Thursday, 28 November 2013

Blogger Revealed

It is time to reveal who it is behind the Worcester Park Blog keyboard. What better way to do this than via the medium of video...

Just to fill in any gaps, here is a set of FAQs...

How and why did you take over the blog?

Back while Andrew was still the blogger and I was one of its many readers, I saw the blog as a very readable and entertaining as well as extremely useful resource for finding out was what happening in and around Worcester Park. Like many people I noticed that after the Green Lane Mosque was rejected last year that the frequency of postings dropped right back.

I had met Andrew through various local community activities so I knew who he was and I had also sent him several stories and photos about things I had spotted going on. He had posted a couple of these, but in January of this year he went for several weeks without posting any stories, including some which I had sent him. So I went to see him to make sure nothing untoward had happened. This was when he informed me he was leaving Worcester Park. Obviously this meant the blog would just wither on the vine and stop. I half joked about buying it from him but didn’t really think I could do the same job Andrew had been doing.

However after thinking about it for several days I decided that making a go of it would be better than losing the blog altogether. So I went back and offered to take it over. Over the course of the next few weeks Andrew agreed that I should take it over, we worked out an agreement and I officially took control on the 16th of Feb 2013. Then there was about a week and a half when we both wrote articles but Andrew wrote his final hurrah on the 28th of February. Everything since then has been me.

Why reveal yourself now?

Many readers will be aware that my identity has not really been a great secret! Anyone has been able to look me up on various Whois sites, and both in July and also again a few weeks ago I invited all blog readers to a local pub and showed this very video. However because of a new development, I think it is important to now make it clear who I am.

I am also involved in local politics and I have just this week been selected by the Conservatives to stand for Sutton Council in next year’s elections representing Worcester Park. I want to continue to serve Worcester Park through this blog but it is not right or fair of me to be writing a blog and standing as a political candidate without clearly laying my political cards on the table. It is important that people are able to judge what I write with that background knowledge in mind.

Why have you written posts about yourself, 'Simon Densley' in the third person?

When I first took over I was very conscious of the fact that Andrew had done such a brilliant job for many years and I just wasn’t him.  So initially I kept the same level of anonymity so people wouldn’t just stop reading it. I wanted to spend some time proving I could keep the blog going so when readers did realise it wasn’t the same person writing it, they wouldn’t judge me merely as the new guy who wouldn’t be up to the job, but instead on the posts I had been writing that hopefully show that I am up to the job.

However, because I was also quite active in Worcester Park, there were things I was doing around the area that would be considered ‘local news’. So I decided to keep the two roles separate and occasionally write about myself as a separate person doing stuff in the local area. I must admit that I have grown to like this style of writing and prefer it to writing ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’.

Why do you sometimes write comments on posts as the Blogger and sometimes as Simon Densley?

It depends on the sort of comment I want to make. If I want to thank someone for something or say something pretty uncontroversial or provide some additional information I will comment as the blogger. However if I have something contentious or political to say or I want to pull someone into line for a comment they have made I will have the guts to do that under my own name. I don’t like the idea of ‘trolling’ and I don’t make comments using alias; being the blogger notwithstanding - which is obviously a bit of a special case.

What's Andrew, the original blogger doing now?

Andrew moved with his family down to Ashtead. Astute readers may have noted a few wry references to Ashtead and a blog being run down there. Andrew is now running Ashtead On Line, the Ashtead version of the blog. You might find the font he's used in the header a little familiar...

What happens after the election?

Of course I am hoping to represent Worcester Park on Sutton Council after next May’s election and if so, I want to ‘take readers with me’ as I find out what it is actually like to win a council seat and then to take on the responsibility that goes with that.

Of course representing Worcester Park on the council will have a lot of overlap with the work I have been doing running the blog anyway. It will be my official job to know what is going on in Worcester Park and to communicate with Worcester Parkers about local issues – so not much change there then.

However there will undoubtedly be some small changes to the blogging. In many cases I will have more inside information about issues. However it will also be necessary to keep people’s confidences when dealing with certain issues and as such I will not be able to ‘spill the beans’ on everything that goes on. However I can’t see that affecting the majority of stories.

I hope any changes would be generally positive and more akin to the blog growing and not a shift in style and content. Although I may also have to be a little more careful with any cynical or tongue in cheek humour...

The other positive thing is that via the blog I will be able to ask for people’s thoughts and opinions on various matters that I will be able to take back to council meetings. So if something controversial is being considered for Worcester Park, I will actually be able to ask people what they think and make sure the council is aware of this before a decision is made.

If you’re a Conservative, why isn’t the blog more political than it is?

I consider the Worcester Park Blog to be primarily a local service for the people of Worcester Park. I took it over in February with the intention of keeping it going in the same style and form with it continuing to serve the people of Worcester Park. At the end of the day most things that go on aren’t specifically political and I have tried to include items of a political nature only when they would be ‘news’ anyway.

In the small number of posts I have written with some political content I have tried to ensure that as well as being genuinely newsworthy in their own right, I have stated the facts and included other people’s opinions. I have also refrained from moderating comments which disagree with my own view.

Of course anything I write will naturally be from my own point of view and that means that certain posts will sound more ‘Daily Telegraph’ than ‘Guardian’ however  I like to explore issues and try to find out what’s really going on regardless of any political position. A good example would be the video I made of the squatters.

While at the end of the day I am free to write whatever I personally choose, I think it is important for the Worcester Park Blog to serve the whole Worcester Park community and I aim to continue running the blog in this way.

Have you gone back and edited any of Andrew’s original stories?

No, I have kept the historical stories exactly as they are apart from adding a clearly marked update to one post where new information was relevant to an older story. Other than that, all of the original posts are preserved exactly as Andrew left them. I felt that keeping the old posts unchanged was an important part of keeping the integrity of the blog.

Why do you think Andrew chose to sell it to you?

Andrew told me that he had already had other offers for the blog but that they had been from local businesses that just wanted to take advantage of the readership for commercial purposes and change how it was run without keeping the underlying ethos.

I think the fact that I was already doing local community work and had already sent him a few photos and stories to use he thought there was a chance I might keep it running in its existing form. When I offered to take it over from him I said that it was my intention to keep it running in the same style and format and for whatever reason he believed me. I hope I have stayed true to that goal!

How much money does the advertising make?

On average I make just over a pound a day from the ads. I can’t control what ads people see, everyone gets something different I think. Probably all down to what Google thinks you might personally be persuaded to purchase. However I can remove certain categories of advertising and to date I have removed a number of categories that I didn’t like or was getting complaints about.

Will you answer other questions posed here?

Yes – provided they are genuine questions and not just political point scoring (and I might even answer some of those too).