(The saga continues in episode two: organisation).
StackExchange has a facility for associating a blog with a site. I checked the sites that are ranked higher than us, and other than the original trilogy, as far as I can tell only gaming has one at the moment (stats is also developing one at the moment). Gaming is a similar site to ours in many ways, and I suspect it may also work for us.
If we do, we need to:
- Define the scope and purpose of the blog.
- Figure out who will contribute.
- Figure out a schedule (minimum one per week).
Going backwards, Rebecca says that we probably want to aim for 2-3 posts a week.
Example topics (in no particular order):
- Answering questions that can't be answered on the site (e.g. lists and recommendations). I'm thinking of something that's enjoyable by someone not familiar with the site, but where the topic is selected by looking through the inappropriate questions we've had recently.
- Summaries of the chat events (e.g. the recommendation chat). Reading through the transcript isn't easy - it would be nice to have a short (1/2 paragraph) summary of what was discussed and recommended with a link to the full transcript. Again, I think this could be done so that it was enjoyable by someone that wasn't a site regular, rather than just a dry summary.
- Summaries of questions. Ever since the site launched there have been periodic meta posts (by several different users) that summarise what's happening so far in terms of popular topics. These suit a blog more than meta IMO. Other than just figuring out what popular topics are, a post could highlight recent particularly good questions/answers, or areas that need a bit more love. (Probably these wouldn't occur very often - the ones in meta appear only every couple of months).
- Meta-y stuff. Although a lot of the heaviest users follow what's happening throughout the entire SE network (e.g. the SE blog), not everyone does (or should need to) do this. Sometimes there are announcements made elsewhere that would be great to expose to all our users. For example, that SE is now an OpenID provider (but our post can skimp on the technical stuff and just explain how this is useful here), and (if we were out of beta) the community ad opportunities.
- Highlights of activity on the site. For example, Gaming has a "Question of the Week" (voted on in a meta question), that gets a post.
- Reviews. FWIW, the gaming.se blog seems to be mostly reviews. The question here is what we add that other review sites don't. (Reviews can be of anything site-related: movies, books, events, etc).
- News. FWIW, a few people periodically post (links to) news in chat. Same question here: what are we contributing that existing new sites aren't? News blogs tend towards either being "link rolls" (i.e. just a quote and link to the original source) or including commentary (e.g. combining news about something from multiple sources and including original material).
We can probably firm up exactly what we like to have posts on as we go - knowing what our contributors are best at writing about comes from experience, and is particularly useful (it's no good deciding we'll focus on X and finding out all our best writers write about Y).
The point of having the blog would be to:
- Increase the visibility of the site. I'm not sure that it would do a great deal here, but every little bit helps.
- Provide an outlet for material that isn't suitable for the site, without having to send users outside of the SE network.
- Promote important events (assuming that the blog gets readers). The mods are fairly limited in what they can do to promote things (from what I've read in chat), so this is a place where people can read about important meta questions, upcoming deletions, chat events, de-beta'ing, and so forth.
Assuming we approach this in a similar way to the other SE blogs, we'd have a small editorial team that would be responsible for co-ordinating submissions from anyone that's interested in writing for us. The editors would plan a schedule of posts, solicit material from users, and ensure that the post quality remained high. We'd need to be confident enough that we'd be able to get 2+ posts a week without the editors having to spend all their time on the solicitation work :)
- Do people think that it's worth trying this? (If it doesn't get any traction after X amount of time, presumably it can be folded, hence the 'beta' tag).
- Is anyone willing to volunteer to write something, and if so, what sort of thing and roughly how often?