In recent years the popularity of collaborative blogs has soared. In fact, many of the top blogs in technorati employ collaboration of some sort. A group blog, on the surface, seems to be a very logical choice if we want to keep the blog alive. Most of us often struggle to write after a few months of active blogging. It can be down to laziness, it can be down to real life commitments or you are lonely. First of all, this short piece is motivated by TJ_Han’s interview with Sea Slugs. I guess for some of you out there who are starting a blog, it is perhaps a good time to give a personal experience on blogging in THAT. For those who are wondering about changing your own solo blog into a group effort of strangers, you can use this entry as a reflection.
On a side note, HAPPY BIRTHDAY KUROGANE!
The good things
1. You have great flexibility in types of writing from your different authors. If anything, I will never have been able to write like Crusader who writes like an old military soldier who relates obscure (at least for me) references of German tanks and ranks. I am never able to be so critical like Calawain, who is sharp in his thoughts. In fact, I cannot tolerate most of the shows that he likes, since we have really different tastes. Lupus, what can I say, I don’t have much anger to troll around. In essence, diverse thoughts and differing views give the blog a sense of differentiation, and to cater to everyone’s needs.
2. Regular posts are aplenty during heavy blogging times. You will be hard pressed to find a few days of inactivity, considering that there is always another person ready to push his entries in. If one or two bloggers are absent due to real life commitments, there is a good chance that others can fill in the void left by those who are inactive. It is quite apparent from a cursory examination that many of the popular blogs out there are often timely and are frequently blogged. They are mostly active, with less than 3-4 days of inactivity.
3. The interaction of bloggers within the blog itself can create interesting group dynamics and more ideas for group blogging within the entry. As you can tell, we incorporate the icon sign for individualized responses in entries, as well as the chance to make interesting entries with a few people. Discussions within posts are pretty rare in anime blogs, and there is a visible trend for many anime bloggers to move into that realm of blogging. Discussion between bloggers can have great synergy and results in more quality posts.
4. There are also more chances for the administrative work to be split up. For example, someone might always take a look at the spam karma or our group email to see if any readers have emailed us. With many people, this allows us to keep in touch with our readers much more. We always welcome emails (we do not get that many), and I make it a point to reply. Crusader and Calawain have also engaged our readers when they emailed us too. This applies to advertising, commenting or anything to promote the site. More hands are always welcome and three or four heads are better than one.
5. There is always the chance for more global partnership and understand others different from you. I must say that I do learn quite a bit from Crusader from his background in the military, a bit on the sharpness of individualism from Calawain (and boob jokes), the stressful college culture from Igunis, and the secondary school life from Reverse Vampire. A group blog is not just on the blog itself, but you can engage in social networking with your fellow bloggers.
The Bad things
1. Dropouts are aplenty in this blog. If you notice, there has been many authors in THAT anime blog that has a few entries and then drop off after 1-2 months. For those that gathers friends, the attrition rate is much less compared to getting total strangers like how I do it. It is generally the case when it comes to recruiting random online applicants, or using the word by TJ in his interview, the method of outsourcing. You honestly never know who will stay or who will leave. I am lucky and glad to have at least Calawain, Crusader, Lupus and Extrange who are semi active in most occasions. However, the dropouts in the blog are usually more than the retained ones. I will be glad to find out how to retain people.
2. Internal politics are gladly non-existent in THAT anime blog, but there is always a bit of tension when there are different opinions. Some of the issues might be the series that the bloggers want. We always need a discussion before the anime season (winter, spring, summer and fall) in order to decide who blogs what. I am usually a tyrant and blogs a few series in which some other bloggers in THAT anime blog wants to. People have to decide on what series they want to blog on. Some might push their entries ahead of others, and it can be annoying when your post is shoved a day by others despite posting earlier. Conflict management of a mild nature is often required to settle these disputes.
3. Sometimes, having a huge size means that a blogging hierarchal or rank structure is required. For those who are a dual pairing, or even a trio pairing, there is no true need for you to have any ranking system within the bloggers. However, when it goes out to four and above, you generally need a head blogger who deals with the administrative matters and the dissemination of information. This can inevitably become more work since the head blogger tends to spend a bit more time engaging his other bloggers, trying to gather ideas about a plan he is going to do and asking for approval from the others.
4. Relating to the third point, anything that changes the blog in a major way often requires the approval of at least a few senior bloggers in the group. In T.H.A.T Anime blog, I have to admit that I often make decisions and tell the others of the changes. For example, the changing of the banners, and the inclusion of the icons are small things that I have added on my own. However, major things such as template changes, and shifting of servers often requires approval from the majority. This can be politics completely, and some might fear such confrontational conflicts when people disagree and infighting happens. I am glad we never have to face such a situation.
5. To make things more systematical, there is often a need to schedule. For your own personal blog, you can do whatever you want on the schedule. If you are happy, you can blog thrice in a day and no one will care. In a group blog, scheduling is pretty much common due to the regularity of the posts, and this results in planning ahead of time.
6. This is a counter argument of the first pro point. On one hand, you have very diverse views. However, it is also likely that views can be drowned by the prominence of a certain blogger in the team. I am very sure that many earlier on will have thought that I am the only blogger in THAT anime blog before more attempts have been done to clarify it. Efforts must be made to make the differentiation of authors much more clearly in order to have an individualized avatar and personality within the blog. Of course, if you wish for no different personalities, this is not a problem but I think everyone likes to have a known identity in a mass of words and entries.
This is an entry that I created with my personal insights on collaborative blogging. Nevertheless, as you can tell from the writing, the cons of a group blog is often revealed when you finally set it up. I hope that I give you a little insight on the workings of a group blog and this will be a good guide to decide whether or not you will want to venture with a solo or group blog.