When I posted FlakeHQ for the first time in October,
1996, I wasn’t thinking 10 years out; I had no long term plan for the site.
In fact, I didn’t even own the domain name. (Originally, FlakeHQ was posted
as a sub-web on one of my then-employer’s servers.) I “got the word out”
about the site over the first year by including the URL on a note I mailed
with books. The only sales impetus for the book (Flake: Confessions of a
Psoriatic) came from a display ad I placed in the National Psoriasis
Foundation magazine. In short, FlakeHQ grew by word of mouth. Today
FlakeHQ receives over 10,000 unique visitors per month. That’s a number
that continues to amaze me. In the big scheme of “things Web,” it’s not
overly impressive. The National Psoriasis Foundation probably pulls in more
visitors than that in a day, and the really popular web sites — eBay,
Yahoo!, AOL — draw more visitors than that in an hour.
Some percentage of my “unique visitors” are misguided
web surfers: people looking for cereal web sites (e.g. “flakes”) or who
land here because they searched on something specific (e.g. “warts,” “A&D
Ointment”). These are the people who don’t stay long. When I zoom in to
the statistical behavior that I think defines a real FlakeHQ reader —
multiple pages read in a single session, internal links followed, etc. — we
are really counting hundreds of visitors per month, not 10,000, probably not
even thousands. Still, “hundreds” is overwhelmingly satisfying.
Without any overt attempt on my part, FlakeHQ pages
have increased in visibility on the big search engines (e.g. Google,
Yahoo!). I think this has more to do with longevity than anything else. At
10 years, FlakeHQ is an “old” World Wide Web site. I do a substantial
amount of hyperlinking to other web sites and I’m told this contributes to
search engine references, too, though I’m not entirely sure why.
Other sites provide links to FlakeHQ and I’m grateful
for all of these. In truth, there are fewer sites doing this today than two
years ago. A part of this has to do with changing policy on the part of
some of the “organizational” web sites. (E.g., “If we link to FlakeHQ we’d
have to link to other home-grown web sites — so we won’t.”) I understand
this. There are certain sites that shouldn’t link to FlakeHQ.
Where FlakeHQ fits into the universe of sites for/about
psoriasis and psoriatics really doesn’t concern me. I’ve been very happy
letting FlakeHQ become what it has become. I’ve received plenty of email
from folks who think laughing about psoriasis is shameful, but much more
email from people who appreciate being able to grin for a change. The
“Don’t Say This” page continues to draw huge numbers of hits and I’ve seen
parts of it (in one case ALL of it) reproduced on message boards elsewhere.
What’s in store for FlakeHQ? Frankly, I couldn’t say,
because I STILL don’t have a long-range plan. There have been plenty of
suggestions, many of which I’d love to be able to act upon. Lots of people
have suggested a design face lift, which I’d love to accommodate. But I’m
not a graphic artist and there are a few things about “modern” web design
that I don’t like. (Pages crammed with small type and multiple columns, for
example, irk me to no end.) There’s a lot of “invisible technology” around
that make web sites easier to navigate and more versatile — read about TJ
Brownfield’s PsoriasisGroup.com, below — and FlakeHQ is beginning to
amass enough content to warrant using some database functionality. When I
can figure out how to do it (economically AND practically) I probably WILL
do it. Until then, I’m grateful to be able to just continue.
Speaking of which....
What Happened to July-August?
I had to take some time off for one of life’s defining
moments. Clara and I opened our hearts and home to my disabled
mother-in-law. The learning curve has been steep, the physical requirements
daunting, and the changes in our lifestyle and daily routine more than we
anticipated. But the rewards are significant. She is thriving among people
who love her and we are all finally settling into the new routine.
Your emails of concern when a July-August update didn’t
materialize were heartwarming, appreciated and motivating. They gave me the
energy to press forward and ensure this very special update — our 10th
Anniversary Update — happened.
FlakeHQ Interviews: Ed Reiss
I’ve been planning my interview with Ed Reiss for a
year and a half. In fact, I fingered Ed to be my 10th
Anniversary Update interviewee for sentimental reasons. If it hadn’t been
for Ed Reiss, FlakeHQ probably wouldn’t be here today.
At about the same time I was launching FlakeHQ, Ed
Reiss was launching the National Psoriasis Foundation web site. How he
found time to help me with my newbie woes, I’ll never know; but I’ll always
be grateful! Ed’s work on the initial Foundation web site was all
volunteer. Since then, the Foundation has revamped the site several times
and “gone commercial” with the site we all rely on today. Meanwhile, Ed moved on
to create the Psoriasis
Online Toolbox, which remains my favorite research reference point for
“things P.” Along the way, he also created PsorHeads, a web-based message
board that had a short but exciting life.
Since I’ve known him, Ed has been an active
member of the National Psoriasis Foundation. He served on their Board of
Trustees, chaired the Research Committee, and has been featured several
times in Foundation publications. He is a recipient of the
Beverly Foster Halprin Founders Award — one of the highest honors the
To me, personally, Ed Reiss is a role model for what
an appropriate life as a psoriatic should entail. You’ve heard the
expression take charge of your psoriasis over and over. To know Ed Reiss is to know what that means. He
has taught me
more about psoriasis than any dermatologist or other doctor I've consulted;
he's most thorough
in his pursuit of understanding his own symptoms and treatments, and perhaps
the most cautious advisor I’ve ever known.
Conducting this interview was a little like swimming
inside the mind of Ed Reiss: thrilling and awesome.
Read the interview here
or via the FlakeHQ Interviews
Podcasts and a New High-Tech Web
Site for Flakers
Two items new and noteworthy:
Michael Paranzino’s PsorCureNow.com site
interviews, the first one debuted in July and features one of our
favorite dermatologists, Dr. Steven Feldman. In early August, Ivor Caro,
MD, Medical Director of Dermatology at Genentech (manufacturers of the
biologic drug Raptiva) was featured. The most recent podcast (at this
writing) features Amy
Paller, MD, Walter J. Hamlin Professor and Chair of Dermatology, Professor
of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr.
Paller is one of the best known “pediatric dermatologists” in the country
and graces what Paranzino rightfully calls his “back to school Podcast.”
Podcasts are one of those “new media”
technologies layered over the Internet. I think the name was derived from
the file format and growing popularity of downloadable audio programming for
Apple iPods — but by now, association with that particular device is a
legacy issue for podcasting. Virtually anyone connected to the
Internet with a sound-enabled computer can enjoy podcasts. Michael’s
podcasts are less than an hour long and have, so far, featured news in
addition to the interviews and a special “entertainment feature” that has,
so far, been music that somehow relates to psoriasis. Very interesting. Do
yourself a favor and “tune in.” (P.S. — It’s a great way to spend drive
time during a commute to or from work.)
is a new web site launched by T. J. Brownfield in my home state of
Colorado. Right now this site is like a “fully loaded luxury automobile”
sitting in the showroom and waiting for riders. As far as I know, it is the
only flaker site set up to accommodate user blogs, messaging, chat, photo
sharing, surveys, profiles and plenty of room for future editorial content.
Hmmmm. Yes. It just occurred to me. This could become that flaker
dating site so many of you have asked for over the years! (I’m speaking
technologically. What it becomes in actuality is up to T.J.)
PsoriasisGroup.com has been added to the
Other Places page at FlakeHQ.
Two New Articles
Fred Finkelstein, Writer-Producer-Director-Narrator of
the documentary video, My Skin’s On Fire, has provided his
reflections upon taking his film “on the road.” Fred is an amazing fellow
who continues to earn my respect and admiration. His introspective essay
does not disappoint. Click
here to go straight to the essay, or visit the
I finally finished my article about my post-Raptiva
rebound: Rebound -or-
On Flaking Again. Though I may be preaching to the choir, here,
“writing through” these miserable times is medicine in itself. I hope you
can find something in my “sock drawer piece” to grin about.
New in Flaker Creativity
FlakeHQ Poet Laureate Sherry S. gives us
Snow Globe ...
Rodger Jacobs gives us
Shopping ... and an old friend, Dena Feldman, is back with a poem,
The Truth Is.
(Dena’s personal essay, Bear was
posted here in January, 2001, and continues to be an oft-read piece. It
remains, for me, one of the most effective essays written about “coming of
age” as a flaker. If it’s been awhile since you read it, now would be a
good time to read it again.) All of these pieces are also available
through the Flaker Creativity
page (Feldman's "Bear," however, is listed on the
-Ed Dewke, August 31, 2006