julie--you are so on a roll!
Mayberry said…
The boring anwer is that there has to be a balance, right? If you always write what no one wants to read, well, pretty soon no one will be reading. But if you ONLY write what everyone wants to read... well, pretty soon everyone will see through that and stop reading too.
Melissa said…
If this double posts, sorry.

I could just take tomorrow's Hump Day post and put it here, but then no one would come and see me and that just won't do.

I'm kind of at the same place on my blog. I feel like I'm finally getting my feet under me by writing consistently (and occasionally well). I've decided to stop some memes as I think they are making me lazy (don't worry, Friday Haiku isn't going away). But if I worry too much about what other people want, then I will stop enjoying what I do. That's why we like you so much; you enjoy what you write about and it shows. How can we not like it?

Says the person who is trying to start a virtual book club by soliciting suggestions...:)

BTW Panera Bread has wi-fi. :)
Karen Jensen said…
I'm with the crowd who love your writing, so I vote for Julie-directed blogs.

That said, I think the great joy of blogging is the conversation between reader and writer. I remember in grad school having long conversations with Julia Kristeva, but she never made me laugh like you do. Actually, she never directly responded to me at all. That's the problem with books--they aren't interactive in quite the same way.

I hope that made some sense. Right now it feels like jibberish. But I guess what I mean is that I love interacting with the ideas of writers.
I think reader-directed blogging is often only as interesting as the editor in charge of it. Luckily, you are fascinating enough to be able to pull out something great from whatever is thrown at you. Plus you have really interesting readers that fall along an unusual spectrum so personally I'd be really interested in seeing how it all pans out.

You should totally do it.
I'm always amazed at how unpredictable my blog responses are. When I write something I consider lite or lame I might get tons of feedback and when I'm looking for responses I might get very little. So I've just landed on writing about whatever is tickling my fancy at the time and letting the readers do what they may. That way I'm not setting any expectations I'll be disappointed with later on.

Your excellent post covered a lot of territory, so I'm hoping this comment fits in there somewhere ;-)
Anonymous said…
Lately I'm into thinking of blogging as a social medium, and thinking of it that way answers a lot of my "how and what should I blog" questions. If I wanted to write straight articles, I'd send them to magazines. If I wanted to write straight diary, I'd write a diary. But blogging opens up the possibility of collaboration, dialogue, etc. I like that. I don't think it necessarily needs to be in a question-answer format but there are plenty of ways to encourage it.

Look how many comments you already have on this post, right? And on all of your posts.
Robert said…
I definitely blog because I want to share my ideas with people, and because I hope people are interested in what I have to say. I started a blog because people I wrote to on their blogs kept asking "so when are you going to start your blog". Now, they might well have been saying "We want to retaliate" but I didn't get that impression. My original ideas to blog on didn't pan out like I wanted, and it was good experience for me. I realized I should write about my interests because my passion comes through more and that in turn helps me write better. When I'm trying to write what other people want, I may not do as well. It definitely goes back to bristling over having to write essays in school on some subject that I had no interest in (as Julie alluded to). I'd love for my blog to be a place where people could discuss ideas and expand each other's learning. I enjoy learning through debate, and sometimes blogging is a good way to have a calm healthy debate thanks to the slower format.
Julie Pippert said…
What an intriguing range of interesting answers and opinions!!

FIRST! A reassurance. This post was more of an intellectual exercise to ponder this idea, and consider the possiblity of now and then letting readers suggest a topic for me, sort of like a Hump Day in reverse.

It is not possible for me---egoist that I am apparently LOL---to entirely suspend my own thoughts and ideas and completely hand over the reins. Way too big a control freak. So no big changes planned.

Okay NOW! My wicked fast attempt to try to get a few replies to some of the MANY AWESOME points.

Jenny wrote, "Plus you have really interesting readers that fall along an unusual spectrum so personally I'd be really interested in seeing how it all pans out."

Absolutely! That is one of the only reasons I'd even consider doing this at all. I trust you guys and think you'd send us all somewhere cool.

(So SciFi Dad, my friend, the MWAH wasn't just kissing up LOL. It might be on some level but at base it's sincere.)

Robert made several good points about writing what inspires you---your passion---and how that brings a richer quality to writers' writing. I agree.

Magpie, Thordora, Kyla, and Gwen made some good points about the questions, especially Magpie's point about the questions being a way for a reader to get a deeper bit of understanding.

I haven't tossed out the question idea.

But Anne and Mad mentioned some of my concerns with it, although Gwen somewhat mitigated that.

I think Mayberry, Aliki, Yolanda, Emily, De, and Mary Alice hit on the key points of why I blog and why I blog the things I do. Michele, Chani, Melissa, and Gina got to the heart of it, too, especially with the ideas they and De mentioned about other POVs.

Prof J, Julie and Mayberry nailed what I think blogging is.

Jeff and Sci Fi Dad hit on the intriguing hit and miss and surprise elements of blogging, and the choices I/We might make as a result.

So this has been interesting not only in what you guys think and your opinions, but also in your blogging and commenting decisions. It prompted me to think harder and deeper about this than I expected.

I don't know why I so underestimated the responses I'd get!

I seriously thought this would be a sort of nay and yea vote thing.

Instead you guys gave a lot more. Thanks.

Julie and Robert summed up nicely the possibilities of blogging as social medium, with collaboration. I think perhaps that's the concept at the base of "reader-directed blogging" although perhaps the "pro tips" are missing the target a bit.

All of your comments made me see that the act of commenting and the dynamic flow of discussion, including additional posts and spinoff posts at other blogs, already incorporate reader-directed blogging.

At this point, the way my opinion is swaying is considering that it would be fun to do a Q&A post.

The Hump Day Hmms (which I hope you are already thinking about for tomorrow) are a weekly exercise in reader-directed blogging, IMO, if you stop and think of it that way. You guys suggest topics at least as much as I do, and sometimes your suggestions are the best ones.


Maybe we are already doing this and very well!


This is all off the top of my (hungry) head and now I need to eat my dinner so I'm running off but I'll check back in!
flutter said…
I really think it depends on what you want to use your space for. There is certainly a place for it, and I think there is something to be said for writing for yourself, too.
Catherine said…
Interesting. I too changed up the "7 things" meme, but what I did was ask readers to tell me things about them and I posted 19 interesting things about my readers. But I like the idea of having them ask questions too...hmmm, I almost want to get tagged. Almost. :)
niobe said…
I have enough trouble generating content for my own blog. Just the thought of trying to come up with topics for other people makes me feel slightly stressed.
Anonymous said…
I think if your readership is large enough and thoughtful enough, it might be worthwhile to do this at times. But I have read a few blogs in the past that have flipped over to this approach almost exclusively recently, and it is a bit boring. The burning questions that I'd like you to answer may not be about things that would interest them.
Robert said…
If I don't do Hump Day, it's because I already have a post for tomorrow, and I'm out of town for work. I'll try to get to it, but no promises. Great comments and great post today.
Bea said…
Fascinating topic!

Whether or not we adopt a "reader-directed" blogging model, I think we all practice some kind of "reader-bounded" blogging. I may not overtly seek input from my readers, but there are certainly posts I don't write because I don't believe that they would appeal to people based on what I know (or think I know) about my readership.

Recently, I've followed links in SiteMeter to a couple of discussion boards and blogs that link to me in a very different context from my mommy-blogging niche. One of them was a discussion board devoted to the Myers-Briggs personality types. Someone there had linked to the post where I did an MBTI analysis of the characters in Harry Potter. She prefaced the link with a warning that my analysis was "incredibly superficial" but worth reading all the same.

I have to say, I was a little miffed by that, in part because I felt it failed to acknowledge the constraints imposed by audience: of course I was not going to provide the intricate in-depth analysis that would be appropriate for a discussion board populated entirely by devotees of the Myers-Briggs system: I'm writing for an audience of readers whose interest in and knowledge of the system is limited, so my task is to make the bare outlines clear in as few words as possible.

That incident made me think about how my sense of my readership affects my writing, and also how the meaning of my words is altered when they are transplanted into a new context, with a different readership.
atypical said…
Being scientifically minded, I would be very interested to see where the path would lead if you spent a week doing almost exclusively reader-directed posts - but then you would have to open a new blog to do it and write twice as much because I would miss your regular posts. Maybe you could use Flavia's space since it is so empty. Yes, I am kidding (other than the "interested to see where it would go" part). Goodness my grammar is out to get me today.

I won't analyze the pros and cons of reader-directed blogging, partially because that has already been done so well by so many, partially because your interest in the question was coming, I think, from the same theoretical position that mine is, but mostly because I have spent many years perfecting my ability to keep pro and con charts evenly balanced - point for point - thereby undermining the decision process completely.

-t (the wishy-washy run-on sentence spewer)

P.S. Of course, you can feel free to custom-design a blog idea to move me with such passion that I am summarily and for all eternity snapped out of the current dearth of type-age.

P.P.S. another "request couldn't be processed" so if this double-posts, I am sorry
Anonymous said…
I love the interraction. It shows that readers are more than just faceless people. And so am I.
For my 100th post, I let them ask me questions.
They asked very deep meaning questions, I wasn't so sure I wanted to answer.
Didn't anyone want to know my favorite color?? Apparently not.

This bloggy world has blown me away. What amazing people I've met in this last year.

Kat said…
Blogging allows people an unusually intimate look in to your life. Most writers (columnists or novelists) do not write about their personal lives so the need for more information about them is not necessarily there. After you read a blog for a while you feel a "friendship" with the blogger and sometimes want more info than has already been provided. I think when a blogger allows people to ask questions it allows the readers to get to know them more personally and ask a question they may have been wondering about, without coming across as nosey.
I actually love the "100 things" for the 100th post. I love the little snapshots it gives into a person.
Christine said…
i'm late to the game as usual! and my low brow head hurts from all of this. anyway, i think it all really depends on why you blog. i would be a liar if i said that i didn't care what people thought of what i wrote. and i think of my readers and their reactions when i write. why else blog publicly? but the majority of my content is directed by me soley. like flutter said, there is a place for everything in the messing world of blogging.

Running on empty
Swistle said…
I find that I enjoy an occasional invitation to direct someone else's blog, but I get impatient if there's too much of it.

I think of blogging as like writing emails to a group of friends. It's not a perfect comparison: in an email to a friend, I wouldn't EVER ask her what she wanted to know about me, or ask her to tell me what to email her about, while I might occasionally do that with blogging.

More often I answer questions when the readers put them in the comment section on their own, unsolicited---just as an email from a friend might ask me questions.

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Made by Andrea Micheloni Not too long ago I read What's in a name? by Veronica Mitchell. She'd read the NPR/USA Today article, Blame it on your name , that shared new research results: "a preference for our own names and initials — the 'name-letter effect' — can have some negative consequences." Veronica's post and that article got me thinking about names, and their importance. Changing to my husband’s name and shedding my maiden name was no love lost for me. By the time we married, I’d have gladly married any other name just for a change. My maiden name was a trial; I was sick of spelling it, pronouncing it, explaining it, and dealing with the thoughtless rude comments about it. My sister and I dreamed and planned for the day we could shed that name. So I wonder, sometimes, whether I adequately considered what a name change would actually mean. Heritage and genealogy matter to me and my maiden name reflected a great deal of familial history. Histo