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Sep 09, 2007

First Birthday: What's Needed at No Caption Needed?

It’s been a year since we began this blog. We had no idea what we were getting into. The initial idea was to put up an ad for the book. Not a great idea, but then we thought that we could write a few posts to thicken the ad. After all, neither one of us had the time to do this on a regular basis. One thing lead to another, and soon we had created a monster: we loved writing the posts and seeing the audience grow, but we still didn’t have the time, so we told ourselves that we’d do it for a year and then quit. It’s been a year and we don’t want to quit, but we need to make some changes.

We have a number of options: quiting, mothballing it for the summer (when readership drops a bit), posting regularly but less often (say, two substantive posts instead of four each week), providing more varied content with less commentary, bringing in more writers, and merging with a bigger blog (we have a standing offer).

Before we make any decisions, we’d like to hear from our readers. There are several thousand of you, most from the US but others from around the globe. We assume that most of you won’t see the need to weigh in on this, but please feel welcome to comment, either here or via private email to either of us (,

We’d like to know what you like about the blog, what you don’t like, and any suggestions you might have for how it should continue. We seem to have a niche, but we’re not quite sure what that is. We’d like to provide material that is thought-provoking and otherwise valued, but we’re not sure who wants what how often. In short, we hope to refine our work so that it can be distinctive, useful, and sustainable.

We’ll hope to hear from you.


First Birthday: What's Needed at No Caption Needed?


15 Responses

  1. Mona says

    No to quitting! I come to this site from Michael’s Bag and I like to check in regularly to see what interesting analysis and photos you’ve picked. Two posts a week is not bad if you are planning to slow down. it’s a great site. Thank you!

  2. Dave says

    Your niche is to make people think, and you fill it quite well. I won’t pretend to tell you how often people need to think, but my personal preference would be more often than most people do. So whatever schedule works for you is fine with me, as long as you continue to make people think on a regular basis.

  3. Joe says

    I’m sure maintaining the site is a constant chore, but I would like to see you continue it, with other writers if necessary to maintain your independence from the merger you mentioned. The image as argument can speak for itself, but what does it say – and your commentary is often helpful and insightful. Two posts a week is probably minimal if you want to keep readership – most sites report increased readership with more freqent posting. We’ve a long summer ahead – don’t stop now! But whatever you decide, thank you for what you’ve done.

  4. Michael says

    I’m not surprised that you feel like taking a breather. The sheer quality of what appears here shows how much effort and attention it takes, especially when you’ve got day jobs that are so demanding.

    I check into NCN every day. It is no doubt true that the more frequent the posts, the larger the readership; and the larger the readership for what you do, the better. So I’d hope that you could continue at the same pace. This might mean that you could best invite some other writers in, and I suspect that you would know best who could contribute at the same level of excellence that you have established.

  5. brenda says

    Yes, I also appreciate that sometimes this blogging business can take over one’s life. A year isn’t long, but what you’ve achieved here is quite remarkable. If there are several thousand of us regular readers, that is a rare feat of achievement, and one to be celebrated. I hope you manage to take NCN and yourselves out for a nice dinner in warm congratulations from us all.

    Ways forward? Feel free to take occasional breaks, yes. Everyone does it from time to time. If you announce your break, say something like “back in September”, all will be well.

    Some bloggers take a month off at busy times like baby birthings, but others like to keep going at those life-intensive times. I took about 6 months off when I started my photography degree, took the site right offline for a while, with no harm done.

    The issues of fewer but more substantive posts wouldn’t seem to me to save you time, would it? And fwiw I do like shorter and more frequent of my internet reading, but I would still read were it however many or few times per week you posted. Twice a week is an excellent aim for an academic blog, in my opinion.

    Not sure about additional writers. You’ve developed a strong authorial voice here, with a different feel to the book. That can change of course, but I do like what you’ve built here. Why not try the occasional guest spot? Say one per month?

    You could also put out a call for content: a photograph from a reader, upon which you might comment. Could be a published (something from a local newspaper, say) or an original unpublished work. That could be an interesting strand, I think.

    Many thanks for this year: it’s been a revelation in so many ways.

    Happy Birthday!

  6. brenda says

    Ooops, missed a point. merging with a bigger blog? No way. You’ll lose that distinctive authorial voice mentioned above. And since when was bigger, better? Almost never.

  7. Seneca says

    This blog is excellent, almost to the point where I fear change. . . . and yet

    Guest bloggers (say, fellow scholars and intellectuals interest in visual culture) seems like an excellent idea. Indeed, this would even be a good idea for the guest bloggers.
    And perhaps one way to alleviate your workload is to frame the posts – whether they be two or four a week – in such a way that encourages your audience to also practice ‘reading’ the images. Either way, great job and happy birthday!

  8. Kathryn in MA says

    I check here every day, too, and encourage inviting in others to help keep up the pace. While manipulation of the audience grows more sophisticated, it helps to have a place where we get pointers and tips in regards to seeing, more than looking.
    Thank you for your years work.

  9. Roy Belmont says

    Keep throwing photos, get pithier with the commentary.
    Essentially keep doing what you’re doing but tighten it up a little.
    No one else is doing this whatever it is.
    It must be working because I hit it every day.

  10. Brian says

    Don’t stop! Please. As with the others, I hit the site every day. I find my mind wandering back to the posts throughout the day sometimes when I should be concentrating on things that need my attention… but the quality of insight is invaluable and the distracti0n is welcome. I would agree with Brenda that merging with another blog would be detrimental to the authorial voice(s) of the blog itself. Whatever both of you decide I hope to see NCN again and again… be well and thanks for your time and efforts. Cheers.

  11. Stuart Noble says

    Happy Birthday!

    I think I can speak for the rest of my crew when I say, we completely understand your predicament. We would all love to see you continue on in some capacity. I think I know which bigger blog you refer to, a fantastic blog. But what you offer here is distinct and unique. Blog less, invite guest bloggers, guest blog elsewhere, whatever works for your busy schedules. But do please keep NCN running in some capacity. This is a great resource for both academics and the general public. The community can only get stronger.


  12. Lene says

    I come from Norway and found this blog by accident six months ago or so. I like the way you describe pictures, and make me stop and think for a while. Especially posts like Only connect and Kodak moment. In my opinion you guys should keep up the work, it is very interesting to read your blog! I would not mind if there where only two posts a week, if that is what you have time for. I would still be a regular reader:)

  13. Nate says

    I may not be the typical blog reader, but I generally prefer fewer articles with more punch in them, so even if you’re only posting something once a week or less, I’ll still enjoy it as long as you keep it interesting. That said, I don’t like wading through a million posts for the interesting one, so I wouldn’t be too happy to see you merge with other blogs. But as long as guest writers are interesting, I’d love to see more viewpoints and new photographic subjects.

  14. First off, happy birthday! I am a new reader to your blog, but your writing is so thought provoking. I love it! I agree with most of the other readers, do not stop writing! Possibly decrease the frequency to allow for the other things in life or pithier posts that do not take up as much time while still leaving us hungry for more. A guest writer once in awhile would give you a break to think of fresh things, but there is “something” about you and your team’s writing that has an edge to it. It is a very, very good edge though! Keep up the great work and I am looking forward to more!

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