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Front Page - raising a few of the requirements.

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In summary you need 5 recommends, 500 words and 4 photos!
7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 21 Msg: #147561  
Finally a change that's for the best! Well done, Ali et al.!

I think that

- the Blogger of the Week-function is more than sufficient for new and interesting bloggers to get noticed and potentially appear on the front page

- 5 recommends, 500 words and 4 photos are good requirements for the moment

- a word limit would be a disaster (to me, that is); many of my favourite blogs were 10,000+ words

- if you like a blog, you'll take the time reading it, even if it has more than 500 words

- if you don't have the time to read more than 500 words, you'll miss some of the best blogs out there

- a 'quality control', as to what blogs are 'deserving' to be on the front page is impossible to implement; factors like too much negativity, whinging, offensiveness, etc. are extremely subjective; what offends you might entertain the next person, and I'm sure what entertains you bores the snippies out of me

- if a 'trusted front page-blogger' started spreading hate and propaganda, it would most likely be noticed soon after and (I'm guessing) dealt with in accordance with the TOS Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 22 Msg: #147569  
Apologies if the "word limit" comment has offended some. I'm not suggesting that it would be a good idea, I was just making the point that word count is not necessarily a measure of quality. Of course it is the quality of the writing that counts regardless of how many (or how few) words are used. Everyone has a different style, some people write several short blogs about specific events and others write about an entire month in one blog post. The variety is what makes this place so great.

Anyways, I don't disagree with the new requirements. The line has to be drawn somewhere and this seems as fair as anything. Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 23 Msg: #147570  

- if a 'trusted front page-blogger' started spreading hate and propaganda, it would most likely be noticed soon after and (I'm guessing) dealt with in accordance with the TOS


Yes, that is what would happen. And, with any blogger for that matter, not just the Featured Bloggers. 😊 Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 24 Msg: #147583  
I think the decision to increase the number or recommends makes sense: with more bloggers, bloggers of the week and a more interactive layout I'm sure there are lots more travelbloggers with 4 recommends now than there were a year or two ago. People with 5 or 6 recommends this year have about the same appeal as those who had 3 or 4 last year.

I agree that there are good blogs with few words or no photos, but I guess Ali has to think about how the site looks to someone checking it out for the first time: a good number of paragraphs and lots of photos looks more attractive to first-time viewers. Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 25 Msg: #147601  
It is Thanksgiving in America. I give thanks for my health, family and friends. My friends include the travel blog community.
Forgive me for the long winded posting you are looking at. I've had a bit of champagne while our turkey is cooking.

I do hope you will take the time to read this posting in it's entirety and challenge my views.

This thread discussion is what makes Travel blog the best travel community out there. We are having a calm discussion, listening to all who care to share their thoughts and allowing the community to have a say in any change that may impact fellow travel bloggers reaching the front page. I love Travel Blog.

With the thousands of blogs that are published it can be difficult for an "unknown" blogger to be discovered. When I sign on to travel blog I generally check out the front page first and if I have additional time I read bloggers that are not on the front page. I am fortunate to read several blogs each day. I imagine I read more than the average travel blogger. I generally read a couple before I go to work to put me in a good mood and to give me something to day dream about during my work day. I always read a few in the evening after work. We have some excellent writers on travel blog. We also have some average writers who are on a very interesting trip and I like it when they make the front page. Not all of us are going to be Hemingway, Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson, or Rolf Anderson. I am happy to read the blogs created and shared by this amazing community of world travelers. And let's not forget the amazing community of photographer's that we have on travel blog.

Over the past few days as we have had this discussion my thoughts have been further defined and I have benefited from the comments and views of others.

As Jason and others have pointed out it can be difficult to get the 3 nominations to get on the front page and 5 may be insurmountable for some. I do believe we should change the front page requirements and the one I personally believe is the most important is changing it to 500 words. I have heard the opponents to this plan but still believe you need 500 words to adequately describe and area or develop an idea. I think in the old days 600 words were required. With the statistics Shane has outlined many are on the front page with less than 400 words.

We had been travel blog members for more than 2 years before we were recognized and made it to the front page. We had completed our around the world trip and were back at work. I still believe some of our very best blogs never made it to the front page. So-- as others have pointed out it is difficult to make it to the front page.

Now for my more recent thoughts---
I am more interested in having the front page bloggers on the front page for a longer period of time. I am very excited about the recent change where additional bloggers are on the front page. In theory, this should increase the length of time on the front page.
When we first became front page bloggers it was not uncommon for the blog to be on the front page for two to three days. It gave others time to read the blog and as Jason has pointed out it generally resulted in us receiving more recommendations and additional bloggers following our travels.

My second focus ---- how do we as a community encourage members to recommend bloggers? Overall as a group I do not think we do this well. Many, many bloggers have recommend less than 10 and many have not recommended any at all.
I would like to recommend this become a separate thread. I think it is vital for more of us to make recommendations to other bloggers. How do we encourage that behavior?
Some thoughts we have had:
-- When bloggers join travel blog it would be great if they received an email encouraging them to recommend other bloggers.
-- When someone makes blogger of the week it would be great to encourage them to nominate other bloggers for the award and to push the recommend button on at least 5 other bloggers. There are many who have received blogger of the week and have not recommended anyone else.
--- Many of us have realized that active participation in the forums often results in others looking at our work and recommending our blogs. How do we encourage participation in the forums? Possibly another thread.

When I look at the bloggers of the week who are currently front page and only have 3 recommendations and will fall off the front page unless others take a look at their work and agree that they should recommend them so they can stay on the front page--- one of those is The Great Walsh of China
I feel she is an excellent blogger currently living and teaching in China and blogging about her explorations. She provides opinions and useful information for those who want to travel to China. I would hate to see her fall off the front page.

So-- what is the solution to all of this?

Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 26 Msg: #147605  
Other thoughts---

There is a blog forum called "Introducing" which seems to get very little attention by the travel blog community. I think it was an outstanding idea to focus attention on bloggers new to travel blog who bare watching.

A quick glance through that forum this morning shows that only 3 or 4 of those recommended have actually made it to the front page.

Again, it may come down to few travel bloggers actually recommending other bloggers.

I would like to propose a similar thread to search for seasoned travel blog writers. Each day I run across people who consistently publish blogs and have more than 50 and sometimes more than 100 blogs. I think we should take a look at their work. They have shown a commitment to utilizing travel blog as their forum.
I will post the thread. Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 27 Msg: #147614  
B Posts: 281
One thing that particularly drew me to TravelBlog back in 2005, was each blog posted was an expression of someones journey and their interpretation of the locale they experienced. I didn't care if there was 1 picture or 600, fifty thoughtprovoking words or pages of mindless drivel.

For me, what makes me read a blog, whether it be featured or not, is the locale I am interested in visiting next, and if I happen to see a randomly selected photograph on the front page that blows my mind I'll click it so I can see/read about it more.

Ali, thank you for TB! I understand your concept of having a 'Best Of' front page, after all, you have a website to promote. But perhaps now that your community has grown up and out, there should be a 'Features Page' for each Region??!?! As Linda Richman hostess of Kwoffee Talk says: Discuss amongst yourselves.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all my favourite American TB'ers! Reply to this

7 years ago, November 24th 2011 No: 28 Msg: #147617  

factors like too much negativity, whinging, offensiveness, etc. are extremely subjective; what offends you might entertain the next person, and I'm sure what entertains you bores the snippies out of me

- Jens

Sure negativity and offensiveness are extremely subjective and you "might" even find disparaging remarks entertaining as long as it's not directed at you, right ?



P.S Oh yes, Happy Thanksgiving by the way !
[Edited: 2011 Nov 24 23:41 - wanderinghobo:220159 ]
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7 years ago, November 25th 2011 No: 29 Msg: #147626  
Dave and Merry Jo, you should get on the champagne more often 😉 What a great post, even by your high standards 😊

Well, I wasn't even aware of The Great Walsh of China until you mentioned her and you are right, she is great. I've added her to my recommendations so now it will only take one more of you to do so and she will be back on the front page; problem solved.

This 'recommends' situation can be easily corrected, as you point out, through bloggers being more proactive. Recommending others, commenting on blogs and joining the discussions on the forums are all excellent ways of pushing yourself into public view. BoW and PoW are again great tools that also help to get those who are less known seen, as is Sophie and Dale thread where we can recommend an unknown blogger, which sadly doesn't seem to get used as much as it used to.

I would also second your comments on encouraging bloggers to recommend more people themselves, personally, I would even like to see this become one of the other criteria for making it onto the front page.




[Edited: 2011 Nov 25 04:09 - Cockle:46288 - Too much fugu last night!]
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7 years ago, November 25th 2011 No: 30 Msg: #147627  

Sure negativity and offensiveness are extremely subjective and you "might" (I'm guessing) even find disparaging remarks entertaining (amusing) as long as it's not directed at you, right?



I have to agree with Jens on this point. For me, some of the funniest blogs are indeed those that are negative or cynical and yes, even mildly 'offensive' (shock, horror!!!).

What you need to remember is that we are all different. For example: there's an entire generation of British and Australian humour built up around what you would term 'offensive, disparaging and sarcastic remarks'. It is part of our culture to get involved in the tradition of' 'piss take and ribbing' as we call it.

I have Asian friends, black friends and gay friends and we all have our little pet names for each other, that to an outsider may sound offensive. However, to us they are terms of endearment, a way of celebrating our individuality and a way to overcome the barriers being built by those who have such delicate sensibilities and who always seem so readily to take offence on behalf of others.

It's only in the last 10 years or so that the self proclaimed 'tolerant' have become intolerant and have tried so desperately to silence everyone with their PC claptrap. I would really hate to see that happen on here too.
[Edited: 2011 Nov 25 02:42 - Cockle:46288 ]
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7 years ago, November 25th 2011 No: 31 Msg: #147629  
D MJ Binkley, I loved your post this morning. I'm beginning to see the importance of recommending others and not keeping all the goodies just to yourself! I noticed you recommended WanderlustTarrants so I had to check her out too. She is not only hilarious but a great photographer. I probably wouldn't of found her had it not been for your recommendation. Oh! And bvchef is great and I'm now reading him thanks to you guys. Reply to this

7 years ago, November 25th 2011 No: 32 Msg: #147632  
Nick, thanks for taking a look at The Great Walsh of China and giving her a recommendation. I agree that she publishes quality work.

And.....can't disagree with your comment about the champagne......

Andrea has provided some good thoughts for me to consider.

Anastasia-- I'm glad we've been able to turn you on to some additional quality bloggers. I am glad you are recommending others. That helps others get to the front page or knowing that their work is valued.

Reply to this

7 years ago, November 25th 2011 No: 33 Msg: #147656  
😊
[Edited: 2011 Nov 25 09:28 - Go where the pepper grows:64633 ]
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7 years ago, November 26th 2011 No: 34 Msg: #147786  


So--- have the new requirements started?
Reply to this

7 years ago, November 26th 2011 No: 35 Msg: #147809  

In response to: Msg #147786

Yes, they have started. 😊 Reply to this

7 years ago, November 29th 2011 No: 36 Msg: #148026  
Wow! So now there's a debate about "negativity and offensiveness" - even "whinging"......?? Here's the thing: does Travel Blog want to provide a platform for useful and informative sites about what people see in the world (as THEY see it, i.e., their perspective), or does it want to promote a touchy-feely "nice" point of view where we all hug each other and swap holiday snaps?

I write somewhat edgy stuff from my own peculiar point of view. I don't expect everyone to agree. I hope when I criticise that it's useful to travellers and others interested in the ways of the world as I see them.

To the best of my knowledge (Kaleb you might want to check since you seem to be the arbiter) I've written just two critical posts in the last 2 years - one having a go at an airline (Qatar - they responded very well, which I appreciated) and one about Manila - which garnered TravelBlog more hits for one post than ever before. Not necessarily a bad thing when 99% of the comments I received agreed with what I said.

I've also written about places that (with respect) probably most subscribers don't go to - forward operating bases in Afghanistan (I got a lot of comments from relatives of soldiers deployed there thanking me for the insights) and places like South Sudan - actually I thought that post was rather uplifting. I've written (positively but realistically) about Buddhism in Thailand (probably another few illusions shattered) and night spots in Saigon - ouch there I go again, shouldn't be recommending bars, I suppose.

So would the new regime get me "executed"? Probably so because I'm not going to stop telling it like I see it out there in the world - and it ISN'T all huggy stuff in the world much as the young hopefuls might like it to be. Reply to this

7 years ago, November 29th 2011 No: 37 Msg: #148045  
B Posts: 5,186
Travelblog is a community ... I know cheesy but I don't have a better word for it. It doesn't mean we're are harmonious or homogenous (as demonstrated by this topic) - but we have a mutual passion for travel, writing and photography - and most of us really care about the site. Not surprising considering how many countless hours each of us has put in to our blogs.

By a fortunate set of circumstances (having the right skills at the right time) I get to make the final decisions on what happens... I like making the decisions - I hope I get them right (and I know I don't always) - I've learned that a decision that does not please everyone can still be the right decision.


This decision is the right one - we have to have a system for the front page - and this one is fair.

It deliberately sets up an element of competition to get to the front page - and usually assures that the blogs that appear there are of high quality. We don't have the resources to put in a editorial system - this is the next best option.

Eventually I'll have to increase the number of recommends, or put in a requirement to have 5 out-going recommendations as well - but the rules are the same for all - and therefore fair.

Back in 2004 before we had any rating system every blog was on the front page, sometimes entire days would go by with only drunken antics from European hostels shown (not always mine, I also think facebook has taken care of an element of this) - what we see now is a big improvement on that.

To anyone that wants to be on the front page - it is not that hard 😊 - recommend the blogs of those that you find interesting - others will check your blog out, and if you have something that makes your blogs interesting - will recommend you.


Now to answer a few more individual points;




Kaleb: add an editorial system.

It's a good idea - the but is - it's complex. Every additional feature that is added to the site increases the amount of effort to maintain it. Despite most peoples perceptions of TB - we have a tiny tiny team of developers/server admins - 2 in fact, the smallest team possible. So everything we do at the moment has to keep things as simple as possible.

We owe a huge amount to the moderators - though they don't have programming skills - with out them the site could not run. But they are volunteers - so another consideration is ensuring that it takes the minimum amount of their time.

Finally - We have a bunch of initiatives like Blogger and Photo of the Week that are specifically designed to add that editorial aspect to the site - and also keep an element of community there too.




Geoff - most of your blogs would qualify for the front page - enough people like your honest sometimes abrasive reports - others don't. I'm sure many people find my diving reports tedious - others are fascinated by the weird stuff underwater. No one is forcing anyone to read... ps. I still get hate comments on a blog from Thessaloniki I posted in 2005 - literally - "I HAAAATEEE YOU" - got that at the weekend.




Jon: "Ali has to think about how the site looks to someone checking it out for the first time: a good number of paragraphs and lots of photos looks more attractive to first-time viewers."

It's one of the most important considerations.




Nick: "I have to agree with Jens on this point. For me, some of the funniest blogs are indeed those that are negative or cynical and yes, even mildly 'offensive' (shock, horror!!!). "

me too - add in vulgar, disgusting and repulsive - funniest blog of 2011 IMO - Week 69b - Toilet Talk




Andrea: "But perhaps now that your community has grown up and out, there should be a 'Features Page' for each Region?"

I think so - and at some point I'll do the work required to make it happen 😊




Merry-Jo: "We had been travel blog members for more than 2 years before we were recognized and made it to the front page. We had completed our around the world trip and were back at work"

That is a huge issue - so many times I find a great blog, recommend it, only to have the next post be - "summary of our travels"

I agree it should also be a separate topic - I'm out of steam for the evening now - so I'll set one up tomorrow...




Thanks to everyone for the feedback - the most positive thing I get from this is how much everyone cares about the site.
[Edited: 2011 Nov 29 13:47 - Ali:1 - added more....]

[Edited: 2011 Dec 02 06:45 - Administrator B:102092 ]

[Edited: 2011 Dec 02 06:45 - Administrator B:102092 ]

[Edited: 2011 Dec 07 09:32 - Ali:1 - post snipped - now the reply makes no sense.]
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7 years ago, December 1st 2011 No: 38 Msg: #148158  
@Ali: Cool! I get what you say 100% and thanks for that. Reply to this

7 years ago, December 5th 2011 No: 39 Msg: #148326  
B Posts: 5,186
How can we spot more fantastic blogs in the early stages of a trip? - a little late! - but we can have the discussion now. Reply to this

7 years ago, December 6th 2011 No: 40 Msg: #148399  
Just FWIW I don't rely at all on being recommended or on being on the Front Page.

I use TB mainly as a portal/ blogging platform because up to now this is a hobby blog I do for fun, friends and my own record. TB is (fairly) easy to use - I leave aside server crashes, glitches, bugs etc., they are fixing them as they can with the resources they have - and is optimized to some extent (i.e., my posts get easily found by the search engines).

What I DO have as a strategy is to link my blog to a Quartermaine's World F'book page (much as I detest Farcebook - their support when I was libelled because of my Manila post on Q's World was laughably inadequate), to Twitter @Quartermaine where I tweet and to LinkedIn which I use for professional purposes.

The point being that if you want your blog to be read you have to have an entire social media strategy. Write to me for more specific advice on how to do this. Email address is on my profile page.


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