Once per month, there’s an extra story in the Premium edition without a tagline, so that readers can try their hand at ending the story. I call it the Reader Tagline Challenge, and the readers come up with a wide variety of funny endings to the extra story.
On the other hand, only a very small percentage of the readers actually enter. When I’ve asked readers about that, they generally say it’s a lot harder than it looks to come up with something concise and funny, and they just can’t do it — but they do like reading the results.
Lately, well fewer than 100 readers have been entering. So maybe it’s the case that only a few, vocal readers like it. Heck: perhaps even the majority of readers think that it should go, but they don’t want to say so with their name attached.
So it was time for a formal survey so I could find out for sure.
The survey was up for 5 days after being announced in last week’s Premium, and it asked just one question (but gave an opportunity to add comments if desired). In that time, a statistically significant 687 readers responded:
My Feelings about the monthly Reader Tagline Challenge are…
- 10.5% – It’s great and I try to come up with something every month
- 37.0% – It’s great, but I don’t often try to enter
- 34.5% – I like reading it, but don’t bother trying to enter
- 10.1% – I can take it or leave it
- 6.8% – It’s OK to have it there, but I usually skip over it
- 1.1% – It’s a total waste of space. Get rid of it!
In summary, 82 percent definitely read it, 10 percent are indifferent, and 8 percent don’t really care. That’s a pretty strong vote for keeping it — especially considering just 1 percent don’t want it at all. I guess they can skip it once a month, since yes, with that much support I do plan to continue it.
Some of the 172 Comments Added
Some of the more common or interesting comments, several with my responses in blue.
- I always gain respect for you, the other writers, and the TC entrants. It’s hard.
- I don’t think it’s necessary to share every entry — there are too many, and not all of them are that good. Just share the 3 or 4 best ones — that’s enough. Also, a prize for the winner might give more incentive to enter — doesn’t have to be a big thing, maybe a bonus issue added to their subscription or a free ebook. Several others thought the results went on too long, so I will indeed tighten it up to the Best of the Best. -rc
- I usually TRY to come up with something worth saying, but half the time — even though I’m sure there has to be a great line in there somewhere — I just can’t find the words. PLEASE keep it!
- I do always think about the article, but only twice have I come up with something I thought was worth entering (since I got acknowledged once as an “also ran”, I figure I’m doing pretty good percentage-wise. frequency, not so much 😉 I’m always amazed and entertained by the results — humor on demand is hard work.
- I enjoy the tag lines that do get sent in. I am not in the USA and often our understandings of words differ. A lot. I do speak English but am not fluent in American English. Makes it tricky to hit just the right note. Totally understandable. Very often the humor (in the challenge, and in True in general) depends on very subtle factors. -rc
- While I don’t usually enter (ok, never have), I really enjoy the Tagline Challenge. It helps give the publication character via an interaction between you and the readers. It’s one of the elements that makes your publication unique (human / personable / approachable / personal / almost interactive, what word am I looking for here?) It’s fun to look at how a variety of people viewed/twisted a story. I think that variety is an interesting look at how people see things differently. My opinion: very valuable, keep it if you can.
- It is one of my favorite features and I am always amazed at the creative skills of those responding. PLEASE do not stop it.
- I consider the monthly Tagline challenge an essential part of True, and one of the features I enjoy most. The only reason I don’t enter more often is that I usually have trouble coming up with something clever (though when I do submit an entry, you sometimes print it!)
- I love seeing what everyone comes up with. If nothing else, it definitely makes you realize how hard Randy, Alexander, and Mike have to work to get the job done.
- I read “This is True” cover to cover as soon as I see it in my inbox. Randy, if you are saying “Get off your *ss and enter the tagline challenges!” I’ll take the five minutes a week or so and move my response to this survey all the way to the top! 😉 While I wish more would enter, since they’re often better than the submitter thinks (or can be, with the slightest of editing, which I do do), I’ll encourage you all to send it in when you think of it, but no, I’m not frustrated nor “demand” that readers do better. Very often, the “This is going to be a really common response, but I’m sending it anyway” entries are indeed the only response along that line, so send ’em if you think of ’em! -rc
- I would love to enter more often but it is intimidating. Regardless of my own lack of creativity I absolutely love to read everyone else’s responses. I read it every month and if some kind of angle doesn’t pop in my mind quickly I tend to give up.
- This is True is my weekly 10 minute respite from madness that keeps me sane. At least I think so… I’ve entered a few tagline challenges, but the real challenge is taking the time to think up something that works. I seem to lock up, then I set it aside, and the next thing I know another month has gone by. Please don’t get rid of it. It gives me a false hope that someday I can be witty and bright, too.
- I love it, but it’s a rare month when I can come up with something to enter, and I am fairly sure my entries don’t get through. I guess I don’t know how to enter other than by replying to the This is True email. I’d love to have an address where we could enter and get back a confirmation, even if that was an automatic form letter. I do say every month to “reply with your suggestions” — and the “example challenge, tips and rules” page I link to each month says that replying is the way to enter. It would be much more confusing to have a separate address for entries. -rc.
- Always enjoy trying desperately to walk in your shoes for a few minutes each month. Usually forget even how to tie them.
- I’m not naturally witty enough to come up with responses often, but I love being able to read through and (usually) laugh at a dozen or so different taglines rather than just one. That’s not to say that the “regular” taglines aren’t good (they are), but seeing multiple takes on a single story is a nice change of pace and can be thought-provoking in and of itself, even when none of the individual entries are. In other words, it makes me think about “which of these do I agree or disagree with, and why?”, and I know you love making people think. 🙂
- It is part of what makes the news letter memorable. Please keep it. I don’t enter, that does not mean I don’t care. I just am not that fast.
- I’d like to enter, but I never think of anything good enough to send in. The quality of the actual responses is great.
- It is very interesting to me to see the wide variety of taglines that readers come up with.
- Love it! If you like True as much as I do it’s an opportunity to match the wit of the other contributors. Don’t even think about canning it!
Thanks, everyone, for your input. I’m fine with going to the trouble to produce the extra story and sort through the responses every month — if you want to read it! And clearly, the vast majority does.