This post is being cross-posted to my website Freaky Trigger ( and to my Patreon, and also being promoted on the Peoples Pop account on Twitter as it concerns the FATE of all three. The post goes into the details of it all but for people just wanting to know what’s going to happen to the polls (or to Popular) here’s the summary, in chronological order – i.e. the Polls won’t move until the new FT is set up.

MY PATREON will reactivate with billing suspended (i.e. subscribers won’t be charged) as of now. I will aim to post new POPULAR entries every Friday and resume posting the older pieces on Freaky Trigger too. I have enough of a backlog written to not lapse in this for a while. Billing will remain suspended until I have reached *at least* the 1000th No 1.

FREAKY TRIGGER will (time and resource permitting!) be moving servers and running off a fresh WordPress install and will focus on Popular and the Peoples Pop Polls. As well as the PPP vertical, there will be a dedicated Popular one. The goal is to create something which is just as easy to take part in, easy to comment on, and easier to discover new music from.

THE PEOPLES POP POLLS will be leaving Twitter at some point after the upcoming World Cup Of 2022 and becoming a dedicated vertical (i.e. a site in its own right) on the Freaky Trigger domain, a move which might be permanent depending on how much engagement we can keep. The Twitter account will remain active as a way of pointing to new polls, playlists etc. More details on the timings, technicalities etc. of this below.

That’s the basics. Now for the details.


I have three main “online projects”, the future of all of which seems somewhat uncertain.

I have FREAKY TRIGGER, which isn’t so much a project as a home base – started in 1999 and the home for most of my non-professional writing ever since. In its 00s heyday Freaky Trigger was a thriving community blog but for most of the 10s new content was minimal and for the last couple of years it’s been close to non-existent, with only Bec’s fine efforts on behalf of Omar Rodriguez Lopez (thanks Bec!) breaking the silence. Why? I largely gave up writing – but also I moved that writing to a Patreon in 2019, especially my main project…

I have POPULAR, my reviews of every UK No.1, which has been running for almost 20 years. I lost focus on Popular in 2020 for a few reasons: family and personal health problems, a global pandemic, trying to keep a new business afloat during said global pandemic… but also because I felt I was running out of things to say. And, let’s face it, I had a shiny new toy…

I have THE PEOPLE’S POP POLLS, running since 2020 on Twitter. What started as a way to amuse myself during the initial Covid lockdowns mutated into something broader and better when I began soliciting nominations from voters for tracks to go into the next poll. The Polls solve (for me) one of the huge issues of music in the streaming era – how do you discover new stuff without it being overwhelming? It’s a crowd-curated exercise in discovery built on the skeleton of a game, and it’s thrived. It’s thrived at the cost of my attention to my other projects but it’s been the most FUN with music I’ve had in years.

The issue with the Polls is an external one, which prompted this whole review of what I do. Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter creates practical, ethical and personal issues for them.


Practically, Musk Twitter feels a lot more unstable than old Twitter did. Not so much in the sense of “the site is about to die” – I’m no engineer, and the initial predictions of immediate doom haven’t come to pass. But it might collapse, it might go bankrupt, and the new boss might at any point introduce changes which make the Polls impossible to run, mostly by fucking with the poll feature itself. The entire framework of the pop polls is based around a free feature on a free site which is losing a lot of money for a bad, hands-on boss. This is not a formula for stability.

Ethically, staying on Twitter (even at the micro-scale the polls operate at) feels like a tacit endorsement of Musk’s project for Twitter, which so far seems to involve gutting anything that increased the safety of vulnerable users and toadying up to scumbags for clout. Most media platforms do bad things and are run by bad people, few are as in your face about it. Which brings me to the main reason I decided to move…

Personally, it’s not fun anymore. Twitter under Musk isn’t more dangerous for me, a white bloke in his late 40s who’s left-wing but not in any real sense an activist. More irritating, yes, more dangerous, no. But it IS more dangerous to some friends, acquaintances, pop poll regulars, several of whom have already left. It’s also just a lot more stressful and boring, two metrics it already scored quite highly on at times. I have a sinking feeling every time I open it, and that’s not something you want when it’s the main platform for a project. I’ve been on web forums enough to know that feeling and know to listen to it.

Enough about that dickhead and his site. The emotional decision to move the polls is easy. But can they survive away from Twitter, and if so how?


Twitter has one huge advantage as a host for polls: people are there. Beyond that it’s not especially great, but that’s a REALLY big plus for it. There’s no getting away from the fact that initially at least participation levels are going to plunge whatever non-Twitter platform I use.

The other big issue is that polling is the core of the polls but the community aspects are just as important. A platform needs to be able to handle:

  • The basic mechanics of polling.
  • The admin around it – organising individual polls into threads, reminding people of the polling calendar, drawing attention to stuff that’s ending soon or is very close.
  • Nominations for upcoming polls – this one is huge!
  • The commentary around polls.

(Twitter is OK at the first, very good at the second and third (or we’ve adapted well to it at least!), and honestly shite at the fourth, which is why so much of the PPP Twitter account involves RTing people’s comments.)

I investigated a few different options and it came down to three:

  • Move the whole thing to Mastodon.
  • Run them on Freaky Trigger using WordPress plug-ins.
  • Build a dedicated poll app (a la Zing for ILX)

The dedicated app is too resource-intensive for now, but might be one for the future. Mastodon seems like the obvious choice because it’s so like Twitter and has poll functionality built in. But it loses the single biggest advantage of Twitter (reach) while preserving its disadvantages (commenting). The culture of Mastodon and the Fediverse might also introduce new factors, positive and negative, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to pin those down.

That leaves moving to the FreakyTrigger domain – possibly using a dedicated polls URL. This doesn’t solve the problem of reduced reach and it makes finding newcomers more reliant on existing social media platforms (still including Twitter, at least at first). But it has a lot of advantages too. WordPress poll apps are actually better and more flexible than Twitter, commenting is a lot better, and we’d have full and stable control over features, so I’d actually be in a position to listen to suggestions beyond just “we should do a poll about this!”.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do. At some point soon, maybe as soon as the Soundtracks World Cup in February (see the sections at the end of this marathon post for more on the details of timing) the polls will move to a dedicated new home on FreakyTrigger dot co dot uk.

Next problem: Popular and the Patreon!


At this point I need to make an apology. My Patreon was meant as a way of building an independent income stream away from my main business, which is marketing and market research related. It was also meant as a way to get Popular back on an even keel after a period of neglect. I have not really kept up my end of the deal here.

The Patreon still has just shy of 100 subscribers, who I’m deeply thankful to for their extreme patience. It’s been explicitly funding the polls too since late 2020, which lessens the guilt a little, as the polls are a lot of work. But I never intended to neglect Popular to the degree I have.

This isn’t the first time Popular has needed a kick up the arse. Back in the early 10s I’d slowed to a crawl and was inspired by discovering Elizabeth Sandifer’s TARDIS Eruditorum Dr Who project, which expanded my ideas of what chronological blogging could be used for. This time the spark was provided in part by Arron Wright’s #Uncool50 / #Uncool500 project, which as well as being a lot of fun, reminded me that a bit of discipline and a regular schedule makes doing Popular easier.

So I’ve started writing entries again, building up a little backlog ready for a new year relaunch. I still feel extremely rusty but they’re not bad!

The plan is to post at least one Popular entry a week on Fridays on the Patreon, starting with DJ Caspar’s “Cha Cha Slide” on January 6th. Popular will remain Patreon-first, website-second, but I’ll be posting the backlog of Patreon-only entries (from Michelle to Britney) at a slightly more rapid pace on FT, meaning we should end up only a few weeks behind by the end of January.

Some Fridays may see 2 Popular entries, but regardless, Friday is Popular Day.

In terms of the Patreon income, I’m going to suspend subscriber payments at least until I’ve got to the 1000th No.1 (if I keep to schedule, this means roughly the end of May). The income from the Patreon has been genuinely important at points during the last couple of years, but I’m in a good place money and income wise right now, and the people who’ve stuck around deserve to actually get some content! Sincere thanks to you all again.

EXCITING ADMIN SECTION (Yes it’s all Admin but…)

To make all this happen, there will be stuff happening behind the scenes (mostly involving Alan, FT’s fantastic admin and troubleshooter, so we’ll be working within the limits of what he says is possible). The plan is that we’ll be moving the website to a new server, customising it to make the polls and Popular easier to upload and use/read, and largely retiring the FT brand itself, so the Popular and Peoples Pop website(s) will look and feel like their own things to actual readers and voters. 

The timings on this very much depend on other people’s time, resources and goodwill. Inevitably there will be some downtime at some point as we migrate the site, and I don’t want to do the poll migration until after that. The rough schedule though is:


January: World Cup Of 2022 on Twitter, including Soundtracks nominations in mid-January (date tbc)

Jan 6th: Popular Friday posts start on Patreon. Popular backlog posts start (or have already started) on FT.


FT moves servers. Dedicated Popular based “vertical” launches.


Dedicated Poll based “vertical” launches at the beginning of a new tournament. Polls migrate from Twitter. My hunch is this will be the 1985 poll (March) but it might be earlier or later.


I know the broad shape of this plan but there are still details I’ve not decided on yet. And of course you might have questions yourselves!

  • WHAT HAPPENS WITH POLL NOMINATIONS? Nominations Day is one of the most fun parts of the poll experience and also the bit that feels most tied to Twitter. The Soundtracks nominations will definitely be on Twitter and it might be the case that we have a dual nominations method for a while, with a Noms thread on Twitter backed up by comment-based noms.
  • WHAT HAPPENS WITH THE SOUNDTRACKS POLL? The Soundtracks poll will be nominated on Twitter. One option with the poll itself – very much if things are ready – is that it’s split into “Songs” and “Themes” and acts as a transition, with one half being on Twitter and the other on the new website.
  • WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FT ARCHIVES? This will definitely still exist – we have it all backed up. Where it sits within the new structure I’m not sure yet.
  • WHAT ABOUT NEW WRITING THAT ISN’T PART OF POPULAR? Again, not sure. I will be using the Patreon for new music writing, most likely in a non subscriber locked way – I have a specific idea around this which I don’t want to commit to until I know the new schedule is working for Popular. In terms of other people’s writing, I feel like there should be room for an element on the site which links out to good stuff and reinforces a community around it, a kind of “web log” if you will. But no firm plans yet.

So, that’s it. All of this relies on my continued interest, willpower, mental and physical health and on a host of external factors. Those things are hardly guaranteed. But this is the most focused and positive I’ve felt about these projects in a while.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!