Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “State of the Blog” Address

“State of the Blog” Address

By: Ardis E. Parshall - April 20, 2011

My Fellow Keepa’ninnies:

A little blog business, a few explanations, and some plans are in order.

First, why the inundation of the “Problems of the Age” lessons over the past two days? Because I decided they were too heavy, too pessimistic, too unpopular to go on inflicting on you one at a time. I do think they have merit for expressing one Mormon’s views of a great many interesting and important topics at a critical time in history, and I wanted them available in Keepa’s archives. But although some of you have expressed interest in reading some of them, I felt they were driving other readers away. So they have all been posted now, in one foul sweep – er, fell swoop – and if you’re interested, you can easily find links to all parts of the series on this chart. Your comments on any part are welcome at any time, and I’ll respond to anything you say whenever you happen to read and comment.

Next, an apology. For various reasons, I have only been phoning it in for the past few months. I love writing for Keepa, I love reading your comments, and I realize I have to get back in the saddle and do it right if I’m going to do it at all.

Keepa’s third anniversary comes in about three weeks, and this is as good a time as any to make a new year’s resolution to make the effort and write the posts that built the Keepa community in the first place. In the next couple of weeks I may startle you by doing a post dump like I’ve done with the “Problems of the Age” lessons, just to complete a few series, however unpopular, and clear out the draft queue and force me to restock with more interesting posts.

I’m going to tell more stories, like those from Keepa’s first year. That’s a tricky promise to keep because I can’t control the rate at which I discover funny stories of old-time church leaders or inspiring stories of unknown Latter-day Saints. My priority, though, will be to find and write those kinds of stories.

I’m going to experiment with some new types of posts. They may succeed; they may fall flat. I’ll know by your response. If you have ideas you’d like to see me try – specific topics, yes, but also new types of posts, and new series or areas of church history – please, please, please give me ideas, either in comments or in personal email (keepapitchinin [at] aol [dot] com – and do note that the name ends in -inin, not just -in). Justin once suggested posts about church architecture, and a reader wrote privately to request a particular medical topic, and I’ve fallen through on a promised series of Relief Society history topics. I haven’t forgotten; now will be a good time to keep those promises. Anything else? Please make suggestions.

Guest Posts. The invitation for you to guest post is renewed. We’ve had a large number of very well done, very popular guest posts during the past three years. Some of those guest posts are among the best posts ever published here.

Regrets. Readership has fallen by about a third over this time last year. Some of it, I know, is due to my less-than-stellar performance over the past few months. Much of it, I think, is probably due to an overall decline in the popularity of the Bloggernacle – at least it seems to me that there are fewer engaging discussions on the blogs as a whole. But the regrets come in a few cases where I know I have offended readers because of conflicts here or elsewhere. I particularly miss Tatiana and Anne (U.K.) whom I have reason to think I’ve offended (I’m sorry; we’ve had misunderstandings, but there was no intent on my part to chase you away, I promise you), and other old friends whose lives may just have become too complex to spend much time online. If I knew how to win you back, I’d try.

Fiction. A few of the fiction series and individual stories have provoked some great conversations, especially the recent “Anne Brent” serial. Other stories, not so much. I intend to keep reprinting stories from earlier church magazines regardless of discussion – I have some ideas for future posts that will require being able to link to stories, so those stories have to go up first. But realizing that fiction isn’t usually why you come to Keepa, I’ll continue to make those posts secondary posts for the day.

Business. Keepa’s hosting fees have been paid for the coming year, entirely by contributions from various Keepa’ninnies. I hope I’ve succeeded in sending a personal thank you to everyone who has made a donation; if I missed someone, I apologize. Your donations are appreciated. One reader makes a regular $5 donation on the first of every month, which adds up significantly. Others have made one-time donations of $10 or $20, and a few have given even larger amounts. Thank you. Not having to wonder how Keepa’s bills will be paid has been a great relief during a time when professional work has been very slow.

Topical Guide. The heavy use of the Topical Guide (link near the upper left-hand corner of your screen) is surprising and gratifying. The Topical Guide is consistently the fourth or fifth most visited page in any month. Unless that use is strictly by spammers who have discovered it as a fertile source of links, that suggests that many readers are looking for past posts, to enjoy or share with family, perhaps to use in lessons or talks. If that is the case, I would very much enjoy hearing how you’re using prior posts.

Well, that’s about it. I appreciate your participation here more than you know. My stats program reassures me of the great volume of visitors who come regularly but do not comment. And of course we all know and enjoy the participation of those who do comment, whether sporadically or regularly. You all make this a rewarding experience.




  1. We <3 Ardis and all the hard work she does!

    One thing I've been meaning to ask if you could chase down is what the women in Joseph Smith's time did with their babies in church. Did they have Mother's Rooms? Did they just quietly pull their tops down and nurse right there? Did they swaddle themselves in tents to nurse discreetly? I suppose it might have not been as big an issue back before the consolidated meeting block but I've had reason to wonder lately. 😉

    Comment by proud daughter of eve — April 20, 2011 @ 7:13 am

  2. Thanks for the update! I was wondering what was going on when Google Reader was inundated with Keepa’ posts.

    My favorite series have been Anne Brent and the YW Employment. The “Wee Pine Knot” story was wonderful. I tend to be very interested in the posts about teens and young adults (married and single). I love photographs and old advertisements!

    For the fiction series, it might be nice to have a one sentence summary at the beginning of the series so I know if I want to commit to it. For example “Anne Brent is a mother trying to help her teen and young adult children through various struggles”.

    I am not disappearing, but I am changing my pseudonym from kew to HokieKate.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you do for this blog! I love reading about Mormon history in a candid yet positive tone.

    Comment by kew/ HokieKate — April 20, 2011 @ 7:18 am

  3. Ardis—I’m not a historian, but I believe I’m a halfway decent writer, so if you have resources you can send my way on any topic, I’m happy to compile them and do the actual writing if you don’t have time.

    Also, I have some interesting family history in WWII (my grandpa was on the Death March) and the Salem Witch Trials (not strictly LDS) which I could try to get more info on, if that would be of interest. That’s the most I can think of to help so far.

    Comment by SilverRain — April 20, 2011 @ 7:56 am

  4. PDoE, thank you, I <3 you back! That’s a tall order you give me, and I’ll have to mull it over a while as to where I might find any direct information. Prior to the Utah period there were no ward chapels with regularly scheduled meetings (so no Mothers’ Rooms or necessarily even an expectation of church attendance), but of course women were part of the audience for the outdoor preaching in Nauvoo and much of the activity in the Kirtland temple, etc., so you’d think young mothers must have occasionally, at least, been present. Don’t know what I’ll find or when I can answer, but it’ll be something I watch for. And congratulations on your own reason to wonder.

    ‘Kate, thanks. It helps to know what people want. Photo posts, actually, are among the easiest for me to do. I’ve fought a tendency to do them too often for fear I was choosing them simply because they *are* easy, but maybe I should let myself go a little. And the brief indication of the direction of a fiction story or series should be easy enough to do. Thanks for the ideas.

    SilverRain, you’re much more than a halfway decent writer! I’d love to see some of that family history sent in as guest posts. It’s best for Keepa, of course, if there is some LDS content; but even something like the witch trials could be cast in a Keepa-ish light if, say, you added some pointers on how you went about researching an ancestor’s connection to a significant historical event, a sort of a “how to do family history” lesson as well as a narration of an historical story. If your grandfather was LDS and you told the story of the Death March as the story of one LDS man’s experiences, that would definitely be right up Keepa’s alley. All that would be very welcome.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 8:22 am

  5. I stand in awe of the immense effort and dedication that it takes to run a solo blog and post every day. You are an inspiration in so many ways, and I really enjoy the community that you have built at Keepa.

    Some of my personal favorites (just off the top of my head, not a comprehensive list): “Random Reasons Why I Like Brigham Young,” anything Piute County, and of course any and all of your posts about members of the church whose names are not household words. Guest posts are also wonderful; I enjoy reading about peoples’ specific interests and experiences, like Coffinberry’s recent post about her aunt or Anne’s posts on doing genealogy in the U.K. (What would it take to get Justin to guest-post??)

    Comment by Researcher — April 20, 2011 @ 8:42 am

  6. Ardis; No apologies needed. Your version of “Phoning it in” is superior than most well concerted efforts.

    In the modern vernacular: “You are da’ bomb!”

    -MM Man

    Comment by MMM — April 20, 2011 @ 8:48 am

  7. A suggestion: for the archive dumps, you could back-date them by 8 days so as not to require the daily and weekly readers to scroll through the whole lot looking for “regular” posts since their last visit.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 20, 2011 @ 9:34 am

  8. Thanks, Researcher. As someone how maintains a wonderful family history blog that requires a lot of first-rate research and writing, I know you really know the effort. And thanks for listing some favorite posts as a way to guide me in future writing. Hafta think about Bro. Brigham some more …

    Congratulations, MMM, on your first hundred posts, as of this morning! (If y’all haven’t yet checked out the Middle-aged Mormon Man blog, you should. I still can’t find a word to describe it — not irreverent, but cheeky? impudent?)

    Ah, that would have been an elegant solution, Bookslinger. I’ll do that in future, if I do such dumps again.

    Thanks, all.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 9:41 am

  9. He was LDS, and he was not killed because he was LDS, according to family tradition.

    I’ll get on that one first.

    Comment by SilverRain — April 20, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  10. Your best series was definitely the Anne Brent one, Ardis, and I’ve loved the great variety of your posts. Please do keep it up, it’s my favourite blog.

    Comment by Alison — April 20, 2011 @ 10:17 am

  11. Of course, having grown up in the DC area, anytime i see a “state of the X”, i pull out the popcorn and wait for the responses from the opposition…

    In any event, does this mean i’ve become a fan of this blog since you started “phoning it in”? Interesting to see what you do when you take it more seriously, then.

    Comment by David B — April 20, 2011 @ 10:50 am

  12. I second the vote for more regular “Why I love Brigham Young” posts.

    My favorite type of posts have been the Paul Harvey-esque “rest of the story” type–ones that put a new twist on familiar characters or stories (Debunking Moroni’s Travels, for instance, or Heber J. Grant: Checkers Champion). I also enjoy the stories of the lives of unknown saints.

    In trying to describe this blog, the phrase “The fusion of entertainment and enlightenment” comes to mind. Unfortunately, it’s already taken and I don’t think Ardis would find the association complimentary :-)

    Comment by Clark — April 20, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  13. That would be wonderful, SilverRain. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it when it comes.

    Thanks, Alison. Beforehand I was afraid “Anne Brent” would be a little too soap-operish, and I was very pleasantly surprised by its reception.

    I have an advantage that DC “state of the X”ers don’t have, David — if the opposition gets too bad, I can dictatorially pull the plug. Ah, the power of the blog despot! I’m glad you’ve joined us.

    Clark, I actually had to google that phrase! Ugh, but thanks. While I’m sometimes surprised by which posts succeed and which ones don’t, those rest-of-the-story ones are ones I’m always pretty sure will succeed. If only I could come across them more often! I’ll try.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 11:05 am

  14. Ardis,

    First of all, I know I have said this in the past, but again, thank you for all that you do to keep this blog up and going. I find all items that are posted here on Keepa fascinating at the least and extremely informative in many cases.

    While all posts are interesting and bring back some memories (like the U&I Sugar post and no, I am not that OLD, just have lots of Utah family that I visited over the years)I concur that, for me, the posts I love the most are the ones about the average common LDS person/family and the issues/trials that they faced and the outcomes of them.


    Comment by Cliff — April 20, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  15. I fall into that category where outside duties, exigencies, etc. have limited my online activity. And even if I don’t comment, this is one of the few places that I regularly make time for. Thanks for all you do!

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 20, 2011 @ 11:26 am

  16. Ardis,

    I agree that the “Problems of the Age” series was not your typical Keepa fare, but I agree that archiving them in this way is important. There is no such thing as something with no historical value, we just haven’t figured out why we need it yet. I intend to gradually work my way through the balance of them, but it is not light reading.

    We all appreciate the amount of work you put into this, along with making a living as a researcher, and want to encourage you to keep it up.

    Plus, I have at least one more guest post that I’ve been procrastinating on, that starts in Denmark in 1854, and winds up in Brigham City, UT, in the 1990’s, a very symmetrical story that I’ve been meaning to tell. So we’ll continue to help you. And your “phoning it in” still is pretty awesome.

    Comment by kevinf — April 20, 2011 @ 11:30 am

  17. I have emailed Ardis privately but would like to place on public record the fact that she has not offended me in any way, shape or form. Real life (in the form of an increasingly demanding job, a grandson who also seems to grow more demanding with age and a shoulder problem which means non-essential time spent at my pc has to be organised into short bursts) is responsible for my absence from Keepa, nothing sinister. However, I promise to try to do better in future, starting today,and starting with apologies to Ardis for my lack of sustaining her in what is, as we all know, the best blog in the Bloggernacle.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — April 20, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  18. Cliff, you’ve been a great addition to Keepa — I know you’ve been a reader for quite a while, but you’ve left more comments lately which are always appreciated. It’s good to know what you like — reinforces my determination to find more of the same.

    I know I can always count on you, J., especially to read and comment on the doctrinal history posts that maybe aren’t as interesting to everybody, but which do fascinate wonks like us! And I know I’ve said thanks before for your technical work in getting Keepa going, but thanks again.

    kevinf, your guest posts are some of the best we’ve had and I really look forward to the one you’re teasing us with here. And I’m glad you recognize the significance of some of the Problems of the Age topics, heavy as they are.

    Thanks, Anne. It seems I stick my foot in somebody’s face as well as in my own mouth whenever I get even close to politics, and I really thought I had ticked you off. Glad to know that’s not the case. I do miss your comments around here, though, and whenever you can make the time, know that I really, really enjoy hearing from you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 11:48 am

  19. Just wanted to add that I too heart Ardis. That is all.

    Comment by Coffinberry — April 20, 2011 @ 12:04 pm

  20. Thanks, Coffinberry!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

  21. And thanks to you Ardis!

    But please, no apologies. You’re doing a great work. Don’t come down!

    Comment by Mark B. — April 20, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

  22. I know what it is like to “phone it in” on a solo blog and I would not have described what you have been doing in the last couple of months as “phoning it in.”

    That said, there are some posts I love more than others. I love it when you look at an old story through new eyes, or perhaps eyes that see clearer, and find what everyone else has missed.

    So, if there is any doubt on how I feel, thank you for your hard work.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — April 20, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  23. If that is the case, I would very much enjoy hearing how you’re using prior posts.

    Just a couple of weeks ago my wife was called on to help dress a body for the first time. I immediately went and fished out your “dressing the dead” post which she very much appreciated and shared with the other sisters.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 20, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  24. Thanks, Ardis. I enjoy hearing your “voice” from time to time. Your well-organized “State of the Blog” was a real treat.

    I am one who has been inundated of late and have had much less ability to follow Keepapitchinin regularly. But I’m still here and I pop in when I can, even if I don’t always comment.

    Thanks a million, Ardis. Your blog is a treasure.

    Comment by David Y. — April 20, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

  25. Of all the blogs I read, this one is most unique, always positive, and the most consistent in giving me something worthwhile for my time. Thanks for being here, and don’t ever feel bad when you have to put your best efforts elsewhere for a while. Because your standard of excellence is so high to begin with, when you must lower that standard for a time, it’s still plenty respectable. Honestly, I’ve never noticed a quality deficit at all, and I marvel at how prolific you are.

    Comment by Mommie Dearest — April 20, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

  26. Thanks, Mark. (Mark is Keepa’s proofreader-in-chief — he doesn’t nag me about routine nits, but boy howdy, has he ever saved me from some red faces when he has happened to read a post within a few minutes of its going up!)

    And thank you, Bruce — as another solo blogger in history who doesn’t have the luxury of world-class archives within walking distance, you may know better than almost anybody about the constant watch for a good story to tell.

    Jacob, I really appreciate knowing that. I remember one of the original commenters way back when that post was new said that people who didn’t need the information that day would recall it when the day came they needed to dress the dead.

    David, I’ve missed you, too, except for the occasional pop-in. Thanks.

    And Mommie Dearest, when I get around to writing a book, I think I’ll ask you to write the copy for the back cover — that’s quite the compliment. I’m going to try to keep up with the kinds of things you like to find when you come to Keepa.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  27. Ardis:

    I have been a reader for nearly three years and I have enjoyed it very much. You have done a lot to explore not only LDS history but Mormon culture which is what keeps us coming here.

    All I can say is Keepa up the good work!

    Comment by Steve C. — April 20, 2011 @ 6:03 pm

  28. Keepa coming back, Steve; you add a lot not just to the camaraderie but to the content, too.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

  29. I don’t know that I’ve ever commented here, but I do often read the posts. (You visited my blog once and kindly commented on the wallet made from a man’s tie). I most enjoy pieces that let me look at a topic or story in a new way, or as someone already said, through different eyes. I have only read one of the serial posts because of the time commitment, both of each post and waiting a week in between each installment. I also liked treading your opinion of Brigham Young and your opinions on other matters, such as gospel literalism. Thanks for all you do. I’ve passed the “Keepa” name along to others. I don’t know if they’ve ever visited, but I keep letting others know about this great place! Thanks!

    Comment by Tiffany — April 20, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  30. This ninny is grateful for every post though he doesn’t comment on all of them. Even at a level erroneously referred to as “phoning it in” Keepa is a top-priority blog for me. Here’s hoping for an easier year three for you…

    Comment by Chad Too — April 20, 2011 @ 9:24 pm

  31. Ardis-
    This looks like a great blog. I will check it out more often. While I tend to favor politics, I like history too. And these original, old articles are interesting.

    But I really wanted to thank you for your help in skunking out that guy on T&S. I’m learning a lot as I get into this blogging – and I’m not some phony person as you can find me pretty easily on my blog. I think there’s even a picture in there somewhere (but it’s nothing to get excited about). Oh, and I’m using my real first name here and on T&S as well. I’m finding all this blogging to be a lot of fun!

    Keep up the good work! Best of everything!

    Comment by Grant — April 20, 2011 @ 9:36 pm

  32. It’s nice to hear from you Tiffany. I remember that post on your blog, although I couldn’t find it again tonight. It’s a real compliment that you remember and mention specific posts as being favorites, too. Thanks.

    Thanks, Chad. You’re one of the inner circle of ‘ninnies as far as I’m concerned — you comment often enough and enthusiastically enough to make me glad every time I see your name.

    And welcome, Grant. I checked out your blog, too, after reading your comments at T&S. I generally try to avoid politics here to keep down everybody’s blood pressure … especially my own. I know you’re real, and I hope you know you’re welcome at Keepa. Perhaps a bad introduction to see all those “Problems of the Age” posts at once — I promise, there are more engaging posts, and a greater variety of subjects, every other week of the past three years!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 20, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  33. I’m not really involved in the bloggernacle at all, but I like your site, so I keep reading. Thanks for keeping it up.

    Comment by Amy — April 20, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  34. Thanks, Amy.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 21, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  35. Wow! I need to get my say in here before you all take over the comment space. Ardis, your blog is absolutely wonderful and I can’t begin to appreciate all the work you do in recognizing what will make a great post then doing the dirty work needed to ferret out the facts to support that post. I really like the stories of lesser well-known saints. I also like unknown stories of the saints we all are familiar with. I like the picture posts, also.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — April 21, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

  36. I’ll always save comment space for that, Maurine! Thanks.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — April 21, 2011 @ 5:46 pm

  37. Bonne continuation, Ardis!

    Comment by Ben S — April 22, 2011 @ 10:23 am

  38. Just my thanks again for the real content for which I love Keepapitchin.’

    I’ve probably visited less often in the last year. But then when I come I’m picking stuff up out of the archives that catch my eye. You’re really creating a resource here.

    Comment by Johnna — April 22, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  39. Keepitup, Keepapitchinin! I always love “She had a question” and the old ads are great! I do agree the bloggernacle is not as active sadly but I do try to stop by every so often! Thanks Ardis!

    Comment by Merkat — April 22, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

  40. Ardis, I suggest you do more self-promotion as far as paid research. Just a link on the sidebar, under “Topical Guide” that says “Paid Research” and goes to a page that describes what you do for a living, and how people can hire you.

    At the bottom of the sidebar, it might be profitable to put a Google Ads.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 23, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  41. This is a very unique blog in the ‘nacle. Keep the bar high!

    Comment by Barb — April 23, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

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