Some of you may have noticed that the FTW Blog rolls have been temporarily removed. The first of the year saw me start to clean them up and get them back up to speed. As the rolls have grown over the years, there have been a number of issues. Everything from overcoming Blogger's limits on maximum blogs listed in each roll to the size of thumbnails and how to break up long links that can't really be broken. I won't even get into the practice of getting them to scroll... but just vertically and not horizontally.
Behind the scenes
I usually do some kind of work to them each week as I try not to let the regular updating get too far behind or it takes me forever to catch up. As it turns out, I've been trying to update them for the past two weeks and have been unable to do any work at all to them. Not because I couldn't find the time, but because something is wrong with them. I haven't been able to do anything like add new members, remove old sites, remove dead links and suspend inappropriate content as it pops up.
Something is wrong with the rolls
As I realized the scope of the problem with the rolls, I decided to do some much needed work to them overall. Some of you may recall the poll I had the other week where I asked folks about where they though they should be located (their own page or as they are). That was part of the process... I was curious to see where folks thought they should be placed and if they needed to be given more space on the site.
I started to go through them one at a time (all 750 plus members) looking for issues. I found everything from dead sites to invalid ones, suspended accounts, ones that would not load properly, ones that crashed the widget when I tried to resave it again... everything was in there. Even with the close eye I keep on them, stuff gets by over time.
So what have I done now?
Right now, I have all of the FTW members blog links in a database. The link list takes up 11 pages single spaced. I've spent most of today trying to find a way to get the dead sites removed and adding the almost dozen new members to the rolls. I still have not been able to do it.
Because I'm unable to maintain them, I have temporarily removed them from the site. I know this will impact everyone who is currently listed and it's not a decision I take lightly.
So what's going to happen to the rolls?
I am looking at ways to get all of the blogs into one master roll. I've spent some time looking for feed aggregators that can handle that number of feeds and not crash from the sky in a ball of flame. Most I come across are designed for a few (less than 10) blogs. I've also come across a handful of methods that no longer work due to the problems with trying to do this kind of thing apparently. Seems as though they started out working, but ending up not doing so well.
I'd like to see if I can find a system that can handle the load and is reliable.
So what can you do to keep your readership and traffic up?
I know some folks get their traffic from the rolls or at least they tell me they do. There are a few things you can do to bring traffic to your site.
1. Post quality content.
2. Post on a consistent schedule.
3. Write good headlines that describe your posts accurately.
Those three are the big ones. Pictures are nice, but those three are the top ones in my book. There are a few more things I am going to do as well.
Guest post here on FTW
If you're interested, let me know by email. I'm looking for original content that has not been posted elsewhere and covers the modeling and painting aspect of the hobby. If you'e interested and want to talk more about Guest posting and some of the aspects about it, please email me and I'll be happy to share my experiences.
The Hobby Focus Series
I'll be continuing this series as I find all kinds of things in my internet travels that I like to share. This series will continue to spotlight individual blogger's work.
Send me your links
If you link to FTW in one of your own blog posts (like some folks do when duplicating tutorials), let me know about it. Either leave a comment or email me directly and I'll see about getting a link to your blog post added back into my original post.
If you're a commission artist and you want your site to have a link in the Reviews and Resources page, send me an email. I'll need your link and the name you want your site listed under. I know there are a few bloggers out there that used their spot in the rolls as a way of showcasing their work.
The future of the blog rolls
Stay tuned folks, I'm working on getting the three blog rolls on track. I do not know when I will be putting the rolls back up though. I am going to continue to look for a way to inlcude all the blogs in one roll that is reliable and allows me the ability to manipulate it as needed in order to keep it current.
Thanks for all of the continued support!
UPDATE: I am working on collecting every blog into my Google Reader. This will allow me to do two things.
1. Keep track of everyone.
2. Export the list into other potential programs for feeding.