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The community blog is over a year old, and is approaching it's 100th post (today's is the 98th). Originally an entirely community effort, it's now got official blessing and a tasty subdomain to the current site.

I started this post because I have concerns:

  • People seem to be losing interest in writing for the blog (myself included). Or, at least, the number of people active in the blog editors room has been dwindling away and the number of posts being worked on is currently very low (Unless some posts suddenly spring out the woodwork we have nothing to post in the immediate future...).

  • The blog doesn't seem to be achieving much / going anywhere. We've improved a lot since the last "review" and the March revival of the blog, and we get the occasional traffic spike (such as badp's redditing) but it doesn't stick. It just doesn't really feel like any progress is being made. Although what metric "progress" should be measured in here, I don't know.

I'm interesting on everyone's thoughts on these two points. And while I'm bringing them up, I'd like to have a look at how everyone thinks the blog is doing generally, so:

  • What's going well, what isn't?
  • Do you care? If not, could you share why?
  • What should we be doing moving forward?
  • Anything else relevant you'd like to add?
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I was approached a few months ago by Ivo to write something related to Dragon Age or Minecraft, but after looking at the blog, I put that on the backburner and eventually lost interest in it.

This is a general problem I have with all the Blog Overflow blogs, but when I look at the content, I don't see any overarching focus for the blog, nor do I see the unique level of targeted and proven expertise I would come to expect from a Stack Exchange property.

Take the actual site for instance: I really couldn't care less about 90% of the games out there. I only care about the 6 dozen or so games I've played or are interested in playing. When I visit the site, I only look at those questions and ignore everything else. In those questions, answers are generally verifiable in principle and are interesting enough to check out.

When I get to the blog, there's a bunch of stuff I'm not interested in, but there is none of the personalized filtering I get on the main site nor is there any natural quality control afforded by community moderation like voting or closing.

It's not to knock to the people are writing things they are passionate about: more power to them, and I think it's great people are interested in writing more about their favorite games. But I personally don't care about Team Fortress 2 or Battlefield or Frozen Synapse, so those in-depth guides are just noise to me.

And to the reviews and conferences: I don't know who they're supposed to be targeting. Outside of friend circles, when someone talks about a game, I think there are two ways you get people to care:

  • They provide a level of coverage not found anywhere else (first looks, exclusives, etc.)
  • The coverage is presented by a strong personality that you follow just to see what he or she is going to say next (e.g. shock jocks or YouTube personalities like TotalBiscuit, The Yogscast, and Jesse Cox)

I don't see either of these in the reviews and coverage posts on the blog: they aren't providing information I can't get from the dozens of other gaming blogs out there, and while I'm sure all the blog authors are perfectly nice people, they're total strangers to me.

Instead, if I want to hear what someone thinks about a game, I'll ask my friends or go to a source I know and trust.

So when I look at the blog, I don't see any posts there that are interesting to me, and I don't really have any motivation to contribute. If I want to talk about games, I have a ton of more personal options:

  • Talk about it with people I know on social networks like Google+ or Facebook
  • Ask and answer questions on Gaming.SE where I can get rep and find answers to things I'm stuck on
  • Write a post on my personal blog where I don't have to share any branding and there's a singular voice (mine).

If you want to get more people to contribute and care about the blog, I think there needs to be an elevator pitch about what makes the Gaming.SE blog not just different, but better than most of the other gaming blogs out there. If there is one, I don't think that value proposition has been made clear at all. It's clear why Stack Exchange is better than Yahoo! Answers: it's not clear why Blog Overflow is better than Wordpress.com or Tumblr or any other free blog host.

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    Yeah, most of the posts (or at least mine, but it looks this way for most of the rest) have been simply been about whatever the author was playing / thinking about at the time. Writing just to fill a gap, rather than with a specific purpose. This is why I've been losing interest too, tbh. Finding a focus is going to be bloody difficult, but I think you're right - we need something. – DMA57361 Sep 20 '11 at 8:14
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    many of these criticisms are microcosms of the same criticisms I have of gaming.se itself -- it is about "every videogame, ever". The gaming.se blog itself has been amazingly good though, just to be clear, but the problems you point to are baked in to the core of the site... – Jeff Atwood Sep 22 '11 at 2:19
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    @JeffAtwood Doesn't Stack Overflow in a way have the same core problems? It's about "every programming language, ever". Smaller dev communities and niche languages find a home there, so I don't see why Gaming couldn't work in a similar way. The key is reaching out to all the different gaming communities and getting the site's name out there. As more groups are represented, the site should become more useful overall. I agree that right now it can be difficult to derive value from Gaming, but it seems more like an issue of publicity than scope definition. – Adam Lear Sep 28 '11 at 17:06
  • @anna there are in practice maybe 10 languages that matter and are in practical use. There are in practice THOUSANDS of games people are actively playing on dozens of platforms .. not just consoles, phones, handhelds, macs, pcs.. – Jeff Atwood Sep 28 '11 at 23:19
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    @JeffAtwood Point, but questions about games tend to come in waves and once they're asked, there's less of a chance that someone will ask the same thing again but with a slight variation based on their own specific situation. Building a resources for gaming at least should have fewer quality/duplication problems. It ain't all bad. :) – Adam Lear Sep 29 '11 at 0:24

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