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The time is approaching for me to leave this site.

I’ve done Invisible Oranges for four and a half years, putting in 30- to 40-hour weeks on it, seven days a week. (I can count on two hands the number of days I’ve taken off from the site.) This is my 1400th post for Invisible Oranges. Given that each post typically takes over three hours of work (a typical album review requires weeks (if not months) of listening, an hour to write, and an hour to edit and lay out), and an interview typically takes over five hours to transcribe, edit, and lay out, I’ve put in well over 5000 unpaid hours on this site. (Our advertising this year might have us breaking even in terms of server and other costs.) I’ve sunk thousands of dollars into this site, and I wouldn’t take a single one back. But eventually it will be time for me to move on.

For four and a half years, I’ve come home from the various jobs that I’ve had and basically worked on the site until exhaustion. I’ve been exhausted for years. What you see on the site is the tip of the iceberg work-wise. I am perpetually hundreds of emails behind, dealing with writers, readers, bands, labels, and publicists. I currently have over 1,290 potential spam comments to moderate.My desktop currently has over 35GB of unheard demos and promos. At conservatively 10 demos and promos per GB, my new releases listening queue is over 350 releases long. I can’t even download releases as fast as they come into my inbox, never mind listen to them.

The result is that I’ve had no personal life for years. That was my choice. But now I’m choosing to have a personal life. September 24th, 2011 will be my last day with this site. (The significance of that date will reveal itself then.)

I would like to leave this site in the hands of the community which it serves. In 2008, I stopped thinking of this site in terms of self-promotion. I have nothing left to prove as a music writer. I’ve been published everywhere that I’ve wanted to be published, and I’ve interviewed most everyone whom I’ve wanted to interview. In fact, I stopped thinking of myself as a writer a long time ago. (Sometimes I become a “writer” to pay the bills, but that has nothing to do with this site. This year I will also stop writing about music altogether.) To me, this site is about sharing music and sparking discussion. The less ego the writer has, the better he/she can transmit ideas and serve the community.

One of the biggest things that’s held this site back is that my day only has 24 hours. I can only listen to so much music, answer so many emails, and dedicate so many hours to this site. Most of what I do is grunt work that other people could do (I would say that actual writing is about 10% of my work for this site).

So it would be cool if members of the community could step forward and help grow this site beyond what I’ve done with it so far. I’m not sure what’s the optimal number (10?) or division of labor. We could work on that over time. This site has many tasks: processing new releases, back end maintentance, social media accounts, calendar functions, dealing with third parties (bands, labels, publicists, vendors, guest bloggers), editing, layouts, and, of course, actual writing. From now until September, I can help train people to do the things that I do. This site’s readers number in the several thousands. If they want this site to continue and grow into what it should be – a good home for underground metal – I think they can do it. Many readers know more than I do, and are very eager to point that out. Maybe they can put their knowledge to use!

I’ve kicked around the idea of turning this site into a full-blown forum. But I don’t think that’s the way the site should go. Without exception, every single metal forum I’ve seen has turned into a morass of negativity hiding behind anonymity. That’s not what metal deserves. Metal deserves a supportive community, and I hope that Invisible Oranges can be the best one it can be.

If you’re interested in helping out with the site in any way, say so in the comments. (Please don’t email me; I am way behind in my inbox.) Also, if you have any ideas as to the site’s operation in the future, please share them. I would love this site to end up in good hands.

— Cosmo Lee

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