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My point in posting this question is to talk about increasing daily/weekly views, and general TCS community presence. The quality of posts so far has been excellent, from a diverse group of people, and as I write this, there are at least three posts in the pipeline to be written by contributors (i.e., not by the blog editors), so in that sense participation is good. Where we are falling down is that we are not being read by people outside of CSTheory itself, and the number of hits per day from internet searches is very low. I believe the second one is due to low blog pagerank, because my personal blog, which is updated far less often, gets much more traffic from searches (not counting searches for topical things like the hacker group Anonymous, which I have mentioned on my blog, but is not mentioned in the community blog).

I see the following steps we can take. Some Joe and I can just do, but others we need help on. Also, I'd very much like to hear the ideas of others.

  • Resolve once and for all our participation in the TOC Blog Aggregator. Once again, our post is not appearing there. I have no idea what the deal is, but this one step would double our traffic.

  • Produce a couple static pages with useful community content. I have some time this weekend, and I will put together the page on theoretical computer science conferences, now that the community wiki question I asked to gather that information has stabilized. Perhaps someone else could volunteer to produce a page on links to career advice, and other such resources? (If no one does, I will eventually get to it, but it might take a whiiiiile.)

  • Fully flesh out the blogroll and links of the blog. This includes having updates of other blogs when they put up a new post (so not just the names of the blogs, but one line snapshots into their content). Point being: there is a reason for a reader to stop by, even if we have not put up a new post in a few days. This also has the perhaps-more-important effect of making the blog appear more professional. (An Admin might have to do this step, not sure whether Joe and I can.)

  • Change the design so it looks professional and not tacky as hell. Part of the reason that I am disappointed we're not being picked up by the TOC Aggregator is that I much prefer reading posts on the Aggregator. The current sketchy non-design of our blog is not friendly to my eyes. Do we need to deal with SE on this? It would take 30 minutes max to download a WordPress theme, and that alone would raise our return traffic a nontrivial amount.

Okay, thanks. That's all I have for now. Comments and answers appreciated as always.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your and Joe's accounts are admin like mine and Suresh's, you can do everything we can do. About design, I think Jin has put sometime in designing it so it is not nice to call it non-design even if you don't like it. In addition, it is not as simple as you say, we will probably need to modify parts of the code for some plugins to work correctly. I would suggest that you post a new meta-question feature-request about blog design and see how others feel about the current design and what Jin can do about it. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 23 '11 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: According to Rebecca Chernoff, she just threw something sketchy together, because Jin was busy designing mobile themes. If you look at some other SE blogs you will see the difference between having a theme and just having a place to hang text, which is the state we are currently in. Neither Jin, nor any other graphic designer, has put serious work into our blog. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Sterling Sep 23 '11 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: I've just done a theme with mathjax this week for work (see quantumblah.org), so it's pretty straight forward. Does take a few hours, but it is pretty easy. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Sep 23 '11 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ Aaron, I see. I didn't know that. Sorry. @Joe, hmmm, I think we can talk we Rebecca to see if we can test it. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 23 '11 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ The sketchy theme was for a short bit when the blog was first created. However now (and for the past 2-3? months) the blog theme intentionally matches the design of the main site. Compare y'alls blog to the SciFi blog which is on a sketchy theme or any of the other community blogs. $\endgroup$ – Rebecca Chernoff Sep 23 '11 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ The current theme does link up to the theme here. And I don't mind it at all. Also, I talked to Arvind about the TOC aggregator: he'll take a look this weekend. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 24 '11 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Suresh: thank you. The blog design is the least important of the points I mentioned. It looks as though it will get the most attention/reaction though, because I worded things poorly, so I will own that. I thought I was waiting patiently for months until SE got around to our blog. I will post a meta question about design, as Kaveh suggested, probably wed or Thursday. (spoiler alert: more contrast in hue, use of linerules to break up text areas, "kindle"-quality fonts, eg Typekit, official sharing buttons) In the meantime I hope we could look at the other points I brought up above. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Sterling Sep 24 '11 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ @AaronSterling: For what its worth, I like the current theme. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Sep 25 '11 at 9:07
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To update this: Thanks to Suresh and Arvind, the blog is now on the TOC Aggregator. As a result, we had our highest-view-day ever yesterday, and also our highest comments day ever (not counting spam).

So people have an idea of scale: 548 views yesterday. A few other days had hit 330 or so. This is, of course, small compared to blogs about cats, sports, programming, but it is high for TCS. The most-viewed TCS blog, Godel's Letter, gets about 1300 views per day. Paul Goldberg, a TCS professor, gets about 460 views a week.

The most-trafficked science blogs are ones that take controversial positions about topics that are often in the news: global warming, evolution, string theory.

I haven't gotten to the conference page yet. I'll post the design meta-question now, and do the conference page within a few days.

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CSTheory blog screenshot

This is how the current CSTheory blog looks like. It's been like this since late July. I am very confused why you're saying it's still the Beta Sketchy design. The Sketchy theme was put up temporarily, for about a little over a week when the blog first launched. I usual theme the blog to match its main SE site ASAP.

I'm sorry that you find the Sketchy theme tacky as hell and unprofessional. However, it did serve this community and many other SE communities well for the many months during the Beta phase.

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  • $\begingroup$ I thought the sketchy theme was quirky and befitting of a beta. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 24 '11 at 5:52
  • $\begingroup$ I apologize Jin. However, I think we both did something undiplomatic here, because if I had known you were working or planning to work on the blog, I would have offered some input. If I had known the current theme was "the idea" ffor the blog, I would have spoken up long ago. The current situation does not maximize readability or attractiveness. I will put together specifics and post early next week. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Sterling Sep 24 '11 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronSterling I look forward to your post. I'd like to point out the reason I theme our SE blogs to mirror the look and feel of their main sites is for consistent branding purpose. I don't want our sites' visual identities to be fragmented. It doesn't make sense for the blog to look differently from the main site. For the CStheory blog, I used the same styled graphics, typography, whitespace etc from cstheory.se. As far as readability and aesthetics, they're very similar. If you have issues with main site's design, please include that in your post too. I'm definitely open for suggestions. $\endgroup$ – Jin Sep 24 '11 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronSterling I'm still confused why you were seeing the Sketchy non-design blog theme. We spent some time last night investigating this. I suspected it could've been a caching issue, but after looking at our logs, it seemed very unlikely. I hope this hasn't affected the readers from our other SE blog sites too. $\endgroup$ – Jin Sep 24 '11 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, Jin. I can't write more now. I hope you have a good weekend. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Sterling Sep 24 '11 at 18:18

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