Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Future of New

The more Susan waited, the more the doorbell didn't ring. Or the phone.
--Douglas Adams

We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you absolutely nothing of value.

So, I was going to talk about the Vengeance today.  Had a post all ready and everything, but then something unusual happened on Monday and it got me thinking about this blog.  There you have it, the topic of this blog is now this blog.  Assuming the universe doesn't implode from such self reference, let's move on, shall we?

First up let me explain what started me typing this.  On Monday, as I usually do on days when a blog post is scheduled, I made sure to check my blog in the afternoon.  I like to make sure that if people are going to leave me any comments with questions that I at least have the decency to respond to them in a timely manner.  What I saw when I checked the traffic stats page left me a little disappointed.  Mind you, I don't get any kind of amazing site traffic to begin with, but it normally sees a healthy bump on days in which a new post appears from the blogrolls of fellow bloggers.  This day didn't see any of that. 

After sulking for a moment, I went about reading some of the new blog posts that were out from those blogs that I read regularly and noticed something amiss.  None of them had my latest blog on their blogroll.  The most any of them had was the post before that, from four days earlier.  So it would seem that the internet, in its infinite wisdom, decided the post wasn't worthy of being shared on the various lists that it would normally show up on.  Thanks Blogger, you suck.  So if you haven't read that post, and would like to, feel free.

"Why is he telling me this?" you may now be wondering.  Well, it got me thinking about the blog in general.  Things like why I'm writing it, who I'm writing it for, who's reading it, do they enjoy it, would they enjoy something else more, etc.  After some thinking on the topic, I've got a few conclusions. 

First, the good.  Site traffic is growing steadily.  Lack of page views wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would certainly say something if traffic was dying off.  I've gotten about 50% more views this month than I did in January, which I think is pretty neat.  I haven't really gone out of my way to promote the blog, with asking to be added to Eve Bloggers at the beginning of the year being about the only advertising I've done.  Since then, the majority of my traffic now comes from other blogger's blogrolls, with occasional influxes when some alliance forum posts internally with a link.  Having talked to a few of those alliances, the topic is generally, "If you're new and want to try solo PvP check this site out," which is pretty much what I was going for.

Then, the bad.  I don't really get much feedback from the posts I make.  While some posts manage a few comments, most are comment free and with the most frequently commented having seven at the moment.  Again, no comments wouldn't be the end of the world, but it does make figuring out what people enjoy reading a bit harder and I often see blogs with regular debates going on in the comment fields.  Now, maybe it's just a site traffic thing.  Those blogs could be getting ten times my traffic which just inevitably leads to more comments, but I can't shake the suspicion it's not just that.  My last post received far fewer page views than most, but had five comments by the end of the day.  Perhaps my topics just don't spark the same debate that some people's do.  Is that bad?  Should I be more polarizing in my posts in some feigned attempt at sparking debate?  Probably not, but if I could change something that would end up enhancing the blog's content, I'd love to know what it is.

Finally, the ugly.  I'm running a bit low on steam here.  It's almost a cliché to see EVE blogs (and perhaps blogs in general) that have a torrent of posts to begin with and then just vanish without a trace.  Usually with a final post many months later apologizing for the abrupt departure and assuring readers that they're back and going to be posting more frequently.  I don't want to be that guy.  Don't worry though (as if anyone would have been) my passion for EVE and my need to write still persist. 

The problem I'm having happens to be one of the better problems to be having.  I started this blog to discuss PvP, and lowsec Piracy in particular, from the perspective of a new player.  The problem I see with this is that I'm not sure how long I can call myself a new player without some degree of irony.  I haven't flown anything but T2 ships in two months, how much does a new player gain from hearing about that?  The majority of Pirate Blogs I've read generally turn into tales of their day-to-day exploits.  I could certainly start doing that, but I'm not sure I'd have much to contribute amongst a sea of players with far more experience and far more impressive kills than I.  I've always preferred instead to discuss topics broader than the fights themselves, while using them to illustrate some of the points.

Don't worry though, I'm going to blur the line with a healthy dose of self denial for a while yet.  I'm flying Assault Ships and Interceptors for the time being, and those can still certainly be short term goals for the new player.  I can continue to discuss them with the same attention to detail and degree of explanation that a player new to the ships would find helpful.  I plan on turning my attention next to the Arbitrator, an Amarr Cruiser, and a ship anyone can fly within their first week of EVE.  But, after four months of flying it when I set foot in a Recon for the first time, I don't think I'm going to be able to say "This is a new player's guide to flying a Pilgrim," with a straight face.

As with anything in life, EVE FNG will either adapt, or it will die.  Perhaps when the time comes, I should just allow the site to end gracefully, with a post signing off and maybe a new blog started elsewhere that focuses less on the new player.  Well, what do you think?  That's right, I want to hear from you.  Does a blog focusing on a new EVE player have a shelf life?  Can I continue to write to an audience of new players forever?  Can something be done to enhance the blog?  I can of course look at traffic stats to tell me which posts are viewed the most, but they don't tell me which posts are enjoyed the most.  Let me know what you think, in the comments below.




  1. Don't feel disheartened! I can tell you (from personal experience) that your audience is there, silently studying everything you write, and they will rise up and fight for the right to read your stuff if you try to take it away.

    You may have heard of lies, damned lies and statistics? Well, the number of all your page views are just statistics and they don't measure how much you enjoy doing what you do or writing about it afterwards!

    Don't give up. Oh, and drop in a few more posts about the learner end of the market. It is always a good idea to go back to basics yourself, just to make sure you can still do it in an atron or ibis.

  2. I'm not a big one for commenting unless I feel I have something that needs saying (or I was asked to give an opinion on), but I read every blog post and enjoy all of them. You do tend to do such a thorough analysis however that I don't feel much needs commenting, if anything.

    You could start a new blog, leaving this be purely a new player experience blog, but I think it'd be better if you let the blog involve instead. It's not enough to see just the new player side, or the experienced player side, or the bitter vet side. The best view would be the complete story, so that readers can follow your growth as a pilot, and in this way understand where you are coming from and how you are making your decisions.

    There are other things can be discussed from a PvP POV also aside from say combat. While perhaps not as riveting, the combat player must make money. I did a pretty rough PI analysis in a recent post and learned some rather interesting things. PI supplies me (with lv4 skills) with a tech2 fit hurricane every week, or a plex a month. It's not as fast as ratting, but for how low little time it involves, it's quite useful for any player.

  3. I'm a loyal reader since the AC Punisher post (even tho I'm not skilled for either of them). I have commented once or twice, but often you just make a very good point, or several, that I don't feel I can contribute much to, apart from "yeah, that sounds sensible" or "you rock, sir". While I have no doubt that you'd like to be told that you rock every now and then (who wouldn't) I kinda feel that it doesn't add much, if anything, to the discussion, so I just don't post. You may have more readers that feel that way, I don't know.

    All I can say is "please keep up the interesting reads (and metablogging, if not done too often, can be interesting).

    Oh, and you rock, sir.

  4. Google Reader follower checking in.

  5. I do think that there comes a point where a blog is just too big.

    Ideally, when you encounter a blog you like, you read the back posts to get up to speed on the personality and ongoing topics. However, there comes a point where the blog is so large that the back reading is no longer enjoyable - it's work.

    When that happens, when your earlier posts are so inaccessible that they might as well not exist, it might be sensible to start a new blog.

    I've been thinking of this in the terms of my own blog. When I get through my 20 Punishers and move on to something else, will anyone actually go back and read about the Punisher Plan? Of course not. In fact, I get comments and in game mail about my blog that makes it clear that already people are not reading the "back issues", because they ask whether I have tried XYZ, when it is clear from my blog that, yes, I have tried XYZ.

    One possibility is a list of key posts for new readers somewhere really obvious - in my case, it might be my quarterly reviews or something. By flagging up key posts, the site might remain accessible for longer.

  6. Your last blog didn't turn up on my google reader either.

    Comments, well as others have said, I don't feel the need to comment with a "^this" or some other meaningless comment, say something controversial if you want more response :p

    If you were running out of steam maybe switching to a once a week schedule would make more sense than giving up or posting for the sake of posting. I don't know how you find time to keep up the schedule you do!

    As to keeping it as a guide for noobs, I agree that's not really feasible long term unless you were to cross train into all the other races and go back to T1 frigates, but a blog that begins as a noob guide but then moves on with your experience is no bad thing

  7. Totally agree with True's comment...
    Love this blog and have been a reader since I first found it..
    I'm not necessarily "new" to EVE (a combined 2 years or so since my first character back when the game was only a few months old) but I still favor solo, small ship PvP and love to hear the stories..
    Keep writing.. Keep flying small ships (Cruisers count) and keep telling us all the ways you die :)

    As for changing the focus of the blog... Eh, everything changes with time.. Your writing style will still be the same, so it will still be a good read..

  8. Don't give up! I get 95% of my blog reading (and I read a lot of EVE blogs) done with google reader, which has no readily apparent way of easily commenting on the bloggers blog. I really enjoy your blog and I've learned alot. You could chronicle your career, moving through a succession of more sophisticated ships. I would enjoy this because I like the style and substance of your posts.

  9. FNG

    I can tell you that I've just begun my journey into solo PVP. And as I'm using the Arbi now.

    A "new player's guide to flying a Pilgrim" is exactly what I'm looking for.

    You do a great job but never forget. There's a first time everyone got into a ship. And there are lots of guides to the T1 frigates out there. The T2 Cruisers could use some love.

    Semper Fi,

  10. USnameri has a really good point and you'll probably find that your reader base is evolving with you. We are all excited about what you are going to fly next and see how you will fit and fight it. You don't conform to 'pro fits' or any of that eve elitist crap. You decide for yourself how you will fit your chosen ship and encourage others to do the same. You are much more informative and encouraging the mabye you think you are :)

  11. I'm only discovering your blog now and I'd like to say that yours is the most interesting eveblog I've read so far. No offence to the other usual suspects, your blogs are first rate too. Your analysis is sound and your lack of arrogance and the quality of prose makes it a worthwhile read. And tbh, as I'm reading it back to front I haven't noticed or cared that it's a 'noob experience doc'. I wouldn't worry about that too much. Keep writing mate

    1. Heya Steve, welcome to the party. First off, for you or anyone else doing a archive binge through EVE FNG,[SPOILERS!] I didn't stop blogging. But you probably figured that part out already. What anyone reading this post now is likely to notice when going forward is that I've gone down the road of trying to write posts that are more guide and less after action report. There are a couple of reasons for this, chief among them being that there are already a lot of bloggers doing just that and some of them are quite good at it. One of the side affects from this has been that I sometimes suffer from writer's block trying to think up some analysis that might be useful to both myself and others since I can't just say "I logged into EVE and this is what happened today," when writing a post. That last bit is also a terrific example of why I shouldn't be writing after action reports.