Chad Perrin: SOB

9 July 2007

So much for TechRepublic — apparently.

Filed under: Geek,Profession — apotheon @ 03:30

I’ve written a number of articles for TechRepublic, and contributed a whole lot to the discussions there. Recent changes in the way TR handles email alerts of discussion activity, newsletter updates on articles appearing on the site, and so on, has basically eliminated all the convenient means at my disposal for keeping up with community activity, however. As I result, I’m unlikely to be very active there any longer, and given a little time I’ll probably end up never setting virtual foot in the place ever again — unless something drastically changes in the near future.

It was fun while it lasted.

As I mentioned in a discussion post there, in the thread following my mention of the fact that I may be leaving TR, I’m considering whether to create an IT professionals’ community website of my own. Ideas for the format of such a thing are welcome: please post them as comments here, use my contact page, or contact me by other means if you have access to them, as you come up with ideas, comments, questions, and so on. This is not an announcement that I’m starting to build such a thing — only that I’m trying to decide whether it’s a good idea to do so.

Among ideas I’d want for such a site would be:

  • why I should or should not do it at all.
  • what to use as the main page’s primary content.
  • what pre-existing tools I could use to assemble as much of it as possible without having to write it all from scratch.
  • how to make it pay for itself while still keeping it an open community.
  • how to discourage spamming and trolling without interfering with legitimate participation.
  • how to market the thing.
  • oh, yeah — I’d need a name for the thing, too.

Obviously, such a thing would (for real usefulness and success) need to provide more than just a discussion forum — preferably something with some real, professional value. If a good, coherent idea doesn’t come to me for what else to provide, consider it a stillborn project.

3 Comments

  1. I agree that the changes that TechRepublic has gone through for the past year or so have almost universally been for the worse. In fact, the only change they made that I liked was the switch to threaded forums attached to blogs, but the implementation was miserable. I have to be careful not to say too much, since they are the source of my “breathing room income”… I also agree solidly with what you said in the post. About 6 months or so ago, I withdrew from forums not attached to my blogs, because of time constraints. But at this point, those emails were my lifeline to following my own blog’s readers, and now it is nearly impossible, especially since I get the email so late in the day. Oh well. I hope you come around, your comments on my blog have always been appreciated, even when I disagreed.

    That being said, I really do not think that another similar site is needed. There are tons of them out there already, some professional, some not. I think maybe it would be better to migrate to one of them. Frankly, I stopped looking at ZDNet a year or so ago, because their shamefully bad bloggers dominated what used to be a good site. TechRepublic has held me.

    One thing that I ahve learned over the years is that the truly important people, the ones shaking and moving, simply do not have time to read blogs, forums, etc. They are too busy actually doing stuff. There is a good reason why I only subscribe to two blogs: yours, and Mark Miller’s, and that is because each of you consistently deliver a solid value for my limited time.

    While I would lvoe to have the time to contribute to another outlet (paid or unpaid), baby + 2 jobs = no way.

    In terms of software, I have always had a softspot for WebGUI by Plainblack. The installation and upgrades are pure chaos, but the software is amazingly good once it gets going. ModXCMS is excellent as well, but I have had major pains with the latest version unfortunately. Overall, CMS/blogging software universally stinks, as we’ve recently discussed. I would definitely suggest writing your own, if you have the time.

    J.Ja

    Comment by Justin James — 10 July 2007 @ 07:36

  2. First off, I have to thank you for the kind words. This line in particular gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, and I appreciate the heck out of it:

    There is a good reason why I only subscribe to two blogs: yours, and Mark Miller’s, and that is because each of you consistently deliver a solid value for my limited time.

    Between you and Sterling, my ego gets a fair bit of inflation every now and then. Anyway, moving on to the rest of what you had to say:

    In fact, the only change they made that I liked was the switch to threaded forums attached to blogs, but the implementation was miserable.

    My biggest problems with the implementation of that are the fact that the limitations imposed on discussions over the rest of the site, with which I also take issue, applied to these threaded blog discussions, and the fact that the integration with the weblogs is kind of broken — it’s not a smoothly connected whole, the way it really should be, in my opinion.

    While I was annoyed with the unceremonious destruction of the blogging capabilities the general TR populace had, I think the end result in that regard is ultimately for the best in terms of general site format. That’s one TR change that I like, at least in theory. Unfortunately, it kinda falls apart when I start looking at who they’ve got writing for these TR weblogs: while some like you obviously know something about the subjects they address (and, in your case, I very clearly see you steering away from talking about things about which you don’t know enough to speak authoritatively — a very good, and all too rare, thing), others are less than knowledgeable to put it kindly. I guess every silver lining has its dark cloud.

    I hope you come around, your comments on my blog have always been appreciated, even when I disagreed.

    I have been considering just subscribing to the syndication feeds for a couple of the weblogs — including the dev blog so I can keep up with what you’re writing — and generally ignoring the rest if things don’t get substantially better in the near future. There is some good material semi-regularly in a couple of the weblogs, and one or two of them at least provide me with something to think about even if only by providing an example of all-too-common incorrect analysis of some matter. Other than that, though, I literally will not be able to stay involved in the TR community in general unless things are significantly improved. Beth Blakely promised an improvement as of today, as I recall, and I’ll probably check my email to see if new alerts have arrived before I go to bed (just got back from the new Harry Potter movie), so we’ll see.

    I really do not think that another similar site is needed. There are tons of them out there already, some professional, some not.

    I’d love to find one that suits my “needs”. They’re not very easy to track down, however. There was a rare combination of factors at work in TR, mostly centered around the general climate of the community, the approachability of some of the staff, and the various ways I could get information about changes to the site. The climate has deteriorated slightly, though not enough to turn me off the site. The staff is slightly less approachable — it has been a gradual degradation of that aspect since the TRI days. The means of keeping updated has pretty much blown up in my face very suddenly, however. That’s the deal-breaker, right there — and it has served to magnify the other two problems as well.

    I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to muster the interest to get back into things even if they put everything back the way it was a couple weeks ago, currently. Some of my interest in TR in general has kinda worn away. By way of analogy, I guess it’s a bit like the way a girlfriend cheating on you can cause you to suddenly take note of the fact that the little mole over the left side of her lip is actually not very attractive close up, or that the way she drools just a little in her sleep is actually irritating, and not charming as you previously thought.

    I may come back to full “top five contributors” activity, assuming things are turned around — or I might find myself hovering somewhere down around number seventy. Time will tell, I suppose. If the latter, about the only thing that would be likely to draw me back in further would be if they offered me a paid blogging gig, too.

    I’m not holding my breath.

    Overall, CMS/blogging software universally stinks, as we’ve recently discussed. I would definitely suggest writing your own, if you have the time.

    I’ve been toying with the idea. I’ve even registered the domain name blogstrapping.com in preparation for an experiment, writing and using some weblog software pretty much simultaneously — but haven’t been able to make the motivation and the free time come together to make it happen, yet. If I do get around to it, I’ll probably move all my programming talk there and use SOB for the rest of my general rambling-on, or something like that.

    Anyway — thanks again for the words of encouragement. I think I’ve babbled enough, for now.

    Comment by apotheon — 11 July 2007 @ 02:18

  3. […] — and I didn’t get vaccinated in time (thank goodness). Shortly after my own reluctant hit piece about TR’s issues, I too received an inquiry about writing for one of TechRepublic’s […]

    Pingback by Chad Perrin: SOB » security blogger at TechRepublic — 17 July 2007 @ 10:20

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License