I decided to re-create a New Leaf Journal facts, answers, and questions page. You may consider this a supplement to our main About Page. Below, I will try to guess some questions that visitors may have and preemptively answer those questions. I may update the FAQ page over time as I encounter more questions to answer.
Q. Who Is Behind The New Leaf Journal
I, Nicholas A. Ferrell, am the site administrator, editor, and principal writer. I have written the vast majority of New Leaf Journal articles. My long-time friend and colleague, Victor V. Gurbo, has also contributed a number of New Leaf Journal articles over the years. We started planning the site in 2017 or 2018 and ultimately launched it on April 27, 2020.
As I explain on our About Page, this is an online writing site. I, Nicholas A. Ferrell, write about what I want to write about and run the site as I see fit. To respond to a couple of peculiar takes I stumbled upon while checking our backlinks around the web, this is not a (1) blogging empire, (2) commercial site, or (3) academic journal. This is a writing website. I call it a magazine for vanity purposes but it is probably a blog with some long-form articles. This is more or less true of everything I run around the web.
Q. What Do You Use To Run The New Leaf Journal?
The New Leaf Journal is a self-hosted WordPress-powered website (by self-hosted I mean the actual WordPress software, not the WordPress-dot-com service). It currently runs on a VPS server purchased from Hetzner. I use Cloudron to manage the server. It runs alongside our sister short-publishing site, The Emu Café Social. Everything that we use on The New Leaf Journal is free and open source except for the theme, BunnyPress (see my 2020 article on the theme). But I will note that the BunnyPress theme is substantially similar to the free and open source “lite” version thereof (the main differences are a cleaner look, extra UI options, and a few performance improvements under the hood).
No. I run The New Leaf Journal as a hobby. I do not need anything from you. There is nothing for you to sign up for (except our newsletter, but we offer an RSS option so you do not technically have to sign up for that either). I do maintain some other projects (see below), but I do not want you to sign up for those either. If you find one of our articles interesting, however, I am always open to feedback or seeing your response on the web.
I have written about alternatives to social media, the IndieWeb, artisanal website design, and advocacy for feeds. Lest anyone is confused, I do not necessarily apply labels to The New Leaf Journal. For example, we support some IndieWeb technologies (e.g., Webmentions) and our entire site is an ActivityPub server, but I do not really consider it to be part of a community. While I like artisanal website design and what some people can do, my focus is on making The New Leaf Journal clean, simple, and easy to read – to that effect I use a WordPress theme with some modifications. I am not trying to recreate a 1990s aesthetic with WordPress. In the end, this is a writing site built in a way to make it possible for readers to follow it in the manner of their own choosing.
Yes. Everything on The New Leaf Journal is copyrighted unless otherwise expressly stated. “Otherwise expressly stated” cases include photos from public domain sources (e.g., old books and Openclipart) or when I write an article quoting an entire poem from a Project Gutenberg book. In these cases, the images and text of the original work are not under copyright, but any original writing about the images or text is. With all that being said, I welcome (encourage, even) people to discuss our work online – just make sure to provide links to our original writing and proper attribution where applicable. If there is some edge case you are unsure about, feel free to send an email.
I do not. If you are a marketing person reading this, please stop spamming my site email. I may invite someone I know to publish a guest post, but I am not accepting random guest posts from around the internet. If you have something to write, including in response to one of our posts, I would encourage you to carve out your own space on the web (feel free to send me an email if you want advice).
If there is some topic that you for some reason want our keen insights on, feel free to send an email. I cannot promise that it will become an article, but I will take a look. I have written a couple of articles inspired by email thoughts or suggestions (see example).
I do. You can see links to my other sites and presences here. We also have a static feed aggregator site (hosted with GitHub pages) that automatically collects all content published around the web by Victor and I. Two of my side-projects are directly related to The New Leaf Journal. First, I run a newsletter with Buttondown that I mail every Saturday. You can sign up with your email or RSS feed. The newsletter has plenty of original content so it comes with my unbiased recommendation. Second, I started a short-form publishing social site called The Emu Café Social and am gradually moving my short format posts from The New Leaf Journal to it. I recommend following that too (unbiased take, of course).
I recommend following us via feed (we offer RSS, ATOM, JSON, and TWTXT feeds along with a few even more niche options). Our weekly newsletter also provides a good way to follow us since I include links to all articles from the previous week. If neither of those options appeals to you, you can always bookmark our homepage in your favorite web browser. I do post links to our articles on X, Mastodon, Pixelfed, Minds, and NOSTR – and while I welcome your “follows” if you happen to use those, I would not recommend them as the primary means for staying up to date with our newest articles (I also post some older links, however, so the feeds are good ways to catch up if you are a new reader).
If you find one of our articles interesting, I would be much obliged if you send the link to your friends, family, or the world at large. Discovery is always a challenge for a small website like ours – so it is always nice when people share our writing organically.
No. I am running these sites because I want to and writing about what I feel like writing about. But I do advocate for some things. For example, I hope that what I am doing inspires a few readers to build their own digital homes for their writing and media instead of relying on creepy, centralized, big tech social media that treats them as products. Speaking of social media, I think the ideal future for the internet is centered on individual websites, or digital homes let us say, communicating with one another. You will also see that I am a proponent of open source, privacy-friendly software (I almost use Arch Linux by the way – but technically use EndeavourOS). However, the vast majority of my articles are not tech-related at all, so do not let this quasi-mission scare you if you do not care about anything I just wrote.
No. The closest I came to using that ChatGPT thing was when my friend asked me to come up with U.S. immigration law questions for use to test it. I managed to make it “hallucinate” on my second try. You can rest assured that every New Leaf Journal article is lovingly crafted by the human on the byline. I take responsibility for all my errors and typos and will not allow a language model to take credit for them. We also do not use AI images. All images on The New Leaf Journal are either things that we created (e.g., photographs, Victor’s cool Photoshop designs, and my interesting computer art) or images from around the web that we can use without licensing concerns.
We use an SEO plugin called The SEO Framework to ensure that our posts have proper titles and meta descriptions for search engines. I also work to make sure that our site generally follows best practices for search engines, such as providing an XML sitemap and proper schema information. However, I write our articles for humans – not robots. There is more than enough SEO spam on the internet. I do sometimes write posts that I have reason to believe searches may be interested in, but many of our posts have no search engine prospects whatsoever. To summarize: I am aware of SEO and do the basics, but I write about what I want to write about and let the chips fall where they will, which sometimes means being inexplicably blacklisted by Bing.
No. We may write articles about things we are working on or, in the future, selling (see e.g., some of Victor’s articles about his music career), but we do not run ads on site beyond occasional self-promotion. There are no Google Ads or Amazon affiliates or anything of the like.
Q. Is This Site Accessible?
I am neither a web designer nor an accessibility expert, but I try to keep things simple and readable here at The New Leaf Journal and hope for the best. For example, we call upon your system font stacks instead of providing our own fonts (save for a few elements on archive pages). If you come across an issue, feel free to send me an email with a clear explanation.