Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The NBI of 2015: Return of the SWTOR blogs

This year's NBI is over: three hurrays for the Class of 2015!

For me it was the third time participating; the second time as a sponsor. I was looking at the blogging archive of fellow blogger Rowan of I Have Touched the Sky, one of my examples when I was still a newborn blogger, and saw that I have been reading his blog for over three years now. Then I noticed that he has only been writing for five, so I was there for the largest part of it! And suddenly I felt very old. Believe me, time flies when you're writing blogs...

The NBI as a sponsor

I suspect that the way sponsors are involved with the NBI greatly varies from person to person. I didn't initiate any writing prompts or challenges myself, but I still felt very involved. The NBI started off for me with writing this introductory post to the NBI and telling a handful of new SWTOR blogs about the initiative. About half of them actually joined, so that was pretty cool. Then I added the NBI blogroll to the right to my blog and made it my mission to visit and comment on at least one newbie blog a day. Thinking about how much comments mean to me, I thought this was one of the small things I could do to as an individual to make newbies feel welcome and connected to the community. I might have missed one or two days, but I think I mostly made my goal.

Although I didn't write any advice posts (reading and commenting on all those blogs actually took quite some time!), I had e-mail contact with three newbies offering advice and managed to contribute to one Talkback Challenge and the Screenshot Safari.

So what did the newbies think of the efforts we sponsors put in? Here are some reflections on the past May by the class of 2015. Just the ones I've come across, so if you wrote one that is missing, please comment and I'll add it:

Luckily, everyone seems to have enjoyed the event, although Waiting for Rez also has some honest critique:
I learned of the event through Syp’s blog, Bio Break and from there went to the official website. There was a sign up for new bloggers and one for sponsors but when I went to announcements and information almost everything there was from last year. I was expecting a breakdown of what would happen over the course of the month or a schedule of writing prompts, something to tell me what I should do as a participant but if it was there, I couldn’t find it. Without those things I had no idea what I had just signed up to participate in.
He has a point. I remember looking at the NBI website a few days before the first of May and all I could find were outdated posts, too. I almost started doubting myself if it would really be starting this May, since the blogging community seemed to be so quiet. I reckoned it was probably buzzing on Twitter, which I was missing since I don't tweet. I was vaguely concerned for newbies that might not tweet either.

And then there were two different ways of signing up (filling in a form and posting a topic on the forum), which I thought was confusing. I still don't know why I filled in that form and entered my e-mail address as a sponsor, because I didn't receive any e-mail by the NBI the past month. Maybe that is still to come? One of the reasons for writing my introductory post was that I wanted the newbie blogs I contacted to have some sort of overview and the official website didn't give that.

Overall, I think the enthusiasm and positive effect of the NBI definitely was there, but these are some organizational things we can learn from for next year.

The SWTOR blog miracle

In a post called NBI Class of 2015 on I Have Touched the Sky, Rowan makes the observation that SWTOR blogs are represented exceptionally well this year. Out of the 22 blogs that participated in the class of 2015, no less than five are dedicated to SWTOR. That is quite a number. For instance, I saw only two dedicated WoW blogs this year.

This is partly my 'fault', because I informed the new SWTOR blogs I knew of about the NBI coming up. But even then I think it's a symptom of SWTOR's apparent popularity. When I started blogging about SWTOR (which actually already was at the start of this blog in 2012, but LOTRO still took a lot of space back then), the amount of SWTOR blogs I knew of could be counted on one hand. When I returned from my extended blogging break in 2014, new blogs started to emerge rapidly. My current SWTOR blogroll shows a maximum of 10 latest blog posts, and it's often filled up with posts from only the last few days. If I press "Show all", I count an impressive total of 25 SWTOR blogs that have posted in the past month! And that's not even everything, because there are also general gaming blogs that write about SWTOR that are absent on the list, like Rowan's, who's on my general blogroll.

I think it is indeed like Bhagpuss commented on Rowan's post: "I suspect it's [SWTOR, red.] going to be more of a long-term, slow-burn success than most of us ever imagined it would be."

One last treat

To end with, a friend of mine started up a SWTOR blog recently, but I only found out when the NBI was pretty much over already. So if you can spare a minute, check out their promising new blog:

It's based on experiences in SWTOR, but I think it will appeal to a broader audience, with subjects that any MMO player will recognize. I would describe the main topic as 'gamer psychology', presented in an unusual format. I'm not going to give too much away; it's best if you check it out yourself. Prepare to be surprised!


  1. Thanks again for all your support!

    1. The thanks should go to you. I think the Screenshot Safari will prove to be one of the most memorable events of this year's edition!

  2. I agree this year's NBI was a tad ramshackle but I found that quite refreshing. It felt more organic somehow than some of the more formal events of other years. That said, I also noticed that the information on the website/forum was well out of date back at the end of April and I found that a little confusing, so it certainly could have been offputting to full-on newcomers. Maybe next year we could get things rolling a couple of weeks before the official opening?

    I say "we" but of course I mean "someone else"! Like you my contribution mostly consisted of adding blogs to my blogroll, commenting on the ones where I had something to say and linking to NBI blogs whenever it was relevant to stuff I was posting. Still, as you suggest, these are the kind of things that make a community feel open and welcoming so they shouldn't be discounted.

    If last year is anything to go by I imagine we'll have a few follow-up community events in the months between now and next year's NBI to keep the momentum going.

    1. Hehe, you're right, always "someone else". ^^

      I did consider sending a mail to offer my services, but I wasn't sure how it would be received. I also felt like I might be missing something because I wasn't there last year. Maybe it was just me being confused... Maybe the rest would be totally unconfused... (When I don't find the answer to something, I usually look at myself for faults first. Just the way I work. *sigh*)

      Even though I didn't do much, I find myself slightly exhausted by the NBI. I'm actually looking forward a bit to having more time for the normal day-to-day tribbelations of a blogger: cleaning up my blogroll, trying to find a font that I'm happy with (I'm so ashamed of using Lobster!), trying to fix my layout with HTML... nvm, I'm really not looking forward to the latter!

      After that I'm totally ready for any follow-up community events. I totally missed that last year, so I'm looking forward to being surprised. :)

    2. Bhagpuss may be referring in part Belghast's Blaugust, Syl's Bloggy Xmas, Bragtoberfest, etc.

      Thanks for the link love. I enjoy reading your posts; you are one of the few blogs I keep up with regularly. I started reading Gamers Decrypted early last month. They have some fascinating posts.

    3. I missed all those events because I wasn't active at the time. Hopefully I'll have time to see what they are this year. Although there's a chance I'm moving house and country in August, so Blaugust... doubtful.

      Thanks for keeping up with my crap, that means a lot to me! And cool that you're following Gamers Decrypted. :)

  3. As someone who was mostly just watching from the sidelines (though I did enjoy checking out all those new blogs), I kind of got the impression that the official organisers of the NBI had kind of forgotten about the whole thing this year until Syp and some others suddenly brought it up at the end of April. (No offense intended to any of you... just saying that's what it looked like.) I think that's why it ended up being more of a "grassroots movement" this time, but like Bhag said that simply gave the whole thing a different kind of charm.

    In any case, yay for new bloggers!

    1. Your and Bhagpuss' comment makes me think about how the NBI really is this "for and by bloggers" thing. I think about everyone prefers the "grassroots movement" scenario. It is a logical result of the spontaneous and open atmosphere of the gamer blog community as it came into being with the first NBI of 2012. I feel this year's organizers have tried to support this, too, by only organizing the centralized talkback challenges and the final awards. They left lots of space for individual initiatives and helped promote these when they popped up on the website. I hope my post didn't sound too much of a rant, as it was not intended as one. I know it is a lot of work to organize such a huge event as this and I'm thankful for the team that did it. I just feel that it could even be more of a success, with more newbies participating when promoted widely upfront.

      Also, thanks or checking out the new blogs. I'm happy to see my Class of 2015 blogroll has been of use. :)

  4. I'll be honest, I signed up for the NBI stuff and then completely and utterly forgot about all the challenges and posts I was supposed to do. Like, all of 'em. Yeah, some NBI pro I am. Sheesh!

    1. Don't worry about it, there's always a few people that happens to. I think Cleeyah had the same a few years back, but she joined again this year and wrote lots of stuff. So it's never too late. I for one am already happy we have you back blogging. :)

  5. I was really happy to participate in this years NBI (And thanks for the special link in your post!). I am looking forward to Blaugust and 31 new posts in a month (whew! That'll be rough!). I have really enjoyed being part of the blogging community and love getting to know new bloggers. Perhaps next year I can be a sponsor instead of a Newbie. I appreciate all your comments, Rav (sorry I haven't been commenting on yours as much-Wordpress app will allow me to read your posts, but I have to pull it up in a browser to comment), and your comments really got me wanting to continue blogging. Not only are there a lot of SWTOR blogs coming out, there are also a ton of SWTOR podcasts as well. R3dn4 has started a new cast on Star Wars lore, Marshal and Will have gotten going wonderfully with The Usual Podcast. It's all great stuff!

    1. Star Wars lore?! Oooh as a newbie to the franchise I will have to check this out..

    2. You're right about the podcasts. I guess I forgot mentioning them (bad me!) because I personally enjoy reading (blogs) more than listening (podcasts). So I'm not really up-to-date concerning them. Thanks for providing a heads up here.

      And don't worry about the commenting, although I always appreciate your comments, of course! I guess it boils down to how you keep up with blogs. I usually read them 'on the place of the crime', through clicking when they show up with an interesting title on one of my blogrolls to the right. I enjoy the layout of each blog (gives them something personal). It may 'help' that there are no thresholds (= no extra clicking) for commenting this way (unless people have a super annoying captcha, that is). Maybe I'm more inclined to comment because of that. That, and the fact that I simple love conversations emerging.

      It's great to have you as a reader. I've enjoyed watching your blog grow the past months and I'm sure you'll make an awesome sponsor next year!

  6. You did much more than I did this month and it really shows. Thank you for being such a pillar of community!

    Now, in regards to the organization process, it was discussed behind the scenes leading up to it. I know I personally asked several times when we would kick things off but as I'm not an organizer of the event there wasn't much more I could really do, or at least I felt that way anyway.

    I definitely agree that the whole thing needs a redesign. You load the website and it's just confusing. You've got sign up forms, pages on two separate navigation bars, amongst which are hidden the forums, and as you mentioned - so many old posts it looked like it wasn't happening. No good at all. I agree. Years-past posts could be archived to make it clearer which posts are relevant and which aren't, though they'd still be available for perusal if folks wanted that.

    There is a whole bunch of stuff that could have been done differently in hindsight - and a couple of things that bugged me, personally, big time - but it's too late now. We shall just have to take what we've learned and such on into following events.

    Blaugust is coming next and as (a little late for the NBI sadly) I'm trying very hard to be better at the blogging thing (I've been doing it for nigh on 6 years now, help. Talk about feeling blog-old!) by giving myself some kind of schedule to stick to regarding writing and posting blog posts, and visiting and commenting on others blogs much more. :) Wish me luck! Hopefully I can stick to it and it just becomes a part of my daily routine.

    1. Oi, I wouldn't call myself a pillar of community! If anything I just wanted to show that being a sponsor can mean that you do meaningful things through small acts. Ultimately, I feel the NBI is very much something we do all together.

      I hope my post didn't come off as a rant or anything. Just in case it did: it was really not my intention. I enjoyed this year's NBI and I'm thankful for the organization making it happen.

      I've been trying to stick to a schedule as well lately: Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Of course I fail terribly every now and then, like this week (when I miss Monday's post it always gets messed up). But as a second goal I've set two posts a week, which makes me feel I've accomplished something even if I miss one post. Overall, I think it has helped me to write a bit more regularly.

      Good luck with your blogging! I love the way your blog looks like and I'm excited to find out you play SWTOR as well. I'll make sure to follow your adventures.


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