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Our blog has been running great for a while, and its content is great, however recently, all editors and frequent writers have been busy (including myself). This is why there currently are no weekly posts anymore.

The Question of the Week doesn't get as much exposure and votes as it used to have, mainly due to the fact that not all users check Super User Meta.

Asking people if they'd like to contribute via comments is not always easy, and you might not even get a response. I hope to see a change in the way the blog is structured, as outlined here: Using the Stack engine for the blog – a long-term idea for maintaining a healthy blogging culture — if you have any ideas, comments, suggestions, critique, please post them there!

But until there is a significant change, what can we do to get the blog running again? I asked @nhinkle whether it would be a good idea to put up a status message (like the one used for elections or outages), promoting the blog, so we could recruit new writers. Would that be feasible? Would it be considered abuse of the message?

I'd just like to see at least one post a week, it doesn't even have to be long ;)

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    I wish I knew... – Ivo Flipse Nov 29 '11 at 17:36
  • Totally missed the MSO topic... and again, nothing's happening..! – Daniel Beck Nov 30 '11 at 6:53
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Where have our weekly posts gone? And why?

... writers have been busy. This is why there currently are no weekly posts anymore. ...

Indeed, the current semester is a busy one at university; I don't know about the next one but I guess it will bring back a lot of free time because it looks less demanding than this one. Besides that I hove lost the tendency to compose bi-weekly posts because of this pressure, but would love to write something just to help out and don't fall to a complete stop.

A problem I have with writing blog posts is that I feel the need to do a lot of research / work in order to get a post of sufficient length that is actually useful to the hundreds to thousands of readers that will pass by it. This is very costly in time to get out all the great content, and I believe other writers have a very similar experience like me. They are basically not writing posts anymore because they can't find the time and/or interest to do so; the content most of us tend to write weights heavy on our shoulders.


What about the folks out there? How much do they write?

Asking people if they'd like to contribute via comments is not always easy, ...

The majority of answers (about 123k) only consist of up to 500 characters, less than half of that count consist of up to 1000 characters. Let me show you what 500 characters are:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Not much, if you ask me. Let's say that if you take the double of that (1000 characters) you have a very small blog posts; so, if you calculate the total amount of posts and divide the 0 - 1000 post counts by it you see that 87% of our answers don't suffice for our blog. But what about the valuable 13% out there, there are still 26k answers there that suffice for the length of a blog post so there still exists people out there that do have the time to write longer stuff.

What we see here is that most people don't write long stuff on SU, but only occasionally...


Could a Stack Exchange system aid in getting the blog back in business?

I hope to see a change in the way the blog is structured, as outlined here: Using the Stack engine for the blog – a long-term idea for maintaining a healthy blogging culture — if you have any ideas, comments, suggestions, critique, please post them there!

Definetly, integration makes it much easier for people to access the blog, actually more people.

I only see one cavaet: This however doesn't change the time spent in writing a good blog post.


What can we do to get the blog running again?

I asked @nhinkle whether it would be a good idea to put up a status message (like the one used for elections or outages), promoting the blog, so we could recruit new writers. Would that be feasible? Would it be considered abuse of the message?

If really necessary to give the blog a kick-start to get back on track, you get my vote. But, this isn't one of the first attempts where we tried to leech users towards the blog. Remember that we have had several community ads, a contest where people had to write blog posts, several comments on the site and probably some similar activities; none of which actually targets everyone but a large share of users...

The bottom line through thinking about this and through this post is what you note yourself:

... it doesn't even have to be long :)

The problem with that is that if I apply that to a random crazy idea that the post isn't really useful in 500 or 1000 characters, it probably can be written in something around 1500 or 2000 characters though. But, if I aim for any of these amount of characters; writing less doesn't take away the research time.

The actual writing takes the least time in writing a post. Length doesn't necessarily matter....

If we want more posts that cost less time we need to step away from writing posts which we need to get research; but only occasionally do them when we know about the subject and it is interesting to share.


Let's shift our mindset about the SU blog to something way different...

What I think we should be after with the blog is something that our users want to participate in; something which they would love to read about and something they would love to write about. We can use the blog as a way to do Community Building, like there is Team Building.

In the way that the QotW series have had a lot of success by putting user content out there for the mass to read, I think we should focus the Super User Blog around the Super User. There are many ways to put our users in front:

  • Outline questions and answers of high quality, like the Question of the Week.

  • Interview interesting users, making one at a time feel part of the community. Why did we stop doing this?

  • Get people to write about their stories. Take Ivo's hard drive crash, that's actually news...

    Such blog posts are easy to write and require answering a few questions and reforming it into a few paragraphs. Ivo probably wrote more text to us about his problem than a blog post would take...

    • What has happened?

    • What was the cause?

    • How has it been resolved?

  • On a monthly basis, award new low reputation users that really spent the time on an answer with a bounty and blog about it. Moderators have reputation enough for this, probably some high reputation users want to jump in with this idea too. Or perhaps the Community user...

  • ... brainstorm more ideas that makes our Super Users feel special ...

None of these really require much research or time, with this mindset time is not a problem anymore. Length doesn't even matter, neither short or long is bad and it all depends on how much is written. Writing a bit less if you don't have time is fine!

What do you think?

  • First of all, thanks for your answer. I like the ideas at the end. Why did we stop doing [interviews]? – I also thought they were quite entertaining. I know what you say about length. When looking for questions of the week, you'll find a lot of questions that are interesting, but the answers certainly aren't – or at least they're too short. – slhck Nov 29 '11 at 20:51
  • I think Interviews would be really cool, we've got a lot of great users here. – Simon Sheehan Nov 29 '11 at 20:52
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    What really makes me wonder is how all our efforts to gather contribution (like you said, contests, "tell us your story" blog posts) failed to attract attention. Is there any reason for not wanting to participate? I was really excited about writing my first blog post. – slhck Nov 29 '11 at 20:52
  • @slhck: It seems to only have had 283 views. The daily amount of views on the blog itself is around 500 views and I can't tell how much views saw it on the front page. So we got half a day of views in total. I guess most people read it and then forgot about it. Perhaps computing history wasn't interesting enough? A system message is way more effective given that it stays and is more personal, but you'd have to make it simple to do and interesting in order to succeed. Unlock the interest of the user... – Tamara Wijsman Nov 29 '11 at 21:03

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