Blogs vs. Social Media–From a RPG Blogger’s Perspective

Since I started this blog almost 10 years ago, a lot of fellow RPG bloggers have stopped blogging or moved their activities from their blog to social media. I am quite active on Facebook as well,but even though I haven’t blogged that often recently, I am not planning to close down the blog anytime soon. There are a lot of reasons why I will not do so, and I’ll use this post to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

RPG Bloggers of all countries unite … 
Back in 2008 the RPG Bloggers Network had just started. If I am not mistaken it were mainly the people behind the Critical Hits blog and Philippe-Antoine Ménard who started the whole thing. The RPG Bloggers Network was meant as a community of like-minded RPG bloggers and featured a central site which aggregated all member sites’ blog posts. The site was a hot mess consisting of a WordPress page with a RSS plugin which more often crashed and burned than not. But all these technical issues aside, it was my #1 place to go if I was looking for RPG-related news, interesting articles, reviews, interviews et cetera.

In addition to that the small, but growing community was very active. Everyone read everyone else’s posts, commented, gave advice, and helped new voices to be heard. It was an exciting time. Quickly the network had become quite large and reading a day’s worth of posts from the RPG Bloggers Network was akin to drinking from the proverbial firehose. It was not perfect, but it worked. A lot of people who started blogging in these days actually made the jump into the RPG industry.

Unfortunately the RPG Bloggers main site was exploding all the time. Maintaining it was obviously a chore, and adding new sites, editing member entries, etc. was a very manual process. It was pretty clear that this was doomed to fail eventually. I don’t exactly remember how things went down, but the RPG Bloggers Network changed hands eventually and the new owner announced a lot of improvements. But unfortunately not much, if anything at all, happened. The network still existed, but slowly it started to fall apart at its seams.

The Social Media exodus
During that time Berin Kinsman started the RPG Media Network, which was basically a social network for RPG fans, bloggers, podcasters and the like. It was actually a great alternative to Facebook and other social networks (I think MySpace was still a thing back then), and a lot of people in my personal circles were quite active there. Back in these days the trend to move one’s activities from blogs to social networks became much more popular. Why bother running a blog when you could just post stuff on a social network? Often it was also much easier to find an audience that way.

In a way, I agree. I still use social networks daily and I share links to my new posts on Twitter, FB, and Google+, but at least in my case, longer articles, interviews, reviews etc. are published first and foremost on my blog. One reason is that my blog is my own. It’s a self-hosted WordPress blog. The content is owned by me (and my co-authors) and I can move it to new hosting service if needed. If a social network shuts down you may quickly lose your content.

You can also easily lose control of your content, since the social network usually retains the right to use your material as they see fit. A debate about these rights was actually what killed the RPMN in the end. I don’t want to go into details here, since it’s ancient history, but if you are curious, there should still be articles about that kerfuffle on my blog.

Google+ is (not) dead
Eventually RPG fans, bloggers and podcasters begun to adopt Google+, the social network from Google. It had been called “dead” more often than I can count. And it has always been pretty far from the truth. Google+ has been thriving for years now – especially in the RPG community. Unfortunately it has lost a lot of appeal for me in the last years. Google has basically messed with G+ almost constantly and features I loved were dropped, while the focus of the whole network shifted. I have the impression that Google doesn’t really know what to do with G+, and it shows. I also noticed that the discussions on Google+ became a lot more hostile over the last  few years. This was among the reasons why I limited my activity there recently.

I’ve had problem with spammers, and trolls on this blog over the years, but it has never been as bad as what I experienced on Google+. Sure, you can block and report people, but it sometimes felt like fighting against windmills. Curiously enough I haven’t had that many issues on Facebook so far (aside from when I post about politics or religion). One reason why I think there’s less of a troll problem on blogs is probably because people accept that a blog’s your turf. If FB or Google+ are public places, a blog is more like my living room.

I also think that long posts just don’t work on social media. Sure, Twitter is limited to 140 characters (or is it 240 now?), but even on Google+ or FB, reading long texts is a hassle. Formatting is pretty limited. On your blog you usually have full control over how you present your content. As someone who mainly consumes content it’s also easy to miss interesting articles posted on social networks. In a way, we’re back to the “firehose problem” of the late RPG Bloggers Network.

Am I against social networks? Not at all. It’s a perfect tool to keep in touch with people, share ideas, spread news, etc. but for me at least it’s important that I have my blog to retreat to, if I want to expand on some of my ideas, to share my thoughts in some verbosity. My blog is my castle, so to speak. It’s also a place where people interested in my stuff will always find me. It’s a constant in a quickly changing internet world…

So what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think RPG blogs are still relevant in this day and age? Or do you prefer spending your time on FB and other social networks when looking for RPG-related content. Or is it actually both? Please share your thoughts below… or on my social media stream/page/or whatever it is called. Smiley