My thoughts on the RPGBloggers Network

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Stargazer’s World has been a member of the RPGBloggers Network for quite some time now. And since the last weeks of the year are always a good time to look back at what you’ve achieved during the year, I decided to write down my thoughts on the state of the network.

Drinking from the firehose
In early September trying to follow everything that was written on the network was like drinking from the proverbial firehose. With a lot of new members to the network the amount of new posts in a given time was mind boggling. If you posted at the wrong moment, your post never even appeared at the network’s front page. This was very frustrating for a lot of us and the powers behind the network worked hard to get this problem solved. I am not exactly sure how they did it but it seems to work much better now. But perhaps some of the blogs aren’t that productive anymore. Or they changed the layout of the site, so that more post appear at the front page. Perhaps one of the people in charge of the network can give us some hints.

Black box
Something that bothered me for quite some time is the fact that the network feels like a “black box”. I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but I would really see some more information on the inner workings of the network. For example who decides which article is worthy of being “featured”? I also would like to see some monthly updates on the state of the network. I know that a lot of people are interested in such stats as how many posts we had on the network, how many new blogs signed up et cetera. Perhaps these updates can also be a great place to promote great overlooked articles or where the people behind the network can rant about some things. In my opinion the network could be much more than what it is now.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the RPG Bloggers Network is the best idea since sliced bread, but there’s always room for improvement. Or do you think anything should stay the way it it? I am especially interested in the thoughts of the people who started it all. Has the network turned out as expected or where you totally baffled by the way it went?

6 thoughts on “My thoughts on the RPGBloggers Network”

  1. I never really got frustrated with the firehose effect, as I saw it coming. Growing pains. That and I felt they were doing more for me than I was for them, so if one of my posts slipped off the RPGBN's rador… better luck next time.

    I never really tried to keep up with all the posts, I tend to weed out a lot by title and excerpt (which led me to think about better titling and excerpting).

    As far as the black box effect goes, I just assumed Dave and Phil chose the featured posts using either thru-traffic or their personal opinion.

    I would be nice to see a sort of graph that showed the number of members across time, where you could highlight a timeframe and view all the blogs that joined during that time and the exact date.

    Something else that might be nifty to see graphs of activity (overall posts, posts by blog, posts by category, where the traffic is going and coming from).

    <abbr><abbr>Mad Brews last blog post..Nightmares in Gaming with Strangers</abbr></abbr>

  2. We might do a more in-depth "how the network works" post in the future, but to answer some questions now…

    Feedwordpress, the plugin that essentially powers the site, got an upgrade that smoothed out some issues, though my feeling is that it's also introduced some new issues but it's too early to tell. We also changed the way the pages cache. I can't give enough props to Graham of CriticalAnkleBites.com who is our resident tech genius and without whom the site would be broken and awful.

    We were doing weekly updates: http://www.rpgbloggers.com/category/rpgb_news/
    That included everything featured, new members, and other updates, but no one was reading them, and the only comments were "thanks for linking my post" so we decided it wasn't worth it for the time being. They also were a lot of work.

    I'll see about posting some traffic stats soon.

    As we say in the FAQ: (http://www.rpgbloggers.com/faq-for-network-members/)

    "How do I get a post “Featured!” ?

    Write a really good post. If one of the Board of Directors really likes it and thinks it should be highlighted, he or she will mark it “Featured!”"

    If there's anything else specific you want answered, let me know, though the mailing list is probably the best place to make sure I see it and so the answers gets out there.

    <abbr><abbr>Dave T. Games last blog post..A Comparison of Content</abbr></abbr>

  3. @Mad Brew: The RPG Bloggers Network site was and still is the main source of readers. Most reader come to my blog from this page, so it was a problem to me for quite some time.

    I would love to change that but it's hard to even convince people to subscribe to one's RSS feed sometimes.

  4. @Dave: Hehe, I totally missed those news, perhaps they became victims of the firehose effect.

    And I think I should use the mailing list for questions more often. 🙂

  5. I read all my blogs via RSS; therefore I never had the idea that I should read all the posts on the network. Instead, I was skimming the frontpage for interesting stuff (and like Mad Brew said, I'm thinking a lot more about titles and excerpts!) and if I liked somebody, I'd add them to my personal feed. And if I miss it the first time around, there's always the chance I'll find a second post I like and subscribe at a later date. And once I do, I'll get a backlog of at least 10 articles and read those, too…

    <abbr><abbr>Alex Schröders last blog post..Comments on More Than I Can Chew</abbr></abbr>

  6. Sure, of course nobody can read really everything that the network churns out. That's why I add my favorite blogs to my feed as well.

    I saw this firehose effect more from a blogger's perspective: it was hard to get your blog known when there was a high probability that your posts didn't even show up at the front page of the network because you wrote them at the wrong time.

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