If you’ve been keeping an eye on social media over the last week, you may have noticed Alexia Morgan (@Alexia_Morgan) talking about a new initiative for current and aspiring EVE bloggers. Titled The EVE Online Blogging Community – A Network of EVE Online Blogs, this new site is intended to take over for the incumbent EVE Online Bloggers Portal.
I wanted to catch up with Alexia to find out some more information about the site and what he hopes it will provide the EVE community.
Winterblink: Maybe to start off, give us the sales pitch. A blog of blogs seems to be a bizarre concept to some.
Alexia Morgan: I hadn’t called it that before – a ‘blog of blogs’ is a great way of putting it. I had just seen it as a portal for Eve Online bloggers, allowing them to access blogs and resources from the one site. It’s still a work in progress, but there’s going to be integrated blogs that will be published and shared along with the sharing of independent blogs and their updates. There’s also Groups and Forums for sharing of common interests, activities and even focused discussions around individual blogs. The whole idea is to build up a single community focused on Eve Online bloggers and helping them communicate and share with each other, while presenting it to the world, inviting more to get involved.
Winterblink: You make the distinction between integrated and independent blogs. I’m assuming that means that you will not only host blogs for people who don’t have one of their own, and support some sort of aggregation of blogs that are privately hosted, correct?
Alexia Morgan: That’s right. I know there’s been some resistance in the community at the distinction, but I’m not sure why. I’ve had some independent bloggers complain that they don’t want to be known as ‘independent’ bloggers, compared to those blogs built and published within the portal. While I understand their issues, I don’t accept them. There’s no easy way of putting together internal and external blogs on the one site. Internal blogs are auto-published to the front page, while the external blogs are auto-displayed via RSS feeds. You can’t please everyone all the time, however, so I don’t bother trying. But yes, Eve Blogs is for all bloggers, and it’s doing its best to share everyone’s blogs that want to be involved.
Winterblink: Being an independent EVE blogger myself, I enjoy the freedom that a privately hosted solution can bring, especially from a technical perspective. What kind of features or services will your site provide that you think are competitive to an independent blog?
Alexia Morgan: Well, firstly, independent blogs don’t have integrated forums. Depending on their blogging platform, they can certainly set it up, but it’s a mighty pain in the butt to do so. I’ve already done it, so it’s available to integrated blogs without them needing to worry about it themselves. They just ‘plug in’ and start using.
Secondly, independent bloggers are ‘mostly’ clueless about their site security and administration. One of the first things I did was setup extensive security hardening protocols for the site, to mitigate risks of hacking and losing content. I’ve also got all content being auto-backed up every three days, so if there’s any issues I can restore from backup. The security and continuity of members and their content has to be an important element of this, and it is, and so I’ve done what most independent bloggers never do.
And finally, I am the administrator of the site, so that if any integrated blog owners have issues, they have me to help them with it.
I think that overall, it’s the ease of setup and administration of an integrated blog compared to having to setup a blog yourself that will make this an attractive and competitive option for new bloggers that don’t know how to get started, and don’t have the time or interest in learning. I suspect that there are many Eve Online players out there who would just LOVE to blog about their experiences, but are hampered by the daunting prospect of having to set up a blog and maintain it, when they know nothing about it, and all they want to do is start writing. I help them get over that hurdle.
Winterblink: I’ve not seen anything yet on your site with regards to content ownership policies; for example, sites such as Facebook and others infer ownership and usage rights to images uploaded to their service. After having a taste of how magical life as an EVE blogger can be, some users may decide to branch off and go independent. Is their content considered theirs with all rights reserved by the authors, and will their content be made available to them freely if they decide to move on?
Alexia Morgan: When it became clear that I wouldn’t be taking over evebloggers.com, I knew I had to create something to take over the responsibility that evebloggers.com had. I built that site, so I knew it was based on RSS feed outputs provided by Google Reader – which was completely shutting down on July 1st. The result would be that evebloggers.com would no longer be providing its service. So I worked hard to build a replacement, which was eveblogs.net. The site went live the same day Google Reader shut down (five days ago now), and has been a work in progress since then as of this interview, I haven’t had a chance to formalise the content ownership policies yet, but this is a good time to let it be known what those policies are going to be.
All blog content provided by any individual is theirs, and theirs alone. This includes text and images. There will be restrictions, however, on the size of individual files uploaded as part of their blog, so the use of external image hosting sites will be encouraged. There will be backup plugins in place that can automate backups of individual content and sent to their email for their own personal storage. At any time, blog owners have the right and the availability of exporting their content to be used on an independent blog, and to delete their internal, integrated blog. There will be no restrictions with this.
Winterblink: There is some element of controversy behind this site, specifically with regards to evebloggers.com. Can you give us your own perspective on what happened there, and why you ended up having to produce a whole new site instead of updating the old one?
Alexia Morgan: Now there’s a contentious issue, and one which I already discussed in detail here (http://eveblogs.net/tours/2013/06/the-evebloggers-com-conspiracy/). However, the quick summary is that I gave evebloggers.com to Marc Scaurus back in 2012, when I wanted to pass the mantle to someone else who would have the same passion for it as me, so that I could focus on some RL distractions. He gave me the impression he was dedicated, so I transitioned ownership over to him. But he did nothing with it, and then joined themittani.com as senior editor. He also took ownership of the Eve Blog Pack, and did nothing with that as well. And then, this year, when the evebloggers.com domain was coming up for renewal, he announced that he was letting go of it and would give it to someone who had never managed it before. Since I was the only one who had managed it before, it was clear he didn’t want me taking it over again, even though I had attempted to contact him numerous times over the past year to take it back, when I saw he was doing nothing with it.
Based on his actions, his words, and the background of his involvement with themittani.com, I came up with the conspiracy theory that themittani.com wanted to destroy the Eve blogging community, so that they could drive all traffic to their domain. It’s only a theory because there’s no direct evidence, but if there’s enough dots then a pretty clear picture can be seen.
So, because he wasn’t interested in giving it back to me, I had to create a new site to take on the responsibility of what I had started. I was extremely disappointed that he was engaging in actions to try and bring down the community portal, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from continuing what I’d started in 2009.
Winterblink: You recently blogged that you have a “change of focus” in mind for your site already, which seems pretty early in a site’s lifecycle to happen. Can you describe what the new focus is all about, and why you chose to do this so soon?
Alexia Morgan: There was a lot of controversy about the ‘internal and external’ labelling of Eve blogs and bloggers in the context of the community portal. Some bloggers felt that such labelling was actually ‘dividing’ the community by considering them as separate. I thought it was ironic that this was coming from an independent blogger who wanted to remain independent, while complaining about someone else commenting on their independence. As I said in a comment on their post, “I’m hearing the cries of independent bloggers who don’t want to be labelled as independent, even though they are, and who want to be known as members of the community, even though they’re struggling to remain separate.” It was sarcasm, trying to present the irony in their arguments. But they didn’t see it. And it’s probably silly of me to expect those who are engaging in irony to actually see it.
But a number of bloggers are talking about the same thing. The controversy is real and seems to enrage them. It’s not beneficial to me to try and bring a community together by enraging them. So the ‘change of focus’ is to, put it bluntly, tell them to go screw themselves. If they want to remain independent, they can. If they want to struggle against the concept of community, they can. If they think creating ‘competition’ amongst various community sites or blogs is a good thing, they’re entitled to their opinions. What’s left for me to do is simply focus on those that want to be in the community and support the community. Those that don’t, so be it.
However, I’m pondering on whether or not I should allow independent bloggers to use Eve Blogs Network to promote their blogs if they’re adamantly against the idea. If you’re an independent blogger wanting to have your blog listed on a community portal, I think it’s a bit ripe to sign up to have your blog updates presented on the portal, and then start blogging about your resistance to the concept of community and a community portal.
So the change of focus is going to take all this into consideration as I move forward. Community is community – those that don’t support it, well, you’re obviously not into community and shouldn’t be part of it. Rotten apples, and all that. I’ll instead focus on those that do support it and want to be part of it.
I think that this is going to bring a lot of ‘new blood’ into the scene, and I’m completely in favour of that.
Winterblink: Thanks for taking the time to speak to me about the new site, Alexia.
If anyone out there is interested in trying their hand at being the “new blood” of EVE bloggers, feel free to go to eveblogs.net/register to sign up.