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question for the hive-mind out there...

Okay -- blogging services. About them, I know nothing. The only thing I know is LJ.

But, my bosses want me to look into being able to set up a blog for us. (I'm deeply dubious about the idea, but that's another story.)

I figured it couldn't hurt to ask folks on my flist if there are particular blog services they would recommend, as I am trying to sift through what information I can find.

One specific question, in case anyone knows the answer: it kind of sounds to me like my boss would *like* for multiple people to be able to be registered as moderators (or whatever) of the blog, so that multiple people could post, reply, and moderate others' replies. Is there a particular service in which this is possible?

What they want is to be able to set up a blog that would be an online departmental presence for us, and where they could post on occasion on subjects related to us (yes, I'm being cagey here; I don't want to lock this post, but I don't want to be super open about where I work; I think a lot of you know the answer, anyway), and where people could ask questions or participate in discussions on our subject.

I'm not above talking to them about the possible advantages of doing what they want as an LJ community, but I have a feeling that may be a little more wild-and-wooly than they would like. I think they want something with a few more barriers, a bit more professional and less casual, if you know what I mean.

(What do *I* think about this? *I* think that it's not a good idea. I think that *I* do not want to become a moderator of a blog where anyone on the internet can drop by and post questions like "please tell me all about Zeus for this paper I'm writing", and we'd feel obligated to answer it in some way. I think that my boss doesn't quite realize how much work keeping up with it and moderating it would become, even if there were several of us able to do the moderation. I think it sounds like a lovely idea in theory, but a headache in practice. I think all four of my most immediate bosses are WAY too busy to actually deal with this -- I think they're reacting to the "sexy" idea of "blogging" without realizing how much time and work bloggers put into maintaining their blog presence. But... that's just me. I have been tasked with "looking into it", so I'm trying to come up with answers, including which service to recommend, and whether we can do some of the things they're pipe-dreaming about.)


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering if something like a Yuku board ( http://www.yuku.com/ ) might be more useful to you. I've set one up for my WoW raiding guild, and it's fairly easy to use. You can adjust individual usernames to give them as much or as little permission as you want. You can set up other people to be co-admins. You can make topics readable only to members of the board.

As for an actual blog, there I'm a little hazy (LJ is the only one I use regularly.) I know there's blogspot.com but I have no idea if you can set up a blog with multiple authors.

A lot of people seem to be on Facebook (I've never tried it)- can you set up a community there? Or is that not professional enough?
May. 28th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
I'll have to check out the Yuku stuff.

I don't know about FaceBook. I hate it with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns, and by definition, whatever my bosses decide to go with, I'm going to have to learn how to do so that I can support it, and possibly I'll have to be one of the co-admins as well, so... I'd DEEPLY prefer not to do it on FaceBook. :P
May. 28th, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think Facebook would possibly attract the hoi polloi even more than LJ does. I have people ask me if I have a Facebook page, but they're baffled when I say I only have LJ; they've never heard of it.

The yuku board is pretty much like our Rivertwine forum. I think it's very customizable but I haven't really played around with that part.
May. 28th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)
Interesting -- see my reply to Tejas below, a site that related to our subject has a discussion board, and they use Yuku for it... that's good, that's an easy way to show my bosses what we can do, too. (They already know that site has that board.)
May. 28th, 2009 05:44 pm (UTC)
There are some that are geared to certain types of industries, I think. Um... not that any are coming to mind. :-)

Might check out blogspot.com - that's one I seem to get redirected to with alarming regularity. See who your competitors use.
May. 28th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
We don't really have competitors as such, we're an academic dept. (I do have to go around and see if any of our sibling depts at other univ's run blogs, at all.) Although, this is a site that is related to what we do:


And... huh! Their "discussion board" uses Yuku. Whaddaya know? That's interesting.
May. 28th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
UGH! I *hate* forums. Blogs are much more user friendly.
May. 28th, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Heh; you SAY that, but I'm very used to that style of forum (through a couple of fan-groups I play in), whereas, blogs just scare me.

(But I take your meaning -- I think you're right that to the casual person dropping by, a blog is easier to read/navigate, and easier to reply to. On the other hand... threaded conversations are VERY useful.)
May. 28th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
It all depends on the goal of the thing, I think. Are you (generic you) planning on having tons of ongoing conversations or is it going to be a more linear format based on on-going events/topics.

Are you trying to lure people in (blogs are better since the content is *RIGHT THERE* when hit the link) or are you trying to manage existing information exchanges (people have a vested interest in trying to navigate through the more byzantine forum format, though information can be better organized like that).

Is this a top-down flow or will cross-talk be encouraged? A blog allows for excellent top-down with the added option of having bottom-up comments and limited cross-talk. Forums, by their nature, encourage cross-talk.

What kind of format is your customer base more familiar/comfortable with?
May. 28th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
You might want to take a look at some of the local tv-news websites that have blogs -- they embed the blogs in the website itself, rather than redirect to an outside site, and comments can be posted there as well. ^_^
May. 28th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
For various reasons, having to do with how the website is designed and maintained, I think it would be BETTER if the blog were an outside site that we directed to. Because my boss travels a bit, and if the only way for her to moderate the blog was through the way the website is updated... no, that wouldn't work.
May. 28th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)
It's also possible those blogs are actually outside sites embedded into the main site -- something like a Wordpress blog, that could be moderated &c. separate from the main site. I dunno! XD Good idea (maybe) in theory, but a potential nightmare in practice, both to manage and implement. Have you checked with your IT department, to see if they have any ideas or recommendations?
May. 28th, 2009 06:36 pm (UTC)

WordPress is something I see used on some of the larger multiblogger communities like Shapely Prose where there are 4 bloggers posting entries and moderating plus comments are screened for new people. As you can see, the advantage is being able to use WPs software but have your own distinct URL where as blogger and blogspot both require their URLs (I think).

NING is fairly new. It's a community-building site that allows for central blogging as well as forums, posting pictures, chats, etc. I first heard of them through an academic listserv for Internet researchers - you can control the privacy level and access on NING more easily than on LJ I think, which makes it more suitable for academic groups to use. Also, again, the SP comm was created there so I registered. Their particular design could be less cluttered IMHO but the site brags about how the communities are "infinitely customizable" so I'm assuming that was the purview of the owners rather than the site itself.

I have not actually designed or built a comm on either of these places. I use DotEasy for my web sites and blog, but I'm not wild about their built in software they provide. Of course, it's all free so that probably has something to do with the level of service. ;)
(Deleted comment)
May. 28th, 2009 07:22 pm (UTC)
We have something called "iSites", which is what everyone is now forced to use for course-related websites, and which everyone LOATHES, LOATHES I tell you. As well they should; customizable, but ugly as sin and annoying to navigate. You can approximate a kind of a blog with it. But... I'm not sure, but I think it's proprietary to this institution; you have to have an ID to log into it? Well, you do for the course websites anyway; maybe you wouldn't for something like this. I do plan to talk to IT, and see if that's all they have to offer.
(Deleted comment)
May. 28th, 2009 07:37 pm (UTC)
Well, everyone hates it, but many do use it. We use it for each of our courses, gritting our teeth the whole while. And it works okay, for an in-house use like that. It's not pretty, and the fact that I *can't* show it to you is also one of our objections to it. But it's certainly one of those things where everyone puts up with the no-frills clunkiness of it because we're all a captive audience and yes, we have to use it. But I wouldn't want to make the public have to use it.
(Deleted comment)
May. 28th, 2009 07:50 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that may be part of it. I'm sure they do a lot of hard work selecting these kinds of things, even as we end-users sit here and wonder why the hell they chose THAT one. I'm sure they have this long checklist of everything it's supposed to do, and god forbid it should be unable to do something that the profs want. (I will give it this: it does make reordering reserve listings for the library VERY easy.)

I do somewhat expect that at this point, they're wondering "why bother" when most students and a lot of profs and staff already use outside email systems and blog sites and whatever. I know we're going to be switching email programs and calendar programs this summer, and I'm honestly wondering, why don't they just switch to Gmail? (I'm sure there's some reason.)
May. 28th, 2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
There are plenty of reasons. I would have to say the #1 reason is: there are powerful faculty out there who want to be able to be spoiled by having it their way, customized, by WGU tech staff. That's true for iSites (totally custom and maintained as a framework by an entire WGU programming team); you just aren't the powerful faculty getting their customizations. It's somewhat true for email/calendaring: we had custom (really "small companies we could bully") for a long time there, until certain disasters I can't talk about in public.
May. 28th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
Also, from listening to raqs, going commercial for course maintenance tools is miserable and so monopolistic right now as to drive many other universities to go Custom/Homebrew themselves, as they can afford it.
(no subject) - eregyrn - May. 28th, 2009 08:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elishavah - May. 28th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 28th, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
Do what I did for my public blog. Set up an LJ account and paste the little javascript code (LJ generates it for you, super easy) into an HTML page on your website. It calls and includes your LJ blog. (You can see this on my website.) Your boss doesn't know what she's talking about when she says she wants multiple people to be able to post. Give multiple people the username and pw of the site - you'll have to help them anyway, so all the better to use something you know - and they'll be sick of playing with it in a year and you can take it down, easy.

LJ allows people to comment via open ID and anonymously, so I think it's a good way to go. And I've seen a lot of commercial businesses do this this way - they all post to one blog (one feed) but of course sign their entries.

call me if you want further info. To generate the code you do have to have a paid account... $25 per year. Nothin'.
May. 28th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was thinking about that solution -- one account and password, and sharing that amongst the group of people we want to be able to moderate. (And just telling people, sign your posts with your name.) I'll take a look at how it works on your website.
May. 29th, 2009 01:26 am (UTC)
Wordpress is wonderful to work with -- plenty of options but not overly complicated. Very stable platform in active development with thorough documentation if you run into trouble and plenty of add-ons available if you want it to do something in particular. You can have multiple posters, varying administration levels, and allow/ban anonymous commenting as your heart desires. There is also a vast array of designs available, both 'official' and free-floating on the web, both free and for purchase.

If you have to suffer through the experience, it's one I would highly recommend checking out.
May. 29th, 2009 04:31 pm (UTC)
Do you HAVE to allow comments?

I have no other advice on the blogging software; it's been years since I used Blogger (now owned by Google).
May. 29th, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)
At the moment, sadly, my boss seems to WANT there to be comments. So people can ask questions or create a discussion. (I think this is a spectacularly BAD idea for several reasons, but...)
Jun. 17th, 2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday! :)
Jul. 16th, 2009 04:43 am (UTC)
Ok...hi there!
Hey Holly!
The last time I checked on this, I did not have a blog, had never hjad a bog, never intended to have a blog, and given the subject of the above post, had no clue what to suggest about blogs.
Never say never!
So now, I am keeping a blog, enjoying the heck out of it, understand the dynamics a little better about blogging, and posting (and still having screaming moments like the other night when I punched the wrong button and undid all my formating. I was traumatized! But Cyn got it fixed! Thank God - every one who is not a Geek, should marry a geek.)
So here I am, commenting, (which I will be more faithful about.) And I will watch for upcoming posts. By the way....DID you find a solution to the blog scenario at work?
Be well!
Jul. 16th, 2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Ok...hi there!

Yeah, the solution I came up with was that apparently one of the schools here offers blogs to anyone with our Univ's email address, under WordPress. So I set her up with one of those, and the deal is that she'll play with that blog for the summer, and get to know it. And then when we have a committee meeting in the fall, we'll bring up to the committee the idea of one for the dept., or not.

You can see what she's doing with it so far here:

Aug. 3rd, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Re: Ok...hi there!
Test-reply -- are you getting any kind of notification of this?
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )