A Short Post About My Long Posts For Short Attention Span Readers

A lot of my posts are long, so I know there are some out there who don’t read the whole posts, either ending early or skimming, or who skip them altogether. I just want to write a (relatively) short post to explain that I totally get that and explain my thinking on the matter. For those who find even this post too long, I have put the key points in bold.

But, first, in my defense, I have many readers who pay me the honor of reading most or all of my long posts. I’m very proud that readers spend roughly six and a half minutes on average per pageview. That’s apparently including all the hits that end in just seconds factored in. So people do read, and on average they read more than twice as long as on other atheist blogs. So, I might get more hits were I to write shorter posts, but what’s the point if people spent less time reading, learned less, and had less to think about afterwards?

But some of you can’t or don’t want to commit 7-15 minutes a day to reading me. I totally get that. So when people say, “you should write 500 word posts instead of your regular 1,500-3,000 word posts”, my response is always, “if you want a 500 word post, just read 500 of the words. I don’t mind!” The 1,500 words are there for those who want a fuller exploration, very precisely worded with lots of rich nuances scrupulously included where others omit them and leave themselves open to more challenges.

But if you don’t need all my details on a particular point that you already know well, or on which you already agree with me, or if you’re just bored, or you don’t have time or you have a short attention span, then by all means speed up, start skimming, find a section that you find more thought-provoking and just read that shorter section. Keep reading until you get bored and skim again until you find something particular for you again. My only request is before commenting on anything, you make sure you saw all the parts of the post related to it. 

Otherwise, skim away, read half posts, whatever works for you. I’m just honored you read at all!

Finally, some defense of my posting style. I find most short philosophical posts stop just when they reach the first interesting idea. They’re usually total letdowns. I am pleased my posts usually are thorough and detailed enough that all the ideas make a cohesive whole and are strengthened by being presented all together. And the result is that even though my writing makes for relatively long blog posts, I do philosophical writing that is usually shorter, more thorough, and more efficient than whole journal articles or book chapters that are longer and don’t say much more (or even say less) than I do. So, even when reading me is a time commitment, I don’t think I’m a waste of time. My relatively succinct and relatively accessible thoroughness is, I think, what people find so satisfying about my writing when they like it.

And what satisfies me about this approach is that my thoroughness means my commenters frequently push my thinking beyond where I’ve thought to go yet because I already laid out what I know. You can find what I don’t know rather than what I just left out. I love that.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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