Evolution of the FTW Blogger Group List

LAST UPDATED: June 23, 2011

With the recent increase in problems with having member's posts dropped or never even show up in the FTW blogroll, I've decided that something must change.
When I received this email I knew this had gone too far...

Gave it a shot tonight, clearing out all my cookies and other junk before starting. I made certain it got timestamped correctly as well, but it hasn't shown up yet. Not that it is such a big deal for me though, after all who's going to be interested in an insane converter with zero time and a Space Marine army with the wrong colour scheme?

You all look to this site to see your stuff posted, no matter who you are or how important it may seem. It's one of the things that I said I would do for members. With well over 200 blogs on the roll, there is far too much at stake here to just "hope it fixes itself."

It's become apparent to me that the current method is unacceptable and something new must take it's place. I recently sent out an email to all you guys making you aware of some of the possible problems associated with the list. Not good enough.

So here's what I've done:
Since the FTW list has not been working correctly and appears to be geting worse each day, I am switching from the Blogger "Blog List" gadget as a way of showcasing members to using Feedburner and combining everything into one feed and then pulling that back into FTW. It's a little more work on this end but it solves the problem.

The Good:
Things appear to be updating much, much quicker now.
The amount of blogs shown has increased to 50 now.
The top 50 posts should be listed and nobody should be dropped, left out, or completely forgotten...

The Bad:
With updates appearing quicker, the turnover is greater.
There is no way to see the older posts that are not listed (51 and older).
There are no thumbnail pictures with posts.

The Plan:
I am going to continue to refine the new listing and see what else I can incorporate back into it so that you guys get the most from it. This is going to take a little time so bear with me, I'm self taught when it comes to these things.
The old list is going to go away as the new list fills it's place.
Some of you will notice that you can grab this feed an put it on your own blog. Feel free, that's why it's labeled v1.0 in the title. As new members join, the feed will have to be redone and I will post the new version for those who want to have the latest one on their own site.

Does this mean that some people may stop visiting? Perhaps, but it also means that the FTW blogger list will most likely spread to even more sites and even more people may become aware of the FTW Blogger Group.

What you need to do:
Nothing except watch the blogroll and make sure your stuff shows up. If you post on your blog and it doesn't appear on FTW shortly after (give it maybe a half hour) then please let me know.

And lastly I need to apologise to everyone who has had their hobby content dropped or left off the list in the last couple weeks. In additional to that, I owe an apology to Tim since his intro post was supposed to go up today and I didn't post it since I was busy with this. Tim's post will go up tomorrow and then it's back to some real hobby content for you guys to enjoy.

UPDATE JULY 26, 2009
Feed 1.1 added. The old feed (1.0) is gone. I think by doning this, it helps Google sort out the new people and start from scratch.

Looks like when someone new is added to the roll, Google has a hard time picking up the correct dates for their posts. Google grabs a bunch of posts off the newly added blog. Now this might get sorted as Google lines everything back up but for the first hour or so, there's lots of posts from the new members for some reason.
When another previous member posts something new, it goes to the top though like normal though.

Another issue I'm working on is getting more than 20 current posts to show. I have 50 chosen but only 20 are showing up right now.

The problem was too many blogs in one list (who knew you couldn't have over 300?).
Now there are two lists, the Command Squad and the Rank and File.

The Command Squad is made up of the top 60 FTW member blogs that support FTW through site traffic. Each month I'll update the list. Only the top 10 will be shown here folks, these are the high traffic blogs.

The Rank and File are the remaining FTW member blogs. Only the top 25 posts are shown here.

As a way of introducing the new FTW Blogger Group members, I've created the New Recruit category. New blogs will go here for their first month and then be moved into the Rank and File after that.
This way, readers can see who's new to the group and check them out.

In order to make the constantly growing FTW Blogger List manageable, I have collected all of the blogs into 2 "Expansions." One of them is near capacity and the remaining one is filling quickly.

Only the top 10 most recent posts will be displayed from each Expansion.

There are no requirements to be in one Expansion verses the other. As one fills up, I will start a new one. As of the end of August now, there are just over 350 blogs listed total.

Corbania Prime did some investigation and has a great explanantion about Google bots and making sure you're listed in any Blogroll in a consistent and timely manner.
Check out his post for the full explanantion.

If your blog is in the roll and you post an insanely huge link (meaning you don't type any text for it, but use the incredibly long strip of text techinically assigned to it) you will be temporarily taken out of the blog roll until you post something without a huge link in it.
The reason is this: That huge link is not able to be broken down into something smaller and so the blogroll tries to show it "as is in it's entirety" and it creates problems with the FTW template. This may make it impossible for readers to read FTW in the correct format. I will try and find a way to contact you by email on your site to let you know if possible.

The rolls are back the way they were way back when. It is possible to scroll through them now.
In addition, huge links are no longer a problem for the new rolls. Blogs are no longer being temporarily dropped for long links that disrupt the coding.
And... old blogs (inactive with no new posts) are removed from the rolls after 12 months to make room for new blogs.

Some of you may have noticed the new blog added this week. Each month, I go through and remove those blogs that have not posted in over a year and add new ones in the available spaces. Sometimes I get more applicants than I have space... so the new blog roll was created and then removed. Wrong solution to the problem.

As a way to make sure the FTW blog rolls are being kept current and blogs are not just dying a slow death in the rolls after their initial post, the time period of inactivity has been changed from one year to six months. If after six months without a post, a blog will be removed from the rolls. Any tutorials submitted will remain in the archives.
If after six months of inactivity, you decide to post again and would like your blog added back into the rolls, simply drop me an email with your blog link, blog name and I'll get you added back in.

With the site getting back up to speed, the blog rolls have really become the main focus. The search function on the site is designed to search through all of the members listed in the blogrolls.

This allows any reader to access the material a FTW Blogger Member has posted.

The previous Search engine started giving me trouble recently so I removed it and replaced it with a Google Custom Search Engine. Slightly different, but it still allows readers to access all the FTW bloggers and this site for additional material.

UPDATE: This post is fairly old and FTW has since experienced a number of changes. Sometimes it's nice to look back at where you came from and where you're going.

Thank you everyone.

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer.


  1. I'm all for more blogs getting added to the list to be displayed at one time... and you've been doing as bang-up a job as anyone could Ron, but no thumbnails to the posts is really the biggest letdown to me so far. A lot of the times I can tell if I want to read an interesting post by the picture, especially the posts (like mine) that don't always list the contents of the post in the title. However, I understand that in your current situation, the large amount of traffic in the blogroll does make this more difficult. I suppose that is up to us as readers, to subsribe to the blogs we want and put them in our own blogrolls to see the thumbnails! Thanks for putting forth your very best effort, Ron, as it is appreciated over here on this end.

  2. FoxPhoenix135: Pictures aren't completely out of the question yet... I'm still learning and it is possible that I will figure out a way to get them aded back in.

    There are lots of ways to solve this one, I'm just wading in to deeper water now.

  3. Hi Ron
    Thanks for giveing up your owne free time to help us all.

  4. Yes, this looks like it will work much better. Thanks for being such an awesome guy. :D

  5. Thanks, Ron, for being such a conscientious member of this community. I know for a fact if it weren't for FtW and the hard work you put into it, I would be the only person visiting my blog!

  6. What Paul Wu said... :D

    Thumbnails would be huge, Ron. But do what you can and know that it's greatly appreciated.

  7. Thanks for all your continued hard work and dedication in keeping the ball rolling Ron.

  8. For a while I was wondering where is it and then realised NoScript was blocking the entire thing. :p
    Anyway, it is quite simple and doesn't even show the blog name there, I suppose there's still some stuff to do with it.
    I suppose aside the feed maybe it would be good to make a single post that would list all the blogs, perhaps with one or two sentences of description, written by the blog author and a picture chosen by him?
    I wish I could help somehow, after all I do study computer science, but my knowledge of RSS is really scarce... I'll peak around though and if I find something interesting I'll let you know.
    Also, I'd like to repeat what the other said above me, thanks!

  9. Great effort Ron, the listing does seem a lot more precise now. Thanks for sorting this out for us!

  10. I dont want to sound like a d*ck after you've gone to the trouble of changing things, but could it just be that people are writing out posts, saving them, then publishing them later?? Because if you do that, you post doesnt go onto ANYONEs blog roll, not just FtW! I had the problem ages ago and Ron couldnt find the thing Id posted minutes before... so, I just copied and pasted the entire post into a new one, deleted the one Id been working on, published the copied version and Voi-La my post was on everyones rolls

  11. King's Standard Bearer: You bring up a valid point, and this may very well be the case with some blogs.

    There is no way to know for sure.

    Instead of making everyone else follow some strict, complex method of posting just to make sure their stuff shows up on FTW... I can make a slight adjustment here that will allow more freedom on you guys end to post as you want.

    Will there still be problems?
    Sure but I can only do so much here and I would be dropping the ball if I didn't do all I could to make it work on this end.

    If for whatever reason, people change settings on their blog, post oddball ways, etc.... I can't control that and their stuff may not appear, but I feel responsible to provide the best service I can with the knowledge I have to help the most people.

    Thanks for bringing it up. Ultimately, you are correct, it takes everyone doing their part as best they can to make this work.

  12. Thanks so much for all your hard work. :) I'm sure everyone will get use to the blog roll and when pictures do come back it will feel like an extra special bonus.

  13. @King's Standard Bearer: I e-mailed Ron about this issue a couple weeks ago, and the reason was that I had saved a draft of a post and posted it two days later. I, being new to all this, didn't know that it kept the original post date on the draft, and didn't change the date when you finally published it. You had to do it manually to reflect the actual post date.

    Hopefully Ron's not going through all this trouble because some of us don't know the in and outs of blogging!

  14. Johnathan: Not everyone knows the ins and outs of Blogging. We're gamers... not professional bloggers.

    I think this method, while it has it's drawbacks right now, is much better (reliable and current) than the previous system.

    With all the research I was doing yesterday, that "blog list" gadget has it's problems... especially when you load 279 bloggers into it.

    Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to see what I can do with this new method and maybe find some ways to improve it.

    I just appreciate everyone's understanding while I slog through this change.

  15. Thanks for the hard work, Ron. Seems to be working better. Seemed weird on those days when all my traffic was coming in from new listing BoLS and not old established FtW membership.

  16. I'll be honest Ron, you've done an excellent in building this community up but I don't like the recent changes. I don't believe that you should have a two tiered community.

    For me it suggests that those in the rank and file have less worth to the community than those in the command squad list.

    Am I taking this personally? yes, probably, I don't believe you can be completely objective when you have a vested interest in what you're discussing but that doesn't stop me being a bit narked that a blog that hasn't had a post to it in over 5 months has more worth to the community than my or any of the other rank or file blogs.

    After looking at the lists, I noticed that on the RnF list, there's over 70 blogs that haven't posted anything in over a month.

    How about having two lists, active blogs and archive blogs. Put the active blog list at the top and include any blog that's updated with the last month. The archive blogs list could contain blogs that haven't posted in the last month.

    That way, those that post regularly would all get their chance at the top regardless of what amount of traffic they send to the community. It'll still allow new users to browse all of members blogs across the two lists. I also imagine it'd be easier for you to admin as there's no need to look at stats and work out who's sending you what as the last post date is displayed on the blog list.

    As the community expands, you could simply reduce the posting time on the active list. I imagine that most people check the FTW list at least once a week, so you could reduce it to two weeks as people would still get the same exposure as they did before.

    Anyway, these are just my thoughts, it's your community, so what you do with it is down to you. Please don't taken this as a put down to all the great work your done so far, it's just my honest opinion.

    Keep up the good work.


  17. Col. Corbane: Thanks for the comment.

    I tried to think of a way to list the entire group so that I could make sure nobody gets dropped. The Blogger blog list has a maximum number 250 of blogs that can be listed in a each widget.

    By making an active and archive list with the criteria you suggested, an archive blog could go active by posting nothing more than "Nothing new these days, busy with real life..." Then I could be left changing blogs from the archive list to the acticve list up to 240 times a day.

    Then what do I do if there are more active blogs in one month than can fit on the active list? The max is 250 and there are almost 300 members this week. NExt week could be 310 or more...

    I don't want to build a system that rewards people just for simply posting anything. I thought if the point is to promote everyone blogs through FTW, then why not use that criteria.

    I went through the list of incoming traffic sources for FTW and took the first 60 out of the 300 in the group. These went into the Commmand Squad and the remaining 240 went into Rank and File.

    This is not a way of saying that one blog is better than another or more important or more valuable. This is just a way to list everyone.
    If you promote other blogs and bring more traffic to FTW (and more traffic for other members of the group) then your blog will get listed in one category as opposed to the other.

    This system is not without problem though. What wil I do when both lists are maxed out? Do I make a third list, do I find a new criteria?

    I never imagined I would have more than a handful in the list when I started this group. Right now, I have room for about 10 new members in the Rank and File before I need to increase the overflow into the Command Squad.

    I guess I would rather have these problems than to not have any participation at all. My hope with all of this is that I can continue to give back to the group what they've given me. It's not going to be easy or simple and as the group continues to grow, and there will be more problems.

  18. My blog updates have been appearing in the list just fine. I'd like to thank you for all the work you must have put in to get this to work so well.

    The daily hits on my own blog have gone from 20something to nearly 60ish so I have no complaints.

  19. Who could be anything but grateful that you run a service like this?
    I've not even joined yet! I've been really impressed with the utility of FTW and being able to find new content so easily is a big pro. I've added 20+ blogs to my Google Reader through FTW. Thanks!


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