Developing the Newsblog

The ORG Newsblog is off to a great start, and I'm already finding it handy for pointing me towards interesting and relevant articles. Recently I've been thinking about what we could do to put it on a more established footing, and to improve our operations and readership. What follows is a big, fat brain-dump for ridicule and ritual burning. Um, I mean to encourage discussion and the contribution of more ideas!

Have at it! --Richard 21:57, 27 May 2008 (BST)

I'll add (and sign) my thoughts below —Dan 17:52, 28 May 2008 (BST)

Newsblog Purpose

What is the purpose of this blog? Well, it's not to discuss or comment on ORG-related issues, because that's what we have the main ORG blog for. Therefore, this seems to me like a news aggregation service for people interested in ORG issues but without the time or energy to sniff out the scoop on their own. With that in mind, I think the newsblog should:

  • Get the scoop! If we're not providing commentary or insight we need to be publishing when the news breaks.
  • Post everything relevant. If we're not comprehensive enough, we'll be ditched for another news source.
  • Pace itself, by scheduling posts if necessary so it doesn't appear too "lumpy" (OK, I admit this is personal preference! --Richard)
  • Provide quality links. We follow the chains of blogspam through to primary sources so the reader doesn't have to.
    • Needs more detail (MH)
    • Yeah, this is important — always looks unprofessional to imply that a blogspot blogger is breaking a major story (unless of course they are!) —Dan 17:52, 28 May 2008 (BST)
  • Stay on topic i.e. Digital Rights issues in the UK and EU.

Content guidelines

  • Must be a news article (i.e. not comment or opinion - link to these using a 'via' link (see the template))
  • Must be a UK or EU relevant story
  • Quote one paragraph maximum from the original article.
  • Can re-write the headline to change emphasis more towards ORG topics.

Post Template

Since we already have a main blog where ORG luminaries can make announcements and comment on relevant issues, this blog is "just the facts, ma'am"! A pseudo-standard format emerged. This has been refined through discussion on the newsbloggers mailing list, and at the June and July volunteers meetings.

The current format for newsblog posts looks like this:


The scoop, in no more than a paragraph, which must be copied verbatim from the source. Use <blockquote> tags.

Source: [<author> writing for] <link to _original_ story> [(via <link to some blog or comment piece>)]

[Hat tip: <link to person who told us about the story>]

Sections in [square brackets] are optional and won't be included in all cases:

  • Authors should be credited only if their names appear on the original article.
  • Only include a 'via' link if you got to the main article through some other blog or comment piece (handy if you want to point readers to interesting commentary or relevant discussion).
  • Hat tips are reserved for acknowledging people who send us stories via Twitter, [org-discuss], email or other means.

Categories and tags

I think we need to be slightly more formal about how we use categories and tags...

Categories: Choose one or (rarely) two categories from the list. Categories are not tags[1]! If in doubt, plump for the *most* relevant. If none seem to match, check your post isn't off-topic! Remember to un-check the "uncategorised" category.

  • On that note, I would favor removing the "uncategorized" category from the sidebar. I know it's possible (I did it on my own blog, though I forget how) —Dan 17:52, 28 May 2008 (BST)

I wonder if we need a quick review of the current categories, with the purpose of fixing them to describe areas that are "on topic", and then keeping them reasonably stable thereafter. Thoughts?

Tags: Add as many as you feel are relevant to the story. Try to re-use existing tags where possible, but feel free to define new ones as you see fit.

Ideas for improving readership and community involvement

  • Create a dedicated "subscribe" page that explains very clearly how to subscribe to Newsblog updates.
    • DONE - just needs linking in.
    • This could be linked in small text (or maybe as a small RSS icon) below the four titles linked from the ORG front page —Dan 17:52, 28 May 2008 (BST)
  • We should run our RSS feeds through feedburner, which will allow us to:
    • offer email subscriptions as well as RSS - amazingly, some people prefer this!
    • Add "support ORG" links into the RSS feed.
      • DONE - but it breaks the widget on the main blog. Needs technical investigation --Richard 14:41, 6 August 2008 (BST)
  • I like the idea of creating an ORG Twitter account. The newsblog can be set to twit each new post using Twitterfeed[2]. These would ideally be interspersed with interesting notes from the public face of ORG (Becky, Michael, etc...) :o)
    • Definitely. Perhaps break it into two accounts, for news blog content (high-traffic) and specific ORG announcements (low-traffic)? —Dan 17:52, 28 May 2008 (BST)
  • Allowing trackbacks on newsblog posts would let other bloggers "hat tip" ORG if they pick up something interesting - we should "no-follow" these links to avoid spam! Trackbacks would also allow ORG bloggers to link relevant main blog posts to newsblog items.
  • Depending on volume, we could subscribe [ORG-discuss] to a weekly email digest of newsblog entries. A "Friday news roundup", if you will.
  • We should keep encouraging [ORG-Discuss] contributors to send their news cuttings to the newsblog instead of / as well as to the list. It would be important to credit them with finding the information in question via a "hat tip" or similar in posts.
  • Add newsblog to the paricipate page

Static pages

There are currently three static pages:

  • About - describes what the newsblog is and who writes it.
  • Subscribe - explains how to receive newsblog posts
  • Contribute - explains how to submit stories, become a newsblogger or get involved with ORG in other ways

These still need linking in from the main page --Richard 14:41, 6 August 2008 (BST)

Personal links

Wordpress allows account-holders to define a personal URL, and then hyperlinks to it wherever their username appears, including in the "posted by" part of each post. This isn't currently implemented in the Newsblog template but we might want to go there in future. The consensus is to allow newsbloggers to link to a user page on the ORG-wiki, where they can describe their ORG credentials / contributions / involvement as well as possibly linking out to their other webpages.

  • Michael says we should give folks the option to either link to their homepage or a page on our wiki that details themselves.
  • Becky says - a user page on the wiki would seem most relevant if we plump for the wiki page option (which I prefer...) Becky hogge
  • Guilty. I added my personal link without even thinking about it. I don't think it's a big deal either way, but if we come to an agreement against them I'll remove mine straightaway. —Dan 17:52, 28 May 2008 (BST)

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