First of all, I do hope this will be received as a constructive critique and not just an angry rant but I have to wonder about the Featured Blog’s fall from grace here on Travellers Point for a while now. I have not been able to find any news or former forum posts about it, and as part of ‘this is a constructive critique, not just a rant’ I think the forum post form is the most efficient should there be any need for a community-wide debate on the topic.
The Featured Blog, or Recently Featured Blogs, used to be found smack on the front page. Since the front page got updated, blogs have received less attention ‘up front’. Just two or three blogs are now being ‘promoted’ in a small square, next to the popular destinations and accommodation options. Travellers Point’s face-lift also meant that blogs lost their menu. There is no blog-menu in the Community drop-down menu. All this means less attention to blogs, but it would not be enough to claim the featured blog to be dead.
However, continuing to the Community page, the newest of the four featured blogs being shown is from June 2015(!). The other three are from May and March 2015. During the first half of March, Travellers Point has made a conscious or unconscious decision not to feature blogs anymore. Travellers Point’s own blog, blog.travellerspoint.com now just lead to the community's main page and some posts, like Subscribe to Featured Blogs, has been taken down (or something else resulting in a 404-page if the link is followed).
Two or three years ago blogs would be featured a few times a week for the whole Community’s enjoyment. Just as it is still done with the Featured Photos.
Why do I Mourn This?
I will begin with my own selfish reason before moving on to the community reasons. I have been lucky enough to have a rather large number of blog entries featured, and thankful for it. It widened my audience considerably and this was one of the main reasons why a chose to blog on Travellers Point in the first place. The possibility of being exposed to the community was a reason to choose Travellers Point over other sites hosting travel blogs.
This is, however, nothing compared to what the featured blogs gave of interesting, funny, insightful and instructional texts to the community that is Travellers Point. The fact that the best stories or travel advice was brought to the front pages brought out many of the same points that you would otherwise have to dig through the forum or guides to find.
IT does seem that the Travellers Point Crew acknowledged this. Now some of those ‘best of’ of blogs have been stashed in the Highlight section (I am again happy that at least three of my blog entries were judged rewarding enough for the audience to be put there). This is all fine, but now you have to dig in the highlight section to find the same gold that was once posted front page… Just like with the forum and guides. And again is the problem that there is rarely added new entries. Again, as far as I can see, are those four before-mentioned blogs still the newest additions.
So with a hope of a enlightened answer (and maybe even a pleasant debate): Why did the Featured Blog die?
The original /blogs/ page we had in the main menu was removed largely because we felt it was too attractive to spammers. After the same audience.
The highlights was meant to continue this, but in the background Travellerspoint has had to downsize and is now down to one person (me) actively working on the site. The result of this is that certain fairly time consuming jobs like the featuring of blog entries, which requires a lot of blog reading, has been put on the back burner.
I am looking at a way of sort of bringing it back by introducing a new area called Trips which would specifically highlight some of the trips being mapped on Travellerspoint where people are also blogging about them. It wouldn't specifically target an entry, but rather an entire trip that someone is on. Of course, there would be some manual effort involved here too, but it's easier to feature a trip once then it is to pick out individual entries.
Thanks for bringing it up Ask, it's nice to know someone misses the content! I'd be interested to know what you think of the new Trips idea.
Thanks for your reply
I had no idea that you have had to downsize - hopefully, it won't be too permanent or something (perish the thought) that is endangering the site... In that light, it makes sense that you had to cut the featured blogs as it did take quite a heavy load (as anyone who read How To Blog Your Way To The Top would know)...
The feature surely is missed, and while the new Trips idea, would still not be able to consider that stand-out entry someone might produce once, it seems like a good idea!
Travellers Point's (IMO) most distinctive feature currently are the map functions. They way it provides users to combine locations, routes, photos and blog entries is second to none as far as I'm aware... So it definitely makes sense to bring that to the forefront of both the site (as in promoting the possibilities with your planning/mapping tools) and the community (as in giving users the opportunity to share and read about amazing travel experiences)...
The only thing that could worry me - and I might be overambitious here - is that it would take a lot from users who's trips get picked... At least, if you want trips that include blogs, pictures, correct locations, etc... But then again, you could easily settle for less than perfect, without making it a worse idea and maybe you have enough users who are very detailed minded regarding their maps
[ Edit: Edited on 07-Apr-2016, at 05:03 by askgudmundsen ]
There are enough trips that I've found just based on previously featured blog entries (so older than 2015) that meet the criteria I'd be after. It would make a decent starting directory already.
For example, Greg's Trans-Siberian journey , Tommy Davis's Big Trip or this one titled Clogs, Beanies and Boardshorts. These are mostly old ones because I'm working with old data on my local computer, but they are still worthy reads many years later.
The formatting would need to be a bit different than just a link to the map I think, and there would need to be a way to find trips by the destinations they are visiting. But you can probably see from those maps that there's some good content that can be unearthed this way.
Indeed... I already realised I need to step up the creativity with my blog titles... That took about four seconds on Greg's blog to figure that out :D
It does seem like a good and possible idea... I'd say 'make this happen'!
And then I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope that the featured blogs might one day - in the distant future - make a surprise comeback on Travellers Point