State of the network, State of the blog

Are you proud to be a member of the Nature Blog Network? Do you feel like you’re getting as much as possible from the NBN site, blog, and extensive international community? Do you have ideas how to make it better? We want to hear from you!

When Mike announced the NBN Blog on October 31, 2008, he said “The next step is to turn this collective into a true community, one that actively aspires to make each member better and more successful.” That’s remained our ideal through two subsequent years of blogging and networking.

We’ve done a lot in that time, but there’s no doubt that there’s a lot more we could do. If we want to continue to build the community and grow the value of the network – and we do – we need to step forward and upward to the next level of activity. We need volunteers to join our blog team and help develop the NBN into an even stronger, more dynamic community.

When I first joined the Nature Blog Network in early 2008, the blog list was only a few pages long. When Mike invited me to join him, Nate, and John in starting the NBN Blog later that year, we had a few hundred members. Now, as we enter Fall 2010, there are more than 30 pages of listings containing 1200+ member blogs.

Wow! That’s a lot of blogs. Especially when you consider that there’s still a four-person team (now Mike, Nate, Seabrooke, & I) managing the list and the blog. As you can imagine, we have our hands full between the growth of the membership and our constant “wouldn’t it be cool if …” conversations.

To develop some of those ideas into activities, we need to do more, and that means we need more people working with us. We can always use more ideas, too! While there will always be a role for the membership at large to contribute ideas and ask questions, we’re thinking that some of you may want to play a more active, hands-on role in growing the NBN.

Over the next several weeks, we’re going to be actively asking for volunteers to help with everything from the mundane aspects of operating the network to whole new ventures concentrating on nature, nature blogging, or both. Check this space on upcoming Mondays for ideas and calls for volunteers. Join the conversation in the comments or contact us by email.

We’re also asking for volunteers who have an idea in mind for the network or blog, and are willing to commit to a one-year pilot project. Drop us an email (natureblognetwork at gmail dot com) and let’s talk about what you have in mind and how we can work together to make it happen.

As a nature blogger, you are this network. Its purpose — our collective purpose — is to support and enhance every aspect of nature blogging.┬áMike, Nate, Seabrooke, and I are proud to be an active part of the NBN and look forward to great things ins our shared future. How about you? We hope you’ll join us, and look forward to hearing your ideas.

18 Comments

  1. September 27, 2010 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    The NBN was initially helpful in locating other nature blogs, but with 1200+ blogs to wade through, it is more effective for me to find new interesting blogs by linking to other bloggers’ favorites.

    A second reason I joined was to discover how many people were reading my blog, but the numbers listed in your Statistics for my blog (http://tinyurl.com/373pznz) are meaningless to me as I cannot find the categories defined on your website. I spent over an hour one day in vain looking for their definitions, so have decided to use a third party vendor like Site Meter.

  2. September 27, 2010 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    How about sponsoring writing or photo themes, having to do with exploring and experiencing nature? And finding a way to incorporate the links into your blog and network?

    We could all be enjoying a lot more of the nature blogs that are already out there…

  3. September 27, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    I would love to take part in some volunteering for the network.

    I belong to another network that organizes a Tea Party every weekend. Participants must long on, visit two blogs and leave comments before returning to the Tea Party and giving a review of the blogs. It’s a great way to discover new blogs and create a sense of community. We could do something similar here.

    I love this network and I am really proud of belonging to it.

    Take care!

  4. September 27, 2010 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    I’d like to help out, I think this is good. I’ve taken a couple of months off but just returned to blogging – I’ve had mine going since 2006. I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, but I wanna help!

  5. September 27, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

    I would like to have an easier way to see what the other NBN blogs have posted for the day. Is there any way to have a page which automatically lists the latest post from all the NBN members? We could then place a button on our blogs that links to that page, and we could quickly see what the latest posts are, and perhaps find new blogs to follow.

  6. September 27, 2010 at 7:03 PM | Permalink

    Great idea, Adrian!

  7. September 27, 2010 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    How about a “once a day” photo feed, no words, just a photo with a link to the blog it’s featured on. That’s a pithy way to create a buzz and cross pollinate among bloggers a little better.

    Love your new initiative BTW.

    Bob :^)

  8. September 27, 2010 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

    I agree with others that the network is so large it is unwieldy. I’m not sure how useful the current form is to the public. I know I don’t get any traffic from the site. I think changes that would be most useful would be those that help the public discover new blogs. There have been many discussions here and elsewhere about whether or not blogs are still relevant. I believe they are an excellent platform and there is still a lot to be explored. I’m interested in the movement to entities like Discover blogs, Nature blogs, the late Science Blogs, PLoS Blogs and the more recent Scientopia. These groups are looking to find the best writing on a topic and present a shared platform. The idea is that a reader trusts that they will get quality content by going through their portal. Now, the downside as I see it is that bloggers give up some of the individuality of their blog. They simply become a columnist for a sort of online magazine. I think it is a powerful model but I miss the individual design aesthetic and personality of a blog. All of these sites make the blogs look the same. I’d be very interested to see some kind of Nature Blog Network 2.0 that works like an online magazine. Pick the best writer for each category and make them a columnist. Then, regularly feature other bloggers mixed in to expose the public to new writers. I’d keep it with individual sites but work it up so the public can view them through a portal like a bar at the top that shows you are visiting the link though NBN but can click to return to the current issue. Think of it like a blog carnival but not quite so much of a free for all. I think something like that could be quite exciting and if promoted correctly could be very useful to the public. Look what is being done at this link with people’s twitter feeds. Very interesting. http://paper.li/tag/birding This is the #birding Daily.

    I look forward to what you come up with. Let me know how I can help.

  9. September 27, 2010 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    I like the idea of a series of digests. Another example is a digest covering newspaper stories from around the US in re interactions between wildlife and humans:
    http://www.outdoorpressroom.com/

  10. Mary
    September 27, 2010 at 10:51 PM | Permalink

    There are so many blogs and I never have time to look through the list to find anything. I don’t even know where my own blog is on the list and don’t remember my own log-in! I don’t find the site helpful…sorry.

  11. September 28, 2010 at 12:43 AM | Permalink

    If I can be of any help blogging / Internet / Nature related, let me know.
    Have a bit of time to spare :)

  12. September 28, 2010 at 1:43 AM | Permalink

    I like Adrian’s idea of a condensed feed of NBN members, sort of like Wildlife Photography Blogs’ feed collector at http://wildlife-photography-blog.com/ (which also does an automatic tweet). The challenge is with 1200+ members, there’s potentially a huge number of posts each day and your blog might only be featured briefly.

    I’d also like to be able to proactively link to other NBN members who are posting about a similar topic. At present I’m Googling my topic and “Nature Blog Network” and linking to member’s posts that are related. There must be an easier way to do this!

    I think we’ve got a great pool of nature blogs but the challenge is going to be managing that volume of data in such a way that benefits members and increases readership.

    Cheers,

    Dave

  13. September 28, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Permalink

    Great ideas and comments – thank you all. I’ve also gotten suggestions and offers of volunteering via email, and it’s going to take a little while to sort through everything. I hope I’ll have a summary post by next Monday to continue the discussion.

  14. September 29, 2010 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

    I also really like the idea of a feed or digest to see what others in the network are blogging about.

    I am new to blogging, so one thing I would enjoy is a way to network easier and find similar blogs. One thing that could make this more of a community is to have something like a weekly discussion topic in the network’s blog.

    I would also love to help by volunteering!

  15. October 2, 2010 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

    Here’s another example of a blog digest called Florida’s Enviro-Wire:
    http://evtrust.wordpress.com/

    I prefer blogs that discuss natural history and ethology, for example, over blogs that focus on photography. It is along the lines of the above-mentioned Outdoor Pressroom.

    My all time favorite nature blog is the Bird Ecology Study Group (BESG):
    http://besgroup.talfrynature.com/2009/03/22/bill-diversity-of-shorebirds-and-food-competition/

    BESG is a group blog maintained by outstanding bird photographers that add writ about the behavior of the birds in the photos they post.

  16. October 2, 2010 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    Arrr! Belay that BESG link and use this one instead:
    http://besgroup.talfrynature.com/

  17. October 3, 2010 at 8:47 PM | Permalink

    Nature Blog Network has helped me find similar bloggers who focus on writing. Thanks to the organizers for setting up such an excellent forum. Moving forward, I think we need to understand what the network is mainly meant to accomplish. Is it to form a stronger community of nature bloggers? Promote nature bloggers to the general public? Or is there an advocacy role in terms of supporting biodiversity and other environmental issues? Thoughts?

  18. October 5, 2010 at 6:47 AM | Permalink

    Hello there, I am so glad you are reaching out to this community, which I find hard to move around in. I would love a simple format where we could all find each other. Maybe there is already and I am just being obtuse. I would like to be more active here and could help out in anyway you might like or need help. Let me know what you need. Best, Carol