Once again I stand on the precipice of a decision.

SEB’s domain name expires on September 9th and I’m debating on whether or not I should renew it. There are a number of factors contributing to this not the least of which is how infrequently I blog these days. It seems my days of writing lengthy posts pontificating on whatever happened to catch my attention are very few and far between compared to the early days of SEB. I don’t know if that’s an indication of having said all I have to say or a growing sense of apathy about the things I used to be passionate about. Most of my entries are throwaways that are barely worth dropping by the site to see. I haven’t even followed through in a decision I made awhile back to practice writing short stories on the blog to develop that skill further.

Further adding to the sense of malaise is the recent escalation of the civil war going on in the Atheist community. For the past year, since at least the events of ElevatorGate, there’s been a raging shitstorm that has come to a head with one faction deciding it’s time to become proto-religious with a new movement they’re calling Atheism+ and they’re demanding people choose which side they’re going to be on lest they decide for them. I’ve seen people I respect in both camps stoop to new lows in the ongoing debate battle over the atheism “movement” and who’s going to control it and, frankly, I’m sick of the whole thing. I’ve deleted all atheism specific blogs from my blogroll (along with many I’m just not reading anymore or that are defunct) and will follow my own fucking path. This isn’t to say that I won’t talk about atheism and religion if I should continue on with SEB, but for the moment I’m too disgusted with the so-called movement to pay them any attention.

The third and final issue that’s prompting this possible abandonment of blogging is the ongoing malware issue SEB has been suffering from. I realize, now, that it was a mistake to move from ExpressionEngine to WordPress. This system is so full of holes and the community is so unhelpful (I had to figure out the WordPress XML import format on my own just to make the transition) that it’s been way more of a hassle than it’s been worth. The templating system is a nightmare, I’ve had to install way more plugins than should be necessary to get it to do what I want, and it seems once the malware gets its hooks into your site getting rid of it is extremely difficult. As you can see, I’ve had to drop to the default template and remove every plugin in my latest attempt to fix things. Things like the SEB Podcasts are now unplayable, most of the anti-comment spam systems are gone (I have reinstalled akismet) which means the moderation queue is filling up fast, and general usability enhancements like being able to edit your comments or the formatting toolbar are gone. All of that and there’s still no guarantee the malware won’t be back. Clearly I’m too much of an idiot for WordPress.

I’ve been at this for ten and a half years now. When I started blogging there were only a few blogs talking about the stuff I cared about. Now there are tons of them and many of them do a much better job of it than I ever have(and are way more popular to boot). I’ve come close to quitting before and I always found a reason to continue on. Now I’m at that point again and I’m doing some major self-reflection to see which decision I should go with.

I suppose I have till September 9th to figure it out.

28 thoughts on “Once again I stand on the precipice of a decision.

  1. Even if you stop blogging, I’d suggest keeping the domain for a while — at least that way you’ll have it if you change your mind or figure out something else to do with it, instead of letting a speculator’s auto-sniping script take it…

  2. I’ve been wrestling with something similar. I have no intention of quitting blogging, but there is now considerable conflict between my platform-of-record and social media that I frequent. I’m thinking (again) about archiving my blog as straight HTML and putting it in a sub folder – because there is some good stuff there and I use old articles from time to time… if only to figure out where my thinking on a subject has changed. And then rebooting it as a photoblog, and just having the comment threads in social media.

    I can’t give you any advice other than to say I hope you archive your 10+ years of work online. There’s some great stuff in there. Knowing you even online has helped me find courage.

    On the A+ front, I’ve been concerned for a long time that atheism has become just a white dude thing. Atheism really does suggest a large ethical dimension to me and I’ve had occasion for disappointment there. Some really awful things have happened and we didn’t clean it up, so now they’re cleaning it up their way.

    Will it turn out badly? Yes it could, and I will risk being disappointed and hurt again, to stand with the diverse group rather than abandoning the atheist movement.

  3. You should definitely hang on to the domain, as I assume you’ll need it for your email address 🙂

    As for WordPress, I agree that it’s lacking in its raw vanilla state and that it is necessary to have some plugins installed to enable some basic features. To stop the script kiddies putting malware on, I would suggest installing Bad Behaviour and WP Security to make things a little more difficult. The ‘community’ can be very intimidating and there are too many people who think that WordPress is some kind of worshipful deity that must never be criticised, but usually I’m able to work stuff out through Google searches.

    I also wouldn’t give up on blogging. I go through phases as well and it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted anything of substance (although I have also just done 10 straight days at work without a break). I’d certainly archive your posts and the comments if you do quit, but you’ve still got people commenting regularly on your posts (more than me!) and I’m still finding them interesting. Maybe ask for some more guest posts if you feel there could be more content?

  4. I turned off fallacio.us for a number of reasons, including but not limited to a lack of motivation, lack of readership, and having better things to do than waste time on issues that annoyed me to begin with. It took me a while to get around to it, but I finally started a new tech blog and there’s not enough time in the day to keep up with my posting queue. Maybe the answer is to leave the trodden path 🙂

    You’ve talked about quitting before and I hope my answers over the years remain consistent: It would be a shame to see SEB go, but it’s your decision and yours only.

    With regards to elevatorgate and the like, I’ve long removed myself from single-issue atheist circles and only catch this stuff by chance. I suppose it’s the same kind of bickering and backstabbing you find in a congregation… All I can say is that I’m not a closet atheist and I do herds worse than a cat.

    With regards to WordPress vs. EE, well, *cough*. EE is still a great product, although Ellislab more or less destroyed the community on their forum, the quality of support is but a shadow of what it once was, and the product has stagnated for years. Also, there are more and more commercial add-ons and serious playtime with EE has gotten pricey. I’m currently migrating sites to Statamic, a CMS that uses flat files only. The personal license is $20 (one-time) per domain, but the system is a breath of fresh air and creating templates is as easy as on EE. Drop me an email if you want to know more.

    If you consider moving back to EE, you’ll want to import the data in EE1, because the MT-format import was dropped from EE2 and the commercial importers are in the $100 range. You should be able to upgrade to EE2 afterwards, although the only reason for paying the upgrade fee would be that EE1 is a legacy product.

    There are plenty other CMS and blogging platforms around. PyroCMS (also built on CodeIgniter) is free and looks pretty nice, although if you want a multi-site setup you’ll have to pay for a $100 goody bag.

    Anyway, gotta stop rambling. The one thing I’ll add is that you shouldn’t just pull the plug, but please keep an archive online.

  5. I’ve really grown as an individual from this site and its membership. I feel like this site and Les are key reasons I am who I am today. I for one would be sad to see it go.

    I know this decision isn’t about me, but if you do give up blogging could you please archive? There really is some great content in here.

    As far A+, I don’t disagree with you. I just see no other results happening. Just arguing over semantics. I feel like problems with the current movement are more than a few bad apples.

  6. After observing people around me, I decided at the ripe old age of 8 that I didn’t need religion and religion didn’t need me. So, instead of marching off to Sunday school with an offering in my pocket I hit the nearest ice cream palor and whiled away the morning there. The guy behind the counter always seemed more grateful for my “offering” than the Methodists (or was it Presbyterians – Mom could never seem to make up her mind which was more holy).

    September 9, 2012 will be the sixtieth year of my rejection of organized religion. I rejected disorganized religion too, I guess. Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll always seemed to fill any void in my life, so it was with great surprise that I just discovered on your blog that there is such a thing as organized atheism? Proto-religion? Atheism +? My mind has truly been boggled.

    To you and your readers I can only say I am not judging or taking sides. It just never occured to me that thinking for myself and coming to a rational conclusion based upon reason and observation of the world around me could result in something akin to religious atheism. The concept does cause me to wonder, does each side have a leader? You know, like a Billy Graham kind of atheist up against a Pat Robertson version?

    Since God wrote the book of life and supposedly knows Jack Schitt, I asked her what she thought about this atheism kerfuffle. I am still waiting for an answer.

    I have only been blogging for two and a half years, but I can sympathize with you. Some days my brilliance amazes even me. Other days I am just tossing in throw aways, and some days I truly suck. I have considered tossing in the proverbial towel, but then every once in awhile one of my readers (I think I have two now) tells me I did something spectacular.

    I have just started following your blog and while I am not much into games, I find SEB to be amusing, intelligent, and well written. I can only hope that your blog and I make it past the September 9th deadline.

  7. It’s already been said but whether or not you keep on blogging, you should keep the domain. It will get sniped. I still regret not renewing radiobrendoman.com just because I wasn’t using it at the time. When I wanted to get it back, it had been bought by a squatter who wants an insane amount of money. In this age, your domain is your brand. It’s a part of you.

  8. “I realize, now, that it was a mistake to move from ExpressionEngine to WordPress.”

    To that, I give you a hearty “No shit, I told you so from day 1”.

  9. I’m with the others that the domain should be registered either way.

    That said, other people do say more and say it better–yet you often see a perspective, insight or connection that others don’t, and that in itself is a good thing.

    As for the atheism battles, I see you focusing more on civil rights and the stupidity of stupid people. I’d guess that if you suddenly had God hand you a business card, that you would still post 80% of the same things you currently do in the name of atheism. (Unless God’s business card listed “fence posts and pancakes” as his contact address.)

    Additionally, there’s a community here. You sometimes post a quick observation, comment or opinion, and generate real debate from people who have more to say than you do.

    Finally, on a personal level, I’ve had writers block for almost a year, and it’s just now starting to ease up…so I can say from experience that the malaise does go away eventually, and you don’t want to do what you can’t undo. In the meantime, keep your post counts low, or even announce that you’re taking a seb-atical, or just encourage more guest postings…I think you’ll be ultimately happier with the results.

    As a bonus, you have 2 months of active political debauchery coming from both sides, with self-imposed spending cuts after that, and I can’t imagine that some of that won’t spark your interest.

  10. I hope you keep at it. I’m not even much of a tech geek or gamer, but I’ve always enjoyed your perspective. While you may feel like your dedication is wavering or no longer needed, the amount of quality posts I’ve read on your blog in the last 7 years amazes me.

    Your blog was really an eye-opener for me. I’ve said it before (pretty much every time you’re considering closing up shop) but you and a handful of other blogs were quite instrumental in some of the better changes my attitude and self-image. While there are plenty of atheist bloggers these days, you’ve always been at the top of my list, and I hope you find joy and enthusiasm in whatever interests you.

    I’ve only got two posts up in the whole week it’s been active, but I finally got the bug and started my own blog (only ten years behind the times!) I haven’t even gotten into skeptical, atheist, religious, or political posts yet….too busy trying to think things through and get my ideas straight. I may keep at it and enjoy it, or I may just tinker around, but I can say one thing….If not for you, DOF, and all the guys that were at UTI, I never would have bothered. I don’t mind when people bring their politics or professional expertise to the skeptic/freethought/atheist blogosphere, but it really was the “regular guy” bloggers that kept me interested.
    Some of the “professional atheists” can be quite entertaining and enlightening, but if the whole atheist/skeptical blog world was made up solely of PZ, FTB, and other liberal activists, I would have just moved on long ago. I agree with them on almost all political and social issues, but the constant scrutinizing of everything through their political activist lenses gets to be a bit much sometimes. It’s what they do, and it’s often important, but I can’t stand it when one group’s politics is the only important issue, day after day, for months on end. Sometimes a little break is nice, and you have filled that particular need of mine quite well.

    So whatever you decide- thank you, and enjoy yourself! You deserve to be interested by life and all it has to offer, wherever it takes you.

  11. Hey Les, I don’t know you really well, because I actually started to read your blog not so long ago, so I’m really sad to see this entry because I’m a newcomer who enjoys this blog a lot and it would be sad if it closes right now…

    I don’t know much about WordPress, but I’m surprised it is so bad, I actually know entire communities built around it without many problems. I guess you just should return to what was working for you or find some IT-guy that can help you.

    As about the recent events in skeptical/atheist community, you know, this is just my own opinion, but I always thought and supported the notion that each skeptic is different and each is a world itself and I never thought that there should be a centralized movement with a “motto” and a “leader” in it. I find this contrary to the very principles of skepticism and atheism.

    So I don’t give a rat’s ass about all this crap. If there are people who moved from religion to create another religion they’ll call “atheism”, I don’t care, they can go fuck themselves, because I will not be a part of this and neither you have to.

    Maybe the skeptic movement became too huge, too crowded and too fashionable, and so we have all this crap going on now. Maybe it’s time for a new skepticism which is skeptical towards “skepticism” to arrive.

    Well, in any case, I’d like to encourage you to continue blogging and just write whatever the fuck you think, because looks like many people (me, certainly) would find it interesting. Maybe you should take a break for a while, but I think you shouldn’t just abandon it.

    In any case, even if you’ll decide to close this page, don’t just drop the domain. It is really good, and you should either find someone who would continue writing under it (just because it’s good, not as a continuation of your blog) or keep it to yourself.

    If you’ll decide to close it, please tell us, so we’ll at least say a proper goodbye.

    Best wishes, iostream.

  12. Well, my solution to a very similar malaise was, as you noted and commented on, to close up shop. I still stop by here every day, though. If you decide to call it a day I wouldn’t blame you at all but I don’t feel qualified to advise you either way. For whatever it’s worth, though, you were one of the folks that got me into the blogging business in the first place. Regardless of your final decision you’ve had a hell of a run.

    On the upside, I won’t badger you about coming to Gen Con anymore if you don’t have a blog to be badgered on. Course, now that I live in Washington state that probably wasn’t going to happen anymore anyway.

    It just now occurred to me that without a blog, very few of my old blog friends know I moved to Washington. Huh.

  13. Just so everyone knows, I did re-register the SEB domain this evening. My wife pretty much insisted on it because it wasn’t expensive and this way if I do decide to take a break then it’s still here if I change my mind. I was having a bad day today and my frustrations will all sorts of things got the better of me. I don’t know if I’m going to take a break or not yet, but at least the domain will be around for another year.

    It’s funny that you should mention GenCon, Don, as I’m planning on attending next year. A couple of my buddies go every year (including JethricOne up there in this thread) and now that I have a proper job with real vacation time available to me I think I’ll finally make my first trip to GenCon. Which is strange when you consider I’ve not played a pen and paper RPG in years.

  14. God damn it. Right after I leave the state. Of all the crappy timing.

    With luck, though, next year I’ll be able to afford to go. I really missed it this year. The crappy local anime convention did not in any way make up for it.

    And it’s hardly just pen and paper anymore. It’s geek culture writ large, like SDCC but not as crazy or elaborate. I haven’t felt a part of “geek culture” for a long time, and I’ve rarely had time to play any pen and paper games for years myself, but I still always have a blast. It’s a good weekend to have friends come in from out of town and just people-watch, eat out every night, and, of course, give a few panels about why bullshit is bullshit.

  15. Oops, didn’t finish a thought up there so it reads oddly. “The crappy local anime convention I attended purely for the lulz did not in any way make up for it.”

    Though the morbidly obese woman with the Slim Jim who was stomping around and repeatedly yelling “I CAN’T OPEN THE MEAT” was worth the price of admission.

  16. Renewed the domain. Correct decision. 🙂

    FWIW, ‘Stupid Evil Bastard’ anagrams into ‘Dividable Upstarts’ which may be a commentary on your politico-religion posts 😉

  17. Every day for some 5 or 6 years in the mornings, I check three sites.

    Ars Technica, CBS News, and SEB

    The diversity and range of your posts and musings are what makes your blog so great, and the regulars and visitors on here are just excellent to read.

    I never thought of this place as an “atheism” blog. It was always just an intellectual’s blog. You are a great writer, and I actually enjoy the non-religion posts more than the religious discussions, though they are also fun to read every now and then too..
    Whatever you do, I hope you know how much you are appreciated.


  18. Hey Les, I used to comment here circa 2005, and never really under a consistent name (I think this one was the most commonly used), but I felt like stopping by to say that some aimless Googling about the Boy Scouts one night led me to your site and set me on the path to unbelieverhood. I feel like maybe I’ve dropped in here recently and told you the same thing, but if I haven’t there it is. Thanks for existing.

  19. Happy that you have re-registered. Whatever platform you decide on is unimportant to us followers. Your input and comments are important to us. Thank you for being here for ten years. I first dropped by while searching for images of Jesus and got hooked because of the great comments of regulars and the wide ranging topics. As for politics, any time a group of humans gathers together, that activity raises its ugly head. We are social animals, and alpha males still try to dominate the herd. The good news is that we don’t have to join the herd, and can still comment as outsiders.


  20. Re: the atheist movement’s behavior, I agree. It’s ashame that people have to get into a mudslinging fest online (or in person, for that matter). However, there is hope. There’s a new site that’s started up (of which I am blogger) whose aim is to stay drama-free and rational, and to write about things that really matter. Skeptic Blogs:

  21. I’ve been reading your blog for longer than I care to admit (let’s just say, I remember your first post regarding the LRA) and you’re one of the seven sites that i return to on a daily basis.

    I hope you find your voice again, and am glad that the domain shall remain. Wouldn’t mind reading you venting on the “movement”s split…

  22. Keep the domain! You MUST keep the domain — do NOT let it expire. I made that mistake a while back, when I felt the same way you do now and decided to hang things up.

    Nothing is forever — especially a decision to stop running a website. Sooner or later that bug will re-bite you and you will want to resurrect the old site. The problem is, you let the domain expire and it will immediately be picked up by a cyber-squater who will then just sit on it hoping that you will change your mind so they can sell it back to you. Of course, the longer you’ve been running your site, the more money they will want to extort from you — usually in the four, maybe five figures.

    It doesn’t hurt you to keep the domain registered or parked for the next two or three years. It might cost you thirty bucks, but it is a LOT cheaper than wishing you hadn’t done it.

    I wish you wouldn’t stop blogging though. I have been a silent lurker here for years, and the site is great — even if you are sporadic in posting.

  23. Les,

    I’m very glad that you decided to keep the domain. Although I haven’t been an active member of your site in years, I still drop by to lurk whenever possible and greatly enjoy your writing and comments.

    About the Atheism+ plus debate, just remember that one of the benefits of being an atheist is that we don’t hold to any doctrine beyond our rational thoughts and morals. If some jerks want to try and turn atheism into a formal belief system then we should treat them like any other religious group (i.e., goad them into commenting on a post here and watch Les tear them a new one for being irrational and ignorant!).

    If you need to take some time off then go ahead and do so- I don’t think anyone here will fault you for it. I just hope that some day you come back to being the thoughtful and well-researched poster you have been for the last decade.

  24. I’m sorry, but this simply isn’t a possibility, and you (Les) need to man up about it!

    You see, I enjoy your blog and read it regularly. I like your way of thinking. I appreciate your humor. You’ve introduced me to a lot of cool things over the years.

    And I’m a very self-centered bastard! What you are proposing to do will interfere with ME. And this is what’s not acceptable. My personal enjoyment / well-being / amusement is mankind’s purpose in this universe.

    So this talk of you quitting this blog IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! You will CONTINUE to update the blog at least twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays preferred). You WILL continue to write about the latest cool movies, video games, and political-religious flashpoints. And you will do it with the same enthusiasm that you’ve always exhibited.

    I hope this message is perfectly clear. Ignore this warning at your own peril; I live on a sailboat (www.SleepingWithOars.com), and have no problems sailing to your hometown and releasing the fury of a hundred pirates on you and your loved ones (well, ok, I might have trouble getting a HUNDRED pirates on board…I’m not even sure if I KNOW a hundred pirates…but I could show up by myself and cause pirate-like mayhem. Oh, and I might have overstated by using the term “fury.” And there most likely wouldn’t be any sort of physical confrontation…just me holding up a very well-written protest sign or something. You do live near the water, right?).

    Anyway, I do enjoy what you’re doing and would hate to see the site go away. Think about the pirates!

    -Robert Doty

  25. This is late, but I’m glad you stayed. Your site helped me organize a lot of the thoughts I’d had over the years and helped me realize there were other people out there like me. I live in the bible belt, so it was a long time coming, but I got there eventually.

    So thanks for all the thoughts and funnies and thanks for staying around.

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