Tag Teaming the Tagline

May 14, 2009 by

Reader, can you spare a comment? I need your counsel. If you’ve been checking in on this website more than once a month (not that you’ve had any reason to until now), you may have noticed that part of my website has been as transient as the teenage playthings of Berlusconi. I’m not referring to the Twitter feed in the sidebar, which has admittedly become my recent teenage plaything, but rather to the tagline: the one-liner that identifies the website. I haven’t been able to settle upon a satisfactory phrase. Or rather I have settled upon too many. Or to be even more precise, my devotions fluctuate like those of a child plucking daffodil petals: “I love you, I love you not. I love you, I love you not.”

From what I’ve gathered, the tagline should serve two purposes. It should stir the reader’s curiosity to explore the website and encapsulate the content. I hope the former is more important than the latter, because it seems to me that, for now at least, the only thing defined about my website is my posting date, which isn’t exactly the stuff of gripping taglines. I’ve considered focusing on the idea of independent journalism and the Fourth Estate since many of the essays are journalistic, at least in spirit if not content. But even so, I find it misleading to define the site as journalism. At the moment I’m thinking of going vague and catchy (I’m not above gimmicky). But that could change. Since PR is more one of my phobias than strengths, I thought I would reach out to you for some advice. I may be a stubborn go-it-alone bastard in some things, but when it comes to my tagline, I jingle my tin can before you for public assistance.

Some of the headers that I’ve come up with, with much-appreciated help from others, are listed in the polls below. Please take a few seconds to vote. I’m leaning heavily towards one of them but public opposition might sway me (or egg me on). If you’d rather email me than comment directly, you can do so at fourthnight[at]gmail[dot]com but if you’re willing to post a comment, even better. That also goes for those of you who are encountering this website for the first time. You can find a quick overview in my About section; otherwise, please go ahead and comment in the dark. I’d curious to hear how these taglines sound to someone who knows nothing about the site (after all, the most frequent search term that leads to my site, along with “virgin mary breastfeeding” is “what’s a fourth night”).  

You need not tread gingerly here: let it rip. I wouldn’t still be writing if I couldn’t handle the occasional tooth and fang. And if you have any suggestions for a variation on a tagline, or even an entirely new one, please share it. Just keep in mind that if I like it, I might steal it from you (I’ll credit you for the stolen goods, however). Don’t ask for royalties, because unlike so-called non-profits that claim earnings every year, Fourth Night runs exclusively on losses. In this business, getting a cut of the action amounts to receiving a bill. Of course, there are advantages to being in the red all the time. As the Cypriot saying goes, the drenched have nothing to fear from the rain. And no, that’s not one of the choices below.

Which tagline do you prefer for Fourth Night?

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And which tagline do you most dislike?

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12 Comments

  1. Adifferentvoice

    Do you pluck daffodils on your side? Isn’t the outcome always the same? It’s daisies here, less predictable. None of the tags grabbed me, though I could see that there was a sort of farmyard theme – grass, chickens, stables and 4x4s. How about “Life,liberty and the pursuit of dissonance”? Or “Fourth Night – when you tire of the other three”. Do you need a tag? That weird picture (of the wood-like man)you used before was more intriguing than any tag IMHO.

  2. seldom seen

    yes, so lets see. you suggest the tagline should “encapsulate the content”, whatever that means. thing is, what IS the content? again i ask, whats it all about? to what end are we patient fools reading this blog, or website, twit thing,or whatever its called? i can see, and applaud, your attempt to get readers involved here, but after all, its your damned site and you should name it. seems like naming a book that has yet to be written…

  3. I can’t believe you are seriously considering using the word ‘ranting’.
    *disapproving head shake*

  4. Tough crowd here. I like it.

    A DIFFERENT VOICE: Thanks for the correction. You’re right, I meant to say daisies. Thanks for the eye for detail. I’ll correct that. And thanks for the great suggestions. I especially like: “When you tire of the other three.” I may bring the wood-like man back. Those figures are actually sculptures by a Monhegan artist, Ted Tihansky. He chainsaws logs and stumps and then burns them until they blacken. You can see his artwork at http://www.tedtihansky.com

    SELDOM SEEN: Encapsulate means “to express in a brief summary, to summarize.” There you go, you learned a new word today. Don’t ask me why you’re a patient fool, my friend. That’s for you to answer. I never made any claims at specialization. My initial pledge, and that’s all I ever try to do, is to deliver interesting writing. About what? Everything under the sun. Look elsewhere for topical writing. As for “naming a book that has yet to be written” all I can say is, nicely put.

    ANNABONES: To be honest, I wasn’t really planning on using the ranting quote but I wanted to see the response. So far it’s the most disliked one of them all so consider yourself a bellwether.

  5. Honky Tonk Hillbilly

    Grassroots journalism with the grass!

  6. Roommate #1

    The function of a tagline (as our organization recently found out) depends on the name of the overall organization/content; that is one can be catchy (or vague) but the other has to be clear. Double catchy and public doesn’t know what you are and therefore if you are of any interest to them.

    For example – Oxfam: Working together to end poverty and injustice (vague then clear) or International Rescue Committee: From Harm to Home (clear than catchy)…sorry I clearly work in Intl development.

    So Fourth Night is on the catchy side think you are saddled with a clear and descriptive tagline like – Independent, off-road journalism. (Though Proudly flipping off publishers since 2005 is my favorite…)

  7. Libby

    I don’t have much familiarity with your blog or tweeter posts, but it seems that your tagline should in some way capture/reflect/evoke your writing. (Moreover, I don’t have much familiarity with blogs and twitter in general, so I’m not sure my opinion is at all relevant.) Having said that, I don’t like the “grass-fed” or “free-range” options – they feel like you’re trying too hard to be funny or catchy. “The night nears” is poetic and complements “fourth night” well – my top choice.
    I like the Photoblog section – are those your photographs? If so, I think you need to fuse artistic photojournalism, travel, commentary and philosophy in a new project…

  8. Roommate #1:Thanks for the clear / catchy dichotomy. I never quite thought of it that way, but it makes perfect sense.

    Libby: Yes, I’ve always liked ‘The night nears,’ but then again, it would mean a “catchy – catchy” combo for website name and tagline that “Roommate #1” was advising against. Glad you liked the photoblog section. Yes, I took them (except, obviously, for the old family picture). The photoblog section is just a sampling of the photos. A larger collection of my Fourth Night photo sets are on Flickr: http://tinyurl.com/rxh3n2

  9. Tøne

    your fascination with ‘grass’ in your poll options makes me think of Walt Whitman. perhaps you should do a lil lit review of ‘Leaves of Grass’ and shamelessly steal a line for your tagline.

    yes, i am aware that Roommate #1 may believe that still leaves you with a catchy / catchy combo, but perhaps he can shove it and lets face it: conz, you don’t exactly write anything interesting with the crispiest clearest prose; you like to utilize the ornamental side of writing much more than most douchebag journalists so run with it. By the Fourth Night you are home free – they ain’t gonna catch you wit their bars and billyclubs! shiet, Andy Dufresne was already in mexico.

  10. One of the great lines from Leaves of Grass takes place after a child fetches some grass in full hands and asks the narrator what it is. After confessing he doesn’t know what it is anymore than the child, he starts guessing. Among them is: “And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.”

    The uncut hair of graves.

    No, Tone Loco, I’m not home free yet on the fourth: like Dufresne, I’m still crawling through the sewage pipes. It’s not till the fifth that I break out of there.

  11. Who needs a tagline when your website looks this awesome!! Had to say it out loud, it really looks great. You came a long way since Typepad days… keep it up!

  12. Yiannaki

    Horrible ramblings…

    Journeyman journalism

    Statements from the Fourth State

    Guarding the Avant-Garde since 2005

    Hyper text duality

    The interjuntion for those at a juncture

    The organic lexical organ

    The quarto for the quartet

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