Over on his Dreams in the Lich House blog, Beedo asked the following:
“What kind of things do you do differently since you've encountered the blogosphere? The internet often seems like tribes of angry folks yelling at each other across a room, and no one ever changes their mind. (See also, Edition Wars et al). I've changed my mind about some things. How about you?”
I started writing a comment and then realised it was getting too long, so I’ve decided to turn it into a blog post instead. Here goes...
I don't know if the blogosphere has changed my mind about anything, but it's certainly made my involvement in the online scene a greater pleasure. And it most definitely has given me a wealth of valuable tools for my game.
After a number of years of hanging around various old school forums I began to despair of the negativity that dominated (and in a couple of prime examples still dominates). It was usually a noisy minority – the Mouth of Forum, but we all know how "they" can spoil it for the regular majority. Let’s face it, involvement in the online scene quickly loses its fun when having to deal with the needless negativity and unwarranted aggression and rudeness of those lame types who either lack social skills or simply get their kicks from being a wanker.
When blogging began to become popular around 2005, I found a way to continue interacting with folks online without having to put up with the idiots. As an added bonus creativity and good ideas were more highly concentrated. No longer did I have to wade through 45 pages of forum thread to find the gold amidst a mountain of waffle. The Mouth of Forum tended to avoid blogging since they lost the captive audience of the forum. Idiot bloggers end up with no followers and no one interacting with them – and when you’re a shit-stirrer, where’s the fun in that?
A strong community developed around blogging that has, on the whole, being rather positive. It’s stood the test of time and proved the critics wrong over and over (I won’t bother going down that road to explain).
Then came G+, which has had a definite impact on blogging in some respects, but hasn't been the death knell that some predicted. Much of the online conversation that was occurring in blogging comments has now shifted to G+, but that hasn't impacted on the continuing creativity being posted on blogs. Blogging hasn’t been weakened. Some think blogs are ephemeral, although personally I think that extends only to poorly organised blogs. A well organised blog is a pleasure to behold, especially one with links to creative content, popular posts, etc. A bit like sticking a table of contents at the front of a book, it makes a hell of a difference. G+ on the other hand, from what I’ve seen so far, is primarily a tool for conducting conversations, and in that it excels.
The three different types of medium - forums, blogs and G+ - all have their strengths and weakness, with none of them completely replacing the other two.
Forums are good places for conversation, but for some reason tend to fall prey to attention-seeking spoiled brats, unless strongly moderated. I’m not really sure why this has been the case. They are a good place for creative content, but it soon becomes buried under pages of forum threads of “what are you reading now” and “here’s another Bard variation”, and so on. And let’s be honest, most forum search functions are pretty crappy, making retrieving information hit and miss at best, often almost impossible.
Blogs are not so good for carrying on conversation, although some fascinating ones do occur, but the moderation aspect tends to be stronger and so the Mouth tends to stay away. Empty conversation will often receive little or no reply, but that’s a bit like survival of the fittest, isn’t it? Creative content is more easily distilled into one place, but requires the blogger to be organised for the reader to have ready access to it. I do find the search function on blogger blogs to be very good on the whole.
G+ I discussed above and so won’t go over it again. I have to confess I haven’t made time to use G+ properly and may never end up doing so.
So Beedo’s post today made me realise once again that overall, for me it's the blogs that have had the greatest impact upon my game and my DMing style. I've found and used more gold from blogs than I have ever discovered in forums. And in the main, I've had vastly better interactions with fellow gamers on blogs*, something that has made this hobby a much more enjoyable activity.
I encourage you to visit Beedo's blog post and tell him what, if anything, you do differently because of blogs.
*Although it goes without saying that Finarvyn’s Original D&D Discussion forum is the cream of the crop that has miraculously stayed largely free of the depravations of the Mouth of Forum, while at the same time being one of the lightest moderated forums out there. And the creativity that is posted there makes it an exciting place to hang around.