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Update

Currently, due to overwhelming response, the blog is going to be continued. It's going to be a WordPress.org website, hosted on thesffblog.com.

Details about contributing are still in the works, but it's still open to everyone. A new thread with the details will be created when everything is finalized, but please reach out if you'd like to submit a work before then. (There's nothing holding up the process except updating documentation. Don't let the transition make you wait).

At the moment, users signed-in to the new website will see a short form on the contribute page, but other details are still outdated.

Original

It has come to our attention that Stack Exchange is going to be discontinuing the BlogOverflow.com website for community blogs.

BlogOverflow text overflow

Why doesn't anyone use the Stack Exchange community blogs anymore?

We are going to be given the option of creating an offsite blog which will be maintained solely by us (this has been done on WorldBuilding.SE).

This prompted the question of whether we even want to continue to have a blog?

Previous discussions: (all from 2011-2012)

Is it worth having a site blog?

Do we keep the blog alive?

State of the blog

The blog has waxed and waned over the years, although in the last year we've seen a huge increase in participation and content (43 posts since the start of 2016).

If we move to a third party blog site:

  • A downside is, we probably won't get new blog posts put in the "BLOG" feed on the main page, and at least as far as WorldBuilding.SE goes, it doesn't look like their blog even links from the 'blog' link at the bottom of the page. Could significantly reduce blog exposure.

  • An upside is, we get to continue having a blog, and we won't be tied to WordPress.

  • A downside is, we might need to convert a number of the current entries to new formatting for a different site.

  • An upside is, we continue to have a community blog which basically puts all the other ones to shame (except maybe WorldBuilding.SE) in terms of content and participation.

  • 5
    What's wrong with WordPress? I am all for continuing a blog if we can get more active participation. I don't want YOU to absorb all the writing work if it can be avoided. – Thaddeus Howze Oct 12 '16 at 20:31
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    (obligatory) We have a blog? – SQB Oct 12 '16 at 20:37
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    I have enjoyed the blog over the past 10 months I have been a user, and have read just about every post. I will continue to do so whether the blog is able to stay linked to SE or is moved to a third party site! (Was going to post a longer answer to expand, but Adamant pulled the FGITW on me and did a great job in touching on everything I would have) – Attack Helicopter Oct 12 '16 at 20:52
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    I'm interested to know what you think Jack. After all your input has been the most significant as far as the current blog goes. – Möoz Oct 12 '16 at 20:53
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    Is there any chance to get them to update the blog links so that at least we don't lose out on the exposure side of thigs? – Möoz Oct 12 '16 at 20:53
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    @Mooz - There's absolutely nothing to stop a moderator from posting a meta question informing people of the latest blog update and making it a "featured". That'll guarantee site exposure. – Valorum Oct 12 '16 at 21:12
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    @Mooz I am, of course, in favor of keeping the blog alive, as that is what I've primarily done for the last 4 years. – Jack B Nimble Oct 12 '16 at 21:36
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    Valorum's absolutely correct: moderators have complete control over what appears in the sidebar, and can add and remove items at will. If y'all want blog posts featured, you need only have a corresponding meta post for each of them... Which also takes care of the need for having a place to comment on posts, so not a waste. Given the headaches we've had moderating these blogs over the years, I think such a convention would be a massive improvement. – Shog9 Oct 12 '16 at 22:06
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    @Shog9 What headaches have you had moderating the blogs over the years? – Jack B Nimble Oct 12 '16 at 22:10
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    Given that it would be an unofficial third-party blog, would we be allowed to mention it on the site or in chat? There are currently rules in place prohibiting mention of any unofficial third-party chat rooms that absolutely don't exist. – phantom42 Oct 12 '16 at 22:40
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    @phantom42 There doesn't seem to be any issue with that on Worldbuilding. – Rand al'Thor Oct 12 '16 at 22:44
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    @Shog9 While I've also seen (probably a mini-version of) the problem with spam comments, there's also a strong argument for comments on blog posts continuing to be a thing and not being relegated to meta. Recently the author of a fantasy series I reviewed for the blog got in touch via a comment. Had commenting been restricted to meta (and thus to 50-rep SFF accounts), this would likely never have happened. The opportunity to get Word of God feedback, however rare, is worth thousands of spam comments. – Rand al'Thor Oct 12 '16 at 23:22
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    Well, the brilliant thing about this is that y'all can decide what you want, @Randal'Thor - it's a blank slate, ready for whatever system works best for this community. – Shog9 Oct 12 '16 at 23:24
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    Added the featured tag, to draw as many eyeballs as possible to this post and by extension to the blog itself. Maximising community awareness and input has never been so important! – Rand al'Thor Oct 13 '16 at 0:43
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    I would like the blog to continue.. It is nice to have somewhere to post my occasional book review without needing to have my OWN blog. lol Ok that sounds like it is just laziness but it is true! Running a blog is a hassle and having some one else willing to do the painful stuff but being allowed to contribute to the over all blog works for me, and for other people to, I am sure! – Rincewind Oct 14 '16 at 5:23
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Yes, absolutely

We have the most active blog on the entire SE network, at least as confirmed by a CM:

JNat: You have the most active blog.

We’ve had a number of consistently high-quality contributions. Naturally, most are from JackBNimble and other high-reputation users, but we’ve had some contributions from newer users such as Rincewind. I was even planning to try my hand at contributing myself.

The blog provides a format for people who want to express their opinions on science fiction and fantasy without being limited by the Q&A format, worrying about downvotes, and so forth.

The blog mainly consists of reviews, but it’s not limited to that. We’ve had meta posts, question promotion, show analysis, coverage of conventions, and more…

It offers an outlet for contributions that might not fit on the main site, but wouldn’t really work in a chat-based format either.

Basically, we’re the model of what a blog should be at Stack Exchange. This seems like something worth keeping.

To address the two downsides:

  • The current entries will need to be converted to new formatting.

    It could be. I’m not sure what that will entail, but if it’s something the community can help out with, there will be a lot of volunteers, I’m sure. If not, the CM team seems to want to help us transition.

  • Lack of exposure.

    We’ll have to work around that. Perhaps we could have a permanently featured meta post linking to the blog (I’m not sure whether that might push other posts out, though). Perhaps we could have a permanently pinned message in chat. Perhaps we could simply have regular notifications posted as meta questions. Perhaps we could even have a chat bot, like Gideon, that posts notifications of blog posts somehow.

  • "the CM team seems to want to help us transition." - I think they rather mean "transition" in the sense of handing over a plaintext data dump or something like that. I doubt they genuinely would want to engage in manually converting posts into another format. – TARS Oct 12 '16 at 20:54
  • A reasonable compromise could be a general meta post, that mentions (and links to) the most recent blog article (and maybe a list of older ones) and also has an updated title (e.g. "SF&F Blog: ..."). All you then need is a moderator to update that question whenever a new article is out and add a featured tag to it to pin it to the bulletin board. For more exposure you could as well make a Community Event (even if it isn't really one, maybe for a week or so), which puts it a little more prominently than just a mere featured meta post. – TARS Oct 12 '16 at 21:00
  • If anything, a pinned chat message won't do anything, since the ~10 users that frequent chat know about the blog anyway and make about 0.1% of the users you want to reach. – TARS Oct 12 '16 at 21:02
  • @Cahir ~10 users that frequent chat? Are you sure you know which meta you're on here? ;-) – Rand al'Thor Oct 12 '16 at 21:12
  • @Randal'Thor Yes, it's a rough order-of-magnitude estimate of the people who actually visit chat more often than once a month. Make that ~20 maybe then. – TARS Oct 12 '16 at 21:15
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    JNat's comment was based on the BlogOverflow blogs. If you average post numbers out, Worldbuilding's blog is currently more active. – ArtOfCode Oct 15 '16 at 13:21
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YES.

I would love to see more of the great content which is produced on the SFF blog, and I have several brewing ideas and half-written posts for it myself. Please let's not allow this great resource, which allows our users to wonderfully express their creativity in a different way from writing great questions and answers, and which sets us apart from all other Stack Exchange sites, to die out.

  • Will we be able to maintain the production of new content for the blog?

    I hope and believe so. Many of the recent contributors are still active members of the main SFF site and show no signs of slacking off. As mentioned in the OP, there's been a big uptick in blog activity in recent months, which I hope can still continue even if the blog platform changes.

    Some of our active users (such as Thaddeus Howze and Dr R Dizzle) also have their own blogs not linked to Stack Exchange, and have on occasion published reviews both there and on our blog. If they're happy to continue doing so, this could give us new gold-mines of content.

  • Will we be able to maintain visibility for the blog?

    There are various ways we could try to draw attention to the blog and keep people coming to read the content there:

    1. Pin a link in chat to each blog post as it comes out. Of course this would only be useful for those who frequent chat, most of whom will probably be aware of the blog anyway, but every little helps.

    2. Add blog posts as new Community Events. The "community events" sidebar on the main site has so far been used mainly for elections and chat events, but site moderators can manually add anything they want there. Each new blog post could be added by a moderator as a community event, thus guaranteeing that they all appear on the front page of the site just as they do now. Unfortunately this isn't quite the case, since event URLs have to be within the SE network. However, we could get around this by adding a blog-related meta question as a Community Event each time a new blog post is made. Which leads me on to ...

    3. Advertise via meta. Posts like Are you interested in writing for the Blog? and Ways that you can contribute to the blog. could become a regular occurrence, or (probably a better idea) these existing posts could be regularly bumped so that more people see them. Another idea would be a meta post with a list of all blog posts to date (or in the last month/quarter/year/whatever), which would be edited and updated as each new blog post appears.

  • Will we be able to keep the content we already have on the existing blog?

    Yes. A CM has confirmed that SE will give us a data dump of all the existing posts which we can migrate to a new platform. Some editing and reformatting of these may be necessary, but Jack has already volunteered to do some of this work, I am also willing to volunteer, and I'm sure we can find others too. There are only about 160 posts at present, and I imagine most of these will need little or no reformatting.

  • "Community Events...site moderators can manually add anything they want there." - I think, though, that the link has to go to a meta post (or at least an SE post), which is the reason for my proposed approach in the comments to the other answer. – TARS Oct 12 '16 at 21:13
  • @Cahir Ah, thanks, I hadn't realised that. Indeed, "Event url must be in the Stack Exchange network." Edited. – Rand al'Thor Oct 12 '16 at 21:40
  • I also bumped into the limitation on community events (on Worldbuilding), and the upcoming blog migration led me to finally ask about expanding allowable URLs on MSE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/285947/… – Monica Cellio Oct 18 '16 at 4:12
3

How about using Meta as a blog?

Instead of setting up an external blog, where everyone needs to get an account for as well, why not use Meta instead?

Instead of moving the blog further away from the main Stack, this would move it closer.

Of course, blog posts are not questions, but Meta is different from the main Stack in other aspects as well.

How it would work

We would need to establish some rules to make this work.

If we agree to tag a blog post on Meta with or , all blog entries will be easy identifiable. We can probably set it up so that the latest blog post is featured, or the moderators can see to that.
This tag should probably be added to the list of mandated tags (///) for a Meta post.

Alternatively, it could be a moderator-only tag, so that the moderators curate the blog and decide what makes a good blog post and when top post it.
One option would be to post the entry, then delete it and alert a moderator that you want this to be a blog post. The moderator then undeletes the post and adds the blog tag.

Of course, this would enable people to "answer" a blog post. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I think. People might have useful things to say about a blog post, too long for a comment, so why not use an answer for that?

What we probably would want though, would be the option to lock down a blog post. All other content is free to be edited by anyone. I feel blog posts are different, where you'd only want the author to be able to edit them. I don't know if the system has an option for that, where a post is only editable be the OP.

Benefits

The main benefit is that Meta is closer to the main Stack.

  • Every user of the main Stack automatically has an account on Meta as well, so everyone can write and respond to a blog post.
  • The voting mechanism can be used on blog posts as well, as well as the badges. People can earn badges for blog posts.

Drawbacks

We may need some adjustments to the system to make this work. Since the blog is not a priority of the team — after all, they're about to abandon it — I don't know if those necessary adjustments can be made.


Alternatively, blog.scifi.stackexchange.com

If the adjustments to the system would interfere too much with Meta, why not have a third site next to the main Stack and Meta?

This would still use the same system, but with the necessary tweaks to make it useful for blogging. Again, the main benefits described above would still apply, while there would be room to adjust the system so that all rules I laid out above, could be coded into it, so we would not have to rely on agreements between all users.

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    Isn’t that last system you mention precisely what they’re getting rid of? – Adamant Oct 13 '16 at 8:48
  • @Adamant no, it's a WordPress installation right now. It is slightly connected to the rest of the network, but not as tight as a meta is. – SQB Oct 13 '16 at 8:54
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    What I mean is that if the CMs are getting rid of the blog because of low usage, they are probably unlikely to add an entirely separate site on the SE network for precisely the same purpose. – Adamant Oct 13 '16 at 8:56
  • @Adamant possibly. On the other hand, this would be just another Stack for the most of it. Just like Meta had its little tweaks, Blog would have its tweaks as well. – SQB Oct 13 '16 at 9:22
  • Should I split this into two separate answers? – SQB Oct 13 '16 at 9:23
  • Or just remove the second half, since that's not going to happen. The point of this whole thing is that SE are going to be giving us less support for our blog, not more. – Rand al'Thor Oct 13 '16 at 11:23
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    @Randal'Thor agreed, but a Stack has built in support, through voting, reviewing, moderation, and so on. The current blog is a separate WordPress installation. Using a (tweaked) Stack for it, would allow the Blog to become an actual part of StackExchange. Yes, it would a little bit more work, but less work than the current blog. – SQB Oct 13 '16 at 11:27
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    We get people that VTC or DV meta posts that are about community stuff, including DV content directly related to the existing blog. The thought of the ensuing drama of making meta an official host of blog content nauseates me. – user31178 Oct 13 '16 at 17:41
  • @CreationEdge If we put blog posts on meta, it might be a good idea to lock each one once it's posted. That would disable up/down voting (the blog shouldn't become a popularity contest), VTCs, editing by other users, and commenting/answering. – Rand al'Thor Oct 14 '16 at 17:05
-1

Yes, but let's also get something good out of the change.

Let's use any place that lets people list all blog posts easily.

Wordpress and Blogger are two blog platforms that are currently very popular. Both of them fail at the utterly simple task of showing a list of all blog posts on a blog. I hate that. I've downloaded all entries (over a thousand) of at least one Wordpress blog because its interface sucked. Our current blog platform also fails at this.

Using Sci Fi Meta SE (like SQB suggested above) is one possibility, since it would let you list all blog posts easiliy. Rand al'Thor points out in a comment that Meta might not be ideal, so you could choose some other site.

Update: Thaddeus Howze says that the maintainer of a Wordpress blog can configure it such that it shows a list of all entries. If you do that, then my objection here is negated.

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    Currently you can list by category or tag on scifi.blogoverflow, blogger has a label option for finding all posts of a certain subject. So I'm not sure what issue you are running into finding all posts of a certain type. – Jack B Nimble Oct 15 '16 at 13:38
  • @JackBNimble: the issue I have is to list all blog posts. Not all in a category, but all of them. If we used Meta, then we could list all blog posts by listing all meta questions with a particular tag. But I can see why that's confusing, so I edited the answer. – b_jonas Oct 15 '16 at 13:52
  • Why do you need to be able to list all posts at once? (Just curious) – user31178 Oct 16 '16 at 2:10
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    @CreationEdge It's the most useful when I find a blog I might be interested in, and want to read old posts, so I want to browse by title and pick some of them whose topic looks interesting. – b_jonas Oct 16 '16 at 10:35
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    Whatever platform we use for the blog, we can make a meta post with a list of all existing blog posts, to be updated (and maybe tagged featured so it appears on the sidebar of the main site?) each time a new blog post is published. This doesn't mean using meta itself as our platform like SQB suggested; I'd be in favour of doing this anyway. – Rand al'Thor Oct 16 '16 at 14:55
  • @Randal'Thor posted to meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/q/10266/4918 – b_jonas Oct 18 '16 at 13:37

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