Ask Swampland: Staring into One’s Navel

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Thanks a ton for all the questions you posed here. It will take awhile to work through them; I decided to start with some housekeeping-related queries first. A nice batch was submitted by paul_lukasiak:

1) You have the title of “editor of” Do you actually perform any editorial functions — do you, for instance, offer your peers “blogging tips” either before they publish a post, or after they’ve done so? If not, would you PLEASE start?

I have offered many “blogging tips” to my colleagues in the Swampland, which were probably worth every bit of the nothing that they paid for them. But beyond gentle encouragement to ignore the noise and concentrate on the signal, my editorial duties are more amorphous than most.

2) You have a great set of commenters here. Any chance of using them as “guest bloggers” say one a week? The biggest problem with Swampland is that everything seems filtered through Beltway conventional wisdom — some variety would be helpful.

I’ve been campaigning for a regular guest blogging slot for some time, the idea that we might tap a commenter every so often intrigues a few of us and I suspect we’ll figure out a way to try it. Thoughts on how to choose the guinea pig temporary interlocutor would be welcome.

3) I’d also like to suggest that you bring Justin over here from “Curious Capitalist” (politics and economics are intertwined…or to use the cliche “its the economy, stupid.) His stuff is good…and he seems to understand the relationship between blogger and commenters. And I also think Swampland needs a “political media” blogger — given the way the media effectively sets the political agenda and defines the ‘acceptable’ limits of debate on every issue, no serious group blog on politics can (IMHO) afford to not have someone watching the media

See above re: guest bloggers. I think getting cross-site debate with Justin and possibly Poniewozik (from “Tuned In”) on media would be a great way to liven up all of our conversations.

4) Instead of/in addition to this little video gimmick (and lets face it, its a gimmick, or are Karen and Jay using it to get “ready for their closeup”, a vlogging is their audition reel) why not have each of you set aside an hour each week to respond to the audience in the blog — basically, we don’t want YOU picking the questions (or at least acting like you aren’t ignoring the questions that large chunks of your audience want answers to.)

This is the kind of thing that sounds like we’d be able to do easily but, remember, some folks still actually report/leave the building/raise families/sleep. Swampland is a side project for 3/4th of the people who do it — they’re not paid any more than before, they’re not given any time off from their regular duties. Believe it or not, they were hired to be journalists. So quaint! Sure, everyone values the dialog here but creating a specific burden for contributors might not be the best use of the little time they have spend in the Swamp.

That said, we do read the comments. Really. And even if they’re not responded to, they’re thought about. Maybe a little too much.

(Several people asked about having a “live chat” rather than a vlog Q&A. I’m all for that, too, and have talked to our tech people about what the prospects are for doing it.)

I’ll try to get to a few more questions tomorrow, feel free to use this thread to ask more questions.

UPDATE: Oh, right: HTML support and troll rating, both of which a lot of people asked about. Asked and not yet answered by the tech folks. I think images will not be in the offing, but stuff like links and ital and blocks quotes, yes. Troll rating, on the other hand — let me ask the hive mind: What system could be implemented? I’m familiar with Scoop but don’t know of simpler systems that could be compatible with Time’s site. Are there MSM blogs out there that handle this well? Which ones?