As my (still secret) project continues to take up most of my working time, I’d like to accelerate a plan I had on the backburner for the future of the blog, which is to throw it open to outside contributors. I think coverage of this beat would benefit from the input of collaborators. I see blog-related topics and stories flowing through my aggregator without my having adequate cycles to address them, and I know that some of my readers and some of the people who link to me could do as good a job as or a better job than I could of covering some of these topics.
I’m going to follow dws’s model of how to do this (from his RadioFAQs channel). If you’d like to contribute occasional content to RFB, here’s what you should do:
- Tell me you’re interested (email is fine).
- Set up a “Blogistan” category in your blog.
- Send me the URL for the RSS feed for you new category.
- Post any content you want to contribute to RFB to that category, including a credit link to yourself (so that if we use the automatic aggregtion of the muliauthor tool, the posts will not appear to have been written by me).
- I’ll do the rest.
I will continue to post original content as well, of course, but I will start to take on more of an editorial role as a guarantor of the quality and pertinence of the material here.
To do so, I am planning a three-tiered approach to content submitted by outside contributors.
The first tier will be discretionary, in that I will subscribe to a potential contributor’s RSS feed and manually post entries I feel are appropriate.
For anyone who consistently contributes content that makes it into RFB, I will proceed to the second tier, adding their feed to my multiauthor tool’s list of incoming feeds and thereby automating the inclusion of their posts (removing my discretion from that step). I will continue to make the decisions about what categories posts belong in and, most importantly, whether they are to appear on the home page. A contributor on this level will appear on a new masthead page as a staff writer.
The third tier will only come into play if a staff writer becomes so involved as to be willing and able to take on a share of the responsibility of deciding which categories posts should go to, whether to include suggested entries from outside contributors, and which content belongs on the home page. If this tier comes into play, RFB will have fully transitioned to a publication model.
I don’t know whether any of this will work. Maybe no one will want their content showing up here, but it will be an interesting experiment, and I hope it will continue to increase the value of this blog to those learning about weblogs.
If the content increases too quickly, most of the new contributions may appear in a special RSS-only feed. We’ll see.
Other future plans I have for RFB include reforming the categories. I’ll probably stop rendering non-blog-related categories here (such as fireweaver, memewatch, outspoken, and x-pollen), and add a few new blog-related categories, such as one for each of the major products.
Instead of using RFB as a central clearinghouse for my other blog posts (via x-pollen and the multiauthor tool), I’ll treat it more as a blog-about-blogging channel that can, when necessary, be fed from other blogs.
Meanwhile, I plan to move my personal blogging from Bodega (at Livejournal) to a new x-pollen site. This blog will probably become my home base, feeding other topic-specific sites as needed. On the one hand, I like the differentiation of separate brands for separate types of content. On the other hand, simplicity is a virtue (and a pragmatic benefit) and that other way (toward infinite taxonomical subdivision) lies madness. On the third hand, inertia is powerful.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in contributing links and thoughts about blogging trends and phenomena to Radio Free Blogistan, if you have an idea for a subbeat you’d like to cover (such as a product-specific column), or just want to discuss these and related ideas, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.