NEPA: Rebooting the Web

On Saturday, I attended a New England Press Association seminar called Rebooting the Web, dealing with new media forms such as blogging, vlogging and the like.

I was very interested in Steve Garfield’s presentation in which he spoke of his experiences vlogging and other media. He maintains a Twitter page (so do I) and showed me a fantastic site in Qik.com that has me considering whether or not to invest in the appropriate phone to do it.

Some other notes from the seminar I wanted to address:

Instead of “Comments (0)” have it say “Get involved” or “Join the discussion.”

I really, really like this idea. I have personally struggled for a while believing it smart to say “Comments (0)” and as a matter of fact, changed this on my old site for Fire Brand of the American League, back when it was on All-Baseball.com (now defunct). I didn’t have the coding knowhow to make the “(0)” disappear, but I did change the wording from “Comments” to “Discuss.”

Comments, I think, is an outdated term of usage. In this day and age of blogging, discussion becomes the tool to drive traffic. People aren’t “commenting” on articles anymore as much as they are using the article to drive discussion on a topic.

Most speakers recommend making users register to leave comments.

I hate, hate this concept. Commenting (or per my previous note, discussing) should be easy and simple.

I have certainly ran into difficulties over my MVN.com career with spammers (easily taken care of with a spam filter) and obnoxious commenters that cross some serious lines. Some of the vitrol these commenters spew… it makes me ashamed. I’m getting off on a tangent here, but I can’t believe how much comments in an article are skewed towards negativity. Sitting at a computer without any liability of having to look at people, etc… it’s amazing how much people just start ranting and raving and just in general, being mean.

But anyways, I don’t like this idea. Comments should be easy to leave. A reader’s attention span is very, very short. Asking them to sign up will eliminate commenters who come for the first time and don’t particularly care to leave a comment but will if its easy.

I know that when I’ve gone to leave comments on other sites (or to read newspaper articles that force you to sign up to read the rest of the paper) I just leave it. I abandon it. I don’t care enough. More often than not, they lose me as a returning visitor.

I feel requiring signups is a mistake. Heck, the standard commenting system on MVN is just to leave a name and e-mail. On Fire Brand, I require neither.

Simple and easy. That’s how you get comments and returning visitors.

Three things that make a blog: recent post first, link elsewhere, comments. What, content doesn’t matter?

Buster Olney is the only “true” blog I read, where most of his content comes from linking to outside sources. I find it a great resource, but more often than not, I don’t click any of the links. I read his daily take on a subject, then I read his summaries of the links and move on.

Content matters. Others may disagree, but links should be used to further conversation on the subject. Not to mention Olney usually links to just newspapers. That’s another reason I really like Rob Neyer’s blog — he links to other blogs and talks about the subject the other blog talks about.

THAT is blogging. Not just linking to other sites and telling readers to go there.

A speaker says all blog entries should be edited before posting.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one. On one hand, I see a great need for it. On the other, for sites that can’t afford it — like MVN.com — I can’t see how MVN would benefit from three full-time editors. Maybe later. But not now.

Not to mention that blogging doesn’t HAVE to (should?) conform to typical AP standards. Blogs have a voice, and those come from slang, conversational tone, intentional misspellings, etc.

Not sure how I feel about this, again, yet. Any opinions the readers (all two of you) might have on this?

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4 thoughts on “NEPA: Rebooting the Web

  1. I don’t think editing should hold back the content. I edit things after the fact, but blogs should just be publishing as much as possible and as many opinions as worth sharing. If something needs fixed, the writer can go back in and do it, or somebody like myself.

    I don’t leave comments on blogspots b/c of the having to have a blogger account. Bloggers and readers have very limited time and know exactly what they are looking for. You might catch a few surfing occasionally, but most of the traffic is people who make very precious time to read you. I’m all about accomodating the readers.

    The blogs I read are mostly MVN, but I read a few basketball-related ones (and especially Sixers). I enjoy Henry Abbott and Kelly Dwyer the most. Celticsblog is also pretty good. I like Henry because of his mix of mainstream and blogosphere, and he has access.

    Access is a whole nother debate though. We can only go off what we are fed and see with our own eyes.

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