The Blogging Idols (Archive)

This is a logo of a B, not an 8. Idiot.

Greetings once more bloggers, casual readers, aficionados and obsessive fans! Doing like I do, I’ve picked yet another of the more self-aware topics in the MMO-Blogosphere. Of course, you could say that there are far too many blogging circles, friends, and networks for it to be something so simple as a sphere, and so I encourage you to imagine it as a dodecahedron instead. I’ll give you a bit to go and Google what a dodecahedron is (because apparently, I put in too many links.)

Done looking it up? Okay. I understand, it takes a bit.

……..

Got it? Gooooood.

So let’s get started shall we?

We shall. Although I’m sure not all of you do, I’m also quite certain that plenty of you read the blogs of others, yes? It’s just something we do. If we like blogging news, it’s only natural to find similar thoughts or comforts with other vocal members of the community. Some are personal friends of ours, some have the talents (or money) for their own personal domain. Others happen to run free Blogger or WordPress accounts, (in fact I’ve recently mentioned those) if you look through my previous entries. Pay no mind to that though, but focus on the idea that there are well known bloggers using all of the aforementioned sources. Sure, they may find the casual reader because of their origins, but they have ultimately drawn attention for other reasons. In my earlier mentions, I had been rather vague, so let’s shine the spotlight onto some people and take some analysis into the writing styles the others present to us.

Let’s start with someone I’m sure many readers are familiar with; Beau Hindman. In the MMO world, we could think of this fellow as part of a “celebrity pairing” as he has had the excellent fortune of being with his podcasting wife Leala Hindman. Both had their own respective audiences, and both very…well, varied I suppose. Eventually, like transforming robots, they came together in epic proportions and created Spouse Aggro, fusing their audiences together and ultimately drawing on a new one, like creating an epic hybrid animal, only far less exciting once you realize you’re just thinking of a few different kinds of people, instead of a giant transforming robot or fire breathing godzilla rip-off. In the end, what the Turkeys provide is the most natural form of blogging, which really consists of just sitting and talking about what’s on their mind. With this sort of Average Joe approach to things, it’s a nice change of pace from the typical overly passionate rage or spewing cynicism. They don’t really start talking about what’s right or wrong…they just talk. As a final note, they have spanned the most mediums, having their own personal domain for blogs, a Ning network, countless podcasts, and their now more frequent videocasts, or as Beau calls them, “Vodcasts” (I admit, it does sound catchy.)

On the other end of the fence of not really doing a whole lot, we have Tobold. Tobold is probably the most reclusive of the bloggers that I’m aware of, but countless people recognize this name. From what I know, he declines to podcast, doesn’t really advertise, and keeps almost entirely to himself, he doesn’t need to cross post his blogs to get attention. Why this that? His writing seems to match the personality that he shows; No nonsense. There is very little catching up on his personal life or discussion, and what he presents, is typically presented as fact. Unlike myself, there is no round-about speech or beating around the bush, it’s always to the point and has a seemingly deliberate confidence without any emotions leaking out, and he’s had plenty of time to hone it. For nine years he has been an automatic machine pushing out food for thought. Being around that long makes it very hard to disregard what he says entirely. Again, with his no-nonsense approach, he does not have any flashy site tools or an impressive domain, it’s just a straight up blogger domain with his internet alias as the web address.

It’s not often that there’s a third side to the fence. Physically speaking, there’s actually four sides, but they are far too narrow for people to bother considering them. For the sake of maintaining the analogy where we stick to the important sides of the fence, let’s assume that in this imaginary blogger town, Tobold is in the middle, with Beau Turkey on the left, and the third blogger on the right. So it’s the other side of the other fence…Don’t spend too long trying to make it work in your head though, it’s kind of silly.

The more important question that should be on your mind (Unless of course you already know, in which case, congratulations!) is, “Who could the third blogger be?” For those who know me, the obvious answer is Syncaine! Because I can not say one without saying the other, very much like Yin and Yang, day and night, etc, etc… Now, it’s very possible that what I say can be taken the wrong way, especially for the analogy that I’m using to compare these two, which could very easily be interpreted as offensive. As such, I will clarify at the moment I mean absolutely no harm, and that exaggeration is used to help demonstrate differences between the two. That said, let’s move along.

Do what it says!

Syncaine refers to himself as the Hardcore Casual blogger, and it seems to fit what he wants. He does not take an absurdly outrageous opinion on things like the stereotypical Hardcore Gamer who wants everything to go back to the days of EQ where you have to force a conversation with NPCs and wait for a couple hours to get on a boat. However from what I have seen, he expresses a stronger degree of passion towards concepts and interests akin to that of “Hardcore” individuals (I mean, really. He likes DarkFall). While this isn’t to say he doesn’t use facts or is reckless, his passion (at least, to me) is his truth, as opposed to Tobold’s truth, which is conveyed by a serious lack thereof. Hammering point after point, Syncaine is fueled by a brilliantly burning fire of a veteran attitude. It resonates well with the jaded concepts of many a blogger or podcaster who have emerged onto the scene to express their thoughts. His time spent is a fair two years of experience, equivalently a third of Tobolds. Of the web design, his approach is the medium of Beau’s and Tobold’s, as he utilizes his WordPress account with a small ad with a blog roll and some other useful, but simple, features.

So, there’s three of the greats (If I didn’t list you, and you think you should be up there, sorry. This post is long-winded as it is,) whom I think are good representatives of the three archetypes that I see as the pinnacles of MMO blogging. With all that said, what’s your style? Do you intend to try and follow the foot-steps of one of these three, a hybrid, or are you some strange new blogger of your own, who blogs entirely in Sanskrit and Iambic Pentameter?

Try it.

((This archive post has been edited to better reflect the current times of blogging))

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NBI: On Cruest and Goss Posts

I would feel terribly guilty if I didn’t make sure to put in at least one original post for the Newbie Blogger’s Initiative, so here you go.

So, on the topic of Grest and Cuss- erm, discussing Guesr and Csoss… Oh forget it. Let’s talk about Guest and Cross posts for blogs.

Wait, no, I said cross posts! Cross POSTS!

Anyway, for a while there was one idea to better support your blog would be to post it everywhere. This is referred to as cross-posting. And to be honest, it makes sense. If you have to advertise for a concert while you’re on a budget, hopefully you make a large (but well made) poster, copy it, and then start posting it everywhere you can. Given the opportunity, you will also stick a smaller version of the poster onto your neighbor’s cat. You don’t hand draw a flier and then pass it to your mom, and then get started on making a different one to give to your dad, then your sister, then your best friend… At that rate, you’ll never even reach the neighbor’s cat, let alone a new person.  It’s time consuming, difficult, and ridiculous.

Cross posting is essentially the first option. You cross post by typing up your main article and putting it up on your blog, and the on another person’s blog, Myspace, Facebook, a Ning Network, a Giant Bomb blog, in several forum threads, and then maybe because you can’t be bothered to steal your neighbors cat, you elect to just put a picture of a lolcat somewhere in that blogpost. Good going, right?

If only my friend, if only.

 
It turns out that Search Engines (such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo) are not happy with this. In fact, they frown upon your use of all these fliers on their internet. They don’t want to show multiple search results of the exact same post which is only different in the fact that they’re on different sites(though you may be able to keep the lolcat useful).  Thinking about it, that’s not too surprising. Instead of putting up fliers all over the town, to a search engine you’re just putting up a bunch of advertisements in their house and asking them to tell people which of the identical ten is their personal favorite. So naturally they respond by ripping off the posters in frustration. Then, they them into their storage room, and if someone happens to be so persistent that they come knocking on Mr. Search Engine’s door asking, Search Engine will with a sigh direct that person to the storage room to go pick out one of those fliers.

Basically, while a search engine normally won’t go so far as to delete all the results for your blog, they will instead knock down the search results for them, and try to put up some less annoying pages in their place. In the age of viral marketing with with Twitter, Facebook and Digg, search engine’s would much prefer you try sharing your site/posts that way. Now, onto the Guest Posts…

I don’t think you can call yourself a “guest” in another person’s clothes…

If you look at the image too long, you start to imagine how you would look in it yourself. So let’s move on while we still can.
As I was saying, guest posts. A guest post can have a few meanings depending on how you view the word “guest”. But this time let’s just look at one definition, yes? The general idea of a guest post is (to stick with the concert analogy) to be the opening act for another band. You perform at someone else’s concert in order to promote your own tour, the only caveat being that you need to play a new song (remember, this isn’t actually a cross post, you need new content!)  And the great thing about posting on another person’s blog (with permission of course) is that you’re significantly less likely to be booed off the stage or have bottles thrown at you in the event that they hate you. Of course, if you actually need that thought as a safety blanket we might have a different problem at hand.

Regardless, the great thing about guest posts is that both sides will benefit, so be sure to try and guest post on another person’s blog, but also try and have guest bloggers yourself! The guest has an opportunity to promote themselves, while the host is given the opportunity to spice up their blog with something different. It’s pretty hard to go wrong with that.

And then of course, there is also the warm and fuzzy feeling from working together.

Riknas, signing off!

NBI: By this (Key)board I rule!

“By This Axe I Rule!”- Kull, Exile of Atlantis (Robert E. Howard)

Although it began with chisels and quills, writing has since been championed by the keyboard in case you haven’t noticed (Get out from under your rock, I mean really.) Never mind that though, the medium is not what matters, but what comes from it. Since we have invented writing (Be it traditional English, Cyrillic, or some type of cuneiform) you still need to follow the same general rules in order to interest people. Can you use grammar, can you spell? Use correct punctuation? If you can’t do any of these, your writing career is no doubt a short lived one. However after that, you choose how you play the game. Be it a visceral style like Robert E. Howard, or the excruciating details of JRR Tolkien, statistically, you have to find someone who doesn’t think your writing sucks.

But that may be going in the wrong direction, for I digress. If I may, this here is a blog for the fellow bloggers once more. Just as it works for a sword, the keyboard is only as good as the one wielding it, sure you can create a handi-cap to make your faults less visible, such as a hand guard for your blade (Ergonomic design, or Spell-check in terms of the keyboard). But frankly, if you’re bad, there’s really no getting around that with just some nifty tools.

In a previous blog, I did indeed mention that its good to get your name out there by talking on other people’s blogs and contributing, however I now feel I must clarify this further. Imagine, if you will, someone who is a complete shut-in, anti-social, the works. Now in order to improve on this person you want to convince them to just talk to people more, else they will never know the light of progress. Now, by some form of deus ex machina they have blossomed into a social butterfly and are talking to everyone. One problem though, they never shut up, and talk about the most absurd things (ie, he’s trying to pick up the hot blond with his l337 skills in World of Warcraft). You now fear that your previously anti-social friend will find their head jammed in a locker or toilet (High school still isn’t a pretty place). And so you now must explain the concept of moderation.

Moderation is important to all things of course, too many video games, too many candy bars, even working out too much can be unhealthy if you’re not careful. That said, let’s assume you have a blog now and are getting used to working with other bloggers plenty, great! Now imagine you’re the imaginary friend who is about to have his face broken in for not shutting up. Bad. To translate this analogy, it’s good to get out there, but just like in real life you need to be wary of what you’re saying. Much as we want to say we can, there is no walking into someone else’s blog and getting all buddy-buddy with them like you’re a big-time blogging vet like him. If this person is blogging about how much RMTs are the work of Satan, even though you may think you’re a great blogger (And you might be), the odds of you being able to show the heathen your amazingly enlightening views so that they completely re-think their opinion and, impressed by your fantastic writing prowess, talk about you on their blog nearly every post and now have you on their blog roll…is remarkably small.

This is not to discourage people from getting to know the community, but is a reminder on perspective for the ambitious of us. You won’t hit fame right from the start, and it won’t go any faster (Quite the opposite really) if you try to compensate for time lost by commenting that much more. Most importantly though, while a blogger might not agree with you right from the start, you do have the potential to rub off on these guys if you keep at it. Have a thoughtful comment every week or so, but don’t hammer them with your thoughts every day. Fast forward a few months or a year later? Now you’re one of the big boys too, so hop to it!

NBI: The Blog Rings

No, there isn’t one to rule them all or one to find them. This isn’t a LOTRO post. While I appreciate comments about how awesome I am (I have a self-esteem issue you see), and appreciate zealots following me and tell me I’m right the entire way, I hardly think it would kill me to make a post that goes out to the fellow bloggers. Now, I don’t know how many of you have your own blog sites for when you post, be it a professionally done one with private hosting on that (Kudos to those of you that do,) a basic blogger or wordpress website (Like myself, or the famous Tobold) maybe you post on a social network site or on to a LiveJournal. Perhaps you feel you don’t write enough to be worth putting up. Or do you just want to keep the thoughts in your head (No problems there)? Suffice to say, I want to talk about the MMO rings of the blogosphere, and a bit about getting involved in them.

First, before you try and figure them out, notice them. Not just seeing it, but being consciously aware of them. Originally, MMO Voices, and GAX before that were the most obvious kind of a blogging circle. Really,  just about all of the Ning networks are a blogging circles, a social network. Not quite MySpace, it creates a room for us to all essentially boost our ratings (Though not purely for that of course) by compiling people of like interests into one site. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Even for the most narrow minded, it’s nigh impossible for us to put up our own blogs and not read those of anyone else. It’s that much easier to notice some other posts text, and that much easier to become a regular reader of a certain blogger.

The real power, of course, is friendship.

The other two phase are debatable on which is more visible, however I will start with what is the most visible in the literal sense. Blog Rolls. The above image is a good example of Blog Roll. Now, this is most frequently used on personal blog sites, or custom designed ones. Quite frankly, it would be sort of awkward if Ning networks tried to make an apparent blog roll for everyone. Even with tiny text, it’s already sort of cramped there. Regardless, it’s the next best way to keep a constant shout out to blogs you recommend. It’s a kind gesture to put someone on your blog roll, and you get the warm fuzzy feeling when you see yourself on another person’s.

OKAY, NOW IMAGINE A DARK ROOM WITH LOTS OF SINISTER FIGURES IN A CIRCLE

Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture to properly convey the last kind of ring, so I trust in your imagination and your literacy skills. The last kind of ring is the least official of the rings, but can be by far the most effective. I’m not even sure what you’d call the name, however if I had to give it a word I would make a toss between “Friendship” and “Partnership.” I would consider the former the most likely rationale, however Partnership would be the most broad way of explaining it. What I essentially speak of is a bond between bloggers, that they essentially exist as a group of friends, all sharing support as much as they can. These folks may very well also have each other on blog rolls, but they also comment on each other frequently. Unfortunately I can not point to a clear person or place where this is frequent or obvious, but isn’t too hard to pick up on if you follow a large number of blogs and note how shout outs relate into blog rolls.

So, what does that have to do with anything? Well, again. I put this out to all the people who really like to blog, want to get, be, or are serious about blogging. This has been done before no doubt. But I’m not actually aware of one for this specific topic, at least not in the blogosphere. I essentially speak of the design of an unofficial blog pack. Akin to VirginWorlds, and the EVE Blog Pack. I’m not saying leave whatever site your part of, no. But I do encourage the bloggers to go to Blogger, WordPress, or SOMETHING. It doesn’t have to be crazy hand drawn graphics on a tablet or some premium site, but go there, get together, and post stuff there. Heck, it doesn’t have to be different. Hit up your fellow blogger and smack their new site onto your blog roll and start your own blog rings to make the community that much more active.

This is my call to arms, and I’m signing off!

((This Archive post has been edited and had added content for new readers))