I have some strong opinions on the site 'revamp,' and in the spirit of trying to maintain the open discussion that has always made BEDGE a special place, i thought I'd share them with the community... if anybody can actually manage to find this post amid the slickness of SB Nation corporate web design. As you've guessed by now, I'm not on the whole too impressed with the makeover of our beloved blog. Some of my concerns may be ameliorated or wholly resolved in the new 'system,' (last time I use irony quotes, promise) but there are some fundamental problems which lead me to be skeptical the site will ever again be as rich as useful as it has been. I know Dave, Ben, and Tim have put a lot of effort into this, and am not trying to diminish their efforts, but nevertheless want to share some candid thoughts. Here they are, in no particular order.
1) The new site is designed around categories and groupings, with content that is deemed interesting or useful bundled together with similar stories that are thought to be appropriate and relevant. These decisions--the deeming and thinking--are made by the site editors, perhaps with SB input, and serve to increase the editorial influence behind content and hinder individual users from quickly and easily reviewing the breadth of material available and determining what is most interesting to us (this may not have been the intent, but it is nonetheless the reality). Systemitizing and bundling are enforced at the expense of simple chronology. The beauty of chronology, though it may be boring and unsightly, is that it gives us a clear path to pick up where we've left off, and to easily discover or revisit the content that is most interesting for us as readers. In short, the new site takes a step toward telling us what we should be reading instead of simply posting the latest news/editorials/reports, whatever, and allowing us to decide what is most interesting. Which leads to point two.
2) New site or news site? A useful blog has two traits, to my mind: it should foster a highly active user community that generates most of the content, supplemented by features and news gathered by the editors, and presented in a take-it or leave-it format. Blazer's Edge has been an exceptionally healthy and well functioning blog on these or any other criteria, and has really been a model for sports blogs everywhere. Why risk diminishing something that has been so strong? The only significant 'improvements' (sorry, couldn't resist) with the new format are in the realm of the aesthetic, and these are overwhelmed by the marginalization of the blog's substance--the robustness of the community and the freedom of the user. The most popular and effective blogs have been notoriously frumpy: people are drawn to blogs (especially fan blogs) for substance, not style. Once style starts getting in the way of substance, I think any blogging community worth its salt will start to fear the debasement of 'news site' influences.
3) Top down or bottom up? We're an active bunch, an informed bunch, and heck, we are the core of the blog. A blog is by nature highly democratic, with the users also being the primary content generators. It's the web at its absolute best. So if our site is going to change materially, shouldn't we have some say, if not an actual vote? Why does this process have to take place without our consent? The fact that everything changed overnight without much discussion and little notice, without polling, questioning, debating, seems a little...forgive me, Orwellian. Any calls for 'input' were weak and limited--'Comment on the new logo' or 'Consider helping us with a graphic or two.' Why wasn't there a thorough communal discussion of the overall concept for the reorg? Clearly SB Nation will drive the decisions, but at least we could have organized, as a community, 5 or 10 useful suggestions for their consideration. A 'What do you like best about BEDGE?' post would've been much more useful (and relevant) than that "What do you like best about the Blazers" stuff.
4) The mobile slte is really slow and difficult to navigate. Speed was a bit better this eve than this morning--and I know it's just day one and some things will be ironed out--but seriously, the whole notion of a superior mobile experience is a joke. The speed could improve 5x and it would still be slower than the old site. My mobile browser has crashed multiple times on the site already. Yes, there a a few bells and whistles for mobile users in the posting department, but overall it's a much less pleasant exercise to access the site than it used to be. And for those of us who used our phones as the main point of connection w/ the blog... well, we're not better off. Honestly, I expect to visit once to twice a week instead of once to twice a day.
Anyway, I hate to be a Negative Nelly, but I felt strongly about these things, and wanted to air my thoughts in the open. Thanks again to Dave, Ben and Tim for your hard work. Hopefully we can all band together to make the best of this SB mandated change.