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Sunday, July 18, 2004

search?q=Serengeti watering hole

I took the title of today’s post from a Google search someone once used to reach my blog. I have no idea what combination of Boolean logic and key words brought this particular explorer to the shores of treppenwitz (since I have never knowingly discussed either the Serengeti or watering holes), but this nameless person ended up spending over two hours reading almost everything in my 'favorite posts' list and archives. One can assume from this that this person either really enjoyed my writing, or perhaps had painfully little to do at the time. Either way, I was somewhat disappointed to see that he/she left no comment.

For all I know this person has since become my most devoted reader (I’m not curious enough to start tracking IP addresses) and quotes me daily to his friends and family. But without any communication, I have no idea what made that seeker-of-information on the Serengeti want to spend a couple of hours of their life reading my random thoughts and observations. It’s not that I am so in need of a stranger’s validation. But by the same token, if I truly didn’t care I’d be writing in a paper diary and not posting my thoughts on the web, right?

Many of my blogging/journaling cronies periodically voice either pride or concern over their traffic statistics. Specifically, there seems to be some perceived correlation between the success of a blog/journal and the number of ‘hits’ it registers in a particular day/week/month.

I’ll admit that my head was turned ('spun around' might be a better description) by the number of people who typically wander by treppenwitz on any given day. But as time has passed I have become much more curious about the 'who' and 'why' of visitors than the dry data of simply 'how many'.

A charming and talented European blogger who I follow made a couple of interesting points in her blog’s disclaimer: In addition to asking people not to hit her up for free technical advice (a reasonable demand that I inadvertently trampled), she also made a request that frequent, and especially repeat visitors extend the courtesy of leaving a comment or e-mail saying ‘hello’ once in awhile. I was floored by the reasonableness of her request , and how few of us practice this basic courtesy.

Most of us surf our 'morning reads' as though we are perusing a newspaper, or walking briskly past public sculpture. For some reason we feel that since the artist/journalist is not present, there is no reason to comment or provide feedback.

However, with bloggers/journalers, the artist is sitting next to his/her painting… the journalist is sitting within earshot of the newspaper! In the real world I can’t imagine passing up the opportunity to say hello to a person whose work I enjoy… yet here on the web I do it all the time!

The 'Serengeti watering hole' search term also resonated with me on another level. Anyone who has ever spent any time watching one of the many nature networks has doubtless seen a few documentaries about the diverse wildlife that congregates at a typical African watering hole. Animals of every description are drawn to these places by a wide range of needs. Some come for the cooling/soothing mud… others for the life-sustaining water… and still others (the predators) to feed on the other visitors.

In creating and nurturing treppenwitz, I have deliberately tried to stay away from the specifics of politics and religion that might scare people away from my 'watering hole'. Obviously, living in this politically- and religiously-charged corner of the world, it would be odd if I made no comment on these topics… but with the exception of the sanctity of human life (meaning terrorism, not abortion), I have always tried to leave room in my commentary for the possibility of other opinions.

Another blogger friend who lives over in ‘the mitten’ once made the following observation about me to her readers, “Do I agree with him all the time? Nope. Do I always appreciate the different world perspective he brings to my computer screen? Absolutely.” That is one of the nicest compliment I’ve ever received. If treppenwitz had a mission statement, that would be it!

I am also pleased that with rare exceptions, I have seldom had to play the role of lifeguard here at the watering hole. Few predators show up (I’ve had to delete only one or two overtly anti-Semitic or anti-Israel comments that would not have elevated the level of discourse), and I have (so far) never had to pry a gazelle loose from the jaws of a crocodile (meaning there haven’t been any flame wars).

So I guess my point is this: Don’t feel obligated to leave a comment or send an e-mail every time you stop by (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But if you find yourself coming here to my ‘watering hole’ on a regular basis… or even if you come only once for an extended drink… please say hello. I don’t need accolades or validation, but if you are a stranger and enjoyed reading my most intimate thoughts… I’m curious to know what brought you here, and why you stayed.

Posted by David Bogner on July 18, 2004 | Permalink

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You're a delight to read, what can I say.

Keep it coming ve toda for sharing.
Jen

Posted by: Jenny | Jul 18, 2004 2:58:28 PM

*drops her jaw* Okay, give me time to comment on the specific mention.

As for the blogging traffic and who-was-on, I think that for blogging, there are so man types of journals, from personal to commercial tech related to tech support...they all should demand different rules for feedback. But it is especially with personal blogs [and such are really easy to recognize!] that readers should behave not like swines. Just as your example went...examples of these actually had me leaving my blog provider and go for my own thing. Where I could limit my presence on search engines to a minimum for many reasons.

Fellow bloggers use to smirk about me and tend to think I am a bit 'uber'. But first of all, glad to see you're sharing that experience now, because many are not aware of the impact. Secondly I think there is yet a difference between being the proud traffic loaden blogger and the introvert paper diary writer, namely a healthy, balanced human being taken advantage of new journaling technologies. This ever-old saying of "Eh, it's on the web, so it's public domain and we can do what we want to!" is outdated. Moreoever, whoever thought this way has quite a sick twist. Just because you don't see the owner doesn't meant you can put your dirty shoes on the coffee table [you get the point, don't you?].

Sorry for the long rant; it's something that gets my poor blood pressure into the 180s in 0.001 seconds.

What can I say...there is much to learn in terms of how to behave when surfing. I hope your new lurking fan will be enlightened.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jul 18, 2004 3:45:58 PM

p.b. blame it on my blood pressure...

With blogger difference I meant that there is a healthy 'choice' in between the two extremes. Ahem.

On a second thought - measuring a blog's success according to the plain hits is so ridiculous. Google slurps everything, so multiply that with the searching users and keywords entered. Then look up your stats and compare the google referrals and what got people look up your blog and how long they stayed. E voila, 'poof' goes the soap bubble. I, for my part, define 'success' differently.

So again - sounds strange to say 'am happy for the experience you've made', but I hope you swallow that down the right throat. It's a very good post and I do echo your points.

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Jul 18, 2004 3:55:04 PM

I like the readers I do not know just as much as the ones I do.
It lets my imagination wonder what it is that makes them come back.

Q

Posted by: Queenie | Jul 18, 2004 9:46:53 PM

I'm so embarrassed. I feel as though I have been peeping in your windows and got caught!

Yes, I come by every day...sometimes a couple of times, until I find something new. Mostly, because your easy, sideways way of talking about your life appeals to me. I like quoting you to my husband. And, partly I come here because I am new in Israel, myself. And then then there is because, while sometimes I agree with you, I don't always.
Thanks for writing!
Carol

Posted by: Carol | Jul 18, 2004 10:24:26 PM

Carol... it wasn't my intention to make anyone feel bad or shame anyone out of hiding. On the contrary, I was sort of hoping to turn some of the dry statistics I see into real live people. It's always more fun speaking when you can see the audience, no?

I hope you continue stopping by...and if you and I don't see eye-to-eye on something, please let me know. Many of my opinions are still unformed and I am writing to see how they look in the light of day.

Posted by: David | Jul 18, 2004 10:35:43 PM

Hi Dave,(David?)
Avremi got me hooked onto your blog. I've gotta admit, I'm one of those who read and run. You write so amazingly well, I'm more than a little intimidated to actually reply. I love reading about your family and life in Israel. You've gotten me to laugh and cry, and sometimes just scratch my head...but I'm always guarenteed a wonderful read. Thank you much. Regards to wifey....
Dini

Posted by: dini gourarie | Jul 19, 2004 5:50:06 AM

Dini! I'm delighted that you stopped by my humble journal. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since our 'Fontainbleau days' together.

I wish you'd give your husband a kick in the pants to start writing again on his bog... he has a unique point-of-view and a wicked South African wit that is sorely missed.

As to 'Wifey' (I'd have to duck if I ever called her that to her face) you should drop her a line. If you don't have her e-mail address, contact me off line and I'll pass it along.

Posted by: David | Jul 19, 2004 10:53:19 AM

WOW! You've come a long way, baby! D*mn straight you'd have to duck calling me THAT to my face!

Question for you, my beloved (and anyone else who'd care to weigh in) – why is that "hubby" sounds affectionate and radiates manly warmth, while "wifey" sounds downright diminutive and submissive?

Any thoughts? Any one? Or is my reaction simply a reinforcement of the era in which I was raised (ie: Battle- of-the-Sexes – Billy Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs; and those oh-so-passé power suits)?

Posted by: Zahava | Jul 19, 2004 2:35:24 PM

David,

Since you didn't specifically ask no one to ask *you* for technical advise, and in fact implied that you broke this rule, I shall break it as well. (In honor of Albert Camus who said, "I rebel, therefore I am.")

How do you look up the IP addresses of people who reach your page? And more importantly, how do you find out what searches led people to your page?

If it's complicated, don't bother. But if there's a quick place you could refer me to, it sounds like something fun to try when I'm bored.

(I'm loving my spam-free g-mail account by the way!! Thank you.)

Posted by: Jim | Jul 20, 2004 1:03:10 AM

Jim... try http://www.sitemeter.com or http://das.reinvigorate.net . Both are free and have pretty straight-forward instructions. Let me know off-line if you have any trouble.

Posted by: David | Jul 20, 2004 9:05:10 AM

Just wanted to say "hineni," since I check in regularly, though I rarely comment.
It's a great way to stay connected!
-Chavi

Posted by: Chavi | Jul 20, 2004 6:57:45 PM

Just wanted to say "hineni," since I check in regularly, though I rarely comment.
It's a great way to stay connected!
-Chavi

Posted by: Chavi | Jul 20, 2004 6:57:47 PM

Just wanted to say "hineni," since I check in regularly, though I rarely comment.
It's a great way to stay connected!
-Chavi

Posted by: Chavi | Jul 20, 2004 6:57:51 PM

Well, in a single minute (06:57) Chavi has changed from rarely commenting to commenting quite frequently. (I kid because I love).

David: I found your page from your comment on Jan's blog and have added you to my bloglines subscriptions, so here's one more for the watering hole.

Posted by: dan | Jul 21, 2004 5:44:41 PM

I'm here for the first time, via Alison - Getupgrrl. I feel overwhelmed by the many good and intelligent blogs out there. Sometimes I regret my own blog has slipped into my native German because that means people here in Israel can't read it and comment ;-) But when I come under friendly and not-so-friendly fire from my German readers, I take refuge in the safe waters of fellow Israelis who know "al ma medubar".

I hope I won't get hooked on your blog, too, otherwise I really won't have time for anything else but blogreading blogging commenting and replying to comments...

One more word about comments: a foolproof way of adding to your reader influx is dropping a line in every blog you find. This is why I feel reluctant to do the same. I comment when I have something to say, but not in order to catch new readers. (anyway it's in German, so save yourself the trouble!)

Your post about Getupgrrrl pretty much expressed my feelings. I hugged my #4 in tears after I read it and said thank you heavenly stars, thank you power above, I didn't deserve this but I DO DO DO appreciate it.

Posted by: Lila | Jul 23, 2004 8:48:28 AM

I'm sure you never expected this post (or any post, for that matter) to generate comments more than two years after you wrote it...but I'm the compulsive sort who likes to read the full archives of a good blog before adding it to my "regulars" list. Sometimes that process is a little tedious, but this time around it's like reading a good book -- why would I want to miss the first half?

I love the quality of your prose, the ingeniousness of your observations, and, most intensely, "the 'Aha' factor" of your Israel-experience posts. I'm looking forward to all the material I have ahead of me...

Posted by: Alisha | Oct 31, 2006 5:59:32 AM

Since you asked:
I'm not sure how I stumbled on your blog the first time, but I guess it was probably your sea story/analogy about the bar fight. I have tried several times to read through your archives, because I have enjoyed everything you've written. I like reading about Israel, and it is always nice to hear loving parents talk about their children. My dad also used to be a bee keeper. This week was the first time I read your Rt 66 piece, and since I live in Oklahoma, it was nice to hear you say stuff about that. I don't think I was the 2004 person who searched for David Bogner, since I haven't stumbled across that sea story yet, but I've forgotten the web address several times, so I may well have done that search if I misspelled treppenwitz on my first search.

Posted by: Channah | Jan 2, 2008 1:25:51 AM

Aha! You caught me. A few of my friends (I should really say "our", since they came to me more by way of my husband than me) recently (read: in the last 4 years) made aliyah. As with any other friends, we try to keep in touch and at least stay abreast of the most humorous or important milestones in each other's lives.

At any rate, while reading one of their blogs (I forget whose - either Stone on LJ or Ehwhy, or?), I came across a link to your blog, and had to find out just what treppenwitz was. (I, too, feel that I know this word, or its deeper meaning, intimately.) And, suffice it say, once I started reading, I just couldn't stop. I read through all of the current posts, and then, as one of the other comments said, started at the very beginning.

I was so impressed by your amalgam of humor, sarcasm, politics and 'life in these [United States/Israel]' that I couldn't stop. I think I "discovered" you about 4 days ago, and during these last days, I have spent far too much time reading, reading and reading. (Laughing out loud and sometimes frightening the baby too.)

Thank you for your hard (even if fun) work, and your temerity. I had no idea someone could have started this in 2001 and continue well into 2009, posting almost daily now.

Posted by: Tanya | Jun 17, 2009 3:59:29 AM

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