Poll Results Split the Internet

Well, one does. The other is near universal. Also, I haven’t seen so much as a raised voice yet. Also also, the sample size here is extremely small. Take with a large helping of salt accordingly. So generally? Hyperbole all around in that headline.

Moving on. Let’s start with the easy one first.

Infinite Scroll vs. Pagination

If you’re unfamiliar with Infinite Scroll — think Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Google Image search. When you are scrolling through posts or items, you never have to hit ‘next page’. As you near the end of the currently loaded items, it will automatically load another set for you to continue with.

Pagination on the other hand you must actively click to progress to a new set of items.

There are instances of some news sites using ‘Infinite Scroll’ to load entire new articles as you reach the end of whatever article you’re currently reading. The intent being to increase a user’s time on site. Many find it irritating though, and God forbid you ever actually want to come back to an article loaded this way at some point in the future.

This poll though was specifically in the context of a blog’s main post index, or archive. Not while already reading a specific post.

The sample size was small (n=14) but the responses fairly one-sided within that. The main audience of respondents are themselves bloggers but were asked to answer from the perspective of consumers of content on other blogs.

Sampled primarily in MMO/Gaming blogger community Jul 2019. (n=14)

So what can we tell from this? Mainly that within this particular niche of the game blogging landscape, most do not appreciate the Infinite Scroll feature. But equally, no-one is going to call you a dunderhead or stop reading your blog over it if you want to enable it.

Also? Potentially fewer people use an off-site mechanism for reading blog posts than I suspected!

Full Posts vs. Excerpts

This one was much closer, as you’ll see. The poll again asked respondents to consider things from the perspective of a blog reader and whether or not they liked to see full posts on the main archive/index.

The argument for excerpts runs that by seeing multiple posts easily, it’s more likely that something will grab their attention to read. That it makes it easier as someone new to a blog to quickly get a feel for the type of content and how much it might interest them. Others noted a changing preference based on typical post length. Longer posts leaning them toward preferring excerpts, while a shorter typical post length was OK to display in full.

This poll had a sample size of n=16 through marginally larger reach. Excerpts had an early and strong lead, but in the end?

Sampled primarily in MMO/Gaming blogger community Jul 2019. (n=16)
(Note: If you were following along with the original strawpoll for this and wondering about the shift here — I had incorrectly voted for ‘Full posts’ rather than ‘Excerpts’.)

Amongst respondents who actually use a blog’s website for consumption of the content? Dead tie.

Do as you will! Decide for yourself! Although having said that, if your posts tend toward the lengthy end of things — perhaps give excerpts a stronger consideration.

Otherwise, what theme do you like? What looks more aesthetically appealing to you? Are you OK with the load time that comes with full post loading?

So What Will I Do?

Infinite Scroll will be kept off and I’ll be sticking to excerpts for now.

I was using full post display prior to the recent redesign.1 My reasoning being that most readers land directly into a post anyway, where this question becomes moot and for those that don’t land straight into a post scanning for what they’re after in the archive should be quicker and easier with excerpts on.

It doesn’t hurt that the page load time according to GTMetrix has come down from just north of 5 seconds to around 3 seconds. That’s with displaying way more post entries per page, too!

Blog Redesign, Polls and even Facebook

Blog Redesign

Depending on how you typically view Time to Loot, you may or may not be aware of a rather significant change in appearance since yesterday. Not just appearance, but function too. The archives now show excerpts with thumbnails rather than entire posts. Posts have hero images. I even flirted with the idea of infinite scroll for the index, but have since turned that off again. For now.

I was running the Genesis Framework and Magazine child-theme, a pair I bought access to waaaaaay back in the day for my old blogging efforts. There is a great deal to love about the Genesis Framework, some parts I’m already missing even — but even the newly released themes seem so… outdated.

Both are screenshots the main index page. But before entire posts were displayed, now using an excerpt display.
There are some differences shown in the ‘old’ from what was actually present though. e.g., the Social icons didn’t wrap (there was one less! More on that soon), and I had a ‘Featured Posts’ carousel.

I’m possibly far from done, but I’ve setup my new theme (OceanWP if you’re wondering) enough that I’m happy with it for the time being. It has been something of a revelation how many more components and areas of configuration it adds to the WordPress ‘customiser’ compared to the old Genesis themes though. To change typographic elements before I had to find their reference in the CSS files and edit by hand. Now it’s all menu driven!

I’ve been researching Divi and Elementor rather extensively. I’m talking multiple 2-3 hour videos of tutorials to see how things are constructed and end results. Answer so far? Inconclusive. Elementor does have a free basic version which is pretty powerful for pages, but adjusting how blog archives and posts work is locked into the Pro edition.

Both of them are more aimed at complete site design rather than ‘just’ a blog, so they’re very likely overkill for what I want… But… I haven’t quite shaken the desire to grab them entirely yet. ;)

Polls! As a Blog Reader…

…Do you like ‘Infinite Scrolling‘? How about Excerpts vs. Full Posts? Or do you not care how a blog presents on the web, because you use WP Reader, Feedly or some other off-site solution?

Those are the questions I pose, and I would love your input! Click through below to add your voice to the poll.

I’ll give this a few days or so then share the results for everyone. :)

Suddenly a Wild Facebook Appears

…I don’t yet know if it will be super effective.

I’m not expecting too much though, as I don’t plan on expending a lot of effort on it. I created the page, and linked the blog to it to auto-crosspost, but that’s it.

I’m also still a little uneasy that the page belongs to my actual Facebook account, being honest. But we’ll see how it goes. Twitter will still absolutely be my preferred social communication channel, and I could stand to be more active there as it is. ;)

If you’re curious though, the Facebook page is here!1.

I’ve followed a few other blogs that I could spot with Facebook pages, but I know I’ve missed people.

Probably a great many people. So let me know! :)

Current Games of Interest: July 2019

This one’s a little odd. Usually I have another game I’m adding when I do these posts. Not so this time. But I’ve been giving my games list on the sidebar the side-eye for a while. It is very much not accurate. Beyond even the point of thinking a game there might just hold out that little longer for a return.

Nope, they’re jumping straight into the ‘removed’ bucket this time!

Changes to the Game List

Added

  • None!

Remaining

  • Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
  • Final Fantasy XIV

Nearly Removed

  • None!

Removed

  • Nioh
  • Transport Fever

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey saw the last chapter of its second DLC release just this past week, so I’ve spent a little extra time getting acquainted again. I still have the final two chapters of the first DLC to play through too, so there is a bit of life left in this one yet! :D

Otherwise, with Final Fantasy XIV taking more of my gaming time again it isn’t too surprising that other things are dropping out. Although that is only a part reason.

In the last journal I talked about how Nioh had been put on hold earlier in the month to allow my eldest son to catch-up so we could play it together co-op. Welp; that never happened. I could carry on with it singleplayer, but the momentum has been broken.

Then all the way back in the May Journal I noted that I would likely put a premature end to the Chasing Truck Fever series. I allowed for the possibility of carrying on with it in a more typical post format. But uh, clearly that didn’t happen.

So away they go!

The Witcher Netflix Teaser

Just a quick one today. Even though the Netflix series is based on the books rather than the games, I think it’d be fair to say the interest levels in The Witcher series are high.

If you’ve only played the games and are wondering where his other sword is — it’s on Roach. Equipping both swords simultaneously was a game convenience not core to the books!

Well there we go then. Still titled a teaser, but we have the first real trailer for Netflix’ The Witcher series. Although I suppose honestly, the ‘teaser’ descriptor does fit. It isn’t your typical spill-all Netflix trailer after all, so you can at least watch it without much fear of major spoilers.

But it also wasn’t enough to really create a clear picture for me on whether it will be amazing or utter crud. It could just sit right in the middle as an average show, but I’m not convinced that will necessarily be the case either! The budget seems to be there which is nice. But otherwise… Unsure!

Blaugust Reminder

If you haven’t yet signed up for Blaugust, go ahead and do it now! Sign-up is necessary for the event, but it’s a super quick and easy Google form.

So come along and get involved! :D

New Art! #2

So earlier in the month was the first reveal of work Alli1 had completed for me on commission. I promised more was on the way! Today, I deliver! … Well OK, OK, Alli delivers. Although actually Alli delivered earlier in the week. … Nope, not sure where I’m taking this, let’s move on. ;) Take a squiz!

The Warrior

First up is the Warrior profile pic! Alli couldn’t reuse too much of the base profile for this with the pose being so different to accommodate the sword and shield. I reaaaally love this one.

It’s sort of a throwback to when I almost exclusively tanked in MMOs. That is going back quite a ways indeed, as I switched to almost exclusively healing for quite a long time. Druid healing in particular. Although I did flirt with Priest for a single expansion of WoW.

Possibly there is something here too, for future art… Possibly…

The Ranger

Second is the Ranger. Fortunately, Alli was able to re-use much of the ‘base’ Naithin portrait, adding over the top quite a different look in costume and equipment.

This one is also sort of a throwback, as my oldest of old Naithin ‘characters’ in D&D and other roleplay was as a Ranger who primarily used a staff to fight with.

Right now my main MMO character is of course a Bard in Final Fantasy XIV. And Bards in FFXIV very much use a bow.

So… Possibly there is something here for future art also… :D

Also, the Site Banner!

Alli worked in the site logo to create a bit of a banner for me, too. Original concept had included the character art as well but the compositions didn’t quite look right at this sort of size.

Alli has been amazing to work with, so if you’re looking for any art of your own, I’d heartily recommend getting in touch with her!

The only real problem I have now is deciding which profile image to use. I’m quite enamored with each of the three options I now have, and I already have more that I’d be interested in having created! xD

Blaugust 2019 is Coming!

So I don’t want to alarm anyone unduly, but August is almost here. Fricken August! I’ve clearly been too wrapped up in this current July business to really give it much thought. But there is cause for excitement, folks! The title of this post may’ve given it away to the astute readers. But in case you missed it:

Blaugust 2019 is coming! It’s almost here! Run around in circles flailing your hands in the air like you just don’t care! (But secretly you really do, because Wooooo!)

Ahem. Sorry. I missed it last year you see1, since I only came back to blogging in January. A mutual friend of Bel and I let me know about it though when I did, and I’ve been kinda excited for it ever since.

What is Blaugust?

Blaugust is the brainchild of Belghast, over at Tales of the Aggronaut — it started life as a challenge to bloggers to go a month posting each and every day for the month of August.

Over time it morphed, and last year settled into an amalgamation of events old and new. There is still the element of aiming for a post a day — but there are tiers of achievement below this too.

  • Newbie Blogger Award – You did it, you created a new blog and by god we are going to sing your praises for doing it!
  • Bronze Award – You made at least 5 posts during the Month of August 2019.
  • Silver Award – You made at least 15 posts during the Month of August 2019, go you!
  • Gold Award – You made at least 25 posts during the Month of August 2019, you are a badass!
  • Rainbow Diamond Award – You did it, you posted every single day during the Month of August 2019 and deserve accolades.

One of my favourite inclusions is the old2 ‘Newbie Blogger Initiative’ that used to be run by Syp of BioBreak quite some time ago, and you can see this reflected in the first tier. The NBI was all about encouraging those who had perhaps been reading along for a while to get involved with a blog of their own and to refresh the lifeblood of the blogger pool somewhat.

For full details on what this is all about, what other events have been rolled in, how to sign-up and how to jump on to the Blaugust Discord check out Bel’s post here. (Please do consider the Discord invite, by the way! While most of us come from a gaming background — it is a reasonably diverse crowd with authors, to gamers to tech writers, so come and be welcome!),

Additional Callouts! :D

I don’t know that I’ve actually acknowledged it here actually, but a few months ago I found essentially a whole other circle of gaming blogs. It was really quite the thing. Like discovering alien life in some respects. (Sorry! I mean this nicely, honest. xD)

So while I don’t yet know everyone, or even a great deal of the people in this new ring of gaming/geek blogs — I’d like to pass on a specific tag for this to Kim of Later Levels and Angie of Backlog Crusader. While tagging them specifically, please know that Blaugust is for everyone. Blaugust certainly has its origins in the gaming sphere, but is open to all types of blogs. So! If you happen to see my post on this and have any inclination to participate, please do! :D

Perhaps this will be of direct interest, or perhaps it might be to some of your readers — Blaugust is an amazing time to get involved with the blogging community more generally, and perhaps this is a great opportunity for making some gaps between our communities too!3

Belghast has even been kind enough to create a bit of a media kit to help out. :)

Changing the Approach to Writing Posts

I alluded to making this post in my June Journal entry. About how I run things here. Specifically for this post — how I run through the act of constructing a post. I feel that there are some improvements I can make in this area, and I hoped to also get some input on this from you all.

How I do it at the Moment

Getting Started…

What does this have to do with the post? Nothing. I just really like itAlli did an awesome job. :D

Ideas can come from anywhere. Random thoughts. News pieces. Game happenings. Other bloggers, via conversation or their blog posts I’d like to comment on or otherwise respond to at length.

When I can, I’ll construct a draft post — generally containing just a title to prompt memory of the idea later. Very rarely I might include some bullet points of things I want to cover in the post.

Sometime after the initial ideation, magic happens. But — and this is important — the magic can only happen while I’m not at a computer. While driving, say. The post will fully form, crystalise even, in my mind — a near masterwork of engaging writing and compelling argument.

Later, back at the computer with time to write the post — I’ll start tapping away, hacking together a far lesser version of itself. Not the best post in the world, merely a tribute. ;)

Putting the Post Together

During the process of failing to translate what once seemed a perfectly clear and constructed post in my mind to actual written word, I’m prone to distractions in all forms. I don’t think that’s the cause of the translation issue, but it certainly doesn’t help either.

The main distraction comes in the form of working on the post layout while writing the first draft. By which I mean I will insert images, format them, and if I need to jump into a game to get the screenshot I want — I’ll even do that.

I’ll eventually wind up with a completed post, which I’ve put together piecemeal. Editing as I go. A final review (often far more cursory than it probably should be) and then an instant publish.

I’m not very good with being patient and scheduling posts. Once done — it needs to go right then!

The Next Experiment

What I feel I should do instead — and will be experimenting with — is getting out a full, complete draft before doing any of that. Consider that first go in the same vein as a NaNoWriMo writing sprint. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a NaNo writing sprint — basically you write at speed for a set period of time. You completely shut down the inner-editor for the duration. Corrections of anything beyond a typo should be considered forbidden.

After the sprint is over you may consider your review process. Be that a rewrite or some intensive editing.

At first I thought my success metric was around time taken to write a post. This experiment was initially about reducing context switching between writing and formatting.

I actually don’t know that this approach is going to save me any time but perhaps it’ll result in a better quality of post with a rewrite/intensive edit phase put in. A harder metric to track meaningfully perhaps, so I’ll have to use my own satisfaction with a post when ‘done’ as a proxy.

But already I can tell making this change is going to take some very sustained and conscious effort. Cos uh… I’ll start with the next post? I did this one my ‘normal’ way. Hmm.

Anywho — as I said at the start, super curious how other bloggers out there go about constructing their own posts, and if there are any things that seem to work for you, or anything that you might consider changing. :)