My Blogging Confessions

I have some blogging confessions to make. Some of these are cold hard truths, or things I’m slightly afraid to admit, or just things that are on my mind. So have a read, then make your own confessions!

I judge a blog by its design

This is one of those things that I just can’t help. I KNOW that not everyone can afford a designer. I KNOW that not everyone wants to buy a pre-made blog template. I know that, and I get it. So, logically speaking, I shouldn’t judge people by their design tastes or their finances. But the web designer in me takes over like some possessed demon. If you have a plain, empty, unattractive (in my opinion, because this is totally subjective!), laggy, overly cluttered blog, then I most likely will not want to read your posts.

It makes me feel awful but I literally don’t know how to help myself. I just can’t change it. Of course there are a few exceptions, like people I’ve met and absolutely love so I read their blogs even if I don’t like the design. But generally speaking, this is the way it is.

If you have more friends than books on Goodreads then I will reject your friend request

This wasn’t always the case. I used to accept EVERYONE. But then I realized how spammy and horrible my feed was. I was constantly getting invited to groups I didn’t want to join, authors were spamming my events section with giveaways for their books, I was getting book recommendations from authors who were recommending THEIR OWN books, etc. Mostly, it was just full of self published authors who were spam advertising their own work and that is a huge turn off.

So, I did a big friend clean out. I removed over 100 people from my friends list (everyone with more friends than books—evidence that they are using Goodreads to network instead of review books). Now, I don’t accept those people at all. I also created a challenge question asking why you want to be my friend. This is to help aid me in weeding out the people who only want to use Goodreads to network or advertise. I’m only interested in being your friend on Goodreads if you actually read, review, and discuss books (that are not your own!).

I edit my reviews to make them shorter because I’m afraid no one will read them if they’re too long

Of course there are exceptions to every rule—example: my review of Taking Chances by Molly McAdams. Sometimes (usually when I hate a book) I just let myself go on and on and on. But in most cases, I write out my review and then cut it back (sometimes taking out entire paragraphs). I’m worried that if my reviews are too long, people will get bored, or stop reading, or just see how long it is and immediately close the window. I hate doing this because sometimes I do have a lot to say and I want to highlight every point, but my fear of people never reading my review always wins over.

I stress when I don’t have time to comment back or reply to comments

Lately I’ve been SO BUSY. With school, freelance work, and my own personal projects, I barely even have time to read these days.. but I have even less time to reply to comments and comment back on those peoples’ blogs. I do read all the comments and I love them to death! But I feel horrible when I can’t respond or reciprocate. I’m afraid people will hate me for it or think that I don’t appreciate them or stop commenting.. or all of the above! I just wish I had more hours in the day. πŸ™

Sometimes I feel like my reviews are boring

Do you ever feel like your reviews are starting to sound the same? Sometimes I get like déjà vu when writing them. I’ll find myself saying something like:

I loved the story—the world building was really unique! But we didn’t get a lot of information on the history. I could imagine the current state of the world, but not how it actually got there from where we are today.

And then realize that I said basically the exact same thing in a previous review. I guess it’s bound to happen because books have similar successes and failures.. but it makes me feel like I’m repeating myself. If it bores me to even write it, are my followers bored while reading it??

I have little drive to review 3 star books

If I LOVED a book or HATED a book then I’m usually pumped to review it. But it’s those 2.5 – 3.5 star reviews that bug me. When I feel “meh” about a book, I often don’t feel like reviewing it. It’s those “meh” reviews that are hard to write. I have to really struggle to find pros, and really struggle to find cons. Because ultimately, I usually just feel indifferent.

This has become more and more frequent. If I don’t love or hate a book, I often don’t feel like reviewing it at all! If I do end up reviewing it, then I usually write one short paragraph, then sit there for 20 minutes trying to bulk it up.

I wish I could blog more about my life

I see some people publishing awesome posts about their life.. even if it’s just their day-to-day things. But somehow, they make them fun and interesting. I feel like the only thing I’m good at talking about is Coding God (are you guys getting sick of him yet??). But outside of the sexy superhero coder, I don’t know what to talk about! How do you blog about your life in a way that people actually care? I wish I could find a way to make my normal life sound interesting and put it in a blog post.

I feel like I won’t be a *great* blogger because I’m not funny

I feel like all the truly amazing bloggers are funny. They have snark, wit, and all their posts are effortlessly hilarious. I don’t think I’m like that. πŸ™ I guess you could say my posts are helpful, informative, genuine, and maybe interesting.. but I don’t think they’re funny. I don’t feel that I have that great, witty personality that makes people laugh. I WANT THAT! But I’m not sure that’s something you can just develop. Either you’re naturally funny/snarky/witty or you’re not. It’s hard to train yourself to be like that.

I’m greedy about page views

I feel like I won’t ever be satisfied with my page views/reach/following. I feel like I’ve achieved A LOT and I’m definitely proud of what my blog has become. I’m REALLY proud! But I feel like I’ll always want more. I don’t want my blog to stay the same, I want it to keep growing and succeed on a higher level.

It makes me feel greedy.

I feel like I’m SUPPOSED to be satisfied. I’m supposed to feel like what I have is “enough”. But I think it’s in my nature to want to continue to grow. This blog is my baby and I want to constantly be improving it and growing it; I don’t want it to just stand still. But I can’t help but be a little ashamed, because I know some bloggers would kill for the page views I get. So maybe I should just shut up and be grateful!

Your Turn!

Do you have anything you’d like to confess? Any worries, stresses, thoughts, or opinions?

Spill the beans! We won’t judge and we’ll still love you ♥

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I'm a 30-something California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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  1. To tell you the truth, I don’t have blogging confessions. I went into book blogging knowing that it was for me above all else. I love having followers and commenters, but I don’t gear my posts toward them. It may be wrong, but I can’t help it. Maybe that is my confession. My blog is for me. I write how the hell I want to write, be it long, short, not funny, inappropriate, and so on. If people want to read my posts, awesome, if not, cool too. I have never been one to change anything about myself for others and that’s what I would be doing if I started changing my blog or blog posts to fit the masses.

    However, I totally get the bloggers who do this. They are more popular, they get more comments, and we look up to them. I guess that just was never been my goal in blogging. That might be the reason that most of my blogging friends are small bloggers like me. I like the non-pressure of being small. It means I can do whatever I want. πŸ™‚

  2. I feel almost the same way… with the blog design, goodreads friend requestsrequests and the “being funny” part.

    Usually, when I hop through blogs, the simple and artsy blogs are the ones I remember and really try to get back to. Let’s admit it, it’s easier to stay and comment on a simple and clean page. With goodreads, I have the same issue. I used to accept everyone, but now, it depends on the book to friends ratio.

    Now, I know I am not funny. No one ever told me I was funny. So whatever… I really want to add humor to my posts, I just don’t think I’m cut out for it.

    And don’t worry about being greedy with page views. It’s human nature to want more. πŸ™‚

    teepee recently posted: BOOK BLURB: Where You'll Find Me
  3. Well, I agree with you on most of these points. x) Another thing that’s incredibly creepy. But for me, your blog is one of the best and I’m afraid that my little blog will never even come close to yours or Cuddlebuggery or other fantastic blogs like that. And sometimes I’m afraid no one even cares. Last I made my first post after a two week break and in that post I tell my readers that I’m looking for a co-blogger. But so far I have no one who wants to do that. No reactions to that. Doesn’t exactly make me feel confident about my blog…

    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted: ARC Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson
    1. Thank you so much!!

      I actually think that finding a co-blogger is tough for a lot of people. I know a lot of bloggers who are looking for one but haven’t been able to find one. Maybe it’s just hard because a lot of people would rather start their own blog than share one. Who knows! Hang in there!

  4. Weeell, I guess I now have the same amount of friends and book reviews on Goodreads. o.O That could be a bad thing? But for me, I review every. single. book. I read! That’s a lot of books! And I love chatting to people about books on Goodreads. It’s a great place to connect…but I am starting to get spam from people recommending me books. GAH. I don’t want to be recommended books! I’ll find them myself thanks. -_-
    I think your blog is really awesome. I like how you’re really honest in your posts! I like how your reviews are short…reviews that go on and on and on make me lose interest. *shrugs* But I’m probably a minority. πŸ˜‰ It’s very interesting when you talk about your life. I mean, gosh! You “live” in two countries! I’m from Australia, so it’s all very cool. πŸ˜‰

    Cait recently posted: The Selection by Kiera Cass
    1. Well for Goodreads I think it depends. The main reason I avoid most friendship requests from people who have way more friends than books is because those people are usually (not always) the ones who use Goodreads for marking and promotion.. and I hate that. They’re often self-published authors who join Goodreads to promote their book, network with bloggers, etc. But I don’t join Goodreads to be marketed at.

      So as long as the person requesting to be my friend has books in common and answers my challenge question, I’m 10x more likely to accept, even if they do have the same amount of friends and books. I just try to weed out the marketers/spammers.

  5. I judge on design too, I’m not proud of it and I try to repress it, but it happens.

    “I feel like all the truly amazing bloggers are funny.”

    I like a good funny blog, but if the humour is overriding the review or is .gif heavy it can put me off. When it comes to reviews, I would prefer a serious one over something funny, or a mostly serious with a little wit. It’s purely subjective of course and I love blogs for different reasons, but I would argue that the best blogs have a mix of everything, rather than it just being about humour.

    I don’t think you should worry your blogs are boring. We have very different tastes in books so I don’t tend to read your reviews, but I do enjoy your discussion and design help posts, they’ve never dulled me out.

    1. Yeah that’s a good point. I like the blogs that are kind of effortlessly funny. But overloading on GIFs or clearly trying to be funny can be a turnoff!

  6. I have the same thing with being funny! Some very popular blogs are filled with snarky, funny reviews and I have the idea those are the most popular ones. I’m just not that kind of girl.. and I have a horrible taste in humor, haha, so I don’t think everyone would get my jokes.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: Review 227. Malinda Lo - Ash.
    1. Lol yeah. I kind of have awkward humour.. like the kind where I make a joke, laugh, and no one else laughs. *sadface* πŸ™

  7. 3 star reviews are the worst! I never know what to say, and they usually come out much more negative than I intended. 3 stars to me is “I liked it but…” and there’s usually not much beyond that I have to say about it. πŸ˜›

    Angie F. recently posted: Another Peek at My Bookshelves!
    1. Lol exactly!! I can sum everything up in about one sentence, then I’m like, “Okay what do I say now…?”

  8. Haha, so I 100% agree with you on the blog design thing, since I’m just fine with a simple design that someone added a new texture to, as long as there aren’t neon colors and crazy fonts. But every time I see someone mention this, I worry that my blog design is too much for them >.> I love my design, but I realize that’s a little different than the simple and elegant designs most people emphasize, haha

    1. I think it’s fine to have a more “graphic heavy” design as long as it doesn’t look cluttered, and yours doesn’t. πŸ™‚ The only criticism I have is that the background doesn’t fill the whole page (I see this on blogs A LOT). I have a big screen and when it doesn’t fill the whole page it can turn me off a bit. It looks like this:

      That’s a simple fix though by adding this to the CSS:

      body {
      background-size: cover;

      Then it will fill the whole screen regardless of screen size. πŸ™‚

            1. Do you mind if I use a “before and after” screenshot of your blog in a future tutorial post? I thought maybe I’d explain to everyone how to fix this in case there are others with this problem. πŸ™‚

  9. The nurturer or mother in me wants to email bloggers who have misaligned images, gaps, or good lord white background behind their text where they copied it from source. For the most part content it was I am most interested in. The only thing that bothers me are black/dark backgrounds..I am old and have to highlight to read and if they have a moving image in their sidebar like a gif..well it makes me seasick. I have to comment back, and yes if I cannot get to right away I get anxious. I blog for me, for my passion and don’t stress about my reviews as long as I feel they are honest. Great post Ashley!

    kimbacaffeinate recently posted: Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett
    1. Yeah I can’t stand a lot of moving images. It really bugs me when people have like 5 scrolling marquees in their sidebar (with blog buttons, favourite series, etc.). It’s so distracting! (and having too many can make the page laggy) >_<

  10. As someone who occationaly writes humorous or snarky reviews I must confess, it can be a drain. Because I don’t always have a good angle to work and I wonder if anyone will read my more traditional reviews.

    I will confess I started leaving comments at one time looking to promote my own blog; however now I am addicted to commenting on interesting posts. It is like the entire blogosphere is one big forum.

    I also think my blog header is boring, but am too cheap to pay a designer.

    Feels good to get that all off my chest.

  11. I completely agree with everything you just said, Ashley. I used to accept a lot of people on Goodreads, too, but then I realized that a lot of people didn’t share the same tastes I had for books, and so there was no point being their friend so I weeded out a lot of friends that way. Also, for some reason, I’m less likely to accept a request if that person never writes a review for the books they read. It doesn’t really matter to me if it’s a full review that’s fleshed out and specific, but I always want to get a general idea of why they did/didn’t like a book so I can know if I want to invest in that book myself.

    Also, I’m with you on three-star reviews. I absolutely hate writing reviews for those kinds of books because you have a few things you like and also a few things you hate but it’s not like the book was bad so my three-star reviews are ALWAYS boring and repetitive and it’s like, “what happened to my life?” I am totally greedy when it comes to comments. I’m always like “MORE MORE MORE” like the cookie monster and I end up pulling out all my hair and it’s just ridiculous.

    Fantastic post, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Feminist Sunday (2): Salary Differences
  12. The Goodreads thing: I was JUST telling my friend that I was no longer going to accept request from those who have more people than books. SO funny!

    I always have those feelings of NOT being good enough. And although it doesn’t happen often, jealousy is a thing. But then again, I know that there are bloggers that have more time than me, especially lately, so for what time I do have I think I manage it pretty well. Another thing– discussions. I always get an idea for one but then I will see it somewhere else, so I don’t want it to look like I “copied” them so I tend to NOT write many. Of course, in hind sight this is stupid but, well, the fear is there LOL

    My blog isn’t the best looking, I know this, but there are some out there that literally give me head aches and I will not visit. That sounds snobbish but true.

    Other than that, I am good πŸ™‚ Love this post

  13. I definitely feel the same way about Goodreads. And about the whole personal posts thing. I’m trying to incorporate more into my blog, but sometimes I worry that no one will find my life interesting at all. And I definitely worry about the length of my reviews. Do you prefer to read short or long ones? I actually don’t mind reading long reviews, but I feel like most people will get bored and either not finish or click off my blog when they see how long it is. I think maybe I’m going to try to do some kind of quick summary for those who don’t want to read the whole thing. Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner does the post-it note thing which is awesome. I’m thinking something similar to that. But I will definitely encourage you to post more personal posts! Those are some of my favorite posts to read. I really love learning more about the blogger behind the blog.

    Rebecca @ The Library Canary recently posted: Review: White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
  14. I am like everything there. I’m trying to be funny, but usually my source of humor comes out as awkwardness or me embarassing myself so that doesn’t usually work. I was really stressed out about blog design, so I’m very happy with what I have now. I think I’m finally at peace with that.

    For me, I have a huge problem with scheduling. If I don’t have like 30 posts scheduled, I feel like a failure until I do have 30 posts. It really does suck sometimes because I’m so hard on myself.

    I don’t like blogging about my life and think that no one cares, lol. For me, I don’t have a “great” life that people want to read about; I think I’d just end up depressing everyone. Sometimes I have a go at it on twitter, but usually, people are wrapped up in their own situations (which is perfectly understandable) to listen to me talk about mine.

    I used to have 2000 word reviews and then just ugh. Now, I try to have like 5 paragraphs max, but I always want to write what I feel and not think of my readers before me. It’s my blog, after all. πŸ˜€

    This was such a great post, Ashley! And it doesn’t matter if you’re funny or not. You’re geniune and that’s a lot harder to be than funny.

    Nova Lee @ Out of Time recently posted: ARC Review: Avalon - Mindee Arnett
  15. I do layout/infographic design for my school newspaper, so the fact that I can’t customize my blog because I can’t upgrade WordPress is extremely frustrating (I’m happy with the gray and blue color scheme though).
    Perhaps you could take a look at my blog and give me some advice about making the best of WordPress’ free themes and tweaking my blog’s design. Pretty please?

    D. @ The Nerdy Journalist recently posted: Top ten 2014 debuts I’m excited for
  16. I love your honesty in this post, Ashley! It’s always refreshing to hear that I’m not the only one who is thinking about certain things or worrying about others. Let’s see if I can come up with a few confessions for you…

    1. I almost always judge bloggers on their design AND their posts. If you’ve taken the time to do your graphics, that’s bonus points. If you’ve got rotten grammar, that’s minus points. I know it’s judgmental, particularly since we’re all human and not perfect, but I think being picky helps me to focus on the sites that produce content I really appreciate.

    2. I feel a compulsive need to review EVERYTHING on the blog, whether it’s a 1 star read or a 5 star read. Whether it’s a paragraph review, a list review or even one that’s only 150 words, if I’ve read it, it’ll appear on the blog at some point (unless it’s a reread).

    3. I, too, feel like my reviews can be boring and repetitive. I’m noticing more and more when I repeat certain sentiments, and I’m trying to be more conscious about that. Instead of being generic, I try to tackle specific things that appealed to me about the book.

    Hmm, that’s all I can think of right now. Then again, it’s nearly 1:30AM and my brain might just be starting to shut down for sleep…

    Alexa S. recently posted: Defy - Sara B. Larson (Review)
  17. Ugh, 3 star reviews. They’re hard to write because (for me) that means nothing about the book really SPARKED at me. No passion for it, it was sort of “okay.” I didn’t love it OR hate it so I rarely, if ever, know what to say about it and always end up feeling bad. Give me a 5 star review or a 1 star review and I’m good!

    I also judge on design, pay attention to GR stats before I accept the friends request, and cut text from my reviews. *sigh*

    I love doing personal posts but I feel like no one reads them. I’m thinking on a new feature I want to start that would be personal but also fun.

  18. Sometimes I think you’re my long lost twin haha! I do basically all of these, too! I judge by design – I’m kind of ruthless about it, too. Oops!
    I am very picky about who I accept on Goodreads. I used to have over 1,000 friends and I only have 175 now! I am extremely picky about accepting requests now – sometimes I won’t even accept a request if it’s a blogger I know. But I don’t want my feed clogged with books I won’t read!
    I don’t shorten my reviews, but sometimes I wonder if they’re too long or if anyone will bother to read them. Because I tend to ramble on 5 star and rant reviews.
    Boring reviews: I was just thinking about that this morning. I feel like sometimes I say the same things over and over again, and I wonder if others ever pick up on that. And as for being funny, I’ve always admired the girls at Cuddlebuggery for their wit. I was never witty – yeah, I can be snarky sometimes but I don’t think I’m all that funny. I can’t come up with crazy analogies or get my readers cracking up. Which is why I try to have interesting and original content! If they don’t laugh, at least I can get them thinking, right?

    “If I LOVED a book or HATED a book then I’m usually pumped to review it. But it’s those 2.5 – 3.5 star reviews that bug me. When I feel β€œmeh” about a book, I often don’t feel like reviewing it. It’s those β€œmeh” reviews that are hard to write. I have to really struggle to find pros, and really struggle to find cons. Because ultimately, I usually just feel indifferent.”
    YES!!! I have the same problem! I can rant or fangirl all day, but if I don’t have an opinion either way about a book, I have trouble finding things to say. Especially if there was nothing exciting to talk about. I hate short reviews, but sometimes for those books I have to really struggle to come up with more than a couple paragraphs!

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: Review: Infinite by Jodi Meadows
  19. Well I think it’s great that you made a post on blogging confessions Ashley! πŸ™‚ I think it’s so cool and brave πŸ˜€ Like you though, I also tend to judge blogs by their design. I mean, it makes me feel guilty because as you did mention, not everyone can afford to have theirs professionally designed (like myself haha), but I just really get bothered when posts aren’t readable in that the fonts and the colors and the backgrounds are distracting, and I guess I just can’t help that either! I hope mine doesn’t offend anyone in any way though XD Another thing is that I used to reply to comments just to push my total number of comments up (back when I obsessed over every single part of my statistics). It sounds so lame to me now, but I still do love getting comments and I try to reply them just because I want readers to know they’re not just talking to a wall πŸ˜€ Oh, and I can never bring myself to rate a book anything below 2! Even if I absolutely hated it, I just can’t XD HAHA! Welp,that’s me πŸ™‚ And thank you for sharing Ashley!

    Jasmine @ Flip That Page recently posted: Some Exciting 2014 Debuts
  20. I wouldn’t feel too bad about judging based on web design- I think everyone does that. That being said, mine is nothing to fawn over. So yeah…
    Anyways! I have way more books than friends on Goodreads. But I still know about the spamming issue- for me it’s recommendations for books I’ve never heard of from people I didn’t even know I was friends with. Awkward stuff.
    I can totally relate to boring reviews – especially when I neither love or hate the book but appreciate what it was doing. I mean, those are basically my exact words. And I hate saying it over and over again, but sometimes it’s just true.
    Initially, my blog was ONLY about my life. Scary, right? Yet, I still managed too get more followers doing that than when I switched over to book blogging. (Am I the only one who finds that weird? I didn’t even notice that until now…) But I still talk about my life fairly regularly – at least when I see fit. My main goal is to share that which I love – mostly books and music.
    I’m not sure if I’m funny or not. My favorite indie author once told me she liked me because I’m witty and sophisticated. I don’t know about that, but I’d certainly like it to be true. I’m a bit new here so I don’t know much about your style. But I like your honesty here. And you must be doing something right to get the following and feedback that you do (:
    And as for pageviews- definitely. A lot will never be enough. I doubled my page views from November to December, but January is looking pretty bad for me. But I’m getting more comments. And I’d take comments to page views any day.

    Joanna V recently posted: Wolfie's Forest Gazette
  21. I know this is an old one but I just have to comment.

    I worry about my reviews being way too long. I love how everyone else can articulate things in one paragraph that takes me ten. I type super fast, easily over 100 wpm so it’s not hard for me to get carried away and the more I love a book the more I want to talk about it.

    I’m not very articulate. I know they say the best way to learn to write is by reading but not for me. I don’t ever see the words when I’m reading, just one giant HD movie screen in my mind. I go through half a book and realize I haven’t seen one word. So yeah I repeat the same words a lot. I use the word very way too much and every book review I’ve ever done has the word awesome in it at some point.

    I worry that other bloggers won’t take me seriously because I don’t review books I don’t like. Honestly if I’m not loving a book then I just move on. I don’t review books I don’t finish so I just don’t review books I don’t like but it bothers me at times.

    I wish I could write really intelligent reviews like I see others doing. I miss so many things in a book that others pick up on. I don’t know if it’s because I’m easier to please or just the way I am, I’m just a very positive person these days and don’t like to give any time to anything negative.

    I truly want to find ways that will encourage others to comment on my blog or fan page. I don’t care about the number of views I have and would rather have a few people that really enjoy my site than hundreds of people who glance at it. I’ve had a very hard time engaging people but I’ve also spent most of my life being antisocial so I know it won’t come easy. I will keep trying. Today I finally had someone I don’t already know leave a comment on my Facebook page which was so awesome πŸ˜€

    On a side note Ashley I’d love for you to visit my site some day and send me a message or let me know here what you think. I don’t ever get embarrassed so the brutal truth won’t bother me. I really don’t mind honesty and prefer it in people. I’d love to know what the coder in you thinks about it so that I will have some ideas on how to improve it as I get better. I’m learning html but it’s been slow going lately and I am trying to learn how to use photoshop and gimp also.

    Excellent post once again. Oh and on sharing who you are, I just started doing that in a way that I enjoy, basically I’ve been going back through my life and sharing how certain books have helped me during hard times or just sharing how much those books meant to me at that time. Sharing myself has been one of my biggest goals since I decided I wanted to blog and I hope I’ll get better at it as I go.

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: The Magic of Reading: A Nostalgic Moment.
  22. I echo every single one of these, but OH MAN, especially the GoodReads one. I don’t know if I heard it from someone else or came up with it myself but that’s the best rule to have!

    And I totally know what you mean about feeling like you’re not funny, sometimes I feel like I haven’t quite created my “niche” because I’m not quirky or funny, but I try to remind myself that a niche doesn’t have to come solely from that.

    Shannon @ River City Reading recently posted: 101 (or Maybe Just 22) Questions

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