I haven’t had a lot of response to my question about a New RPG Blog Planet, but what I have had has ranged from “sounds like a good idea” (with suggestions for alternatives) to “SQUEEE!” (which I interpret as fairly positive).
I’ve had a bit more time to think about it, and am picturing the following features and guidelines.
- Blog owners can register one or more RSS feeds. At this point I think I want to moderate additions because there are several things I want to do:
- Ensure the blog is in fact RPG-related. I really want to avoid spam and other crap. I have a fairly liberal interpretation of ‘RPG-related’. I considered inviting Subterranean Design simply because the pictures can be awesomely evocative scene-setters (decided not to because there is no real excerpt — the only thing I would generally be able to show is the actual picture, and I want to avoid post-stealing).
- Confirm that the registrant in fact has authority to register the blog (probably by simply adding a post saying they’re signing up, I’m not aiming to be too hardass about it). Because I plan to store as much information as I can about the posts (including the full post body, for indexing and search reasons) I want to be as friendly about it as possible.
- Confirm feed quality. My personal aggregator includes a few blogs that do not provide excerpts in their feeds, or have only limited body text. That is entirely up to the feed owner, but it limits the utility of this service if I’ve got nothing I can display or search.
- All posts will be stored locally for indexing and search reasons. However, body text will not be displayed in full as body text, with the following exceptions:
- If no explicit excerpt is provided, an excerpt will be taken from the start of the body text.
- If the post is short enough and no explicit excerpt is provided, the generated excerpt may end up being the entire body text.
- When a search is run, I expect to show match context (text around the matched search criteria) in the search results.
- Posts will be
- Browseable by author (as identified by email address in the feed).
- Browseable by date. I find that contrary to normal blog behavior, when browsing my personal aggregator by day (that is, reading each day in turn) it is much more useful to have each day’s posts presented in normal chronological order rather than reverse. However, the archive will likely still work in reverse chronological order.
- Browseable by blog (source feed).
- Browseable by keyword (tags and/or categories, as provided by source feed).
- Searchable by text. Stretch feature: advanced searches, include author, feed, date ranges, tags. “feat design tag:dnd-4e” sort of thing.
- Feeds will be categorized (definitely on registration, possibly afterward either by the feed owner or indirectly on request from the feed owner), so blogs may be browsed by category. “Show posts from OSR blogs” (or D&D 4e blogs, or Shadowrun blogs, or product review blogs, or whatever). When advanced searches come available, “dragon blogtype:osr” might be a valid option.
- Subscribers (registered users) might have
- Multiple formats for viewing post lists. I can easily see minimalist entries of just a line or two on the screen, larger entries with some meta-information about the post and/or blog (possibly including blog avatar, author avatar, and/or post featured image), larger yet with the excerpt displayed (possibly with ‘related articles’), and so on. I don’t want to get too fancy yet, but I can see moving in this direction.
- Post marking (for later reading, or whatever).
- Perhaps allow logging of (personal) notes against feeds or posts, to make things more useful.
- Perhaps allow ‘following’; I can imagine a facility where I generally like what someone writes, so making it easy to share personal lists of favorite posts or the like might be worthwhile. Definitely a stretch feature.
- Perhaps have personalized RSS feeds — aggregate the limited (excerpt-only) posts from a selected set of feeds into one. The subscriber would still need to follow links back to the original site to read the body text, though. Second stage might allow more dynamic and powerful personalized feeds, perhaps based on queries. “I’m interested in Carcosa, so give me a feed that tells me about posts mentioning Carcosa”… not sure about this one, it could be a bit of a challenge.
This is still pretty open to adjustment, I’m still brainstorming to a fair extent.
I have a few overarching guidelines, though.
First, Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be a dick. Specifically, don’t just repackage other people’s stuff and publish it. Excerpts and indexing and searching is all cool, copying other people’s posts isn’t.
Second: As useful and usable as possible.
Third: Don’t overpromise. Start small and build up over time if there is demand. I don’t want this to take months to hit the streets, I’m quite happy to get something relatively rough up first, then build up from there.
So, anyone (still) interested? Want to register feeds with this site, or even just read it? Any other feature ideas I may have missed? This is a pretty high-level list and I’m open to suggestions.