One year ago today Three Thousand Versts of Loneliness opened with its first post, a tentative effort speculating whom the IFA might choose to replace Lawrie Sanchez as Northern Ireland manager. From such humble beginnings, the humility has continued, although I’ve learned a bit about the technicalities of blogging in the interim. Hopefully some of the additional widgets and changes in layout offer a more user friendly experience for those who have stuck with us.
Gradually a web of links has been established with bloggers sharing similar preoccupations and through this expedient a readership has evolved. Posts about Northern Ireland politics have from the beginning been the most popular and Three Thousand Versts has become something of a fixture in the (admittedly small) unionist blogosphere. I’ve particularly enjoyed exchanging ideas and debate amongst readers and posters in this virtual community.
As regards recognition and approbation there have been a number of highlights during the year. In the initial tentative stages during which I was relatively clueless as to how to build links or publicise content to readers, Michael Shilliday helped enormously by identifying the blog as a UUP flavoured site and linking it both on the Young Unionists erstwhile website and on Slugger O’Toole. Slugger has picked up a number of posts from this site over the course of 12 months and traffic invariably rises substantially as a result. Indeed it was Slugger’s Mick Fealty who selected Three Thousand Versts as 18th best political blog in Ireland, back in September, thus securing inclusion and a brief synopsis in ‘Iain Dale’s Guide to Political Blogging’. Additionally the book mentioned us as 224th in its list of British political blogs, as voted by the general readership. Faint praise perhaps, but pleasing after only a few months online. An article on Russia’s new president was also featured in American online magazine Slate.
Some fascinating debates have ensued following posts on the blog, occasionally from unexpected sources. Observations springing from a trip to Latvia attracted the animus of a cadre of Baltic nationalists and a lengthy discussion of ethnic nationalism in post Soviet states resulted.
At one point in the year an impassioned plea for the rights of those with long hair was heard and a Canadian became very adamant that Northern Ireland had a long tradition of playing ice hockey.
Thank you to all readers and commenters and I hope you’ll stick around for another year, and all being well, some further debate and discussion.