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April 30, 2005

The Future of Opera Blogs - Why I Will Try To Stop Boggling About Opera So Much In The Coming Weeks

I am convinced that there are talented and articulate people out there who want to write about Opera. Certainly there must be more of them than there are now. Just in Opera Journals there must be dozens. I think that while certainly having a prize for the top Bog at the end of the month is a good thing, I'd suggest that Opera work towards rewarding the top say 3-5 bogglers, so that there is more room for people to feel an incentive to write more and better. And really just to show up and submit their feeds, even if they post once or twice a month. A lottery for showing up perhaps.

Certainly having a top prize is a wonderful mind concentrating force, if only to let people know that number one is the place to be and that all others are about to go (more or less) unrecognised. I know it's made me more willing to devote my time to writing about Opera - to a point that probably isn't as productive as it should be - though I'd challenge people find something I've written that was unwarranted, or not at least in some way funny.

I can't honestly say that I've contributed entirely constructively to the community here, except to get at least some people to write more than they would otherwise. Conversations are always good. I'd hope that when I'm not trying so hard to monopolise the front page, that people will be encouraged to add their feeds and have a more rounded conversation about Opera.

Also I'd encourage Opera to implement a summary page for the posts - full text posts would be a bit much to ask. That puts less pressure on people to game headlines, when they know that part of their preview/extract will be available. I suppose it'd be too much to ask for Opera to archive posts, but perhaps to allow more than just 5 posts in the entirety of the site - sure, limit the number of posts on the front page, but older posts should be allowed some space, if only for continuity.

A randomiser would also help to even the playing field, just as it does with Opera Journals. Also a ranking by most commented, last commented etc. would introduce some variety from the click-through ranking.

An RSS feed for the Opera Blogs page is essential.

It might also be useful to have parsed(?) feeds for each boggler - so that there can be a ranking for most subscribed boggler (the highest prize should go there, if it can be verified) - presumably some people will only want to read these people when they're writing about Opera.

And speaking of feeds, users should be allowed to manage their own feeds. They should be allowed to change or remove them if they wish. Perhaps they should also be allow to choose whether all their posts should be submitted, or just those with the word Opera. For instance, OperaWatch shouldn't have to conform to the latter requirement, since even when it's not boggling about Opera, it's still relevant to the users etc. Making people *have* to use the word Opera (unless that's the only way they know to seperate their posts), is a rather odious way of going about things. Obviously moderators will be needed to make sure that the feeds correspond to the member claiming ownership, that the feeds are actually Opera related, and if the filter is waived, that all posts are relevant etc.

When it ends up being a couple of sites duking it out so aggressively for a top spot, it can turn people off. The best way to combat this is to have a *lot* of people writing. There must be some way of maintaining hope for people to win just by participating, and some way for people falling behind to get a push - a featured boggler, perhaps on the main Opera page (a prize in itself) or the My Opera page, or just pinned at the top of Opera Blogs. A post of the day or something.

Personally I'm happiest about the fact that this has boosted my circulation - I can't believe the amount of hits and page views, not to mention unique users, I've been getting since I started Boggling Opera - helped not a little by Asa Dotzler :P. And I would think that's what most people would want to get out of it.

But most important of all, is that Opera Blogs should become more than just a sub-section of My Opera. It needs its own, prominent, place - bloggers.(my)opera.com perhaps? weblogs or blogs could be confused with these being dev blogs or competition for Opera Journals. If you want to make use of your fan base to evangelise honestly their feelings about Opera, it needs to have a bigger audience than the choir that is myopera. It would also be damaging to the reputation of the project and the intention of evangelism if it were to become too much of an echo chamber rather than address a broad spectrum of interested and potential users.

Only Nixon could go to China. And I have two words for you: Empress Sato.

Posted by subtitles at April 30, 2005 10:43 PM | Opera Boggling

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