Thursday, June 26, 2008

A blog review

I submitted my blog for a review awhile back on a site that normally tears people up and spits them out. Really it probably wasn't the best site to ask to review my blog based on the rather conservative nature of my blog and the rather...um...NOT conservative nature of the site, but I thought it would be interesting. The reviewer notified me on Tuesday morning that he was ready to review my blog if I was still interested. Today I received the results of that review. I have copied and pasted the actual review for you to read.

Tell me about it has given me a sore arse.

I'm not glued to my seat reading it, but I have been sitting on the fence for 2 days regarding my opinion of it.

I prayed the author would tell me it wasn't a genuine submission, but she did, and in the end, as I'm not an overly intelligent person, I'm going with both my opinions.

The Dixon family blog tells the tale of life in Turkey, Natalie, hubby Brian and their four handsome kids. If I was a friend or a family member I would love it, it would keep me up to date on every thing they eat & drink, haircuts they get, cleaning products they use and what they hang their clothes on.

This will someday be a great resource for the entire family to look back at their time in an exotic land, it really will, and you should be proud of that much, but no amount of Natalie's dazzling smiles could hold my interest.

As an outsider, the blog just isn't going to hold my attention. It looks and reads very PG, very inoffensive visually and literally, which isn't a bad thing, but when I have the urge to reword posts myself, it doesn't bode well.

The family have lived for years in Turkey, a fascinating country I have visited myself, but I get absolutely no sense of the place from the blog, which is amazing considering it's over two years and 600 posts old.

I'm also an expatriate and I know that you never stop learning about your new home, but what little insight into Turkish life there was, seemed to fade away around March of 2007. There is a difference between holiday snapping and documenting where you live.

What got me chuckling? not much. This did for sure, but not much else.

There are glimpses of unused writing skills with a touch of poignancy, but like the scarlet pimpernel, it soon vanishes without a trace.

There are a few mentions of volunteer work, that sounds interesting, tell me where, when, why, how, who?

I trawled and trawled the archives, which are actually well organised with relatively few categories, looking for the juice, for something exciting, for more funny, for something I could hold up as the saving grace...instead, I found this and a little bit of me died inside.

I like this eternally smiley woman, but her blog gives me very little.

For what I hope it's intended to be, a place family and friends can see what's going on in your lives, and for the fact I have the exact same 'hand painted bowls' as you do, I give you this:

As a blog which is open to the universe to use and abuse, its this:

So now I am asking you...my mostly regular readers to review my blog as well. What do you agree with? Disagree with? Think I should do differently? I really want to know. I love keeping the blog and want constructive criticism on what I can do to make it better.

Oh...and be nice to the reviewer. He was way nicer to me than I expected, based on the reviews I read before I submitted my blog to be reviewed.


Anonymous said...

Ok, here's the thing. I think there are lots of different reasons why people blog and why people read other people's blogs. I for one post to keep friends and family updated adn I'm always THRILLED if someone I don't know decides to stop by.
And as an 'expat' that guy should know that there is no way on God's green earth that you could even remotely begin to express what it is like to live in another culture and, what is more, that these fascinating , cultural revelations come in between bits of regular old life, which includes haircuts and going to a restaurant and babysitting bunnies.
If I didn't like your blog, I wouldn't read it. And since nobody's forcing that guy to read it, either, then 'meh' to him, too!
and that's my two cents and just keep on doing what you WANT to do because it's not like its a competition or something!

Chrissy Johnson said...

Well I think it's interesting and fun...it's your blog, and blogs themselves are a medium new and fresh...but the bigger point is I am sooooo going to have my blog reviewed by this site.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you would have gotten an extra star if he also owned a hookah?

I think he was very fair, without really reading as much of your blog as he should have in order to create a wider opinion of content. I truly think, he missed a great deal about Turkish life on your blog.

I agree with him on this, "There are glimpses of unused writing skills with a touch of poignancy, but like the scarlet pimpernel, it soon vanishes without a trace." Why?

Because I think you are an excellent writer, even though you hold yourself back a bit. Some of my favorite posts are the ones in which you open yourself up to vulnerability. Memory Lane, Lightness, Words, Memories of my Grandparent's farm... are just a few that catch that writer inside of you. I understand that opening yourself up for that kind of vulnerability is difficult, which is why I don't do it all the time either.

I also love the pictures, you could really have your blog be nothing but pictures and it would tell a story. You are excellent in capturing the essence of your subject matter, whether it be a brick wall, wet stones or family pictures.

All in all, I think you have a nifty little blog going here, and it captures who you are in life at the moment... There is a good mix of humor, family life, cultural information, and seriousness to satisfy the average reader... Also know this, everyone in is a work in progress...As you grow, and change, so will the words you use, and then to will the blog.

I would give you 3 out of 5 stars for "terrific-ness" and 4 out of 5 hearts for how much I love the blog....

Tamara said...

Wow...my first thought was, "Dang, she is brave!" I really like the "mix" on your blog, and have enjoyed getting to know y'all better through it. My favorite posts are those that talk about your life as a family, your experiences in Turkey, and what it's like to be back in the States. I also enjoy the posts that give a glimpse into who you are.

I think that opening yourself up to a review of this sort is healthy, in that it can help you strengthen the areas that are important to you. However, this blog is yours, for you, and ultimately, what you think of it matters much more than what the reviewer thinks of it. Obviously you have a following, and you are making a difference to the people you encounter through it. You're also able to keep in touch with friends and family through it. So, on every level that seems important, I think your blog is quite successful.

Anonymous said...

The thing that makes this review seem the strangest to me is that he says you don't show much of Turkish life. I, on the other hand, am somewhat dreading your return to the States because I'm thinking, "But what about TURKEY?" I feel like I've learned a TON about the place in the couple of months I've been reading your blog.

I enjoy it, and I'm a "stranger". There ARE blogs I've decided to stop reading because the content doesn't engage me often enough. But yours is NOT one of those. AT ALL. I just LOVE your blog! But I wonder, too, what exactly the reviewers vantage point is. Does he prefer educational blogs? Blogs with a specific theme? Blogs that don't talk about the "mundane" tasks of everyday life, which to me are the BEST part of reading blogs? I love when people take everyday stuff and turn it into entertainment!

Blah, blah, blah. My point is: I LOVE YOUR BLOG, obviously MANY people do, and other than going ahead and exploring your inner writer, if you wish, I don't think you should change a thing!

Sra said...

That's a very honest review, which I think I would appreciate, even if it wasn't the most stellar. I've only been reading a short while, so I can't judge much, but just the fact that some strange girl in Utah who doesn't even know you is willing to read about your daily adventures shows that it isn't utter crap, right? So I wouldn't worry.

Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure what that review person is all about. We are new to the blogasphere. good Lord he would rip ours to shreds. But you know what?? I would not care. Our blog is ours to have fun with....its who we are in real life and blogtime.

Your blog is your own. Why would you let what he says change it? I love coming to read about your life. I highly doubt I will ever get to Turkey but you let me see it through pictures, stories etc....

Again, i am not quite sure about what the review guy stands for???? Is it someone special in the blogworld? I dont believe he was mentioned in the Blogging for Dummies book .LOL


Neil said...

I say meh to the review. A blog is not a book. It is a living thing that is sometimes good, sometimes sucks. It is like a soap opera. You need to watch it awhile until you know the characters. I read blogs that on the surface seem unexciting, but I have gotten to know the writer, which draws me in. Of course, the blog about the former drug addict who has slept with 100 guys last year will have a more outrageous blog, and I may be more intrigued with reading about her in the beginning, but if I don't click with the writer, I don't read her for long.

And frankly, I'm glad this blog isn't solely a Turkish travelogue. I find it more interesting that you can live what seems to be a regular life in such an exotic place. This blog is about you, not Turkey, even though I enjoy learning about the culture.

What could you do to make this blog better? Who knows? I know on my blog, I try to focus on how I FEEL about events, since people seem to get into it. It makes a post unique, since only you have those specific feelings. For instance, I was curious to learn more about how you felt when you went to that cool-looking hotel recently. Was your opinion different than Brian's? Are you the type of woman who needs more comfort (and bigger bathrooms? I like reading stuff like that.

And I do like your sense of humor!

fAiThFuL cHiCk said...

Just stopping by for the first time. Followed your comment from my blog.

Look forward to reading more here.

faithful chick

Romance said...

I am new visitor and mainly dropped by to say 'hi' and I will be back for a nice long read. You are so brave to submit your blog for review!!!!

And I loved your carmex story


Sue Doe-Nim said...

I'm a new visitor and I tend to agree with him in that you're likeable. I mean who wouldn't like you?

But darlin' you're in Turkey and I've spent a month of my life there, why aren't we hearing the sounds of ivory dice hitting a backgammon set and ageless men bent over hookahs?

Most importantly when I was in Istanbul there was a cart where they had tiny donuts and you would buy them by the basket, you know the little green strawberry baskets? I think they were fried with honey and rosewater. I will pimp the crap outta your blog if you get me the recipe for that!

I like you, I'm bookmarking you and clearly you're a talented writer but I want more flavor. Mostly because you're clearly so capable.


Natalie said...

wow! i had no idea i would get this much feedback so quickly. ok...here goes...

~m - well i did ask him to read it so i kinda forced him to read it at least this once. i doubt he will be back. and the funny thing is that most of my family doesn't read the blog. i have more people i don't know reading it than people i do know. i will keep doing what i want...i just wanted to see where i could improve. i certainly won't stop sharing the posts about food and such because i love them too much!

chrissy - good luck! i think he was nice to me, because he could see that i am a relatively nice person. he might have been scared i would cry if he said something horrible!

charlie girl - i thought it was a pretty fair review for the most part. and i'll work on the writing skills. thanks for continuing to read and comment. it means a lot.

tamara - i honestly never thought i would be able to share what was said about the blog. most of the reviews have tons of cuss words in them which i would not have been able to print. thankfully he was able to see the pg-ness of the blog and kept his comments clean as well. and thanks for the kind words. i do love it here.

andrea - you know i didn't have all my posts about turkey linked under the turkey label so maybe he missed some of them. i tried to fix that some today. thanks for reading and commenting. i do appreciate the kind words!

sra - it was honest, and i appreciated that. it has given me some things to think about, but i'm sure i won't be changing much!

#2 - well...the reviewer isn't anyone special. it is just a site you can ask to review your blog. they mostly review blogs that are much more risque than mine. so i'm sure the pg nature of my blog was quite puzzling to the poor guy. he did ask me in the email what a nice girl like me was doing on his site. i am just thankful he was nice about it all!

neil - you know i think you are right. i don't often tell what i feel about things. i have all kinds of stuff that i've written about my feelings that aren't on the blog. i guess i figure most people don't want to read that, but i do enjoy reading those posts where the authors are blatantly honest about how they feel. i will work on that! and i loved that hotel. i am so not the type who needs fancy. i enjoy fancy, but there is a time and place for it. i am the one who picked the hotel we stayed at!

faithful chick - thanks for the visit!

zombie mom - thanks!

sue doe-nim - thanks for the review. you know i hesitate to take video of strangers. i guess because we live here and aren't just tourists. i always ask before i take pictures of strangers, and most of the time they agree. i will have to go out and get some hookah smoking and backgammon playing videos. although most of the people i see playing and smoking are young guys. and i will look for the recipe for that dessert. i'll have to think about what it is. i'm not sure they are sold here the same way. i'm checking though. thanks for reading and being interested in coming back!

Holy Crappers said...

That reviewer says he has a sore ass? Prob has a big one at that from sitting all day long reading blogs.
I say screw him, keep doing what you are doing


Anonymous said...

In the first, place, I think fried cheese sounds awesome. In the second place, did he really say he was disappointed that your blog was inoffensive? I'd take that as a compliment!

I joined a site once that gave you the option of submitting for review an I opted not to because I'd only just started blogging and wanted to get the hang of it first. Then every review I saw was negative, no matter the blog. I think reviewers are by nature impossible to please.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I think you blog for yourself. I know I blog for myself. And I like having a wide variety of blogs to read - I don't want eeryone to be caron copies of each other. Maybe, if I were going to suggest adding anything, I'd add a little more of "you." Yor thoughts, your feelings, the up and down of it all. But I'l read it regardless.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to review your blog because it's all so subjective! There are a couple of "well known" bloggers out there whose sites you couldn't pay me to read. I don't get the attraction. But that's just me. Then there are some little-known blogs out there that I think are fabulous. We all have different styles and reading interests, so I say that the best thing you can possibly do is just be true to yourself and write about what moves you. :)

Oh, and what site is it that you got this review from? I'd be interested to read some of the comments this guy has for other blogs...

Better Than Coffee said...

hello there..


Natalie said...

#1 - i do like my blog and probably won't be changing much. i agree that i could share more of me though.

memarie lane - well you should read some of the blogs they review. mine is not offensive at all compared to some of them. and the actual review site is quite offensive as well. i wondered what they would say about my blog being as tame as it was. very few blogs get good reviews from this site so i was expecting the worst!

citizen of the world - i do blog for myself. i love that others read what i write, but ultimately i need to be happy with it. there are posts in my blog that are there only because i felt like i should post something when i had nothing to say. i hesitate to delete them to make it read better only because they are still a record of how i am evolving...what i am going through. and there will be more of my thoughts and feelings. that was an overwhelming request and i have lots going through my head about it all.

walking with scissors - i'll email you the site address. even it is offensive! and i agree with you. i don't read some of the popular blogs because i just can't get into them.

iago's mom - hi!

Mike S said...

Wow!! More guts than the Old Indian Fella has!! He WAS very nice to you considering the source. As for 'feel' for Turkey, I'm an EX-Pat who loves watching the videos and hearing the bustle. How much more 'flavor' can ya get without smelling or tasting?

I also think the photos are plenty varied, interesting, and match the post's subject matter. I feel like I'm visiting with an old friend when I read this. Sorta has a warm homey feel that's relaxing.

I'm with CJ, you've got loads of creativity, style, and potential. I know for me it's been really hard opening up my life a bit, but like you, I blog for posterity. Mayhaps my family will read it someday long after I'm not around.

Judging from the variety, scope, and loyalty of your fans, ye be doin' sumthin' rite Lassie. Don't mess with success. Tweak and evolve, yes, change? NEVER!! Can't fix what ain't broke. I only hope you DO keep it going in the "Yew Ess of A":)

[besides, anyone who likes pizza, hot dogs, and chicken fried steak can't be all bad]

Rhonda said...

DITTO to all the above.

Blogs are so individualistic and should never be held to one idea or exact standard.

Your blog keeps me coming back again and again...I may not always comment, but I do return for updates often.

Let's face it, unless your blog is a 40 hour week career, and it is feeding your family, then why care???

Jeff and Erin said...

Nat - I think you and your blog are wonderful and I love keeping up with you and your family in Turkey. I also think you do share a lot of yourself in your posts, you are not a 'hard' person to get to know - in person or via blog =)

LiteralDan said...

I hear a lot of the same criticisms that would likely come about from a review of my own blog, so don't feel too bad.

It is what it is, but if you're happy with what you've got, and you have plenty of readers (whether you want them or not), then that's all that really matters.

Gail Dixon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie said...

mike s - he was nice. even the comments on the site are pretty tame. one person said i was too nice to be mean to. made me laugh!

and i do plan to keep it up when i am in the states.

rhonda - since i don't have ads on my blog i am feeding nobody with it that is for sure! thanks for coming back!

erinleigh - thanks for the support! i appreciate it.

literaldan - i am happy with the blog. i tend to be a learner, but not so much a people pleaser. if there is something i can do to improve i want to know. if i don't agree i certainly won't do it! oh...did i mention i am also stubborn? yeah...pretty much!
you're right i didn't take anything personally. thanks for reading!

Sue Doe-Nim said...

Natalie, when I said the sounds, I meant them figuratively, in your writing.

You can do it. I know you can.

Anonymous said...

I love reading your blog and keeping up with y'all. I think it's fun. Of course, I am in a similar "stage" of life as you and relate quite well:) I wouldn't change it--coming from an old friend who reads to know what's going on with the Dixons.

The Over-Thinker said...

Don't change a darn thing. Please!!

He likes your smi-le, He thinks it's dazz-ling, he wants to mar-ry you!!


Natalie said...

sue doe-nim - ok...so i totally got your name...like just now. i know...i am slow!

and i will work on it. thanks for the encouragement.

cheri - thanks. i love that old friends read the blog!

over-thinker - i know. that was the best thing he said. at least he likes that much!

i don't think i could change much. i like it like it is.

Me. Here. Right now. said...

Natalie, I think for what your blog is - an update of your life that you share with friends, family, and your church people, you do it up perfectly.

I think a lot of blog readers, and the reviewers at AAYSR (I heart them by the way), they want something a little more raw.

They were easy on me too. I took to heart many of the things they said though - like template design and stuff and did make my blog better.

Do whatever feels right. If people are interested, and they are, they will come read.

Natalie said...

hahn - you know the funny thing is that most of my readers aren't family, friends that i actually know, or church people. they are blog readers who have stumbled upon my blog and like it. i'm glad. i think i could do raw...i have done raw...you know. i am glad they were nice. it was a stepping stone to ask for other's advice as well. i am a work in progress for sure. thanks for reading!

Me. Here. Right now. said...

Really, Natalie, don't you think you edit yourself because those friends, family, and church readers check in on you? I know it used to and still does affect my writing - except the church thing - The Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't mind what I say.

Natalie said...

hahn - you're right. i totally edit what i say. i have to. my latest post was almost pushing the line believe it or not. but i was trying to be funny and went with it. if i only had myself to worry about i would be willing to open up a little more...i wouldn't worry so much what other people might say. right now i can't do that.

Me. Here. Right now. said...

And, I fully support your fabulous blog just the way it is.

Keepin' on doing what you're doing, kiddo.

Andrea said...

Hi Natalie,
I really like reading your blog because I like to get another's insight of living out of their element. You have a sense of humor and that is gteat also!

I find that I often write a blog entry in my head, but it just doesn't flow when I sit down to write it. I also find myself holding back and editing some views about the local area and the people. I just don't want to offend others or seem like the spoiled American that doesn't have conveniences.

I originally made this blog as way to update family and friends, but find that they don't keep up with it as I would like...oh well. I also like to use it as a personal journal, but it's hard to share all, isn't it?

Natalie said...

hahn - thanks!

andrea - i'm glad you enjoy the blog. i agree about things not flowing sometimes. i was sitting on a bus the other day thinking about a post...writing it in my head. when i got home and started writing it...well...it ended up being totally different than what i had in mind. then i really couldn't remember what i was even thinking originally. it was frustrating. i hold back in several areas as well. i don't want to offend either.

and my family is the same. my mom says i talk to much or over share as it is and reading my blog would be like listening to me talk nonstop about things that aren't important. i'm ok with most of my family not reading. we can talk on the phone whenever we want so that helps.

Anonymous said...

uh.. 10x for :))