Blogs, Blogs, Blogs
By jimgris on Dec 01, 2009
A couple of weeks ago we had a conversation on website-discuss (here, here) about some features of the new website that were not directly moved and/or replaced from the old site. Much of the discussion involved blogs. Put simply, blog aggregation on the site changed because the website application changed. We migrated to an entirely new application, one that offers substantially more benefits over the old one. But as a result, some of what was on the old site was not replaced (or may be replaced in new/better ways in the future). One item on that list was the old (badly broken) blog aggregation system we had at the top level of the old site. Some people have been concerned that we no longer have the ability to collect blogs on the new site. Not true. Here's a better way to look at it:
Before the migration to XWiki:
opensolaris.org used to have three levels of blog aggregation: (1) blogs collected at the top level of the site, (2) blogs collected inside Community and Project spaces, and (3) blogs collected at planet.opensolaris.org. That was nice, I suppose, but probably a bit over the top. Also, the processes for deciding what blogs to aggregate was distributed among the owners of each of the spaces on the site, all the mechanisms to collect the feeds were manual, and community members had no way to offer their feeds into a centralized database. But we poked along with what we had.
After the migration to XWiki:
The new opensolaris.org does not have a top level blog aggregation feature. But Collective Leaders, Affiliates, and Developers can still add blog feeds to their Communities, Projects, and User Groups and planet.opensolaris.org remains the same as it always has been. Also, we are exploring ways of providing a centralized blog feed directory via the site's new Auth database, so that blogs can be easily aggregated in Collective spaces or on planet.opensolaris.org or externally with whoever wants them. I like this idea a lot (via Alan Burlison) because it keeps the decision making process of what feeds to collect directly with the people closest to the action: Collective Leaders.
I do not support a top level blog aggregation system for all blogs in the OpenSolaris world because before you know it you have thousands of blogs, most of which have owners who are not necessarily directly involved in the community on the site. Then it all becomes too big and the value drops rapidly. It's too much centralization. That's what happened with the old system. And although some people have complained that they miss the old feature, I got a heck of a lot more complaints about it when it was live. Complaint #1 was that I was taking any blog off the street that mentioned OpenSolaris in any way whatsoever and that was diluting the overall content too much because too many of the bloggers weren't really involved in the community. Point taken. Also, I don't support the notion of screening blogs at the top level of the site because that makes the website team judge and jury as to who gets collected -- and that is most certainly not our role. We should be pushing content and projects and decisions into the Collectives where people are actively working their stuff and where they have edit privileges to their own spaces on the site.
Anyway, in the mean time, Collective Leaders, Affiliates, and Developers can add blog feeds via the XWiki RSS macro. Just edit a page, click on the macro tab at the top left of the edit box, scroll to select the RSS macro, and enter the data in the fields provided.