Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Are NWN1/2 blogs good things for the community?

I had the great opportunity to be interviewed at NWVault this past week, and the result was just published. One of the questions got me thinking. Here it is, along with my response:
10) You’ve recently started a NWN blog, where you post your own observations of modules you’ve played, links to other builders, and important news items. How important do you feel this type of communication is to the community?

You know, I'm not sure. I started the blog to give myself a home base for my activities in the community. I'm really happy with what it's become, both in terms of the content I've been able to release and the reception it has gotten from the community. ...snip...I think, for example, that it serves as a good source for concise nwn2 module reviews and comments. The blog also gives me the chance to draw attention to other people's work, be they creators of modules, UI mods, scripts, art, or other custom content, and comment about current community news. From time to time, there have even been good discussions among myself and my readers in the blog comments. And I have a terrific time writing for it--it's a great outlet.

But whether that means a net positive for the community is another question. Some (though not all) of the posts I make on the blog would otherwise probably have been made in the NWN2 Modules forums, which gets more traffic than I could ever hope or deserve to have. And I've been far less active in the forums in general since I started the blog, be it answering questions, musing about what makes a great module, or getting involved in some larger project to promote modules. So one could make a legitimate argument that the community would be better off if I ditched the blog and focused my energy on interacting with people in the forums (that's assuming that the community benefits when I'm around--might not be a good assumption!).

Personally, I really enjoy reading the various developer and player blogs that have popped up around the community in the past year or so. They allow me to keep in better touch with some of my online friends than I was able to before, and learn about cool upcoming projects. Furthermore, I think the posts on these blogs tend to be more thoughtful, insightful, and provocative than what you typically see in the forums. So again, for me personally, I think they're great. But I do wonder if they're perhaps partially to blame for the somewhat fragmented state of the current NWN2 community, at least compared to the NWN1 community that I knew back in 2004-2005.
I guess what I'm wondering is what you folks think about this question? Are blogs a good thing for the community? Or do they result in less interaction, more community fragmentation, etc?

To be clear, I'm not considering shutting down, even if we decide that they are net negatives for the community. I enjoy doing this too much to give it up for some noble cause like supporting the community. But I am curious. -B


  1. Not really sure how they can be a bad thing, to be honest. I have been running my blog since August 2005, and if not for anything else, it gave people a look into what was involved in module making, as well as how far along I was with said module.

    Did I post less in the community when I started my blog? Well, I am mostly a lurker anyway, so nothing really changed.

    Long story short, I don't see anything wrong with them, and I hope more people keep jumping on the bandwagon :)

  2. That last comment was by Challseus :)

  3. I guess I've noticed more blogs by several community members sprouting up over the last 8 months or so (pre-NWN2 release). To be honest, I think it is a good thing overall. Sure it means I have to click a ton of links leading to different peoples blogs, but the information I get by doing that is 100 fold the type of info I would otherwise get if those people just posted to the forums. A blog is a much more personal thing than the Bio forums, the builder/community member tends to be more open in their thoughts, after all, it is a diary of sorts ;)

    I am able to 'keep track' of people easily, see what they are up to, without the need to filter through several pages of posts made by other people. So in fact, while I may have to bring up more pages than I would normally, I actually save myself a lot of time when it comes to seeing what is going on in the community.

    It does amuse me somewhat though that a great many high profile community members all started blogging around the same time, but that is just my weird sense of humour ;)


  4. Yeah, I guess we're all just sheep following Challseus's lead. :D

  5. I think it's a great thing. I put up a web site and tried to keep up with it in a blog like fashion, but it was cumbersome and time consuming. My site is still up but the blog was a good fit for me. I've also used to bookmark other blogs and resources I use frequently.

    Two thumbs up from me.

    The forums are too vast for me. I don't have enough time to wade through them. I have found it better to identify blogs by authors I enjoy reading and keep tabs on them. I have an idea that I'll want to read (or won't want to read) what's on a particular blog after reading it for a while.

    Great.. fast way to get info out.

  6. Great interview, Berliad. I particularly liked the part about new builders not taking on anything crazily huge. :)

    I've wondered myself about whether or not the blogosphere detracts from the community. To those in the know, it doesn't at all--but I think the problem is with those who *aren't* in the know. Newcomers to NWN2 are likely to see the Modules forum in particular as very ghost-town-like. That said, all the benefits the other posters pointed out probably outweigh the cons (especially for the blogger). Maybe there should be a regularly-updated blogosphere sticky in the Modules forum.

    But *I* don't do that sort of thing--being a blogging half-lurker myself!

  7. although it is interesting to know what builder #23341 is currently doing on his project but i hardly read any nwn 2-blogs since they are - in my honest oppinion - pretty uninteresting to read. i don't want to know what builder #9345892's cat is doing while he is telling me that he spent the last few hours on editing converstation #3459 on character #4395 of module #345. i know that builders are probably using the blogs to keep track of their own work or something but this is still stuff i don't want to read and which keeps me distracted of probably useful information published to public.

    that's the main reason why i hardly update my blog (which is primarly about the revolution of interactive storytelling and not nwn 2 ;)). but - hey! - what a coincidence! i updated my blog! today!

  8. My feelings about blogs are firmly posted on my own blog. I can't stand random waffle/un-related rants.

    However, I think tightly focused blogs (like most of the NWN ones) are a good thing. At the end of the day, I wanted a base for my community work. But with modding, I have no time to do a decent looking webpage (see www.dev27.com for referance).

    Thus a blog is perfect.

    As for the community forums suffering, I dont really think there is much impact. There is some good beta testing going on in the Players forum, and usefull tips in the scripting/toolset ones. Other than that, it is largely just a talk-shop with many informative posts burried under the latest rants.

    For someone looking to keep community members informed, the blog is the way forwards in my opinion.

  9. Thanks for the feedback folks. It's interesting to hear your perspectives on this. I'm still not completely convinced that everything about these blogs is positive, but the net effect probably is. Probably. :)

    I do think that Thirdpres was right when he mentioned on the forums that the current community is more fragmented than it was for NWN1. But I think the nwn blog ring is, in its own way, becoming a bit of a cohesive entity it itself, with folks linking discussions back and forth, etc. It's a different community than existed in NWN1, but it's still a dynamic and interesting one that is fun to be a part of. -B

  10. I've found these blogs to be tremendously informative. I've never waded through the bioware forums, as it just seems there are too many (immature) people to be able to positively add to anything. Plus, it's tough to find the time to read through them when threads have upwards of 10 pages. I see the dev updates on nwvault.com, and I've felt bad for Rob on numerous occasions.

    Berliad's blog in particular has been a huge help. Every NWN2 related blog I read I've gotten to from the links on this blog. As long as everyone links to each other, it's easy for someone who's not a core part of the community to find information.

  11. Derek, thanks for the great comments! That reminds me that I need to see about updating my link list again. Some have gone inactive, and there are a few others out there that I've seen pop up but haven't yet added.

    Thanks again,