Sunday, March 8, 2015

Prototype Modeling and the blogosphere(??)

I end my clinics with a slide showing the header and URL of my blog with the invitation "For more details see … " Like most clinicians I follow this up with a Q&A session. I've noticed the last few presentations I've gotten questions not about the layout, or the clinic, but about blogging in general. 
My original blog header
This seems like a good subject to cover in my Getting Real column for Model Railroad Hobbyist since blogging has become a small,  but important part of my hobby.  
To add some additional viewpoints to the column besides my own I'm reaching out to some other model railroad bloggers to ask them the following questions (these are some of the questions I've received from attendees at clinics or readers of my blog):

1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified? 
2. Why did you start your blog? 
3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved? 
4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging? 
5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog? 
7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog? 

I'd like your feedback as well, even if you're not a blogger or planning to start a blog. So, for blog readers, I'll add the following questions: 

8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly? 
9. Any particular reason you've chosen those? 
10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like? 
11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?
12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed? 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Marty


16 comments:

  1. Hi Marty
    I'm not sure if your intention was to have us post directly into the comments section but that seems to be the best way to pass my information on to you.

    1) What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?
    I use Blogspot. Its relatively easy to get started and have something that looks good quite quickly. It also allows me to easily follow other writers using blogspot as well as being able to keep up on blogs written on wordpress and a few others. Trying to customize aspects of your blog page can be quite tricky though and I have found that frustrating.

    2) Why did you start your blog?
    I started my blog to help me stay motivated to bring projects to completion. That has not always worked the way I intended. That probably has more to do with the fact that I cover both my major hobbies through a single blog. For me the railroad side has certainly suffered in comparison to the wargame side.

    3) How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?
    I have stuck with a specific color theme that suits me and stands out. I do make an effort to change the picture on the masthead on a regular basis though to bring a fresh look to it.

    4) How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?
    I try to keep the actual amount of blogging time as low as I can and try and focus on the projects but I probably still spend upwards of 4-5 hours working on it during the course of the week.
    5) How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    I find comments and feedback to be quite helpful, when I get them. Most of my posts, while I know that they are being read, go by without comment.

    6) What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    From my view point I think that the most important thing to do is to set a goal for a specific number of posts a month and try and make sure you reach that goal every month and if you don’t that you try and make up for it in the next month. If people realize that you are posting on a regular basis then they are more likely to come back to not only read it but to follow it.
    7) How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?
    Its hard to tell actually. From the titles I think I follow about an even dozen. Several of them are mixed blogs like my own though and sometimes I forget which ones include railroads and which ones do not.
    8) Any particular reason you've chosen those?
    I have found it difficult to actually find Model Railroad blogs that are even remotely active. So the ones I follow are the ones that at least have some activity on them on a monthly basis. Some blog every week, some once a month.
    9) Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?
    I do not often leave feedback or comments, but I probably do so more than most. Commenting is easy, having something to actually say that’s meaningful in a comment is something else entirely
    10) Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?
    I primarily read the newest post and if they are using blogspot I’ll look at anything that blogspot thinks might be interesting. I will only use a search if I’m looking for something specific.
    11) Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?
    I enjoy any posts that the railroad blogger feels is important to them. Whether its prototype information, how to posts or just show off posts I’m going to at least take a look at it.

    Kris Marquardt, wargamesandrailroads.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Marty--

    Some answers to your questions from a fellow model railroad blogger.

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?
    There are 28 of them on my Blogger Reading List, but while some have not updated in a couple of years, I keep them on the list because they still contain good photos, ideas, or information.

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?
    Usually, it because there's good writing or at least regular updates on the author's part. I also add interesting ones in terms of prototype or practice as well.

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?
    I have occasionally, and it's led to receipt of some good information. It doesn't always feel like part of a conversation, but that has happened on some blogs.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?
    I try to stay current or read back across things I've missed. I do not often search, usually because on a per-blog basis one does not always know what to search for. If the author has provided categories or labels that group posts, I find that quite helpful.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?
    All of the above.

    In addition to the above, I also try to keep my own blog active. Visit it at http://kcspur.blogspot.com I started it primarily as a way to keep research notes for an intended modeling project and figured it might be useful to share the information along the way. It occasionally adds some pressure and I'll admit to a few (short) guilt pangs when I've not updated the blog in a while since I know what that looks like from the reader's perspective.

    Rich Steenwyk
    Milwaukee, WI
    http://kcspur.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Marty,

    Interesting question, here are my thoughts
    1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?
    ANSWER: Wordpress. Easy to use and got a nice look. Some of my blogs are free and others I pay for the domain name.
    2. Why did you start your blog?
    ANSWER: a) Easier than Microsoft Front Page, and did not require purchase or renewal of software. b) Personal record, It's always nice to have a record in the cloud (rather than on a personal system), so why not share it with others. c) My primary blogs are about Sn2, a very niche modeling scale/gauge so wanted to have a presence on the web. d) to get feedback and interaction outside my circle of friends.
    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?
    ANSWER: Trial and error...till I found one I liked. Now all my blogs use it, so I need not fuss with learning another....
    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?
    ANSWER: Very little, mostly done in spurts, as my hobby has been on the back burner most of the time. I can now blog from my phone which is an interesting option...
    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?
    ANSWER: Never a problem with negative feedback and only a few "spam posts" in 3 years. I approve my posts, not a significant task. I do like getting feedback, nice to know someone is listening. But I do not need 500 "love it" posts. 1-2 too "nice post" comments are fine, but would like a counter point or other information.
    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?
    ANSWER: Are you in it for the long haul? Will it make your modeling experience better or a chore? There are lots of ways to connect with people, will this increase your connections in a positive and worthy way. Honestly, I get my greatest pleasure from being with other model railroaders, my friends and operating....I only know of two of my operating friends who have a blog and I do not think either reads my blog.

    I'd like your feedback as well, even if you're not a blogger or planning to start a blog. So, for blog readers, I'll add the following questions:

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?
    ANSWER: 40+ I read MRH bogs/forums that way and various modelers. I like RSS feeds.
    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?
    ANSWER: Some content caught my interest. I'm not picky, I like reading about good model railroading of any type....
    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?
    ANSWER: Some times, if something compels me. Try to avoid "me too" responses. It can consume lots of time modeling time away from my family.
    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?
    ANSWER: I like blogs that have some organization, more than an archive. If you have a layout blog, I want to easily find a trackplan. No trackplan...what a pain...(Confession, I do not have one...but I only have modules at the moment...I do have a Live Steam plan...I have plans I did for others)
    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?
    ANSWER: All of the above are fine, if there is a point. It's a blog, I so keep it short not wordy for wordy sake. Better to have multiple short posts. I LIKE PICTURES! The internet is a visual medium. No pictures no ready.

    David Keith
    http://www.sn2modeler.com
    http://www.sn2trains.com
    https://swoops2011.wordpress.com/ (SWOOPS 2015 is coming)
    https://oneinchscale.wordpress.com/
    https://co305.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. 1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?

    Wordpress. Found that it has a very impressive and powerful search capability. Very easy to use. Also allowed us to combine text and photographs from previously separate sites.

    2. Why did you start your blog?

    I was one of three “trusted friends” who were asked to re-publish a specialist FAQ’s.

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?

    The published theme was adopted because the other two “trusted friends” already used it for their own personal blogs. We did adopt a specific style for presenting information and photographs

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?

    Around 10 minutes per day to check the stats and searches of our blog and scan through those blogs that I regularly follow – longer to read any article that interests me and longer still if posting to own blog.

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    All comments are subject to “Moderator approval” before being published. Not yet had negative feedback about the blog. My impression/experience is that negative feedback to blogs is far less frequent than such comments used to be on Yahoo! Groups and to the Group Moderators a few years back.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    Think hard about what you are aiming for and can you maintain it for the longer term.

    I'd like your feedback as well, even if you're not a blogger or planning to start a blog. So, for blog readers, I'll add the following questions:

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?

    About 5 or so regularly with a dip into a few more on a less frequent basis.

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?

    Good writing, good modellers and reasonably consistent publishing plus those that feature and re-kindle memories of area’s visited.

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?

    Sometimes. Neutral to slightly negative.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?

    Generally only read the newer posts.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?

    I particularly like those posts which deal with how and why a modeller decides to do things their way and to see the results of it.

    Terry

    https://maineon2faq.wordpress.com/

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Marty:

    Great questions! Some answers... more to come...

    ---

    1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?

    I use WordPress. I've blogged with others, but I keep coming back to it. I find the user interface intuitive and the resulting blogs elegant. I host three blogs on my own website (themodelrailwayshow.com), and to keep my own bandwidth demands reasonable the photos are stored on a gallery service.

    I like the powerful analytics tools offered for WordPress blogs, via the Jetpack plug-in. I also like the WordPress app for my phone. I rarely use it for writing posts, but I do use it to monitor comments and write short replies when I'm away from my computer

    I contribute to a few blogs done on Blogger, and I always find photo manipulation difficult. WordPress is really good at that.

    ---

    2. Why did you start your blog?

    I currently maintain three blogs, as follows:

    Port Rowan in 1:64 (http://themodelrailwayshow.com/cn1950s/)

    - This is my main and most active blog. It's about my home layout. I have been writing it for more than three years and am closing in on 1,000 posts. It has garnered hundreds of thousands of views and generated more than 4,800 comments (about 1/3 of which are mine, responding to comments by readers). I started it in part as an outlet for my writing about the hobby after the magazine to which I regularly submitted material stopped paying its authors. I was starting a new layout and thought it would be fun and useful to document the process. I'd tried doing this for previous layouts using paper journals, but never managed to keep them going - in part because it wasn't easy to add drawings, photos, and so on.

    Achievable Layouts (http://themodelrailwayshow.com/LayoutDesign/)

    - This blog covers layout design topics of interest to me. I started it because I had a number of LD-related ideas I wanted to discuss but I didn't feel they were appropriate for my Port Rowan blog. While I'm impressed by big layouts that require a huge commitment of time and resources, plus many operators to bring to life, I know that many modellers (myself included) don't have the time, attention span, help or even the inclination to create the next multi-deck monster. Living in the downtown of a big city (Toronto), I see the fastest growing segment of the real estate market is condos, while even those with $1m to spend (which is now the average price of a detached house in the city) will find that the basement isn't all that big. In addition, as a Canadian I grew up reading both North American publications and those from the UK, and the best of UK modeling - modest size, but exquisite craftsmanship and a prototype-based approach - has definitely influenced my thinking on layout design. So I use this blog to offer up prototype inspiration from my own readings or railfan trips, links to what others are saying on the subject, links to inspiring layouts built by others, and so on.

    Live Steam (http://themodelrailwayshow.com/livesteam/)

    - Another interest of mine. But also my most-neglected blog. Like the Achievable Layouts blog, I started this one because the topic didn't really fit my Port Rowan blog. But like Port Rowan, I use this one to document what I'm doing in the Live Steam side of the hobby.

    ---

    Cont'd...

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  7. Hi again, Marty:

    ---

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?

    By theme, do you mean "topics covered"? If so, I've outlined those above and I've tried to stick to them. If I notice that I'm starting to post more about things that don't fit the blog, I start a new blog and move the postings over. The Achievable Layouts blog is a good example of that.

    If you mean "look and feel", I picked a theme from the WordPress Themes, and stuck with it. I actually tried to change the theme one time - I had so much negative feedback from readers that I won't do that again!

    ---

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?

    Generally, a few hours per week to write posts, load photos, manage comments, delete spam, and so on. I'm a writer by profession, to I can knock out a post fairly quickly.

    ---

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    When I started my Port Rowan blog I didn't appreciate just how important comments and feedback would become. Beyond the "attaboys", which are always nice, I've been amazed at the amount of information that has come to light that's relevant to my subject - things I would not have otherwise discovered (or, certainly not as easily). To provide a couple of examples...

    - I've had two people get in touch (one a modeler, the other not) who grew up in the area I'm modeling, at the time that I'm modeling. They have provided valuable insight into everything from the names of businesses and railway employees to traffic sources.

    - I've had a number of railway employees provide information on prototype practices, related specifically to the area and era that I'm modeling.

    As for handling comments, I use a couple of powerful spam-blocking tools: Akismet for filtering spam, and Captcha for verifying comments. Together, they tend to work. Every blog engine has its own spam-filtering and comment-approving tools, and I recommend people use them. It really does cut down on one's moderating time.

    As for genuine comments, I moderate new posters - so, the first time someone comments it's held for my approval. I then assume they will govern themselves accordingly. If they don't, I trash the comments or politely but firmly suggest that there would be a better venue on which to discuss the issue at hand.

    I have only ever had one problem poster. He's a good modeler and he has asked one or two good questions, so I haven't banned him outright. But most of his comments are in the form of smart remarks and witicisms. They don't add anything constructive to the conversation, so they get trashed. Eventually, he might get the message and take his routine to Yuk-Yuks. But I doubt it.

    I find the blog experience is much nicer than moderating a newsgroup, which I have done in the past. I think the two environments can be compared to a home layout vs a club.

    - In a home layout (or blog), the owner is clearly in charge. It's what a friend called "a benevolent dictatorship". If you like what the owner is doing, you continue to come to operating sessions (or continue to read and comment). If you don't, you go somewhere else.

    - In a club setting (or a newgroup), I think there's more of a sense of group ownership. So the debates start and moderators hand out the time outs.

    ---

    Cont'd...

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi again, Marty:

    Last part...

    ---

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    Try it. That said, if you don't like the experience or find that it's taking away too much time from your hobby, stop. But if you do stop - please write that final post. You don't have to explain why, but letting readers know you're going into hiatus or stopping entirely is better than leaving people hanging. There are a couple of blogs that I followed that stopped suddenly, and since I don't know the bloggers at all beyond their blog, I wonder if they've died!

    ---

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?

    I use RSS to track a few dozen blogs. Whenever a new post is posted, it's fed to me automatically. The blogs with RSS are the ones I tend to follow. I was pleased when a popular blog author recently updated his website to a blog engine that supports RSS - because frankly, without it I just can't keep track of who has posted new material. So I only read his blog when I remembered - which was only a couple of times per year.

    ---

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?

    In some cases, they're written by friends. In other cases, the subject appealed to me, in the context of one of the blogs that I write. In almost all cases, they use a blog engine that supports RSS (see above).

    ---

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?

    Yes, when I have something to say beyond "attaboy" - and it has always been positive.

    ---

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?

    I tend to read only new posts on blogs written by others, although I occasionally use the search function as a research tool if I know the person has written on the topic. For example, I searched Tony Thompson's blog (Hi, Tony!) on waybills when creating waybills for my own layout, because I recall that he'd written on the subject.

    Curiously, I find the blog that I search the most is my own, Port Rowan blog. It has become a terrific tool for reminding me how I did something so that I can do it again. For example, I might search my blog to recall how I crafted a wooden running board for a boxcar, so I can build one for a refrigerator car.

    ---

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?

    All of the above, and more.

    ---

    Thanks for asking, Marty - it's been a pleasure!

    - Trevor

    ReplyDelete
  9. 1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?

    Wordpress. Dead easy to use. Very friendly for others to comment on.

    2. Why did you start your blog?

    I love to write. I love model trains.

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?

    I typically write about my modelling projects and things that catch my eye.

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?

    4 hours

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    I want my blog to be about sharing knowledge with a community of like-minded people. Readers have taught me things and shared their resources. It's a beautiful thing. I've only had one negative comment on my blog. No big deal.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    I have none. I'm still learning.

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?

    Maybe 15

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?

    I feel that I have something to learn from the blogs I read regularly.

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?

    I often leave comments on Wordpress blogs. Blogger blogs are more difficult to comment on.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?

    I read the same blogs all the time, so I'm up to speed with the back catalogue.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?

    I prefer modelling techniques, prototype info, updates on the bloggers own models projects. Everyone has an opinion, and these usually show up as part of the blogger's writing (in general). I'm not terribly interested in posts that are written for the purpose of outlining a person's opinion.

    -Hunter Hughson

    ontarioinhoscale.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. 1. What type of blog engine do you use (Blogspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?

    Google's Blogspot because it is more than dead simple streamlined production of a blog. Less customization possible, but that keeps me focussed on writing and not designing the blog. For my professional web sites, I use and like Wordpress very much because of the ability to customize and tweak themes.

    2. Why did you start your blog?
    Mainly because mainstream publications aren't geared for what I am interested in thinking and writing about.

    For my layout blog (PoNYRR.blogspot.com) in particular, as a way to gather and reflect on my specific prototype and layout projects. It has become a repository of thoughts and material as well as a way to connect to other like-minded individuals and in particular to people modeling same or similar topics.This has been very successful.

    For my general blog (ModelRailroadDesign.blogspot,com) to capture and comment on my model railroading activities. Writing forces me to think rather than just do, and this provides for better results with what I am doing. It also allows me to ask why about a variety of topics that inform the design process in model railroading. I hope to explore that more directly in the future.

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?

    At first I chose to reflect the livery colors of my prototype railroad, then it evolved to be more simple and easier to read with a more monochrome scheme and cleaner typeface.

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?

    For my layout blog, it usually it ends up being once a week for short posts for 15-20 minutes in between the rest of life. I prefer longer posts on my design thinking blog, which can take several hours over the course of a month or two to generate an idea, research, write, and edit.

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    I wish I received more comments, but when I do get them, they are thoughtful and beneficial to further my thinking.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    Just do it. Sort out the specifics later if you aren't sure about everything like design or focus. The practice of regular writing, which is essential time to reflect and plan, is good for the creative process.

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?

    I track a couple of dozen, but read only a few consistently.

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?

    There are a handful that are more rigorous and thoughtful conversations like those of Trevor Marshall's, Mike Cougill's, J D Lowe's, Lance Mindheim's, and Eric Hansmann's. There are also some excellent sites that focus on modeling like Iain Robinson, George Dent, Bernie Kempinski, Chester (of Modeling in 1/87). Then there are those that are more about the process of modeling like yours, Torre Hjellstedt's, Mike McNamera, and Tim Warris. I need multiple genres of stimulation to feel satisfied...

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?

    Occasionally, but I try to chime in whenever I think it will be useful. The dialog can be very enriching.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?

    I tend to stay caught up on the blogs I follow, and I go through post by post. I rarely search, but I will browse the tags when I am specifically curious about a category.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?

    It is all good, but I tend to gravitate toward the thoughtful over the how-to for daily consumption, and the prototype whether or not it is applicable to my interests. The how-tos are something I actively seek out only when I am in need of that particular knowledge.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Marty:

    Here's my blog:

    http://cpandstl.blogspot.com/

    It's dedicated to the construction of my freelanced railroad, the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis.

    1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?

    Blogspot. It's easy to use IMO and there are many templates out there to help those with limited skills like me.

    2. Why did you start your blog?

    I wanted to keep a journal of construction for my freelanced model railroad and some of the thought that went into the design and roster.

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?

    See above. In addition, friend Frank Hodina was starting Resin Car Works at the time and I wanted to include some of the information about it.


    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?

    It varies greatly. The blog is new, so I had some of the initial posts ready to go before it went live.

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    Too soon to tell.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    It really isn't very difficult, but there is a learning curve.

    I'd like your feedback as well, even if you're not a blogger or planning to start a blog. So, for blog readers, I'll add the following questions:

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?

    I've listed them on my blog.

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?

    It varies, but all are well written with good photography.

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?

    Typically, no I don't .

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?

    Both. I have used every blog I've listed to research items, but I also read the most recent post.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?

    Prototype information and how-to modeling.

    ReplyDelete
  12. 1. What type of blog engine do you use (Blogspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?

    Blogspot. Six of one and half a dozen of the other. Use what you are comfortable with.

    2. Why did you start your blog?

    It started out as a way to motivate and document the construction of my layout. It transformed into something I felt was missing on the internet regarding my chosen prototype.

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?

    It has evolved from being my personal blog, to being shared and co-written by multiple authors, to the latest expansion of a discussion forum.

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?

    2 hours

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?

    Comments are few compared to the amount of hits a post can receive. I do appreciate all of them and try to respond to each. All comments are moderated and approved ensuring no spam makes it on the blog. I have never had any negative feedback.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?

    Plan to post at least once a week if you want to have a steady readership. Too many dead blogs already.

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?

    About a half dozen.

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?

    I feel that I have something to learn from the blogs I read regularly.

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?

    Sometimes, if the subject stirs an interest.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?

    I usually try to just stay up to date with the latest posts.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I’ve missed.

    I prefer prototype information, modeling techniques, layout updates etc. I am not too interested in some people’s never-ending philosophy posts.

    ~ Darel Leedy
    http://coloradosouthern.blogspot.com/

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  13. Rather than fill the comments section with a bunch of "Thanks!" postings I'll simply sum up it up into one giant "Thank You!" to all who contributed comments either through the comments section or via email. You've certainly given me some great information for this column - I have to say reading through the comments some clear threads (pardon the pun!) have emerged -
    - The engine doesn't matter all that much
    - "Tagging" of posts is more useful for getting a more in-depth view of a topic than a search window
    - Numerous shorter posts are preferred to longer postings.
    - Everyone (including me!) likes feedback - no one gets as many comments as they'd like!
    - The only "commitment" needed is to post regularly
    - Spam and negative comments aren't really a problem for anyone.

    Now to pull all this together into a coherent column!

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  14. 1. What type of blog engine do you use...?
    I use Wordpress. It might sound silly but in the end I looked at the blogs I most enjoyed reading and used the engine they did.

    2. Why did you start your blog?
    I started Prince Street as a very personal cloud for ideas and information. I wanted a place that I could reach from almost anywhere that I could place ideas that I'd want to come back to. I hoped to use it as a means of helping me understand ideas and work through them. I reasoned that the better I could get at describing an idea the better it might be and I might be all the better for the experiment.

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?
    I grew up on a very steady diet of the British model railway press. It seemed like all good British model railways had station names instead of railway names. Drawing on that upbringing I looked no further than our address at the time and landed on Prince Street. The name meant something to me but was still generic enough that it didn't feel like I was declaring something more geocentric like Charlottetown Road. Funnily enough when we bought our first house a couple of years ago several friends asked if I'd keep the name the same on the blog.

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?
    I try to spend an hour or two on the blog a week. I don't need to spend it all, every week, and I'm grateful if I feel like it's still not enough and that there were more ideas inside waiting to surface.

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?
    Very important to me. I never thought anyone would ever read Prince Street. Since those first comments started to appear I've had the great fortune to meet and exchange ideas with some simply amazing people. I'd really miss each of these folks if I lost this connection.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?
    Go for it. It's very rewarding. I like using it as a tool to extend my experience in the hobby.

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?
    I subscribe to easily fifty blogs and check in very regularly with perhaps a dozen (this is one of those I enjoy checking in on regularly).

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?
    Some are written by modellers who follow prototypes that interest me and from their work I'm learning about their prototypes in ways I could never any other way. Other modellers are just doing such amazing work that it's exciting to read about how they're stretching the definition of how this hobby is and it's equally exciting to learn from them.

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments? If so, what was that experience like?
    I try to. I tend to ramble so tend to hold back from the comments as I can accidentally infodump (it's the way I'm wired) when I really get into an idea. I'm thrilled when I get a response.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?
    I tend to start at the home page each time. I like how some bloggers are categorizing posts so I can wade through a particular content type. Lately, I'm really getting into the ability to start at a calendar date - I think it's neat to follow an idea's development "in real time" through its development.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?
    I like theory posts. I like to know more about the why and the conversation around decisions made. These posts speak to my own passion for design. I like the perspective it provides when I understand the work through the eyes of its creator.


    Chris

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  15. 1. What type of blog engine do you use (bloodspot, Wordpress, etc…) and what are any advantages/disadvantages that you've identified?
    I use Blogspot. It's free, it has a simple interface, and it consistently works

    2. Why did you start your blog?
    I started my blog to chart my progress, motivate/shame me into making layout and modeling progress, and to plant a little seed of community around my interest in heavy electric and traction models and prototypes

    3. How did you choose a theme for your blog? Have you stuck with that theme or has it evolved?
    For the visual theme, I adapted a stock contemporary-looking theme with one of my own photos in the background and the colors of my favorite road. My substantive theme is my layout and modeling, the South Shore line and heavy electric prototypes, and my railfanning.

    4. How much time per week (on average) do you spend blogging?
    An hour or two per week

    5. How important are comments/feedback? How do you handle comments? Also, have you ever received negative feedback or had any issues with resulting from the blog?
    Enjoy comments and connecting with readers, and have never really had any drama such as negative comments or flame wars.

    7. What's one piece of advice you would give a modeler thinking about starting a blog?
    Have a clear objective and mission for your blog, whether it's primarily for your own journaling, sharing prototype information and modeling experiences, or whatever. If your goal is attracting readers, post regularly and with photos and/or videos. Having a backlog of posts and using the scheduling capability of your blog engine is a good way to ensure a regular stream of posts.

    8. How many model railroad blogs do you follow or read regularly?
    I use the Feedly service to read blogs (I get all my news and work feeds via Feedly as well as model railroad blog feeds), where I have over 130 model railroad blog feeds. I skim them all but only 20-30 post regularly. Of those, I have a dozen or so 'must read' model railroad blogs

    9. Any particular reason you've chosen those?
    The dozen or so that I regularly read in detail (including this one) feature traction, good photos, interesting modeling and layout building, and/or intriguing philosophizing (I'm looking at you, Trevor Marshall and Mike Cougill)

    10. Do you leave feedback or comments?
    If so, what was that experience like? I occasionally leave comments but if I am so moved, I'll do a blog post of my own that links back to a good or interesting post.

    11. Do you read only the newest post or do you use the blog Search function as a research tool?
    I typically focus on the latest post but I do search and I also save posts for future offline reference using Evernote or Instapaper.

    12. Do you prefer posts dealing with Prototype information, opinion pieces on the hobby, or modeling how-to? Any I've missed?
    Opinion/theory and how-to, but I enjoy any good post.

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  16. PS, my blog is http://updunesjunction.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete