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MMORPG.com Development Blog

Keeping site users abreast of changes here at MMORPG.com

Author: Meddle

Contributor: skywisenight

Blog System Changes

Posted by Meddle Tuesday September 23 2008 at 4:44PM
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Hello fellow MMORPG.com bloggers.  It's time to spruce up the blogs area a bit and make a few changes.  Thanks to all of the dedicated users on the site the blogs system has been a great success.  Now that it's been in existence for more than a year we're standing back and taking a good look at the functionality of the system to determine what needs changing, fixing and updating.

The first revision made was to allow logged in users to rate blog entries.  This *should* allow the more useful and informative blog posts to bubble up to the top of the heap helping our more dedicated bloggers that spend much time on the creation of unique and original blog entries.  In the coming weeks once a good solid amount of ratings data has been collected we'll start using some of this data to spin some new entry lists and update the home page with a new tab to show popular blog entries in the style of the gamelist traffic tab where a user can list the top blog entries for different timespans.

Next up is a global report tool that will be integrated into not only the blogs but other areas of the site as well so we can take care of issues more quickly and reliably.  Once this is live we'll outline our vision for each area and define a set of rules for what is reportable and what is not.  For example in the blogs system we have no issue with users creating blogs to link to articles on their own blog elsewhere or sites elsewhere in cyberc space.  This is a common practice in the blogosphere and will be maintained here.  One example of what we do not allow is gold selling and power levelling service advertisements, we're against these practices on MMORPG.com in general and the reporting tool will allow us to address these offenders in a quicker manner than was in the past.

One other little modification I snuck into the system a few weeks back is that only one blog entry per blog is listed on the home page.  So if a user creates multiple entries in succession or within the span of the newest blog entries on the homepage only the latest entry for that blog is displayed.  This in a little way has helped your entries stay on the home page a little longer.

I am also looking into having MMORPG.com staff recommended blogs, some of the blogs here on MMORPG.com are outstanding and deserve to be in the spotlight more than they are and this is one thing I'm looking at to help out the dedicated bloggers.  Maybe a blogger of the month spotlight or something else like that.

Anyway as always I'm open to new ideas and suggestions and look forward to all comments on this post.

jawapet writes:

Generally make it more accessible, from the main page it seems a little burried, like MMORPG.com is hiding.  It's not hard to get to it's just not prominently displayed.  Although I personally think the whole main page needs straightened up seems a bit chaotic.

Tue Sep 23 2008 5:16PM Report
Meddle writes:

RE: jawapet, The front page is something we're working on currently.  We have so many features here on the site it's hard to come up with a layout that gives exposure to all areas but still seem uncluttered and useful.  Keep an eye out soon for a new revamp of the front page and site in general.

Tue Sep 23 2008 6:14PM Report
Daedren writes:

Hi Ben,

Myself and Paragus have talked at great lengths about the Blog system here at MMORPG.com. We've been here a long time, and consider ourselves to be some of the more prominent "regulars", so to say, and we'd really like to see the Blog system evolve into something better.

Your post here is a splendid example of what's wrong with the Blog system. This post has 63 views and 2 comments. Why? Because it dissapeared almost immediately under the slew of new blog posts - some being blatant advertising or offsite linking or generally not well thought out. I wouldn't have even seen it, had I not been told, and I check the blog section daily, usually multiple times.

Anyway, here are my suggestions to make this blog section better and truly epic:

1. As jawapet put above, the MMORPG.com front page needs work. I would recommend a cleaner, more "Web 2.0" (I hate that term) and a definate place to spotlight the featured and/or popular blogs. A good example would be http://www.1up.com/ -- Their section for "Editor Blogs" could be for the "Featured Blogs" - Blog authors chosen by the MMO staff - and the section below would be for "Popular Blogs" - blog posts that were voted up by the readers.

2. I think the rules should be a more strict on content and site offlinking. Specifically, I think that it should be not allowed to offlink entire articles or do a "Continue reading at..." -- This just encourages people to spam blog posts here to try and generate traffic to their site. Linking back to their blog or original article is fine (I do it in every one of my posts) - but blatant site whoring should be not tolerated.

3. As for the "Featured Blogs" section, I'm a firm believer that the editors of MMORPG.com could choose some of the best writers here and make their blogs "Featured" - meaning their new posts will "stand out" above the rest on the blog page and even be filed under the "Featured Blogs" on the front page. This would allow both old and new readers to easily locate the good, solid material that a few of the regulars put up here.

4. While it's not the worst, the editor / writer for the Blog section should be looked at. Using some sort of Wordpress-like editor would be the best as it's pretty much industry standard these days. Anyway, this isn't blog-breaking, but it'd help.

5. The ability to include slideshows, galleries and other media should be looked into. Luckily I own 10 domains and have plenty of hosting so I can offlink all of my pictures and stuff anyway, but for those that don't, they are stuck using photobucket or whatever.

6. Lastly, Moderation. This ties into a bit with the rules not being so strict - but I think strongly that blogs should be more moderated. Define the rules clearly and then enforce them. I'd like to see MMORPG.com to become one of the places where people know they can find good, solid amateur journalism. As of now we're stuck with gold sellers, site spammers, and "2 line bloggers" -- it takes time an patience to have to sort through all the crap to get to the good stuff.

That's it for now. ;)

I'll email this to you Ben as I'm not sure you'll even see it here.

Wed Sep 24 2008 9:22AM Report
Paragus1 writes:

The blog section of this site is in definite need of changing and I am glad to see something starting to happen. I believe this is the premier website for all things related to mmorpgs, and the blog section of this site has been trumped by frankly no name sites out there. Some of us draw an incredible amount of traffic to this from other game related sites, only to have our work buried in a sea of people promoting their own games and gold spammers. This blog entry is a prime example as it is already long gone from view only hours after you posted this.

Some of us really try to take things to the next level around here. We have bloggers here doing interviews with major developers and they haven't received the proper platform. As a result, some of us have been having to write for other sites like mmocrunch. Despite this, I still link to my spot here on mmorpg.com anywhere I write. I prefer to keep this site as my main platform, and I hope when people come here to read my work, they will realize there is a lot of other good blogs here to. It is just too hard to find them in the current format.

The front page definitely could use some reorganizing. The game rating system takes up a huge amount of space and has almost no legitimacy. You have the most recent news posted in 3 different spots on the front page which only adds to redundancy as well. You have 6 giveaway banners taking up half the front page and the bloggers are stuffed way down at the bottom in the corner. I'd wager a good portion of the visitors to this site don't even really know this section exists.

Maybe in the "most recent" section, allow more entries to be shown before being dropped down off into nothingness. I would love a hit counter if its possible showing the total hits on all my entries.

The multiple entry thing definitely a step in the right direction, it is annoying to see someone post 2-5 things in a day each entry only being like 2 sentences long.

I am looking forward to seeing the changes here and if you guys can give this section what it deserves, you will retain more of your talented writers as well as attract new ones.

Wed Sep 24 2008 9:25AM Report
Meddle writes:

Paragus1 and Daedren: Thank you for the comments, we will be making big changes here on the blog system and we realize their success and want to make them more attractive to the legitimate users.

I will review the rules on the blogs and come up and we will start moderating them more closely.  The report feature that is coming will allow our site moderators to have access to moderating the blogs.  I cannot bring on an active blogger as a blogs moderator because of potential conflicts of interest.  In any event I am starting to agree with the one line blogs linking off to another site and will start looking more closely for advertisement blogs.

Please until the new report tool is available shoot me an email with any offenders and I will look into them and take action accordingly.

The homepage is in rework right now and one of my goals is to get more blog entries into the lists there and move that area a little further to the top of the page.  There's really no reason to have the big avatar icons there and since most people don't use a custom avatar it looks kinda strange so I think we'll go with the smaller icons, a little less information and in turn get a longer list of entries.  That coupled with the ratings / popularity updates should make a pretty big difference from what's there now.  There will also be big changes coming to the blogs homepage.  I currently don't really care for the layout there and we'll be changing that.

So hang tite with us for a bit and we'll start making some changes in the right direction, we're a small team and have lot's of projects here and there all over the site but we do have the best intentions for the blogs area and are dedicated to making it better.

Wed Sep 24 2008 3:57PM Report

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