2012-08-24 On RPG Blogging

Recently Michael Gibbons asked on Google+ regarding gaming blogs:

What do you prefer: content or opinion?

I prefer opinion and insight with examples from actual play or things that I will immediately adopt for my own games.

My favorite example for this is the Ode to Black Dougal blog.

A blog in the same category I recently stumbled upon is Untimately.

I will download a lot of content, but it doesn’t get read carefully unless it gets used at the table and that happens rarely. I have huge folders on my hard disk full of PDFs: bears, hats, treasure maps, Vancian spell names and short spell descriptions, alternate classes, one page dungeons, character generation shortcuts… At the gaming table, I can barely remember to use one or two of these.

What kind of stuff cheeses you off enough to stop reading someone’s blog?

I think my reasons for unsubscribing from blogs usually involve one of the following:

  1. misanthropic ranting – there is enough negativity out there already; I’m also easily peeved by unpolite hosts
  2. excuses for not posting – not posting is ok, unwritten posts don’t show up in my feed reader, but excuses will show up in my feed reader; I’m interested in the authors’ lives, and thus posting about health or family issues every now and then is not a problem
  3. long posts – “TL;DR” aka. “too long; didn’t read” is a problem: I might skim long articles but often I don’t read them; as the unread articles accumulate, I start wondering whether I’d be happier unsubscribing since I would no longer feel bad for not reading the posts
  4. not my topic – if the author keeps writing about the design of a game that I won’t be playing, I feel that I’m better of reading somebody else’s posts: there are so many out there!



I have written about this before on my blog. http://hackslashmaster.blogspot.com/2011/05/on-why-your-blog-isnt-any-good.html

-C 2012-08-24 19:50 UTC

I’m kind of new to all this myself (being going for less than three months), so my points won’t be massively groundbreaking. I’m actually more interested in the results of this mini survey.

A lot of blogs I don’t read, or at least don’t read often, could be amazing, and well written, but they’re about games I don’t play, or styles of play that don’t suit me. As an example, I’m not really into the OSR thing, so if that’s all a blogger talks about, I get turned off. But if you’re an OSR blogger who talks about the hobby at large, and offers advice and insight, maybe even some content that doesn’t have to apply to OSR, then I’ll keep checking back.

I guess that what that means is I want something different every once in a while. Right now I’m on a horror RPG kick, so i wrote something about how to GM a horror game. Didn’t want to tread on old ground, so the next week it was a possible location for a game, that just happened to also work well in horror games. Next Monday comes a little discussion (that’s right, I’m talking about what I’m posting ;p) about role playing a child, something that is done more often in horror systems/settings than others, but can be applied to other games.

So, a general theme, but something different each time, that I hope appeals to more than a core of people, and to gamers as a whole.

shortymonster 2012-08-24 20:16 UTC

  • C, that’s right, I remember reading it. I don’t agree with all your points. Do you still think the following points still are important?

“Provide some sort of resource on your blog on a regular basis (recipes, a picture, quiz, etc.) So that people will want to mark your blog as one to come back and check”

That sounds like a setup to trick authors into posting lesser quality posts because they need to follow a particular schedule.

“Schedule your posts to come out either around the morning or the evening, when people are going through their blog roll”

Maybe you are right. If you’re trying not to bias by timezone, however, this is difficult. Also it assumes that most people don’t use a feed reader. That may be true, but I have a hard time understanding such choices.

“Be consistent in your posting schedule”

This is similar to the point above regarding regular features.

“Write interesting titles that draw interest, like they teach in journalism”

I am not sure the web works the same way (see 2011-03-10 Headlines). I don’t like sensationalist and provocative news lines. Or at least I ink I don’t.

AlexSchroeder 2012-08-24 23:41 UTC

Shorty game, variety is a good goal if you want to appeal to a wide audience. If you’re trying to write a Warhammer Fantasy style game, however, I don’t think “more variety” is the answer. At least, I’m not sure. Should you try to pull in more people in the hopes of attracting and converting visitors or should you write for your target audience only? Currently I’m in the latter camp: I think it’s cool to specialize your blog—but at the same time me unsubscribing must be cool, too. Once I determined I am not in the target audience, keeping me tied to the site seems like a bad idea for all of us.

Probably both approaches can work, depending on your goals.

AlexSchroeder 2012-08-24 23:50 UTC

I disagree that blog schedule matters much. If people visit your site directly, they will always see the N most recent posts. If people read your site in a feed reader, it’s their schedule that matters, not yours, just like with TV and a DVR. The only exceptions I would give are very rarely posting (which may lead to people removing your site from blogrolls or whatever), and very frequently posting or posting in clumps (which may lead to people unsubscribing because of being flooded). I personally am more likely to subscribe to a lower-volume site that has articles of consistent quality (Swords of Minaria is a good example of this kind of site).

Brendan 2012-08-25 17:31 UTC

To be honest, when I open my feed reader, I also like to read the blogs that have one or two unread posts before tackling the blogs that have twenty or more unread posts (World War II Today, I’m looking at you…).

AlexSchroeder 2012-08-26 22:22 UTC

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