Posted by Kate Phizackerley on Thursday, September 10, 2009

Maintaining a blog full time can be a huge commitment as Andie Byrne over at Egyptology News has recently highlighted. Not many people want to spend that much time.

Equally many people are interested in Ancient Egypt and would like to write occasional articles on topics that interest them. The high standard of comments on this blog proves that. However if you only write an occasional article it never gets found or read as the Internet is so big.

So the difficult choice is massive commitment or nobody reading your articles. I'm guessing there are people here who would like to write occasional articles when the fancy takes them, but who don't want any commitment?

So that's my question. Am I right? I'm currently working on a new template for News from the Valley of the Kings. It's not much extra work to create a second blog as well and make that available to guest writers. I'd make it a general blog about Ancient Egypt / Egyptology. I can add 90 or so full authors who can publish through Blogger. You can have proper profiles and that's the best if you want lots of links or to lay things out with blockquotes etc. However for people who wish to be very casual I could just give you an email address - just write an article as an email and send it and it will appear straight on the blog. It's dead easy.

I'd promote it here and elsewhere so that we should quickly get readers and comments. I'll also manage the template and lightly moderate to keep spam from creeping in.

The blog would probably end up being a mix of news, articles about particular tombs, temples or people (I'd contribute some) with probably the odd book review and travel reports thrown in from people who have just been to Egypt. A real community blog about Ancient Egypt. (And I hope everyone knows it's a community style approach I prefer.)

So my questions are:

1) Would people be interested in writing for a blog like that if they could do so when it suited them and without commitment? (I'm not signing anybody up just now, merely gauging whether there is interest before I purchase/organise a domain name etc.)

2) Would people read a blog like that?

This doesn't exclude people who already have a blog. I've slipped the occasional off-topic in here about Giza and I'd probably write more if it wasn't off-topic for Valley of the Kings, Luxor etc. So if someone already has a blog but wants somewhere for subjects which don't fit there, that's fine too.

Over to you.


styler78 said...

Kate - The time taken to keep a blog fresh and up to date is usually more than one has to spare.

I like the idea of letting other "outside" authors to post updates/ comments/ news and would maybe suggest a forum section of this site.

What that would do is to allow us to fire questions back and forth about a variety of subjects. The answers to which will be available for all users to benefit from.

Maybe there could be a section to Upper Egypt anda section for Lower Egypt?

Kate Phizackerley said...

Hi Styler

Thanks. If people are interested in a forum I can make one available - I created a dummy months ago as it is something I would like. My question is whether there is demand?

I'd probably not intregate it entirely (too much work) and to start with the look wouldn't be uniform but I could populate it with feeds from the blogs and show the latest forum posts on the blog so that content cross-populates. If people are interested, it's certainly something I'll set up.

So far as separate sections for Upper and Lower Egypr, although I spoke of creating one community blog, I'm tempted to create a few. So yes we could have one on Upper Egypt and one on Lower Egypt if that's how people prefer it split. I'm more tempted to split it Old Kingdom, New Kingdom (etc?) though as I suspect that more closely matches how people's interests split?

If the idea of community blogs is of interest, then I may also split Book / Magazine reviews and Travel off into separate sections as well.

One of the reasons why I am re-writing the template (from scratch this time rather than customising an existing third party template) is to free up the menu bar across the top so that I could organise it by sections like Dr Hawass's blog. That might even be the model you had in mind when you spoke about sections.

So great ideas, thanks

Rebecca T said...

Hi Kate. Yes, I would definitely read a blog like that, as long as the standard of blogposts was consistent amongst all the guests. It's a good idea!

Keith Payne/ Shemsu Sesen said...

Hi Kate,

I think this is a great idea, and would love to contribute, and will do anything you ask in regard to promoting it from my home blog.

I know what you mean about the time committment. Between my own blog, blogging for Heritage Key, and freelancing on the side, I really don't have any spare time. And I am living on my sabbatical savings now, what happens when I go back to 9-5/40 in a few months??

For my two cents, I think adding a forum has ups and downs, so I will play the devil's advocate. The down side is that the forum could pull discussion away from the comments in the blog.

I know of one or two good forums that have no blog attatched, and the discussions are pretty lively there. Then there are blogs like NFTVOK where you have lively discussions like this in the comments area. And I have seen forums with attached blogs where one or the other is dead because people usually spend themselves out responding on one or the other and sort of get into the habit of sticking to one area.

I like the blog-only format because in a good blog like this one (and Andie's)the discussion in the comments is every bit as lively as a forum, but the discussion is more topical. Yes, the entries in a forum are topical, but there is just something about the nature of a forum that makes topic-drift more acceptable. Moderation can help, but then you are back at work again!

With regard to sections, I will play the angel's advocate (shameless sucking up.. [wink]). I am 100% in favor of using time periods for the divisions rather than geographical areas. Take any of the Intermediate Periods, for example. The subject of most articles would involve the interactions between Upper and Lower Egypt. Where would they go?

Ok, I've eaten enough bandwidth!

styler78 said...

Would it be possible for a blog to like between your site/ Jane Aksher/ Dr Hawass (maybe, you never know), etc to make a community blog?

Discussions can be unpredictable but in my experience in other Ancient Egypt forums - they draw a lot of positives. To mention a few things:

* Variation on theories and interpretations

* Larger audience (variety from the Newbie to the Egyptologist)

However - i have seen the odd time waster making inappropriate and occasionally spiteful comments.

Keith/ Shemsu i like the Old Kingdom/ 1st Intermediate Period style of forum also. That would be fascinating to be a part of.

Kate- hi. Great to finally be able to say that!


styler78 said...

Sorry i didn't mean blog, i meant Forum, sorry guys!

rymerster said...

I'll support whatever you decide to do. I don't have the expertise to write articles on AE but love commenting. The only thing about a forum I wouldn't want would be if it were overtaken as The Hall of Maat has, by some of the more fringe pyramid and religion related theories - I'd want to stick to new discoveries, what's going on with excavations, and maybe some speculation based on actual evidence.

Keith Payne / Shemsu Sesen said...

So my alien implant scar wouldn't count for evidence?


Again, with forums that just seems to be the nature of the beast. I see so many moderators having to put a clamp on the same old yarns.

But to be honest, with an open blogging format, that could become an issue as well.

But I still feel that with a split situation you will have people who settle into the blog area and people who settle into the forum area.

Kate Phizackerley said...

Styler said, "Would it be possible for a blog to like between your site/ Jane Aksher/ Dr Hawass?"

If Jane wished to bring Luxor News into the same template she would be welcome - just as I made the offer to Andie Byrne (and it's still open until Andie decides what she wants for the future of her blog). I'm certain Dr Hawass would wish to stay separate - he's just migrated away from The Plateau.

Jane Akshar said...

I don't have any problems with people taking entries from my blog and posting it on their site or blog as long as they credit it and give a link which Kate always does.

But my blog is my blog and very much my personality, my choice and mostly original content. I am pretty proud of some of my scoops. Then again some days there is nothing and I don't post. All my choice.

When my father got sick and died I posted about it. Nothing to do with Egyptology but it is my blog so I could. So I would not want to be under the control of someone else be they ever so nice. :))

I think other people could help Andie though as hers is an amalgamation

Kate Phizackerley said...


Jane, I think that's the right decision for you - not that it matters what I think if course.

I'm not interested in something which takes traffic from people's blogs. That's not my way of working at all. If I post about an article from someone's blog, I always try to leave enough unsaid that readers want to visit that blog themselves. For me, that's how it should be.


Jane Akshar said...

I think it does matter what you think lol. I like to think we (incl Andie) do work in co-operation

Kate Phizackerley said... is now enabled. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll develop the template. It's very rough at present, but it will grow out over the next few days. Don't worry about colours - they'll change before launch.

I'll announce the new blogs once everything is ready. There's no reason to visit before hand, but if anybody wants to see the twists, turns and mistakes in the development process, feel free to look in.

Kate Phizackerley said...

I've deleted a spam comment from this post. I won't permit spam to remain on this blog so don't bother trying!


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