Monday, September 24, 2007

A tale of two blogs, take two

Almost since I started this blog, my bosses at the Ledger have been asking if I'd be willing to relocate it to NJ.com. I've resisted, for various reasons, but with the new season starting in a few days, it's finally happened.

Starting today, the All TV blog at NJ.com is live and will not only be a reliable place to find every single column I write (and without either the printer dialog box or the 14-day expiration date my stuff used to get), but will also mirror most, if not all, of the content on this blog.

What does this mean to you, the What's Alan Watching? at Blogger reader? For now, nothing. This site continues to exist, continues to be my baby, and neither the amount nor style of my postings will change. With the exception of things that were already NJ.com-only (full columns, press tour, "American Idol"), there won't be anything at the NJ.com blog that won't also be here. For the most part, items will be posted here shortly before they go up over there. (However, one advantage of the NJ.com blog system is that I can schedule posts to go up automatically at a pre-designated time, so if I've written an entry in advance to go up at, say, 11 p.m. and then go to sleep early, it would be up at NJ.com then and not live here until the next morning when I wake up and manually publish it.) You can keep coming here, every day, and find new content with lame "as soon as I..." jokes.

That said, the mirror site plan is a compromise, and not necessarily a permanent one. There may come a point in the future where I'm asked to relocate to NJ.com, permanently -- and if called, I will have to serve.

Now, the reason I started this thing on my own is because I had issues with NJ.com, some of which continue to exist, some of which don't, and I wanted to create an experience that was as reader-friendly as possible. NJ.com has made a lot of improvements -- compare the way the current blog looks to the way the press tour blog looked in ye olden times) -- but also has other things that can and should be improved.

So here's what I'm asking: anyone who wants to be a beta tester of sorts and help make NJ.com better, take a few minutes -- today, tomorrow, next week, whenever you have the time -- and spend them poking around the blog to figure out what you feel needs improvement. Does the comment registration process bother you? Do you ever get hit with the demographic survey? Are there other things that are problematic that I've just stopped noticing? Take a look and send me an e-mail.

I don't know when it's going to happen -- maybe months, maybe a year, maybe longer -- but I think the permanent move there is going to be inevitable. As far as I know, I'm the only critic at a major paper or magazine who's been operating "a rogue blog" (as one friend puts it), and my bosses have been far cooler about that than most would be, given that I spend a decent amount of every work day on this. That they're even letting me keep this place going as competition of sorts for the NJ.com blog is something I can't imagine happening at most other papers.

And if it's going to happen, I want the transition to be as easy as possible, and I want the new location to be as good as it can be, and the people best-suited to help me with that are you guys.

Thanks, and I'll keep everybody posted on new developments.

17 comments:

John said...

The thing that always bothered me about nj.com, and this really turned me off to it, was that darn demographic questionaire. Just because I delete my 'net cache and cookies regularly I'm to be punished with that horrid date of birth/gender form. Really annoyed the heck out of me.

Well, before I was turned off completely from nj.com, I'm proud to say they never got the same answer from me twice! (Just like iTunes and RealPlayer is registered on my computer to a certain bwayne@waynetech.com)

Alan Sepinwall said...

John, I completely understand your frustration with the demo survey. Can you tell me, though, whether you get it if you go to the new blog?

Julie said...

Hey, Alan. I didn't get the demo survey today when checking out the new blog at nj.com, but that sure did annoy the heck out of me previously. The only thing that was irritating today was the giant ad that super-sized itself over the article. I hate these type of ads. I can deal with ad stripes that run either above or on the side of blogs or web pages. But I find the ones where I physically have to click the minimize button to be really distracting and rather insulting as a reader.

Oh, and I will really miss the pictures that you attach to your personal blog posts. And I also find nj.com's font and format hard to read.

None of which would be enough to turn me away completely if that's where you have to move permanently.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I believe that the new blog software allows me to use pictures; I just need to figure out how to do it.

As for the other stuff, this continues to be useful feedback. Thanks.

Lionors said...

"What's Alan Watching" is a much friendlier page to read than NJ.com. The font is much easier for my eyes to wrap around, and the pictures do nicely break up the walls of words.

And I even like the white space better. If I weren't already a fan of your stuff, I think the denseness of the "print" would turn me off.

So I will continue to read you, even if it's on the NJ.com blog, but I might not enjoy it as much.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And there are now photos on the NJ.com blog. Still a work in progress, but we're getting there.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get the demo survey, but I too got the huge ad that crawled right over the article (something about dinosaurs...loud and obnoxious). I don't know if there is much you can do about ads over there, but do they have to actually cover up the blog? I clicked on the close window box, but the *#!%# thing popped up again seconds later as I started to read.

dez said...

I got the huge, obnoxious ad as well. I frickin' hate those things with a passion. They're as annoying as the big bugs the networks use to promote their upcoming shows while I'm watching something else.

If you get moved permanently to NJ.com, will there be restrictions on what we can post (say, language restrictions)? It's not like I can't post without swearing, but sometimes, "frickin'" just isn't strong enough (not to mention how much I love the real F-word) :-)

Alan Sepinwall said...

If you get moved permanently to NJ.com, will there be restrictions on what we can post (say, language restrictions)?

Not as far as I know. The comments during the height of Sopranos mania were plenty blue, and nobody ever came to me and told me to clean it up.

You would, however, have to register to comment, unless I can convince them to change that policy.

Anonymous said...

I presume there will be two separate sets of comments with this split? One thing I love about your blog is the intelligent discussion it generates, but it would be problematic to follow two different conversations about just one post.

Anonymous said...

I read a bunch of sports blogs and nj.com and get hit with that demographic survey all the time. At first I hated it, but then I decided to tell them I was a 102-year-old-man living in Montana every time they made me fill out the damn form, instead of a 25-year-old woman in Brooklyn. It helps.

I loathe those ads too, but the bottom line is: if that's where your writing is, that's where I'll go.

J said...

I'd like a little more space between entries. I'm not a big design nitpicker (obvs), but everything seems a bit scrunched together, vertically (on IE7, at least).

NJ.com has always looked like a bargain-basement template site. The Star-Ledger writers are a good draw, but then they dump all the articles (the new blogs being an exception, I suppose) after two weeks. It's lose-lose, totally retardulous.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I presume there will be two separate sets of comments with this split? One thing I love about your blog is the intelligent discussion it generates, but it would be problematic to follow two different conversations about just one post.

It's no doubt going to take quite a while for the NJ.com comments to build up to nearly the level we have here -- especially since NJ.com has mandatory comment registration and other complications -- so I wouldn't worry about that too much yet. I suspect the bulk of the discussion is going to take place here for a while, and I won't reveal any important information in a comment over there without doing the same here.

Lionors said...

Alan, the photos breaking up all the print does help. Thanks.

dez said...

Not as far as I know. The comments during the height of Sopranos mania were plenty blue, and nobody ever came to me and told me to clean it up.

Schweet! Not that I can swear when I post from work *cough*.

You would, however, have to register to comment, unless I can convince them to change that policy.

Eh, fuck that :-)

Bjooks said...

Yes, I encountered the annoying screen-covering pop-up (or, as I call them, cover-the-screen-and-make-me-deal-with-it-while-I-begin-to-hate-your-website-with-a-passion pop-ups). Annoying.

But the bigger issue for me is the registration for comments. I don't register at every Tom, Dick, and Harry website, but I comment here because I already have a google/blogger acc't (but I can even comment anonymously without registration). But there are too many sites that require registration and want my info to sell/market to me. I don't buy into that.

If your blog moves, I may continue reading (at least until the pop-up ads drive me away), but I won't comment over there so long as I have to register to do so. Sorry.

stevie said...

Alan, I'm just getting a chance to check out the new blog. No demographic survey (hooray! It's funny how many of us lie to it -- NJ.com might want to drop it altogether), but I did notice that in a reader, you only get the first two lines. I normally read you in my RSS feed, so that's a definite turn-off to me, as with blogger, everything comes through and I don't need to click away.