Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Part II: Answers to Questions Pondered

Today, a neighbor jogged by our house. I stopped him briefly to see if he had received the candy thank you I left for he and his wife in their mailbox. He had seen them and eaten his M&M's in his goody bag, and since his wife was out of town, he had put them aside for her. I jokingly said that I was impressed that he had not eaten them himself. He shared with me that he thought of doing just that, but in the spirit of the About.com contest, he thought it was best to save it for her.

Those words "in the spirit of this contest" lead me to those questions I challenged you to ponder.

Was it worth it? Was this the best method to gain a larger audience for my site? Other sites? Absolutely. My daily hits are sometimes as much as what my weekly hits were before the contest. eSpecially Ben's subscriptions have almost tripled reaching a more diverse audience. (More than my mom is reading now.)

Would I do it again? No - I think different blog sites should be tortured featured every year.

Was awareness raised to new groups of people?  Or were we preaching to the choir?
eSpecially Ben's strategic initiatives to gain more votes gave family members and friends a legitimate reason to ask their extended families and friends to read this blog. People who did not even know we had a son with special needs were suddenly reading about our life and experiences, voting and then passing the information on to their family and friends. It was a non-stop cycle of sharing. People I barely knew would forward me emails they had received from some distant relative or friend about how eSpecially Ben had affected their outlook on life.
 
What was About.com's purpose? I think Terri Mauro did a good job in her response to my question. However, I would add that the purpose is also to get more hits on the About.com site which turns into more revenue for them through advertisers. Are you really surprised that this was about money?

How many ways can people suggest to cheat the voting system? 
This could be a funny question if it were not true. Too many people emailed me with ways to cheat by clearing histories, using cell phones and just waiting a few minutes to vote again. There were others who contacted me absolutely sure that the other camp was cheating - they had watched the voting through the night and were sure of it.

I had other computer gurus asking if I wanted a virus put out on the other blog. I told them I would wait on that.

What about a trophy? Bragging rights are cool and all, but a gift certificate for dinner or something small would be nice. After all the work we put into it, a celebratory dinner on About.com's dime would have been sweet.

Healthy Competition? I am competitive. And I cannot believe how many other people are just like me. Our children's Sunday School teacher was up way past his bedtime checking results, charting statistics and recruiting others to vote. Our weekly message about what Bible story to read always included a note about voting for Ben. My trainer at the gym came in one day so worked up over a dream she had about Ben the night before that she was determined for eSpecially Ben to win.

The other blog that was neck and neck with us for about a week or so decided to call it quits the day before the contest was over. Although the site was still in the running, they decided to stop campaigning. There could be a million reasons for them to make that decision, but I worry that the competition got to be too much. Here we are two mothers, both with three boys, just trying to write about how we get through every day raising children with differing needs. On any other day, we would be commenting on each other's sites, asking for advice and laughing over shared experiences. Instead, we became competitors, making it an us vs. them mentality. I am still not sure how I feel about it.

On one of the last days of the contest while handing out fliers, I met Ben's classmate's mom. I have known Niat for three years and in those years, she has learned to walk and say a few words. She is always happy sporting a big smile on her face. She and Ben usually sit across from one another at lunch. If not for this contest I may not have had the chance to tell Niat's mom that I was so proud of all that her daughter had accomplished. (Niat is the little girl in the literacy video with Ben.)


Now, if you read this and the only thing you took out of it was, "Where is my thank you candy bag?" let me know and we'll see what I can do for you. Cheers!

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