Sunday, October 12, 2008

Third Anniversary

This month marks the third anniversary of Grand Forks Life.  Unfortunately, I don't really look back on this year as a positive one for the local blogosphere in general or this blog in particular.  Grand Forks Life has become almost unrecognizable from the blog it used to be.

A major part of this has been because of laziness on my part - my life has just become much busier than it used to be when I started this blog.  Another major reason why this blog took a wrong turn was the onslaught of anonymous posters.  Of course, this blog has always had anonymous posters, but it has reached the point where 90% of people are now posting entirely anonymously.  The comment sections are filled with dozens and dozens of seemingly pointless comments...many of which are little more than attacks or unfounded gossip.  This isn't what this blog used to be and not what I ever had in mind for this blog.  I actually feel ashamed that my blog has devolved to something like this.  Things have to change.

I want to give this blog a makeover.  I've started by changing the overall design.  I know changing a few colors and the blog's layout isn't going to make the blog what it used to be, but the "dots" were becoming tired...don't you agree?  We need something a little fresher.

I'm also trying something a little more drastic: no more "anonymous" posters...at least for now.  I'm hoping that this will clean up the comment sections and hopefully encourage some of the old GFL readers/commenters to return.  You'll have to sign up with Google to comment on GFL now.  It's really very simple.

Another change that needs to be made is for me to get back to regularly posting interesting things once again.  I need your advice...what types of posts are you interested in seeing on this blog?

I want to be proud of Grand Forks Life once again.

30 comments:

OUWxGuesser said...

No more anons? Yay! I for one like hearing about building/business/restaurant news.

Kelly Clow said...

Breath of fresh air time!! Thank you so much for killing off the damn snipers!!

GrandForksGuy said...

This place was getting stale, mean, and pointless. I had to do something!

wendian said...

Glad to see the facelift...looking forward to more dirt!

For what it's worth...
I stopped checking in everyday when the open threads became more prevalent--I don't have the time to mine through the hundreds of comments to find the couple gems of news.

dale said...

Happy anniversary! I no longer post here, and rarely read this or any other local blog any longer because of the anonymous posting, which encourages "hiding behind the keyboard" behaviour that just gets annoying (and a little disturbing, to be honest. Some "fans" are downright creepy.) It also results in unreasonable and inevitably disintegrating arguments, some of which come off as the same person arguing with themselves. And, to be honest, I don't have the time for it that I once did, particularly during the week.

That said, you can probably expect traffic and comments to plummet, which will make it very tempting to turn the anonymous commenting back on, with the claim (or true belief,) that "everyone has learned their lesson and will be civil." That seems likely, because I remember that you did the same thing a year or two ago when something similar (though I think it was one person filling every thread with duplicate postings) happened. After a week or so, there were few posts, so wide-open posting was back on, which brought things to where we are today.

Frankly, I think that Grand Forks needs an actual forum for discussion, not a blog to post comments on what one person has to say. That allows anyone to start up a topic (like "New restaurants I want to see", "Why should I vote for Pomeroy" or "Greenglass4's Raving Psycho Thread #8") and registration means that you can keep track of who is saying what. Sort of like the Campus Forum that someone kept promoting but saw little traffic because most people aren't associated with UND and so didn't think it was for them.

The other side of your question is what to put up on your blog and, to be frank, with the current state of the economy and projections for the future, I think that we've seen the end of the Grand Forks boom for a while. There is enough vacant commercial space out there that no one sane would build more on speculation, the housing market is crashing (looking around, I've seen one, count it, one, house under construction this summer) and rumour has it that Canadian traffic is starting to fall off.

We can hail the departure of Carmike from the Columbia 4 as "serves 'em right", and I sure haven't given them any of my money in the last year, but companies don't pull out of healthy markets, they improve under the mark of competition. One can say that Carmike sucks, that the movie industry sucks, or that the Columbia 4 was beyond redemption, but I think that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Anyway, happy anniversary again, and good luck with things.

GrandForksGuy said...

Thanks for the observations, Dale.

That said, you can probably expect traffic and comments to plummet, which will make it very tempting to turn the anonymous commenting back on, with the claim (or true belief,) that "everyone has learned their lesson and will be civil."

I really don't plan to go back to anonymous commenting this time. If all I was concerned about was traffic, I would have implemented some sort of advertising literally years ago. I've decided that I would rather have a more interesting, civil blog than a wildly popular one.

ndborn said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for increasing the maturity level again ... Here's hoping it will make for the interesting reads and breaking news that caught my attention in the first place over a year ago.

Ben said...

Thanks SO MUCH GFG! Maybe this blog will return to what it has been in the past!

JWGreen said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how the comment sections change.

GrandForksGuy said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how the comment sections change.

So far, so good, huh? :)

Barbara said...

So much better! Hate to even comment when most of the commenters are anonymous and many of them are just being snarky. There's no sense of dialog either, since there is no way to know which anon is replying. It's not hard to sign up for a google account to comment.

I also agree RE: Open Threads. They are nice once in a while, like one each Monday or once a month, but not as the main type of posting. Maybe even recap the relevant items that come up in them in the body of the open thread post at the end of the week, since site searches don't search comments.

Matthew said...

Thanks GFG! I'm excited!

By the way Dale, Campus Dakota is still around. We're always looking for students who want to be involved, whether they attend UND or any other school in ND or SD.

rickeroye said...

I check this blog almost daily and love the new look. Keep up the good work.

jo said...

Ditto to all of the above. I read this blog from Scotland, having left GF four years ago, and love keeping track of what's going on in GF. The anon postings took away from that and I don't believe any of them were positive.

JWGreen said...

I'm in a simmilar situation, although I probably get back to Grand Forks more often than Jo. I go to school in Moorhead and find these posts more helpful for what I want to know about whats going on in Grand Forks than trying to sift through the Herald website.

JWGreen said...

Being that a few of us are not currently living in Grand Forks, surveys tailored to us "outsiders" could be interesting...

Lynsey said...

Didn't I suggest eliminating anonymous comments about six months ago? ;)

Now that I've moved away from Grand Forks, this blog is a good way for me to stay in touch with what's happening in town. I'd love to move back to town, but until I see a job opening in my field, I'm living in central ND. What I'd like to see is a mix on retail/restaurant happenings, city issues, local politics, and just the general "what's happening around town" posts. I think the open threads often reach the point of just stupidity (like the recent one about the stripper named Tennessee), and that isn't what this blog is about.

Also, I do like the new look. :)

Anonymous said...

WOW! Look, anon posting with a fake account! Original isn't it?

Anon will slow down until people realize they can just make a fake account to voice their opinion with silent ability.

Great Idea. But it will just create more empty blogger accounts used for pointless posting.

:-D

Justin said...

To anon @11:00 PM... True it is easy enough to create a throw away account but hopefully the trolls won't want to bother just to post their drivel. Plus if this blog were to change over time to a forum the trolls could be banned. I have this blog set up as an RSS feed in my Firefox tool bar and check it out every day. Happy anniversary GFG!!

Kim said...

Happy Anniversary Grand Forks Guy! I've been a fan of the site for a while. Great place for current info and opinions.

Thank You for eliminating the anons. I've been wanting to identify myself but it seemed that this site had become nothing but nasty, snide comments lately. IMO I think you should utilize your right to hit the delete key when the posts become uncivilized attacks on other bloggers.

Bill Caraher said...

Hey Grand Forks Guy,

Congrats on the longevity!

I, for one, did not mind the strange anonymous posters. They are part of the character that makes up the blogosphere. Once they leave, blogs will begin to look a lot more like the traditional print media -- managed, manicured, and ultimately not reflecting the diverse community in which we live.

I am disappointed though that you dropped the link from this page to my blog (Archaeology of the Mediterranean World). I drew a good bit of traffic from your blog and tried to comment regularly on the intersection of the Ancient Mediterranean World and life in Grand Forks. It's hard to envision an Olive Garden coming to a community without a deep investment in the Mediterranean!!

GrandForksGuy said...

Hey Bill...want to know my cruel reason for removing your link? Your blog's name is so long that it wraps to the next line...it bugs me. Anyways, the link is back up. Sorry about that...I'm petty. ;)

GrandForksGuy said...

And BTW, I couldn't be happier with the new direction this blog has taken in the past couple of days. :)

jo said...

Sorry this isn't in the least related to the topic: Is it true that Obama is two points up in NoDak? We got out postal ballots in the mail the other day :D Great to be part of the process as a naturalised citizen!

Matthew said...

Obama was, as of a few days ago, up 45% to 43% in the CNN "Poll of Polls." Keep in mind that this is within the margin of error, so it's still a dead heat.

dale said...

Anyone know what the process is to vote absentee in North Dakota is? My wife is working in Houston this year and is only in GF Friday-Sunday. I know she'll be very disappointed if she can't vote this year.

C. Y. said...

Stop at the County Office Building and vote. Bring picture ID.

Call 701 780-8200 for more info

dale said...

Thanks, c.y. She'll be glad to hear that it's not a difficult process.

Matthew said...

Ballot request form: http://www.nd.gov/eforms/Doc/sfn51468.pdf

Where to send your ballot request form: http://web.apps.state.nd.us/sos/voterinfo/mainMenu.htm

Goon said...

anon poster can post almost anything they want without putting a name or moniker to their work, I think it is a great idea. You will probably spend less time removing objectionable material and posts.