Saturday, July 26, 2008

The VN&V readers choice

Now it is time to give the results for the second part of the survey, completed sometime Monday and processed a little bit more slowly as more complex. The first general observation is that readers know very well what they like and dislike, not surprising since the timing of the survey offered a bias toward the regular readers.

Your likes and dislikes

The first question tried to survey the main topics that VN&V covers with more or less frequency. At first I had set the question, unknowingly, in a way that it forced readers to rank their preferences. This would have worked nicely if I had as many topics as type of preference as only one response was allowed per column. Fortunately readers caught on that (I did not take my own survey :) ) . Thus I released the restriction but by then already about 30 people had replied. Still, I do not think it alters much the final result.

I have calculated together the "never miss" and" tend to read" as they give clearer results. And as such the very clear winner is "political analysis": 85% of you marked that option, the next one, "outrage of the day" was significantly below at 66% with "electoral analysis" and "economic posts" at 64 and 65%. Foreign policy was a tad lower at 60% and "out of character topics" the clear loser at 23% (thought still the overall winner at "if I have time" with 38%).

The results of the previous reader's survey is confirmed: people do not come here for news, but for an interpretation of the news. A comforting thought.

What you would like to read about

There was a curious discrepancy there, probably due to the question wording and that a third of you could not reply fully to the first question. Even though "chronicles" and "out of character post" did not rank high in the previous question, they are still the ones that the readers would like to see more of. "more Chronicles" and "more cultural" got each one 44%.

Again, readers know what they want to read about. Very few of you want to read in VN&V about US politics or hot spots problems such as Iraq (5 and 1% respectively). Even though I could have covered the Obama campaign (I did live nearly two decades in the US), readers do not want me to waste our time on that. We all agree that there are surely much better blogs adapted to the mutual political preferences of the diverse readers. What keeps us together is our interest in Venezuela and if the words Bush, McCain or Obama appear a tad too often, the blog will surely become less interesting and risk becoming more of a sterile political fistfight. This is also a confirmation that what some PSF wanted is nto waht the general reader wants today. More Bush and US criticisms is not something we care at in connection to Venezuela: PSF world might be Bush centered, ours is not.

The third topic of interest at 41% would be "more Latin American stuff" (against 3% for more French stuff that I could write about real good and real mean if I wanted too....). I guess I will have to oblige on that, on the few countries I can discuss some. But do not expect a continuous stream of articles: too many countries to cover. I might start writing more about Colombia at least, and the Andean countries as events require.

I was happy to see that only 11% would love to read more personal stuff about me. You can thus forget to know more about me, we all enjoy the anonimity of the Internet. 30% also would like me to review PSF activities more, just as Quico did recently. But I do not beat dead horses so unless particularly funny or telling do not expect me to trash PSF more than what I have been doing so far: our time is better spent elsewhere.


I was surprised that 69% of you picked the option "When a post needs to be long, it needs to be long". I have been very worried about my tendency to write long posts. Over the years I have managed to control myself a little bit more but still. I have always envied those people who can make a point in two to three paragraphs. But you guys apparently prefer complete stuff and are not scared by long posts. That does not mean I will lengthen the posts, I just have not enough time, but on occasion I might add more details if time allows.

There was a very interesting result for me: number of links. 43% of you marked "Lots of links are not crucial to me, I have learned to trust the writers of this blog in general". Now, I am not goign to abuse this but it does help me to know that (besides learning that most of you trust me).

First, on occasion I write on what I hear live on a cadena or what I see live on TV for what a link might not be coming for hours or days if ever. At least now I will be less worried that readers think I am trying to pull a fast one on them. It is nice to see that the wirters of this blog have all earned enough credibility.

But also when PSF still used to visit opposition blogs, links were on occasion a point of contention. First if I/we did not use the link they chose for a given information (with an adequate ambiguity for them, such as for example the INE stats that PSF take as the Gospel) it did not matter what other link we/I chose to illustrate a point: all were biased for them. That I put one link or ten was thus immaterial. From these days I took the habit of occasional link redundacy but now that we know that most of you get their info elsewhere and what you want is analysis, a simple link to report the basic fact migth enough when in a hurry.

Tone, and ¿a pro Chavez writer?

As for the tone of the post, the choice was perfectly clear: 84% of you chose "VN&V is right to be anti Chavez. After ten years of rule there is not much more discussion needed.". We are all unapologetic about our dislike of Chavez and our non PC approach to the whole fiasco. Only 6% of you thought I should present more positive aspects of Chavez.

Yet there was a contradiction in your reply: on question 5, 56% of you picked "If it were possible to have a reasonable pro Chavez guest writer, should that person be invited to post?". I have been thinking about that a lot but never could come up with an adequate format. As some of you might recall I am the first blog that listed plenty of pro Chavez sites (even though I trimmed that least as some ungrateful SOB attacked me while not linking to me).

But the real problem here is that there is no Venezuelan chavista that write in English regularly enough, with a well established trajectory. The only ones are US PSF that do not live in Venezuela. It would be unfair to publish them in my blog when I am at ground zero and when their self sufficiency is totally undeserved, looking at chavismo from afar without suffering its consequences. There is also a minor problem: I confess that I have lost patience with chavistas and I read them less and less. What to do?

Well, since you read Spanish most of you, we could at start by posting an eventual guest poster in Spanish directly. If s/he is good enough for our taste we can probably find someone to translate them roughly. But you, my dear readers, will have to propose me Internet personalities and tell me why you think I should invite them to publish. I am willing to contact them and strike a deal with them if they agree. The format would be very simple at first: no debate, it is useless. Instead on some important topics we could ask the guest writer to expose chavismo point of view on some particular matter. So, get moving, if you find someone let me know. NOTE!!!! Any pro Chavez writer that uses a sentence like "but they did it like that in the 4th republic" to sustain an argument will never get published here, not even in the comments section.

Blog management

A surprising 66% of you do not want the design of the web page to change and think that after 5 years it has become kind of an "opposition monument". You obviously got used to the weird color scheme and grew to look at it as a comforting island of consistency on the net (I am about to get all misty eyed as I write these silly emotional words). Still 24% would like to lose the background color and keep the rest as is. I might try that option and see what happens.

On other features, apparently 55% of you have broadband and want big pictures directly in the text, no more clicking to enlarge. Only 9 % of you lack broadband. The only compromise here is to put big pictures in truncated posts with a warning in the label: if you see "big pictures" on the label at the end of a truncated post, you know not to open the post in full if you are in a hurry.

The good news for me is that few wanted to add any widget or feature to the blog. Few really care for blogrolls, word of the day and other cute little things. You are visiting for political analysis, not design. Only 42% of you expressed a desire for a a document section on Venezuela and 35% for a list of the more "important" articles of VN&V. I will oblige at some point but clearly there is no urgency.

Last but not least: the comment section

No real surprise here: 76% of you want the comment section to remain as it is, moderated with PSF, trolls, spammers taken down as needed. 16% wanted it to be less moderated, only erasing outright trolls and insults and only 1 of you all wanted the comment section totally open! I could hardly be more vindicated! You do appreciate the extra work that pre-approving comments mean for me, even if several hours can pass before yours are up. A work load by the way that is more than just erasing after the fact. The public has spoken, the moderation and approval policies remain in place.

But what else does this mean? One meaning, of course, is that historically discussion with PSF have proved to be useless, a waste of time. Two, that discussions are interesting only if they are short. And three, that discussions are not really that necessary in VN&V, that comments are really meant more as a way to express approval or disappointment, to chime in, to banter lightly, than to start any long discussion. Most of you realize that "if in three comments you did not make your point, you will not make it". Readers of this blog know where they stand, know very well what is outside and if they want to fight it off they know exactly where to go for that. In fact, some readers consider that a comment section is a waste of time when it is hijacked by the same trolls (remember the Steve Hunt days?).

One more survey?

And since you liked surveys so much, there is a real short one to decide whether you would like more surveys and about what.

-The end-

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Comments policy:

1) Comments are moderated after the sixth day of publication. It may take up to a day or two for your note to appear then.

2) Your post will appear if you follow the basic polite rules of discourse. I will be ruthless in erasing, as well as those who replied to any off rule comment.