Adrift In The Sea Of Summertime Posting Blues

This is my first summer in the blogosphere. And it is a daunting place.

I’ve heard whispers from seasoned bloggers. The mortals among you will see few visits. The seas are dead calm. Readers will wander from your blog in search of summer fun. Only the biggest and brightest bloggers bloom in summer.

Oh, how true this is. The number of visits to my blog dropped drastically on June 10th. The day is etched in my mind. I thought I reached an even keel for the summer in the following weeks. But then I saw the numbers for last week. They haven’t been so low since January, when I was still learning the ropes.

Some days it feels like the only visitors are those cast upon the shores of my blog by the fickle winds of search engines. Who knew searches for tall ships would end up here? One post about them in Baltimore, and internet searches lead to me. Maybe I should post about tall ships more often so as not to disappoint those searchers.

Or potted plants. Those searches lead many to my post about minor characters. Maybe I should write about different ways to pot plants and include lots of photos.

But I’m neither a sailor nor a successful gardener. I couldn’t write about those topics without being a complete fake.

This summer, I thought I’d cast my net in search of new blog topics. Now, I’m not so sure. Will a new idea float with readers? Or are there too few to give me an accurate assessment? Should I write more interactive posts? Or will they go over with a whimper because all my readers happen to be gone the same week?

I am floundering with indecision.

Those of you who reel in hundreds of viewers daily may not notice the summer die off. But for someone like me, whose daily views normally top out in double digits, the drop is painful to see.

But there may be hope on the horizon. Seasoned bloggers say the viewers return in the fall. Perhaps like salmon returning to their native stream to spawn, my viewers will return one fine September day. So I’ll continue to send out my two messages in a bottle posts each week. And I’ll hope they find their way to those of you braving the blogosphere this summer with me.

Have your numbers dropped as much as mine? June totals were down 20 percent from my high in May. If July maintains its current pace, it will be down 40 percent from May. That stings! Or are you strong enough to avoid looking at the numbers?

94 thoughts on “Adrift In The Sea Of Summertime Posting Blues

  1. I feel your pain. For me though, I have always struggled. I don’t know that I ever got in a comfortable mode where I thought I was finally cruising along, picking up passengers left and right, entirely entertaining. :)

    I am not naturally “chatty” or “open”. So, to have even 50 serious subscribers (not everyone who follows my blog comments or even hits ‘like’, so I don’t count them in my total numbers) is actually a big deal for me.

    While I don’t like knowing fewer people are reading my blog because of summertime, I am kind of okay with it because I feel like I can use this lull to hone my blogging skills. I haven’t found that sweet spot yet, and I would like to restructure my blog and give it a makeover. I’d like to figure out a more efficient way to find photos and images to accompany posts. I’d like to be able to offer a more streamlined product, as it were. All of that is hard to work on if I had to manage hundreds and hundreds of subscribers and/or comments. (Then again, if I was that popular I wouldn’t have to work on anything, lol)

    I guess I’m trying to take a positive spin on the decrease in views and try to use it to my advantage in some way. Take the break to improve my site so that come September I’ll knock ‘em dead. :)

    • I’m really torn about how much experimentation to do. Will enough people comment on changes for me to know if I’ve done something good or something less interesting? But on the other hand, I know performers often like to hone new routines in front of a smaller audience….

      I rely heavily on Microsoft clip art for my graphics, but I would like to use more original photos. I want to take some archaeology pictures that I could use when I talk about Death Out of Time, for example. No people shots that would force a visual image of Madeleine onto people, but field and lab photos to give some background flavor to the story…. Or area photos that would be similar to the fictional Langley Heights in the book….

      And I’m trying to think of new topics or twists on others that would freshen things up for long-time readers and maybe attract some new ones. I’m not trying to get hundreds of views everyday and a thousand followers! I don’t think I could keep up with that. :) But I do want to hold people’s interest and see a few new people sticking around every month.

      Like you, I don’t normally speak or write openly about my life (and frankly, most of it isn’t that interesting :P ). But if I’m going to keep an interested audience for my books, I have to learn to keep an interested audience for the blog! Not always easy for us Libras to do, right? ;)

      • I think your idea about original photos to illustrate some ideas in Death Out of Time is a brilliant idea. And I agree about not using people in the photos.

        I have trouble thinking up posts that aren’t too similar to anything I have already done. I fear my blog is bordering on boring because my own writing life has been at a stalemate as I rewrote Spark. Without doing anything new with writing, I don’t have a lot of fresh material for posts.

        I was toying with the idea of blogging about my querying progress, once I get going with it. I do worry that it might not elicit any grand discussion. But if I post about what I’m learning (again) along the way and if I don’t mind the raw exposure of posting about rejections, then it could be helpful to some people.

        • I think posts about the query process (not naming any names or agencies) would be of interest to a lot of readers. For those who don’t write, it’s a real glimpse into what writers go through. And for writers, especially those who haven’t reached that stage, personal experiences of those who have been there can be very helpful and encouraging.

          I have seen advice not to list our rejections, and that makes sense. But I think posting about the process itself—the preparation, the stress, handling responses or lack of response, for example—is good.

          Jennifer Eaton’s blog jumps to mind. She’s discussed the “nuts and bolts” of writing, critiques, queries, and now publishing, and her posts generate lots of interest and comments. I think you would find the same. And I wouldn’t find your posts repetitive. I enjoy seeing different writers’ perspectives and experiences on these topics!

  2. Seems to me your readers will come back when the summer hiatus is over. As to new ones, it’s the tags that attract them, so just use the tags you know work, and write about whatever you were writing about anyway! lol ;) xoM

    • I’m terrible at tagging. :) Every post gets tagged with “writing.” Beyond that, I may be useless. I try, but I don’t have a clue how effective they really are.

      All the seasoned bloggers I follow say things pick up again in the fall. So my fingers are crossed. :) Maybe I’ll get some inspiration in DC this afternoon….

      • I don’t know, looks like “potted plants” and “tall ships” worked for you, so just tag you writing that! Have fun in DC! We haven’t been down since the last protest we went to a couple of years ago…might be nice to go just for the heck of it! :)

  3. Hey, JM – I have actually seen an upswing, but at once a week blogging I’ve had a sloooow build out of the starting gate so it’s hard to tell if that means anything. I was wondering if you have a wide disparity between viewership and people leaving a “like” or “comment” trail like I do? Maybe I’m not inviting conversation in the right way.

    As far as your experimentation, I say GO FOR IT if you really want to. Can’t anymore than not like the outcome. At least you’ll know you don’t want to do it again! :)

    • I’ve got that wide variety, too. There can easily be twice as many views of a post as comments/likes. And I understand there are ways people can read a post without it getting recorded as a view in the stats (although I’m not sure how that works).

      I know new people are seeing the blog this summer. I’ve gained a few new followers this week. And most of my regular comments are still around, although sometimes not as often. But it also looks like the international numbers have really dropped—probably because most of Europe is on vacation right now. :)

      I think I will try some new things. As you say, at worst, I know not to bother again!

  4. I agree with Kate… I’ve never had tons of readers anyway, so any drop-off in the summer months is virtually unnoticeable. I feel like I have to keep writing about what I want to write about and hope someone, anyone, will keep following my stream-of-consciousness-style posts.

    I’d love to read about the querying process, if you choose to go that route. I’ve done it myself and could talk about it ad nauseum with fellow writers! I think I will probably talk about that some once I’m ready to query again. But I agree… there are some things you will want to keep private.

    The number of actual (read: people who read your posts) followers is a point of interest for me. While it would be nice to have a ton of people hanging on your every word, I would miss the personal interaction with the few people who comment each time now! Hundreds of commenters/followers would mean I would have to stop giving personal responses.

    • By all means, I’m happy with a manageable number of commenters. I like being able to respond to everyone who leaves a note. If I had hundreds of people commenting, I couldn’t possibly keep up. Of course, this post has generated a number of “likes” by people I haven’t seen before, throwing off my typical summer day. :)

      We’ll see if Kate does post about the query process. When I get there (someday!), I’ll probably talk about it, too, based on my experiences. I just won’t give a detailed tally of the agents I queried or their specific responses. But I think the process and emotional impacts could make for interesting topics.

      I’m sure we’ll all see our numbers pick up this fall. :)

  5. Your loyal readers will always be here for you. Who knows what makes readers visit one blog over another? Maybe they stumble across. Maybe they see your comment on a blog they’re visiting. Don’t fret and let those “doubts” ;) get to you. Post — if you build it, they will come. I think that was in a movie or something. ;).

    • I will keep going. :) It might take me a couple of days to catch up with everyone else’s blogs again since I was away most of today and have to go to the office tomorrow. My core readers seem to be sticking with me, so I don’t think I’m putting too many people to sleep ;) And I think I will continue to try some new things. I may just save any heavy-duty posts on meaty subjects for the fall. Summer should be a little lighter, right?

  6. I totally hear you on the die off. I’ve had a drop in my numbers, though it’s a bit more complicated for me. Mine happened in May, but I expected to take a hit then, what with being out of town for a couple of weeks. It just hasn’t recovered since then. I’m mostly playing the wait-and-see game. I’m using this as a time to get everything else done and try to not worry about the numbers.

    • Certainly vacations will do it. And yours came just before the “June swoon.” So you might have gotten hit twice. I think some of the younger, college-age bloggers are most noticeably absent. They’re probably off on summer jobs or hanging out with friends. And I’ve noticed a big drop in my European and Asian numbers the last two weeks. I suspect they’re on holiday.

      And, honestly, I don’t mind that some folks are blogging less often this summer. It helps free up time to work on those manuscripts. :)

      • True, and maybe it helps teach us not to obsess about the numbers. Or maybe I’m the only one in need of that lesson…

  7. Mine hasn’t been decreasing, but then I don’t have huge viewing numbers, and as I only usually post once a week, I’ve had steady increases month on month, it’s perhaps tailing off now – my July figures are so far half of June’s, and we’re obviously half way through the month so there probably won’t be an increase overall in July as there have been in previous months. I have noticed a reduction in the number of posts others are writing though – people I follow who generally post daily seem to have cut right back in recent weeks.

    I’ll probably just carry on as usual over the summer, if less people see the posts then they do, but they’ll still be in the archives for the search engines to find later! I try and use my own photos mostly on my blog because I think it’s better, but I do sometimes use ones from here: http://www.sxc.hu/ I don’t know if you’ve every come across that site but they have loads of good stock photos, some you have to pay for, but there are plenty that are free, and you’re allowed to use them as long as you’re not using them for anything that you would be making money out of – some of them have particular conditions like you have to link back to them, or you have to ask the photographer’s permission, but mostly they don’t.

    • I’m going to try to take more of my own photos, just for something different. But thanks for the tip on the web site. I’ve been relying pretty heavily on Microsoft clip art, and that’s fairly basic.

      Since I started blogging last fall, I’ve noticed that every couple of months or so I would see a new spike in views and followers. I think we hit a point when we follow other blogs and comment on them, that some regular readers of those blogs will start following ours.I suspect that will pick up again in the fall.

      And if too many people miss a good post, there’s always reblogging it 6 months or a year later. :)

      • Your reblogging idea is a great one, jm. I have seen a slowdown, same as last year, and I’m not at the computer as much (reading others’ blogs) because of the weather and the kids wanting to be outside. I have two big posts coming up the week of August 13–both special book launches and I have exclusive content!–and I’ve been wondering if I’ll get enough visitors. Perhaps a highlights-of-summer post might be in order to put those two posts out there again for those who missed them.

        • I would definitely reblog something like that when you see the fall numbers pick up. A second round of publicity never hurts, especially if people missed the first one. A friend of mine is preparing to blog, and I’ve suggested she wait until fall, when she’s more likely to be found by more people. (Of course, I’ll put the word out for her when she starts!)

  8. I have had a couple of really weird searches arrive on my blog recently – I’m sure they were disappointed! We had been chatting about what and where dogs like to sniff…

    • Some bipeds are fascinated by elements of the animal community, aren’t they? ;) It was funny when I uploaded this post. WordPress suggested that I add the tag “pot plants.” Can you imagine the searches that would’ve brought? :)

  9. My summer numbers have indeed dropped, but I don’t check my stats as much as I used to. Some bloggers have pointed out that when they’ve included celebrity names or hot topics and used corresponding images, their numbers go up. I found this out after I naively put photos of a shirtless Hugh Jackman and Will Smith on one of my posts several months ago. The problem is, I’d rather someone land on my blog for the content rather than for a shirtless man (so I haven’t repeated my mistake). My guess is that the “shirtless” man searchers are clicking open my site and not likely sticking around to read it. I guess what I’m trying to say is, when I see my numbers spike on the day I post and then trickle down until the next post, I know people are coming to read what I wrote, and that makes me feel better. In other words, are 4,000 hits a day meaningful if 3,920 of them landed there by accident and quickly left? Then again, if I got 4,000 hits a day, maybe I’d think differently. Oooh, was that a sour grape? ;)

    • I’ve heard that photos will come up high in search engine results, so photos of Jackman and Smith probably had a big impact. :) Like you, I’m far more interested in readers who are genuinely interested in my blog’s real content. It must be frustrating for people looking for potted plant articles to land on my minor characters post. I hope some stick around to read it out of curiosity before leaving, but most probably just click back to their results. WordPress should keep stats of that! How many people hit the “back to search results”?

      And my numbers reflect my posting schedule. The highest numbers are on my posting days. And the following day usually brings in the later crowd. Between them, well, there’s always a significant drop. But all of those numbers, posting days and others, are definitely lower this summer.

      I can’t even conceive of 4,000 hits in a day! :) My all-time high is 203—for an awards acceptance post. I’ve got a few built up, but I’m afraid potential awardees wouldn’t want to deal with them over the summer. :)

  10. i had not heard about that summer thing, but this is my first summer in which i actually have followers, so i guess i’m finding that out too. thanks for the warning. sort of warning.

    • When I hear that other bloggers experience the same drops, I feel more assured that it’s not my posts getting too boring or repetitive. If they’re right, we all will see things pick up in the fall. And this gave me something to post about today. :)

  11. Yes, numbers have dropped for me as well. But I understand. Summer is for fun! I don’t know what to say would draw more people in; I haven’t discovered that magic wording yet. If I do, I’ll probably pass out and die…but when I revive, I’ll be sure to let you know what it is.

    • LOL! I’m terrible at tagging. But honestly, my posts are mostly geared towards my books and writing. I’d feel like I was misleading people if I put “popular” tags in my posts that didn’t really apply. I get frustrated if my search term leads me to something completely unrelated to what I’m looking for. I don’t want others to waste their time on my blog if it’s not what they’re looking for!

      And I wonder if WordPress’s posting algorithm knew what it was doing when it suggested I add the tag “pot plants” to this post! :D

  12. It’s summer – people are busy. Just write.
    I have noticed many bloggers are writing shorter pieces, writing less frequently, attempting to encourage dialogue with polls – or just posting one or two pictures with little writing.
    Numbers did drop when I was away and didn’t post for a bit.
    And then WordPress has been fooling with things and some subscriptions have gotten lost ( not to mention there is now a place in reader where you can select week notification rather than daily notifications of new posts – I think people got overwhelmed / annoyed by all the WP emails in the in-box
    So, all I can say, is enjoy what you do – and write (Oh the pix are a great idea!)

    • I will keep writing. And I will start taking more photos. We’ll see what I can come up with. I wouldn’t mind “dressing up” the pages for my manuscripts with some photos to give readers a feel for places and settings….

      That’s a good point about the subscription notifications—recently I had to go in and change some to immediate that had been set to never. That must have happened when they stopped sending email notifications for blogs we follow through the “reader.” It would’ve been nice to be told that’s what they were doing, though.

      I probably will keep things a bit lighter this summer. It doesn’t hurt to rest our brains when the weather’s this hot!

  13. JM, do not despair. If you write it, they will come. :) I have had real sinks in my readers and huge spikes. Never can understand the swing, but if left to my own devices I will always go back to “I suck”. Smile.

    I find my time so short lately that I have trouble keeping up with my kind readers so do my best to take a couple of hours during the week and check in.

    • Oh, yes, my first reaction when numbers drop is “Nobody liked the post.” And it’s obviously not true because people do leave likes and comments! But my nature is to think I didn’t do a good job. There’s one typical “writer’s” trait!

      Objectively, I know people are busy and can’t always drop by or they’re on vacation or living life beyond blogging! But my hard-on-myself nature will whisper otherwise…. :P

      • Yes, that is always my first go to place as well. It’s not so much the likes as the comments. Look at all these you have here. Much depth and time spent assuring you that you are doing an excellent job. My other half gets most exasperated with me at times as he doesn’t understand why I can’t find this reassurance in myself. It’s a writer’s curse. I’m the same way with my artwork. Ah well, have a great day.

        • The support is wonderful. This was actually meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I don’t think I got that across. :) Hope your day is going well, too!

  14. Surprisingly I have seen a large uptick in one of my blogs. It is the one on the Adirondack Mountains written by some fellow born in the early 1800′s named Tahauwas. I think the uptick is due to people staying close to home this summer. They may be searching for places to lodge or fish. Possibly they are picking up on my tags.

    • The SEO gurus tell us tags are everything, the key to the blogging universe. Well, I’m terrible with them! And I’m sure the ones I use are not the big ones for driving traffic to my blog. :) But I don’t want people to think I’m only interested in big view numbers. I’m much more focused on—and appreciative of—my regular readers like you. :)

  15. Well, I’m still here and I’ll still be clicking on your blog. This is my first blogging summer too, it’s hard to know what to expect but I figure there will be some ebb and flow throughout the year.

    • And I’ll be clicking on yours, too. Although it will probably be later tomorrow. :) The day job calls dibs on tomorrow. If you see an ebb, it’s supposed to be normal at this time of year. I really don’t know where the nautical theme came from for this post. Between it and my gravatar, you’d think I was a water fanatic. And I’m not!

  16. My first summer too and the numbers are down. It was like a switch was flipped come early June. I’m glad you brought this up because I was considering throwing the same question out to the universe.

    I continue to be surprised at the search engine thing-ys that bring people to my blog. I think I mentioned to you before, “Just Do It” is ever popular on my blog. Surprise folks! I am not about sneakers!

    I hope things pick up again at the end of summer. I was hitting my stride until readers decided to go to the beach instead of reading my blog. Actually, they are a smart lot. I’d like to hit the beach too!

    Great post JM.

    • Thanks, Robin! My husband and I went and played in DC today. But it’s back to the office tomorrow. Although, a beach might’ve been a better idea on a 101-degree day! ;) I’m sure that’s where my muse was hanging out.

      Isn’t it amazing what one post can trigger? And it always seem to be one that has nothing to do with what people are searching for. One post referring to minor characters as potted plants, and there must be some viewers cursing their search engines. ;)

      If the seasoned bloggers are right, fall numbers will go back up. And I’d bet you’ll see a good uptick beyond where you were. :)

  17. May was my best month ever. But June, July and August are always my worst and this is my third year blogging through a summer. :) I can promise readers return in the fall. I usually scale back posting and repost old posts because people are off doing summer stuff. I try to focus on my writing and not worry about the numbers (even when they are dispiriting and daunting).

    Writing blogs posts is fundamentally good for your writing. Readers are a bonus. If it makes you feel better scan some of my posts from 2010–there were times not one comment appeared. ;)

    • No comments? Oh, shades of my early days in November 2011 after my family and friends stopped commenting regularly. :D And May was my best month, too. I felt like I had finally built up some momentum. And then, crash!

      I’ll be sticking to my schedule because as you say, it’s good writing practice. And I enjoy it, too. I will do a little experimentation and keep things a bit lighter (which this was intended to be!), too. Maybe next year I’ll have enough posts that I could reblog a few now and again. :)

      And we’ll see if fellow bloggers hold you to that promise of viewers returning! :D

      • Summer cuts my blog views in half. But I think of it as the universe encouraging me to get out and do more stuff. Even at my old firm, summers were slower times of year because of vacations, people wanting to be out and about and of course the heat. ;)

  18. I thought it was just me. It’s winter over here and didn’t even think about the summer effect. Not to worry, I’m still in snuggle mode and am hanging around blogs like a bad smell. :)

    • I suspect most bloggers are in the northern hemisphere, so when we all go on vacations and holidays, it probably makes a big impact on your winter numbers. My high school pen pal lives in Melbourne, and she says it’s been a cold dreary winter so far. Stay warm and dry! Later this evening I should be able to start catching up on reading blogs!

      • A terrible winter, JM, but I don’t mind the cold and rain. They feel snug and comfortable. I am sure people will come back to blogs soon….but it’s comforting to know it’s not just me. :)

  19. I know exactly what you mean because my numbers have dropped too, though here in Perth its winter. I have no suggestions either what to do to increase the traffic. Though I have been informed not all traffic and followers make it to the stats list.

    • I’ve heard there are some way of reading blog posts that don’t show up—if people read from email notifications, for example. Fortunately I’m not in this to be the world’s most popular blogger. I enjoy the interaction with readers who really are interested in the blog and my books-in-progress and not lured here accidentally by search engines. I just noted to subtlekate above that most bloggers are probably in the northern hemisphere. So our summer drop off falls in your winter.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  20. Whatever you do, don’t stop posting. First, you will lose those you still have in the summer. People will forget or decide you are not dedicated enough. Two, I will miss you!
    Personally, I think the second reason is far more important than the first, but I am slightly biased!
    Scott

    • Don’t worry, I’m not quitting! I’ll have to reconsider being subtly tongue-in-cheek. It clearly didn’t come across in this post! My interest is not in huge numbers of site views. It’s in having a core group of fellow bloggers and readers who will hopefully enjoy my novels and what I say here. :)

      • Well, I would say you have that. I am the same way.
        It is nice to see large numbers, but if you and the group I have remain with me and allowing me to view their posts / comment, my day will be filled.
        Scott

  21. My numbers dropped a bit since I went down from daily posts, so it is a little hard to tell. I think I have seen some drop off on the numbers on posting days, but not a lot. I don’t draw massive numbers anyway, and I’m not planning to attempt for more right now. Maybe in the winter, but as things are right now, my priority is in other projects. I would not worry about it too much.

    • I’m not really worried, although the post apparently came across that way. I blog for the connections and camaraderie with fellow writers and readers. Artificially high views due to sneaky tagging or provocative subject matter don’t interest me. And I’m sure we’ll all see increases again in the fall as the summer drifters come back home.

  22. I don’t get traffic in the hundreds as you spoke of. Usually under 50. Yet, my photo journal posts have brought me the best traffic with new bloggers joining in. A photo journal post of a museum, a unique outing, a historical visit, ?? they have all done well for me.

    • I think a lot of blog readers enjoy photography, if not as their primary interest, then at least a secondary one. That may explain part of the popularity of Pinterest. Photos can also add a visual appeal to the written word, so I’m going to try adding more. We’ll see if I can snap some good ones…. :)

      • Nothing like capturing variations of light resting on fair subject matter to make an average pic interesting and an interesting subject magical. commanding the incidental patterns of shadow and highlights in a photo are the greatest secret of any passionate picture taker;) But I am sure you have that secret in your bag of tricks already;) Happy shooting!!

  23. I just started blogging a few days ago, so I get excited every time my hit count goes up by one. Mostly, my hit count consists of my own views, because I keep googling myself just to see the blog pop up. However, if I get double figures? I’d be over the moon!

    What a funny blog! I’m glad I found it :D You’ve got one new follower!

    • Hey Ravena—thanks for the follow and welcome to the blogosphere! It’s a great place to spend some time, and you may find yourself with a new addiction. ;) You may have started at the low point of the cycle, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a while for people to start following you.

      I’m biased, of course, but I’d recommend checking out some of the bloggers on my “Have You Seen” roll. There are a lot of writers there in a variety of genres—sci-fi, fantasy, young adult, mainstream, dystopian…. And they’re great bloggers, too. :)

      The best advice I can give is start following other blogs and commenting as you’ve done here. Not everyone will reciprocate, but it’s the best way to start. As other commenters get to know you, you’ll find a lot of them start following you, too.

      Have fun!

      • Thank you! Blogging is extremely addictive :) I’ve been manically following some really awesome blogs, and I shall definitely check that “Have You Seen” roll!

  24. hey, don’t sweat this. my numbers are ALSO back to when i first started blogging. i think it is a summer/ wordpress thing. whether the storm and we’ll all come out the other end. at least that’s what i’m trying to do without going nutbagy. lol. not always the easiest thing, either! stay strong. xo, sm

    • Your low numbers far surpass my highs, I think! ;) But from what you’ve posted, you get some serious traffic from search engines. Today was a “busy” search day for me — 6! I’ll keep chugging along, just maybe saving some ideas for the fall when more people should see the posts. But I should enjoy the downtime, too, and get some serious book writing done. Love the T-shirts! :)

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