What Exactly is A Group Blog?
Now that I have the group blog up and a few people have posted to it, I'm wondering what the next step is. How will this blog evolve and become "addicting" to its particpants? My blog is my own thoughts... I post about what's on my mind and what interests me and if it's only interesting to just a few people, or maybe even just to me, that's fine since this is just my blog.
A group blog, however, connotates something different. I have to think a bit about what I want to write and evaluate if it's interesting to other people and fits within the theme of the blog. This is a bit more restrictive and, to me, can inhibit "blog flow" where you post stream-of-conciousness without filtering which, as I've said before, is where some of my most popular posts come from. The question is how can this flow be somewhat duplicated in Mobitopia?
I guess we can analyze some of the "Group Blogs" that exist out there already. There's Slashdot, MetaFilter and Geek.com that I can think of off the top of my head. All allow various authors to post news items and for people to comment on them. Depending on your interest, the comments may be the most interesting, or the posts themselves. I think I read when Slashdot was adding larger ads that 90% of the readers never go beyond the front page. They never bother to read the comments, just the news. As dumb as the comments can be sometimes, to me the whole POINT of Slashdot is the comments!
So anyways - in each of these blogs, the posts are separated and rarely "flow". There's another blog that's very similar to Mobitopia's idea called Techdirt Wireless. Several people contribute and there's always good stuff - it's overflowing with information. That takes a lot of work to do, I'm sure because one of the guys from there emailed me and said he'd love to help with a group blog, but that his blog was too much already. I can see that!
What about a conversational style blog? Each poster doesn't ignore the news bit below him (unless he wants to) but instead continues the thoughts or ideas. I'm thinking of this like one of those talk shows where several people have a conversation in front of audience and then the audience gets to participate as well. This way we're not just repeating news from all over the place and adding to the noise, but instead are working together to work out new ideas or brainstorm - but in a more public way. This might improve the sense of flow.
Right now I posted a couple items, everyone else posted one too and now Mobitopia is stopped. I'm not sure if the rest of the guys so far (any women out there want to join in?) are going to post any more today. First, they have their own blogs, and secondly there's a bit of intimidation trying to think up something "interesting to say". They posted once... good. I've seen this dynamic before on the Simpleface.org wiki. Someone publishes something and then NEVER does it again because unlike blogging for yourself in a free-flow manner, group blogging isn't as compelling for the writer. All of us will just wait around to post until we run across something that we think is interesting enough to bother signing in and making the effort to post, and this will happen with less and less frequency. Believe me, I've seen it happen.
There's got to be something else - something that DRIVES the people to post more. On a comment the other day to Diego, I left the theory that Blog Calendars are like blogging training wheels. It gives you that pressure to "fill in today" with a link. After a while you don't need that incentive and just end up posting non-stop anyways. That's why my redesign got rid of the calendar... I didn't need it and I don't think my readers used the calendar all that much. My archives page is much more effective at finding interesting old posts. But without the calendar at first, I may not have gotten into the habit as much of posting constantly.
So back to my thoughts - say there's an ongoing conversation between group bloggers. Each post on the main page is another idea in the continuing flow of posts. Not just another interesting news item, but another interesting bit of conversation. Obviously, you'd need a topic to talk about that was interesting ("The Mormon Tabernacle choir. They were neither Mormon or a tabernacle. Discuss") as well as be flexible to changing the topic when it died out. I guess this could be done in an ad-hoc way, but it would be fun to systemize it. But something needs to added to the blog to make it more "addicting" to those posting... I'm just not sure what.
Categories?!? Ooof. Okay, maybe. By the time I'm done tweaking the code I'm going to have to call it "MultiBlog"