Tag Archives: New Blogger Initiative

NBI 2015 – Blog to Game, Game to Blog

The 2015 incarnation of the annual Newbie Blogger Initiative event kicked off… um… about two weeks ago.  Time flies.  Better put up the logo and move on.

NBI_Logo_450During May of each year we encourage our fellow travelers in the gaming world who have just a bit of free time to give up that free time… and some of their gaming time and some time they probably need to be doing other things… to write a blog.  Many are chosen, few will survive for even a year… really, 3 out of 4 blogs started during the event will be dormant by the next one.

What can we do about that?

Since I expended all of my actually useful advice during the 2012 event, my one contribution to this year’s event… aside from a post summing up and listing out of the new blogs at the end… will be to try to tackle one of the questions I get regularly.

And by “regularly” I mean “almost never” because clearly people who chance upon this blog learn quickly never to ask my advice on anything.  But it has come up a couple of times in the last eight and a half years.  And the question is; how have I written so many posts and keep going for however long it has been?

I can prove I have been asked this.  Liore asked me once about it on Twitter… sort of.  It was implied!  Roll with it, dammit!

My response was:

Years of MUDing made me a very fast typist.  Not a very accurate one, just very fast.

And there are days when I clearly spend more time writing about games than actually playing games.

And Low standards. I cannot emphasize how much just wanting to write something, versus wanting to write something good, helps out.

That last bit was the key.  I’d rather post crap than nothing at all.  That explains much that goes on here now doesn’t it?

But that is not all of it.  No, there is another key to what I refer to as “my success” in an off-handed way while trying not to make eye contact.

The other key factor is that when I play games, I often do it with an eye to turning whatever I am doing into a blog post.  Sometimes that manifests itself as me simply making sure I take some screen shots.  But at other times I undertake whole new trips through MMOs just because I think they might make for a decent blog post.  I am pretty sure, as an example, that I wouldn’t have bothered with LFR or the Molten Core event earlier this year if I hadn’t also seen the possibility of a blog post or two in the venture.

So there exists this two-way feed between my game play and my blogging.

I blog about my gaming as a memory book sort of thing, as well as to enhance what I have done in game by recounting it which gives it additional life.  And then I game with the blog in mind, which makes me push on the boundaries of what I do and explore new things.

And it works.

Sure, it probably doesn’t lead to some of the most exciting content at times.  I know I have done more than my share of “spending three hours flying from point A to point B in EVE Online” posts.  But I post, and have done so nearly every week day for eight and a half years, because my gaming and my blogging are pretty much a combined activity at this point.

It took a while to get there.  The alleged Wilhelm-style blogging machine didn’t come into being over night.  I had to find my way and combine the two pieces together over time.  And there have been points… usually on Sunday night when I am sketching out what the next week’s posts are going to be and I’ve got nothing, no screen shots, no notes, and nothing in the backlog… where I have thought about dumping the whole thing.  I would clearly spend more time gaming if I did.

But blogging and gaming work well together for me, to the point that if I gave up blogging I am not sure I would find as much satisfaction in gaming.

So that is it, for what it is worth.

Meanwhile, other things are going on with the NBI.  They have had a couple of blog challenges, neither of which I could really warm to.  One felt a bit too much like feeding the trolls while another I have covered ad nauseum, but that doesn’t mean other people didn’t have things to add.  You can find it all at the Newbie Blogger Initiative site.

And, finally, I want to call out the new bloggers participating this year.  This is what I could glean from the NBI forums and site, so I hope I got them all.  Not as many as years past, but that just means less of an excuse for not visiting all of them.

Newbie Blogger Initiative Class of 2014

The Newbie Blogger Initiative has run its month of new blogger recruiting this year.

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While I haven’t contributed anything to this year’s event, aside from pointing at it briefly a month back, I thought I would take a moment to list out all of the new blogs that have joined the ranks of the insane over worked those who came before.  It looks like a total of 35 45 new blogs participated in the event. (Did I miss anybody?)  Please take a little time to check out our new neighbors in the blogesphere.

Past history says that only 25-30% of this group will still be blogging a year from now.  Who looks like they will make it for the long haul?

Too soon?

Addendum: I missed a few blogs, only finding the definitive list long after I wrote this post.

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014 Starts Today

Over at the official, permanent NBI HQ site, the kick off for the 2014 campaign has begun.  There are community building activities planned for people who want to start new blogs as well as current bloggers who want to help a new crop join their ranks.

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I am not planning to do much myself as part of the 2014 NBI campaign.  I’ll join in a group blogging topic if one comes up, but I haven’t signed on for anything in particular.

Mostly that is because I am not sure I have much to add… certainly nothing new since last year.   Or the year before.  And for all my talk about community, I am bad at community.

I wrote a post almost two years back that had nine items I thought were useful to consider if you going to start a blog.  And of those, I only felt one was important.  I’ll repeat that one, so you don’t even have to go back and look at my old post.

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.

Anyway, if you want to start a blog, the NBI is a fine way to get some support and advice on blogging.  The only thing I would flag is that most everything is opinion based on what has worked for that individual.  Certainly my own list linked above is pretty much what has worked for me.  It may not work for you.  Hell, you might not even want to write a blog you want to read for all I know!

As an example, over at Contains Moderate Peril, there is a post up about starting a gaming blog that has a very heavy emphasis on writing as a craft.  Excellent stuff in that post.  If you are starting a blog and you want to be taken seriously as a writer… say you want to become a paid games journalist or find a way into the game industry… you should live those rules.  They are excellent.

But I wouldn’t say they were strictly necessary to be a blogger.

Liore of Herding Cats once asked me on Twitter how I find the time to write so many posts.  My response was:

…Low standards. I cannot emphasize how much just wanting to write something, versus wanting to write something good, helps out.

It made an impression on her, and has worked for me because if I spent the time to work at my blog like it was my profession, I would drop to about 10% of my current output.  Instead of a few quality posts, I push out a lot of crap. (Unfortunate comparison intentional.)

Most of what you read here is banged out and posted in pretty much a first draft state after something like an hour or less of work.  You can pretty much assume I have pushed the “publish” button too soon for any post.

Sometimes I have a post that sits for a while and I add to it over time, but that often ends up looking just as bad.  My thoughts change over time, and you can see, sometimes in the same paragraph, or even the same sentence, where I went away and came back with a different impression of what I was about.  And the typo density remains the same.

So my stuff tends to be short bits… short being a relative term here, I seem to be able to bang out a thousand words pretty quickly… that often reflect not only something that happened recently, but how I feel about it at that moment in time.  And that latter can change over time.  Part of what is interesting about the blog for me is charting my own opinion on things, my focus, my enthusiasms, and how they shift and change.

So it is important for me to say what I want to say when I am as close to the moment as I can possibly be.

That said, I do go back and fix my typos.  I am embarrassed by them.  I find them distracting.  I do not want them to be there.  I am just incapable of seeing them until a post has been published.

As an alternative to the CMP post linked above, there is a more philosophical post on starting a blog over at ALT:ernative Chat.

My point is really that you shouldn’t take anybody very seriously who says you must do “X” to be a blogger.  The blog will be your own and, if you stick with it and enjoy it, you will work out what is important to you.

Finally, I will say that my only real regret as a blogger is that I did not start sooner.  I really wish I had a chronicle that went back to the launch of EverQuest II, or to the early days of EverQuest, or my time back in TorilMUD, or my days back in the 80s playing games like Stellar Emperor or Air Warrior back on GEnie. (Of course, there were no blogs back then, but you get the idea.)

I can write about those times as bits of history, but I can never really explain how I viewed those games and the people in them at the moment I was there.  Lots of little bits of detail and color have been washed out of my brain over the years, to the point that I can now remember a sense of a feeling of excitement over something that might very well have happened to somebody else.  See what getting old does?

So, if you’re going to get to it… well… then get to it!  You may regret the time you waste.

Oh, and link whoring.  Must not forget that.

See?  I totally had nothing to say about the NBI. (Word count: ~1,000)

NBI – To All The Guilds I’ve Loved Before…

Doone’s Permanent Floating New Blogger Initiative II has been up and running for a while now.  It has forums and goals and things to do and participants and all that.

Not the official logo

Not the official logo

And while I signed up as some sort of sponsor, I have so far completely failed to anything very sponsorly.

Of course, I was a bit glib the first time around as well.  In part that is because I have trouble swallowing some of the advice people throw out for bloggers.  And, also, because I have trouble taking myself seriously in this regard.  So while I came up with some bits and pieces of things that worked for me, my only real advice is to be the blog you want to read.  If you look at your blog and cannot answer the question, “Would I read this if it was written by some stranger?” then you might be doing it wrong.

Anyway, I thought it was about time to earn my so-called keep as a sponsor .  Doone has a couple of blogging activities for the month, including something called a “Talk Back Challenge” that appears to be an attempt get a few people tackling the same subject.  One of them happens to be about Guilds in MMOs.

Guilds: What For? What functions to guilds serve in games and what kind do you prefer? You can talk about your experiences in guilds, what attracts you to them, and their role in the games you play.

A broad enough topic, which has been taken on over at Casual Aggro, The Cynic Dialogs, and Away From Game.  And now at Inventory Full.

Rather than going about this by describing what I think guilds should be about and such, I thought I would do a bit of research to see what guilds I am still in (or which still influence me since I have left) and try, from that, to derive some indication as to what a guild appears to actually mean to me.

Because this is just a list of guilds with a few comments, I will hide this after a cut so as not to make the front page a mile long.

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New Blogger Initiative a Year Later – Who Survived?

It was just a year ago that Syp kicked off his Newbie Blogger Initiative plan.

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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.

  1. Adventures of Danania, Supergirl of Lorien
  2. Ald Shot First
  3. Altaclysmic
  4. Beyond Tannhauser Gate
  5. Bloodthorne
  6. Casual Aggro
  7. Casually Vicious
  8. Conveniently Placed Exhaust Port
  9. Dreadblade
  10. Elfkina vežička
  11. Funsponge
  12. Game Delver
  13. Goetia’s Letters
  14. Mighty Viking Hamster
  15. MMO Juggler
  16. MMO One Night a Week
  17. Neurotic Girl
  18. Ravalation
  19. Red Neckromonger
  20. Sephora’s Closet
  21. stnylan’s musings
  22. That Was An Accident!
  23. Unwavering Sentinel
  24. Vagabond Goes for a Walk
  25. Warlockery
  26. Warp to Zero
  27. White Charr
  28. Why I Game
  29. Wynniekin’s Adventures
  30. World’s End Tavern

Is that a lot or a little, good or bad?

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.

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NBI – All The Pretty Blogs… With Some Contradictory Advice Thrown In

All good things must come to an end.  This holds for mediocre and bad things as well.  You can pick which you felt the New Blogger Initiative was.  Syp certainly seems happy about things.

As one of the so-called sponsors, I committed to putting up an announcement about the event, writing a bit of advice (I even did some advice embedded in a live post), and then posting a summing up of all the new blogs and advice shared.  And so here we are at that final step, the summing up.

Hrmm.

I really have nothing else to add, so I will let you sum it up.

(NBI advice: polls are a great way to avoid committing to an opinion!  And, as a bonus, you can always wring another post out of evaluating the results!)

That said, onto the long lists of blogs and articles, which are after the cut.

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NBI – Spurious Blogging Tips and Lies My Parents Told Me

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.

Organize

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.

Add Value

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.