The idea was to inflict blogging on as many newcomers as possible by getting a bunch of old cranks to give semi-useful and often contradictory advice about blogging. And link whoring.
As is clear from that, I went for a humorous/cynical/sarcastic spin on the whole thing. That was because, in the past, I have read so much horrible, inappropriate, or just bad from all rational perspectives advice on blogging that it practically puts me at the laugh/cry fork in the road. And I always choose to laugh, which doesn’t make me very popular at funerals I must admit. I end up thinking “A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants” and it is all down hill from there.
Yes, there are a lot of nuts and bolts things you can speak to about themes, fonts, statistics, comment moderation, spam, and the like. But when it comes to the actual motivation and philosophy of blogging, the only universal I could come up with is:
Be the blog you want to read.
Which isn’t very helpful.
And I have nothing for any subsequent existential crisis which might result from realizing that you don’t actually want to read your own blog. But it seemed better than telling somebody they need to put a picture of a cat in every post or whatever the SEO experts are saying of late.
Anyway, there was much enthusiasm. Lots of people trotted out advice of all sorts (a list of some of the posts here), some of which was actually more useful than I expected. Nobody actually told people to post pictures of cats. The usual wet blankets had to chime in that it was all a wasted effort, because that is what wet blankets do. Why deny them their place.
In the end, by my count, 110 new blogs were created and were being blogged on by new bloggers here in Blogsylvannia. I have them all listed and linked in another post.
But now that a dozen months have flown by, I thought I would take a look at the mortality rate for NBI blogs. Of 110 who started, how many are still active?
The answer is 30, or 27% of those that started.
Active is, of course, subject to interpretation. My bar for being considered an active blog was still being at your URL (or having noted a forwarding address) and having posted something on or after April 1, 2013.
That leaves the following blogs, which you should go visit and congratulate.
I suppose it depends on your point of view. The only other data I have on the subject is from when I did The Great Survey of Linking Blogs back in September 2011. During that I went back and checked on all 281 of the outgoing links for blogs that at some time put me in their blog roll. I found that of 263 unique blogs, 74 were still active, which totals up to about 28%.
So 27% from that sample size seems to be about par for the course, as far as I can tell.
New World Tavern and Casual Aggro did similar round up posts, though their criteria was a bit different (as were their counts), so they came up with 40% and 25% respectively. As they say, your mileage may vary. Avatars of Steel also has a post about the NBI, while there is a class of 2012 badge up for participants over at Ravalation.
And what of the other 80 blogs? A bit on that after the cut.
The New Blogger Initiate appears to be over already. I thought the last post was supposed to be on the end of the month. And yet I still have bad advice to spread about. Enough procrastination.
I generally have one good suggestion for bloggers, after which my advice tends to fall into two categories.
The first is advice that is so specific to my own situation that it probably won’t be all that helpful, while the rest is so general that it will likewise not be all that helpful.
So, first, my one good piece of advice… and even that is just my opinion.
Be The Blog You Want to Read
Even that seems to be sort of a “duh” statement.
But seriously, I presume that you have decided to jump into MMO blogging after having read some other MMO blogs. And those blogs have probably made an impression on you. And I bet some of those sites had aspects you did not like. Don’t do those things. Your blog should be the example you want others to follow.
Other than that, I have a few items which work for me.
You want to know Tobold’s biggest blogging crime is in my opinion? You cannot find shit on his blog once it falls off the front page.
Effective use of tags, categories, and timelines can make it much easier to find your past efforts on a given subject. Unless, of course, you don’t want people to find what you have said in the past.
For the most part people won’t go looking for things. Most people will rarely look at anything except your last couple of posts. But if you are like me, YOU will probably want to find things you have posted in the past, and organization helps.
Have a Philosophy
I feel that failing on this front is what leads most bloggers to give up after a short time.
If the answer to the question, “Why do you have a blog?” is “Because I want a blog!” then you might not be ready to begin. I know I wasn’t. I started off with wanting to write a blog about online gaming and was all over the map for a while.
Then I settled down a bit when I finally realized what I wanted the blog to be. My blogging philosophy is to weave together my own gaming experiences… tales of the weekly instance group, exploits in EVE Online, and so forth… with a timeline of major events in the industry like MMO launches, closings, expansions, and that sort of headline and press release sort of thing. I also add in a bit about the actual act of blogging and that is the general mix that makes up TAGN.
And yet I do not feel bound by my philosophy. I set aside the weekend for the occasional post on other topics.
This is tough, because value can be very subjective. For example, I do not post press releases without comment. But my comments are rarely very insightful. They tend to sum up the impact on me. That is value to me, but it may not be so for you. And if you have decided to create a MMO press release blog, you can make the argument that a single source of such press releases, especially if well organized, adds value by its existence. But you ought to feel that there is some value to your posts. That may help sustain you when the initial warm glow of a new blog starts to fade.
Give Yourself Some Structure
I have one regular weekly post about the instance group’s activities over the past weekend, which runs on Thursday for reasons of laziness. And then I post a once a month summary for reasons I can no longer recall, other than it seemed like a good idea at the time. Those two recurring posts are the structure of the blog, and everything else is extra.
Link Like You are Getting Paid to Link
When in doubt, link to something. Link to source material. Link to press releases. Link to other blog posts on the subject. Link to your past posts on the subject. Link to definitions of big words. This is the internet, and the biggest advantage it gives you is the ability to quickly and easily connect to other material on the same subject. While I link out a lot, I still feel I could be doing more. Plus, you know, link whoring.
Do Not Depend Too Much on Links
The flip side of the above is link rot. While it is a great thing to be able to link to all sorts of supporting material, do not depend on it to carry the weight of your post. I groan when I see a post that contains a “go read this” link and then offers an opinion that depends on the context of off-site material to carry the post. Because that link is going to go dead some day, and then that post will make no sense. I try to keep quotes and context on my own site and link back to their source… like I was writing a real paper or something. Sometimes I get lazy and don’t, and then a link goes dead and I kick myself for it.
Do Not Take Things Too Seriously
Yourself included, unless you plan to make this your profession. It is only a blog. Blogs are a dime a dozen, and for each one that is against some aspect of online games, you can find another that is completely in favor of it. So if you reach a point where you find yourself taking game companies to task because they do not listen to your advice… and you are not actually in the industry but just some person on the internet… you’ve probably gone too far.
Headlines Can Be a Lot of Fun
Even now, somebody is probably trying to figure out what lies my parents told me. Other than the usual ones… Santa, the Easter Bunny, the impact of swallowing watermelon seeds, and the existence of El Segundo… I cannot recall any huge, earth shattering lies. But they might still be holding out on me.
So many people have posted actual substantial constructive advice as part of the New Blogger Initiative that I am actually a bit stunned.
There is a surprising lack of the sort of advice I dislike, the pretentious “one true way or your doing it wrong” sorts of posts that have annoyed me over the years, that I am starting to wonder what I can add.
I have another post under way that is something of a philosophical post on the subject of blogging. But since I can sum it up in one line… Be the blog you want to read… I wonder if I will ever bother finishing it up.
So while that post gathers moss in my drafts folder… along with about 40 other posts at last count… I am going to suggest you play a game. And I mean the collective you, both the old hands and new bloggers alike.
A list of other blogs that a blogger might recommend by providing links to them (usually in a sidebar list).
The blogroll is a strange beast, both over valued and under appreciated. It is, to my mind, a philosophical statement by the blog owner about their relationship with the community of MMO blogs.
Some blogs have short blogrolls or just a few key blogs they really like. Some list only well established blogs. Others try to call out the more obscure. Some focus on only a single game, like WoW of EVE, while others are a complete mish-mash. Some will only link if the other blog links back, and some just throw out links where they feel they are due. A few blogs try to include links to all the MMO blogs they can find… Kill Ten Rats is noteworthy in this… while some blogs decline to put up a blogroll at all.
And some blogrolls are well tended gardens, while others are so full of dead links you wonder when the last time the owner updated things.
My own philosophy is to have a blogroll that is short enough to be manageable and which sends people to active MMO blogs that post content which I think adds value to the community as a whole. So I keep an eye on my blogroll, hiding blogs that are down or on hiatus and adding new ones from time to time.
Oy, look at all those words and I still haven’t gotten to the game yet. So here it is.
-Start at your blog’s main page
-Pick a blog from your blogroll and click on it
From that blogs blogroll, pick another blog and click on that one
-Repeat until you are at least ten blogs out
-From that final blog on your outward journey, attempt to find your way back to your own blog once again via blogrolls without visiting any of the same blogs you saw on the way out. If your blog is new and you fear it might not be in a blogroll, choose a blog you like, presumably one you link to, as a final destination.
-Hints: Kill Ten Rats… or Bio Break… have nice long blogrolls if you get stuck. Try to get to them. Tobold’s blog is well linked, but is a blogroll dead end. Don’t go there unless you chose that as your final destination.
-Winning: The journey is the reward. You can find all sorts of blogs you have never seen before, all of which are connected, at least in one direction, to your own blog. You will find small pockets of blogs linked together, often connected by a single thread to other groupings of blogs. You can click through waves of WoW blogs, and suddenly end up in an EVE or LOTRO cluster. You can find blogs that have been dormant for ages and blogs that have only sprung up recently. And you will start to get a sense of just how many fellow bloggers there are out there.
Oh, and actually finding your way back to your own blog is pretty cool too, especially if you are lost in a sea of new blogs and suddenly spot that link back to you or somebody you read regularly.
But I have never really bothered with the idea of it being cheating.
Primarily because, technically, PLEX is not and cannot be considered cheating because it is allowed, created, and administered by CCP. They say it is okay and they make the rules, so therefore it is not cheating, QED. And even before PLEX, CCP allowed the purchase of time codes with ISK, the in game currency. PLEX just removed some of the complexities. (You can still buy time codes and turn them into PLEX, which some web sites use as a way to get financial support.)
But that aside, there is the question of PLEX giving those with money an advantage over those without, and this is the aspect that Rohan appears to be wrestling with over at Blessing of Kings.
I have been reading Blessing of Kings for ages, it being a source for all things Paladin related in World of Warcraft.
But Rohan has recently ventured into New Eden, and I have been following his posts on the subject with interest. Jaded after more than five years of exposure to EVE, it is interesting to read about somebody entering the game afresh and discovering its myriad complexities, especially somebody with a critical eye like his.
He has recently hit upon PLEX as being something that allows a player to skip content, or to cheat. The focus seems, from my read, to be entirely on the economic aspect of the game.
He divides the economic sphere into “producers” and “consumers,” something I find to be a bit of a false dichotomy.
First, there is a lot of gray area in between the two from my point of view. There are lost of people who just like the industry side of the game. And there are, I am sure, people who just buy PLEX to turn pirate and hunt other players. But in between?
What of the mission runner who focuses only on the mission reward and thus optimizes his efforts to completing them as fast as possible? He never loots, he never salvages, and he certainly never stops to mine any tasty ore that might show up in a mission. He merely consumes the mission content, adding to the market place approximately the same as the person who buys PLEX.
And what about me? For the last four months I have been in null sec, I have ratted a little bit for bounties, but have pretty much steered clear of the economic sphere. I have been in coalition fleets for battles, and when I lose a ship my alliance reimburses me the cost of my ship and sells me a replacement at a very good price, thus subsidizing my play. How does that differ, in terms of economic impact, from the buyer of PLEX? My choice has essentially opted me out of the production aspect of the game as well.
Second, the consumption side of the does, in fact, add to the economic sphere of the game. Nothing keeps the production people going like some pirates out there blowing up ships. The so-called consumer is in fact a very important aspect of the producer’s life. Without him, the producer is done.
Third, there is the standard argument about how ISK does not translate into power in the game. You cannot jump ahead in skill points to allow you to fly a more powerful ship, you have to train them one point at a time like everybody else. Yes, you can buy implants, and those do help some, but the noob to titan training plan is still most of a year even with +5 modules.
More importantly, ISK does not impart skill. Ships in the game are all vulnerable. In WoW, a level 1 player in starter gear would be severely challenged to kill an AFK top tier raider in full gear. There is a vast discrepancy in power between the two, imparted by equipment and skills that come with levels. But in EVE, the wily frigate pilot can take down a strategic cruiser. (The first kill in that post, which made Dabigredboat quite smug.)
Finally, the consumer of content that uses PLEX does add something to the game. The person who buys PLEX for cash and sells it on the market for ISK gives the producer the option to pay for his game time via the fruit of his labors. CCP still gets paid, the guy selling the PLEX gets his ISK, and producer gets a real life reward for his work. For me, that is high on the list of “best features ever.”
Rohan then goes on to a horrible analogy, though in fairness, I should say that I think almost all analogies are horrible. People who agree with you already go, “Yeah!” while people who disagree pick apart the points where the analogy falls down (and the analogy ALWAYS falls down under close examination… if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be an analogy) and nobody’s opinion is altered one iota. (See Scott Adams.)
Anyway, this analogy involved a theoretical immortality pod that would let you opt out of PvP for 30 days as the opposing side of the PLEX issue. To my mind, this is absolutely not the case. Said pod would be game breaking… opting out of PvP in what is a PvP game… and would literally remove content, as opposed to PLEX, which merely changes one aspect of a players interaction with the game. Your PLEX buying gank pirate is still creating demand for production, still buying from the market, and giving the producer something special. The immortality pod is a literal opt-out of the nature of the game. It isn’t skipping the part of the game he doesn’t enjoy, it is skipping the game. Enough people do that and the end result is the death or production as an ongoing concern.
Anyway, this is all debating society level discussion. CCP is not going to take out PLEX and they certainly are not going to introduce an immortality pod. But it is always interesting to try and hash out what PLEX means to the game as a whole.
-Taking long comment responses to other people’s blog posts and turning them into posts on your own blog is an easy way to come up with a post idea, and fosters a sense of community between blogs by linking them together in some sort of web-like structure. (Link whoring)
-Link back to past posts you have made on the same subject. It keeps you from having to repeat yourself, it gets people to look something not on the front page of your blog, and when some site steals your content, at least you’ll get a bit of traffic back with those links. (Link whoring)
-Polls are an easy way to finish up a post when you aren’t clear where you are headed and you feel you need to distract your readers from the weakness in you argument. (Hiding your link whoring)
Unless mine is the only MMO blog you read (Hi mom!), you might have seen something about a New Blogger Initiative event thing going on this month.
I am not sure why it had to be “newbie,” which I find a bit condescending, especially when trying to be encouraging. So I am changing it, thus making my initial statement about blogging: Do what you want!
So what is this event about?
It is an attempt to encourage others to join in the obsessionaddictionSisyphean nightmare fun hobby of blogging about online gaming. And link whoring.
A group of blowhardsegomaniacsargumentative know-it-allsdangerous intellectualssanctimonious bastards esteemed elder bloggers has gathered together with the idea of dispensing contradictoryself-servingobviousobtusesimply bad hard learned advice along with a bit encouragement. And link whoring.
This will go on for the month of May, by the end of which half of of us won’t be speaking to the other halfmost of us will have dropped due to apathyyou’ll be sick to death of us we will all be the best of friends and you’ll know nothing more than you do right now all about blogging. And link whoring.
What do YOU have to do?
Start a new blog. The old hands recommend, almost unanimously, using some sort of blogging software for this.
Then go to register at the NBI Central forums and post “Hey, I started a new blog!” along the the URL to the blog. Make sure you post in the right forum or prepare to be flamed. (and don’t sign your post, we can all see your damn name in the side bar!)
Finally, post something on your blog, pace around in circles, pretend to read our advice, and await fame and fortune. Oh, and link us.
You have nothing to lose… since 78% of you are going give up within six months anyway. So link us right away please.
What is in it for You?
This cadre of old blogging hands will introduce you to such beloved blogging concepts such as: