Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A letter to our readers ...

            A huge amount of work stands behind this blog. Though there is a donation button here, we get about twenty dollars per year on average. We fund this research out of the sale of our books and out of our own pocket. Original research is expensive. In the past four months we’ve spent more than good sense would permit. Off the blog we get support for which we are truly grateful. One long time blog reader purchased material for us. Others have done the same in years past. We appreciate this.
            I did not write this to ask for donations. While we have monthly expenditures, we’re usually capable of handling them on our own. And we get unexpected help. A university librarian found our work important. She scanned a booklet from their library, the only surviving copy, and waved their fees. So instead of costing us the forty-five dollars we expected, it cost us nothing but politeness. And the booklet is useful. We will quote from it, though probably not in volume two. Certainly we will in volume 3. We’ve already added a paragraph to a ‘finished’ chapter.
            The work that our contributors and Bruce and I put into writing our books and posting on this blog merits something more than a parasitical use of our work. We live in an age when people do not feel responsible for the use they make of other’s work. This is wrong. Blog statistics tell us that we get something under 100 return visits a day. And we get new visitors who may read one article and not return, their curiosity satisfied. Of the regularly reoccurring visitors, fewer than ten comment on anything like a regular basis. Visitors to this blog reap the work of others. It satisfies your curiosity; it interests you; some use it as resource material for their own work.
            But you do not comment. One of our contributors excuses that by saying comments or not, we’re generating interest in the subject. However, the original purpose of this blog was to further our research. One way for you to do that is to comment. Comments, like reviews, need not be elaborate. And I realize that most readers do not understand Watch Tower history, or any aspect of religious history, at much depth. But a simple, “oh, how interesting” would do. As it is, you’re eating from our plate of cookies and drinking our milk without a simple ‘thank you.’
            The ideal comment is one that informs or leads us to something new. Sometimes a question from a reader does that for us. I feel very unappreciated. I’d have left this project a long time ago, except Bruce is dependent on my help given his health issues. No-one knows this subject as well as he does.
            This letter to our readers will not improve anything but my disposition. And that is doubtful. But it is my belief that we owe something to those who produce important work. Apparently most of those who read this blog [And Roberto’s forum posts] do not believe they owe anything to anyone.


jerome said...

Just a few comments on your letter.

First, of course we like to be appreciated and thanked. And we SHOULD be thanked. In the past I have written screeds for several projects, and sometimes people have thanked me, and sometimes there is a stony silence and you wonder if they even received the material. In my case, if I don’t get thanked, well - that’s life - and I still keep on writing if I believe in the project and the subject. Personally I love writing and I love researching for the sake of it, although I do have “a life” as well. But that is me - we are all different.

So when you write “One of our contributors excuses that by saying comments or not, we’re generating interest in the subject” - that is probably me you have in mind. But that was not intended to be “excusing” others’ lack of appreciation, it was simply meant as a statement of fact. If hundreds read the blog - even if they don’t say thank you - then a percentage are going to buy the book. And a much smaller percentage may just have something tucked away or an opinion or question that is worth considering. Many of the current avid readers were not reading 5-6 years ago - because they knew nothing about the project. Now they do. So the blog will still attract new readers from time to time, and once in a while someone may supply gold. And every time I have a new contact, I mention the blog.

Of course posting “oh how interesting” does not directly further research, other than to encourage the researcher to keep on going. But from your comments, that is obviously important. Of course, many readers do not have access to ancient materials. There may be extremely rare materials that only you have. In that case, only you can analyse and comment on them. That is just the way it is.

However, the type of project we can all assist with is when you ask a question, like what impression did you get of Lizzie Allen’s article? That material is readily accessible online. So everyone could read it and voice an opinion. The opinion may be wrong, but one must remember that if we today misunderstand what someone is getting at, then at the time - although obviously far less likely - there is still the possibility of misunderstanding.

So, the work done by the blog owners and writers of the book series is REALLY APPRECIATED by this reader. And I’m not alone. But just consider how many people respond to other blogs, or to tweets, or to social media that requires a comment rather than just tick “like” - it’s the modern world of rushing around in ever decreasing circles, and the fact that so many people today just lack social niceties. That’s just the way it is, and not to be taken as a personal snub. A personal snub demands thought. This problem is generally down to lack of thought.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with Jerome in this and most things, though sadly I do not have his research skills.

It's good to see that this week's Christian Life and Ministry meeting highlights the value of a certain Jeremiah as both a researcher and historian (as well as being a prophet). I'm much appreciative of the work of recent historians, such as Bruce and Rachael, in recovering our valuable heritage. Non-Witness scholars (including Knox, Baran and Chryssides) are also contributing meaningfully to the subject and, I note, are taking interest in Bruce and Rachael's work.

Son of Ton

Anonymous said...

I always read your blog and I´m really thanksful. But I would be ashamed just to put Oh, how interesting... But if you have got anything that needs to be translated from German or from French, I would gladly offer my help, if needed (and if my English is good enough). Thanks again for your work. I´ve never read anything comparably well researched about JW.
German girl

Anonymous said...

I agree that comments can be helpful. That said, I am, by nature, not a commenter online. My reason is simple: I don't believe in creating a forever lasting record of my thoughts. This stance is true of virtually everything I do online. I am happy to take my thoughts offline and provide them to you.

Where I can be helpful is when you post specific requests in the blog. This might be for a purchase of research material, a review, joining a pay-wall service and accessing/retrieving information etc.

Please keep those requests coming!