Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What If ...

Here are a couple of things that are rattling around in my brain related to how the lotto WORKS and things to think about for 2011 ... please feel free to jump into the discussion and post a comment (or email me privately, if you're more comfortable with that) if you have an opinion about what's working and what's not or how something could be better ... or have a great idea that would make all of our lives easier and the block lotto blog better. 

What if .... we grow to too many member/authors?

I think that making everyone an author on the blog as worked well, but we are slowly inching up in numbers and it's possible that we will bump into Blogger's maximum of 100 authors some time next year.  The only workaround I've found that would allow us to stay here (on blogspot.com) with more than 100 members is using a common email address and submitting blog posts via email. (You would be able to add comments to posts, exactly as you do now).  It would mean that EVERYONE would have to be VERY CAREFUL about including their name in their post so we'd know who made the block, mailed the blocks, received the blocks etc.

Does anyone do blog posting on their own blog or other group blogs via email?  If you do, how is that working for you?

Another alternative would be to go to custom web site.  In addition to handling more member/authors, it might have some other stuff programmed in, maybe to allow newbies to be able to sign up online, automatically update a database with the number of blocks, etc--a lot of the stuff that I do now, manually, behind the scenes on my computer.  If we moved to something completely different (or even slightly different) that wasn't hosted on blogspot ... would you come?

In the meantime, I will probably be removing inactive authors more quickly.  If you drop out for a while and want back in ... that will be no problem as long as we have open author slots.

What if ... we run out of free photo space? 

Right now, when you upload photos, they are hosted by Picasa--another Google product for hosting images.  Each account (my account in this case) is given a fixed amount of space for free and when you use it up, you (in this case I) will be offered the opportunity to BUY more.  One way to generate $$ so we'll have it when we have to pay to continue might be to add google adds to this blog.  I would try to keep them low key, but how would you all feel about it?

What if ... the Block Lotto had a Facebook Fan Page?

This is where I confess that I have managed to avoid the time suck that I perceive Facebook to be, but ... how about everyone else?  Are you there?  Are you doing quilting stuff there?  Would it be a good thing for the Block Lotto to have a presence there?  And if you ARE active on Facebook, please tell me what kinds of things you would expect to find on a Block Lotto fan page.

Along the same lines, how many (if any) are twitter fans?  If you are, would you like to see tweets about new blocks posted (or anything else)?

Should we be looking at/thinking about any other social media sites?

Last but not least, does anyone have a good idea for ...

One of the biggest challenges I have now is dealing with problem blocks.  I don't want anyone to think this is a huge problem, but it does come up periodically and I always feel bad when someone is unhappy with the blocks they have received ... and I am pretty much helpless to make things better for them.

Until 2008, all the blocks were mailed twice:  once to me and then, I packaged them up and sent them onto the winners.  It was more expensive for everyone and kind of overwhelming for me when hundreds of blocks were arriving each month, BUT, it did give me the opportunity to see if someone was having a problem, not following guidelines, fix blocks with oops kind of mistakes, etc.  While I wouldn't want to go back to that and posting photos does allow us to catch MOST problems and I do ask the winners for feedback on the blocks they receive ... it's still not a great way to help a beginner who may be struggling on the edge and making not OK lotto blocks.

Does anyone have any ideas on how we can better help the strugglers? I have a feeling if I repeated the same things to you each month about measuring your blocks, the quality of your fabrics, minimizing the pet hair, etc ... it would become so repetitive that most would stop reading the reminders.

I think I did have a good idea about ... a Block Lotto Blog Roll

A while back, we talked about a blog roll and there didn't seem to be a good way to maintain a list of the blogs of those who are actively making blocks on a pretty regular basis.  I do have an idea and will be setting something up soon.  If you have a blog and want it to be included in our blog roll, here's how to get ready:
  1. Make some Lotto Blocks
  2. Add the Block Lotto badge to your blog--you knew there would be a catch, right?  It's mutual promotion ;-)
  3. If I don't know about your blog ... send me the address.  If I know about your blog, I have probably posted a comment at some time--I subscribe to all those I know about ... even if you have signed up but haven't made lotto blocks, yet ;-)
What Else?

Do you have a block lotto What if question they'd like to brainstorm?

How Many Blocks?

I just took a peek, in case you're curious about just how many blocks we make each year:

          Year - Blocks

          2007 - 1279
          2008 - 1963
          2009 - 1708
          2010 - 1757 ... and counting ;-)

The numbers for the past three years (since our hop to blog land) have stayed pretty consistent ... but I think this could be our biggest year yet.

The 2008 number also includes extra blocks we made for charity quilts during two months.  What if ... we tried that again in 2011?

16 comments:

  1. I vote we stay here. Then, each time it starts to get more full, delete the inactive ones. You just have to decide how long 'inactive' means.

    It has been my understanding that when I post a photo to a blog that I am a member of it is stored in my own Picasa account.

    I don't do Facebook or Twitter and have no intention of starting.

    As to the blocks that may not be done so well. How about just for the newbies and the people with a poor track record, to have just them mail the blocks to a central location?

    Thanks and keep up the good work, Sophie!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'd love some charity blocks!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Debbie, I definitely prefer that we stay here as long as we can--anything else is going to be a mountain of work for me ... and inconvenient for everyone. I will be removing inactive authors more regularly (probably once a quarter, instead of every 6 months).

    Your suggestion about having some blocks be mailed to me is interesting. You have me thinking about a variation of that--I really want to minimize double mailing a lot of blocks (and the chance that I become the bottleneck ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow...lots of thoughts....
    My first reaction is to stay here and clean out the list of authors more regularly, but then I don't know how much work that is for you, Sophie, and from what I see, you already do soooo much for this site. Another option would be to start a second block lotto and split us in half some way.

    I do facebook not twitter, but I don't really see any advantage to block lotto going on there unless you're trying to get more people.

    About problem blocks....first off, someone is presumably doing their best and they are sending you something for nothing, so I don't think you should complain if a block isn't to your liking. We do have beginners here, me included, and I would hate to think anyone is being so critical as to take away the fun and the willingness to try something out of our comfort zone. If you don't like a block, then either don't use it, or fix it yourself. My opinion. I don't think it would be a problem to add a bit to the first block reveal of the month about being careful to measure, square up, and whatever other things you want to remind us about.

    I think the Picassa charge is a problem, but I also thought the pictures I posted went to my account...I don't know. Google ads only pay if the people who come to the blog (us) actually click onto the google links.

    I already have a block lotto badge on my blog. Who wouldn't want to advertise the fact that they are a part of this wonderful group?

    It would be easy to say, add a charity winner whenever we made enough blocks for 4 winners if someone was willing to put it together...then we'd have 3 winners and the fourth group would go to the person putting together the charity quilt. We'd have to know who was willing to do that for any given month. I know if I really love the block, I'd want to keep the quilt, but other months, it wouldn't matter so much.

    Lots to think about...whatever you decide is good....I still can't tell you all how much I appreciate all the work that Sophie does...and it's a lot....to make this work.

    Janet S.

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh my, a lot to think about here. I would be fine moving to another forum, but I know part of the ease here is because so many of us are on blogger privately, and are familiar with it.

    I am all for adding ads if we (you) need funds to update our accounts, I think that's a fine idea.

    I am on facebook, I love it, I'd join a group but I don't think that would be the best primary location for our group

    I would love to add a block lotto badge to my blog, I thought we talked about that once upon a time...I thought I had a button for a while, but it's not there now!

    As for strugglers, I don't know. I can tell you I have struggled with the liberated patterns, give me specifics here! but I am not sure how to help them or notify them.

    so all for a charity quilt!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for all your great work Sophie.

    I too belong to facebook but agree that I dont see any advantage to the group in joining.

    I finally worked out last night how to add the block lotto logo to my blog although I am not a regular user of my blog site.

    I agree with what Janet said about problem blocks. I too am a relative newcomer to patchwork but have really enjoyed the liberated nature of the blocks since I joned. Funnily enough I struggled a litle trying to incorporate more structured patterns last month and my two little houses were the result of one of these blocks going awry. I decided to slash what I had done and resew the pieces any old way and was surprised to get a couple of house shapes.

    I think double mailing is an enormous burden to place on your already busy life.

    Keep up the good work - we really do appreciae it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A little more from me:

    I've had the button on my sidebar since Sophie designed it! I think it's quite cool.

    I must take exception to something that Janet wrote:
    "first off, someone is presumably doing their best and they are sending you something for nothing, so I don't think you should complain if a block isn't to your liking."
    Nobody is getting something for nothing. Presumably, they also made blocks for the lotto! Maybe a newbie is sort of getting something for nothing, as their return is much greater than their investment. But someone like me, who joined over a year and a half ago and has made about 44 blocks since then, and never won yet. When I will win finally, there's nothing wrong with expecting blocks just as nice as the ones that I make (at least I think they're nice!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. My vote would be to stay here. My 2nd choice would be a website, but I have now idea how that would work for people posting their pics.

    I don't Facebook or Twitter and do not plan to.

    Problem blocks: I agree with Janet, we assume they are doing their best work. However, while it would be more work for you, one idea could be having just newbies mail their blocks to you the first 2-3 months they participate, kind of like quality control, that way you can address any issues a newbie may have and help them improve. Or another idea would be to have everyone mail to you 2-3 times out of the year (at your random choosing, like say a month you feel you have more time) as a form of quality control. And yet another idea would be to post once a month, maybe mid month, about one problem issue, explain it briefly then suggest some solutions, then the next month, a brief post on another issue, and when you run out of issues, just repeat the cycle so that once a month all year long, we get a gentle reminder to "do this" or "check that". I know, it's just more work, maybe at the beginning of the month you could post the issue to discuss and have a volunteer research and blog it by mid month. Whew...I'll stop there...too many ideas all needing more work...sorry.

    Blog Roll: is there a way to add the blog links to the names listed on the blocks for each month? Or would it be easier to just have a permanent list towards the bottom on one of the sides?

    Advertising ideas: I follow a few blogs that charge small businesses, Etsy sellers, etc. $5-$30/month to add a small pic with link on the blog sidebars. Off the top of my head, one example with "sponsors" is http://grosgrainfabulous.blogspot.com She just started this a year or so ago and picks sponsors that relate to what she blogs about.

    I have a hard time running my own blog, I can't imagine the time you put into Block Lotto. Thank you for all your time and energy!

    ReplyDelete
  9. You all have so MANY good ideas. I really appreciate the time everyone has taken to respond.

    I want to say AGAIN that I ALSO WOULD CHOOSE TO KEEP THINGS EXACTLY THE SAME. I haven't looked yet, but my gut feeling is that I'm not going to find that many inactive authors to clean up. (I will be doing that task sometime this month.)

    It looks like MY understanding of the Picasa stuff was all wrong and since I personally almost always host my own photos on Flickr (where I DO pay for extra space/features), we probably won't run out of space for this blog anytime soon. That's really good news.

    I have just posted an example of a possible CHECKLIST idea, to help keep us all on the same page when we are making blocks.

    Since it seems like quite a few are interested, I will post something (probably over the weekend) about how we did the charity quilt thing in the past and what I propose we try. I personally don't think any of the blocks entered into the DRAWING ought to become charity blocks-they should always go to winners. But when you are making blocks for the lotto, it's easy to make one or a few extras to donate toward a charity quilt. We won't do it every month, but I think, if some people want to make the quilts, we will try it a few times next year.

    As for Ramie's question about combining blog links with the block list--there's no easy way to do that. There one "gadget" that will easily let you make a list of links and ANOTHER gadget that will let you easily make a text list (which is what we use now). You can't easily get both without writing the HTML code yourself, which could get messy because I update that list A LOT as blocks are made.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hey Debbie, I just checked and you have actually made 45 blocks since you joined us last year ... without a win. You are one of our unsung heros, and if you're wondering you DO have some company. Kim has made 53 blocks and is yet to win, too. And even some of the "oldies" have made quite a few blocks since the last time they won. I wouldn't blame any of those feeling unlucky if they decided they've had enough ... but I believe that if you stuck around, you, too, will be a WINNER one of these months.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well, I'm not sure how I feel about being called an "oldie" lol, but Sophie is right - I have been playing the lotto for a number of years now (I reckon I first played in April 2006) - and although I have won a number of times (off the top of my head, I can think of 5 - Scottie Dogs, large baskets, buckeye beauties, crackers, batik stars) I don't think I've won anything in the past couple of years. I'm not complaining or anything - I consider I've done very well from the lotto - especially as I donate my chances some months, which obviously reduces my chance of winning!. But whoever is choosing the December winners, I REALLY REALLY like these, so be sure to use your lucky fingers when drawing, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Kate, I think you're right. I didn't start keeping track of WHEN people have won until 2009, but I know you have NOT won for 2 years--and you made 85 blocks in 2009 and 66 blocks so far this year. Maybe I shouldn't speculate how many quilts you could have made from those 151 blocks ...

    I'm glad you've stuck around, Kate ... and good luck this month to you and everyone else who is long overdue.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I suppose that in theory I could have made a number of quilts from them, but in reality, I probably wouldn't have made more than one or two - partly because of time (i.e. sometimes stacks of blocks get put aside to be made into a quilt "later") but partly because not every lotto block is one I would have made enough of for a quilt - lots of them are new or different things to try, which is a lot of the reason I play, regardless of winning. This year in particular, with all the liberated blocks, I've had a lot of fun trying stuff out and seeing what I really like (houses, roses, trees) and what I don't like so much (free-pieced lettering). I consider it all time well-spent!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, and I'm about to post some more trees, LOL, so you'll have to change that block count!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I vote to keep our group at blogspot. I despise facebook and don't twitter. Could you alleviate the "too many photos in Picassa" option by creating a new account with a new email specific to this group?

    As far as poorly made blocks are concerned, if I were to win I would think every block is special even if it wasn't perfect and I'm a very seasoned quilter/designer. I would think it neat to have blocks from all over the world even if they weren't precise. Also, my skills are advanced enough to be able to fix or alter blocks OR I would add borders to all of them or put them in a setting where I can control their shape and size (for those imperfect sized blocks). As far as pet hair is concerned I DON'T LIKE IT, but I would simply not use the block or wash it. If a block was made out of "cheap" fabric, I likely wouldn't use it but it would still be special to me & I'd keep it.

    I suppose that my point is this: whenever you join a group such as this, you do so with an open mind and a willingness to accept whatever challenges arise. If you don't like the results, don't participate. If you don't follow the rules, you should be notified and try to improve.

    Quilters are the most willing people to help and teach. If you are struggling with points/technique/design just ask us for help. Any of us can give advice and that would alleviate stress off of Sophie to do it all.

    ReplyDelete
  16. WOW! interesting read. Being a very newbie, I would like to put in my two cents worth ;-) My concern when joining a new group is that my skills are not good enough, but it is also the main reason to join a group - to improve skills. It wouldn't worry me if someone just didn't like my block, but I would be bothered if I was not following the guidelines and consistently producing poor blocks - I would hope someone would let me know (nicely ofcourse ;-)) so yes, maybe some form of probationary period for newbies - with whoever receives the newbies' blocks to provide feedback to organiser (positive as well as negative).
    I agree with DJ who said quilters are the most willing people to help and teach - I am new to quilting and have been so impressed with everyone I have dealt with so far ;-)

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.