For the last 4 years the blogs featured on the front page have been recommended in a informal way - soon your recommendations will determine this.
One of the best things about travel blog is that right there on the front page, great blogs are featured, they change every hour or so - as the blogs are published.
The way featured blogs were chosen was ad-hoc - suggestions in the forum, filtered by the administrators of the site.
Soon - the number of recommendations from travel blog members will be counted and determine which blogs appear.
For a preview of blogs that would have appeared see: this page
I hope no one is disappointed - some of the current front page selections may not be featured - the aim of the front page is to feature exciting blog entries, that entice the reader, variety is hoped for.
To recommend a blogger:
1. You need to be a blogger - and have used the site to write about your travels.
2. Click "Recommend" - on their homepage or any of their blog entries. One of the blue buttons on the right.
It should bring new talent to the fore - and keep great entries on the front page.
This makes sense! Travelbloggers have had plenty of time to add their favorites to their lists, and hopefully this forum post will encourage others to suggest the best! I recently discovered an independent traveller visiting the most remote and 'dangerous' parts of the world who writes great blogs and takes fantastic pictures- Where's Kevin?
- how could it be possible that I am the only one who reccomends him?! Recommending favorites makes Travelblog.org better AND motivates others to see this incredible planet... Arguably THE best planet in the Solar System!
Ali, since this is a bit of a business for you there may be some considerations that you wish to think about before moving to a purely recommendations format. I assume that travelblog has a wide variety of readers from many age groups and backgrounds. This may present an unfair advantage for your readers who like people like my wife and I but don't necessarily like older travelers like Alan and Donna (who regularly show up on the front page). With less older readers on the front page, you may miss a whole population of people who like to read travelblog but aren't as computer savy as people like you, me and Stephen. You may want to include some people like Alan and Donna on the front page even though they have fewer recommendations so that the older, less computer savvy contingency still has front page blogs to read now and then.
Also, have you considered that many people, like Kel and I, only got recommendations because we were on the front page? It would have been tough for us to acquire recommendations because of the volume of travelblogs that people would have to sift through to even find ours. There aren't many people like Stephen who are really willing to spend serious time sifting through blogs to find the good ones.
In Stephen's defense, I use his recommendations all the time because I don't have the time to find the good ones yet he always seems to find them. Kepp up the good work Stephen, I like your recommendations!
Hey Ali - I think the idea makes sense, but Mike makes a good point. Also, throughout our travels we met a few bloggers and to find their blogs easily, we added them to the recommendations. I saw that you tried to differentiate between friends, mutual recommendations and actual recommendations, but it does not look like it is fully working yet. Or how do I add people to friends rather than recommendations? Maybe just another thing to clarify 😊
I have to agree with the Ginger nuts. Sometimes I add 'recommendations' just to be able to find them easier. Also I think Mike makes a good point about age, but I dont care what someone's age is- if I like their pictures and stories Ill recommend them you know? Sounds like a simple differentiation between friends, bookmarks and recommended blogs would help
It would be interesting to know just how much the recommendations feature has been used. From my own browsing, I'd guess that half the recommendations are due to people recommending themselves (!) and half of the rest are for a handful of well-known bloggers. TeamTurner definitely make a good point that being on the front page and your chances of being recommended are correlated.
In order that people have exposure to other bloggers without having to actually lift a finger, perhaps some number (3?) of random blogs could be displayed on your home page when you log in? This could be configurable so that you could specify which countries/regions/towns you'd be interested in (which personally is how I tend to look through other blogs anyway). At least that way people would see non-front page blogs and without having to ferret around to find them.
As with any attempt to create ratings, it will only be over time that enough recommendations are submitted to make the process statistically significant and reduce the effect of cronyism. I don't know what threshold criteria Ali will put in to mean that a blogger has enough recommendations to warrant appearing on the front page, but currently I would think it would have to be pretty low in order to ensure that it's not the same small number of bloggers that always appear there.
I disagree with the suggestion for affirmative action for older bloggers. As Stephen Paul says, it's not just older people who are interested in what other older people are doing. Also, if someone has had the technical nous to set up a Travelblog account (which they would need to do in order to be able to recommend other bloggers, and which they presumably did because they intended either blogging or contributing to forums), then I doubt they're going to be stumped by the recommendations procedure.
Why not set a limit to the reccomandation number? I mean, if everyone reccomends as many as 20 or even more bloggers, very soon there will be so many featuring in the front page that on one hand no one will actually browse anymore in order to find new good ones and on the other hand, the entry shifting will be so quick that those with no constant access to the net (those on the road, it happened to me already more than once) won't even have the time to keep up with them.
By setting a maximum number of reccomandation per blogger -say, 3 or 4-, people would only spot those bloggers they really like, not just random ones as quick links to their pages.
Also, I propose a system to ignore during a number of days new entries from those who update on daily basis so to avoid having the same blogger too often in the front page.
Just to note: I appreciate all the feedback - it will have an effect on what happens... but I'm staying quiet so as to not stifle debate.
I think that if the number of recommendations is used as a way to determine who appears on the front page, the administrators still need to filter and moderate the blogs that appear on the front page. Cronyism is not the only possible problem - I'm thinking of inappropriate content - bad language - incitement - racist abuse - pornographic images etc.
I agree with Team Turner. Everyone on this website starts at the beginning - no blogger immediately gets onto the front page with their first blog. Instead, they build up their reputation after many blogs, hoping that more and more "randoms" come across their blog and like it. Then these randoms recommend them to you (Ali) to put onto the front page, and subsequently they get further exposure and recommendations from being on the front page. By simply making front page blogs based solely on recommendations, you miss that first foundation step.
As a result many fantastic bloggers would be overlooked. Sure you can substitute that first step by asking people to ALWAYS recommend bloggers they like. But I don't think many people will favourite EVERY blogger they like. I really love and always read Ouaga's blogs, but I haven't "recommended" him. Like the majority of others, I rely on the front page to show me great bloggers as I don't have the time to find them myself. If you put the onus on us (the public) to recommend the best bloggers, then very few bloggers would make the front-page-cut, and the variety which makes the front page attractive would disappear.
Also, I've noticed that many recommendations are of bloggers who are no longer travelling (like Cumberland Sausage and Lovely Planet). But since recommendations do not distinguish between "past" and "present" bloggers, you may find that those who make recommendations quota would not actually be publishing blogs to make the front page. I'm sure that only a select few bloggers have ten or more recommendations, so if this was the quota you may not have many new blogs.
Finally from my own experience, I have an entire circle of friends that are on travelblog, and we have all "recommended" each other. As mentioned above, you have tried to distinguish "mutual friends" from "recommendations", but at the end of the day I am always going to recommend my friends... because they are my friends! I can't separate my friends into friends I recommend and friends I don't recommend. Hence all of us would satisfy your quota, even if don't have the most exciting stories, insightful opinions or best photos (myself included!). This would not be fair on other bloggers who are without a doubt better than us, but who do not have the personal friends on travelblog to help them reach that recommendations quota.
Id tend to agree with spruce and the others and stick with the current system if we can?
Agreed, Sophie. I loved the Rate 10 Random Photos link... I logged in this morning and saw it there and was overjoyed! It's also how I try and find a lot of bloggers.
As far as the front page goes, I think it's hard to find the balance between displaying new, relatively unknown talent and bloggers who are just well known (and deserve to be highlighted). I do agree that there are flaws with a recommendation system, either by people not recommending those that deserve to be or by recommending friends, etc. etc.
I think you're heading in a good direction though. I think one thing I would think would be beneficial would maybe to be able to rate the actual individual blog entries and have a system based on maybe how high a blog entry is rated or a member with a high average of highly rated blog entries. Or some sort of combination of what we have now and members' suggestions. Just an idea. 😊
Yay! It's back - for the moment, anyway 😉 Thanks!
I agree that only having recommended blogs on the front page will make it harder for new, unrated people to get recommended. If you have a few non-recommended ones on the front page, it gives the newbies a chance of some exposure and could unearth some hidden gems. As a compromise, what about having a "blog of the day" which is taken from a recommended list, and then a list of "featured blogs" underneath which are taken randomly?
and a suggestion: it seems some people are using the "recommend" option as a way of making blogs easier to find. What about adding a bookmark option as well? This would be particularly useful at the blog entry level as well as blogger level. Sometimes I see an interesting blog on the front page, but might not have time to read it there and then. It would be useful to bookmark that particular entry to come back to later....
My two cents - I find new blogs to read through the rating random photos tool and through the front page. Agree with above that at least a few new ones should make the front page, and also a few randoms (if this isn't done already). Putting randoms (checked for abuse of course) on the front page means that everyone gets a chance and undiscovered new fab blogs get a chance!
I like Marcoelitaliano's suggestion for a limit on how many bloggers an individual can recommend.
Also, I'm sure I'm not the only person who occasionally looks on the front page and mutters "Oh no, not him/her/them again!" when seeing an offering from a blogger whose style isn't one that appeals, so how about the reverse of the Recommend option? This "Non-Recommend" button, which I think would also need to have a limit on its usage (as well as possibly requiring anonymity for the non-recommender), would enable people to make a positive statement about bloggers that they do NOT like and would offset the Recommendations that the blogger had received. This would help to counter cronyism, as any garbage bloggers appearing on the front page purely on account of their friends/family would in theory be hit with a bunch of non-recommendations which would bring them below the threshold value for appearing on the front page.
I second Jabe's idea. there are a few front=pagers who I find distasteful and would love to not see anymore. It would be a tough finctionality to police though.
I think in all fairness not everybody's blog is some else's cup of tea, but we all have ones we prefer and ones we do not, but we must remember we all individuals and have differing tastes and we need to make sure this is fairly done, afterall what i may find enjoyable or not, is maybe wont be the cup of tea of the previous posters on this thread and i do not think we would want any system to seem like it was prejudicing anybody unfairly or not. Just my two cents, as i have seen some blogs on the front page from bloggers i have not read before and really enjoyed and some i am afraid i have skimmed by as they really were not my cup of tea.
I like LobsterCheek's suggestion about a bookmark icon. Photos on a blog so often catch my eye but I don't always have the time right then to go in and do a good read or review. I tend to then "recommend" some bloggers just so I can go back and find them easier when I'm ready to read. I probably wouldn't choose recommend as much if I had another way of capturing blogs to go back and read later.