# Community blogging

The SE folks are providing the opportunity to create a community blog to showcase discussions on the site. They've outlined a number of steps that a community could take in order to get this going, and the first few are:

• Raise the idea on the child meta. A community blog needs the involvement of community members.
• Define the scope and purpose of the blog. Is the blog about the site? Is it about the site’s topic? Is it about the industry around the topic? Keep in mind the audience of your community and their interests. Another generic blog about may not be all that interesting.
• Recruit contributors. Who will write entries for the blog? Starting a blog is a bit like going through the buffet line. Be realistic – don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach. Think seriously about if and how often you will be able to contribute a blog post, including research/prep time.
• Plan a schedule. Given the results of steps #2 and #3, think about a rough idea of a schedule for the blog. Will there be one post a week, posted Mondays? Will there be posts on Tuesdays and posts on Fridays? You don’t need to be pushing out posts daily, but I would say at least one post a week.

It could be a nice way of having a 'best of the week at cstheory' or something along those lines. In any case, this post is a placeholder for discussion on this topic. For now, let's focus on the second bullet, namely the scope and purpose of such a blog.

Update: some of the ideas suggested so far, based on comments:

• Highlighting interesting questions/discussion on the site
• Expository material on particular sub-areas, as well as 'new results' in the area, with subjective discussions.
• coordinating meetups at conferences.

Update, Jul 7, 2011: The blog should be ready in a week or so. So start drafting posts !

• Sounds like a good idea. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 1 '11 at 15:47
• Actually, as a bunch of us on here already have blogs, perhaps it would be possible to crosspost? – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 1 '11 at 21:32
• but for example not all my posts on the geomblog are related to cstheory. – Suresh Venkat Jun 1 '11 at 21:33
• @Suresh: I only meant specific posts (most of mine are certainly unrelated). I had in mind something more along the lines of automatically importing posts tagged "cstheory-blog" or similar. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 1 '11 at 21:35
• that's definitely a good idea. Any thoughts on scope/purpose ? – Suresh Venkat Jun 1 '11 at 22:28
• Well, I would think that highlighting interesting questions that appear on the site would obviously be within scope, but I think I would like to see a wider focus: interesting open problems, recent interesting results, that kind of thing. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 2 '11 at 0:02
• Another possible category: posts similar to Oded's my choice posts, short reviews and discussion of recent interesting papers. – Kaveh Jun 4 '11 at 7:14
• Yes, that's a good idea. please suggest it as an answer. – Suresh Venkat Jun 4 '11 at 7:16
• Suresh and @Kaveh, I'll work on spinning up your blog. Feel free to start thinking about actual posts to start the blog! – Rebecca Chernoff Jun 24 '11 at 21:25
• Thanks @Rebecca. – Kaveh Jun 24 '11 at 22:37
• thanks @Rebecca – Suresh Venkat Jun 25 '11 at 3:58
• The blog is ready! We need to create accounts (editors/authors/contributers) and then start publishing. – Kaveh Jul 12 '11 at 4:05
• update on this old (but highest voted) blog-related post. alas, much to ones chagrin, the blog has died or at least gone into long hibernation/remission. however (fyi to anyone stumbling across cobwebs to this post) Theoretical Computer Science Chat can serve as a "blog lite" (have been tracking many diverse topics there) and also note the site seems to "tweet" high voted questions. – vzn May 6 '14 at 18:03

I think this is a great idea, and something we have been missing so far. Due to the limited amount of discussion that can take place on this website, having a community blog with comment section would provide a good place for more subjective discussion. There are quite a few bloggers active on cstheory, so rather than posting only to the community blog, in my opinion it would be great if we could have some kind of cross-posting setup. This might be achieved, for example, from automatically reposting anything from specific blogs which are tagged 'cstheory-blog'. Alternatively if this is to complicated, then perhaps it could be done manually.

I would suggest that the scope be wider than that of the site. I would think that highlighting recent interesting questions or answers on the site would be a good thing, but would also like to see things like recaps on interesting open problems, recent interesting results that have appeared, any plans for users to meet up (for example at conferences etc.), etc.

• that's an interesting idea: a more general news site that can also highlight breaking results. I like that. – Suresh Venkat Jun 2 '11 at 16:55
• @Suresh: I'd be happy to contribute, but I would think the more the better. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 3 '11 at 0:10
• I basically entirely endorse Joe's reply. – Neel Krishnaswami Jun 3 '11 at 9:46
• I think we'll need more volunteers to show up before we can implement this – Suresh Venkat Jun 3 '11 at 20:30
• @Suresh: it might be worth actively approaching people. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 3 '11 at 22:09
• I can ask around. but if people who visit the site regularly don't want to sign up, it's hard to motivate others. – Suresh Venkat Jun 3 '11 at 22:17
• @Suresh: I think a bunch of the high rep users keep personal blogs. I would start there. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 3 '11 at 22:40
• like me ahem :). The problem with cross posting is that there isn't an incentive to read this blog then. there has to be mostly original content. But the people already blogging might as well post that on their own site. hence the need for new folks – Suresh Venkat Jun 4 '11 at 3:50
• @Suresh: I see your point about cross-posting, but being honest, do we all read all of each others blogs? – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 4 '11 at 21:42
• fair enough :). – Suresh Venkat Jun 5 '11 at 4:45
• Does cross-posting mean blog syndication? Because if so, that often doesn't have very readable results. Otherwise, if it just means teaser posts here to the "real" post elsewhere, a weblog that consists mostly of such posts is not likely to provide a very essential discussion focus. I don't think the weblog would be successful if it wasn't the first place that enough content got posted to. – Charles Stewart Jun 11 '11 at 13:24
• @Charles: I didn't quite mean either of those options. I more meant that for those of us with blogs that we could cross-post specific posts, not the entire blog. For example, Suresh has occassional posts about happenings on CSTheory on his blog, which might make sense to cross-post, etc. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 11 '11 at 17:16

Here is another idea:

I think it would be nice to have a number of active users, (preferably with blogging/editorial experience like Aaron, Joe, Suresh, David, Charles, ... and others who want to actively participate in blogging) become the editorial board for the blog.

It will make the blog more professional, ensure that posts meet a minimum expected quality, will allow the editors to ask other experts (possibly not very active on cstheory) to write posts on specific topics, and get more people involved in cstheory.

• Assuming that the people you've volunteered would be interested, I think that roughly gets at what I was trying to accomplish in my comment, but having a consistent set of "nominators" to select (and solicit) comments would probably be less haphazard than doing it through a meta post, which really isn't designed for that purpose anyway. – Rob Simmons Jun 14 '11 at 4:47
• I don't have a problem with that. – Suresh Venkat Jun 14 '11 at 9:34
• I'd be happy to help. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 14 '11 at 14:40
• I'd be happy to help, too, though I consider myself far and away the most junior person on that list of potential contributors. – Aaron Sterling Jun 14 '11 at 20:14

# Another possible category

I would like to read blog posts similar to Oded's my choice posts, i.e. short reviews and discussion of recent interesting papers and results. May turn out to become something something like a more restricted and elite MR for TCS (more restricted and elite in the sense that posts are only for papers/results that author founds interesting enough to think it deserves a blog post and to write one).

• would you like to WRITE such posts ? – Suresh Venkat Jun 5 '11 at 20:40
• @Suresh, I would like to write such posts when I read a paper in my area although I think a more senior researcher probably would be more appropriate. I think the authors of these post should be quite knowledgeable about the areas of the papers so the result would be a nice one. – Kaveh Jun 6 '11 at 0:59
• Beyond a certain basic level of knowledgeability, I think the hurdle is having read the paper with sufficient care. A summary by a junior researcher that gets a couple of good reactions from senior researchers I guess is quite likely to be as valuable as a post by a senior researcher without an interesting comment thread. – Charles Stewart Jun 11 '11 at 19:05
• @Charles, I don't mind if someone else write one :), but personally I won't write one for a paper from an area that I am don't follow closely enough to put the paper in the context. – Kaveh Jun 12 '11 at 11:24

I think the community blog is also a good chance to fill the gap between homework and research questions. If this blog is providing a opportunity to get into some specific research area (inclusive some basics), it's also advertising this site (e.g. with the cross-posting setup of Joe's answer).

So I think we need for every research area (however we define one area) a different kind of authors:

• Persons who post current results/events and open problem of this research area (e.g. current personal blogs)
• Persons who explain basics and give some advanced overview of this research area

So my idea would be to use this blog to open a gate between the beginning of research and an on-topic question for this site.

Bump.

What is the status of this, please? I intend to blog (on my own blog) about a couple CSTheory questions before the end of June, and I'd be happy to crosspost, either direction.

Edit: I have posted a blog entry here on the Church-Turing Thesis question.

• @Suresh, it seems that there is more than enough support for a cstheory blog. :) So I think we can go ahead. – Kaveh Jun 13 '11 at 18:29
• I'm certainly willing to help out in any way I can. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 13 '11 at 21:28
• I'm not sure how we "proceed": I posted a note for Rebecca Chernoff on the chat room for community blogs: let's see what happens – Suresh Venkat Jun 14 '11 at 9:36
• @Suresh: Have you heard any more? From the chat transcript it makes it look like my suggestion is holding up the process. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 19 '11 at 23:23
• ah the cross posting ? I don't know what's going on. Maybe you can post a note in the chat room asking ? I'm sure we can give up cross posting if they don't like it. – Suresh Venkat Jun 20 '11 at 15:41
• @Suresh: Yes, I agree. – Joe Fitzsimons Jun 20 '11 at 20:52
• A couple of the posts and comments over here discuss cross-posting. – Rebecca Chernoff Jun 22 '11 at 22:29
• @Rebecca, at this point what do we need to do/demonstrate/establish to get a beta blog site ? – Suresh Venkat Jun 24 '11 at 18:41

This is a bit of an expansion on Kaveh's answer.

A lot of users on this site are students (myself for instance), and some of us are relatively junior and sometimes afraid to embarrass ourselves. However, we are capable of contributing useful content. A site like cstheory not only helps us learn answers to specific questions, it also teaches us how to ask interesting questions and provide useful answers. I think a cstheory blog could help further this sort of learning.

In particular, if we proceed via Kaveh's suggestion of having a volunteer editorial board of experienced users, it would be nice if there was a method for more junior users to contribute posts for the consideration of the editorial board. Then the editorial board could skim/read the post and decide if it is interesting enough for the cstheory audience and if it is written at a professional enough level. I know that this would give me peace of mind, in that a more experienced researcher has looked at my writing and decided that it is not obviously stupid.

We already have this in place with publications. If I write a paper, I can first show it to my supervisor or more senior graduate students, and they provide the first level of security and feedback. However, if I wanted to contribute a post to the cstheory blog, I can't really take it to my adviser (especially if he doesn't use cstheory), so it would be nice if the community provided some sort of safety net.

The downside of course, is that this might put too much of a burden on the editorial board. However, if there is a flood of suggested posts then I am sure there are methods to prioritize (for instance you can use reputation or quality of answers/questions as a proxy for someone's expected question quality). The second downside is that the software might now allow us to easily submit posts for consideration - this depends on how the blog is implemented. I guess you could use Rob Simmons' approach of meta thread nomination, but I am a little wary of that.

• I'd encourage you to draft posts that you think are interesting. The blog will be ready soon, and in the beginning I'm sure we won't have a huge queue. I'm also sure that there'd be people willing to check basic sanity for postings: if the posts are in fact based on questions, then the question discussion would have taken care of that already – Suresh Venkat Jul 10 '11 at 8:49
• if you like you can post it as a new meta-question with a tag like blog-post-draft, then others can comment or suggest improvements. – Kaveh Jul 10 '11 at 10:32

Is it possible to enable OpenID login for comments (or even posting, although I do not know what is available there)? This would enable those of us who use OpenID to login to stackexchange.com to use the same ID on the blog.

• Let me check it. – Kaveh Jul 17 '11 at 11:30
• might be worth posting a separate question/feature request. – Artem Kaznatcheev Jul 17 '11 at 11:43
• We need the openid and openid for commenting plugins to be enabled. I left a message for Rebecca since she seems to be offline right now. – Kaveh Jul 17 '11 at 11:46
• for posting, you currently need your own account. Do you want one, Raphael ? – Suresh Venkat Jul 17 '11 at 18:42
• Not currently, no, thanks. – Raphael Jul 18 '11 at 7:02

In terms of research blog content, what about having a meta thread where people can nominate blog posts (their own or others) for crossposting, and then crosspost (with the author's permission) if some reasonable vote threshold is reached?

This is not intended at all for "quality control" - quite the opposite, I think that having nominations would have the effect of encouraging broad participation while maintaining interesting content.

• interesting idea. ! – Suresh Venkat Jun 14 '11 at 9:34
• I think it is a form of quality control, but in a good way. If I am unsure of a post, I can just publish it on my own blog and nominate it. If it is appropriate it can be cross-posted and if not, not harm done. – Raphael Jul 17 '11 at 10:14