Blaugust: Free Ideas Lockbox!

Here we go, fashionably late to Blaugust Reborn 2018.

  • August 1st – August 7th – Topic Brainstorming Week – posts about ideas for topics that the participants can then mine for the rest of the month.

So a fun tip for all the WordPress blogs out there:

You can pull up a random post from way back when, simply by adding /?random to the blog link.

For example, https://whyigame.wordpress.com/?random will likely link you back to one of my rants written during my more prolific days.

This discovery has quite thrown me down the reading rabbit hole as now I’m starting to reread all my old posts (boy, I sure had a lot more ideas in those days) and then running around to someone else’s WordPress blog and sampling some ?random posts of theirs too.

Now there is no excuse for not being able to riff off someone’s else blog posts, because you can rummage in their back bin of history to vehemently disagree with their opinion of seven years ago.

treasurechest

Much like a lockbox, you may end up clicking and opening a bunch of crap first, but persist and you might get lucky and discover an ideas treasure trove that inspires a blog post of your own.

What is old is new once again.

And hey, it’s free and kinda addictive.

Blogger users are, sadly, out of luck on this one. It appears to take a lot more arcane coding beyond my comprehension to do the same thing on Blogspot. But hey, y’all have the best blogroll out there.

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NBI: To Blog or Not to Blog – That is the Question

Breaking News: Grumpy old fart pandering for relinking and pageviews takes controversial stance on starting a new blog in 2014.

He advises: “Don’t. There’s more modern means to start a discussion. And you won’t become famous.”

Sure.

If you want a lively, quick firing, discussion comprising of short sentences – there’s Twitter, Reddit and various forums.

If you want to be famous, try Youtube videos, assuming you have the face, voice and personality for it.

However:

If you want a personal platform to pen your thoughts, express your opinions and practice writing…

… AND produce content that people at work can sneakily read so they aren’t bored out of their minds…

Then

BLOG.

This post was brought to you by the Newbie Blogger Initiative 2014: Decreasing Work Productivity by 8% Annually.

NBI: Figure Out Your Blogging Goal

So you wanna start a blog

…now what?

There’s an intimidating blank white page that could be filled with anything… anything at all.

That, my friends, is a screamingly delicious recipe for writer’s block.

Before you know it, you’ve put the blog post aside for another day, which stretches into another, and then a week goes by, a month… Whoops.

Just as poetry benefits from some constraints on one’s writing, so too can your blog benefit from some restrictions on what or how you write.

The only caveat is not to make it too restrictive either. If you decide you will only post in three verse haiku about one specific game with screenshots to match, well, that’s up to you, but I strongly suspect you’ll get tired of either the format or the game eventually.

Some things I would suggest thinking about:

Blog Focus

The subjects you’d like to write about – one game, a few, many games. Will you be sharing other interests, or primarily just one?

I’ve seen blogs cover things like games and psychology, games and cooking (yum), games and gender issues, etc. and it’s not a bad way to give a unique concept to your blog.

Or you may just want to have the blog be about your unique take on games – in which case, a memorable name and viewpoint may be of some importance. Rest assured that we are all very different, if united in our love of game, and the moment you put words on the page, your voice will be trying to come through.

Post Length

This is just a rough guideline for yourself – how do you know when you’re done? 250 words? 500 words? A lot longer?

A general rule of thumb is that short posts are more frequently read by more people, whereas their eyes will tend to glaze over and scroll past 5000 words of squished together wall-of-text.

A short post also takes less time to write, and you’ll thank yourself later on slow days.

However, too short a post may also end up restrictive in that you may find yourself editing too heavily. Once you turn on the editor, it tends to kill off the creative freewriting portion of your brain that produces all the freaky ideas, so you don’t necessarily have to take a word limit to heart too literally.

If you’re like me and love walls of text, producing 2-3k words every time you have something burning deep down that you want to say – just bear in mind the tradeoffs. Personally, I welcome turning off the readers who can’t concentrate beyond a paragraph or two, I think it spares my comments bar a great deal.

It’s also good to break your wall of text up into short, easily readable chunks. Pictures are a very good formatting cheat that I use all the time. Or consider a two-parter post.

Post Format

Conversational first-person?

Letter style “Dear Reader” like Stubborn?

More formal third-person?

Picture and text caption?

Whatever else you can dream of?

Again, bear in mind trade-offs. An informal conversational style tends to be the easiest to write on those dark dry blogging days, but may not match the image you want your blog to project.

If you intend on putting pictures in every post, it’s going to be a barrier to posting one day when you don’t have any pictures or can’t muster the energy or time to find, take or edit any.

Post Frequency

Fact: If you want more eyes on your blog, a very regular and frequent posting schedule will have the most effect in getting more readers accustomed to you being out there and making your blog part of their daily or weekly reading. Especially when they’re bored at work and are looking for -any- reading material.

But not everybody has as much time as Syp to post twice or three times a day. 🙂

Trying to keep to a daily posting schedule may already drive you insane.

Personally, my advice is to try for 1-3 days. It works for me, with some flex slippage of up to 5 days or so.

You may note that I keep a calendar on my blog’s sidebar. That calendar is mostly for me. At a glance I can tell when my last post was, and I try not to leave too large a gap of white numbers in between the numbers with hyperlinks on them.

The idea is just to get in a habit of writing. This has a net positive for yourself as you’ll find it easier to get in touch with your inner voice and ideas over time.

It does mean that some posts you produce may be rougher and less well-formed than others. If your blog format/standards allow you to post those, go right ahead. If not, just keep them as drafts – they can be worked on and improved over time, or just kept as a record for yourself.

Your Motivation For Blogging

Why you even thought this was a good idea in the first place…

The suggestion many bloggers will give you is to try and find some internal motivations for why you’d want to sit arse to chair and type stuff into the ether.

Fixating too much on garnering views, readers, attention or feedback will automatically depress you on the days the Internet doesn’t give a fuck.

You may also end up adulterating your blog too much in the attempt for ever-growing numbers. (Little tip: If you do want to do that, one of the best ways is to post informational guides. Lots of short, timely informational guides. You can try being a Dulfy for your game of poison. It may end up being more work than play, but hey, if that’s your blogging goal, work towards that.)

But ultimately, relying on external motivations that are out of your control can shake your self-esteem, affecting how frequently you post.

Maybe you’d like to practice writing more consistently. Or practice the use of English if it’s not your mother tongue.

Maybe you just need a personal soapbox. Or a space to share your screenshots or stories.

Maybe you want to be a community hub of some kind, or just part of some community or another.

Keeping this in mind helps to direct what you’d want to do as well. Being a hub requires lots more socializing and networking and marketing than someone who just wants their own personal hermit space online.

If you want to be part of a community, then you have to participate in it somehow – read and link other blogs, make comments, engage in friendly banter and interaction, etc.

If a writing habit is your goal, then that is your prime directive that should be prioritized.

None of this has to be formalized or official.

A goal is not a set of chains binding you to a writ-in-blood commitment.

If your initial set of goals isn’t working out, feel free to change them on the fly and adjust and iterate as needed.

The idea is mainly for them to provide some needed guidelines so that you have a clue whether you’re headed in the right direction that works for you.

NBI: The Newbie Blogger Initiative is Back!

Got an opinion about games?

Taken a bunch of screenshots or have MMO stories you’d love to share?

Don’t like that your comment gets lost in a sea of inane utterings from people out to spam and troll, rather than engage in a discussion?

What you need is your very own blog!

This October, the Newbie Blogger Initiative is back for round 2!

Its goal: To create a community of game bloggers that can offer a friendly network of support and encouragement for any and all aspiring newbies who want to be part of that amorphously-defined “blogosphere.”

Throughout the month, sponsor blogs will be helping to promote the event and provide blogging advice.

They’ll be doing their best to be eyes and direct traffic to new blogs to assist in getting over that first hurdle where you proudly post something online and promptly deflate when tumbleweeds roll by and find yourself begging for even a bot to be interested in visiting…

My blog and I are happy to be living proof that the NBI works.

stats

I joined the tail end of the NBI in May, and as you can see, the first month of June was… heh.

Things have only gotten better from there.

I owe a big debt of gratitude to both Bhagpuss and Ravious, two venerable blogging veterans who somehow enjoy my writing so much they hurl traffic in my direction every chance they get.

Hugh from the MMO Melting Pot was also instrumental in sending initial visitors my way, and when MMO Gypsy Syl of the then Raging Monkeys (I still love that name!) stumbled over one of my posts, things really got rocking when I got added to her blogroll.

You know why I name names?

Forget the stats, this is the TRUE magic of the NBI.

It’s the people you meet. The exchanges you have. (Of hopefully friendly banter.)

The new blogs and wonderful writing you get to read.

All my colleagues and fellow alumni of the first NBI, I still read with avid interest and occasionally jump in with a comment – Eri / J3w3l, Ocho, Paeroka, Rakuno, to name just a few.

By starting your blog now, you get to be the class of 2013, with all the magic that happens when you have a collective to interact with.

Convinced?

If you’re a new blogger, here’s what to do:

Come by the Newbie Blogger Iniatitive forums and read this introductory post on how to get started with it all.

Then sign up, ask your questions, make your plans, read whatever surrounding resources you feel like and don’t forget to write!

For sponsors, it’s also not too late to join in the fun.

Pop by the forums to check out all the stuff planned in October, sign up as a sponsor and participate!

Blogging Cowboys of the Modern Age

Lately, the MMO “blogosphere” (if it actually exists) has been asking one question.

Where have all the blogging cowboys gone?

The answer’s obvious, isn’t it?

Some grew up and got older and prioritized other things to do with their time than write blog posts – like start a family, begin a new job, play non-MMO games, continue playing MMOs but not bother to chronicle or document it.

The others, well, they haven’t gone anywhere.

But as both the genre and the blog authors get older, interests have diverged, with a myriad variety of games to sate them.

Take a look at the sidebars of the two blogs I check out (MMO Gypsy and Inventory Full)  in lieu of Google Reader to see recent updates of other blogs (I’d love to do the same but default WordPress is crummy) and just scan the subject matter.

Bloggers are talking about WoW, TSW, GW2, Eve, SWTOR, Rift, LOTRO, Firefall, World of Tanks, Civilization, Minecraft, Sims 3, Planescape: Torment, etc.

I scan a good number of these because I’m an inveterate and totally unchoosy game sampler. I own or have played a good number of these, thus understanding the specific jargon used and have a moderate amount of interest in checking out how others are getting along in them.

But to be honest, my greatest attention and most in-depth read throughs are of my immediate game of choice, which firmly ensconces me in a teeny tiny community of three “regulars” – Ravious and Bhagpuss my other partners in wall-of-text-crime, and I’m beginning to worry that Bhagpuss is losing interest in GW2, which is going to leave Ravious and me in a lonely little echo chamber.

Semi-periodic updates and comments by Syp, Syl, Paeroka, Kichwas, J3w3l, Rakuno, Tremayne, Valourborn, Lothirieth, João Carlos, Ursan, and any others I unfortunately missed, let me know there is a mini-community of irregulars who still dabble with GW2 and/or are interested in reading about other people writing about it.

As part of a wider MMO blog community, I lurk around and read and idly comment on a whole bunch of other blogs from time to time: in no particular order, Rowan Blaze, Stubborn, Klepsacovic, Telwyn, Liore, Azuriel, MMOgamerchick, TeshRohanPsychochild, Tobold, Spinks, Saylah, and of course, Wilhelm Arcturus, who got this round’s topic discussion ball rolling.

And if you look at any of the latter blogs, you will see that they too have their own mini game specific communities of TSW people, or Eve Online players, or WoW stalwarts with whom they interact and whose paths I would rarely cross, being not a current player of any of those games.

In the so-called previous heyday, there was mostly only one game to talk about. World of Warcraft. Then later, the “generally understood” peak was the hype surrounding Warhammer when everyone leapt on the blog bandwagon.

Nowadays, you might say that MMO blogs have lost focus, or diversified, depending on how kindly or unkindly you wish to term it.

Personally, I think it’s just an unavoidable symptom of the genre maturing and more games being developed for different niches of MMO players. Progression raiders and sandbox PvPers and themepark achiever tourists all move in separate circles.

As the genre matures, commercialization takes over. News sites like Massively aggregate content and develop their own community. MMOs themselves create forum boards and form their own community nuclei.

And as the younger generation muscles in on older veterans’ territory, they bring with them their Youtube videos and their social media like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, et. al. all of which form different communities to compete with the blogging one for audience attention.

The community I frequent right now  (GW2 Reddit, GW2 forums, Tarnished Coast forums) will not be the same one as an Eve player, or a lost soul looking for the next MMO to satisfy them (Massively’s full of those.)

And that’s as it should be.

Blogging is only one niche of many. But it has a function that is hard to replace by other competitors. It serves as a repository of independent voices – subjective opinion and editorial, personal feedback and reaction, game design analysis, pretty screenshots and commentary.

A post takes less time to consume than a video, there’ll always be room for blogs, if people care to visit and write them.

In short, if you want a blogging community, it behooves you to form your own. Go visit and bookmark your favorite sites to read and leave a comment here and there. Develop your own circle and fellowship.

Some blogging cowboys have settled down, perhaps started families, and become townsmen and farmers and merchants and businessmen.

A few others have hung up their hats, having gotten tired of the existing trail, but still are itching to become pioneers, looking forward to the next gold rush.

Others have become spacemen or conspiracy theorists.

But they all still have interesting stories to tell, if you care to stop by and listen.