Metblogs and Me

by Steve, March 4th, 2008

meAs if I didn’t have enough on my plate already, last November I started writing for Portland Metblogs, part of an international network of city-based community blogs.

When I joined the local team, there was much talk of a new, improved Metblogs site in the works. The existing site was based on Typepad, and was slow and non-intuitive. Suddenly, this past weekend, the site was down, and e-mail was sent to authors about the new site launch.

When it finally came back up on Monday, there were (ahem) just a few complaints.

  • The fixed width layout is 1215 pixels wide. Good design standards dictate 1000 pixels max.
  • The font is small and gray (and increasing the font size on your browser breaks the layout in ugly ways).
  • The URL to the RSS feed changed.
  • The new RSS feed was broken.
  • The RSS URL listed on the page was wrong.
  • URLs to archived post were changed, meaning all links to previous entries from other sites are broken.
  • Some authors (like me) were unable to get new passwords, and have been unable to login since the changeover.

And, worst of all:

  • The site now requires registration to leave comments.

Metroblogs is now what is known to Web aficionados as a “walled garden,” in the same class with MySpace. Before I was an author for Metblogs, I criticized the tone of metblogs as being the MySpace of the Portland blogosphere. I was only joking then, but now the joke’s on me.

I’m taking a sabbatical from Metblogs, at least until they work out their technical issues. Whether or not I want to continue bringing Metblogs readers (and ad revenue) as a contributor is an open question.

10 Responses to “Metblogs and Me”

  1. Pingback from The Metblog is Bleeding » VanPortlander:

    [...] least one Metblog author has posted publicly with a list of complaints about the new system (including the fact that he can’t even log in) [...]

  2. Comment from Sean Bonner:

    Hey Steve, I’m really sorry you feel that way. Most of complaints are known issues, and in fact things we told everyone would be broken while we went through the extremely hectic job of changing every little bit of the sites, front and back end. We said they’d be broken and we’d be fixing them this week, which we’re in the process of doing. The CSS stuff is also an issue that we know about and have fixes in the works for. We’ve been saying that internally. I guess you can’t see that since you haven’t been able to log in, but simply asking might have been a better route. Porting close to 2000 user accounts to a new system wasn’t easy, and with 700+ active authors there were bound to be some problems. Most people got in with no issue, and the ones who didn’t have been getting worked out as they let us know something is wrong. I’m sorry you felt that wasn’t a route you wanted to take.

    The registration thing is a whole other issue and I understand that some people will never be cool with that. I also understand that there’s no way to please everyone and we had to make a decision which we felt was for the best of the network as a whole. I honestly do wish every decision made everyone happy, but it’s just not possible. I don’t expect to convince you this is a good idea, clearly you think it isn’t. Anyway, I wish you’d just talked to me as I would have been more than happy to explain any of this.

    That said, I’m kinda taking the above post as your resignation for the time being. I’m sorry to see you go. If you do want to come back in the future, we’ll still be here and if not best of luck in whatever you do decide to do. Take care.

  3. Pingback from Metrobloggers Being “Fired” for Voicing Disagreement Publicly » VanPortlander:

    [...] blog about some of his frustrations. Sean Bonner, founder of Metroblogging, decided to swing by and leave a comment on his post where he notes that he’s taking Steve’s displeasure as his resignation. Steve informs [...]

  4. Comment from CPM:

    You guys both need to calm down… but the registration thing to make a comment on metblogs is effin retarded.

  5. Comment from Steve:

    Hey, CPM, sorry if I came off as, er, not calm.

    My author login issue was an annoyance, but we’ve gotten past that.

    Technical problems can be fixed. That’s what I do for a living.

    My biggest concern going forward is the login requirement for comments. In a blog savvy city like Portland, where the Tribune, Willamette Week and Mercury have open comments, and there are dozens of well-read community blogs, I question whether Metblogs has a future as a walled garden.

    Sean doesn’t think it’s an issue, and maybe he’s right. We’ll see.

  6. Comment from Wacky Mommy:

    Not calm. Yeah, right, I’d like to see that happen. No, really, it’d take the heat off me. hahahaha.

    I tagged you, bubba.

  7. Comment from CPM:

    Hey, totally understand ya.

    Im just on both ur sides cuz i enjoy met blogs and i can totally understand where ur coming from.

  8. Comment from McAngryPants:

    I’m w/ you steve! lamo. on the bright side, perhaps now you can concentrate on hockey!

  9. Comment from Steve:

    I watched the Buffalo Philly game from Tuesday last night. Good game. Great to see a couple of ex-Hawks doing good in the NHL (Paul Gaustad for Buffalo and Braydon Coburn for Philly), but it’s pretty sad to see the Sabres battling for a playoff spot.

  10. Comment from Qanzas:

    Catching up on what I missed, since I paid no attention to Metblogs ’til the recent broo-ha-ha (sp?). I have to say, your description of Cirque du Soleil being “and just generally, eh, a little too twee for moi,” made me laugh out loud. Awesome artistry, but IMO the French-Canadian harlequin thing just does not translate well. Kind of a mime/hooker, virgin/whore dichotomy. My SO and I call it The Celine Dion Effect.

    Hope you carry on with the humor over here, mon frere, even if it means More Humor Less War.