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In another recent meta question it has been suggested that the community blog be used as a place for some more in-depth discussion and exposition of some topics.

This brings up the following issue for me. Some very nice work is happening on the blog, but I feel that it is not prominently advertised enough on the main site. In particular, once a user logs in, I believe the only place to access the blog directly is via a link hidden on the bottom navigation bar. This makes it seem to be quite an afterthought.

So, the questions I want to raise for discussion are:

  1. Should we find a way to make the blog more visible from the main page? The purpose of doing so would be to hopefully drive more traffic there, encourage additional contributions, and get the current contributors more recognition for the effort they are putting in.
  2. What would be our options in terms of design in making the blog more prominent? I suspect the page design is fairly heavily constrained by SE, but I don't know in what ways or by how much. I suspect a moderator or SE employee may have to answer this part.

I personally think there are ways that we can integrate the blog more tightly with the main site and, in doing so, create added value for all.

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    $\begingroup$ Quick comment, a large part of the blog traffic referrals has come from when other key people have mentioned posts in social networking sites. Referrals from two prominent "tweets" and blog posts is about equal to all of the referral traffic from the main site. Those and the posts that have been forwarded to Tal Galil's r-blogger syndication have enjoyed the most traffic. $\endgroup$ – Andy W Feb 29 '12 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Andy (+1), is that info only available to blog administrators? Would you interpret your analysis as possibly suggestive that increasing the visibility of the blog on the main site could increase traffic? Or, do you think that the main driver of traffic (long term) will be tweets and other social-networking activity independent from the main site? $\endgroup$ – cardinal Feb 29 '12 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ I would take it to be suggestive that even if we improve visibility on the main site, tweets (and other social networking tools) have a much greater potential to drive traffic to the blog. A caveat to that is though I don't have a good gauge of the potential traffic the main site could bring to the blog. How many people visit the main site on a daily basis? I still think it is a good idea to improve visibility on the main site though (to the extent we can). $\endgroup$ – Andy W Feb 29 '12 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ I can either post the data here or one can get access to the blog if you (or anyone else) wants to see the data. If by chance one gets the inclination to write a post while one is in there looking at the data all the better! In the meantime I am going to ask the other blog moderators about disseminating the data (allthough I doubt I am betraying any confidences in releasing such info). $\endgroup$ – Andy W Feb 29 '12 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a link to a zip file that contains stats on the blog for the number of views per post, the dates that each post was published, and referrals. dl.dropbox.com/u/3385251/statsblog_asof03042012.zip Still working on exporting the actual views per day for the whole site and for each individual post. I'll post a comment in the chat room to let everyone know this is available if they are interested. $\endgroup$ – Andy W Mar 4 '12 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ I've created another zip file in my dropbox with the statistics for site views over the time frame, dl.dropbox.com/u/3385251/site_views_asof03052012.zip (if anyone is interested in critiquing my assertions!) $\endgroup$ – Andy W Mar 6 '12 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ If you (or gung is interested) I have uploaded another blog post (which is scheduled to be published on March 20th) about analyzing the site traffic. Feel free to navigate to the blog and give your opinion if you want to. I don't mean to badger though, so if you are not interested feel free to just wait (I doubt it is anything real controversial)! Also I don't want it to seem like I'm avoiding the discussion here by making a blog post. It is really just an elaboration of my previous comments about site traffic plus some of my opinion on the matter. (same comment left on gungs post below) $\endgroup$ – Andy W Mar 15 '12 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Andy, this sounds great. Thanks for pinging me. I'll have a look, but I may not get to it until it's just about published. And, you're not badgering at all. Thanks for all the hard work! $\endgroup$ – cardinal Mar 15 '12 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Andy: Do you have a link to your new post? I tried to find some link to unpublished posts on the main blog site, but didn't see anything. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Mar 15 '12 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ Did you sign in to the wordpress site? The (current) link is stats.blogoverflow.com/2012/03/… ,but I believe you need to be signed in to see it. $\endgroup$ – Andy W Mar 16 '12 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Just one thing about the blog (which I've also only just noticed). Whatever you decide to do with it, integrate the user identities from here for comments. It's tiresome to make a name and pass a captcha when you're already logged in. $\endgroup$ – conjugateprior Mar 26 '12 at 14:32
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Yea vote: I am in favor of making the blog more prominent and integrated with the main site.

(Please upvote if you agree, adding qualifications, remarks or other comments below. Please don't simultaneously upvote this one and downvote its companion answer.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Some interesting discussion for making the blogs more integrated with the Stack Exchange engine here on meta.so. Many of the questions that are coming up here have been broached on meta.so as well, so perusing those questions are worthwhile if you have any questions. $\endgroup$ – Andy W Mar 27 '12 at 14:27
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+1. The blog is a nice feature of this site. I would like to commend the posts that have been done by CV contributor @AndyW. I think there is plenty of room for more contributions on the blog. However, in general, I think that the blog is an odd fit for CV-as-being-a-question-&-answer-site, and I think that is part of the issue (although, I certainly acknowledge that the marketing is a big part as well). All this is to say that I think there are several issues here: the marketing of the blog, and also the role the blog should play within CV.

I will start with the marketing of the blog, since that is the question asked. I do think the blog is currently treated as an afterthought--it was a long time before I realized it existed. I agree that the blog should be made more visible. My suggestion is to list the blog prominently running down the right side of the main page. I would make it similar perhaps to the "Visit Meta" section, with some graphic element or icon and recent post titles listed below that. It could be higher up the page (at least above "Tags"), but maybe could also move down below other features if it went inactive for some period of time.

If I may broaden the discussion here, I do think the larger issue is thinking about how the blog is supposed to fit in with the rest of the site and the site's larger mission. CV is, first and foremost, a question and answer site that affords practitioners an oportunity to ask people with more expertise specific questions in an unobtrusive way. It is not clear how a blog is supposed to fit in with that. Who would go to a blog post (assuming the marketing issue were resolved), and why would they go there? Would questioners go to the blog to get information? Are people answering questions supposed to go to the blog for info? (I've linked to the blog in answers.) How is what's posted there supposed to relate to what exists elsewhere on the site. In the linked meta question, @AndyW wrote:

My recent post on tables started as an answer to the site, then I realized it was just a pain to say what I wanted to say that directly answered the question. So instead of not saying what I wanted to say to fit within the scope of the site, I wrote a blog post. I think it is a bad idea to change the question you want an answer to just to fit within the status quo of the Q/A site.

I like this perspective, but my point isn't that people must agree with him or me. Rather, my point is that we need to work out policies for how information on the blog should be related to information elsewhere on the site (e.g., the FAQ lists policies for questions). After that, we need infrastructure to encourage those policies. I can think of several different kinds of infrastructure that could be brought to bear somehow, e.g.: the flags that pop up and mention that there are a lot of comments and you shouldn't have a conversation in comments, or that questions need votes too; the "related" links that run down the right side of published questions or suggest possibly related questions when you're composing a question; and more prominent marketing for the blog in general. I think the blog will not be as useful as it could be until these issues are worked out.

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  • $\begingroup$ (+1) Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I agree with the general premise of your statements. I think the blog administrators have put some thought into what its "mandate" should be and it's pretty close to what you state. My personal feeling is that blog entries should serve to augment the content on the main site. Two main ways of doing this that I see are: (1) Provide expanded exposition of some topic(s) that occur frequently on the site but aren't easily handled in a short answer and (2) Provide general-purpose statistical knowledge and insight not easily available from other sources. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Mar 4 '12 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ @cardinal, your #1 is what I have in mind, but I'm disinclined to impose that on the community by myself--some discussion & consensus-building is appropriate (whence the question upvote). One issue here is that this would probably require moderately serious re-coding of SE & to be implemented SE-wide, so consensus needs to be achieved elsewhere as well. I believe there is a meta for SE, perhaps we should bring it up there if enough CVers sign on to this idea. Is there a way of keeping track here of how many CVers agree, or is it just a sense that builds over time from the comments? $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Mar 4 '12 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ One thing that I could do would be to post two "answers" simply asking people to vote one up (but not downvote the the other) if they "agree" (answer 1) or "disagree" (answer 2). Obviously that's a bit of an ugly hack that also forces a dichotomization of the discussion, where grey areas certainly exist. $\endgroup$ – cardinal Mar 4 '12 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ (You should both receive invitation that will grant you access to the blog.) In my view, the blog might be a good way to summarize main issues raised on CV (this has been discussed in previous thread there) and as a 'media' for developing thoughtful posts on current or past ideas regarding theoretical or applied statistics. I agree that the blog isn't visible enough actually, especially for newcomers or occasional visitors (although there should be a notification in the top navigation bar). (...) $\endgroup$ – chl Mar 4 '12 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ (...) A link somewhere on the site would be much appreciated, IMO (below the chat boxes on the right, or in the navigation bar directly?). $\endgroup$ – chl Mar 4 '12 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ If you (or cardinal is interested) I have uploaded another blog post (which is scheduled to be published on March 20th) about analyzing the site traffic. Feel free to navigate to the blog and give your opinion if you want to. I don't mean to badger though, so if you are not interested feel free to just wait (I doubt it is anything real controversial)! Also I don't want it to seem like I'm avoiding the discussion here by making a blog post. It is really just an elaboration of my previous comments about site traffic plus some of my opinion on the matter. (same comment left to cardinal) $\endgroup$ – Andy W Mar 15 '12 at 18:52
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Nay vote: I am not in favor of making the blog more prominent and integrated with the main site.

(Please upvote if you agree, adding qualifications, remarks or other comments below. Please don't simultaneously upvote this one and downvote its companion answer.)

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