The future of friendlybit.com

It’s vacation time and you’re allowed to lean back and just relax. A blog it’s always there though, you post to it on your spare time, and as soon as you have some a little glitch in your schedule you need to consider blogging. It’s a full time job.

Current situation

I use Friendly Bit as a way to express my thoughts and ideas about web development. Why? Partly because I’m passionate about the web, passionate to make it a better place. I want people to see the possibilities it holds, and make use of it in the best way possible. I want people to see the web from different angles, sometimes from an accessibility standpoint and sometimes from the eyes of a designer. I want people to think about what they are doing, every line of code they are putting down, instead of typing with auto-pilot turned on.

That’s me, trying to get my point out to you. What’s equally important is your feedback. If I make a mistake, I instantly get it pointed out by people like you, that know what they are doing. If I write something outstanding I get told that aswell, but not by simple “well done” one-liners, but by thought-out reflections, again, by people like you.

The future

Since it’s vacation, I get the time to sit down and think about how I want things to develop here. And what I’ve come to realize is that I’ve underestimated the value of you and your feedback. What do I mean by that? Well, every damn comment (not spam, mind you), gives something back to me, something that I can use to write an even better article next time. I have not acknowledged that enough, that every comment is valuable to me.

Where Joel on Software thinks comments infringe his freedom of expression, I of course disagree. I find it utterly silly that they would.

Anyway. What it all boils down to, is that I need to make this site mirror my feelings about my readers… I’d like to move from a blog where I talk and you listen, to a platform where we talk. Of course that isn’t an easy task. I can’t force you to just “be more active”. I can’t force you to help each other and post your “lessons learned” here. That’s not how a community works, and it shouldn’t be.

Moving to a community

What I want to do is make it easy and convenient to interact with the site. To lift everything you do and write and show it to everyone. I know there’s about 1000 people subscribing to my feed (about 300 daily visitors). Let’s say one tenth of those, 100 loyal subscribers, are people really read what is posted and are willing to give feedback on some of it. Wouldn’t that be a good crowd to show your ideas to?

I’m not saying I would post less, and expect you to fill the blanks. No, I would still post as much as I do right now, one article every other week. I would still read every comment. But I think there should be a way for you to start topics/articles and ask questions. And not only talk to boring me, to the other loyal 100.

The important question here is: Is this something you want? Would Friendly Bit still be as exciting if it was a community instead of a blog? Would you stay?

Mind you, I will read every single reply to this post carefully, and decide where to go from here. Thanks!

24 responses to “The future of friendlybit.com

  1. Hi Emil! I’ve been one of the 1000 for a year or so, and would be one of the 100 if it wasn’t for the fact that I seldom have anything useful to add to your always well-written posts.

    Turning Friendly Bit into a community sounds like an exciting idea, though I wouldn’t want you to ditch the current format completely. Perhaps some of the articles you write (the ones that are more about information than opinion) can be wikified. I still think it would be best if you wrote the first revision of each article, though. A bit conservative perhaps, but still.

  2. I would agree with Jesper in the respect that having “too much” community features may take away from your personal style of writing, and unless done cautiously could start cramming the site with too much content. However I do like the idea of combining other opinions and sharing ideas. Maybe start small with a simple feature and build off of that creatively and slowly see how each is accepted.

  3. Jag har läst din blogg i några månader nu. Jag har ingen stor erfarenhet av kodning, bara ett gäng mindre oklara projekt.

    Omarbetningen till community ger lite blandade känslor. Mer artiklar och innehåll att läsa är ju såklart positivt, men jag är lite orolig för kvaliteten på innehållet. Att jag läser just din blogg beror på att det som står är rakt igenom vettigt. Jag tycker att någon form av kvalitetskontroll borde finnas, antingen genom att man begränsar vilka som får delta, gärna med nån slags rss på nått sätt, jag tycker det är praktiskt;)

    Ett alternativ skulle kunna vara startandet av den ovan nämnda wikin, samt att du lägger in ett gäng människor med bra kommentarer som får vara med och blogga, det tror jag skulle kunna bli bra.

  4. Emil, I’m one of those who subscribes to your blog feed.

    In thinking about what you’re talking about creating I can’t help but think, “wow, that’d be difficult to pull off and be successful”. I think you open your site up to more issues by allowing readers to post more than comments.

    I could see something more along the lines of a network of blogs much like 9rules that your readers could be part of. From that network make a website that pulls all those network member’s feeds for one stop consumption.

    Personally I appreciate your blog as a blog and probably wouldn’t subscribe if just anybody could post articles. I’d prefer the idea of a network of blogs.

    My 2 cents.

  5. Short comment: Quality is of course very, very important. I don’t plan to let anything end up in the feed, that would be suicide (unless everything is great… :). I also have some idea how to filter people’s posts so that only the most relevant stuff shows up to people. Network of blogs is an interesting idea…

  6. I’m sure quite a lot of people will like the community idea. Myself personally don’t usually (hardly ever) have the time to deal with a community scenario. People like myself are only concerned about using the internet as an information portal, what’s the new thing happening? I’ve got a coding problem which I need to find an answer for, what new applications (e.g. Flex/AIR) are there that can make my company better at what we do? in many ways it’s a very ethnocentric philosophy but it’s all we have time for.

  7. There are already a thousand web development “communities” (err, forums) at least one of which a developer is usually a member.

    I use blogs as a source of information. If I want to ask a question I’ll head over to niche forum on that topic, but that’s after scanning my favourite blogs for the solution.

    What’s more, I read blogs for pleasure too (even when I’m not looking for a specific solution or topic).

    I tried 9rules briefly but found there to be too much noise. A personal blog with iontelligent writing (which this is) is the best resource you can have.

  8. I like the idea of a community but I would prefer if it was implemented as an extension to the current site so that I could still enjoy your posts in the same way as I do now with the option of dipping into the community side of things.

  9. Hi Emil, a community sounds like a good idea and I will be more than willing to help out with design, management, etc. if required.

    There are many forums out there already, but your own one would probably get a lot of those 1000 subscribers to register. That way, we can interact more easily.

    I’m on my PC, most hours a day and almost all the time in the weekend, so giving a helping hand would be no problem, if that has any interest.

    Mail me if you have questions or something.

    all the best, Anders (Danmark)

  10. Emil, it is an interesting and bold idea you are proposing. Like you, I have wondered about ways to engage a passive readership. User feedback is a strong motivator to continue blogging, yet it is seems the majority are happy to read rather than contribute.

    It sounds as if you are proposing a multi-author blog, with guest authors being sourced from your existing readership. Done right, I think it could really work. Having additional authors would almost certainly open you up to a broader audience. I’m thinking about Vitamin and Digital Web, two multi-author blogs I subscribe to.

    I look forward to hearing more about your plans.

  11. I visit your blog the most for the articles about html and CSS, although I would like to know more about Javascript. As an amateur website developer I learn a lot from your articles.

    I’m a little bit afraid a community might have a too high level for amateur website builders like me to be fair. On the other hand it also might give interesting sharing.

    However I wish you a lot of succes with either a blog or community! But I hope you still have time to write articles, I really like them!

  12. As already pointed out, there are several communities out there already. I’m not sure if one more is the right thing to put your energy in to.

    I see blogs as a way to turn internet in itself in to a big community-like thing, where there are no restraints on “your” part of the community. You can create a site completley in SVG if you like, it is all up to you.

    So, a good way to connect blogs together is the road I would like to see this to travel to. Maybe have a friends blog about javascript tightly connected? Maybe a blog about database design?

    I think it is important to let the ones that only reads read, the pageviews are showing you that your articles are appreciated.

  13. I’ve been a regular reader for about a year now, and I’d say I’m with Nick. While some blog communities work well (I’m thinking of Joystiq), many are inconsistent and fail to demonstrate a cohesiveness. I think coming up with a blog network is a more interesting idea.

  14. Hi! Just stumbled in here by your open IE letter. I love these really good blogs about web standards and stuff, but myself I’ve had enough of communities. Well, maybe it’ll work, if I DO NOT have to register! Or you make a supermegadupersimple registration process. :)

  15. The reason I started reading here was that it’s not a community. I’d rather it went on the same way, maybe with guest authors. That could enrich the site better, I think.

  16. Maybe you could just somehow make comments more central to the blog somehow? Or make the comments more dicussion-like with threads, maybe even a rating system like on Slashdot?
    I don’t think you should make the site extremely user-contributed. We do come here to read you and don’t want to lose that voice. A community site like this may be very cool, but please do it on another site or a separate area of Friendly Bit.

  17. IMHO (as a feed subscriber) I personally don’t feel a need for another forum-type of site. I do agree with the above comments regarding your (otherwise excellent) site in moving the comments from the sidebar to a more central place though, as that would make them a whole lot easier to read, code snippets could be read properly etc.

    As for comments, I think people should have to leave name/e-mail etc but that sites should allow comments. You could moderate them the first time they post and let them post directly after that, and just keeping an eye on the comments.

    I know that wouldn’t solve your initial question when it comes to users starting topics etc, but as stated above, I personally don’t feel a need for another forum type of site, I am signed up to too many of them already, and weirdly it is becoming trickier to actually get quality answers after a while.

    I guess what I’m saying is “if you start the best developer community ever, that removes the need for any other community, please do go ahead, otherwise it might be a waste of your energy.”

    Just my £0.02 :)

  18. He he! “..one of the 1000…” sounds like the 4400 or something. :-)

    Either way, I think it sounds interesting, and the first thing that sprang to my mind as well was something Wiki-like for certain posts/articles or perhaps sections of the site.

    If it works out? No idea, it could go either way. And this sounds so lame, but whatever you choose, I’m glad as long as the result is you continuing to contribute to the web.

  19. Not again a new community – thera are al lot of them. Just a gof blog is enough. Follow the good comments on your next articles…this is enaough community!

  20. Want a community? Start a message board. This is a blog. I don’t subscribe to the trolls and nitpickers that comment here. I subscribe to you. If I wanted to read them, I’d find their blog.

    Stick to blogging. You’re trying to make this something else.

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