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Stack Exchange is asking site owners of Community Blogs what they want to do about dispositioning their existing blog entries, in preparation for taking community blogs offline.

Why are the community blogs being eliminated? Is there still a way to save them?

There is a purpose to the blogs; in part, I saw them as a "fifth place," a way to sound off on issues and topics that weren't a fit for any of the other established platforms like Q&A, Tag Wikis, Canonical Q&A, or chat. They were to be the place where a well thought-out topic could be fleshed out and curated by the community.

Alas, they haven't performed well. The Science Fiction and Fantasy blog is the only active community blog to my knowledge; it gets one new post every week or two, while the others average one per year. One reason for this might be that community blogs have never been integrated well into the system. There's no mechanisms for curating them; I'm not even sure how you publish a new blog entry (I think you need a moderator to do it for you).

Stack Exchange stopped creating new blogs almost a year ago. Software Engineering has a reasonably active blog, but it's hosted on Github, where presumably it has better facilities for interaction and editing.

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The brunt of your request is already addressed in the post explaining why we stopped creating new blogs in the first place:

Much of this is our fault: we never successfully integrated blogging into the normal experience of asking and answering questions. We may someday find a way to do this, but it won’t be tomorrow - and it’s not fair to anyone to keep encouraging participation in a broken system; their efforts would be better served finding ways to share their knowledge on the main sites.

This is still entirely true. WordPress simply doesn't work for our needs. It's one of the big reasons we're completely ditching the blogs altogether. It's a maintenance nightmare, between all the bugs and the security concerns - the effort required to continue running WordPress to maintain a bunch of mostly-inactive blogs is very lopsided. We simply cannot justify keeping them around anymore.

But we don't have another solution to the problem, though. We have already decided we are not going to keep WordPress around in our system - there's nothing that's going to change that at this point. Nobody here wants to continue working with that system, and it's surely never going to reach the point of better integration into our sites. So keeping blogs going in any form requires either:

  1. finding an alternate system that can be successfully integrated into our sites in a way that won't result in just another bunch of inactive blogs that never receive new posts; or
  2. build our own blog system from the ground up so that it can be more easily integrated into existing systems.

Both of those are... a lot of work. It's something that we're not currently able to focus on given that we don't fully understand what we even want community blogs to be or how they should function within the rest of the site. Yes, the way we set it up was way too restrictive - you needed a moderator or somebody "trusted" to actually post it for you. That doesn't work out that well for something meant to be a community blog. There's just so many problems with the way blogs existed over the years that option 2 above is probably what is needed. Trying to integrate something else into our system will likely just cause us to fall flat onto our faces again.

So, is there any way to save the community blogs, as they exist now? No. They're going to die unless the community decides to take it elsewhere and maintain it on their own. Is it possible that we will create an actual, integrated blog platform that will be useful to the entire community? Possibly. It's not completely out of the question, but it's also not on the road map at this time.

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    TL;DR: WordPress – Alexander O'Mara Nov 21 '16 at 19:22
  • I have to ask the ultimate stupid question: what is a blog? Yeah, yeah, We've all been reading blogs for years, but what is it that really makes a blog a blog? I don't think the answer is as obvious as people might think it is at first glance. Socrates used to ask people "what is justice?" and it started them thinking. – Walter Mitty Nov 21 '16 at 19:45
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    Quick(ish) solution is to just host the blogs using GitHub + Jekyll. Want to post an article? Create it and make a pull request. Require users to cross-link their accounts via their profiles on SE so you can be sure who wrote it. That, of course, would absolutely not change the fact that few, if any, would contribute. I would have been glad to add a couple blog posts for SO, but It was so undiscoverable I don't even know if there actually was a SO blog. – Won't Nov 21 '16 at 19:55
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    Why not expand the shiny new Company Blog so that it will host the per-site blogs? – Shadow The Curly Braced Wizard Nov 21 '16 at 19:56
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    @Won't The SO blog has always been the company blog and never accepted external contributions, AFAIK. – Adam Lear Nov 21 '16 at 21:34
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I understand the decision not to support blogs; it's a lot of effort for not much gain for SE. A smaller task, I hope achievable, would be to provide some integration of off-site blogs on SE sites that have them.

As a moderator on a newer site I tried to get an SE blog (that is, I explicitly asked for an exception to the rule against new blogs), and we were advised to instead take it off-site. We did and our blog has been reasonably successful, though contributions do ebb and flow.

Not being connected to SE doesn't seem to be impeding people's ability to contribute once they decide they want to. Everybody who wants to contribute and has made that fact at all known has been able to do so. We recently added a how to contribute page on the blog, with a permalink at the top of every page. The blog also has a permalink back to SE, and we are using, with permission, site art to create a visual connection.

I suspect, but can't prove, that better integration would help with discovery, helping site users find the blog in the first place. Here's what we currently do to mitigate against the lack of SE integration:

  • We update that meta post with each new blog post, bumping the meta question. Of course, many users never venture onto meta, which is why...

  • We use community events (linked to that meta post) and chat feeds to publicize new entries.

  • We have two community ads, one to advertise the blog itself and one to recruit contributors.

We never had an SE-hosted blog, so we can't compare activity on-site and off-site. The only active SE blog that's moving off-site is SF&F's, so maybe in time we'll be able to compare their activity before and after the move to get some data.

Blogs are valuable to my community in being able to host content that would never, ever fit a Q&A format but is highly related to our topic and of interest to our users. I hope that someday, even if SE never hosts blogs again, there will be some option where a properly-vetted off-site blog could get a little integration:

  • A "blog" link in the supercollider or topbar.
  • A URL redirect for blog.$site.stackexchange.com.

That reduces the entry barrier to needing to create an account on the blog site in order to participate, which -- with the right blog provider -- means signing in with an OpenID credential, perhaps the same one you use with SE. That doesn't seem too bad to me.

So, bottom line, instead of trying to bring SE blogs back, we should look at ways to enable some level of integration -- with accountability, of course.

I made a proposal for criteria that a blog should have to meet in order to get SE integration support on another question.

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    Although it was originally for some basic articles and common questions we have sopython.com which has basic permissions and uses a stack login for authentication. Someone might be able to hack at that a bit. Source available on github.com/sopython – Jon Clements Nov 22 '16 at 8:57
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I tend to agree - I see the value in offering a place to host blog-like content. However, I can also see the other perspective - the current system isn't well integrated into the rest of Stack Exchange's features.

Today, we don't have a place for opinions. It's well-known that opinions aren't a good fit for the Q&A format. There are lots of methods to share facts on Stack Exchange. The Q&A format is good for, well, questions and specific answers to those questions. Documentation is a pretty nice way to put together documentation, examples, and reference material. Tag wikis could use love and attention, but they do provide a standard wiki for another source of documentation and reference material. All of these are facts. We have chat, but it's not totally persistent and more ephemeral than some content should be.

Blog Overflow provided something else. I think the biggest problem was a barrier to entry. They weren't really that well advertised. Why wasn't "Blog" (or something) a big link on the homepage of a site - right next to Questions, Tags, and Users? Why was it a Wordpress instance instead of being integrated into the moderation functionality (reputation, privileges, comments, flagging) of the rest of the content?

A Stack Exchange site is supposed to be a community of experts in a given topic. Providing a way for experts to share their opinions would be beneficial in attracting them, even if it is just a cross-post from a personal blog or another resource.

I can understand the technical reasons for blogging going away. But I'd eventually like to see this come back to the core platform. There would probably need to be more discussion on what features it needs to be viable or how it would integrate, but I do think that SE should support those discussions in the not-too-distant future (after Documentation - perhaps elsewhere in the list of major projects).

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At Photography Stack Exchange, we have an initiative to convert some of the popular and helpful blog posts which fit the format to be self-answered questions, or in some cases answers to existing questions. See Should we migrate posts from the blog to be self-answered questions?

This didn't get much attention when I proposed it a couple of years ago, but I'm pushing it now. That obviously won't work for all content, but may be useful for redeeming some of it.

  • For the content where this will work, that's a great way to bring material onto the core site. (Won't help much with my community's blog, but that's not unexpected.) – Monica Cellio Jan 18 '17 at 1:43

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