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TTHT Five-Year Blogversary: Answering your Q&A questions!


On exactly this day, August 28th, 2014 (which was half a decade ago), I created my first post on this Blogger blog. It wasn't my first blog post ever, despite its title. That sounds weird, but that's since This and That, Here and There didn't get its start on Blogger. I started blogging about half a year before that, on a platform called Squidoo. I was just a third-grader then, but clearly still loved writing about anything I was obsessed with. I didn't get many views, but that didn't matter to me at all (views still don't really matter to me nowadays). I was heartbroken when I found out that summer that my blog would be lost forever.

Squidoo was being bought by another company, HubPages (which I should've predicted when I saw the ads that suddenly appeared on all Squidoo blogs indicating that the company was in deep financial disdain). As a result, I was unable to continue to blog until I completed the transfer from my blog from Squidoo to HubPages. I didn't like the sound of that, so I jumped ship and headed on over to another blogging platform, which was Google's Blogger. I started out by copy-and-pasting each individual post I had created earlier into this new blog. An interesting fun fact is that I didn't intend to continue blogging on this blog after that. I wanted "This and That, Here and There" to simply be an archive of my old works that would end up disappearing from the Internet had I not done something about it. I wanted to continue to blog on yet another Blogger blog, which I recall wanting to name "The New Arca Blog" (the most boring title ever in the history of titles). But I realized that wasn't a good idea and just continued to blog on TTHT. And five years later, looking back, I can tell it paid off.

I now have a big reader-base with over150,000 all-time page views and my blog keeps on getting better and better (even if my publishing consistency gets worse and worse). So I thought I'd take some time to celebrate and reflect on the past five years of blogging by doing a special type of post I haven't done for a while: A Q&A. A few weeks ago I made a post linking to a Google Form which wasn't only a feedback survey, but also a place for you to ask me just about anything so I could answer it in my next post. I am going to keep that promise and now answer all of those questions (that even qualified as questions to begin with), as well as quite a few added questions that I came up with on my own due to a lack of overall responses (gee, thanks guys), and also since I've heard people ask me this stuff in real life repeatedly as well. Without further ado, let's begin!

What inspired you to create this blog?


I can’t remember any specific inspiration that caused me to start this blog years ago. I don’t think I even had any “inspiration” to make it, to be honest. I created it since I loved the idea of having my own website, back when I was in elementary school, and I still do. While creating my blog in the first place wasn’t due to a source of inspiration, the style of my blog and the topics I cover definitely have many sources of inspiration. YouTubers are probably the biggest inspiration overall since before I read tech journalism I was watching technology reviews in the form of video. 

My inspiration to create this blog wasn't really anything, and YouTubers were my style inspiration. I also inspired many other of my peers in the process to create their own blogs, and some of them also were influenced by my blogging style. Just to name a few off the top of my head, those I inspired over the years to dip their own toes in blogging include Xiang, Burak, Ali, my little brother Onur, my friends Young, Kim, Benny, and many more.


When will you do an ARG (augmented reality game)?


For those of you who don’t know, an ARG (which stands for augmented reality game) is basically a form of a scavenger hunt, in online or real life, with a story-based context that makes it more immersive. You could call an escape room an ARG of sorts, as with the infamously enigmatic Cicada 3301 Internet conspiracy. It is often used by teachers to quiz their students and to babysit them on days which they would do nothing else, by marketing teams to promote a new movie or product, by secret online privacy societies to recruit new members, and by Burak to give out prizes to his blog readers. 


But as for the question of “when will I do one”, then I have to question the question being asked. Do you mean when will I participate in one, or when will I make one for my readers? The answer to the former is that I have participated in one, namely Burak’s Summer ARG (that got canceled in the end), even if it was only for a few days. I might participate in his winter one, but that depends on how busy I am. Not for the prize as much (hey, a free review copy for a journalist to get you some publicity would be nice, wouldn’t it?), but just for the fun of it. 


Will I ever create an ARG for my blog readers? I actually have experience in making a sort of Easter Egg hunt or ARG of sorts, and it was for my pal Ali’s 13th birthday card (see vlog here), but I am not sure when I will make one for my blog. The answer is most definitely yes, I would love to indulge in creating a challenging and fun game for my readers in the form of an ARG, but all I can say is don’t go hunting for clues just yet. I might save it for a special occasion or landmark though, so who knows. I think that a type of ARG where you’re trying to figure out the answer to a question (like a “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” type of murder mystery) might be fun to make, since I could implement some story elements (and my friends for a collab of some type) into it as well. This wouldn’t just require code-cracking, but clever guessing and reading as well. 


Do you really exist?


No, I do not. I am just a hologram invented by Elon Musk and the Illuminati. So is everyone else. We are all living in a simulation where nothing is real anymore and we’re just reliving all of our past memories, thoughts, and experiences via NeuraLink technology. Also, what does it mean to “exist”, anyway? Can’t you say that things that aren’t real, like fictional creatures and monsters, do indeed exist, but just in the imagination? So, therefore, nothing doesn’t exist. So does that mean that everything exists? What about nothing, then? Does nothing as a concept not exist, since there is a presence in absence, or should it be interpreted as nothing is real in the first place? Am I getting too unnecessarily deep into what started out as a satirical question and satirical response? Maybe. But then again, how could something ever be “too deep” if nothing even matters in the first place? We don’t consider a simple answer to this question like “yes” as being “not deep enough”, then why do we criticize this complicated response as being “too deep”? What even can be too in-depth if nothing is in-depth in the first place since nothing truly exists? Zero times zero is still zero, so nonexistence that is in-depth still is nonexistence. 


How did you come up with your blog title?


Believe it or not, I didn’t come up with my blog’s title. My dad did, 6 years ago, as a suggestion for the title of my old Squidoo blog that was a bit more interesting than just “Arca’s Blog”. “This and That, Here and There” may be a mouthful to say (which is why I often shorten it to TTHT), but it is the most accurate representation of what my blog is about that I could imagine. My blog isn’t about any specific topic; its focus shifts from this to that as my interests change, and about here to there as I travel. 


Do you have a pet cat?


While my profile photo, blog favicon, and overall obsession with cats might make you believe otherwise, no, I do not own a pet cat. Or any pets at all. I used to own several goldfish but all of them, of course, didn’t last very long. Four years ago I was dead-set on adopting a pet kitten, and we almost walked out of an adoption center with a new member of the family but didn’t due to slight hesitation. I had been doing research for almost a year at that point about how to take care of a cat and all the responsibilities that go along with it. I was heartbroken a week later when someone else had already adopted the kitten. After that, the whole plan of me getting a pet cat kind of stuttered and died out. Two years later, in a non-food allergy test (in which I found out, unsurprisingly, that I was allergic to just about every single plant on the list, which is why springtime is miserable for me), I found out that I was allergic to both dogs and cats. Dogs were rated 2 out of 4 on the severity list, while cats were a whopping 4 out of 4, meaning the worst amount of sneezing and eye-itching possible. I kind of suspected this after spending time with my uncle’s pet cat in Turkey, but it still was a bummer nonetheless. I am a cat person, of course, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like dogs. I just think I can personally relate to cats more (less constantly social and annoyingly loud), and it would be easier to take care of one as well since you don’t have to worry about taking it for walks and cleaning up turds from the grass. But this news ensures I probably won’t get either pet until I’m out of college, on my own, and hopefully with a much-less severe or completely absent allergy to both pets. For now, even talking about getting hamsters with my parents raises questions about how much they smell and don’t live very long, so I might even be completely petless for a long time.  


What do you want to be when you grow up?


I’m not sure precisely what profession I will have when I get out of high school and college in several years, but I do know what I’m interested in. That is technology. I probably want to be a technology-related engineer of some kind, whether this is a software or hardware developer or game designer or what-have-you. I am too young to know the specifics of these jobs but old enough to dream realistically about what fields I might be going into in the future. I don’t know what I’ll do, but I have a feeling that I want it to be about creating things with technology. That is all. 


What is the next big thing for your blog?


I’m not so sure myself. My blog will probably get more frequent posts (more on that later), and I might bring back the feedback polls that I sometimes used to use to see what my audience wants me to write about next. However, my next big thing online in general, now that I’ve already dipped my foot into both blogging and YouTube video-making, would be podcasts. You probably aren’t aware, but I have already secretly started an official podcast for my blog called “This and That, HEAR and There”, but the only episode is this school research project about Star Wars that I was required to make. I decided to title the series with that pun, since why not, but after making that first short episode and having quite a bit of fun with it, I actually plan on continuing podcasts in some form or another. A monthly one where I invite a different friend to “collab” with each month and we just talk about the going-ons of that month for less than an hour each is something I’ve considered and a potential AABO Podcast was something that was pitched to me by Ali and Burak at least a year ago. I want to do the second episode of my podcast soon for The AABO Show’s 3-year anniversary, and I’d love to invite the rest of the AABO members to do it with me. This would include answering questions about our favorite moments and memories with the channel, discussing what new ideas we should try next, and more. If it does well I might even start a dedicated AABO Podcast separately to fill the gap when we don’t upload routine birthday vlogs (since that’s basically what the channel has turned into at this point). 


Why do you have so many YouTube channels?


I actually didn’t plan on having so many YouTube channels. It actually started out as a simple accident. Let me explain. One of the first-ever YouTube videos I made was a time-lapse of me drawing a 3D Rubik’s Cube (which isn’t very good, but I was a third-grader at the time). I wanted to upload it to my main Google account’s channel page. But I accidentally added it to my dad’s account. But it got slightly more views, so I decided from that point on to continue making more videos on the channel called “Taner Baran”. (Taner isn’t my middle name, to all those who have asked over the years.) Taner Baran became my childhood channel of sorts, with mostly random art and comedy/skit videos that aren’t all very good or memorable (although there are a few gems scattered here and there), but it always got lots of views in my mind and a decent amount of subscribers considering the average content I made in elementary school. My second big YouTube channel after that was The AABO Show, which is about to reach its 3-year anniversary soon. It started as a collab channel with some of my closest friends who are Turkish, Ali and Burak. But that quickly grew into my biggest and most popular channel, so while I originally uploaded the first vlog (Peach Picking) as a dual-release on both The AABO Show and Taner Baran channels, I soon quit the Taner Baran channel and focused only on The AABO Show. 


But when I got my own GoPro action camera for my birthday later on and started taking videos of more interesting things like foreign country traveling and ski trips, I decided to go back to having a channel of my own as well. I chose not to continue using the Taner Baran channel since it didn’t have my name on it and I couldn’t change the name of my dad’s Google account, and I actually wasn’t sure what to do next. I could either start a new channel (which I attempted to do, twice) or continue on the Arca Baran channel for my main blogging Google account, which already had more subscribers from miscellaneous content in the past so I wouldn’t be starting from scratch with my viewership as much. So that’s exactly what I did, and now Arca Baran is the name of my primary YouTube channel. I sometimes put short travel vlogs there, miscellaneous edits and projects I make, and plan on finally editing the several vacation vlog series I have footage for to put it there somehow. Using auto-editors like GoPro’s Quik app or Magisto might be easier than spending painstaking hours sifting through my footage, so I’d say that only “mini-vlogs” is more likely than the usually ten-minute long full vlogs that you’ve seen on The AABO Show. Upcoming videos include vlogs for my Dominican Republic vacation I took with my buddy Ege from over a year ago, a secret Day 5 of my Cancun trip from two years ago without Ali and Burak, possibly footage from my Northeast road trip last year that included Acadia National Park in Maine, and pending vlogs for my Italy and Slovenia trip from this spring break. In other words, when it comes to my YouTube videos, I’m usually even more of a procrastinator than when it comes to my blog posts.


Other YouTube channels I’ve made over the years but ended quickly include the “Arca and Young” channel, some random joke channels (The AABO Shrek, Young Man Johnson), and I honestly don’t remember what else. These were all side projects but I didn’t make enough videos or get enough views so I just quit them. 


When will you do more collaboration posts?


Soon. That’s all I can tell you. The top response in the feedback survey for whom I should collab with was, by a landslide, my buddy Xiang. You know him as the guy I made a failed online petition to save his chickens from being taken away from the government three years ago, and also as the maker of multiple blog websites of his own, all of which have unfortunately ended abruptly over the years. So, Xiang, if you have any time in your sure-to-be-busy new high school schedule, I’d love to be able to write anything with you over the weekends sometimes. Just reach me via the comments section or how you regularly do. Even a paragraph contributed to a movie review (which I could do a lot of since you’ve watched many movies with me recently), or in a satire post would bring in lots of views, so I’d say we should do it! But regardless if that doesn’t work out, I still also want to do collabs with the other members of The AABO Show YouTube channel (which are Burak, Ali, and my little brother Onur). 


Why do you post so infrequently?


One word: School. That’s probably the biggest factor to my typical “one-post-a-month” trope that you’ve seen in the past 2-3 years. Do I want it to be this way? No. Is my blog benefitted by only a post a month? Definitely not. My viewership rates have dropped drastically as a result of this. But I have good news for all of those people who told me on the survey that they’d like to see weekly blog posts: It’s closer than it was before to becoming a reality. In the past few years, I was focused a lot on my grades and schoolwork since it mattered a lot for my specialized high school admissions test. Now that that’s all over, the next few years will hopefully be a much better time for me to post each weekend. My new high school also has a policy (or so I’ve heard), where since not every class is every single day, most common homework assignments are due in two days rather than the next day. I’m not a procrastinator (even though my parents would think otherwise), so I’d have a chance to finish assignments the first day then work on writing blogs the next day. I can’t guarantee it, but hopefully, this would not only please my readers but also revive my viewership just a bit. 


How will your blog look like in another five years?


I’m not a fortune teller or anything, unfortunately, so there’s no definitive answer to this question. However, even just looking at the jump from 2014 to now (which is already a massive shift), then I can guarantee you that by the time I’m in the middle of college, if my blog still continues (which I plan on and hope for), it will probably cover very different topics, have a very different style of writing, and visually look very different. In other words, since my blog sort of serves as a museum of my interests and writing, it will change as I do. 


Any blogging tips or advice?


I could make an entire blog post based on just this question, but for now, I’ll keep it somewhat short. For newcomer bloggers, I’d say that one of the most important tips I could give you is to not limit yourself in the types of posts you can make. By this, I mean, avoid limiting your blog to just one topic as to not alienate your readers and so you can draw in a wider audience. Examples include blogs just dedicated to one movie series, or just one type of poetry, or just one type of post template. While I still do think that it might help to have just a tad bit more focus then what I clearly lack in this blog, if you only make your blog about one thing then only one kind of person will view it. That doesn’t mean that a blog about Japanese cooking would be better if you also wrote theme park reviews. I mean to branch out your zone of focus to similar things. I talk about technology, but also video games and movies. “Pop culture” is probably a good thing to label my blog as, since it caters to so many different types of topics, without ensuring that my readership will never grow. 


Another tip, which is more of an online writing tip than just a blog tip, but equally as important, is to check your spelling and grammar!! No one wants their blog to look unprofessional or as if it was written by a lazy or uneducated person. Download the free version of Grammarly or another checker so that way you can get more automatic mistakes found than just spelling ones. But the quality of writing is also related to the clarity of writing. Make sure that what you are trying to say is somewhat obvious to the reader (unless you’re making a riddle or using figurative language). Choppy sentences, missing punctuation, or nonsensical format can lead to misunderstandings and readers simply closing the tab on you. I wouldn’t want that to happen to me, either. 


Is the Earth flat?


No, it isn’t. If you think so then you are suffering a midlife crisis. Next question. 


Poopoppooopopopoooopopopoooop 


This isn’t a question. Please don’t spam my Google Form with responses like these. This is just one example, but I wouldn’t like to get notifications by people who spent the time to fill out the form but didn’t have anything to ask me. I can guess exactly who did this response though, and for the record, I’m not mad at them or anything. I’d probably also spam memes and jokes in Google Forms if given the opportunity to. 


What’s your favorite video game of all time?


The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is such a fun and well-made masterpiece and I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel. I still haven’t got the time or commitment to beat it yet, though, so in terms of games I’ve already beaten all the way through then, I’d say it’s a tie between Super Mario Odyssey and Insomniac Games’ Marvel’s Spider-Man. The former is the best platformer I’ve ever played (and it might be my favorite game genre), and the latter is a cinematic open-world experience right on-par with other forms of Spidey’s media. 


What’s your favorite book?

That’s almost definitely Life of Pi by Yann Martel. A great work of fiction. Even though I would have probably told you Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One but come off as a nerd and fanboy (which I totally am). RPO might not be a literary masterpiece, but it still was super fun to read and the topic was super relevant to my interests, and I doubt I’ll ever enjoy a book as much as I did for that again. Until the sequel (Cline, please title it “Player Two, Press Start”, instead of the obvious other one), releases and probably is a disappointment due to the first one’s success. So my honest answer to this question might be Ready Player One so far, but the answer I’d give to my English teacher just to sound a tad more intelligent or mature would be Life of Pi. 


What’s your favorite movie?


Hard to say. I don’t usually judge movies against each other without watching them back-to-back first. My favorite movie at the moment might be Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or A New Hope. The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi still have a place in my heart, though. 


What’s your favorite color?


Again, just like many of the other “favorites” questions, I don’t have a specific favorite color. My two favorite colors are blue and green. But if I had to say one color, I’d say a blend of those two colors or teal. 


What’s your favorite food?


I don’t have a specific favorite food since I don’t think that I am constantly in the same exact mood to eat the same kind of food. I do indeed like Turkish food like meat gyros and kebabs and such, as well as manti and various other types of dough, but to be honest, my other favorite foods might be either chicken burritos or cheeseburgers. Yes, I’m a carnivore. 


Mayonnaise or ketchup?


I used to be a mayo person myself. I didn’t really like ketchup that much. However, in more recent years I seem to have converted to ketchup, at least when it comes to dipping my french fries in. I still prefer mayo for the inside of sandwiches. 

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...and, that's a wrap. Thank you all so much for taking the time to fill out my Google Form and ask me questions! It was a blast making this post and I look forward to doing some more Q&As sometime in the future. Also, thank you for the feedback I got in the survey, and I will take some of it into consideration when making decisions about the future of my blog. This includes things like how Xiang was the person most of you guys wanted me to collab with, and that a weekly upload schedule was the most popular choice. Also, surprisingly, most of you guys thought that my post length is "just right" and I shouldn't shorten it or add a TL;DR. Hey, that's less effort for me, right? In all seriousness, I do want to pay attention looking forward to making sure that my posts aren't too drawn-out or redundant, even though I try my best to make sure that they aren't. In terms of which topics I should write about, the three top results, which were all tied, are tech news, Nintendo, and joke posts/satire. I also look forward to writing about these things, but not exclusively these things, of course.

Other survey highlights included that over half of you guys want me to make merchandise available for my blogs (which I do want to do if I find a way to not make it super-ridiculously priced and still easy to get links to distribute), that there's no pressure for me to make a strict days-of-the-week-specific blog schedule (phew), and that numbered blog upgrades are no longer necessary (which I mostly agree with). Most of you wanted me to change my blog's long-kept logo by creating a new one from scratch instead of by using a text generator. I will get to work on brainstorming and creating one, and hopefully, you'll see that by the start of next month. Again, thanks for all the responses! I really appreciate it.

That just about wraps it up for this post. Thank you all so much for five awesome years on this blog, and for all the support you wonderful people have given me along the way. Just stay tuned for new posts to come hopefully weekly from now on, maybe even subscribe to get email updates whenever I make a new post, and see you all for hopefully many years to come! BBBBYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEE!!


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