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One Thing Create Blog

Your voice can be heard! The Developers have given the Geek community the ability to blog. An informative blogs wiki has been setup to go over the details of how to setup a blog. What's missing from that tutorial are some fundamentals which I'd like to address here.

What is Blogging

Blog is the shortened and often used form of the term web log. A blog is usually written by a single person (though collaborations are possible and supported) and provides a sort of soapbox where a person can voice their opinions or share ideas on various topics and invite commentary and feedback from others. Entries in a given blog are shown chronologically - with the most current blog entry at the top. Blogs can be hosted on a variety of sites - including your own server if you feel so inclined. Many blogs, however, are setup to run on an existing server and are hosted for you (like http://wordpress.org or http://blogger.com). The Geek offers this free blog hosting service for every member (and you can host more than one blog on our site if you so choose).

A feature common to all blogs is an RSS feed. This allows your blog to be subscribed to and followed by individuals, groups, etc. It also allows Facebook and Twitter integration. This is above and beyond the normal Subscription services provided by Geek members - so users who want to follow your blogs do not need to be Geek members themselves.

Why Blog?

Some people blog as a form of online diary. Others use it to get their ideas and opinions out there for public commentary/viewing. Still others use it to help grow their professional careers - often "professional" blogs showcase some level of expertise on a given subject which lends credibility to the author. Some use blogs to spread news items about a product or design they are involved in. A small team can use a blog as a collaborative tool to pull together ideas. But for most people, it is a creative outlet where they can share ideas and invite feedback on any subject they have passion about. Being passionate is almost a prerequisite for a good blog.

Blogs vs. Forum Posts

Why would you blog an idea vs. make an RPG Geek forum post? There are two main reasons:

  • You want your post to be indexed (by blog crawlers and google - you can assign keywords to every blog entry you make) and read by people outside the Geek community.
  • Your post is only peripherally related to the subject matter discussed on the Geek forums (for example, you want to discuss topics that are not always game related).

If you are putting up a review for a game or a session report, we would still recommend you put those directly into the Geek database system - you can easily link in a report, thread or review from our database directly into your blog should you want to do that. If you have a comment on a game or want to ask a question about a game - the forums are still the right place to do those things. We don't want blogs to take away the amazing forum discussions that take place - they are meant an another creative outlet for people to share ideas (which may or may not be game related). With your blogs, you don't have to worry about what's "on topic" - and you can get a bit more personal in your writing. It's your blog, after all! You are free to write about whatever strikes your fancy. Obviously as we are all gamers there is likely to be game-related content mixed in with a host of other commentary.

You have some level of control with your own blog as well. You can lock down or restrict comments to a subset of people. Remove comments that you feel are out of bounds, etc. You have almost complete control over the levels of access your blog permits. This is your own personal forum - use it wisely!

Why Choose Geek Blogs?

There are a number of sites that will host your blog. But not every site offers the features found here at the Geek. Some reasons you might consider hosting your blog here:

  • Direct integration with the database system. You can link directly to games and when someone visits a game entry they not only see the normal forum activity surrounding the game but also any blogs which have mentioned the game. You'll draw in visitors just from the normal database use (and the database sees millions of hits per month). You also have access to hundreds of thousands of game images which you can integrate into your blog posts.
  • Geek Subscription system - possibly the most powerful subscription system on the planet is fully integrated with Geek Blogs and allows those who have a Geek account to subscribe to your blog (in whole or in part) seamlessly. This level of subscription cannot easily be replicated by the RSS feed.

Tips for Successful Blogs

  • Blogging takes some level of dedication and commitment. Blogs that are seldom updated or are not focused tend to fade before long. The idea is to get people interested in the content and to keep them interested by posting frequently. What is frequently? Some bloggers post multiple times per day. Others post a few times per week. If you end up blogging once per month (unless you're doing it just for your own personal online diary), it's probably not likely to be a successful blog. While you can blog about anything and everything - keeping a focus on a particular blog tends to keep people subscribed and coming back. If every blog post you write is radically different subject/topic than the last, you are likely to not have many followers as they just can't be interested in everything you have to say. Much better to have a steady three-times-per-week blog about your design of a new game system than a haphazard post-when-you-feel-like it rant on a wide variety of subjects. Both can be viable blogs - but the former is more likely to attract a following that will stick with you and your writing.
  • One nice feature of most professional blogging sites is a publish schedule (and Geek Blogs offers this). You may find it easier to write three articles on the weekends and have the Blogging system post them for you on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This way you provide a steady stream of content even if you can't be near your computer during the week (vacations, etc).
  • How long should your blog posts be? That's up to you. Generally, successful blog posts are reasonably short - a few paragraphs makes for quick reading and won't tire out the reader who is often pressed for time in this age of information. If your posts ramble on you may fall into the trap of the dreaded TLDR (Too-Long-Didn't-Read). You also want some real meat in your posts - a quick two line post isn't likely to really be all that thought provoking (and you're better off posting quick tidbits via Twitter or Facebook).
  • Blogs are archived for future generations of readers. Don't post anything that you wouldn't be proud to stand behind in a year or even a decade.
  • Try to have a consistent style of writing (which will likely develop and improve over time). Writing is a skill that is honed and perfected over time. Your readers will come to enjoy your unique writing style as much as the content you write about.
  • Bloggers (those who write blogs) have, in the past, been notorious for not worrying about spelling or grammar. I'd ask that you take some care in your writing. While blogs don't have to be perfect (it's the content and message that count) your readership will appreciate some care when crafting a blog. Well-written blogs are never a turn-off (where as sloppy blogs may be). Your audience will be small enough - don't do anything to make it smaller still!
  • Although the focus of what you write is your words, a blog entry can contain pictures and embedded videos. The Geek Blogs make this a snap - you can link to any of the hundreds of thousands of photos already in our database (so, a picture of pretty much every game ever is at your disposal). You can embed Youtube videos directly in your blog posts as well. Feel free to spice it up but remember it's your written content that is most important.
  • Don't get discouraged if your posts don't draw comments at first. Keep at the craft of writing. Keep to your posting schedule and write, write, write! It takes time to build up your content and gain a readership.

What are the content rules for posting a blog entry?

Pretty much the same as our community rules for posts. It basically comes down to being respectful in your blog entries. You are free to use the occasional swear or go on the occasional rant but please keep these to a minimum. You can obviously talk about non-game related content as this is your own personal blog, and non-game blogs are allowed. It is not yet clear whether topics of religion, sex or politics can be discussed in a blog entry. At this time, blogs on the RPG domain will allow a modicum of tolerance for these normally taboo subjects and allow the blog author to discuss them in moderation as part of your normal blogging activities. Obviously, blogs that are setup specifically to discuss the topics of religion, sex or politics are forbidden (even if gaming content is featured in them occasionally). When posting about one of these topics please tag your blog appropriately with 'religion', 'sex' or 'politics' as the case may be so people can avoid it if they choose.

Promoting Your Blog

Your blog will have a URL which you can give out to let someone read your blog entries (chronologically - most recent first) without them having to subscribe (if they like your material, they can always subscribe by clicking the RSS feed button). Your readers don't even have to have a Geek account of any kind (though they will need one if they want to post a comment). For example, Jaime Lawrence's Mann-ing Up! blog can be accessed at:

http://rpggeek.com/blog/13/mann-ing-Up!

When you create a blog, you'll get assigned a blog number (Jaime's is #13) and your blog title is whatever you choose. So you'll have a unique URL you can pass along to friends, publish on other websites, etc.

For further promotion within the Geek itself, you can buy mb which allows for a custom URL so you can point back to your blog directly.

You can also easily Tweet your blog if you have a Twitter account or post a blog entry to your Facebook page. Little 'Twitter' and 'Facebook' icons sits below each blog entry for you to cross-post your blog entry quickly. Others are also allowed to Tweet your blog entry or post it to their Facebook page if they find it suitably interesting. You can bet the Geek will keep up with all of the social media networks in the future.

If you are blogging about a particular niche subject, you should really get involved in commenting (politely and on-topic) in other blogs which cover similar topics. In this way, you can often build up a bit of a cross-following to your own blog. Do this by contributing meaningful comments to other blogs - don't just spam other blogs to get your feed out there.

Of course you can also just write a blog for the sake of having a creative outlet. An online diary chronicling some passion in your life is valuable - even if you're the only one reading it a year from now.

Get Writing!

That's it - the blog system will likely see improvements over time but it's up and ready to roll. It costs nothing - is available to all members and is a great creative outlet. Now it's up to you to find a niche to write about and start blogging. Your blogs will show up on the front page of the Geek and, if your subjects are interesting, your content meaty and your writing clear - you'll get followers and comments. One of the greatest gifts we can give is our shared ideas and thoughts - don't be afraid to contribute to the global community!

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

For the technical details on how to setup a blog, please see the aforementioned blogs wiki.

.

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.

Dom Dilillo

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