Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Drudging Up the Past

Here's a question for the audience: How often do you go digging back through the archives of your favorite blog or website?

As for me, I'm a chronologist and completionist. If I'm more than casually interested in some form of entertainment, I like to go through whatever it is from the beginning, or at least fill in as many gaps in my education as I can. That's part of why I can't watch television except on DVD--unless we're talking about something essentially continuity-free like Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, I either pick up whatever random episode happens to be on, or I need to watch 'em all. Augh, I blame it on that time I owned a Pokémon game for two months.

I ask my question because I'm considering adapting our Month in Review feature for GameCola, the videogame humor website for which I am a staff writer (for those of you just tuning in). Perhaps this comes from being close with my grandparents or just from the way I smile when Stargate makes a tiny reference to something that happened several seasons ago, but I strongly feel that we get more out of our fandoms and our lives when we recognize what came before and keep the memory of the past alive in a meaningful way. The trick is, with GameCola, this would need to be both meaningful and funny.

GC has grown and changed over the years, but it all began with a newsletter with no pictures, no colorful background...a one-page scroll-wheeling extravaganza of high schoolers writing about video games. Some, if not most, of the material from the early years of GC doesn't begin to compare to the quality and comedy of what we've been putting out the past few years, but it's all still there in the archives, waiting.

Waiting for what? Surely not for someone to come digging through the archives to rescue them.

I think about my video playthrough of Mega Man 3, and how much I'd like to go back and re-record most of the whiny commentary if given the chance. Yet, I still get more views every day, I still get comments, and I still get people pointing out the parts that made the videos worth watching. I've found ways to incorporate references the game and my commentary for it in more recent videos. Despite whatever flaws and shortcomings it may have, it's still a part of my legacy.

With GameCola, it's easy enough to link back to old, good articles from the days of yore when the situation calls for it. Is it really necessary, then, to dedicate an entire post to the good, the bad, and the ugly of the past? It could spark an interest in long-forgotten posts, and easily connect the readers with close to a decade of GameCola history, but it could be a major turnoff to readers who see it as nothing more than lazy filler content, spotlighting so much dull, juvenile, sloppily written content that their opinion of the site suffers for it?

I'll turn it back to you: How good or bad an idea is this? Is it worth it to dust off the long, primitive history of a website you like, or is the past best left in the past? If you had to choose, is it better to have a boring article that links to great material, or a great article that links to boring material? Any insight is good insight here, as this could be a great way to encourage people to be more active on the site, or it could be a terrible waste of time that puts a bad taste in everyone's mouth, or it could be completely ignored and have no impact whatsoever.

What do you think?


Scott said...

I really don't think it's necessary to make compilation posts, especially not if it's replacing actual content.

JoeReviewer said...

I think a good way to do it is link to old posts in current ones, like at the bottom of the articles here, especially if they relate to the article. That way all the links will be interesting to the people seeing them because they clicked an article about that topic in the first place, and you're not overwhelmed by a bunch of articles at once of varying topics that don't all relate to what you want to read.

Xan said...

Beyond the initial read-through, it's extremely rare that I will go back and read old posts, unless there is a specific piece of information or wargamming tactic discussion that I'm looking for. As for compilation posts, I think those who would be interested in such things will also have to motivation to go digging in the archives themselves. Unless it's a post that has a direct relevance to what you are currently talking about, I'd say leave it in the archives.

AJG said...

I personally like the recap post, because I very rarely check a site every single day.

And even if I do, there are sites out there that post multiple times a day, and by the time I get to them, some of the day's stories are already off of the homepage.

Bleeding Cool is a perfect example of this, and they do a weekly rundown of their posts.

Granted, they post way more often than we do (multiple posts a day; sometimes several posts per hour), but I like it as a way to make sure I didn't miss anything.

I think both Nathaniel and I have just flat-out missed posts (on our own blog, mind you) and we've found them because of the monthly review.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.

Thanks, everyone, for the input!