Today's a busy day at the office for me, so I'm going to keep this simpler than I originally intended. But here are a few things that I would like to point out about the new site format. There'll be a little adjustment to make to add these features into your blogging routine, but none of them take any significant amount of time and all of them will enhance everybody's experience here at RTT.
Comments If you're reading this post from the main page, click the post title so you're in the post section where commenting is available. I want to point out something. You there? Ok. Scroll down to the comments section and take a note of the smallish print immediately following the orange "Comments" bar. Play with those features and see what you think. (You might need a long comment thread to see how useful they are.)
While you're there, take a note of the "Read Related" section immediately above the comments. Those tags will take you to a list of articles that share the same tags. Some of the tags even include some references outside RTT - news stories and the like. If a thread topic sparks your interest, this will give you more. If a story is a part of a series, this will bring up the whole series for you to read through.
FanShots FanShots are in many ways similar to FanPosts - they are available to anybody logged into RTT and they have the usual ability to add comments and have discussions. However, they are geared for one specific purpose: to make it easy to link external content to RTT. Here are the things you need to know to make FanShots work for you.
- What to feature: FanShots can be used to highlight articles, videos, pictures, quotes, or almost anything else from a different source (e.g. ESPN.com, GVX, another blog, your own online photo album, etc.)
- How to use: My recommendation is to get the FanShot tool for your browser. Go into the FanShots section and is should be at the top for you to install. I'll be in your browser's Bookmark/Favorites folder. If you are surfing and come across something you'd like to share, then click on that button and follow the directions. You don't have to return to RTT to feature a FanShot. Just link it over and keep browsing as before
- Why: There are a few reasons to use this. First, this gets around the word limit required for FanPosts. You don't need to say a thing if you don't want. Second, this helps concentrate external content in one area, which makes the blogging experience quicker and more manageable. Third, this helps RTT become a better resource for all things Vols.
- Copyright: FanShots helps respect copyrights by properly attributing the source when you quote. Just take a look at a few of Joel's FanShots to see what I mean. Respecting copyrights is good for everybody: the original author gets due credit, the original site gets due traffic, RTT gets more respect from the quoted sources and Joel sleeps easier at night. ;)
Recommendations (Recs): Any post or comment can be recommended. Giving recommendations has two effects: it gives props to the author and it helps highlight writings that deserve attention.
- FanPosts/FanShots If a 'Post or 'Shot gets enough recommendations, it automatically gets chest-bumped to a privileged section. This keeps it from getting buried as new 'Posts or 'Shots are added.
- Comments If a comment gets enough recs, it gets highlighted and really stands out. It doesn't get bumped anywhere so the comment tree is preserved. But it's very noticeable.
Why? This is the question I've run across the most on other blogs that have transitioned. Why should a rec be given? The answer is that there is no specific criteria other than your personal opinion. Some possible reasons you might want to rec are:
- You really enjoyed the writing.
- The content was particularly insightful.
- The content is particularly important to a team or athlete.
- You feel the writer deserves recognition.
- What if I Rec'd by accident? After providing a rec, you will have the option to "unrec" (it'll be a button in place of the "rec" button for that particular writing). I suggest you use this only for two reasons: either you rec'd the wrong thing (possible to do in comments) or a subsequent reading of the piece changed your mind. For example, imagine that you rec'd a post, then later realized it had some veiled derogatory remarks about a person. You might want to withdraw your recommendation for a reason like that. Chances are you'll never have to worry about this, but the feature is there if needed.
Flags What if a comment, 'Post, or 'Shot is offensive? As much as we hope never to see that, the possibility always exists. The SBNation boys provided a "Flag" button for every story, post, shot and comment for this reason. If you read a post with profanity, threats of violence, or anything else that goes against the family-friendly nature of this site, the Flag button is there for you. Click it, and Joel will be notified of the comment in question. This helps him moderate the blog. Two points about Flagging:
- Flagging does not remove material. No amount of flags will cause a comment or post to go away. The flagging merely tells Joel that you're concerned about it. It's his blog and he'll decide.
- Do not flag for differences of opinion. I know I'm preaching to the choir on this one, but there's a difference between offensive and contrasting. We all love to have differences of opinion here; that helps us think about our own opinions and helps understand where other people come from. (Side note: I thoroughly enjoy watching games with rivals for this very reason. Nothing quite like having a respectful Florida fan on hand for the annual tussle.)
Hmm. Not so short as I intended. But seriously, take a bit of time to learn these new features and you'll be impressed by the improvement. It takes a lot more time to read all that than it'll take to get used to the changes, I assure you.