Jeremy Smith's blog

Entry Is Labelled

Trying to Develop a Way to Foster Group Blogs

The Mandel Center has started a blog, which they announced here. I wish them luck. There seems to be some difficulty with starting up group blogs for organizations.

I wish I knew what those difficulties were so I could do something to alleviate them. Time? Yes, it takes time to maintain a blog. Effort? Yes, it takes that, too. Don't have anything to say? You would be surprised — knowledge, news, and information you take for granted would find an audience if posted on your blog. Don't see any immediate rewards? Stick with it. It takes time to generate the buzz.

The Kelvin Smith Library runs two very successful blogs: The Library Services Weblog and The KSL Reference Weblog. Both of which have been featured in the news media and several library services monitoring web sites. Of course, there are also two abandoned KSL weblogs: The KSL Tech Blog and The KSL Tech Team News. I wonder why the former two succeeded why the latter two sputtered and died...

Well, granted, not everyone is a blogger and not every organization is well suited to using a blog. You have to figure, with something as new as blogging, that there is probably an 80/20 rule hiding in there somewhere whereupon only 20% of blogs actually become fruitful. But, looking around at other group blogs that have already sputtered out or are struggling to get started, I don't believe we are having even a 20% success rate.

The College of Arts & Sciences played with a blog for a short time before that was given up. I guess they ended up preferring hand-editing server side included HTML files over using the blog system... ??? The Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law has had some rocky starts and some spurts of activity. The SAGES Peer Writing Crew blog has long been abandoned. The Weatherhead School of Management has attempted to start two blogs – one at http://blog.case.edu/wsom and one at http://blog.case.edu/wsom/frontdoor (which only ever ended up consisting of one post) – both have failed. And, yes, there are others lurking in the shadows; abandoned group blogs set to undergo bit decay.

So, to the new crop of group blogs that have seemingly appeared at the same time (or thereabouts), good luck! Good luck, Mandel Center! Good luck, Dental! Good luck, School of Graduate Studies! And, good luck, Undergraduate Admission! If any of you need anything, don't hesitate to fire an email off to the Case Blog Administrators.

Comments

  1. gravatar

    I am one of the authors on The KSL Reference Weblog. We have 6 authors signed up, but so far two of us have submitted all the material. For a group blog to be successful, one person must be really involved and push its use. The additional authors become consultants and may post occassionally.


    In addition, we send out notifications to the other members of the KSL Reference Department so that they receive the information rather they participate or not.

  2. gravatar
    For a group blog to be successful, one person must be really involved and push its use.

    I agree. It seems that an "evangelist" is needed for a blog to work. One person that would be willingly to make sure the tide stays high enough for all of the boaters (a.k.a. authors) to reap rewards.

  3. gravatar

    I should probably, also, note that www.case.edu/its (which is just a proxy for blog.case.edu/its-news) and blog.case.edu/its-security could be considered successful group blogs. But, we've forced them to use it. I can't live without RSS feeds for my content. They get honorable mentions.

  4. gravatar

    I think that part of the reason that there's no activity on the Peer Writing Crew blog at the moment is that it's summertime and we figure that no students are reading, I guess. None of us are on payroll for the summer, either, so I expect that makes a difference.

    The thing that's prevented me the most is that I don't know how exactly we should use it. It should probably provide a more public face for us, but what sort of content belongs there? Links to writing-related sites? Tips on assignments? Dave used it last semester as a place to advertise open office hours. I'd love to revive the place, if I could just figure out what to do. And I also wish I had access to the stylesheets and such, but that's the designer in me crying out, ha!

  5. gravatar
    I also wish I had access to the stylesheets and such, but that's the designer in me crying out, ha!

    Why don't you have access to the stylesheets?

  6. gravatar
    Why don't you have access to the stylesheets?

    I don't know why I don't have access, just that I don't. On the welcome page for the blog, I see the following:

    Link to screenshot in case it doesn't show up.

  7. gravatar

    Hmmm... you weren't given permissions to edit the templates. I have changed that.

  8. gravatar
    Hmmm... you weren't given permissions to edit the templates. I have changed that.

    Oh, that's exciting. I may well have found this weekend's project.

  9. gravatar

    To play devil's advocate for a moment, why not hand-rolled pages? MT is a great tool, but it really isn't designed to be a general-purpose CMS. There's a very widely varying amount of comfort with the web in general among faculty and staff, and many of those who might be comfortable with a blog are probably already conversant with HTML. I just encountered this scenario today, and I'll probably recommend that the person involved keep hand-rolling things for now rather than sit down and learn MT's markup language, let alone something like Textile, simply because of the turnaround time necessary for her project.

    I wouldn't be at all surprised to eventually see a push for it in the College, but I'm not remotely surprised to see that it's slow to take off.

  10. gravatar
    why not hand-rolled pages?

    No syndicated feeds. No permanent URLs. No usable and search engine friendly URLs.

    Granted, one needn't use MT (or any CMS, for that matter) to accomplish all of those goals. It's just a matter of choosing a tool for the job.

    I guess, if one were so inclined, one could mish-mash together a series of small scripts and processing hand-edited HTML that accomplished all of that functionality....

    ...

    If one were so inclined.

    I would refer to that person as a "wheel reinventer."

  11. gravatar

    I'm not sure why there wouldn't be permalinks or search-friendly URLs in a hand-coded system; the syndication issue is a real one, but I don't see that it would be necessary in all, or even most, situations. But Blog@Case being the closest thing most people have access to that can serve as a CMS, so I suspect people are going to try to use it for things to which it's not going to be suited.

    I guess, if one were so inclined, one could mish-mash together a series of small scripts and processing hand-edited HTML that accomplished all of that functionality....

    Which is how I did things on my blog back before Greymatter was released, way back in the day. Heaven knows that if you're actually trying to write something with regular updates in the form of discrete posts, MT and other blogging packages are lifesaver.

  12. gravatar

    Thanks for helping us to set up our blog, Jeremy! It was recently recognized as a "Blog to Watch" in higher education marketing circles:

    http://www.thelawlorgroup.com/Lawlor_Focus_December_05.asp#3

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