Profile photo of Zach Bunn By Zach Bunn On April 30, 2012 Posted In Covenant | Site News

New Feature: Popular Blogs

Profile photo of Zach Bunn
April 30, 2012
POSTED IN

It’s been fascinating to watch the Team Covenant website grow over the past few years. It’s hard to imagine a Team Covenant that doesn’t allow community members to blog or podcast, or one without a forum. Or even one without a stream of activity and updates in the sidebar. This past Friday, we launched something we call the Popular Blogs feature.

During Covenant Reborn II, we decided that blogs by Team Covenant staff shouldn’t be any different than the rest of the community. As such, our posts and podcasts started showing up just like it would for anyone else using the site. This created an unusual problem. When you hit the Team Covenant site, the main body of content (and the most visual with the banners) was being used to display news…

While we definitely want to continue being a site that keeps everyone up to date on their favorite games, that isn’t the focus of the site. The focus is the community. So we knew two things needed to happen:

1. The main section of the site should highlight the community
2. News needed to be present, but not the focus

We also ran into another problem. As more and more people blog, there are some days where you might post and before the day is over your blog isn’t even on the homepage any more. This is only going to happen more as the site continues to grow.

Almost immediately after Reborn II we started work on the Popular Blogs feature, something we think solves a lot of problems. Instead of news being the featured content on the site, the most popular blogs from the Team Covenant community are now featured!

But what exactly does that mean?

When you write a blog and hit publish, it’s still going to go straight to the homepage. Just under the featured blogs section is the ‘New Blogs’ section. For your blog to make the ‘featured’ section, it has to be good… but not arbitrarily good. We aren’t going to hand select blogs to feature. We have developed an algorithm (one that will continue to grow and change) that scores every post on the Team Covenant site over time and intuitively chooses the most popular blogs to feature.

So if you write a stellar piece outlining a map (great post MrFroggies!) or post a sweet podcast (again, awesome Cody), you might just find yourself at the very top of the Team Covenant website. We will continue to update the ranking algorithm as time goes on to make sure that the best of the best winds up on top.

It is worth noting that this works with the filters. So if you only want to see Game of Thrones content and that filter is on, it’s only going to show the top Game of Thrones blogs.

Zach

  1. I do want to say that while this is really very cool… it now pushes your (pretty important) announcements off the main page. If I’m not looking at the side bar or the list at the top, I will totally miss new featured announcements.

    1. The announcements/news are in the top right corner of the main page, which I assume you guys know? It shows 14 items now instead of 4, like the old one.

      Is the concern that the top right isn’t flashy enough to grab attention?

      Very much appreciate the feedback! We’ll do whatever we need to do to continue to improve the site.

      1. The top right is a good spot, but the announcements are static and therefore I don’t always look at them. If a new one snuck in there I might not notice.

        With Theorist (below) maybe a slower scroll on the popular blogs would be OK. But in that I am nitpicking. You can access them by just clicking on the right of the flash feature, so I don’t find it difficult to access if the scroll goes past it. YMMV.

        All in all, I believe change in design is generally a good thing, and these changes fit that template. I might quibble, but I’m glad TC is seeking to improve the interface and not get left behind.

      2. Thanks! We really wanted to put community content front and center.

        Of course, you can be sure to not miss news by following us on facebook, twitter, and the newsletters, but we also have a few things in development to make the news easier and more intuitive. We chose to go ahead and get the new “popular” feature out knowing that if you wait for perfection you never release anything!

        We’ll be happy to take any other feedback about the new design. There’s plenty more coming, and we’d like for the communication to be completely open throughout the process!

      3. I agree that the top right is a good spot, but it would probably be good to either have a date or even a (slight) color change for X days for the new announcement so you notice it.

        With it being all caps and black on white, the visual pattern doesn’t actually change noticeably. Unless you physically look there every time you come to the site, you really won’t see a difference.

  2. At first, I didn’t care for the feature — my eyes barely had time to really “take in” what I was looking at before the next blog highlight appeared in its place. And then if I wanted to read the blog, I had to go find it elsewhere or wait for it to spin round again. Plus I hate “flashy” things anyway… not a match!

    After getting used to the feature, I don’t care for it — my eyes barely have time to really “take in” what I am looking at before the next blog highlight appears in its place. And then if I want to read the bloh, I have to go find it elsewhere or wait for it to spin round again. Plus I still hate “flashy” things…still not a match!

    I can only guess on how I will eventually feel, but I will say two things concerning it:

    1) I would bet large quantities of money on the answer.
    2) I think other people would also bet money on the answer.

      1. When all is going well, yes. I highlight the little tiny blog banners on the right of the flash banner. If my computer is being stupid, I have to wait for it to come around because it won’t tell me what is what when I highlight.

    1. I think slowing this down just a smidge _might_ be worth looking at – but y’all are the designers. I agree with Theorist that I’m not always able to take in what’s there due to how fast it cycles. That said, I almost always know what’s up there because I’m here so often…

    2. You should be able to click on any of the little banners to bring it up. Clicking them in this way even makes it wait about twice as long before it “decides” that you’re not clicking it and resuming the rotation.

      If they don’t bring it up when you click the little banners, then your browser isn’t dealing with our javascript correctly and you need to let us know.

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