Important new poll

by Dylan · October 11, 2008 · New Poll · 21 Comments
I don’t mean to be calling anyone out, but after a discussion in the comments section of this post, I’ve put up a new poll, and I think it’s an important one.

For the almost-year that the LAMB has been around, I’ve tried to be as open as possible to new sites wishing to join. We all know that the definition of a “blog” is hazy to begin with, so that just adds to the confusion, but I’ve tried not to make judgement calls. If someone has a site that’s at least generally about movies (hard to nail down a percentage – let’s say 40%), I’m likely to “allow” them in, regardless of the style; you don’t have to have a site pre-ordained by Blogger or WordPress or Typepad or whatever – if you write about movies and/or pop culture in general at length, you’re essentially in.

Along with those parameters comes the one about how “old” should a site be. I’ve heard from various members that I shouldn’t let a site in until they’ve been live for X days, be that 30, 60, 90, or 180. That doing so “waters down” the sites that are already members, and the LAMB in general.

Whenever this comes up, I think back to when I first started Blog Cabins; it was damn hard to get traffic in the beginning, and I would have loved a place like the LAMB (and I’m not just tooting my own horn). I was actively looking for other movie blogs, but wasn’t up for random Google searches. I wanted to find them somewhat organically, making a friend, then checking out their blogroll, and so on and so forth. Well, a place like this kind of does half that work for you. The profiles allow readers to get a general sense of what the member sites are doing and a hint at their personality (maybe). And that goes for brand newbies as well.

When that topic of watering down came up, I have always said that having too many LAMBs (or prospective LAMBs) is what I call a good problem – it’s much better than the alternative. It might seem like a small or insignificant thing, but I don’t take the prospect of turning people away lightly, so there’s got to be a good reason, as I don’t want people to have a bad taste in their mouths. However, with us approaching 200 sites, perhaps it’s a valid query, and I’d like to know what you all think – basically, I’m giving the decision to the masses, like I’ve always tried to do, and I’ll trust the decision you make. Maybe. 😉

Thanks,
Fletch

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21 Responses to Important new poll

  1. Fletch says:

    Moving a couple comments from the other post’s comment section.

    Dreamrot said:

    For the record…I’m the one who voted ‘other’ in the poll. And, I’d like to say why.

    The biggest requirement, in my mind, is that they should be actively blogging. Having a blog for a month is fine and dandy, but if you aren’t writing in it, what’s the point? And, if a blog is two weeks old, and the writer is actively posting and trying to build it, I don’t see why they should have to wait another two weeks.

    I don’t have a problem with a one month requirement, since it’s a pretty low threshold, but I’d almost rather see some sort of a ‘probationary period’. A week or two between submission and approval and so long as they’re updating in that time, welcome aboard.

    I’d be totally up for this idea…but it’s a daunting task that I certainly can’t commit to, and I don’t think that anyone else would be up for, either.

    Blake said:

    I voted for having a blog for one month before being accepted by the LAMB, but I agree with dreamrot. The blogger should be actively posting, that’s most important. However, I think having a blog for a certain amount of time is necessary to determine if the blog is active. Someone may start a blog Thursday, write every day til Sunday, join LAMB then, and never write again…

    Good point, and I’ve seen that happen where someone posts like a flurry for a short period of time and then flame’s out.

  2. I voted for the “3 months” one. I feel “1 month” is still a bit early and doesn’t really show a committment to keeping up with the blogging. At least with “3 months”, you know they’re pretty serious.

    And I agree about the posting thing. But I say if the person hasn’t posted anything in a week, he shouldn’t be tossed aside. People have lives and things happen. You can’t help that. So it’s hard to say what the limits should be.

    I read that post for #190 and that was a joke. If that person couldn’t answer questions that would take no more than 5 minutes to answer, he shouldn’t be a member of L.A.M.B.

    I think there should be a probationary period for new L.A.M.B. members. If they continue to update their blogs and answer your questions for maybe 2 weeks, then let them in. And if you notice they’ve slacked for over a month, knock them off. Whatever you do, I’m sure it’ll be good for the site.

  3. srikanth says:

    I’d say that LAMB should have a post count instead of day count. Around 25 posts should be sufficient to say if a person is into it seriously or not. So making a calculation of 2 posts per week, I voted for 3 months…

  4. Ibetolis says:

    This is a tough one, as I was one of those LAMBS that got in within a month of opening my blog. However, I knew I was serious and that this wasn’t just a thing on the side for me.

    LAMB is vital to the movie blogging community, without it I really don’t know where I would be. There’s a strong argument for keeping the criteria as it is but we’re not in those early heady days anymore.

    As the LAMB reputation grows, more and more people are hearing about it and I fear some are using it too soon. As for that LAMB who couldn’t be bothered to fill out a form, a simple form, then that’s just daft. I’m with others on this that there should be a limitation in place now and I think Srikanth hit the nail on the head with a ‘post’ count. That way the more dedicated and serious blogger will be a LAMB sooner.

    I’m aware of the irony that I should be putting a limitation on someone’s post frequency, seeing as I’m notorious for posting less than others, but there you go, I believe being a LAMB is something of an hounour and I wouldn’t like to see it tainted.

  5. Anders says:

    Given that my blog http://www.cutprintreview.com has only been around for a month as of today, i’m inclined to say that the system is fine as is.

    It’s hard to keep motivated to blog when you’re fully aware no one is reading it. Whilst the love of the industry will hopefully prevail and keep you going, services like the LAMB gives new bloggers, like myself, the opportunity to build a readership base from conception. If you take this opportunity away, I’d say that the reason people stop blogging is because that service doesn’t exist when it’s most needed. It’s the first month that’s crucial…and i don’t know about everyone else, but i’d much rather help increase the readership of a newly emerging blog than one which has been around for months/years. I can empathize with their position. We all can. But if this service wasn’t here for them, i doubt I’d ever be able to find them.

    Besides, if a blogger is willing to take the time out to adequately fill out and email the application form, i think that’s a fair indication of their willingness to blog and become part of the community.

  6. Graham says:

    I’m with Anders on this one: I hadn’t done shit when I joined the Lamb, although I think I had been up for a couple of months.

    I think that the Lamb should be a place for brand new blogs to get recognized. Joining the lamb, and finding sites like Blogcabins, MovieZeal, and Film for the Soul – and having those writers comment on my site – is what has kept me going.

    So I voted that you should let anyone in. What The Lamb should do (although this is a lot of work) is let anyone in but periodically check back up on them. The people arguing for a probationary period or 3 month period are arguing against the grain of blog usage: most blogs have most of their posts in the first 3 months. A brand new blog and a three month old blog are, statistically, nearly equally viable.

    The real thing that needs to be done is weeding out the people who don’t really post anymore. I would hate to be the Lamb police; I’d rather just have everyone be in and stay in. But if you perceive there to be a problem that needs fixing, making sure people start off well is unlikely to do.

    (For a great demonstration of this, here are my post counts since joining the lamb:
    June 32 posts
    July 27
    August 24
    September 10)

  7. Nick says:

    I joined the LAMB when my blog was brand spankin new and I hadn’t had too many posts. And the LAMB really did help me gain an audience. I’m an example of how joining from the beginning can help.

    HOWEVER, I think this was also due to me being overly active with the LAMB, so my name was everywhere (and I still only have a small audience). Most of these newbies are joining simply to join and don’t do anything with the LAMB again after that. There’s maybe a handful of us who actually do anything with the LAMB… and it certainly isn’t the 190 or so that are members. And if they don’t participate in anything, the LAMB isn’t going to help them whatsoever.

    In this instance, I disagree with allowing them in so early. And you know I still hugely disagree with letting anybody and everybody in, even if they failed to fill out the super easy questionnaire. If they aren’t going to fill that out, nobody can know anything about their blog… and it also shows they aren’t going to bother participating with the LAMB, either. It’s just a degradation of the community, like others have stated.

    All this being said, I did vote to let newbies in. But I think the wrong question is being asked. I don’t think it should matter how new the blog is. I think it matters on their level of interest or participation, because if they’re just joining LAMB to join and then never have anything to do with us ever again, that’s the issue, because that won’t help their blog whether they’re new with no audience or something like FINAL GIRL (though it isn’t like they need the LAMB anyway).

  8. hmm…

    Careful With That Blog, Eugene had only been about movies for about a month before I joined, maybe two. I’m not for strict age limits or whatever…that’s not fair per se, though thats how music blog aggrigators like The Hype Machine do it.

    I think that there’s two things that can be done:

    1. If they don’t answer the questions, which are simple, they don’t get in.

    2. If after three months, there’s like…a post or something, no dice, you’re out.

    Which begs another question, I guess: How many dead LAMBs are there? One? Ten?

    Perhaps I should count them.

    Ah-ah-ah.

  9. T.S. says:

    I was very grateful that I was LAMB-approved with a blog that was less than one month old, so I think that option should always remain open. My introduction here to members and other readers (making contacts, emails, blogrolls, etc.) has been invaluable in building a loyal base of readers, and everyone deserves that shot. The sites that join and then go defunct can be removed on a semi-regular basis to make way for new members and those strong content.

    So my vote is: there’s a good service being provided by letting websites, even in the most nascent stages of development, join.

    If you’re looking for a compromise and want to leave it to the masses, perhaps those web sites younger than 1 or 3 months (whichever it may be) can be review by an appointed or elected panel of like 5 LAMB members who can read and review the sites and approve or disapprove. (After all, new sites can be just as good as older sites; it’s quality, not quantity.)

    I would imagine such a panel would tend to approve many of the applicants and the community would continue be vibrant and energetic, but there would still be an oversight mechanism where a swath of LAMB members who are invested in the community can help. And if your site is rejected but you’re still working hard, you can reapply and make it in later.

    I don’t know. I don’t want people shut out for fear that exclusivity might not be the best thing for a diverse community, but I can see the argument on the other side. Thus, compromise. 🙂

  10. Graham says:

    t.s.,

    I mostly agree with your committee idea, as I proposed something similar, but conceiving of the idea seems so ridiculous to me now that I’d like to back off it. Can you imagine the email:

    “Dear Sir or Madam, a blue ribbon panel of movie bloggers (aka a graduate student, a programmer, a dog walker, an unemployed linguist, and a 17 year old with delusions of grandeur) have determined that your blog does meet the requirements of the The Large Association of Movie Blogs, better known as The Lamb. You will hereby be expelled from The Lamb, and can no longer participate in LambChops or Our Acronym is Better than Theirs. This decision brooks no appeal, as we were unable to find enough people to staff an appeal committee. Good luck in your future blog endeavors.”

  11. Nick says:

    Graham: haha… that made me giggle.

  12. Graham says:

    damn, I left the “not” out of my faux letter. at least nick enjoyed it.

  13. My two sites, Popcorn N Roses and Indie Film Spotlight, have only been LAMB members for a little more than a month now. But both of my blogs have been around for a while, and these last few months, my wife and I have both have had health issues that have kept us from doing much in life, let alone the blogs – we’re lucky enough to have kept up with our podcasting activities.

    I joined LAMB hoping to network with other movie bloggers, and due to time constraints haven’t yet had the time to really get into the group’s discussions and such, by meeting people and getting involved as I’d like to do. But I can see both sides.

    I know that sites like LAMB have indeed helped increase traffic to our sites, and our podcast, and had I been a brand new site, it would have been great. But PNR turns four in December, and i’m in this as much for the business end of things as for the fun end – I want to make PNR and IFS my lifes’ work, and so I get a bit cranky to see sites that are just coming on line take the plunge and grab hits from sites like LAMB when they’re new because I had to work HARD to build the following we have now. But as i’m hoping myself to start a “LAMB Spotlight” feature on our podcast in the months ahead, i’m also looking to help those new sites gain an audience. So I guess I’m in quite a pickle – both wanting the newbies to do well, and being jealous for the inroads that were so easy for them that were NOT easy for me…

    I hope to be more active in the future, but I felt that I should give my input on this subject. Here’s hoping that I can get more involved than I am now in the not too distant future…

  14. T.S. says:

    Ha ha. Well, yes, when you put it that way …

    Maybe compromise waters things down too much. Maybe the solution is just a hard and fast rule. In that case, I say let ’em in.

  15. Marilyn says:

    I’m also someone who built my blog’s readership very slowly. I’m really not sure if LAMB has helped me gain a significant number of new readers. I do know that coming to lamb and exploring new sites has helped me find places I’d like to read and where my comments help me connect more with fellow bloggers.

    I’ve tried to use the Discussion Board, but feel pretty out of sync with the majority of LAMBs there because of my age. So I don’t visit there, but I do enjoy coming to the main site.

    One problem I see is that people who joined a while ago, like I did, get buried. Sure, you can scroll the widget, but if I read about a site a while ago and want to remind myself about it, it’s scroll, scroll, scroll.

    I wish there were a way we could have a separate page with all the LAMBS lists, with a capsule summary of the site and when they started blogging. That might solve the problem of when to let someone in. LAMB could do a better job of driving traffic to new sites, as well as weed out sites that are inactive without having a LAMB police periodically scouring the sites.

    If we could do this, then I would take any site that filled out the form in a reasonably complete manner. As of now, I voted for 1 month, which doesn’t seem very restrictive to me while still giving the LAMBS a chance to see what the blogger is going to contribute to film knowledge and insight.

  16. Nick says:

    marilyn: We’ve actually talked about having that little side-page thing. The issue is actually coming up with making it. It’s not like it’d be hard or anything. We’re just lazy. 😛

  17. Stacia says:

    I love Marilyn’s idea, but I also love laziness, so I can’t fault anyone for not having a side-page-thingie.

    Graham, your blue ribbon panel sounds just like the regulars on a Usenet film group I used to go to.

    Right now I’m re-thinking my vote, because I chose “at least one month” and now, after reading comments, I feel like that’s a bit exclusionary. I don’t know. Surely 30 days isn’t too long to wait to be a LAMB? Maybe?

    P.S. I also love indecisiveness.

  18. Fletch says:

    I’ve loved watching this conversation and have purposefully stayed out of it. I’m also really glad that the poll has been so heavily voted upon, though I think I set it up poorly.

    With 59 votes in, I think it’s safe to say that the majority would like to see some sort of a restriction – 63% have voted for one, with those 38 votes splits between the time frames. I’ll certainly let the poll play out until the end, but at this rate, I’m thinking of adding a second poll to clarify the length. Yes, a 3-month restriction is the current leader, but the 21 votes for No restriction or Other votes, I’m thinking the Yes votes might not be totally representative. Therefore, the second poll will assume that a restriction will be in place and merely clarify the time frame.

    I hear you all loud and clear regarding the filling out of the entry form. I will adjust the Welcome page to indicate that, going forward, the questions posed are not for picking and choosing.

    I (and others) have attempted to stay up-to-date with “weeding out” inactive sites. I’ve removed them from the scroll box and have placed the “Dead lamb” image where their screenshot formerly was. This is something that is manually done, however, and with ~200 sites, can’t be done often. If you should ever happen to notice a dead (broken URL) or really inactive site (3+ months with no posts), let me know. That said, with the numbering system that I put in place when I started this, there’s no additional ways of “weeding them out.”
    And Count – there’s about 5-7 dead lambs. Not too shabby, I say.

    As Nick states, I have worked on a separate page listing of the sites (it was actually supposed to be a new version of the scroll box with added features) but I ended up getting frustrated with HTML issues and putting it on hold. I will do my best to pick it up and finish it before the task becomes even more daunting. (And Nick – how dare you: you specifically denied my request for help with it; I wasn’t lazy, I was frustrated. 😉 )

    Though, as a suggestion to anyone else that feels buried by the scroll box (and that could be all but about 8 sites), might I suggest creating and sending over a Random LAMB Banner? What could be more fair than Random? As a bonus, when your site is featured in the leaderboard (as Marilyn’s currently is), it makes your site stand out even more.

    Thanks to all for your votes and comments. If I were a programmer or could afford to pay someone to create the perfect LAMB, I’d be all over it in a heartbeat. However, as it is, we’re running at a loss here, and have to make do with the tools that Blogger (and my time and knowledge) give us. So long as we keep pluggin’ away…

  19. Nick says:

    Fletch: I didn’t say YOU were the lazy one <.< >.>

  20. Anders says:

    If you look on the complete blogroll, you’ll notice about 10 sites that haven’t updated in a few months. I think that’s a good place to start clearing off dead lambs.

  21. This is the thing… I joined the LAMB when I had been blogging for only two or three DAYS. I was serious… but Fletch had no way of knowing that. And I would not be the movie blogger I am today without my involvement in the LAMB. So I think it’s a bit rough to institute a hard and fast rule like that.

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