PragProWriMo

Like NaNoWriMo, but for technical book authors: PragProWriMo – the Pragmatic Programmers Writing Month.

To help you along, we’re setting up a forum and a Twitter account. Follow us on Twitter at @pragprowrimo to stay up to date. Join the forum at forums.pragprog.com/forums/190 for more detailed writing advice, answers to your writing questions, and progress reports from participants. And when you finish your 60 pages, you might even get some special recognition from us.

(via pragprog.com)

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Using A/B testing to find story ideas

I’ve been reading In The Plex, recently, so naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about how to use data in interesting ways. This post appealed:

Earlier I read this post via Hacker News on testing startup ideas. It got me thinking about whether or not you could do something similar in your newsroom. I’ll call it A/B Testing for News Coverage.

via Using A/B testing to find story ideas – andymboyle.com

In a nutshell: Write some spec articles, run AdWord campaigns for them, see which ones are most popular. You could get the value of this without running any ad campaigns though. All webmasters – especially those with newsy content – should pay attention to their analytics to learn what content has proved popular, what searches brought readers in, and be on the look out for spikes of interest in particular topics.

When I clicked through to read this blog post, I was expecting it to be a post about A/B testing fiction story ideas. Imagine a kind of choose your own adventure story where the author writes the opening of the story, then two or three different continuations. The most popular branch becomes canonical, and the author continues the story from there.

I doubt that’s an idea that’d appeal to many authors, but some variation of this could be a fun experiment.

Wales Blog Award finalists, by blogging platform

I was curious to break down which blogging platforms this years Wales Blog Awards finalists used.

A pie chart showing which platforms the 2011 Wales Blog Award nominees use.

Google’s Blogger is the clear winner, powering exactly 50% of the blogs up for awards. The rest are evenly split between the hosted WordPress.com service, and the self-hosted WordPress.org version. Only two blogs used some other platform.

Only 13 of the 28 blogs in the list use a custom domain name.* Others are content to use the free subdomain provided by their host.

Of the blogs that ended up winning, 60% used Blogger, with the remaining 40% split evenly between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

All the nominees are listed below. Category winners in bold.

Blog Platform

Best Community Blog

Rhuthun / Ruthin – rhuthun.blogspot.com Blogger
The Photon Blog – photonicanglesey.blogspot.com Blogger
We Are Cardiff – wearecardiff.co.uk WordPress.com

Best Entertainments & Music Blog

Movie Waffle – moviewaffle.com WordPress.com
Cat on the Wall – catonthewall.net WordPress.org
Motown Junkies – motownjunkies.wordpress.com WordPress.com

Best Food & Drink Blog

Cardiff Bites – cardiffbites.blogspot.com Blogger
What Kate Baked… Blogger
Pint of 45 – pintof45.blogspot.com Blogger

Best Lifestyle Blog

Where Are My Knees? – wherearemyknees.blogspot.com Blogger
Dyfed Wyn Roberts – dyfedwynroberts.org.uk Misc.
Chic & Cheerful – chicandcheerful.net Blogger

Best Photo Blog

Cardiff Arcades Project – cardiffarcades.wordpress.com WordPress.com
Circus Clouds – circusclouds.blogspot.com Blogger

Best Political Blog

Carmarthenshire Planning Problems and more – carmarthenplanning.blogspot.com Blogger
Caredig I Natur (CIN) – caredig.blogspot.com Blogger
Radical Wales – radicalwales.org Blogger

Best Sports Blog

Ffwtbol – ffwtbol.com WordPress.org
The Foot Down – thefootdown.co.uk WordPress.org
Cardiff Skateboard Club – http://cardiffskateboardclub.com/ WordPress.com

Best Technology Blog

This Is My Joystick – thisismyjoystick.com WordPress.org
Apptacious – apptacious.com WordPress.org
TechBeast.net – techbeast.net WordPress.org

Best Welsh Language Blog

Hen Rech Flin – henrechflin.blogspot.com Blogger
Sion Dafydd – siondafydd.wordpress.com WordPress.com

Best Writing on a Blog

I Saw Elvis In The Woods – isawelvisinthewoods.blogspot.com Blogger
Modern Haiku – mordenhaikupoetry.blogspot.com Blogger
Mike Jenkins – Welsh Poet & Author – mikejenkins.net Misc.

People’s Choice Award & Best Blog (overall winner)

Ffwtbol – ffwtbol.com  

I think Blogger is a great choice, but I’m a little stumped why so many are serious enough about their blogs to seek awards, but are unwilling to spend the £5 to £20 to get a proper domain name.

* UPDATE 2011.10.28 Amy Davies pointed out to me that she does use a custom domain, cardiffarcadesproject.com, as a redirect.

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