The other day I got what seemed to be a piece of unsolicited good news: My FMF Stamp Project had been selected as one of the “Top 60 Stamp Collecting Blogs” on the Internet. Cool!
What exactly does this mean? Well, first take a look at the message the popped up on my email server:
My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.
I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog FMF STAMP PROJECT has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 60 Stamp Collecting Blogs on the web. (Ed: Anuj supplied a link further into his Feedspot site: http://blog.feedspot.com/stamp_collecting_blogs/ )
I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 60 Stamp Collecting Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!
Also, you have the honor of displaying the following badge on your blog. Use the below code to display this badge proudly on your blog.”
Opening the link, I found a listing of the other 59 stamp-collecting blogs that have received this special recognitions. And more text, starting with a sentence fragment:
“The Best Stamp Collecting blogs from thousands of top Stamp Collecting blogs in our index using search and social metrics. Data will be refreshed once a week.
These blogs are ranked based on following criteria
•Google reputation and Google search ranking
•Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites
•Quality and consistency of posts.
•Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review
CONGRATULATIONS to every blogger that has made this Top Stamp Collecting Blogs list! This is the most comprehensive list of best Stamp Collecting blogs on the internet and I’m honoured to have you as part of this! … If your blog is one of the Top 60 Stamp Collecting blogs, you have the honour of displaying the following badge on your site. Use the below code to display this badge proudly on your blog. You deserve it!”
It doesn’t seem to me that my FMF Stamp Project has attracted much attention — yet anyway. But the “medal” looks totally cool, so I figured out a way to display it as a logo at the top of my home page and FMF Stamp Project blog posts. I also did a little research on feedspot.com and Anuj Agarwal. According to social media, he already has had a successful career in international insurance, both in India and Great Britain and probably beyond. I imagined him being an enthusiastic stamp collector with considerable resources and free time on his hands (or else building a new fortune with this feedspot.com site, which seems to be an info aggregation service for its subscribers).
All this, notwithstanding that the photo he included with his email message makes Anuj Agarwal look, according to my friend George whom I shared the message with, like he’s still in junior high. (Sorry Anuj — that was George talking, not me.)
Inspired by the sheer serendipity of the whole thing — after all, the FMF Stamp Project is just a lark, and I have only just managed to clamber aboard this wordpress.com Internet platform — I sent Anuj (I hope I may call you Anuj) a cheery email in reply:
“It was a pleasure to get your message and notification today. I don’t know exactly what it means yet, but it sure seems like it can’t be bad. (I’m already displaying my “medal” as logo on my blog!) It is a thrill to have my FMF Stamp Project noticed in any way. This labor of love has been going on for a year or more. I am putting up more blog posts all the time, because I have a story to tell on just about every page of my large stamp collection. I looked you up via social media and see you have had a successful career already. And your Web site looks intriguing — something that could be very useful for curious and discriminating readers. Perhaps I will learn to use it one day.
“I am a retired journalist and editor in Syracuse, NY, age 68. Now I continue to pursue my lifelong interests in music composition** and performance, as well as writing projects like the FMF Stamp Project. My stamp commentaries began as essays shared with family and loved ones. I was encouraged to put them on a blog, and with help from my stepson was able to scramble onto the platform, where I am hanging on for dear life. Having lots of fun, though!
“FYI, I lived on the subcontinent in the 1950s — in Dhaka, where my father was a diplomat. We traveled several times by train from Calcutta (Kolkata?) to Delhi and beyond, to visit my brother and sister who were studying in Woodstock. What memories …
“It is also a pleasure to make your acquaintance via the Internet— which Dan Rather calls the most significant innovation since the steam engine. I wish you every success. — Fred M. Fiske, Minoa (Syracuse), NY
** p.s. I also have a site where I have posted a half-dozen of my songs so far. Go to soundcloud.com and search for fred fiske.”
It wasn’t long before Anuj sent me a reply:
Thanks for adding the Badge on your Blog.
If you can add a link back to the post, we’d greatly appreciate it.
So now I need to figure out how to embed a link in the logo? Or elsewhere on my blog? Why a link to feedspot.com? Am I opening myself up to some kind of scam? I hope not! Will this end up with my bank accounts drained, all my assets confiscated, leaving me a homeless panhandler in the snow on a street corner? Heaven forbid!
Get a grip. Don’t be so morbid. Maybe it’s just a chance to expand your audience. Enjoy the (limited) celebrity. And limited is right. When I told my wife about my new “medal,” she snickered. That’s how much of the world thinks about stamp collecting in general. And with some reason. We tend to attract geeks and nerds, like me — and not the high-tech kind. I may be a celebrity in Syracuse Stamp Club circles, but I still need $1.50 to buy a cup of coffee.
And yet … my starry eyes are starting to focus on future prizes in the sky: more readers for the FMF Stamp Project; more open-minded folks taking an interest in stamps; renewed interest in the hobby in general — and improved prospects that my collection won’t lose value as fast as I build it up.
My daughter Molly, who is Mideast bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, heard the news (from me, via email) and responded with words of encouragement:
“Way to go YOD (Ye Olde Dad)! I KNEW you needed an online presence, and would get a kick out of it. Look at all you’ve been doing, between the stamp blog and your music. Am really excited for you. What a great outlet, and — as I predicted — you have an audience. Now, if you could only monetize it… love from Cairo, where the weather is fantastically cool.”
Encouraging words, indeed. But forget about the push to monetize. We stamp collectors generally have a pretty modest and realistic assessment of our beloved pastime. While we can’t get enough of it ourselves, we all too readily accept that most of the world doesn’t care a hoot about stamps.
Nevertheless, through the FMF Stamp Project, I think I have managed to open a conversation about stamps aimed at a general audience, using the resources of the Internet to enrich my commentaries with glorious illustrations of enlarged stamps from my collection and elsewhere. Now, being selected as one of the 60 best stamp blogs — “from thousands” (really?) — I am (modestly) thrilled. Perhaps it is slightly ridiculous. And so, I offer a bit of silliness to celebrate this new distinction: **
Let me collect my thoughts before I become unhinged by the thrill of having my FMF Stamp Project selected as one of the 60 best stamp blogs on the Internet. I know skeptics may suspect an ulterior motive behind this “medal,” and wouldn’t touch it with 10-foot tongs. They’d demand that the whole thing be canceled. Nevertheless, I am inclined to commemorate this happy event as a definitive comment on the good quality my work, and hope my commentaries will be engraved in the minds and hearts of a growing audience. My aim, of course, is to promote stamp collecting, a hobby whose popularity seems to have worn thin. Yielding to despair and admitting I am licked would mean being stuck in a declining market that could only mean damage for my own collection. My focus is on encouraging more and more people to consider stamp collecting, in hopes that committing philately together will improve the condition of my beloved hobby.
** The italicized words all refer to stamp-collecting; if you can’t figure out how, ask a stamp collector!