Drinking from the firehose

The RPG Bloggers Network is awesome. It helped new or virtually unknown blogs like mine to get an instant readership almost over night and usually you get a lot of helpful comments. The first few days in the network were a great experience. But great success comes at a cost and I think we are starting to see the effect.
Currently trying to follow everything that is written on the network is like drinking from the proverbial firehose. The community churns out vast amounts of quality content at such a high speed, that you just cant keep up.
And there’s another interesting effect. I am pretty sure that most of the traffic for most blogs comes from the RPG Bloggers Network site. With sometimes dozens of new articles coming out between the site’s update cycle it happens that your article never appears on the front page and is forever lost in oblivion. That can be frustrating.
So what can we do to remedy that situation? I have to admit, I have no instant solution available. If one of your articles gets featured on the main site, you probably get a lot of traffic for a short period of time but it’s uncertain if the readers come back. And because of the recent changes on the main site, featured posts are not as prominent as before.
One possibility is to advertise the use of RSS feeds. I use Google Reader to subscribe to the blogs that interest me and so I almost never miss a post. You can of course use any RSS feed reader you like.
Aside from that I have no idea.
Don’t get me wrong! I still think that the RPG Bloggers Network is awesome but I get the feeling that the success may not come without some injuries.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

24 thoughts on “Drinking from the firehose”

  1. I know what you mean. When i first signed up I was getting 40-50 hits from teh network per day and now I’m lucky if I get 20 odd hits. I’m still getting just as many comments however which is good.

    I’ve also found alot of people are going through the categories and reading from there but its still nowhere near the number you get from being on the front page.

  2. Occassionaly I notice on the blog network page that one site has multiple posts up on the front page – I think just showing the most recent post from each site might help somewhat.

    As the list of blogs grow they may need to be broadly grouped (news, fantasy, modern, campaign) based on the most regular content (or tag of the most recent post) and shown on that basis.

  3. Just to add to Chatty’s tease, we are definitely ALL too painfully aware of these issues that have developed. That said, don’t stop mentioning things like this because it’s good to hear what you guys think and to make sure we’ve heard all the problems.

    A lot of what is in the works is going to be organizational, so hopefully we can address many of these. Right now we’re dealing with a lot of back-end stuff, but we hope to be implementing some improvements soon!

  4. I use Google Reader to check all my blog subsciptions (from RPGbloggers, RPGbomb and Planet Story Games) as well as several friends’ blogs and various podcasts. Every day I just scan the ‘headlines’ and read whatever I want without missing a single thing.

  5. Another strange thing that I noticed is that some posts get a lot of comments and others are left totally unnoticed. And usually the post that get no comments have been read by under 10 people. In a way often luck decides if one of your post gets any attention.

    @Chatty DM: Can you share some of the ideas with us?

    @Fat Alibert: I agree that some of the more productive bloggers occupy most of the space on the front page but I have no idea how to change that without taking something away from them. I don't think it's right to only show the most recent post.

  6. @Tomcat1066: I don’t think this particular blogger is intentionally posting all his articles at the same time. It’s probably a technical thing. The plugin that puts all our posts at the RPG Bloggers site fetches all RSS feeds in certain intervals. And from my experience this interval is pretty long. So, if you post several blog post during that interval, they all appear at the same time, when the next update is made. I agree that the effect is the same, but I don’t think anyone would do this to harm someone.
    It’s also possible that the blog you mentioned is written by more than one author. So when they all use their coffee break for writing an article, they all appear at the same time at the RPG Bloggers site without this being planned.

  7. I know what you're talking about. It takes some tweaking to get the most out of the RPG Bloggers network. I get about 20-30 reads per day from the network. Yet somehow, I'm hitting all time highs for readership. I suspect RSS feeds account for a lot of that.

    There's one blogger in particular that I think sets all his articles to post at the same time, because there are often 6-7 posts all up on the network at once. I hope that is something that gets dealt with soon, since it pushes other posts off the front page who might not have been up there for that long.

  8. The RSS for the Bloggers' Network should contain at least 30 posts too, otherwise they do get dropped off fairly quickly!

  9. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's intentional or anything. But, like you said, the effect is the same either way.

    As for when they post, all of them have to be pretty close though. I post twice a day usually, but at signficantly different times, so that I usually only have one article on the main page. Instead, they must be posting on top of one another, or setting it for a single time of posting (not unlike publishing a newspaper I guess).

    Regardless, it is a lot like drinking from a firehose, as you said. The rest is all just fluff 🙂

  10. Currently the best way to take advantage of RPG Network is to

    post lots of tiny posts

    in short order so that

    you get more coverage on the RPG blogger network homepage and

    keep the readers coming back for

    more becuase you get more coverage if you

    post lots of tiny

    blog posts



    OK.. i'm being … (see next post)…


    Drinking from the firehose.. yeah… ihave something like 50 RSS feeds in my google reader now… can't get any blogging done with all these blogs to read.

  11. Hehe! Perhaps I am dumb by trying to write longer and better articles. It took me over two hours to write my latest Dungeoncraft post and it was almost ignored. Perhaps I should have chopped it up in tiny pieces to rule the RPG blogger network homepage. 🙂

    Just kidding!

    But churning out a constant stream of blogs is always a good idea. On weekends, when usually don't blog, my readership drops to almost zero.

  12. I've noticed a couple blogs as well that post multiple posts in a short span and all posts show up at once. It does seem a bit unfair in some way that one poster's posts can take up the entire front page of the Network, but on the other hand, if that's the way those people have always posted, is it really fair to ask them to change their posting method?

    However, on the other hand, being completely schizophrenic here, maybe it would be alright to ask posters to make a couple simply concessions to be a member of the Network? I mean, there's already a small list anyway, maybe one more "condition" could be made that posters have to space their entries a bit (or something).

    Anyway, I'm glad to be a member of the Network, but it would be nice if my posts weren't almost immediately shoved to the bottom of the page (or to the second page) once they show up in the feed.

  13. Guys, Please do not adopt new habits just to play the system… that would be disappointing.

    The Network exists to make readers aware of other blogs and no matter how long your posts stays on the 1st page, if your title fails to illicit interest you won't get readers, let alone comments.

    I say this with the highest respect but please do not let the addiction of getting comments so early in your blogs life color your habits and expectations.

    We are aware that the network's success has caused the lifetime of the 1st page to be very short. Now short of us acting as editors and handpicking a 1st page (we won't not our job), we should all focus elsewhere.

    Promotion of your bloig will be through content and you pushing your readers to subscribe to your feed.

    The network is there to remind people that you are there and to bring in new readers…

    Keeping the traffic is now your job, like it is mine.

    My 2 cents as a Blogger and as a representative of the network.

  14. Indeed. RPG Bloggers is already going through some growing pains. Which is good! I loved watching the short list of particpating blogs grow beyond the height of my monitor.

    When you reach a point like this in the development of a community there some hefty decisions to be made.

    I am not sure what the right decisions are, but you cannot ask bloggers to change their posting methods. So limiting the number of posts per blog would have to be aken care of programmatically with the RPGBloggers site.

    You also have to consider that some blogs are a co-op of several people, so how could you make it fair to them?

    Some of the easier things to deal with include increasing space, making better use of space, and perhaps adding a time release queue or "weight."

    Increase Space: Make the page physically longer.

    Better use of Space: Shrink non priority areas like the header/banner and links column. Merge the member sites into the links column. Move a few of the links sections into drop menus located in a horizontal bar under or in the current horizontal menu. Decrease font sizes, especially for post titles. If the member sites have been condensed into the links column, split the post column into two columns. Decrease the amount of white space between everything.

    Time release queue: This would purely depend on the average amount of posts the network receives and may not be plausible at all. But during peak times, queue posts and release them to the network after a certain number of minutes have expired (15-30?).

    Blog weight: The more posts you have on the front page, the faster they get pushed off into the archive. This would probably be the most difficult to implement.

    Just my obsvervations and suggestions. I love the network and I am confident everything will be smoothed out.

  15. @MadBrewLabs: I agree with all your suggestions and I want to add that we need a central place to discuss things like that like an official message board.

    A special RPG Bloggers News blog could also be interesting where the "powers that be" inform us about what's going on behind the scenes for example.

    As far as I know the only communication between members of the network is by commenting on posts – which is great – but why not give us a place to discuss freely?

  16. I've actually thought a few times that we need a forum for RPG bloggers, someplace where we could interact about blog issues (keep the RPG issues on the blogs where they belong). There's plenty of blog issues I'd love to discuss with other bloggers, without taking up space actually on the blog.

  17. I just got a feedback from a reader that's relevant on the "Members' side of the equation" (i.e we'll work on our side but we may need to coach members for better 'Selling of their posts":

    In that case, a little feedback for members, which you may want to pass on: Several of the articles I've seen so far have featured generic titles, and irrelevant introductory sentences, giving me no reason to read the article when reading from the feed. The articles may be great, but I've no way to know.

    A good example arrived just now:

    Using Speed of Plot: A Case In Point

    I received an interesting question from mikelemmer in the comments section of the last post. I responded to it there, but I think it'd be useful to post it all here.

    Here was mikelemmer's question:An interesting conflict involving this:My group was delving into an abandoned keep to stop …

    "Using Speed of Plot" gives me little to go on, and the introduction tells me nothing about the content.

    Mind you that post was among the best one written last week.

    So yeah work/nudging on both side of the equation is needed.

  18. I know everyone's hyped about the site and eager to try and suggest fixes, but we're still young, and not everything is as simple as it sounds. Please be patient with us.

  19. Interesting stuff, and a good points well said all round.

    I entirely agree with the points about your title and opening paragraph; getting that to grip the reader is essential, regardless of where your readership comes from, whether it's RSS, the RPG BLoggers Network or wherever. The opening paragraph makes or breaks your chance of clickthru. Ask any writer – that first paragraph is the most important one you'll write.

    That's got nothing to do with the RPG Blogger's network though – that's just savvy blogging.

    I'll confess that I'm one of the guys who will happily blog 2, 3 or more times a day, and that's likely to mean something from me might bump other (probably better) stuff off the front page. Does that mean I should not blog as often? Heck no! But it does mean I need to show some consideration to my fellow bloggers.

    I'm thinking of scheduling my posts so that only one RPG post appears per day. That way I'll have a healthy backlog of post that'll automatically come online if I don't have time to blog, but won't swamp the network. If there's a top topic I want to jump in with right now, I'll just move posts around to accommodate it.

    I'd MUCH rather voluntarily do that than have people feel cheated out of their place on the front page. Besides, I want to read your stuff too. I've already read mine 😀

  20. I tend to do a morning post, and an evening post (about 11 and about 6:30 Eastern time). that way I can say what I want to say, but I'm not really bumping anyone significantly.

    We all started blogs because we have something to say, so why not say it? No need to hold back things for days on end unless you just want to. Holding on for a couple of hours seems to work just fine.

    Of course, I'm sure someone will let me know if I'm wrong here.

    The thing to remember is that we all owe the RPG Bloggers Network a great deal, since I know I had almost no readers before, but I'm getting a fair amount now, and I know where that comes from. I'm sure even my feed subscribers found me originally through the network.

    Dave, Chatty, everyone else who's worked so hard on the network? Let me offer my thanks for what your efforts have done for The Geek Emporium. I couldn't have done it without you! 😉

  21. I think an interesting option would be if the Network had some sort of "Random Blog Feed" at the top of the main page that filters through all blogs that have been posted, say, in the last 24 hours. It could be something like the "Fortune" module that you see on a lot of forums, just completely random blog entries rotating every few minutes or so. At least that would showcase some blogs that have slipped down past the first page.

    Anyway, once again (and I can't say this enough), the Network is pure awesome, and will only get awesomer (yes, that's a word) as these issues get resolved.

  22. I think nobody should be forced to post less than he wants. BUT something like Ishmayl's idea could be very interesting indeed.

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