The Schottey Six is "going rogue" this week!
A few things about Bleacher Report have been getting my proverbial goat these days and one thing in particular got me going this morning.
So excuse me as I get all "mavericky" and tell the fine people who run this site how to do their jobs.
Seriously, though, I can't run a Web site. I see the hell it can put on a man, even on much smaller sites. And, the bigger a site gets, the more thankless of a job it becomes.
So I humbly submit this piece, with complete deference to the fine job that is being done around here. I fully encourage a B/R editor to comment and tell me exactly where to shove this.
I love the em-dash; I really do.
But, show of hands: How many of you write your articles on a computer other than a Windows-running desktop?
Probably a significant chunk of you.
And, even if you do. Does anyone have that number sequence memorized? If so, please call 1-800-BRemission.
Two ways to fix the em-dash issue.
1. Auto-correct: Again, I have no idea how the software works, so someone tell me if this is feasible, but, what if the site were able to just take every "--" and turn it into a "—"? I think that would be a pretty handy idea!
2. Put an em-dash on the write page: This one I know will work. Somewhere, anywhere on the writing page, stick an em-dash. Do so on both the original and slide pages. Personally, I know it would save me a lot of time.
Optionally, there is a third way to ensure that em-dashes get into every article...
Make sure Dann Gaymer edits every single one.
(In fact, I can almost see his reaction as he frustratingly has to leave the double-dash I placed above! Ah, the little joys in life!)
Much like the companies in the photo above, there are some well-established monopolies on Bleacher Report.
Are they too big to fail? I don't think so.
I'm not going to name names. In fact, another problem with B/R is the user-generated flame wars that seem to get in the way of this site becoming truly great.
All I know is this.
When an article has 100 reads and more than 50 "likes," some collusion is going on. Whether it's certain sports, certain communities, or just people who have a lot of really nice friends...it's fishy.
The AOTD algorithm has to be able to account for such things. As do "writer rankings," page placement, etc.
I have nothing about the article's authors or the articles themselves. They might even be the best article on Bleacher Report! But consistent overuse of the "like" button isn't going to stop.
It has to be accounted for.
Don't get me wrong.
I love the fact we can put a countless number of photos in our articles without worrying about copyright issues.
I love that it's at the touch of a button.
But what I don't love is when I go to write and article and type in "Calvin Johnson" and no photo comes up.
Tom Brady? Nothing.
A gun to shoot myself? Nothing.
The system is flaky. It's great, but it's flaky.
I'm no computing guru.
I've taught myself quite a bit. I can bold text, put it in italics, but that's about it.
I can't add links, photos, and anything else.
This is why I despise making slideshows on B/R. I also can't stand getting one-paragraph messages from people who don't know how to bracket their p's or mind their q's.
Either place a large HTML help guide along the side of the slide creation page, or PLEASE create a simple formatting toolbar for the slide creation page as with the normal article page.
Then, do the same for the "compose message" page.
I guarantee, slideshows will look 200 percent better within the week and people will actually use their mail.
President Bush will hold his breath until it's fixed.
The page placement on this site is great—99 percent of stories on the front page deserve to be there.
Bigger problems happen when the team/community sites showcase stories for too long or for not long enough. I propose giving the community leaders more leeway and a mandate to decide what goes where.
To aid them, the lesser corners of the site should have the same "most read" and "most commented" placement options as the main page. Keeping great articles around can only help.
Maybe I'm just being whiny. There might be a little bit of selfishness in this rant. But, I just don't think the front page looks good without my name on it!
But not really.
This starts with us.
Don't tag your articles to purposely mislead!
There is nothing creative, inventive, novel, or clever about what you're doing.
Some of this is well known and has gone on for a long time, and some communities have (thankfully) policed themselves.
I know the "New York" tag will get me a lot of readers, but that doesn't mean I put it on my articles willy-nilly. It does mean that I might occasionally write a piece about NYC things that irk my chain.
Actually writing about popular topics is good.
Tagging your crappy piece about whatever with a "USC Trojans" tag is bad.
This site isn't about seeing how many people will read your stuff. The Washington Post will not make you the next Michael Wilbon because you consistently get 1,000 reads.
This site is about improving your writing skills.
You do that by writing better. Not by making sure the Philly fans read your piece about fly fishing.
Just because you wrote a college football game recap and nonchalantly name-dropped an alumni who is in the NFL doesn't mean you wrote a piece that should be tagged "NFL."
I fully commend the writers of the "lesser-known" communities on Bleacher Report. I suggest you peruse around them for a while today to give them the recognition they deserve.
A lot of good writers are making their hay without abusing the system; it's a shame that lesser writers would like to make their name by a loophole rather than by self-improvement.
Again, to the editors and site big-wigs who may stumble upon this, I submit this with the most humble of intentions.
You can't fix all the problems, certainly not all at once.
I, above all, applaud the work this site has done. Nonetheless, please do what you can.