Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Social Metrics - A month in review

My first month of being a writer at is complete, and I managed to contribute two articles:

Both took a lot more work than I originally expected.  Both were interesting projects.  I had hoped to make my contributions weekly (or at least get 3 articles in the month), but I was not able to.  I have two more articles lined up for July, but it has been a difficult dance between IRL work, personal tool development, and IRL job hunting to find the hours needed to assemble another article on par with my Burn Jita analysis.

Why Do It -- Working as Intended?

I spend a decent chunk of time talking with Chella Ranier of Low Sec Lifestyle on IM, and she's been an interesting foil on the point of TMC.  Bluntly, she thinks it's a vapid mouthpiece for Goon; purely a propaganda stream.  Though I concede the point for some news/battle-reports, I do not share the opinion.  Though I could write a whole post in counterpoint, that's not the point I want to illustrate.  

TMC is providing signal boost for the topics I currently enjoy exploring.  Where I could hope to garner a few hundred or a couple thousand, page views on a piece here, I can easily muster tens-of-thousands on TMC.  So, on the important or general topics I've written so far for TMC, I am able to get that article in front of 10x or 20x the eyeballs I can get here.  This blog still serves as a finer tool for opinions/progress/personal work, but TMC is the platform that allows me to talk to the whole EVE community.

Unfortunately, TMC is still viewed as polarizing, and there are some unintended consequences.  As TEST v CFC rages in game, the gulf between communities grows.  For instance, even though my Burn Jita article was data-driven and geared as a neutral analysis, I could only generate +30 link karma (+44/-13) on /r/eve, and never crested the top-half of the front page.   I had been a great fan of the reddit community, but with recent pushes against bloggers in general, and a general blind hostility toward anything with TMC as a link, I'm finding my engagement in that community less and less.

Otherwise, I've found the environment to be a real boon to help spark my work.  It gives me another venue to air larger/broader topics, and the other writers there are incredibly helpful in bridging through blocks.  It also helps to have the ears of some of the most prolific movers-and-shakers in EVE, which makes the degrees of influence problem much smaller.  I would not have been able to get feedback from Warr Akini for my Burn Jita article if it weren't for TMC.  Simply put, TMC is meshing with my goals quite nicely, and I'm enjoying the time there.

Look What I can Do!  LOOK!

The big thing that it boils down to is I'm a slave to metrics.  I watch my page views, comments, tweets, mails, etc obsessively, hoping that I can suss out useful information.  What topics are generating the most traffic?  What topics garner the most feedback?  Is anyone actually reading my rants?  Even though I know I should not pin my self-worth to a social network number, I feel compelled to use them as a validation stick.

It becomes exceedingly annoying to hear from friends and acquaintances things like "I love to read in-depth articles about internet spaceships", but then not see the results in the numbers.  I write my articles for TMC, and they each generated about 20k hits each, but aren't being externally linked after they fall off the front page.  I post the links to /r/eve  and can't get more than +30 link karma.  I actively participate where I can in the comment strings (TMC, Reddit, G+, Twitter).  On the other hand, the polarizing tripe of people like James315 generates 4x the hits, 5x the comments, and 10x the link karma.  I get that it's mostly an effect of sensationalism drives activity, but I'm feeling like the gulf between well crafted technical work and sensationalist garbage should be half what I see.  Also, I understand the quality of those metrics are not equal.

As long as there are results, I can sustain my drive to generate content.  If I'm not seeing growth, activity, added traffic, then I can't believe I'm making an impact.  So far, things are alright, but I'm not hitting the targets I anticipated.  I know it will require more work and content and my cred will be earned because "he knows his stuff" rather than on the back of lolz and trolls.  It's just generally nice to get feedback to make sure this isn't all just a waste of time.

But, if you want to see more engaging content as a reader, you need to reach out and make it known the work has value.  Your news doesn't have to be a reddit/4chan/SA Faux-Newsian feed of babble and memes.  Interact with authors who you believe are doing good work... don't feed the trolls.

Coming Soon

Complaining doesn't fix things, work does.  As such I have several projects in the pipeline to be released over July:
  • Decryptor Guide
  • Ship Sheet: Post Odyssey
  • Odyssey Post-Mortem: Moon Materials (TMC)
  • Odyssey Post-Mortem: Mineral Mining Report (TMC)
  • Jump Freighter Project 3/4th complete
So far, this is the plan in order.  Decryptor guide is just waiting for a few images to be made and some code review of the SQL calls required to automate the :math:.  The next TMC articles require more time, and the IRL job hunt is cutting into that pretty handsomely.

Also, I have been approached by The Mittani himself to write a killboard crawler of sorts as a news source.  Still in the viability stages, but I hope to push some sort of code out by the end of the month.  Kinda excited to do a real "customer project" to try and get some more code out the door.  Been slacking and this is a great chance to take a page from Entity and make some extensible tools for later.