A Return to Writing about the Blogesphere

Writing about the blogesphere, trying to capture the conversations and summarize what is going on and generally connecting with one another, has a long tradition in our corner of the woods.

Some still thrive...

MMO Blog Island circa 2007

I have been on about this whole community thing before, I know.  But it is undeniable that it does exist in some form.  That so many of us have blog rolls on our side bars speaks to a sense of community.  We also link to other blogs on a regular basis by way to joining a conversation or continuing a point made elsewhere or setting the foundation for something we want to write that might have started out as a comment and then grew in the telling.  It is a way to connect and nobody… well, almost nobody… acts like they are doing you a huge favor if they link to something you have written.

Some people have gone beyond just links and blogrolls at times.  For quite a stretch Tipa wrote a Daily Blog Roll column (which I once attempted to parody) on her own blog to try and take the pulse of our little corner of the net.  Others have gone for a less arduous weekly wrap up at times.  Currently we have J3w3l at Healing the Masses and her Monday Link Dead Radio posts, Marcus Scarus is starting up a weekly Blog Bulletin, and there is Silverangel and the semi-regular Weekly Wyrm posts over at Kitty Kitty Boom Boom.

(I know somebody else does something like that as well, but I cannot think of who at the moment, so hit me in the comments and I’ll add it in.)

(Also, a note to bloggers: If your are going to do a regular series like that, give it an exclusive tag or category so readers can view the whole thing as a specific body of your work.  Also, it makes it easier to link to it!)

There have also been events, like various “tag, you’re it memes” and events like the Newbie Blogger Initiative (a new one coming this year I hear) and things like the EVE Blog Pack and the monthly EVE Blog Banter.

Then there are people who take this even a step further and put together sites to help bring the blogging community together.  VirginWorlds started as a blog and a podcast, but quickly became a focus of our little corner of the web as it created a popular amalgamation of feeds featuring MMO bloggers.  Then there is Scr.ee from the Scree of the Cynic Dialogs, an attempt to map and track trends in the blogesphere.  And for space nerds there is EVE Bloggers and Total EVE, sites focused on bringing together EVE Online blogging into a single feed.

And then there are the commercial MMO sites.  It seems natural for those sites to pay us some attention, seeing that they have drawn any number of contributors from our ranks.  The earliest column I can recall that spent time with the MMO blogesphere was Michael Zenke’s Massive Update column on the late 1UP.com site.

Michael Zenke's old column at 1Up.com

Michael Zenke’s old column at 1Up.com

It was focused on MMO news, but Mr. Zenke spent many of his column inches linking out to us.  And that tradition carried on when he went on to become the founding editor-in-chief of the recently departed Massively.  And while he  (and his successor Shawn Schuster) ran the show, the site was often very generous in acknowledging the blogesphere.

But at some point that idea seemed to pass from Massively and other commercial MMO sites.  I am not sure why this happened, if blogging had been declared dead yet again or if blogs were suddenly passé or if editorial policy was changed to never acknowledge that there are other sites on the internet or if people were just sick of hearing about us, but there was clearly a period of time when a link from Massively was exceedingly rare and them writing about the blogesphere appeared to be strictly verboten.

That time of neglect seems to have passed.  Towards the end of Massively’s run, Syp revived the blog community presence with the Global Chat column, a regular feature that has found its way to the Massively Overpowered successor site.

Meanwhile, over at MMOGames, Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut had a bi-weekly Bel’s Blog Bonanza column start up this month with links out all over.

And then just today Liore of Herding Cats had her debut over at MMORPG.com with Tales from the Neighborhood, giving her take on what topics were are covering in the blogging world.

Of course I am happy to see some more focus back on the grass roots blogging scene, but I am also interested in why this turn of events has come.  Are MMOs just not generating enough news these days?  Have budget constraints meant that sites have gone to covering niche topics by linking out to the crazies? (And we’re all crazies on this bus.)  Have such sites decided that they need to tend the garden from which so many of their staff have sprung?  Or is this just a quiet time aberration, soon to be dropped once something interesting happens?

What do you think?  And who did I miss in my summing up?

Addendum: Mr Luvva does a regular blogging wrap-up feature as well.

14 thoughts on “A Return to Writing about the Blogesphere

  1. Scree (@TheScree)

    When I first started trying to start blogging the # of gaming oriented blogs felt endless. Every time I started looking at a blogroll, I ran into a new one…. and then another.

    After I started quantitatively measuring the blogs on the http://scr.ee project (thanks for including it btw!), I got dissapointed quickly. I thought the gaming niche of blogs was far more numerous than a few hundred. I figured each blogger was part of their own sphere, and by continually leap-skipping across the pond I’d continually find new ripples and corners of the internet to explore.

    Imagine my disappointment when my travels started turning up dead ends. Expired blogs on blog rolls that led to more expired blogs with even more expired or unupdated blogs. The circle of who was alive and posting to the internet exponentially shrank in my eyes.

    Right now I’m tracking about 300 blogs, and I’ve found a few to add to the list. As I explore I find one or two here and there. What’s interesting to me, is I’ve recently discovered a whole new angle of blogger. The developers themselves. Of my most recent finds, I’d say half came from developers and their personal blogs.

    Finally, while I appreciate the “round-up” posts… I find they always link to the same people. As if they didn’t bother looking around for new people to link to and needed to get an article up by a deadline. How boring. I guess my perspective is a bit unique though.


  2. David Andrews (@proceduraldave)

    Thanks for the link! As for the question posed, on the commercial blog front I do think there is more than an element of ‘slow season’ about the sudden uptick in roundups. To my knowledge anyways there really aren’t any huge MMO releases on the horizon for most of the year and columns must still happen. With an absence of speculation material, commercial sites start casting about for content.

    However there is a larger movement, most notably symbolized by Kotaku’s new(ish) editorial policies, of doing more ongoing game coverage and less new-release-look-at-that-hype stuff. And while blogs may suffer as a whole from widely varying production values and writing quality, there is no denying that anyone crazy enough to not just play games religiously, but then also spend time writing about what they are playing, are among the most educated individuals in their respective niches.

    I think people are finally discovering the value of longer-term coverage for games of all genres. Coupled with a bit of a vacuum in the MMO space this year, meta-coverage of communities and games makes a lot of sense.


  3. SynCaine

    @David: I think the longer coverage is a reflection of the change in gaming itself. I look at a game like Payday 2, which just recently the devs announced they will be supporting for two more years (so 4 total), and it only makes sense to do more than a single review at release and move on. Any game with major, long-term DLC or mod support is the same.

    More to the overall topic, I’m always amazed with people who read dozens of blogs all the time. That is such a major time commitment, and maybe its just me, but very few blogs I find are a must-read for most posts.


  4. bhagpuss

    I seem to remember Spinks used to do a regular blog round up. Scree does have a point when he says there’s a tendency to keep linking to the same group of bloggers but then so does SynCaine when he suggests that there’s a considerable time commitment involved in following more than a handful of blogs.

    Back when I was involved in the apa-zine scene in the 80s and 90s it was the norm for apas to have a membership limit. The ones I contributed to capped at around 20-30 members. If you wanted to get on board and the membership was full you went on the wait list until someone dropped out. Blogging doesn’t work that way but I would guess most blog readers impose some kind of personal limit to how many they follow almost as if it did, simply because there’s only so much time available to read blogs.

    That said, a lot of the ones on both my Feedly and blogroll have gone dark of late so I probably ought to be casting my net further afield. It’s very good to hear there’s a new NBI on the way – that always generates several good blogs that last.


  5. Liore

    MMOs aren’t generating as much hype in 2015 as they did in previous years. While WildStar and TESO may have quickly lost the zeitgeist, the months leading up to their launches inspired a looooot of traffic. I think for-profit MMO sites are having to sit back and think about where their visitors are going to come from in a hype-less world, and getting back to grassroots helps.

    I think it’s cool! As you say, blogs have been kind of ignored lately by both larger sites and to some degree by developers, so for my part I’m glad to help send visitors to some legit good writing.


  6. Belghast

    So honestly I think everyone works things a little different. Right now I have around 250 blogs in my blog reader. Each week as I read through the posts, I take note and copy the interesting links to a google drive document. So as Scree noticed I have seen myself linking to a lot of the same blogs, in part because those same people seem to be the prolific writers that are addressing interesting topics during every two week period. I am constantly adding blogs to the mix, but what I am looking for is something more than just highlighting blogs. I am looking for topics that a lot of different people are talking about.

    That is the thing about the three different features TAGN mentioned… we each seem to be trying to do something slightly different. I have a method to my madness, but it may or may not be for everyone. I feel like the more light we can shine on things the better, in part because people did the same for me over the years. Folks mentioned me or linked to me or commented on my own blog, and I enjoy doing the same.


  7. barbERIan (@ausj3w3l)

    @liore thats a good point actually…. and with a schedule this year that won’t involve huge hype releases but more ongoing development it makes sense to shift focus a little to keep those readers.

    Partly I also think it is because a generation of prolific bloggers who have been engaged with the community are now in a position where they can actively support the community. It’s great really.

    Oh.. and I originally started that link post up because the mmo melting pot stopped updating. That was rather sad.


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    I will now not be happy until every active blogger I linked to in this post shows up and comments. The hard part will be Syp, he barely acknowledges comments on his own blog.


  9. Belghast

    I am pretty sure Syp is the busiest person on the planet. For years I was convinced that he absolutely hated me, because he was so unresponsive to tweets… then I got invited to guest on Battle Bards heh.


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