By Sweep 52 Comments
Y'know what I miss? Causing trouble.
Being a moderator is great, and I love working for one of the best websites on the internet, but at some point I stopped feeling comfortable about sharing my opinions regarding the site. It's understandable I guess, when you spend most of your time clearing up other people's arguments that you are increasingly hesitant to begin them yourself.
I used to enjoy throwing crazy ideas atand then watching him sigh as he explained why they weren't practical. I understand why, in retrospect: A lot of our suggestions genuinely weren't practical. I didn't mind. It was just a nice feeling to be even slightly involved in the direction of the site that I love so much, that there were members of staff even slightly receptive to the suggestion of change. The problem is that stuff was happening back when the site was still young, there was still room to expand and experiment. The scope and direction of Giant Bomb has changed dramatically since then - again, understandable - but there should be still room to discuss what we like and what we don't.
Please do not misinterpret the intention of this blog; This is not an attack. This is not written in anger, or frustration. This is a reflection on the state of blogs on the site which I have used for many years and intend to continue using. As someone with the 3rd highest blog count here (on the entire damn site), I'm in a pretty unique position to do so. The fact that I'm a moderator doesn't even factor into it.
For a long time I was "The blog guy" or more specifically "That idiot hamburger who writes shit down" and even sometimes "What the fuck are you doing, stop touching my sister!". I still am, to some degree. Those 360+ blogs are still there, if you want to go read them. I wouldn't recommend it, though, for aforementioned idiocy. I used to badger Dave that the blog community on the site needed more publicity, that they needed to be featured more, that bloggers weren't getting enough recognition. That was a long time ago, years ago, before blogs could be linked to the forums. After the new system dropped, and I became a moderator, I kinda stopped whining. The new system works to a degree: You can write a blog, post it to the forums, and people will read it. Having used this system for over a year I will agree that it does allow fresh blogs a large amount of attention. Where it fails is that the entire community is now completely focused on one aspect of the site: The forums.
Our forums aren't too bad, I think.
We keep them fairly tidy. Anyone who thinks otherwise should go check out some alternatives for a bit of healthy perspective. All things considered, we have a nice bunch of people here and I am, for the most part, happy to be associated with them. However in merging the blog and forum communities, I feel like something was taken from the bloggers. The emphasis was clearly placed on the forums being the central hub for the site and, as a result, the blog scene was diluted. We have a lot of great writers here, a lot, and I think we would have even more if people felt that their effort would be appreciated - but with nothing to distinguish a personal, heartfelt blog from a standard forum post, the enthusiasm for extensive and articulate writing floundered. A blog should be something that you follow for context - for the opinions of someone you have familiarised yourself with and trust. That's why people come to Giant Bomb, right? For Jeff and Ryan, and all the other guys you know and love. How many people pick which forum threads they read based entirely on the OP (unless it's someone you dislike and deliberately want to laugh at or troll)? That sense of context doesn't exist on forums, and I truly believe that the quality of posts made on Giant Bomb has suffered as a result.
This is the bit where shit gets constructive:
If you want people to write good blogs you need to reward them for writing good blogs. You need a structured environment where people feel confident that their work will be seen and appreciated regardless of how many followers they have - a page on the site where new content is easy to find and distinguished from the rest of what I'm going to disparagingly refer to as "clutter" that is normally associated with the forums. You need a layout which not only displays the content well, but highlights the writer and gives the reader the opportunity to find more of their work. The Community Hub does this to some extent, but it's not enough. It's not enough to simply point to a single blog and say "This is a good blog" because that doesn't do anything to further the sense of community that the site needs. A lone blog solves nothing. That might sound cliquey or elitist but it's true.
Think of a page with 3 columns:
- Popular Blogs - Blogs with most comments from the past 24 hours
- Followed Blogs - A feed of blogs written be people you follow
- Newest Blogs - A general feed of all blogs written on the site
Then at the top a section for a featured blog, selected by the mods and staff, that gets a banner at the top of the page similar to the articles on the frontpage. The potential for finding and reading new community content is instantly made so much easier. Much as I hate to admit it, this idea is stolen from IGN who have been doing this shit much better than us for years. That's fucking depressing. I have complete confidence that we can do it better.
I'm going to end by pointing out that I fully appreciate the timing of this seems slightly fucked. I know the Top Men have been working tirelessly on the imminent site redesign, and it's looking fucking incredible by the way, but as Lucille Ball once said:
"If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."
Just like old times, eh, Dave?