Sunday, April 24, 2016

No One Owes You Anything: Or How Readathon Cheerleading Broke My Brain


Over the years, the Readathon has proven itself to be an exercise in awe. Admiration at how wonderfully powerful and good-hearted our book community can be. It's also been a lesson in not pleasing all of the people all of the time. At the end of every event I implore Heather not to read the end-of-event surveys until at least a week out when we're less mentally and emotionally fried...oh, and sleep deprived. And she always reads them anyway. The last few Readathons I haven't read those surveys at all...gleaning participants' points of complaint only from what we discuss between ourselves and with our steadfast volunteers when we're making notes and pondering what we'll edit when the next event comes around.

We changed cheerleading this time around in an attempt to focus efforts on those places online that have grown up into natural, organic meeting places. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram are ripe with #Readathon posts. It's easy to find the community there.

The same thing has happened with Goodreads and Facebook. Those self-contained communities function like their own little ecosystems of engagement.

The biggest complaint we saw from the beginning of this event was from the blog contingent...people upset that cheerleaders would not be herded toward their blogs to comment. Over our tenure as organizers, we've seen the cheerleader numbers hold somewhere between 70 and 100. And our participants list as a whole has grown from 400 to 2,000.

Newsflash: the days when cheerleaders could physically visit your blog and comment are over. There is nothing we can do about it.

Even with the switch to official cheering on Twitter, it's damn near impossible. I personally used myself, amidst all the other things I needed to do yesterday, as a guinea pig to see what was possible to achieve. I pre-scheduled 200 fairly personalized cheers. And I still didn't get to everyone on my team twice. I flat out gave up.

The danger in reading the end-of-event survey is the breadth of complaints, and I've heard from a fair number of you that there were real-time complaints about prizes: not enough, too many ebooks. There were complaints about people's Tweets being liked rather than commented upon. There were complaints that there were too many mini-challenges and complaints about not enough.

Someone even told me we should really work on "more engagement." Oh, and complaints about there being too many options.

I realize the complainers are probably only 5-10% of the population, and for that in itself we are grateful. Perhaps I should put on my big girl panties and ignore the negative, but here's the rub...we do our damnedest to make this event a great experience for everyone, and the reality is that adults are complaining with gusto about not getting cheered enough in a virtual event about books. Can we ponder that for a second? Just let that sink in. How entitled can we get?

So here are a few takeaways...
  • If you want the community, go out and be part of it. Don't expect to sit back and have hundreds of people flock to you with praise and perkiness if you haven't bothered to plug in or reach out. 
  • Prizes are icing on the cake. Stop complaining about those full stop. 
  • Be the change. Want to see something happen? Volunteer. 
It's kind of ironic. I'm always the PR person telling Heather, "Let's just smile and forget it. Just walk away from your computer. We'll take what we can use and leave the rest." 

And here I am...the one setting the place on fire while Heather is sleeping across the country. The one telling the masses...no one owes you anything. Are you in this for the community or the pageviews? (Heather said that first.) 










67 comments:

  1. Alright, I've rewritten this comment twice because I keep going on rage tangents. You boiled it down perfectly though. Anyone who has time to behave like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum over how much or how little the people who VOLUNTEER for this event are doing have enough time to volunteer or reach out to the community themselves.
    Y'all are amazing and this is my favorite bookternet event of the entire year, and I have always had an amazing time and felt very connected to and supported by the community with or without cheerleaders or prizes.
    Don't let the haters get ya down.

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    1. Thank you, Erika! It's frustrating, but I think it's just a byproduct of the Internet that no community or fandom is immune to lately. Bah!

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  2. I am probably a little too naive, but I am amazed at the complaints (the existence, but mostly the content of the complaints). I always thought cheering was a bonus - and you are right, it is practically impossible to get to everyone - given the numbers.

    You guys did a fab job - hosting a world-wide virtual reading party is no mean feat. Add to that - the cheering and the prizes! Pat yourself on the back and shine on.

    P.S. I am in for volunteering next time.

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    1. Thanks, Shanaya! We've been evaluating the cheerleading process since we took over the readathon because the amount of growth and the amount of volunteers just aren't panning out. We'll keep evaluating and see where we end up!

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  3. Musiquedevie4/24/2016 11:17 PM

    I think you guys do an amazing job with all that needs to be done to make this event a success each and every time. So one: thank you!!! :) I think people need to realize that the Readathon (among anything in life) is all how you make it. If readers need cheerleaders that badly to do the event, then why bother? The Readathon to me can be as social or as quiet as you want it to be. I like being quiet, focused completely on reading myself and other times I've done the Readathon I was a lot more social. I think sometimes people want everything and then pout when it's not handed to them on a silver platter. The core heart of the Readathon is to read. Read books, read anything but the heart of it is to read for the enjoyment, the pleasure of it. My guess is when people sign up to just promote their blog/Instagram/twitter, win prizes, etc and that becomes their main priority....that may be when their enjoyment of the event gets skewed. But I think you all are running it great with a lot of wonderful options to enjoy the day so thank you - I can't wait for October!!

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    1. I think that's something that's always surprised me. People that NEED the cheerleaders. It's fun, motivation, community. But NEED? That's a strong word and community has come a long way in developing since this event was founded, ya know? I know those people with complaints and whacked out priorities are definitely the minority in this event, so that is a good thing.

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  4. Wow... just wow...
    Next time around everyone who wants a cheerleader should sign up to be a cheerleader too. I did it once when I could not read an my brain got fried 2 hours into the readathon. There are some hardcore cheerleaders out there doing the best they can.
    Another advice for those complaining... gather a small group if people around you on your preferred media outlet and cheer for one another.
    Same goes for the prizes... you complain donate something better ;) and yes I got the right to say this as I have been donating prizes for a few years now.

    Now for Andi and Heather and all the other volunteers. You are doing a hell of a job organizing this great event. I do understand that you feel gutted when people complain but I think the majority loves you guys for all the work you put in there.

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    1. My thoughts exactly! Or cheerleading may go out the window as a whole! There's plenty of opportunity to "cheer" for each other in a variety of ways. Thank you for your kind words, Ciska!

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  5. Granted, I don't participate in the readathon (but I'm glad it happens!), but I'm wondering....isn't the point, y'know to READ? And not be on your blog/Twitter/whatever? You'd think book bloggers of all people would understand when other people (during an event called READATHON) want to prioritize their own reading instead of parking their ass on social media. I think Musiquedevie is probably right that a lot of the people complaining probably signed up for ~~blog promo instead of, y'know, reading.

    Haters to the left!

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    1. Exactly! It is a READathon, not CHEERathon or a PRIZEathon. You can't please ALL of us ALL of the time. However, you asked the question on the survey so be prepared. I thought it was a great event.

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    2. We have a lot of different ways to participate, and I do understand the pull of the social side. It's pretty awesome to feel the community out there. But, boundaries.

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    3. And we are definitely prepared, Heather. There's a big difference between the majority of what we see on the surveys and the ugly, entitled tantrums that sucked me into this bad mood. lol

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  6. I think the cheering for this readathon worked well. I used my Twitter, sent cheers to everyone I could in my team, even to a bunch on the non-Twitter list than Andi sent out. Some links were tumblr and I couldn't leave a cheer. Some Twitter links were old, like hadn't been used in years or didn't mention #readathon in their own tweets. Those are just a waste of our time!
    I also received a couple of cheers from my team. I update Twitter & my blog with my reading progress and even received a cheer to my blog, which I wasn't expecting at all. That just proves to me, if you are willing to cheer, be active and participate in social aspect of the readathon, people will want to know more about you.

    For me, it's about the reading and our book loving community. I'm trying to get more New Zealand participants, to create our own little niche in the #readathon world. This is such an amazing event & I can't wait for October.

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    1. Seems to me abolishing "official" cheerleading would do us a lot of good. I think a lot of times people think they're going to revive their 3-years-dead account for this event. I even worked with a guy who "wanted a team" who had a Twitter during the event (with nothing on it), and now that account is completely gone. So weird. If we just all hang out with the hashtag it cuts out all the time wasted wrangling. I think it's awesome that you're recruiting NZ participants! Let me know how it goes!

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  7. I guess we need to make it more clear that this is not an event to gain followers? Because I think that's what some of the whiners are upset about. Maybe they were expecting more followers on their blogs, twitters, instagrams, tumblrs, whatever new social media is out there that I remain clueless about, etc?

    I've been cheerleading for years now, and I love it. I really do. I loved it even in the days where half my time was spent wading through unholy amounts of CAPTCHA and blogs that obviously weren't participating in Readathon. But then the number of readers went up so much that it was hard enough getting through my cheer list once- and that was with cheering being my primary focus. And then tons of non-bloggers started participating, and suddenly we had to cheer on tumblrs and goodreads and Facebook- which half the people who signed up that way had private accounts. But still, I love to cheer, I love to spread the nerd high we all get from Readathon.

    I loved that we cheered on Twitter. It was easy for me to know who was really participating, and to really engage with them. But I didn't visit many blogs this year, and I did want to do that but I had other demands on my day-- like I imagine everyone else did too.

    I'm so sorry that there were so many hurtful complaints. I think you nailed it- it is a sense of entitlement. I don't know what the answers are, because I thought ya'll did a hella good job this Readathon. Do we have to do away with prizes and cheerleaders to get people to embrace the community aspect of Readathon and not the I Want It Allness that seems to be dominating? I don't know. I'm just so sorry that you all have to deal with the negativity when you busted your asses to make this event possible for us.

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    1. As I mentioned in an earlier comment...there's a big difference between the constructive criticism we see on a lot of the end of event surveys. We really do read and use those. But this was just whiny, entitled, crap. This event is not supposed to garner you a lot of new followers, THOUGHT IT CAN if people reach out to others! Many of them are totally missing it, methinks.

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  8. Probably people only answer the "what would you improve" question because it's on their survey, and when they answer it, they are likely bleary-eyed and cranky. :) If you asked them face to face -- how was it? They'd probably say GREAT! Their vote is that they participated.

    I've not had a chance to participate in this event for a couple years (SO much to do), but I never cared about the cheerleader aspect of the event. I mean, I appreciated it, sure, but to receive only ONE CHEER (!!) wouldn't have made or broken the event for me. I made the event myself. I tended to talk with my own little circle on Twitter & visit their blogs, but I'd meet a few fine seeds who commented to my tweets via hashtag, and I usually popped over to their blogs. I didn't do the prizes and side events because then I wasn't actually reading. :)

    So, the book world has changed A LOT since this readathon thing began. Maybe (and I hope this doesn't further your irritation, as it isn't intended to) you could reorganize the focus of the readathon onto the books/twitter/instagram/etc, and have more invitations to join hashtag chats (or just one big hashtag for the event) -- rather than all the prizes and cheering? And maybe rephrase the end of event survey to focus on what participants loved rather than what they'd improve. If they offer complaints anyway, that's on them, not the event itself.

    If you remove prizes and cheerleaders from the event and make it a free for all on Twitter -- to be taken or tossed -- and don't ask people how the thing might be improved because the thing is organic -- you might have more fun yourself, next time. :) I think anyone who volunteers for this kind of thing from cheerleader to head organizer is excellent! I can't see any sense in overcomplicating what should be an amazing event for you or all the enthusiastic volunteers behind the scenes. Use a hashtag, tell everyone to visit where they can and BE SOCIAL, make a hashtag for people who feel ignored ("hey guys! come say hello!") and a hashtag for people who've reached such-and-such a milestone, and let all those who are participating be the cheerleaders. As in, anyone who goes online cheers. Yes, I just suggested removing cheerleading from the event and replacing it with hashtags all those who are in the event can visit to say hello to folks who are feeling overlooked in the event. Or? Have a hashtag for folks who've just joined. Golly, hashtags could be amazing! Just list them on your readathon site, let the hundreds of people actually in the even do the work (I am guessing MANY would, but would prefer not to sign up for scheduled cheering), and go read your own books!

    Well, sorry if I over-suggest here. It just doesn't sound like you had much fun, and you should. Complaints have no place whatsoever in an event run entirely by enthusiastic volunteers.

    Oh! You could have a hashtag for people who've just joined the event, in the days before it begins! I'm saying, let the system and the numbers work for you.

    (Maybe I stand alone in not caring about the prizes and all that...)

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    1. Eh? I just followed you on Twitter and you blocked me? I'm wondering if it's because I only have ten followers? I only just joined Twitter...

      Well, if I've insulted you somehow, sorry! I thought I was pretty encouraging and cheerful above. Cheers. :)

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    2. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, Jillian! I took a couple of days off to catch up on sleep and binge read some more! lol I definitely think we will be putting more focus on the community aspect. While we do that a lot with our messaging on social media, and our warm up posts, we'll be making additional efforts to do that. I even have a little trick up my sleeve I'm going to try to convince Heather to get onboard with! That's a surprise for later. I really don't mind constructive criticism at all on the surveys, but it's the brash, ugly, hateful, whiny comments that got me this time. Not constructive or tempered at all. And they were a very small number, don't get me wrong.

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    3. Oh, I didn't realize people were bring brash and hateful! What in the world? I love a trick up the sleeve. Best wishes! :)

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  9. So sorry to hear there were hurtful complaints like this. I think it's all too easy for participants to forget that this is a volunteer event run by two incredible, amazing human beings (who do a bang-up freakin' job!). And you're spot on about the entitlement behind comments like that. Those aren't constructive comments that can shape an even better Readathon in the future; those are just evidence of people whining because they had a platform to do it on.

    You're also right about the community: if you want community, go out and find it. If you want better prizes, go out and ask for them (it's harder than they think!). This is not an "if I build it they will come" type of community event. You get out of it what you put into it.

    So so many people love Readathon, and you and Heather do such an incredible job, and don't you forget it.

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    1. That's the real key: we got a lot of constructive criticism, but when it steps over into ugly BS, I am DONE. And I saw/heard about more of that this time around than I care to hear. We will definitely be putting more emphasis on being part of the community and not waiting for the community to come to you.

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  10. I missed out on the even this year, but I know it was just as amazing as you always make it...and I'm sure there were complainers, since I've witnessed them before. But I think your intuition and everyone here is right - there was a time when this event needed to be more structured in order to get blogs visited, etc, but with changes in social media it's much easier to just follow a hashtag (and let things be organic event like Jillian said). As far as I'm concerned, everything that causes stress can go: cheerleaders, prizes, even mini-challenges. It should be an event about social reading. People will push back against that, but there are plenty of reading events centered on blogs that those people can participate in if this one doesn't work for them.

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    1. I second this. If the cheering, prizes, and mini-challenges are a source of stress, I'm 100% okay with them not being a part of the event. For me it's about the reading and the socializing - Twitter was so active and I really loved playing around with Snapchat.

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    2. I third this! I know how much work y'all put into something like this, and if there's elements that cause more stress than fun, I think it is FINE for you to let those things go. It's like holiday traditions -- they're good when they're fun, and then if they aren't fun anymore, you excise them.

      So many hugs, Andi! Just know that you and Heather and the rest of the awesome book bloggers of this world are very much appreciated for all the community-building you do.

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    3. Shannon, definitely interested in pushing the organic community aspect. We started trying to push that this year with a post on cheerleading then and now, but it only sinks in so far the first time around. Everything is up for evaluation! We'll see how October looks! lol

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    4. Thank you Sarah and Jenny! Y'all rock. So supportive.

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  11. "I've heard from a fair number of you that there were real-time complaints about prizes: not enough, too many ebooks. There were complaints about people's Tweets being liked rather than commented upon. There were complaints that there were too many mini-challenges and complaints about not enough."

    Screw every single person who complained. No matter what, this is an event that requires a LOT of work and no one is getting paid to do it.

    I saw the Twitter convo happening last night and I think you're right - official cheerleading might be dead. It made sense when the community was smaller and mostly everyone communicated via blog comments rather than Twitter. But times have changed, and it's not feasible for volunteers to do THAT much blog hopping, unless that's all they're going to be doing for those 24 hours. I thought that Twitter cheering was a good idea, but I admit to taking a more relaxed approach (partially my fault for signing up late, my apologies for that). I'd check someone's Twitter timeline and if they hadn't tweeted in a couple days, I didn't send a random tweet to them cheering them on, because I wasn't sure if maybe something came up & they couldn't join in. I ended up focusing on tweeting to those who were being active in the team timeline. And if people want interaction, they need to seek it out and jump in themselves. The hashtag is everywhere, there's no reason for them not to unless they're REALLY internet shy.

    Go ahead and set the world on fire, Andi. Those people have to be VERY entitled to be complaining. Please just know that the majority of us love and completely appreciate all of the hard work that you ladies put in. XXOO

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    1. Seconded. Yes, this all of this.

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    2. Thank you Sarah and Elizabeth! We are very grateful that it's a small number of participants who have complained--not regular members of our tribe anyway. I think it'll be a shift in thought for a lot of people to really get the hashtag, which is why I'm also glad we have Facebook and Goodreads for that more traditional community environment.

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  12. I did cheerleaders a few times and I can say it is hard work. Most of the time I spent hours trying to reach people at least once. I think it's time for the end of cheering, in the traditional sense. It might also be time for the end of prizes. I know I don't do Read-a-thon for Prizes or page views. I do it to read! I look forward to this event for the community and encouragement. I was disappointed that cheering didn't happen in the blogs, but some amazing stuff was taking place in the fb group. It works so much better than the years of fighting captcha and wrong urls. Read-a-thon shouldn't be a source of stress for you guys. It sounds like it's time to do away with cheering. This should be a fun event. I hope y'all get some sleep and rest.

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    1. Seconded/agreed. Yes this.

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    2. Thanks, Becca! I feel like we've gotten prizes down to kind of an art (it took a while), but the disparity in cheerleaders vs readers is just insurmountable. Definitely a shift coming!

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  13. If people can't spend a day reading without someone cheering them are they really that committed? We had a great time. I visited a few random people and said Hi but mostly we were reading.

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    1. Yep, exactly. It's reading, and then interacting as much as is still fun, not obligatory.

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    2. I would agree that they are not! lol

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  14. I say people who don't work don't get to complain! Seriously, it's easy to engage in places like Twitter and FB if you put some effort into it. Do you remember when Beth Fish Reads was locked out of Twitter because of all the cheering she did?

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    1. Hahahah, I do remember that! Heather and I managed it for a couple of Readathons! So much fun, and so funny.

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  15. Incidently, I felt like I got MORE cheers this time around that I did on previous readathons. But honestly, cheering is just a nice bonus. If people are more concerned about being cheered than on actally reading during a readathon, I think they might want to reexamine their priorities.

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    1. That's great, Joss! And yes...PRIORITIES!

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  16. Great supportive comments here! One of the themes I'm seeing in these comments is what I mentioned yesterday in my phrase, "belong by joining." Use the power of the hashtag, etc. and direct people to those areas where the conversations are happening and they can choose to participate or not. Let the participants do some of the work and shoulder responsibility for their own enjoyment of the event.

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  17. I had no idea that there would be complaints about anything with this event. I have not been able to participate in one because something always pops up. I always want to and look forward to the reading and chatting with others who are reading too, not for prizes, comments, or cheers. I don't need someone to cheer me on to read and I don't need prizes for reading, the prizes are the reading time itself and the community interaction.

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  18. I appreciate all who volunteer to cheer. I've never volunteered to cheer because I worry that something will come up that day and I would have to bow out. I would feel so bad about it.

    I do miss the days when it was a small event and everyone could visit everyone else, but now the event is so big that it's impossible. I think just leaving people to cheer each other on Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Facebook is the way to go. People will pick the places they want to be. That's a lot of options right there. (Maybe have volunteers moderate their preferred platform, rather than what they do now.) If people visit blogs, then that's gravy.

    I don't have any opinions on the prizes, they can go or just have sponsors handle that part. I'm not in it for the prizes.

    I think you guys need to take a break from thinking about it for a bit and then figure out what to do later. I know I would! Whatever you come up with, people have the option of not participating (or organizing their own) if they don't like it.

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  19. Wow. Now I feel a little bad for even mentioning it, because I swear that even in my comment it was really a genuine "where were they" because I didn't know and that had a lot to do with my more relaxed "I'm actually going to do some serious reading during Readathon" approach this year. I'd never done or requested cheerleading for blog hits, but mostly because I thought it was excellent community building when the event was much smaller. It did help me to find new blogs and make friends through the even that I might not have had otherwise.

    I went through and read every single comment on the end of event survey. I think it probably all sounds worse because it is so fresh and the proximity you have to it all, and I also believe one of the comments above was right about people answering the question because it was there. I have dealt with managing a large group before and asking opinions and it took me a long time to learn that sometimes it wasn't the way to handle stuff. Because everyone wants something one way or another and you have to decide what you're there for. You are NOT there to cater to everyone and you don't have to. If they believe they are entitled to everything they want they need to go find something else that works for them, because it's not your job. You are putting a heck of a lot of time into this and people can get over themselves.

    Also, prizes? Pfffft. If people are in Readathon for a prize I've got a kite they can go fly.

    Honestly, I don't think a lot of the comments meant much. Really don't think some of those people (myself included, if my comment was taken as such) would have complained if the option wasn't there. However - the complaint that actually made me ??��?? was the one about accommodating time zones. I saw it in more than one place and it made me a little cranky.

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  20. I had to delete my original comment because it was getting awfully angry. I spent some good hours sorting those cheer teams and scheduling tweets (and 100 people per team? That is DAUNTING.) And I was only the tiniest of cogs in the wheel that is Readathon. If the internet doesn't want us just to take our toys and go home, they need to be more understanding. Of actual people. With lives. And jobs. And families.

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  21. I just can't believe there are complaints about the readathon. I just can't believe it.
    I have been participating for two-three years and I can only say that it's a fantastic event.
    This year I've been a little bit more involved bc I cheered, and I saw so many cheerleaders doing the same as me, talking to everybody, encouranging, having fun...
    Complaining about the prizes: there are 3 prizes given away EVERY HOUR, and then prizes for the minichallenges. I mean, that's a lot!
    About going to the blogs: it's true that I used to apply to be cheered on my blog, but the minichallenges were kind of different before; now it makes more sense to answer on the host blogs (or forms they provide in the post) or post a pic on twitter/Instagram, so it doesn't matter people don't go to your blog to cheer.

    So, summarizing, I think that the people who complain are not here to READ, which is the goal of the readathon.
    And I also think that most of the participants are very happy and grateful for you to organize this awesome event.
    I love you <3
    :)

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  22. Truth. Thank you for posting this, especially for those of us who are new and don't understand why or even that people are complaining in this way. I was awed and humbled by the time and energy you all dedication into this event (and signed up to volunteer in October!). I hope the thanks and appreciation can drown out that noise (though practically, I know that's hard). xo

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  23. I was just thinking how the people complaining are probably newer to the community and the event which makes it even more weird. They wouldn't even know how it used to be with blog comments and no twitter! There was a need to cheer on blogs because otherwise you were just sitting alone on your own little internet island. We didn't need the cheers, per se. We just needed to know that the event was actually happening and that people noticed we were participating too. Now you can jump on Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads or Instagram any time during the day and tack on a hashtag and you're almost guaranteed a response. The ways of communicating have changed and so it's probably time to change the event with them.
    Also, I think in my 5+ years of Readathoning, I've only been chosen to win a prize once. No biggie. I don't know why someone would expect anything more. It's a randomly distributed perk, not a kiddie party gift bag where everyone gets one.
    I had a blast this year reading books, eating snacks, taking pictures, and Tweeting like mad. Those are the things that matter to me and I thank you and Heather for keeping the event alive!

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  24. Like I wrote in my mushy mush post yesterday, Readathon is all about the community for me. Yes, prizes are fun, and the possibility of winning them adds some excitement to the day, but ultimately the good vibes and the company are what keep me coming back.

    Eliminate everything that causes you more stress than joy, or divvy out the responsibility more! I guarantee that those of us who love this event and this community would be more than willing to help. Those who aren't? Well, good riddance. ;)

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    1. "Eliminate everything that causes you more stress than joy" --> This. It's a volunteer event! I did the mini-challenges because they were fun. I wasn't even sure if I was properly entering them and didn't really care since what I most enjoyed was writing and reading them. It's a volunteer event! (Yes, repeating that.)

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  25. I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said by others more eloquently than I could, but I just want to throw in and say that this is such a great event and that no matter what tweaks and changes you make a mass majority of people will still show up and have a great time! (Also I thought a lot of the prizes were great! Sheesh!)

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  26. Did people miss the part where this is just supposed to be fun?? Sheesh!

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  27. I almost wish I hadn't even seen this post. And I honestly can't say if I'm more angry or sad. A heaping helping of both, for sure. I'm sorry, Andi. I'm sorry that you and Heather have to deal with that kind of shit. And a big ugly pile of shit it is. I'm honest-to-goodness sitting here with tears streaming down my face. My heart is hurting for not only for you and Heather, but my heart is hurting for Dewey.

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  28. I no longer have a blog and I am thrilled that you have built community through other avenues such as Facebook. I always felt out of place without a blog. As far as cheerleaders? Well, that's sweet, but as a grown woman I don't need it. My own goals and the encouragement of you and other readers (and there was plenty)is enough. The complainers need to volunteer to cheerlead and help with prizes if it is so important to them. This is a free event. No one is getting paid.

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  29. 100% behind y'all! So you know what? I'm not a huge fan of using twitter for cheering - BUT, I understand WHY y'all did that, and I'm not complaining. Cool. If it works better for our small pocket of cheerleaders, awesome job. Were some of the mini-challenges a little weird for me because of the platforms they were hosted on? Sure. But you know what? I simply didn't participate in mini-challenges that I didn't understand, or that took up too much of my time, or for whatever reason. And if I only participate in a couple, I don't expect to win lots of prizes, because hello, 2000 participants! (So yes, long story short, everyone will enjoy and dislike different aspects of any event, and y'all are doing an awesome job, and I'm totally behind y'all!)

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  30. So sorry you had to deal with that garbage. Just know that the vast majority of us are completely in awe of everything you do <3

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  31. I really loved the Facebook group this year - that was a great addition, to be able to see what everyone else was reading/eating. That felt more like a community that someone dropping by a blog to say "keep it up". Thanks to you and all the other people who work so hard to make this fun event happen.

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  32. I was a cheerleader on Saturday and I tweeted every person on my team ONCE and that took about 6 hours I'd say. I only read 160 pages the whole day. Friday night, I was like "ok, I'm gonna hit everybody on my team twice--once in the morning and once in the evening," but that was a joke!! It took a lot of time to scroll through people's updates and then compose a personal tweet for each person!! And I didn't do ANY blog cheerleading.

    So yeah, I'm in the "if you want more cheering, sign up to BE a cheerleader!!!" camp for sure. Right on, Andi!! I'm amazed you prescheduled cheers at all!!

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  33. CRAZY NUMBERS! WOW! You and Heather are such stars for taking this on. *HAT TIP*

    I'm sorry to hear that you and Heather have to deal with such negativity. The complainers obviously don't recognize the planning, the work, and the dedication required for such a big event. Maybe thy can take it on next time hmmm?

    Anyway, great parting shot. I think that's what it boils down to. And we don't need those kinds of people in a community event!

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  34. Eh, fuck 'em. I don't understand people who whine and complain about things like this. It is just further proof that we never leave high school, but the thing is that I WANT to leave high school. I want to surround myself with people who support one another rather than find ways to be negative. And seriously, when is this event about the cheering? It is about reading and being a community. It is not an individual event that judges who received the most comments. To all those who made such comments, all I can say is GROW UP!

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  35. Brava! Well said! I vote for discontinuing cheering altogether. If you want encouragement, join in the conversaction on Twitter or other platforms. Don't like the prizes? Don't enter the challenges. To many challenges? Don't enter them all. Not enough challenges? Try reading to fill the time.

    We are here to share the love of books, the book community, and to read. Thank you again to you and the army of volunteers who devote so much time and heart to throwing a reading party for the rest of us twice a year. Guests who did not enjoy the party need not return.

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  36. I don't think I have anything to offer here that hasn't already been said. However, I did want to reiterate my thanks to you and Heather (and all the other wonderful volunteers) who put so much time and hard work into running this event. It is one of the highlights of my reading year.

    I'd be totally okay with unofficial cheerleading. I love wandering through the hashtag on Twitter. And if it would save you guys a heap of stress, so much the better.

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  37. I realise I forgot to thank you guys and you in particular, Andi, for your fabulous #TeamOwl efforts over the w/e as my readathon finishes late at night and I was too exhausted to do anything excpet turn off the light!

    But I do thank you and all the other wonderful volunteers. I had a tremendous time. I read lots, tweeted quite a bit...I was one of those terrible tweeters who mostly liked other peoples tweets (slaps myself on wrist!!) and enjoyed myself...you know...reading!

    So thank you again and again and again.
    You guys rock and deserve to be heaped with praise by a grateful reading community.
    Mwah!

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  38. I don't know how people have the nerve to complain so much. It's fun as it is - it's just fun! People need to relax and enjoy. You guys do great work!

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