Jan 032013


This beginning of the year (Happy New Year by the way) is a good time to start thinking about what’s ahead. So today, let’s talk a little bit about the future of this blog.

If you’re a regular reader it’s not a surprise to you that I don’t write here regularly anymore. I’m sure that leaves you frustrated and it does the same to me.

Things need to change, right?

Truth is, that this blog - as it is – is unlikely to become more active and to receive more new content on a regular basis. There are many reasons to that. The main ones are that I don’t have enough time to devote to it, and I have to admit that my motivation is not there anymore.

Why is that?

  • Well, first my offline life got much busier in the recent past and it’s not about to become any less busy anytime soon.
  • This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I have left France again; and more important, I’m not surrounded by Americans anymore (for the first time in 14 years there are no American in my daily life). Why does it matter? Because the large majority of the readership here is American, and it’s the Americans with their many questions about France (some fascinating, some stupid) that made me start this blog, and gave me the motivation for it. For some reason other nations don’t ask as many questions (either they do their own research or they don’t dare to ask, I’m not sure).
  • My online life is pretty busy too. The thing is that I write other blogs (plural) and that right now, I find them more personally fulfilling and more fun to write than this one.

With that being said, what are our options?

Close the blog?

I guess no one wants that, right?

Continue as it is now?

That could be an option, but I’m afraid that if nothing changes, I’ll post less and less, my motivation will keep on going down and this blog will soon become just like one of the many other blogs on the web, that is abandoned. We don’t what that either, do we?

Is there a third option?

I’m contemplating a third option, but I’m not too sure yet. Actually it is the very reason for this post; I want to know your opinion about it.

This third option is to progressively move this blog to another one of mine.

The main issue is that I write this other blog under my real name, and I’m not sure I’m ready to reveal my secret identity just yet (I feel like Spider-man writing this sentence).

There are pros to do so.

For starters, it’ll be easier to connect with regular readers. It’ll be easier to promote this blog. It’ll be easier to make it more social.

There are also a lot of cons, maybe more.

The obvious one being that I play a role on this blog. It may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m not that mean or that much of a jerk in real life (Well, I hope I’m not). And generally speaking, the tone of the other blog is much different. Answering “Ask a Frenchman” questions on my other blog would imply a drastic change in tone. It’ll have to be much more informative, and much less sarcastic, less funny and less politically incorrect. I’ll have to stop mocking stupid questions, just ignore them. Same will go with lame or boring comments (well, I kinda already do that with comments). I’m not too sure you’d like that.

There is also the issue of privacy, obviously. Yes, I am hiding indeed behind this “Frenchman” persona. I started doing so for clear and specific reasons a few years ago (the oldest readers know that when I first started the blog, I was not that anonymous). Those reasons don’t really exist anymore (but they may arise again in the future). However new reasons came to be, and I don’t exactly want some people to find out about this blog (it’s just a handful of them, but you never know).
There is the stalking issue too. See, I’m a bit sensitive with stalking (I had a pretty bad experience with that in the past and believe me, having someone you think is 6,000 km away knock on your front door when they’re not  even supposed to know where you live is something I don’t really recommend to anyone to experience) and while I’m not really in danger of being stalked offline these days (knock on wood), online stalking is not that fun either. Why am I worried about that? No, it’s not paranoia; I did get some strange e-mails from people whom I felt were a bit too curious about me. Those people will be delighted to know the real me, but I’m not sure I will be.

Another issue, as a friend put it (yes, I asked a few friends about that; some think it’s a good idea, some others think it’s a terrible one), if I proceed with this change, Ask a Frenchman will lose its soul. It’ll be something different, no matter what. Those who like it as it is now may not like the new version, those who already don’t like it (I hope they have a life and haven’t been sticking around though) won’t suddenly start to like it. So, with that change I could simply be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
It will lose its soul, because the tone will change as previously mentioned, but also because it won’t just be a blog about a French guy who answers interesting and stupid questions anymore. It’ll be a blog about a few different topics, including that one.

There are also the technical pros and cons:

Moving Ask a Frenchman to my other blog will bring traffic there. It gets much less traffic than this one, and I’m not against bigger numbers over there.

However, I want that move to be progressive, and while I know how to merge two blogs instantly, I don’t know how to move one little by little without losing the comments of the posts that I move (if anyone knows, I’m all ears). Not always a big loss, but there are some interesting discussions in some posts that it’d be a shame to lose.
From a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) perspective, I think I got it covered, but if I missed an important point (I don’t think I have) that could be very bad for both blogs.

I’m sure I missed some important positive and/or negative points, but I want to post this before we reach 2014, so here it is.

Remember that, as of today, I haven’t made any definite decision either way. I’d just like to know your opinion (especially regular and subscribed readers) before doing anything possibly stupid, and in any case, drastic.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.


Ask a Frenchman


More Questions Answered:

  29 Responses to “The future of Ask a Frenchman”

  1. If it was me, I would close this blog. It’s been great, you’ve had some fun with it, us readers have hopefully learnt some stuff, but if it doesn’t mesh with your other blog in theme or tone, I would not be merging the two. It was a great idea, and I for one really appreciate the time you put into it and your honesty when responding, but maybe its time has come and gone, especially with your change of motivation.

    • For some reason, closing the blog doesn’t satisfy me. This blog is not incompatible in theme with my other blog, just in tone (and a tone can be changed). I feel that I can still have fun with this Q&A thing if make some changes, I’m not exactly sure which ones yet.

  2. I’d posting from iphone so I’ll be very short:
    1.I am a very selfish person so I’d rather want you to keep writing…
    2. I 100% agree with your desire to keep your real name private. I did the same with my perfume site for business reasons ( business people are conservative by nature and my perfume pasiona might put some off in chosing my company over others).
    3. I, for one, promise I won’t stalk you.
    4. It’s not such a bad thing not to be surrounded anymore by Americans, or at least this is how I see it….. In fact I’m surprised you could survive 14 long years having them all around you. You deserve a prize, IMHO.
    Bottomline: whatever option suits you better, I’d like to have some quality blog to read. I would miss the Frenchman ability to turn almost anything in an interesting post and to offer a fresh European perspective.

    • The question of privacy and anonymity is a complex one really, I really find advantages and inconvenients to both writing under an alias or writing under my real name.

      Sure writing under an alias is “safer” both in terms of lunatics and in terms of having the wrong person (your boss, your mom, etc) reading your blog, but I also found that it’s much easier to connect with your readers when you write under your real name, which in the end gives the blog a more friendly and welcoming tone, atmosphere and whatnot.

  3. I enjoy reading your blog, and I really do hope you will keep writing it in some capacity. But of course you will have to do what you feel is best based on your busy life and your motivation.

  4. Oh-and Bonne et Heureuse Année!

  5. Hi
    I really get your feeling, and for sure you don’t have to go on with the blog as it is since you don’t feel in the mood anymore. What I would do in your shoes would be to write a “good bye” post and keep it online, all the past articles could be helpful for someone and it would be a pity to loose everything.
    Otherwise, I think your option of changing the blog radically is very cool: it’s not told that a blog must have only one topic and be the same in years. You got tired by the same questions anf if you feel that writing also something different could give a second life to this blog, why not? Honestly this idea intrigues me a lot, I’d really like to see how the blog could change.

    About importing everything in another blog you’re writing for, well I am sure there is the way of saving comments as well, but I can’t say exactly how it works. Maybe you can look for some tutorial or ask some information somewhere about it, but with wordpress blogs (for example) it is absolutely possible

    but my favourite option is the one of introducing new topics in the current blog

    • Honestly, I don’t like abandoned blogs. There are too many of them online and I don’t know, they bother me. I think a blog should be alive or offline.

      Of course, blogs don’t have to have only one topic, but blogs with multiple topics run the risk of not finding an audience. Also, I’m in the strange situation where this current blog has a decent audience, but the blog where I want to make the move doesn’t have a large one. It’s a risky move. With luck, the other blog could gain a significant audience, but if things don’t work out, I could lose the readership that comes here. (remember, I don’t want to introduce new topics here, I want to move most of what’s here somewhere else)

      In terms of moving posts and comments, if I move all of the posts at once, yes, I can move the comments along. But I don’t want to move them all at once for a bunch of reasons - mostly I want to be able to select with ones I move and to edit them if necessary. I’ve looked around a little and I’m not sure WordPress allows to move just a few posts one after the others, but maybe I need to double-check, I haven’t looked at that in details just yet)

  6. I agree with Susan! I found your other blog long ago (I won’t tell, no worries) when you had a link to it in the sidebar and still read it occasionally (I am quite busy as well) and the tones really are totally different. But I want to strongly emphasize thank you for all of your time and effort for this blog, and it has been great reading while it was here. Thank you also for your consideration of the readers’ opinions.

    • Thank you for being a long time reader and you’re very welcome.

      As far as having found my other blog, are you sure?
      I mean, you may have found one of my other blogs, but I don’t think I’ve ever linked the one I’m thinking about here. But in any case, shhhh.

  7. Hi there

    I have been reading your blog since and found it very interesting and funny. Sad to know you are thinking to close the blog but then you are doing it for free so who am I to ask you to spend time for my entertainments. I am not your girlfriend right!! So do what you feel best, I think it is very brave of your to disclose your real identity, but then again, its up to you. May be you can meet some pretty girls and open up to many possibilities of romance…

    I say keep this blog or divert to your existing one if anyone who is interested to follow your blog…

  8. Purely for selfish reasons I would request that you keep your blog open. If only to answer one more question. From me, of course.

    I just found your blog today and while I have not dedicated a lot of time to it, it looks like a neat and interesting project!

    Just in case, I will still leave my question and check back to see if it gets answered. Thanks!

  9. I’ve loved reading your blog and have laughed pretty hard with friends over some of your comments.
    I think it would be better to go out on a high note (so as o speak) and leave the Frenchman persona you’ve created as the witty, sarcastic man most of us have grown fond of.

    Although it would be interesting to know more about your real identity (I’m wondering what country you’re in now ), it’s probably a good idea for you not to connect this blog with your reality (you have pissed off a lot of nutters and never underestimate the grudge of a crazy person).

    However despite saying all these negatives, if you connected the two blogs together, I would certainly take a look at the new blog and decide from there if I would continue to follow your posts.

    I hope this helps and good luck with your decision!

  10. You’ve got a lot of personal choices to make about things like where to spend your time and whether to reveal your identity — choices that I don’t think I can comment on. If you do decide to close the blog, however, I do hope you will continue to make archives available somewhere online so that we can revisit your posts and share them with new readers

    Also, many thanks for all the time and effort you’ve put into this blog so far! I’ve very much enjoyed all your posts.

  11. To be honest, you could turn it from a blog into more of a discussion forum. You keep your secret identity and can contribute when you are motivated or have time, the rest of us can post questions and respond to other peoples questions. It would be a shame to lose a site which many of us have found both informative and entertaining when it can evolve into something else, something less demanding of your time.

    Bonne Annee monsieur

    • This is what the Facebook page is becoming a little, some people ask questions there, and I never answer them, other people do.

  12. The “Frenchman” image brought me here, while I found it is your perspective and the witty notes that count.
    I would sure be looking forward to your new posts, from askafrenchman.net or not. Yet, your concern of privacy comes first. All the best!

  13. Why don’t you find a new Frenchman ? Batman is always Batman, people don’t really care who is under the mask.

    • That’s because Batman is abillionaire upstart with no super-power.
      (and has Batman ever been not Bruce Wayne?)

  14. i don’t comment often but i certainly read this each time i see something popping up on my google reader

    it would be sad if you decide to close this blog down - i really enjoy reading this blog, snarky remarks and all! since i used to have problem with the whole private/public issue, i know exactly why you have a dilemma on hand. i am in favour of migration, if it doesn’t bother you much to integrate this together with your other sites (which i don’t know, or do i? one thing for certain - i’m not a good candidate to recruit as a stalker) apart from tones of conversation.

    you could also keep it as sub-blog to your current main personal site?

    • I’m heading towards the migration option more and more (and actually, I just realized that you may know my other blogs ).
      A sub-blog could also be an option, although I’m not too sure of the technicalities (a wordpress installation within a wordpress installation seems a bit heavy and counter-intuitive, I need to check into that.

  15. I’d be willing to follow your blog, even if it did change
    It’d still be interesting either way :]

  16. I’ve been a reader for a little over a year and have really enjoyed this blog! However, you have more important things to do, so of course they should take priority! You don’t have to abandon your blog, though. I think it would be a good idea to just post a good answer once a month, so it will be like a magazine subscription to your readers and it won’t take a big part out of your schedule. But whatever you do, don’t reveal yourself! That’s one thing that makes it so interesting!

    • Once a month?
      Did you see at what rate I’m posting now? This is because other things take priority.
      The whole idea here is to try to have this blog, or at least its content, get a higher priority than it does now.

  17. I’m an Aussie hoping to move to France next year… and I’ve only just found this blog. Please don’t shut it down! This is a very unique site and it has a very personal feel to it. You are obviously quite educated and you have an engaging way of writing… please keep it up.

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