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Content Revamp Part 1: Developer Journals

Posted by Gaiiden, in GDNet 26 October 2011 · 692 views

Alright folks, last week Mike gave you all a preview of what the new front page will look like. I'm here now to discuss in more detail the way you will be browsing content on GDNet with the latest revision of the website interface. There's a lot to discuss, so I'm breaking this up into multiple journal entries to give you all stuff to digest and react to a little at a time. We're going to start with the Developer Journals and talk about the problems they've had and how we're looking to make them a better source for learning and sharing information.


First, let me come right out and say that my earlier personal journal post on content handling here at GDNet has been pretty much tossed aside in the months that followed. For one thing, it was still too mired in the old way we used to do things and as I became more familiar with the capabilities of IPS (both current and looking ahead to the version update we're working towards rolling out) I and the rest of the staff realized it really was time to completely throw out the old model and switch fully over to giving the community members the ability to publish their own works.

In fact that's pretty much what has been happening this past year with the Featured Journal spot on the front page and my (almost) weekly Weekend Reading wrap-ups of the more interesting posts coming out of Journal Land. Since we made journals open to all members, everyone has had the freedom to publish whatever their heart's desire - which has pretty much been the thing to do all over the internet for years now (Wordpress, anyone?). At first, some people were a bit afraid that this would open the floodgates to a swath of useless and banal postings. While there have certainly been questionable entries in many journals throughout the past year, the community has for the most part pulled together when necessary to point out flaws after we corrected the problem pointed out in Mike P's journal post (about comment moderation). And that's awesome, because it's not the goal of everyone making journal posts to directly educate others, but to say "here's what I'm doing - what do you think?"

But therein lies an as yet unsolved issue with the journal system that has also made this community moderation and conversation not as effective as we would like. Currently, the journal comments are completely detached from a user's profile and "watch" system. We can't see if you've commented on a journal by visiting your profile, and you can't track which journal posts you've commented on to be notified of any replies. So what we usually end up with is people dropping a comment after reading, moving on and never coming back to continue any sort of real conversation unless 1) the journal is being featured and thus easily re-callable or 2) the person bookmarks the journal themselves to check back for new replies - if they remember. The same goes for journal authors, who get no notifications of replies made to earlier entries they don't look at anymore. This is an issue we are addressing in the site update. I'm hoping it leads to more comments and discussion for journal entries as a whole.

So okay you have this journal, and you can write stuff in it. Whatever you want. That's pretty cool but how do you make sure people see it? Visibility is another issue the journals have had, sequestered away on their own page separate from the rest of the site content (forums and articles/resources). Other than my Weekend Readings and the Featured Journal on the main page, you need to visit the Developer Journals page to see what's new. There are three ways we'll be making it easier for your journal post to be seen, read and discussed upon in the updated website:

Front Page

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We're bringing back the old news stream in the form of "Our News" that will be the first tab loaded when you visit the home page. In this stream we'll be highlighting top stories from the "Around the Web" feed as well as high-rated journal content and new articles added to the resources section. Will the Dailies be making a come back? Perhaps! No, really that's not a tease I honestly don't know at this time.

Forum Page

Attached Image

Check out the image above. On each forum page you'll be able to switch views to see all the latest content relevant to that forum topic, which will include both traditional articles and journal content.

Tagging System

We will be integrating tags into the site a lot more in this revision, and one of the things this will allow us to do is easily identify what journal entries should show up in which forum resource pages. The tagging system will eventually do more than this but that's for a future entry.

But... I have my own blog...

And that's perfectly okay too! While we would prefer you syndicate your content into a GDNet Journal so it's easier for us to pick up and highlight for the community to see we understand that some people prefer to stay within their own website or blogging software. We will be monitoring external blog feeds as well and can always link to an external blog through an article resource. Problem is that we might not know of you unless you tell us - so drop me an email and I will add your blog to our feed reader.

Editorial Oversight

While our members (and the internet in general with regard to external blogs) are welcome to post whatever they want in their journals, there will still be people deciding what entries get added to the forum resource tabs and get featured on the main page. Some will pass via the community review process, others may be plucked out by our Editorial Review Board of moderators each experienced in a particular field of game development. Also, featured journal entries and entries added to the forum resources tab are not exactly the same thing. For example, we will happily feature game project releases and notable updates on the front page, but these are not things we would include in the forum resources tabs.

Coming Up Next...

Did you happen to notice that the top menu in Mike's screenshot last week was a bit... different? Okay, a lot different. Next entry I'll be discussing the new way we're organizing the website and the content herein.

For now, drop a note in the comments on how you feel about the Developer Journals and anything you would want to see changed or added.

I have been missing a way to track what comments I and others have made, this is good news! The tabs sounds interesting as well. Glad to see the site being improved :)

This sounds awesome! Can't wait to use it :-)
yea, actually the ability to track commenting on journals has been missing since Day One of the journals back on the old site too! Has frustrated me FOR EVAR :P
I should mention additionally that while it seems the interface for tracking journal comments is there, we're still deciding whether to try and enable it ourselves or wait for IPS to migrate this functionality to the Journals application - along the lines of what they discuss here (in the second section "Comments in search results")
These are the features I've been waiting for :) In particular the comment tracking on journals but the other features I hadn't even thought of and they seem great too.

I was starting to lose hope. Thanks :)

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