Ask Me Anything Vol. 4

ask me anything
Photo by Hugh Clarke

Ed. Note: Thanks again to everyone who has donated to the St. Baldrick’s Fundraiser in the fight against Childhood Cancers. We are about $400 short of our goal but almost there! If there are others who’d like to make a donation, any amount helps, please do so and get a free PoPville shirt at the head shaving event at Boundary Stone March 12th!

“Here’s a random question – how do you pick out the rentals/houses of the day? Do you have a method or process?”

It is very very arbitrary. I like to do a mix of neighborhoods. In other words if I picked a house in Columbia Heights yesterday, I’d like to pick one from Trinidad or Capitol Hill the next day. Same thing with rentals. I also like to mix up the asking prices, the sizes, condos, coops, row houses, stand alones etc. But it really is very arbitrary. I basically just search new listings and look for houses/apartments that seem interesting to me. Which also basically applies to every post on the site : )

“Sometimes the comments for GDON are not always, uhm, complimentary. Do you get many complaints from owners or Realtors?”

I very rarely get complaints from Realtors. GDoN posts for them often help them out at the end of the day. The exposure GDoN picks get is really huge. It is consistently one of the most popular posts on the site. I have no doubt that some Realtors probably curse me/GDoN from time to time but I’m sure others have benefited too.

“What are some outcomes from this blog that you never could’ve expected when you started it? (This obviously has a very personal impact for me, having met my fiancé at the informal HH.)”

Well, the biggest one of course, is taking it full time. I never ever expected this blog to be my full time job when I started it. But if you put that aside some of the amazing things about the site that I never anticipated are simply the great community that has evolved over time. If you look at the rant/revel for example – the breadth of topics discussed and the support given to each other is incredibly moving for me. It’s one of the things that I’m most proud of – this space where people can say you know what “I just feel like shit today, will it get better?” And folks are always there to say it will. People can talk about miscarriages, family problems, depression – you name it. The support is always there.

Similarly, I also like the element of the site that helps people out in a more mundane, but still useful way. IE Their garbage hasn’t been picked up in two weeks – we post about it and the garbage gets picked up later that day. It really makes me happy that the site can have this positive influence. It is also something I never anticipated.

Finally, I never really anticipated just how many people would actually regularly read the blog on a daily basis. It’s old, young, black, white, gay, straight, male, female, wealthy, struggling, originally from all over the states and even some international folks too. I love having this diversity of opinions shaped by so many different experiences. Obviously the proportions of the diversity could always improve. It is an honor to have so many readers and it’s something I never could have imagined when I first started the site.

“How many tips a day do you get? What is your most favorite/least favorite part of the job?”

It really varies but on average I’d say I get about 10 solid tips a day. The crazier element is how many emails I sift through. If you combine government emails, press releases, reader emails, listserv emails – I’m looking at over 500 emails a day everyday. I don’t know if that’s a lot for other people but for me – there are days I dread the email box. But it is also my lifeblood. It’s how I organize the site. Everyday I go through the email box and go back up to a week for things I’ve missed and plan my day’s postings around many of these emails mixed with what I’ve found on my walkabouts.

My favorite part of the job is the subject matter. I really do truly love DC and the fact that I get to dig into the minutiae of what makes it great and what needs to be fixed is a blessing for me. Because every morning I sit down at the computer I don’t dread it. I also start everyday with excitement – what am I going to find out today? And everyday we find out something interesting. Every single day. That is really lucky to get that feeling every single day.

Now obviously there are shit parts of the job too. We’ve addressed the troll issue last week. That is absolutely one of my least favorite parts of running the site. And just quite frankly dealing with angry people can be very unpleasant. This is a danger of an online interaction but when someone conveys anger over email or just in comments it can come across especially viscous and that can get grating day after day. I’m also coming on 8 years of working completely by myself. For the first two years running the site I still had a regular day job. But for the last 8 years – it’s just me and Dingo. And I do love Dingo but she’s pretty useless when I need to talk something through or get advice. That is really hard, to never ever have someone to say “hey am I crazy?” “should I post this?” “Is this person being unreasonable?” “Is this fair?” etc. etc. I have to figure it out for myself every single time. Which is why sometimes I fuck up. I absolutely do make mistakes. I agonize over some questions and try my very best. That’s pretty much all I can do. And fortunately most of you guys can be very forgiving. So I’m lucky in that regard too.

-Dan Silverman: Citizen of the District of Columbia

If you have a personal question you’ve been dying to ask me – fire away! You can ask in the comments (which I’ll go back to and pull from) or just send an email with your question to [email protected] with “Ask me Anything” in the title.

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