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Blogs and such...

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Blogs and such...

Postby MikaPup on Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:40 am

I've been reading Strad's posts in the history section this week, and have enjoyed them immensely. But at the same time, they reminded me of a few of the limitations of the forum format - one being that a forum really doesn't encourage contributions like those as much as we'd like, and the other being that the original post often gets drowned out by the 'discussion' that follows. In both those respects, blogs seem to be a far better format to me.

The other thing that's been happening of course is that most if not all of the real journalists out there - perhaps I should say the paid journalists - have also begun their own blogs. And what may have started as an experiment for them, or just a "me, too", seems to have become their most enjoyable outlet. We all know that our own Joe Saward now has a blog separate from this site, and I don't think it's escaped any of us that his posts there come far more often than they ever did here. Likewise, Allen and others are posting on their blogs at a remarkable rate. Who knew those guys could be so productive?

The problem I see, however, is that there's no convenient way for someone like me to find these blogs and keep track of them. I know of a few, and have bookmarked some - but it would be great to have a sort of hub for F1 journalists to post their blogs, or even just a type of pointer-page with an editor who keeps track and features different ones throughout the week.

Of course, blogs have their problems as well, mainly being that their comment sections limit continued conversations and any sense of community.

OK, to the point. All this has reminded me of some stuff I was thinking about when I stopped moderating over at GPL and returned here. After I left, Chap - who took over for me as an admin - and I talked a little about how I thought they could develop their forum, since at the time they really didn't have a public face like we have here to draw in new members. Here's a snippet of what I told him back then...

I'm thinking now that the way a community like gpl should work is if in addition to a forum you tied in a blogging element as well as a facebook type homepage for each member. Then the members would be encouraged to provide the content themselves through their blogs; the admin maintenance would be little more than a weekly update of the main home page to feature particular blogs, etc; and the members' home pages would provide multiple access points to the forum for visibility, advertise the 'community' aspect of the site to get people to join, and would bring in people from other areas of interest.

I've always liked the idea of having a site where each member could contribute something should he or she wish, and have their work presented as part of the site itself and not lost in the dusty back corner of a forum. Of course, as a percentage, few in truth would participate, I think; but then I don't think that, again as a percentage, the number of contributors would have to be that high. And I also think that sort of format would attract more members who would enjoy doing a bit of writing from time to time. Perhaps even Don Capps would find such a place worthy of his contribution. :p The key, I think, is to maintain a traditional forum along with the blogs, where decent discussion can take place.

So the idea would be that you'd have as a home page the featured blogs of the day, with sections for both the professional guys and the regular members, and perhaps also a section with featured topics from the forum. The site could link directly to journalists' blogs elsewhere, or even host them along with the blogs of the forum members. I'd think most journalists would be more than happy to participate in some way since it just adds to the number of visitors they'd get. And I think it would also provide a broader range of stories, since the front page wouldn't have to limit itself to the same old racing news that every other racing site has. You could feature a history blog, or something like The Mole, etc. Back at the main site, the forum could have separate sections for each pro-blogger (is that a category?) along with the regular topics. And I'm sure there's a ton of other stuff you could do with it, given a little thought.

I don't think there's anything especially original about this idea, as there are a couple of political sites I know of that are set up along similar lines (though without the forums). But it seems strange to me that there isn't something of the sort out there for other interests like motorsport. Perhaps there is, and I'm just blind to it.

Now, just so you guys know, I've not the time, the talent, nor the dedication to put something like that together - so, no, I'm not advertising some future website. I'm just throwing this out for discussion since the idea interests me.

What would be great, of course - hint, hint, Mr. Admin - is if Joe were to do something along those lines with this place.

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Re: Blogs and such...

Postby Lyria on Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:19 pm

Sounds like you've really thought this through Pup and it is a good idea in some ways. For me I'm not sure I'd be bothered to trawl through a blog all the time to keep up with what someone says. Some are interesting but if you don't read them on a regular basis you get left behind and I find I can't be bothered after that :hihi:

Having said that, if it attracted new and knowledgable members to the forum then it's a great idea, anything that shows what a great place this is and what lovely people we have here can only be a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

Oh and for the record I don't have the know how or time to keep an eye on it either sadly.
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Re: Blogs and such...

Postby Adam on Fri Jan 15, 2010 2:10 am

What Lyria said, plus...

Over at Legends' Place, a video games forum I go to almost as regularly as this one, they have managed to incorporate a blogging feature into the forum format; quite simply, they have allocated a section to Members' Blogs, where each person who wishes to do so creates his or her own topic dedicated to updates of their lives, their thoughts, their games progress etc. Each member may only have one topic, and it is forbidden to post in another person's blog.

There are more drawbacks to this method than there first appear to be. First and foremost, most of the posts are about as noteworthy as a Twitter update. Second, if there IS something you would like to hear more about, or to expand upon, there's no easy way to ask. The moderators suggest PMs, or posting in another section, but... really? :|

I'd also like to point out that I've been keeping a Formula 1 blog since the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix, first on my Bebo page and continuing since I emigrated to Facebook last September. I never posted any links to it here because it was targeted at friends and acquaintances who have comparatively little knowledge and/or passion for the sport. Also, it's a bit crap, especially in the earliest entries - I tend to get into recalling the events and statistics of the race in minute detail, rather than offering any serious insight or opinion. It's getting better with each attempt, but still.

If anyone does wish to see it, I can put up my latest entry on the comeback of Michael Schumacher - it's certainly no threat to Joe Saward, but I don't think it's too bad. :shiny:
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Re: Blogs and such...

Postby Crossa on Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:19 am

I've been thinking about this idea and how it might work

What Adam's post makes clear is that interaction is the key I guess. Reading stuff is interesting enough, but the great thing about blogs is obviously it allows you to get in touch with the folks that write them. Fame rubs off, and what is cooler than to interact with the likes of Saward who spend a great deal of their time at arms length of our heroes. He writes interesting stuff straight from the horses mouth and he reads your posts.

Same thing wrt what stuff we ourselves might come up with. Whatever the topic, what makes blogging interesting is the thought that folks take time to read your musings on whatever it is you are writing about, and come back to you on the topic.

Allow me to play the devil's advocate a little, because the question of course is, how is that fundamentally different from a forum?

We have and have had some mighty great threads here on these esteemed boards, where members take the time to sit down and write well thought out and often even eloquent contributions. Trouble is apparently that these gems vanish "in dusty corners of the forum".. if you do not follow a debate, they are easily missed. Yet the very reason they were posted (or maybe even relevant) is because they are the result of the interaction in that particular thread. Taking the thread apart in separate blogs spreads the debate, and may very well end it if folks are forced to go looking in separate blogs to put the argument together.

This line of reasoning leads to a kind of setup, where you put up, in blog form, or as a separate section of the forum, a kind of "best of" section, were members are invited, or invite themselves, to put up their "best work" in a more accessible manner. You would have to think about whether this particular section would need editing.. does someone hold the key and decides what should be put up? Like a magazine editor? Or is every member allowed to decide for themselves? There's good arguments either way I guess.
Apart from that, doing something like this as part of the forum does allow is to keep stuff up to date rather speedily, as I'd imagine that your faithfull modding team could lend a hand here and there. Linking stuff up with the website is another option, but would obviously increase the "outside lag".

So much for our own membership. How about getting journo's to add their stuff. What any self-respecting blogger wants is traffic. So I cant really imagine them being very forthcoming with material to post here. What would be interesting of course is some place here where, again, you'd kind of have a "best of" section. Members posting links to blogs where they have found something interesting etc.

But still all of this leaves unresolved the point of the exact added value. Ultimately within the forum we as the existing membership know our way around, and should be able to more or less quickly find the stuff we are interested in. For new members, or non-member readers, this is less so perhaps. How do we weigh the risk of splitting debates and loosing interaction within the the threads to opening op our gems a bit more?

Open question, I'm gonna think some more :tophat:
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