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Today we got a blog, and for now I have an admin account. This post serves both as an announcement and for checking with the community on how to run the blog.

How it could work

Make sure you check the chatroom for blog-related discussions! It'll be easier to keep up to date with blog related things if we don't need to browse through a long backlog like in the main room.

People who would like to write a blog post can contact a blog admin, and ask for a blog account. With a blog account you can start working on a post, and save the draft for later. When the post is ready, it'll be possible to share a temporary link to the preliminary version (posted in chat), so it can be reviewed (including code review). We'll also need some editors/proofreaders (preferably native English speakers) who can go through the posts and fix mistakes (let me know if you can do this!) When you think that the post is ready, it can sit in a queue until it will be published according to a schedule.

The schedule

I propose that we try to follow a regular posting schedule to make sure the blog will not stall. I suggest we start with only 1 blog post per month, and increase the posting frequency if the queue is filling up faster than the posts are published.

This means that posts may be published a a couple of weeks later than when they're actually written, but I think it has two important advantages:

  • It makes sure that we can keep a schedule and won't run out of posts
  • It'll let people write posts when they get the inspiration. I want to make sure that people won't write post "because it's time for a new post". It's very important that writing should never become a chore for volunteers. We can accept posts whenever they come in, and keep them in the queue until they can be posted according to the schedule.

We should be flexible on this though.

Pages

In addition to blog posts, WordPress lets us create static "pages". Here's an example (the default). Not all SE blogs have an About Page, but many do. Here's the one for Gaming.SE. The About Page of the SE blogs I checked contains some description of what topics are posted on the blog, and a link to a description about how to contribute posts (as well as the chatroom).

I think that right now we don't need an About Page similar to these, as it'd create the feelings that the topics are restricted. But a page about contributing might be valuable (which will make it necessary to describe what kind of posts can be contributed).

What do you think about this? Should be have an about page for the blog and what should it contain?

Other things

  • MathJax are supported. See here if you're interested in CDF support. Hopefully notebook attachments will be supported as well.

  • It was suggested several times that we post the first post when the site graduates, and that it could be an introduction to the site, with links to interesting posts. What do you think? Any co-authors who'd be willing to work on this?

  • Congrats Szabolcs! – Dr. belisarius Jun 26 '12 at 15:00
  • The "Here's an example" link gives a 404 for me. Unless the 404 error page was meant to be the example, I'd suggest fixing the link. – celtschk Oct 7 '12 at 11:58
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All great suggestions. One thing I want to draw attention to: even just taking the proposed blog posts in this question, we have at least 18 topics there ( I say "at least", because some suggestions were for series, notably from @R.M.). This means that, should we post once per month, we can already fill a year and a half.

But what I consider more important is that once per month schedule seems to not match the fast rhythms of our community. Even between unrelated posts, one month break seems too much. And for blog series, one month break is a killer. As much as I am conservative about other things, I think that we, at our current stage, can handle one blog post per two weeks easily enough. This may mean somewhat reduced participation of our blog posters in the day to day SE routine. But I think that even this would be good, since it may give better chance for less frequent and / or intermediate users to contribute answers, and not feel that Mathematica SE is a place full of sharks where a question does not live for more than 10 minutes :-)

So, to summarize: while I perfectly understand and totally agree with the concerns that we should not have our posters under pressure to post, I think that a post once per two weeks will better match our current community rhythms, inject more interest in the life of Mathematica SE, and will provide a number of other benefits for the community. And I think, with the number of people currently willing to contribute, we have more than enough resources to handle that. We can start slower, but IMO we will be better off by planning a two-week blog post cycle from the start. My two cents, as usual.

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    Of course I'd like to see a faster schedule too, but we don't have any finished posts yet, and what I heard in the SE blog chatroom is that volunteers evaporate quickly... When proposing one month, I simply wanted to make sure that we don't aim too high and we won't run out of posts after the initial excitement. Ultimately it should be the number of incoming posts that should decide the frequency, and I'd be happy to speed up things to even 1/week if it's sustainable. – Szabolcs Jun 25 '12 at 19:13
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    The important thing is though: let the number of incoming posts dictate the frequency and not vice versa (i.e. publish because we have posts, and not ask people to write more because we have a schedule). I think I should update the question to clarify this. Yes, I agree with you that 2/month or even 4/month is preferable if it turns out to be sustainable in practice. – Szabolcs Jun 25 '12 at 19:14
  • @Szabolcs Yes, sure, I understand the logic behind your proposed schedule. I think we can start slower, so that there is no pressure. All I am saying is that one-month break seems unrealistic in the long term, assuming current community trends. And I look not just at the number of currently proposed posts, but generally at the amount of daily activity of our community, etc. – Leonid Shifrin Jun 25 '12 at 19:15
  • Perhaps simply reading a blog on a faster schedule will motivate people more and it'll help sustain itself. It's too easy to forget about it after a month. – Szabolcs Jun 25 '12 at 19:16
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    @Szabolcs "Perhaps simply reading a blog on a faster schedule will motivate people more" - this is what, among other things, I meant by community rhythms. – Leonid Shifrin Jun 25 '12 at 19:17
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    @Szabolcs One more thing, which may not be clear from my post: I'd like to use this opportunity to say that I do appreciate your effort very much (and surely I am not alone), getting this blog is a great achievement! – Leonid Shifrin Jun 25 '12 at 19:50
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I've read the blog post proposals, and I already am waiting to read them!

Szabolcs suggested that we publish 1 blog post per month, which in my opinion is way too low to entertain an audience. I read a bunch of chemistry blogs, and the ones that don't get updated approximately once per week, I find a bit boring.

As was mentioned, we need to be careful not to exhaust the volunteers and the subject matter. This is why I propose a two-speed system, which shouldn't be too demanding.

1) Each month, publish one substantial blog post. Any subject is fine, as long as it takes more than a minute to read.

2) At the editors' liking, publish easier and faster to read posts.

I enjoy reading blogs and news, but I don't always have the time to read 2K+ words articles, especially if I have five or six of them in queue. That's why I suggest that our regular posts need to contain less than a thousand words, preferably around 500. The more substantial, monthly blog posts should be around 1000 words and up. This would, in my opinion, give a good rhythm to the blog and perhaps more people could contribute.

What do you think?

  • Again, the problem is: will there be enough contributions? The schedule should not drive the contributions: the contributions should drive the schedule. I am all for making it as fast as possible, but I think it's really important to avoid placing a burden on volunteers. Let's keep writing fun! Breaking up posts is a good idea to make the schedule faster. There were suggestions about some blog post series (e.g. going from MATLAB to Mma) which will naturally lend themselves to smaller posts. I think it'll all work out when people actually start working on posts :) (not yet afaik) – Szabolcs Jun 26 '12 at 17:09
  • I agree that the schedule shouldn't drive the contributions. What I meant by "At the editors' liking" is that there should be a pool of small posts and a pool of big posts. Once a month, we pick a big post to publish, and every once in a while (depending on the size of the pool) the editors pick a small post. – CHM Jun 26 '12 at 17:25
  • Yes, that sounds like a good idea, to have bigger posts on a more regular schedule and smaller ones as they're available! I'm just feeling a bit unsure as there are no posts written yet, and a post suggestion is not the same as a finished post ... I'm really looking forward to when people start writing and I hope we'll have enough volume to implement this suggestion! BTW if you'd like too contribute to, you know whom to email for an account ;-) – Szabolcs Jun 26 '12 at 17:36
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As the about page is just a default template, and obviously so, we will have to at least fill it in partially. It doesn't have to be limiting in any sense, as we could say we will talk about the site (mathematica.se) and Mathematica related topics. That leaves it open for a lot of contributions.

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What happened to the blog.....?

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    The blog is here: mathematica.blogoverflow.com I haven't had time to write an article yet, but Leonid said he was working on one. If you have something in mind, do ping me in the blog chatroom. I have admin access to the blog. – rm -rf Sep 23 '12 at 20:53
  • I was just puzzled as to why there's only been one post, and that was in July - which seems like a long time ago, although that could be the sudden arrival of autumnal weather here. – cormullion Sep 24 '12 at 9:32
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    I think a number of us decided that the blog would be a good idea and then reality intruded and we all got very busy. – rcollyer Sep 24 '12 at 15:10

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