Thinking of removing blog functionality

Discussion in 'Site Announcements' started by sothis, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    I'm thinking of removing the personal blog functionality on the site - while I realize there may be pushback on this (especially from the few people who use them), I have some reasons for thinking about this, and wanted to open it up for a discussion before making any decisions.

    I added blogs a few years ago, thinking they'd be a highly used, popular feature. The feature was very expensive to create (as it's custom code with tagging, etc) and very expensive to maintain as well - if there's a tagging issue, a text formatting issue, etc, it's difficult to upgrade due to the current state of the code (and developer availability).

    I delete 75% of the blogs posted every day - maybe 4-5 blog posts are real, the rest are from spambots. They show up constantly now, posting 6 blog posts at a time, and will not be possible to block automatically. Different types of throwaway emails are used and the IPs are all over the place. This literally happens daily.

    To see what I mean, check out the recent blogs list: Recent Blogs | Anime-Planet

    ^^I haven't deleted any spammers in 3 days - notice the percentage of blogs on Oct 8,9,10 that are spam, vs not spam.

    The remaining handful of blog posts that I see are usually one of the following:

    -Blogs from the same 1 or 2 people, sometimes multiple times a day, as a laundry list of things they did that day (played [x] game for [y] hours, watched episode 1 of [series], etc). Nothing that would interest any other person except for that person.

    -Some sort of 'hello' or first blog post, usually with almost no content and just to get a badge

    -Or, follow up / (and one could argue) pointless additional posts just to get the next level of badge [note: this is why I never added badges for things like recommendations, since I was worried that exact thing would happen with recs, which is content that really matters]

    -An episode summary. This was one of the reasons I put blogs up, but few people use it

    There are really good blog posts sometimes - but they are rare. Some are helpful to users (any of Chii's posts with youtube links), some are just good blog posts for that user.

    But, there's rarely ever a reply to blogs. It's possible that if blogs were showcased more, there might be more interactions - at least for me, I wouldn't see much reason to reply to them, and I think most other users would say the same.

    People generally use the site for tracking anime, getting opinions on stuff (reviews, recs, and sometimes the rare blog post about episode highlights), not so much for hearing about someone's doctor appt went or how much of a game someone played. In addition, people tend to use the tags inappropriately, tagging an anime or manga on if they mention something like 'I want to watch [anime name]', which means on that anime page, that person's blog shows up, and it adds no value to someone clicking it.

    Not to mention, most people who want to blog about anime, have an actual external blog somewhere.

    It won't be an option to spend time/effort making the blogs more visible, because I'm the only developer on AP anymore, and frankly there are a lot of far more important things I'd like to work on in the rare expanses of time I have. For example, the redesign so it's easier to find stuff, moderator features to get more things out of my hands and into theirs, continuing to add more synops/high quality content, etc.

    So I'm left with basically two options:

    1. Leave stuff as-is - having to support a little-used, high time cost to fix feature, also spending time daily removing many spam blogs (time that i rarely have per day and could be spent on other site tasks)

    2. Remove the feature

    Again, there isn't really an option at this point for upgrading blogs, making them more visible/trying to encourage participation, etc. So the above are the only two options I can think of.

    The floor is yours - let me know what you think.
  2. VivisQueen

    VivisQueen Active Member

    Posted by VivisQueen on Oct 10, 2012
    One thing I recommend is limiting use of blogs to a handful of privileged bloggers e.g. Chii, as you mentioned. These are people who can continue to write and maybe you can showcase their best material on the front page?

    If that doesn't work, then I guess get rid of blogs.
  3. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    yeah, i think going to a limited system might just piss off the other people who use the feature, and i could understand why it might make them angry. if i removed the feature, i'd end up removing everything (probably the content would still exist, but it wouldn't show up).

    for the case of youtube type links or episode blogs and such, i think a better solution might be to bulk up the forum/site integration (which i know i talk about a lot), so it's easier for forum posts in a designated series section to show up in the anime entries. it wouldnt solve the problem of having personal blog space for people who want to write about games they play and dr appts and all, but it would surface helpful anime/manga content, and encourage forum postings.
  4. Taekwondoin

    Taekwondoin Well-Known Member

    Posted by Taekwondoin on Oct 10, 2012
    It's a shame for some of them to go, I always enjoy Etue's Blogs though it can be argued that they are kind of removed from the reasons that you wanted the blogs there in the first place. Would it be possible to give some helpful volunteer powers to delete the spam ones for you, like Pidj currently does as a forum Admin? If not then I think VivisQueens Idea of only allowing them for a privileged few is a great idea.
  5. Aranneas

    Aranneas New Member

    Posted by Aranneas on Oct 10, 2012
    I've only made use of the feature slightly but I certainly feel like it's something I want to move to do more of in the future. Would I be qualified to be blogging under the limitation system you propose? If not, what would I need to do to get qualified?
  6. RinoaAeris

    RinoaAeris New Member

    Posted by RinoaAeris on Oct 10, 2012
    I really think that is better to remove it : / i've never read any blog from anime-planet, i prefer to see what other users tweet and their feed.

    Ppl with interesting blogs can always put their effort into reviews, recommendations and forum threads o:
  7. reaper527

    reaper527 New Member

    Posted by reaper527 on Oct 10, 2012
    its a feature that i don't use, so i for one won't be disappointed to see it go. hopefully if the time saved from maintaining the personal blogs goes into features that are more interesting and useful. (maybe some kind of facebook integration? :love: )

    (on a side note, perhaps if there are people who really like the blogs, maybe they can be disabled by default and then only enabled for users who meet certain criteria? surely if only users who have been members for a year or some other random requirement is put into effect, that should bring a serious hammer down on spam accounts)
  8. Minai99

    Minai99 New Member

    Posted by Minai99 on Oct 10, 2012
    So when you say that not that many people are using it, what are we talking about? In the hundreds? Or...tens? I can't say that I've really used blogs myself, but a number of people that I know on have used the blog function extensively to help flesh out their pages and make them much more interesting in one way or another, and it comforts me to know that, if I choose to, blogs are one direct way for me to become more "involved" in
  9. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    I can say pretty much with certainty that a limited system would not be in place - because that's exactly it. What qualifies as 'your blogs are helpful'? And that will mean the rest of people who want to use blogs get frustrated or angry because they aren't allowed.

    Having forum options for posts that are actually helpful solves that problem - as long as the content is discoverable in the entries themselves, that sort of good content can still exist.

    I could argue that any sort of general anime thoughts/discussions would go great here too, so those sorts of blog posts could also be encouraged to be posted here, such as in general anime discussion. getting new eyes/traffic in here would also help revitalize discussions in here in general
  10. PinkyIvan

    PinkyIvan New Member

    Posted by PinkyIvan on Oct 10, 2012
    I would be very sad if you removed my blog posts :/
    They are not something many people read (lets say 2-3 people have read them) but it is a nice place where I can post my latest thoughts and similar.
  11. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    Also, it's unlikely that someone will have access to delete, as that could be abused in a scary way. Here, for example, pidj does have access to delete some things, but not permanently, only a 'soft delete' so there's still a record.

    Blogs on the site don't have that option. If someone maliciously decided to delete real blogs, or if they just made a mistake and deleted one on accident, it's not really possible to recover it (technically we make backups of the entire site, but wading through a multi gig database backup for one piece of content would be insane)
  12. Drahken

    Drahken Cross-eyed Cyclops

    Posted by Drahken on Oct 10, 2012
    I find the blog to be a useful way to give out site info & answer FAQs, such as what certain tags mean, how much time a single episode counts for, why the life bar seems to jump oddly, etc. Beyond that I don't care much one way or the other.

    Considering the afforementioned cost invested in creating it though, it'd be wasteful to just throw it all away. I would suggest 2 things to try before dumping it altogether;
    1) Give someone else modding powers to delete spam blogs.
    2) Make it so that you have to be a site member for at least {X} months before you can post a blog. Spammers aren't going to sign up, then come back a couple months later to actually do their spam.

    You could also reduce the problem by adding a list of all known throwaway email sites to the block list, no legitimate member would need to use one. Of course, there are a slew of them out there, with more popping up constantly, and spammers could still sign up with other email sites. *shrug*

    I don't know how difficult/expensive either of my suggestions would be to implement though, and while it'd be a waste to throw away all the time & money already invested in the blogs, sometimes it's better to cut your losses. *shrug*
  13. chii

    chii chii is chii

    Posted by chii on Oct 10, 2012
    wouldn't adding a re-captcha help decrease the amount of spam blogs?

    i kinda don't want to see this feature taken away for obvious reasons
  14. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    ^^this is the ultimate problem. people who write posts (especially the 'heres the games i played today' type ones - which i dont think yours are but just saying in general) would like somewhere to post them, but if they aren't read, it's a pretty big tradeoff to keep maintaining a feature just for that. as opposed to, say, better integrating the forum so there's all up more conversation, making the review features better as those are strongly used, etc.

    a lot of the very little time i have goes into maintaining the section, so it may be a sacrifice that has to happen.

    i'd argue that posts like this: Badly written anime - PinkyIvan's Blog - Anime-Planet

    would fit very well here in the forum, as a new thread in 'general anime discussion', and would not only get way more views, but it also would generate discussion, thus improving the forum even more
  15. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    i'm talking,,, etc. no way will i blacklist those.

    recaptchas unfortunately don't help - bear in mind recaptcha is there to sign up at all, spammers have ways around it
  16. snivets

    snivets New Member

    Posted by snivets on Oct 10, 2012
    For series that don't have reviews or recommendations posted, the next place I look is blogs, just to see if anyone has mentioned the anime. Sometimes, I find a person giving reasons why they dropped it or just giving a basic plot overview, so they definitely can be useful.

    And, as much as I like my own blog and the work I've done there, I can understand that they're more of a hassle than they're probably worth, except in those few cases.
  17. PinkyIvan

    PinkyIvan New Member

    Posted by PinkyIvan on Oct 10, 2012
    Well I posted that as a blog since I got the feeling that some anime I consider bad aren't allowed to be disliked in the forums (SOA for example) since I was being called a troll for not likeing it etc.
  18. Drahken

    Drahken Cross-eyed Cyclops

    Posted by Drahken on Oct 10, 2012
    I thought you meant true throwaway email addresses, the ones where your "acct" is created simply by virtue of using said address, then vanishes after 10 minutes.

    What about the feasibility of applying a time limitation to blogging? ie, The being a member for {X} months thing? That would block spammers, without introducing the "why is he qualified to blog but I'm not" problem.
  19. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    disliking something is definitely allowed here - anyone who gets aggressive with someone will be warned by staff (and if forum/site integration moves forward, ill make sure to get a bunch of new mods to help balance the load). keep in mind most of the animosity with SAO is because of roricon's constant broken record statements about his opinion
  20. sothis

    sothis Overlord Staff Member

    Posted by sothis on Oct 10, 2012
    yeah, people have to validate their email address so all of them are 'real', but from big enough domains that they cant really be blocked.

    i think by virtue of having the word 'blog' on the site, spammers will still come and auto register, which means wasted profiles. ultimately, these accts are usually smart enough to do things on timers, so i can see whoever's running these bot groups seeing the time limit, then just setting up a script to come back after x days.

    the recent auto recs (which i seem to have shut down) were always on a timer, same time every day, automated # of recs, etc

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