The third question (in Middle Savagery's public forum on blogging archaeology) was:
'.... most archaeological blogs that I read have very little in the way of dialog through comments. Often on this blog, I feel like I am talking to myself, which in a way is catharsis, but if an archaeology blogger writes and no one reacts, are we really changing opinions or moving the field forward?' [Dig Girl]
I would add to this, how do you attract readership? Without too much in the way of SEO chatter, who is your audience and how to you interact with this audience? What do you want out of interactivity by means of blogging about archaeology?
(The lack of) comments and conversation
Electric Archaeologist Shawn Graham produced a really nice Gephi image of the interconnections between carnie bloggers, which showed how ideas flowed through conversations within the archaeological community (or at least down-the-line through "overheard (read)" quotations.
More generally, I'm now envious of Bill Caraher, who does ancient Mediterranean archaeology and gets 70-100 hits a day; and Johan Normark, who gets 250-350 hits and 'one or two' comments a day on his blog on neorealistic archaeology.
I thought that between people interested in modern Mediterranean archaeology, crime and violence, and the affected communities, my blog would have a wide audience, but I only get about 25-30 hits a day; and I've only had about a hundred comments in the five-and-a-half years I've been blogging Cultural Heritage in Conflict (about 1.5 a month).
As Matthew Law and Alun Salt observed, people tend to comment on Twitter and Facebook rather than on blogs; and as always, Alun explains why really well. I reckon Mick Morrison's comment on Alun's post is right too, and my blog posts are discouragingly long.
Still, Saving Antiquities For Everyone (SAFE) lists my work as a resource on the looting crisis and the antiquities trade; and I know at least one university has used my blog in its cultural management courses.
Aside from blogrolls and other such generic nods, I've met people I respected and found out that they read my blog. Once, I approached someone and asked them something about a cultural heritage site and they replied, "are you Sam Hardy?"
So people are reading and using my blog; and as one of Alun's links shows, maybe I shouldn't be so worried about online participation. But still, how do - and how should - I sell myself?
Unlike John Lowe (and I guess a lot of others), I don't post links on my Facebook (though they are available on Facebook through the NetworkedBlogs app; and I Twitter on about my posts). I just think my work (at least my work-in-progress) is of too niche interest.
I don't think that many of my random friends would be interested in Cypriot conflict archaeology, that many of my Eastern Mediterranean friends would be interested in studies of antiquities catalogues, or that many of my archaeologist friends would be interested in Cypriot paramilitary graffiti; so this way I avoid the awkward silences.
Unlike Terry Brock, I get so little traffic from Twitter and Facebook that I can't generate conversation or feedback. (Still, maybe I should set up a Facebook page.)
I tried to engage with people on Topix; but spontaneous, civilised discourse was meaninglessly short-lived. Nationalists soured the air with keyboard-punched (spelling-corrected) threats like 'don't go near a flagpole, for you it would definitely be dangerous'. (tl;dr fn1)
Still, I've had more success, and more fun, talking with local, refugee and emigrant Cypriots in the Cyprus Forum about Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot religious heritage, burned villages and the illicit antiquities trade. Even at the best of times, it had its brain-hurtingly bad moments; but it did reassure me that online outreach could be very effective.
Maybe I'll mothball this once my thesis is online and start a new, more accessible and engaging blog.
fn1: that was a charming reference to a Greek Cypriot, Solomos Solomou, murdered on the orders of the Turkish deep state.
Solomou died protesting against the death of his cousin, Tassos Isaac, who was beaten to death by the remorseless leader of the (Turkish) Grey Wolves (which are a Turkish Deep State paramilitary (PDF)), (Turkish Cypriot) police officers and retired Secret Service officers, and others.
Greek Cypriot Police identified Solomou's killers as remorseless Turkish Cypriot government minister Kenan Akın and security forces chief Erdal Haciali Emanet (and their accomplices as members of the Turkish occupation forces, and the Turkish Cypriot police).
Akın confessed to the shooting, and was later arrested in Turkey for smuggling; but he was released despite the Interpol arrest warrant for murder.
Sabah named one of the suspects in the Solomou murder, (the Turkish occupying forces' commander) Hasan Kundakçı, as an Ergenekonist (ultranationalist coupist). (The article's still available elsewhere: "the Ergenekonists' 'PhD' place, Cyprus [Ergenekoncuların 'doktora' yeri Kıbrıs]".)
And, discussing the Turkish deep state murder of Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adalı, former Famagusta police chief Tema Irkad stated that 'Kundakci gave the command [to kill Solomou] personally, "Take him down", he said, and the police chief Erdal Emanet pulled the trigger'.