I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs. […] I don’t think using a blog for this is as good as using a real web directory script, but if a blog is all you have it can be pressed into this use.
I think the idea behind Blog Snoop is solid—I mean you’re just talking about trying to define the edges of a certain community. I’m sufficiently convinced now (between Reddit wikis and ‘awesome lists’) that directories still serve this purpose. Find The Others.
I guess part of the problem is—what is the community? Bloggers? The Indieweb? The subset of the Indieweb that wants to talk about discovery? (Search, directories, blogrolls, etc.) I think you are shooting for larger than the Indieweb—bloggers, in general, right? That operate independently? So, do Medium blogs count?
Ok, so, the usability of the directory is central. This makes sense: a directory is a practical instrument. It needs to be elegant and tight. Using a blog as a directory is very novel and very convenient—and it can work! But I think the directory itself needs to be incredibly sweet to use: full of great stuff, well-organized and fun to use, if possible. I think you have to really want to visit the directory regularly.
Google won by distilling everything down to one box. It was actually fun to use Google because you could start typing and it would try to finish your sentence for you. Which I actually think more people enjoyed for its novelty than its usefulness. And it was useful, too!
So a few starter suggestions:
- The whole tag cloud is off to the side, as if it’s not important.
- I can’t see some of the words in the tag cloud, they are too small.
- The biggest words in the tag cloud are words like “General” and “Internet” which are almost non-categories because they apply to all blogs.
- It’s not clear how to submit my own blog unless I dig. People should really be encouraged to participate.
- The text is large, so lots of scrolling is involved. I think this is what the ‘awesome lists’ are doing right. It’s also what Chris Aldrich is doing so well with his blogroll.
- A dense list, like the one Chris has, also feels more active, for some reason.
- The thing you are doing perfectly, though, is the care in the descriptions. This is actually the most important thing once the directory is usable—and you have that already.
I am working on a personal directory right now, so my attention is there. But maybe if we keep talking about this, we can figure it out. Don’t give up—just keep talking and refining.
You’ve actually given me a great idea (I think it might be ‘great’, who knows) for Indieweb.xyz. I think I’m going to make a directory of the sites that submit to it. And it will also show the sub (‘tag’) that they most commonly submit to. It would be a simple change and might help me gradually collect links to blogs that I can go through over time.
Good luck, Brad! These tiny efforts may seem small in the face of massive social empires out there, but I think there are many people who are (or will) participate if they can just be found.