The Blogs Have It

Beginning immediately, I will be switching Scot’s Newsletter to primarily a blog with a text-only notification newsletter.

In the text-only, October 2 issue of the newsletter, I described two possible format changes for Scot’s Newsletter:

Option 1. A blog presentation with a text-only, blurb-and-link notification newsletter.

Option 2. An HTML-only newsletter, without a text alternative.

The main reason to change formats is to save production time for yours truly. It takes almost as much time to produce and send the newsletter as it does to write it. (Of course, the majority of the time I put into the newsletter is spent on research.)

Now five days after the newsletter went out, I’ve received over 2,700 votes. With voting beginning to slow down, the votes for the blog outnumber the HTML-only newsletter option 2:1. In other words, I’ve received a little more than twice as many votes for the blog as I have for the HTML newsletter.

There is much to be done on the blog site, in revising the template for the new text newsletter, and on the Scot’s Newsletter website to pull this altogether. It’s not all going to happen overnight.

Several people who voted requested navigation changes to the blog site that I’d already been thinking about. I’m also considering how to work through the archiving system, how to make the site print better (although it does print OK for now). Please be patient while I make modifications, which will come over time — a little bit here and a little bit there.

WordPress geeks and designers: If you’ve got experience, I might need your help!

For those of you who wanted HTML or who preferred the text newsletter, I ask you to give this a good try. And let me know what isn’t working for you. I can’t promise to fix all problems, but I do care and will fix anything I can.

Thanks to all those people who voted, and the many people who expressed their intention to support Scot’s Newsletter no matter what change I went with. That means a lot to me.

19 Responses to “The Blogs Have It”

  1. Gary Petersen Says:

    Thanks for the full-text RSS feed, Scot. That is very much appreciated.

  2. Korpil Says:

    Great to see blog was voted on!
    Now I would like to recommend you Google REader… it’s my favorite blog reader, it’s online and offers great blog control…

  3. Referman Says:

    Hi Scott, Love the blog format. I’ve been a reader and subscriber from the Winmag days, and just wanted to say I appreciate all your hard work.

  4. MarkMcCoskey Says:

    I am now set up with Google Reader. This works great. Thanks, and good luck Scot.

  5. Scot Says:

    About the RSS feed being full text: the feed hasn’t been optimized at all and there may be changes to come.

    My thinking about this may surprise you a little. My intention is to leave each “issue” of the newsletter full text both in the feed and on the main blog page until the “next issue” arrives. At that time, the stories from last month will be shortened with a “read more…” and the new stories will be shown in full.

    I’d be interested in what people think of that.

  6. eric.collins@shaw.ca Says:

    I like the idea of RSS full text as RSS is how I keep up. Having older articles shortened is also good. The only nit I have is to post the date in the title so one can know when the latest article was posted.

  7. Scot Says:

    Hi, Eric. The blog software configures the RSS feed entirely, with no config options. I would have to put the date in the stories on the site to do what you ask. Since, on the site, they have the date, I don’t think I’m going to do that. But I’ll look into why there’s no date in the RSS feed. I agree it should have that.

  8. pja Says:

    Scott,

    First off, thanks for the effort you put into this site. I certainly find it very useful.

    Secondly, as a fellow WordPress user (see http://www.nsw.u3anet.org.au and related sites) I commend your move to a blog. Have you tried WysywygPro (http://www.wysiwygpro.com/) to edit your content, I find it very good, worth the purchase price over other free editors.

    Keep up the good work.

    Regards,
    Peter

  9. Scot Says:

    Thanks, Peter. I’m one of those guys who actually prefers the raw mode to WYSIWYG text editors. I agree that the basic TinyMCE editor isn’t great. Even more, though, I dislike that it’s the default editing mode (with no option to change the default) so I’m repeatedly forced to turn it off in some browsers.

    To each his own.

  10. gwt Says:

    As one of the few who preferred the HTML newsletter, I’ll just have to live with the change.

    I know I sound hypocritical for saying this, but I generally don’t like blogs because all the feedback banter back & forth between opinionated people, can get to be a real drag at times. I’ve seen it happen where it detracts away from the content of the newsletter itself, turning into a forum for arguments and bad feelings.

    I just hope it doesn’t get carried away like some others. Thanks.

  11. Referman Says:

    Scott you may want to try Live Writer from MS I’ve been using for awhile and it works pretty good and has lots of options. http://get.live.com/betas/writer_betas.

  12. Scot Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve heard good things about Live Writer too from several people, in fact. Unfortunately, it requires Windows, and while I certainly have that at my fingertips, I prefer multi-platform products. Most of the time I am on the Mac, truth be told.

    — Scot

  13. mtaylor924 Says:

    Hi Scot,

    You said above you prefer the raw editor mode instead of WYSIWYG – there is a way to change that in WordPress. In your administration panel, go to Users > Your Profile, and uncheck “Use the visual editor when writing”. This should provide the raw mode as default editing mode on posts and pages.

    I’m not a WordPress expert by any means, but I’ve dabbled enough to potentially be useful. Let me know if you want any help with design or layout.

    Mike

  14. Scot Says:

    Yup, thanks Mike. I actually found this about two weeks ago. Silly place to put it, IMO. But right you are.

  15. ncboxer Says:

    Thanks Scot. Been reading for years since WinMag. I get almost all my news nowadays from blogs and RSS feeds (I prefer netvibes.com) so this is a great progression. Doesn’t matter to me whether they are full posts or not on the RSS feed- when a new post is made, my reader shows it to me in bold and I just come to the site anyway. I also like reading the interactions between posts and comments.

    Thanks again!

  16. Miniature Giant Space Hamster Says:

    Since you asked…my preference is to have the Feed show only abbreviated text. Reason is I use my RSS Reader (Sage) mostly just for scanning the articles. Those that look interesting enough for a full read I prefer to do so on the web page, where the text is usually nicer and more readable and where I can also view the comments thread. The current setting requires much more scrolling through what would otherwise be a quick scan down the page, middle-clicking the interesting ones along the way.

  17. Scot Says:

    To be honest, the overwhelming response from people about RSS feeds is that they want the full text of the stories in the feed. Given how long my posts tend to go and also the fact that I am always connected to the Internet, I too would probably prefer that the posts were abbreviated. But it appears that this is a strong religious issues with many SFNL readers.

    One thing I will say is that from a business perspective — and you’ll recall that in my day job, my expertise is online and print publishing — RSS is either going to need to large ads in the feeds or it’s going to have to drive traffic to the sites it serves. It’s going to be one or the other. Don’t expect the in between of full-text in the feed without ads to be a long sustaining thing. There really isn’t any such thing as a free lunch.

    Scot’s Newsletter is free, yes. But one day I’ll probably decide to sign up with Feedburner and then there’ll be ads in my feeds. It’s the way of things.

    — Scot

  18. synjun Says:

    Scott congrat’s on the promo!! I’ve read your new’s letter and followed your article’s from the beginning. WoW!! Will you run for President!!

  19. Flick Says:

    Regarding the full vs abbreviated text feeds, why not set up both? Full feeds would contain ads, partial would just be the summary with a link to the full post online. Satisfies both people…

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