I've been meaning to do a "state of the blog" post for long while but have pushed it back for reasons that are both overly ambitious and lazy. Basically, the form of the post I imagined in my head was some sort of super meta "this is what I'm thinking, these are my plans, what are your suggestions?" type thing, but the challenge to actually translate the post from brainwaves to pixels grew more and more daunting the longer I waited.
So, naturally, I kept waiting.
But now that the season is about to end (whether it's Sunday afternoon or, hopefully, sometime after that), I find myself in a bit of a rush to finally throw whatever jumbled thoughts I had into a post. It's not going to be nearly as organized or coherent as I hoped, but considering this site's daily traffic will inevitably nosedive the day after the Pistons are officially eliminated, I figured I better try seek feedback now while there's still a semi-engaged audience.
[In case it's not clear by now, this is where I should probably warn you that this post has nothing to do with the Pistons or the NBA. This is about the blog: my commitment to it, my plans for it, and how I hope to empower more readers (including the active community of commenters and the passive 95% who never comment) to have their voice heard. It's overindulgent and very likely dull, so feel free to skim or ignore completely.]
I started this blog in October, 2005, which in internet time was roughly forever ago. In that time, more things have changed both personally and professionally than I could even start to list, but what's relevant here is that what started as random experiment to teach myself about blogging and to stay busy between freelance writing gigs grew into something that literally changed my life.
How so? Without exaggeration, DBB is responsible for every career opportunity I've had over the last three and a half years. It sounds crazy but it's true. I had half a decade of professional writing and editing experience before my very first DBB post, but it's been the connections I've made because of DBB that have helped keep food on the table and a roof over my head.
From the beginning, I've done my best to maintain a sense of professional restraint, hopefully residing in that hard to reach middle ground of being a fan without being a blind homer or a dispassionate observer. I've sometimes strayed, but I think I accomplish that more times than not.
That's been important to me -- always stating what I believe to be true without saying anything I'd later regret. I use my real name, and as a professional writer, I trade on my reputation. In that respect, DBB was a living resume of sorts.
But over time, DBB became more than that -- it also became a haven for some of the smartest, funniest, most engaged sports fans I've ever met. (And yes, as it happens, I've actually met many of the most active commenters face-to-face.) The first couple of years, I wrote five times as much as I do now and attracted 1/100th of the discussion in the comments. (Here's to hoping correlation doesn't imply causation ...)
I've always spent far more time writing for DBB than any sane person would expect, especially when I was recapping every game and posting multiple times a day, but the reason why I was able to write so much in the beginning was in part the direct result of insomnia having a bit too much time on my hands. Such is the life of a freelance writer.
Over time I've become busier and busier, and now that I've abandoned the stress of a full-time freelancer for the stress of a full-time employee (albeit one who still gets to work out of his home) as FanHouse's NBA producer, there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I'd like, especially during the playoffs.
I'm not complaining, mind you; it's a good problem to have, especially in this economy and certainly and my industry. But the challenge of staying on top of the "real job" has forced me to cut back on the amount of time I spend on DBB.
Fortunately, Kevin Sawyer picked up the torch and ran with it (without any prompting, I might add), kick-starting discussions with engaging posts every game night (quite honestly, setting the bar higher in that regard than I ever did). Since DBB has gone through long stretches this year when the game post was the only fresh content on the site, Kevin has been indispensable.
Others, like Mike Payne, have helped behind the scenes, serving as a sounding board as well as a second set of hands when needed. I'd continue to name names -- I actually email and IM with a lot of readers -- but I'm getting off topic.
My point is DBB used to be about me, but now it's mostly about you. I'd be vain to pretend otherwise. This really is social media at work -- no matter how interesting the original post may be, the comment section without fail enhances it. Things get heated at times (especially this year) but overall I wouldn't trade this community of readers for any other.
As a writer, it's incredibly rewarding to express an opinion and receive near instant feedback. But since I don't write nearly as much as I used to, why should I be the one who decides when and where the conversation starts? There are so many smart fans hanging around here, it doesn't make sense that my name (or Kevin's) is the only one that surfaces to the front page.
I've recruited guest posters in the past (most recently, Patrick and Pardeep have stepped up to the plate with their awesome Remembering of an Era series), but I need to figure out an easier way to get anyone else who wants to be more involved while still maintaining a level of quality people have come to expect.
This isn't a new idea -- I've thought about it in the past, and Mike Payne has been in my ear about it for almost a year -- but that's my goal for the offseason. Whether that means overhauling DBB's backend, adding a separate "reader blog," or something else entirely is what I need to figure out.
So consider this post, I suppose, a long-winded prelude the following questions (hopefully I haven't bored everyone and there's still someone reading ...): What would you like to see more of? What could you do without? What topics don't we cover enough? How much is this is simply navel-gazing on my part because, c'mon, it's just a blog, things are good the way they are?
If you have an opinion about any of this, I'd love to hear it.