I've noticed some interest from some users in stuff on [bicycles.SE] that would be useful or interesting, but just doesn't fit in with the [StackExchange] QA format. Bike reviews for instance. A blog could be a great outlet for a lot of that stuff. It could also serve to bring more people to our site.

It's possible for us to get an officially affiliated blog via the process recently covered on the stackoverflow blog: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/06/blog-overflow/

So, there's a few directly connected questions here:

  1. Should we try to do a blog?
  2. What content should be on the blog?
  3. Who will step up and post/edit stuff?

Some ideas about what kind of stuff we could post on a blog:

  1. Opinion pieces
  2. Reviews of specific products (your new bicycle, that awesome light you've got, etc)
  3. Walk through the process somebody went through to pick a specific product
  4. Posts about topics that haven't necessarily really worked well before, such as a blog post about "Why I don't always wear a helmet". (maybe a "point" / "counterpoint" type thing with two blog articles back to back on each side of the argument)
  5. A weekly blog post about the best question that week, like SU's Question of the Week that gets voted on weekly on [meta.SU].
  6. Blog posts that collect "favorite" bicycle-related things (webcomics, blogs, etc)

But to make this happen, we need several people willing to contribute (at least). Are you one?

See also: http://meta.superuser.com/questions/2278/the-super-user-blog-is-looking-for-writers

Blog Overflow has a few examples of other SE sites doing blogs already.

share
    
blogoverflow.com/getting-started –  freiheit Jun 23 '11 at 20:54
1  
Even if we only have a few posts a week, that's not so bad. Some blogs I follow get updated a few tines a year. –  Neil Fein Jun 24 '11 at 3:17
    
Calling @Joe Bronikowski! –  Neil Fein Jun 24 '11 at 3:26
3  
I'd say that this would be a good place to put some of the more subjective, almost adversarial, questions that occasionally appear under tags like advocacy. As well as contrasting cycling types, styles, geolocation differences. Good idea, I reckon. –  Unsliced Jun 24 '11 at 12:11
1  
@NeilFein: I agree, but I think we need at least one a week, preferably on some kind of predictable schedule. I use a feed reader, but many people still simply go through their list of bookmarks every now and then, and predictable updates really help keep them coming back. –  freiheit Jun 24 '11 at 21:19
    
Also see: We have a blog, who wants to go first? –  Neil Fein Jul 8 '11 at 2:39
add comment

7 Answers

Count me in for a post every other week. I already do some for my blog, but I can do them here instead. (Hell, some of those posts started life as answers to questions on Stack Exchange sites.)

I'm a professional editor, and would happy to do copyediting for the blog as well.

Everybody keep in mind, that blog posts can be short -- the length of this answer, even; as long as they're entertaining. It's even better if they somehow relate to the site and discuss questions, but that's hardly a requirement.

Posts like "My ride to the movies" or a review of somebody's new bike, or a post about something new you learned when working on your bike (or maybe the story of how you broke something by well-intentioned wrenching). Or how you bore your friends talking about bikes. Basically, all the fun, chatty stuff that doesn't fit into the SE sites.

share
add comment

I think it would be an excellent fit for this site, and I updated the blog post to include a specific example that I believe will work well for cycling:

Tell us an interesting story. Did you go on an incredible cycling trip? Play a really interesting game? Read a great book on math? All it takes to get started is a set of pictures or screenshots you can share with some narrative stitching it together. So long as it’s topical and you’re excited about it, others in the community would probably enjoy sharing your experience!

A photoblog of your latest cycling exploits with some commentary would be very interesting, I think, and pretty easy on the writing side (which is the hard part for most folks).

share
add comment

I'm glad to see we have an outlet for stuff like this! I am willing to contribute the occasional review and "how I made my purchase decision" article; but probably only a couple of those a year. I'm not sure I'm able to write on a more frequent basis, but I'll contribute what I can.

(can't Comment yet, so Answering)

share
add comment

Yes, we should, and I'll contribute as possible. I write a cycling newsletter in Dubai, on a monthly cycle, and I can reuse some of that content if needed.

share
add comment

I can contribute to the "linky love" posts and do a "weird things" post every week or two. Weird in the "not UCI" sense, rather than the "as a recumbent builder I think this is odd" sense, although you will get some of that too. It's just that weird to a recumbent builder is usually off the radar for conventional cyclists and sometimes it's hard to explain why it's weird. Yet another sub 10kg carbon fibre low racer... not weird. A velomobile made of plastic... weird. A sail-powered trike... not weird. A road-legal, sail-powered trike... weird.

But yeah, one of those every second week I can do.

The apparent question "should we have a blog"... I dunno. I think we'd need committments from people so that we can do a post at least every second day, ideally every day. But I dunno, I'm not a big blog-reader, I follow about six and the rest is linky love.

(edit) Or not - my situation has changed and I'm deleting my account(s) on SE sites.

share
2  
If that changes back, please let us know. We'll miss you here on the site. –  Neil Fein Jul 8 '11 at 2:20
1  
For sure! Hope it's change for the better... –  zenbike Jul 10 '11 at 14:26
add comment
  1. It sounds to me like we do have enough interest that a blog would be a good idea.
  2. We've got some good ideas going on here for content, too.
  3. I'm willing to help with a blog in these specific ways
    • Be one of the editors for the blog to approve articles getting posted, fix up articles when needed, etc. Seems like site moderators are a logical choice a starting pool of article approvers. Nag volunteer authors to write stuff now and then. :)
    • Help with a "Question of the Week" or something like that type of thing
    • Write blog articles very occasionally. Here's some ideas I've got:
      • Write up some of my better/longers answers into blog posts.
      • Stuff related to local advocacy (I'm on the board of a local advocacy group, and some of the politics there can be interesting)
      • "I'm a car driver, how I should I treat cyclists?" (tips for motorists to not hit or annoy cyclists)
      • "How to make bicycle infrastructure that actually works" (or maybe "how not to make bike infrastructure that doesn't work". Bike lanes that actually work, stuff cyclists can actually lock their bikes to, etc.) This could involve a bunch of pictures.
share
add comment

First, some background on where I would like Bicycles.SE to go...

In my opinion the Bicycles.SE site should, in time, become an excellent resource full of the advice that you would normally only get from a bike-shop mechanic. In fact this advice should be better than that because of the variety of opinion, short-cuts and tips that only come with experience, all distilled with the voting system into quality answers.

There is also no financial reason to give answers that 'cost more money', e.g. on a recent question on straightening out handlebars, in a retail environment you would sell the customer the bars, fresh tape and go for the novelty bell, hopefully to get a good chunk of the customer's wallet, leaving them with a big job putting their bars back together.

However, on SE you can say 'get a big bit of wood and try straightening them out' - potentially a five minute task with no money changing hands. To suggest this in a retail setting to a customer is potentially a sackable offence as saving customers money is morally wrong.

Given the above example, I see Bicycles.SE as hopefully becoming the de-facto place on the web to learn everything and anything about how to fix/repair a bike, a 'virtual mechanic's brain' where the 'virtual mechanic' has wisdom of the crowds and is never too busy to help out.

As for the blog idea...

I dislike the existing bike sites that 'cater' for cyclists. In the UK I particularly dislike the 'BikeRadar' effort of 'History Publishing' - it smells of car-driving-out-of-preference-types that just ended up in dead-tree publishing and their attempt at trying to put something together that might catch the cycling crowd. It has no soul, it talks down and second-guesses.

I have little or no interest in the 'pro' cycling websites (outside of the three weeks of July Tour de France when I read all the gossip I can get). Given how many pro websites there are I think this segment is catered for adequately.

Mountain biking specific websites/magazines/blogs get my goat a bit. I see the whole MTB craze of the 90's as a reaction to the motor-mania of the last century, although great fun, going off-road is admitting defeat on using bikes for regular transport. We don't have to do that now, we don't have bikes 'just for fun', they are transport not-just for children and people who got nicked drink-driving.

The sites I do like are things like the cycle-porn-in-Copenhagen stuff, the reviews of cafes-by-bike website and that sort of stuff.

What I would like to see in a SE blog is coupled to what SE is primarily going to be about, which is Q+A, which is 'virtual mechanic'. I may have misunderstood this 'mission', however, it is compatible with what a lot of other cycling orgs are trying to do.

The people doing outreach, the people into tours, the people into culture and products, all of them could do with some add-on reference for the 'how do I do this' questions. Venerable organisations such as the UK's Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) should give up on their own forums and CMS and direct the questions to Bicycles.SE, just because it is the superior platform for that kind of stuff.

So anyway...

I would like to see the blog be put together with contributors from outside Bicycles.SE, for example, Louise from http://www.patisseriecyclisme.co.uk/ could write something fantastic, not really to plug her site but to nonetheless get more traffic. Next week we could invite someone else to put together a guest post, the Copenhagen Cycling Chic -guy. Again, a thinking-persons essay without any of the commercialism, patronising 'you-must-wear-helmet-obey-motorist' attitude, 'I ride bike style road/fixie/DH MTB/my-tri-bars-are-bigger-than-yours' snobbery.

Invites to guest write for the Bicycles.SE blog should be a core part of the blog start, however, I think we need to be able to summarize our mission so that people see what we are trying to do and are therefore keen to write quality articles.

The blog could also be a place for nurturing quality writing talent. I know some people can write their journey to work as an epic tale of struggle against adversity with beginning, middle and end. I also know some people that can go all the way around the world and have nothing to say about it. So the subject is sometimes secondary to a good read.

The blog can also be a place where questions that were particularly well responded to get re-posted, to not get buried. The 'editors picks' as it were.

As for bike reviews, I think these could be really good if people are talking about the pride and joy they just bought, as opposed to salesman speak or depressed-journalist-speak.

Rarely are blogs made from lots of guest posts, nobody even thinks about guest blogging for somewhere. It would be good to have something that bucked that trend.

To conclude

Let's decide what our niche is, who we are going to reach and how it is going to relate to the Q+A site.

share
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .