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Article: Twins Daily's Long-Term Future And Writers


John Bonnes
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I love this site. Thank you for writing about the things that presumably keep you up at night. I would think we, as a community, would want to help.

 

I occasionally comment but mostly just read. When the opportunity came out a couple years ago to start game threads, I jumped on the opportunity. I love to write, and I love baseball. The threads gave me the chance to combine those and do something that was at least somewhat meaningful. I've maybe written 6 thread starters and have loved the opportunity to write them.

 

It's not about the money to me, personally. I'd write stuff for free. Time is certainly a concern, with a demanding job and a family, but I could make time. Part of it, I guess, is that I feel to some extent that I should be asked. I know anyone can post a blog....but it never felt like I should unless TD's power players felt I should. That's probably weird - but it's my thought process.

 

One idea is to perhaps get a roster of part-time contributors signed on to contribute, and maybe they can select general idea categories to 'own'. And then, build a schedule. Maybe it's weekly, twice a month, whatever. But if it's your day to create content, then you are accountable to putting something out there.

 

Anyway, I have faith that TD will continue/begin to thrive. Because it's excellent analysis and discussion. Best of luck to you all.

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Overall I think there's a lot of talent in this community. Collaboration would help make this place even better IMO.

 

Game threads for example I've partnered with Barks Lounge who is one of the best photoshop users I've seen. I've also asked Brock if he had illustrations I could use for game thread themes, and Pardon My Dinger for collaborating on parody songs. Unfortunately we weren't able to figure out how to make the music portion work... What software to use that would work on this website.

 

I also remember Pardon My Dinger did a live game thread where you could listen to his rants and comments throughout the game that I think is very creative.

 

I've envisioned game threads and other threads with video, pictures, and other creative methods.

 

Long story short, we could make this place great using each of our different talents together.

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Being a Twins fan but an inveterate reader of TD, I take this call to arms seriously.    Unfortunately, I am not at all SABR-knowledgeable but, as a statistics lover, I'd enjoy learning what the terms mean to better informed and to know where to learn more.  I've read posts in all categories on this site and usually don't even sign in, much less comment.  But I've considered it often.

 

The comments do draw a line of demarcation between deeply researched and "what your eye tells you" articles and blogs.  Some absorb the former, others only the latter, and some suck it all up.

 

For the more casual fan who is stat-capable but merely uninformed, does it make any sense to provide a link to a page at BR or another site with definitions and an idea of what is a good, bad or indifferent performance metric?  I find the analysis fascinating but not always understandable.

 

My life would be much less fulfilled without TD.  I appreciate those who take the time to inform and provide us with their humor.  At this point, I've never considered whether I have a voice worth listening to, but I can probably fool myself into believing so until I'm told otherwise.  Well, with all good intentions...we'll see.

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Few thoughts:

 

- I think that TD should a. figure out what problem it solves for its audience and b. focus on its strengths and not focus on trying to fix weaknesses, unless there are some really glaring ones.   Figuring out why we all are coming here and staying here and returning here, and base-lining your audience should be the first step.

- About writing and this blogging thing:  It has it's ups and downs.  If you look at the blogging industry these days, it is definitely a down time.  Look at writers like LaVelle and Howard Sinker.  LaVelle used to write daily pretty much.  Sinker twice a week.  Even Gleeman does nor write much any more.  Podcasts, vlogs/youtube, twitter etc are the thing now.

- Writing just to write every day it does take its toll, esp. if you are doing it as a hobby.  Looking back to my blog the last 10 years: in the beginning I was at 170's post/year, peaking at 242 posts in 2013 and then sticking around 70 each of the past 4 years.  And from those, about 10-15 are daily reports from ST, and 10 more prospect count downs, so my comfort zone is about a post a week.  Or so.  When I have something to say.

- I think that (and that is an opinion that should probably be checked) audience comes to a sports blog site not to get informed about something as soon as something happens (twitter is wonderful for that) or to find what happened in yesterday's game (can't beat beat writers for that), but to hear a particular point of view, find out stuff that cannot find out anywhere else (like Seth's minors info, prospect interviews etc, or Parker's breakdown of particular individual tendencies etc) or (and this is a particularly strong point for TD) to vent (in the forums.)

- The other thing I got to mention is that you all need to figure out what you are:  bloggers or journalists.  If you are the latter, with access, it is hard to criticize fairly the organization.  If e.g. St. Peter is your buddy, you just cannot be critical about him e.g. hosting school football games and tearing up the ballpark for no reason.  Or e.g. if Goin is your buddy, you just e.g. cannot celebrate that the Twins went another way, because based on the results, he was ineffective.  

- Find out what you can do and are doing different than others (hint: the forum, and specific exclusive content mentioned) and do it better and do more of it...

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The hard part of building a community of writers is that sitting down and writing an article, coming up with an idea, then forming it into something worth reading, well, that's not an easy task.

 

Back in the BYTO days, I tried, and the process of writing one interesting article a week was like a full-time job in addition to my full-time job. And the reality was the community didn't need me to write for it to flourish. When othese people tried to write, they seemed to discover the same thing. And they petered out too.

 

It's an admirable goal to want more people to write. But there has to be a realization how hard that is.

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I had no idea that their was an opportunity to cash in writing on TD. Not that it would have made a difference. I have written a few forum pieces, none of which were memorable, and have done a few GT openers. To an extent I enjoy both. TD is somewhat of a safe haven in which to express ones opinion. Comments made are generally respectful, even in disagreement. It's one reason I would hope that negative forums or blogs dont start appearing. While I am not inclined to kiss the FO posterior, and have had issues with field management, it's a fine line between critiscim and abject negativity. I don't have a solution for the blog issue, but I would say that the biggest obstacle for me in the GT openers is the lineups. The window is small and I don't want to be tied to my electronics in some cases. Nevertheless, I check this site daily, have for several years, and hope to be able to for many more.

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Many have bemoaned ideation as the most difficult phase of writing. As this is supposed to be a community, and most professional long form and script writing is team written.... maybe there should be some teamwork? Maybe some drop boxes and private forums for small groups to brainstorm?

 

It goes back to management here as well but I imagine that is solved to some extent feretting out the thread.

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The most humor possible!  At the end of the day, none of us really know what the best baseball decisions are, but we all like to laugh.

 

The Simpson's thread on this site was one of the funniest threads I've ever followed and showed the fun intellect of the site followwers. 

 

RiverBrian has fantastic posts....More like that please

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I rely on TD for news about the team, since I live in Missouri, my only chance to see the major league club firsthand is when they play Kansas City.  I occasionally get to Cedar Rapids to see a game (love the ballpark).

 

I can write about the games I've seen, but that would mostly go toward the comment section.

 

Please don't go.

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When we write a story, it automatically creates a forum post and links the comments to the forum post. I wonder if we could do something like that for blog posts. (And then link the comments from the blog post to the article when it is promoted.) Sounds daunting, but that would be ideal

this is exactly what you need to do. Each blog automatically gets a thread in the forums like an article. It can be promoted to the front page at the owners discretion.

 

Second idea... create a short stories forum where writers can write something else for others entertainment. Gaming forums do this on occasion.

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I am a great fan of this site, but am not wanting to be a "writer" - a staff writer, etc. I always feel that quality is more important than quantity. I don't see a need to grow as much as maintain. I hate the nickname "twinkie", and can't find myself ever wanting to go to a site that thinks that is clever/cute... so much that it names it site something that, to me, disparages the very entity that it is honoring. So this is the place to go for Twins' news for me.

 

I understand the pull to podcasting, and the hope for some fame. I personally find most independent sport's podcast very tedious, repetitive, and self indulgent. I don't care about the waitress or the beer etc. Concise and informative, rather than rambling and off topic, is way better than long and laborious, to me. 

 

Just like musicians and their audiences, readers are just as important to writers, for without the readers, there is no audience to the writer's articles. If the goal is to grow, rather than maintain, it could be quite difficult. There are only so many people that will have an obsession like those here that participate. I will try to figure out a way that I may contribute other than just reading and commenting. I like this site.

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Just the fact that this thread was created is very concerning, I'd hate that TD would be offline and non existent. I have been a participating member since March or April of 2012.

 

In the last year plus, not too much. My life has changed and I don't have the time to participate and I am sure there are a lot of other loyal followers in which the same thing has happened. I don't know what the solution is, but I hope you guys figure it out because this site is great and the loss of it would be a huge loss.

 

Speaking for myself these days, if I participate, it is in the game threads or the Sports Bar. I wish I had more to offer, but I really don't. There is a lot of tremendous talent on this site who don't have the time to put in to answer the call. If anything, the youth and retired is probably the answer to fill the writing void. Recruit them. The in-between will probably fail for understandable reasons.

Edited by Bark's Lounge
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As a writer, I've often wanted to submit a story to TD, but I've never known how. Add two buttons to the top of your website:

• How to submit a front page story, which reveals the guidelines, limitations and process for submissions, and

• Submit a story. An email address or other means to submit a story – potentially for the front page.

If you make it easier, you will undoubtedly get an influx of stories for consideration. of course it's up to you as editors to decide what goes on the front page. 

As you get more stories, you will likely get more readers and more advertising dollars.

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I think the "unmentioned" is that someone -- some-bodies -- are doing a lot of work and, though the site was started with an idea that this could be sustainable, reality is, like a lot of start-ups, it just isn't.

 

So, we started a business, it had a framework for self-perpetuation, but, to get it going and keep it going, we-had-to-do-what-we-had-to-do, the original model has not proven out, and now we need to face up to how to make this work or consider letting it all go.

 

Maybe this is close?  Some reading between the lines, but that's what I get.

 

Most Blogs and websites and even internet companies, even large and successful ones, do not have a business model to start with.  They don't.  They either do it out of passion and because someone is crazy, or they just have a really good idea in a particular area, and hope that, over time, a business model emerges.

 

The ones that survive remain open to possibility and are nimble and adjust as circumstances dictate.

 

But, push comes to shove, you start an internet website, low barrier to entry, now you have readers, now it's a couple years on, no one is making money, everyone is donating time, but there's no way to monetize and people are getting frazzled.

 

From the outside, I like to stop by, everyday, see what's going on.  But, no idea you were fundamentally looking to incubate writers.  Not for a moment would I have thought that. 

 

As an English teacher, I can say, you aren't going to incubate writers readily.  Writers who are good are already working and busy.  The ones who are motivated are already working and busy.  The ones who are passionate are working and busy and willing to help out or to try their hand.  The others.... well, there are a lot of other writers on the Internet and they won't get you anywhere.

 

The best way to advance a business is to do it yourself.  Countless hours of work.  It's yours, you created it, take pride in it, etc.  People only care about things they create;  they do not care about things that others have created.

 

The best reason for an outsider like me to write is not money.  It's more about having a forum to put ideas and quality writing out that is going to draw eye-balls and create a reason for me to put more effort into baseball writing.  There's a lot of things to write about, and baseball is profound, but, for me, only in a kind of semi-spiritual way, which takes time to tease out.  Statistics are great and I'm glad to have a window on that world, but in the final analysis, I don't love baseball because of statistics.  I love it because of the human drama.

 

The best reason for me to write is as a prelude to assembling essays into a book to publish.

 

But I have no idea that anything I wrote here would ever get kicked up to the front page.  And I think that is what people are saying.  You want open-source, you gotta live with open-source.  You want curation, you guys gotta do that and it isn't self-managing.

 

I mean, your moderators are hyper-vigilant about even a hint of controversy, but you want open-source on articles?  I'm not seeing internal consistency on that.

 

But still love the site and hope you figure it out.

 

 

 

 

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Having posted earlier, and now having a chance to read through a few additional pages of well thought out dialogue, I have to echo and add a few thoughts.

 

1] I have a journalism background from many, many years ago. However, I certainly wouldn't consider myself trained as a journalist at this point. That being said, I am a "creative writer with many years of short stories, (a few lousy novels when I was young), and have spent the past couple of decades focused on poetry. I write for the sake of writing and sharing, not for monetary value.

 

2] That being said, as a rather frequent contributor here, I can reflect on a few points already brought up:

 

a: It is frustrating to contribute to a FORUM or BLOG and then not see comments carried over to a main page article.

 

b: I have felt a few times I have started a FORUM topic only to see it die quickly. Now, I have no illusions, and at times my topic simply may not have been as interesting as I initially thought, or, the timing could be bad on my part and it simply became hurried by a new topic or breaking news.

 

C: I do think the BLOG section could be expanded so that LIKES and the such are better realized, or the entire section could be highlighted more. While I visit and read the BLOG section daily, it seems there is a prevailing feeling it's treated as a bottom of the page afterthought by some rather than standing out in content.

 

Not sure I have any thoughts on fixes, just making a few observations.

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- I think that (and that is an opinion that should probably be checked) audience comes to a sports blog site not to get informed about something as soon as something happens (twitter is wonderful for that) or to find what happened in yesterday's game (can't beat beat writers for that), but to hear a particular point of view, find out stuff that cannot find out anywhere else (like Seth's minors info, prospect interviews etc, or Parker's breakdown of particular individual tendencies etc) or (and this is a particularly strong point for TD) to vent (in the forums.)

These were some really well-thought out responses. I would've guessed the same thing as you on this item, but I'm constantly surprised by my numbers (so I tend not to look at them). 

 

My article on the Duke signing, which was basically the same thing anybody can find at any Twins site right now (except the sweet release point info), looks like it has almost as many views as all five of my Prospect Spotlight Series articles ... combined. Those were pretty in-depth pieces on guys who don't get a ton of ink outside of Twins Daily. I thought people might like those, considering it was some different content in the dead of winter, but I guess I was wrong.

 

Altogether, it looks like I got about 3,000 views off those six articles (Duke + the five prospect spotlights) combined. In other words, I'll get $1 per article. I'm not complaining, just wanted to be real transparent for anybody out there who heard you can get paid for writing here and got dollar signs in their eyes.

 

And the whole part about beating the beat writers on the gamers ... I'm gonna die trying! That's my white whale.

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These were some really well-thought out responses. I would've guessed the same thing as you on this item, but I'm constantly surprised by my numbers (so I tend not to look at them). 

 

My article on the Duke signing, which was basically the same thing anybody can find at any Twins site right now (except the sweet release point info), looks like it has almost as many views as all five of my Prospect Spotlight Series articles ... combined. Those were pretty in-depth pieces on guys who don't get a ton of ink outside of Twins Daily. I thought people might like those, considering it was some different content in the dead of winter, but I guess I was wrong.

 

Altogether, it looks like I got about 3,000 views off those six articles (Duke + the five prospect spotlights) combined. In other words, I'll get $1 per article. I'm not complaining, just wanted to be real transparent for anybody out there who heard you can get paid for writing here and got dollar signs in their eyes.

 

And the whole part about beating the beat writers on the gamers ... I'm gonna die trying! That's my white whale.

 

Views is not the best way of judging audience engagement with a particular piece of content, since with that metric, someone who is a first and only time user who clicks a link at a third site and spends a second on a piece of content, is treated the same with someone who is a dedicated user and who clicks once and spends 10 minutes reading another piece of content, and does that for a couple hours a day...

 

Views is easy to calculate; you need  a bit more of advanced analytics to quantify engagement, which should really be the goal of every digital content provider.

 

 

Edited by Thrylos
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I must confess, I rarely visit the blog section unless it generates a forum thread.  
 

I both applaud TD for asking for help and advice, and scratch my head at its apparent lack of self-awareness leading up to this point. As others have suggested, if you would like more featured blogs, then you must feature your blogs!!  If the blogs were as popular as the Articles and Forum Threads, we wouldn't be having this discussion.  Articles get front page status.  Threads get constant dialogue and buzz.  Blogs get...  a spot in the dropdown box.  Right now, your best threads, articles, and yes, blogs, are difficult to share on facebook, twitter, etc.  That's not really acceptable if you're looking for greater exposure.

My suggestions:
1) Determine whether a TD model based on free blog content is realistic. Don't ask us.  Ask other sites you want to be like how they make their blog work.  Is there an easier way to make things profitable? 

2) The blogs need to be boosted.  Getting some blogs to the front page and to the top of the thread list on the forum would be super-simple fixes.  Reference the blogs in articles. Publish some blog postings as TD articles.

 

3) Boost the bloggers themselves.  Nick, Seth, Parker, and John are on a first-name basis on this site.  Spycake, Thrylos, and Chief, etc. are well respected posters on the threads.  We need to get to know the bloggers. Understand their perspective and credentials.  In short, we need to be told why we should read. Readers award attention on TD based on reputation and respect.  Anyone can post on the forum.  Anyone can start a blog.  Not everyone can get article status.  You've inadvertently created a second class of writer below the article authors and basically on equal plane as the forum posters. This provides little incentive to read or write.  

4) Go read some of the other team forum sites out there, and realize how amazing the site content is and how special the community you've constructed is, and be proud of what you've accomplished. 

5) Consider giving up the blog model entirely.  Hire another writer to generate more content.  Make this a pay site.  I do not subscribe to ESPN insider, but I'd subscribe to this site...  for the cost of a 2018 prospect handbook included as a free gift to you...

 

6) Don't ask us.  Pay a consultant.  There are people who know as much about building and promoting online publications as you know about Twins baseball and the media.
 

Edited by Jham
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I say it completely tongue in cheek, but find a time machine to go back to 2010.

 

For whatever reason -- I mean, other than the team being really bad for a long time -- but I feel like the community was on fire back then, and is just dead now. 

 

There's no interaction on twitter during games, clicks on articles are low. 

 

I don't know. I just feel like when Target Field opened, this community was amazing. Now that the team is good again.....I'm not feeling it.

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I'll add this just so I can stop posting and wasting all your time: 

 

Back when things were rolling (2010), this was a way more inclusive community all the way to the top. 

 

Now I think it's become a very closed society.

 

Disagree if you want.  

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As someone with a significant blog history here, I feel like Twins Daily fosters the exact reason why I write. It's not about getting paid or recognition, but instead an avenue to share opinions and incite discussion. Admittedly, I'm not great about forum engagement, but there's rarely a discussion that takes place on Twitter or my blog pieces that I don't welcome.

 

Prior to becoming a regular contributor to Twins Daily, I did find it disheartening to not have stories on the front page. Not for clicks or notoriety, but solely for the fact I believed it invited more discussion. Since becoming a regular contributor, that factor has only added to my desire to continue to share opinion and do some analysis pieces.

 

I blog in my spare time, but have enough of it that I enjoy carving time out to do so. I'm not sure if I provided any insight or answers, but I do know that this site has only helped to foster a passion for a hobby I didn't know I had.

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Hey everybody,

 

I read this article early this morning, but I wanted to not comment on it for awhile and just allow whatever comments to surface. I want readers to know that I read through every comment to this point and really appreciate them. I jotted down lots of notes (3 pages worth) and will spend more time evaluating them.

 

I do want to share my thoughts on several things... 

 

1.) I like getting feedback like this. It's a good reminder of what we do well, but also what things we need to improve upon.

2.) Based on some comments, I do feel I need to explain a few things. First, none of us do this full time. We are bloggers who came together to create this community and we are very proud of what we have created. But I hope people know that we all have jobs that actually pay us money and help us pay our bills. The little bit that we get from this site is nice and helps, but there's no way any of us could do this full time, at least not yet... 

3.) Twins Daily isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But we did want to provide this community with a way to continue developing more bloggers. The comment early in this thread about going to Thrylos's blog and looking at all of the Twins blogs that are no more was a big eye-opener. Blogging is a lot of work, and to do it almost 14 years like I have is crazy. But I enjoy it. But, life can get in the way and that's understandable. Right now, Nick and I are the two founders/owners that still write. Parker hasn't for 2-3 years. John has worked really hard behind the scenes. Brock does a ton that helps make things run smoothly. 

3b) It is hard to come up with topics, and writers block is a real thing. During the season, I typically average about 9 articles per week. My point in this is that I am not a journalist. I have no journalism training. I don't even pretend to be a strong writer. I find spelling important, and I find punctuation and grammar important... That's something I'll look for in terms of quality... but a lot of that is fairly easily correctable, so then it comes down to interesting, well-reasoned and provocative. Could be analytical, but we really don't have a lot of deep analytical postings. We also don't have a ton of Twins history on the site. That's an area we would love to see more of, and will starting with the new year. WE don't cover other AL Central teams or competition. But there are a lot of angles. We do cover the minor leagues and the draft pretty well, but there are lots of things that can be discussed.

4.) There are success stories to this model. Cody Christie writes twice a week throughout the year. He's busy with his job, his wife and kid, and taking some classes. He's still writing, but he's busy. Jeremy Nygaard was huge for this site for the early years. He has the great contacts in the Twins scouting areas and really has a passion for the draft. He'll continue to do that, but he's married, has four kids, a new job, and has become a varsity coach. He has very little time. Ted has been posting blogs (from his site) in the Twins Daily blogs for a while. His topics and consistency made him a good choice for us to have post once a week. The biggest success story of our model has to be Tom Froemming. He's written some other places, but he started writing in the Blogs. We noticed, and we worked with him and we started promoting some of his blogs to Articles/Front Page. Over time, he wrote weekly. He wrote Minor League reports last year, and as noted, he found something that Twins Daily was lacking, a game recap that was different than what the beat writers are doing. It's been a huge success. The concern is that more and more people will continue to get busier, and it would be non-good to lose several writers without adding some consistent contributors. 

5.) The Blogs are just that, a blog. It's a place that people can write anything they want. It can be Twins related. It could be Timberwolves, Vikings, Reality TV or any other topic you want. I wrote up a blog before Season 8 of The Walking Dead started and posted it as a blog. It wasn't appropriate for Twins Daily's front page by any means, but I promoted it on Twitter and got some readers. It was fun. I always say that I write stuff that I would want to read. That way, I can remain passionate about it. That's what the Blogs are to me, and maybe we need to define that better.

6.) Regarding forums getting shut down by a front page article coming out, I'm not sure what we need to do there. There needs to be a way to merge them. Frankly, we need an article on breaking news. While I could see something on twitter and go write a forum post in 15 seconds, we need an article, and that can happen as quickly as in 5 minutes. We're going to continue doing articles on big Twins news. So, we just need to find a good answer. 

7.) I have so many other thoughts, but I do want to encourage people to continue adding more feedback. I personally really appreciate it. We aren't going to hire a consultant because we do care what you think. And we do welcome your feedback. For awhile, I was checking out the Blogs pages daily. I promoted several articles over the course of a year or so, when it was written well, thought out and something that warranted a front page spot. I've unfortunately gotten away from it. But I will commit to going to the Blogs pages daily and reviewing what's out there. I can provide comments to articles or click like. Moreover, I welcome anyone to send me a private message and I will try to reply within a day. I like to think it'll be quicker than that, but I do have an 8-5 job that in the last month or two has often kept me there until 6-7... and with the Prospect Handbook work the last 3 months, time has been at a premium... But please feel free to write me and I will really attempt to provide you as much feedback as I can.

 

Again, please continue to leave feedback, it is appreciated!

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I say it completely tongue in cheek, but find a time machine to go back to 2010.

 

For whatever reason -- I mean, other than the team being really bad for a long time -- but I feel like the community was on fire back then, and is just dead now.

 

There's no interaction on twitter during games, clicks on articles are low.

 

I don't know. I just feel like when Target Field opened, this community was amazing. Now that the team is good again.....I'm not feeling it.

I don't know much about the content of the blogs as I am more of a front page guy, if it looks interesting I read it. Meaning the headings are important. When I open TD the blogs are buried, maybe that's just my setting. But click bait is a fact of life. As to the less intense version of content in the last year (seemingly), I think some of is due to the lack of serious player movement. Signing Zack Duke may have some intrinsic value to Pau Molitor in the 7th inning, but it's hard to comment on a blog or forum while yawning. Same for game threads, the gallows humor displayed by many of the regulars for several years was inspiring and in some instances side splitting. TD is driven I am sure by Twins passion. The passion can be driven by different emotions, but it's got to exist. Currently it seems to me that the team may be stuck in a sort of neutral. Too good to be bad, but not good enough to be great. Controversy, pro or con drives interest. It's currently lacking. Edited by Platoon
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Reading through I am surprised by the concern of a forum being shut down for breaking news. Seems like a simple solution though. Don’t shut the thread down. Keep both threads. Put a link in the thread inviting readers to go to the article without closing the thread. Take the time to write a good article and trust the conversation will flow that direction.

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