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Feedback Wanted: Twins Daily Writer's Club

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 01 August 2012 - 09:51 PM

One of our (and especially my) biggest goals when creating Twins Daily was to encourage other independent Twins writers. That's why every member who joins automatically gets a blog and why those blog posts are featured on the far left of the front page. But so far, I'm unhappy to say, I think we (meaning TwinsCentric) has done a poor job of fostering these. Too often we get busy with our writing duties and on the forums and don't give the blogs enough attention. I really feel that those brave enough to post should receive feedback, editing and maybe even promotions. We do some of that, but I really feel like we (and especially I) don't do as much as we would like. So I had a thought I wanted to run past the community.... What if we started a "Twins Daily Writer's Club?" The idea is a group of Twins Daily members, interested in working on their writing skills and sharing their work and critiques with each other. I'm looking for feedback. Here's what I'm thinking.... 1) People decide if they want to join. I don't know if we need to formally have a signup or not. Kinda feels like we should, but I'm open to otherwise. 2) Everyone who joins commits to three things..... a) they write on their Twins Daily blog at least twice per week. It's find with me if they're copying it from their other blog. B) they take time to read others blogs and leave a comment that includes one positive feedback and one constructive criticism. What did they love and what would they do different. c) after the read another's blog post, they use the "Rate this entry" in the top right-hand corner to rate it. I'm hoping this will encourage writers and provide valuable feedback for each of us to get better. Each of the TwinsCentric guys would also be included. And based on the ratings, we could have a short list of good blogs to promote each day. We might even get to the point where we're publishing them on the TwinsCentric Strib's blog or some other web sites that are clamoring for good Twins-based content. Like I said, I'm looking for feedback before we implement this. So I'd love your thoughts below. THANK YOU for taking the time to consider this. Sincerely, John

#2 Jim Crikket

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 07:55 AM

I think the idea has some merit, John. Two "concerns" come to my mind immediately, however. First, while I like to think I'm relatively active in terms of generating content for our Knuckleballs blog and often re-post articles here, I'm not sure I could commit to two blog posts per week at TD. First, not all of the stuff I write for our own blog is directly related to the Twins. For example, I did a two-part series earlier this week on my local minor league team, the Cedar Rapids Kernels, that included an interview with their GM. I don't re-post things here unless they really are Twins related. But more than that, one of the best things about blogging is that I don't have "deadlines" and I don't have to write if I either don't have anything in particular to say or if I'm just too busy with life for a little while. So the 2/week thing would probably keep me from signing up. Maybe most others wouldn't have that issue, though. I'm also a bit queazy about the "constructive criticism" thing. If there were a way to offer it privately, rather than in public comments, that's fine. It may just be me, but knowing how tough it is at times to put your stuff out there for public review, I'd still just feel uneasy about posting even the most well-intentioned constructive criticism in someone's comment section. Especially someone who I don't know well enough or haven't read enough from to know for sure it would be taken in the spirit it's offered. I do like the idea of using the ratings more. I've always wondered why that feature isn't better utilized. I guess I'm as guilty of that as everyone, because I never "rate" anything here either. I think getting that function used regularly would be a good thing. Just my 2 cents.
[COLOR=#0000cd]I opine about the Twins and Kernels regularly at[/COLOR][COLOR=#800000] Knuckleballsblog.com[/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd] while my alter ego, SD Buhr covers the Kernels for [/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd][COLOR=#800000]MetroSportsReport.com[/COLOR][/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd].[/COLOR] [COLOR=#0000cd]
[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#b22222]~You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant~[/COLOR]

#3 PeanutsFromHeaven

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:21 AM

I think the idea of bettering one's writing is a great goal, and, like y'all, that's a major reason I got into blogging in the first place and joined up with Twins Daily to boot. So I would be seriously interested in being a part of a group like that. However, as Jim pointed out, I'm stretched a little thin (and will be even less able to do so once the school year starts and I go back to work), so two posts a week might be a bit much for me to sign up for. I like the idea of constructive criticism, with the option of either private messages or comment writing. One way I've used in the past to help keep criticism helpful and supportive is the 3-2-1 method (3 positives, 2 things to work on, 1 question to continue the conversation). Any way you slice it, if there's more support than critique people are more likely to feel built up as they go on with their writing.--Pedagogy mode disengage. Great idea though, keep us posted.
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#4 Thrylos

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:22 AM

I think that there might be some merit to it and people might join, but here is some food for thought:

- You already do provide this platform (people can have their own blog) and you are trying to "formalize" it in a way. I think that there are a few of us (mainly the ones who are already been blogging and re-posting things here) who are already utilizing this platform. Also, I have noticed some very good blogs from people who did not blog before and I wish I saw more from them. I suspect group 2 is the audience you want to reach. And I would love to know what would make those people do it more but I cannot answer that question, since I am not one of them. Maybe you need to dangle a carrot, because what you are proposing looks a lot like what is available now, plus the 2 blogs a week commitment. So it looks like more commitment and more work for something that already exists. So, I think, that you got to give people something in return for doing that to motivate them to do it (because, as I said, as is I am not sure they gain anything.)

- That 2 blog posts a week requirement will turn people away. And you know it. And I know it. And everyone who has been blogging for a while knows it. Sometimes life happens, sometimes you just don't feel like blogging... So I think that you got to loosen that requirement to something like once every other week to not scare people who are full time in school and have exams or who have jobs and families (and are not crazy like some of us) to do it.

- I'd really take that constructive criticism off, unless you can make sure that a. the criticism given is constructive and b. the writer is not attacked personally because of his/her opinions and ideas... Reading in the forum, I think that you will agree that a sizable group of members would have a problem understand a. and b. above. And there is nothing worse for a new writer to write his/her first post and feel attacked by hostile forces :) Some of us have a really thick skin and do not care. But I suspect the people you want to reach have yet to develop that (otherwise they would post more). I suspect that people will be rating the content of a blog versus the skill, which is not really that much more than a popularity of opinion vote (now, how about firing them Gardy and Andy and Terry? ;) )

I'd love to see more voices here (and there are in the forums etc) to create nice, written, structured arguments. That would be fun to read. Here is an idea: How about something like a mini-competition thing that lasts 2 weeks and people vote for the best one and the winner gets something:

- Pick a topic
- Give a 2 week deadline and some structural requirements (eg 500+ words, blah blah blah)
- Let people write within those 2 weeks
- Let members vote for the best
- Winner gets something

Something like that would be a tad different that what is available now...

Just some food for thought...

This has been a great place, I'd love to see how it continues to develop.
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#5 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:29 AM

Thrylos, you have some great ideas there. I'm not involved much in the writing aspect of the site but some kind of contest could be a lot of fun.

#6 Thrylos

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:35 AM

I'm not involved much in the writing aspect of the site but some kind of contest could be a lot of fun.



See, I think that you might be a perfect example of people who John is targeting with this.

So:

What it will take for you, to write more? Like a blog ;)
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#7 Jim Crikket

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:36 AM

I think Thrylos is on to something there (the 2 week topic "assignment", not the firing of Gardy, Andy and Terry :D). CapitalBabs got me in to an online photography club a couple of years ago. The organizer would periodically assign a topic and everyone would go out and take pictures that fit the genre or topic assigned, then share with the group by the deadline. Even that became tough to keep up with over time and eventually died off (or they left and reorganized somewhere without me because my photography sucked, which is quite possible!). But while it was going, I really enjoyed it. It might even be a good way to generate more off-season activity because, while some of us never shut up about baseball, I think we'll find a lot of people don't spend nearly as much of their winters thinking, much less writing, about the Twins.
[COLOR=#0000cd]I opine about the Twins and Kernels regularly at[/COLOR][COLOR=#800000] Knuckleballsblog.com[/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd] while my alter ego, SD Buhr covers the Kernels for [/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd][COLOR=#800000]MetroSportsReport.com[/COLOR][/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd].[/COLOR] [COLOR=#0000cd]
[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#b22222]~You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant~[/COLOR]

#8 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:38 AM

See, I think that you might be a perfect example of people who John is targeting with this.

So:

What it will take for you, to write more? Like a blog ;)


Oh, I intentionally stay away from writing on the site. It's a conscious decision. We have four great writers on this site already and my time is better left to handling the technical aspects of the site. If I started getting excited to write stuff, it would detract from the myriad of technical issues I need to deal with going forward.

I already do a ton of writing for some of my other personal projects and I know just how much time it takes to do it properly. It'd be fun to do it for TD but it wouldn't be a responsible decision on my part.

#9 CDog

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:40 AM

I would agree with the other comments that 2/week feels like a lot, especially when many of the people you're looking to get involved are currently at a number much closer to 0/week. I do think that being part of a group and commiting to it is half the battle. I can only speak for myself, but I think fairly regularly that I should do more but then end up simply commenting on Forum Threads, etc and the time never gets devoted. I also have the impression that things that go in the Blog section here don't get read as much, so there's a bit of a feeling that there's "no point." I don't know if that's true or if others share that feeling...just an impression I have.

#10 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:47 AM

I can only speak for myself, but I think fairly regularly that I should do more but then end up simply commenting on Forum Threads, etc and the time never gets devoted. I also have the impression that things that go in the Blog section here don't get read as much, so there's a bit of a feeling that there's "no point." I don't know if that's true or if others share that feeling...just an impression I have.


The main blog page is the sixth most-viewed page on the site. It receives consistent and pretty heavy traffic. It's hard to break down individual blog numbers but I can guarantee that many sets of eyes are reading each blog as it's written.

But the real thing is that if something is written that everybody likes, we bump it to the front page, where that blog will easily receive 1,000 views or more. Part of what John is trying to do here is to get more writers writing and ultimately, more blogs bumped to the front page of TD.

#11 CDog

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 08:53 AM

The main blog page is the sixth most-viewed page on the site. It receives consistent and pretty heavy traffic. It's hard to break down individual blog numbers but I can guarantee that many sets of eyes are reading each blog as it's written.

But the real thing is that if something is written that everybody likes, we bump it to the front page, where that blog will easily receive 1,000 views or more. Part of what John is trying to do here is to get more writers writing and ultimately, more blogs bumped to the front page of TD.


That's good to know. In fact, that post alone will likely lead me to do more (which isn't a difficult goal since my next one will double my output!). It's good to know they're being seen so it doesn't feel like I may as well write something up in a Word document and leave it on my own computer for nobody else to see like it's a diary.

#12 PeanutsFromHeaven

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 09:41 AM

I can only speak for myself, but I think fairly regularly that I should do more but then end up simply commenting on Forum Threads, etc and the time never gets devoted.


See, and I have the opposite issue, where I end up blogging into the ether regardless of anyone reads what I write or not, but generally don't take the time to delve into the forums, where I feel like anything intelligent to say about the issue has already been said (and in fewer words than it takes me).

I think that the idea of sharing writing with people you feel comfortable with is the ideal (both for newbie bloggers and for newbie forum members). But that's just me. I'm not sure if others would be more engaged by the connection to others or feel like there's somebody looking over their shoulder...any thoughts on that?
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#13 ScottyBroco

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 10:21 AM

Twins Geek,
I am very happy that you posted this as I have been seriously thinking about starting my own blog. However, as I have learned and found out is that there are a TON Twins blogs out there and about quadruple that amount for baseball. I tried contacting the HardBall Times but after reading my senior paper on baseball and defensive metrics...I haven't heard back from them.
I do not want to be just another baseball blogger on blogspot. As I want it to attract some serious fans. So there might be some personal stuff on my website...
My writing skills are OK and require a considerable amount of time and energy to make them adequate. But, typos are my worst enemy. However, with practice and my some positive feedback I am confident that my writing skills will improve.

I would love to join this writing club and have two blog post a week or maybe one would help keep me honest. That way I could put into my google calender and thus into my routine.
Now, I am open to the idea of the contest though because in the fall classes will keep me busier. Although I think that some people have more time than they think they do.

I am an active Halsey hall Sabr member and attended the convention this past June. What a blast, I will attend those conventions for the rest of my life. I have spent a consider amount of time, energy, looking at sports jobs websites, talking to some people who work in the industry, and even a tour of Target of Field by the Office Manager which included the clubhouse and front offices but couldn't find one that matched my extrovert personality demands. After graduating with a degree in mathematics at the U of M, I enrolled in the Intial Licensure masters of education and Mathematics Education program and plan to keep baseball as a hobby. Hence the summer offs... haha But maybe one day if I felt the opportunity was right…
Anyway I could cover this more later on a post later
Also my brother, who I am very close with, Posts on http://board.uscho.com/ for his college hockey fix. So much so that he met his fiancée there and they are getting married next August. So maybe that would work for me..
Hope I didn't ramble too much..

#14 Jim Crikket

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 10:23 AM

I'm kind of with Peanuts on this. The Forum and Blog sections serve two completely different purposes for me. The blogs offer an opportunity to provide perspective and context on a topic that the writer feels strongly enough about to at least attempt to put forth her/his thoughtful viewpoint or share experiences with others. The Forum, frankly, seems more geared toward instant "debate". I rarely learn anything new from the Forum and while I'm as willing to debate viewpoints as the next person, I don't like being drawn in to the general lack of civility that can occur (I admit I'm guilty of that at times and it does bother me in retrospect) and after a while it just becomes beating dead horses and a bunch of people saying the same things over and over. Give me a well thought out blog post any day, even if I don't necessarily agree with the author's point. That's one reason I applaud John's efforts to come up with some way to generate more content in that area.
[COLOR=#0000cd]I opine about the Twins and Kernels regularly at[/COLOR][COLOR=#800000] Knuckleballsblog.com[/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd] while my alter ego, SD Buhr covers the Kernels for [/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd][COLOR=#800000]MetroSportsReport.com[/COLOR][/COLOR][COLOR=#0000cd].[/COLOR] [COLOR=#0000cd]
[/COLOR]

[COLOR=#b22222]~You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant~[/COLOR]

#15 righty8383

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 10:57 AM

I'm one of those who feels like my overall knowledge of the Twins and baseball in general is pretty good, but I've never been much of a writer. Thats why I don't do my own blogs. I did one when I first joined and that was it.

Edited by righty8383, 02 August 2012 - 11:00 AM.


#16 John Bonnes

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 11:30 AM

Loud and clear on the "2 blogs a week thing." Believe me, I get it. i'm glad you gave that feedback. The "twice per week" think wasn't to generate more content. It was just a way to get people into the habit of posting, which I think leads to better post. I'm also sensitive about the criticism, but I don't want this to turn into a butt-kissing party either. I want us to grow, and editing/criticism does that. Maybe private messages are a good idea for that but there is something to being public and candid, too. I also like the 3-2-1 idea. And I also like Thryloss "contest" idea. It's exactly the kind of thing that a "club" could do. What if the "club" offered the following: 1) everyone tried to do one post per week and 2) every 3rd week that post is a contest/shared topic of some kind? So for two weeks you can right whatever you want. But for the 3rd week you would be required to do a certain topic (story about a twins player) or type of story (game recap) or something like that? I'm also open to what the "carrot" would be. Maybe a special icon you can post on your avatar?

#17 CDog

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 12:02 PM

you can right whatever you want.


It's w-r-i-t-e, you idiot!!!!! Is that the kind of thing we're looking for? Hehehe.

#18 scottz

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 12:12 PM

I haven't written any articles out here, despite my best intentions when I started coming out here. I'd be interested in participating in some form of writers' group, so I'll try to stay in the loop with whatever ends up as the outcome of this thread.

#19 YourHouseIsMyHouse

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 01:33 PM

I think it's a great idea. If the requirements are a little more casual then I'd love to join! The biggest problem I've had with blogging here is with embedding images. I'd like to know more about how I can get them to 'work' if I was to write more.

#20 Fire Dan Gladden

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 01:45 PM

I like what you guys are trying to establish. I also believe that the negativity is driving some people away from writing more extensively. A couple of suggestions: 1) Create a seperate forum strictly for individuals that want to have their writing critiqued (or to help critique others). Access to the forum could be made by request to admin, and monitored by admin. Anybody crosses the line, they get banned from the forum. That way only people interested in being critiqued from a journalistic point of view would be involved. The understanding is that comments in there are more of a clinical nature. 2) Push more member articles to the front page. I enjoyed the article about the guy and his annual pack of cards. You might see more in-depth writing from members if the "carrot" was a little more pub. 3) You could create a "Blogger of the Week". Every week pick somebody who has been blogging semi-regularly, ask them a few canned questions to show people what they are all about, and put in on the front page. Again, would give individuals more publicity and a louder voice. 4) A "Question of the Day" thread would give your regular debaters something to, well, debate about on a regular basis. Thanks guys and keep up the great work!

Edited by Fire Dan Gladden, 02 August 2012 - 02:16 PM.


#21 John Bonnes

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 08:00 AM

I like what you guys are trying to establish. I also believe that the negativity is driving some people away from writing more extensively. A couple of suggestions:

1) Create a seperate forum strictly for individuals that want to have their writing critiqued (or to help critique others). Access to the forum could be made by request to admin, and monitored by admin. Anybody crosses the line, they get banned from the forum. That way only people interested in being critiqued from a journalistic point of view would be involved. The understanding is that comments in there are more of a clinical nature.

2) Push more member articles to the front page. I enjoyed the article about the guy and his annual pack of cards. You might see more in-depth writing from members if the "carrot" was a little more pub.

3) You could create a "Blogger of the Week". Every week pick somebody who has been blogging semi-regularly, ask them a few canned questions to show people what they are all about, and put in on the front page. Again, would give individuals more publicity and a louder voice.

4) A "Question of the Day" thread would give your regular debaters something to, well, debate about on a regular basis.

Thanks guys and keep up the great work!


#1 - I'm not sure exactly how to make that work, but the point is taken. Though I really believe that if done right, criticism is welcomed.
#2 - Agree. That would be part of our goal of this club.
#3 - Good idea
#4 - Another good idea, but I would put it on the forums.

#22 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 08:42 AM

but some kind of contest could be a lot of fun.

Just make sure you have the legal terms etc all laid out, Twinsdaily is becoming large enough were you could jam yourselves up if you don't do the due diligence.

Internet and contests are a huge legal pain in the ass at times.

#23 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 09:14 AM

Just make sure you have the legal terms etc all laid out, Twinsdaily is becoming large enough were you could jam yourselves up if you don't do the due diligence.

Internet and contests are a huge legal pain in the ass at times.



Mmm, good point.

#24 Shane Wahl

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 09:48 AM

See, I think that you might be a perfect example of people who John is targeting with this.

So:

What it will take for you, to write more? Like a blog ;)


Speaking for myself, the Twins organization has burnt me the hell out this year!

(and I was both simultaneously really busy and really lazy, if that makes sense)

I like John's general idea as well as the contest idea. I can see how already highly productive bloggers might take some issue, though. To address Jim's concern, I would think other blog posts about Cedar Rapids or whatever could be welcomed as part of the two posts requirement.

#25 BrentMpls

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 10:37 PM

I think thats a great idea - but I don't know about writing two a week. Quality over quantity I think. I know part of the point is to add content often, but I don't know that I can come up with 2 unique topics or perspectives a week.

#26 Badsmerf

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Posted 07 August 2012 - 09:51 PM

Maybe I should start writing more. People on this site could really use my intelligence and overall baseball knowledge in a platform that they can read-it, and re-read... a few times if necessary. I didn't think the blogs were read very much (since I only read sporadic front-page interesting blogs since I'm a blog snob). I did develop a blog I was going to post, but I was way too long for my liking with too many stupid facts and not enough snark. Speaking of that, I think my first blog is going to be 10 reasons I hate this site (all in fun of course for John, Seth and the people that don't know me yet).

#27 Shane Wahl

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:02 AM

So . . . what became of this?

I should further elaborate . . . I generally find back and forth discussions more appealing . . . so the forums are a much better place for that. If I knew that people read blog posts (I "view" many as well!) and they generated more comments, then I would certainly blog more. And it isn't content-based. I am sure that if I posted a blog and a discussion thread with the exact same text, The latter would be out-commented upon 10 to 1 at least.

#28 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 07:09 AM

So . . . what became of this?

I should further elaborate . . . I generally find back and forth discussions more appealing . . . so the forums are a much better place for that. If I knew that people read blog posts (I "view" many as well!) and they generated more comments, then I would certainly blog more. And it isn't content-based. I am sure that if I posted a blog and a discussion thread with the exact same text, The latter would be out-commented upon 10 to 1 at least.


Well, it depends. If your blog is promoted to the front page, it will certainly garner more interest than a forum post would... Articles generally have 1,000-3,000 reads before they rotate off the front page and go into the archives. You definitely won't get that with a forum thread. As a blog, it's hard to say how many comments you'll get... I was looking last night and several of the blogs had healthy conversations going in them.

All in all, we want to improve in this department. But given each of our individual workloads, it's not something that's going to happen overnight.