Blogs are a unique space on a collaborative community. Most pages on a community are edited by many people, building a resource on the community's topic. But blogs are usually an article written by just one person, not collaboratively at all.
In a way, that's similar to Message Walls and talk pages, but Message Walls are generally a conversation between two or more people. They might be about an issue on the wikia, or figuring out how to best write an article, or just saying hello! Blogs have people reacting to what's said, but aren't a conversation in themselves. They are a more like an article followed by a conversation.
And then there are forums. These are similar to blogs in some ways, but forum posts are often just a couple of lines long, rather than a full article-like blog. A blog that just asks a question, or is just a couple of lines long, is not a blog, and should be posted in the forums.
So blogs are a unique part of a community. They are like articles with a twist. They are written from one person's point of view and, unlike most wikias articles, they can often be non-neutral or even opinionated. In fact, the opinionated blogs are often the best. As long as they are reasoned and polite, an opinion blog can trigger a really interesting conversation with many varied views. And if kept amenable, they can really liven up a community!
Another type of blog is the announcement blog. We use these a lot on Lord of the rings. They are useful when there is more to say than would suit a forum post. We can still get feedback in the comments section, but we can also draw in a larger group of people to read and respond to the blog.
Of course, each community is unique and may use blogs in a completely different way. On some, only those with permission can blog. On others, blogs are used as a roleplaying space. And some communities have decided not to use them at all. On Lord of the rings, we welcome all sorts of blogs. But the best ones, those that get chosen to be added to the Featured Blog Post listing, are those that are on topic, carefully written, and well thought out.
There are some key elements to making a perfect blog. You can find many of these tips on the page about Central's Community Highlights, but they are also relevant for many other blogs.
- Make sure your blog is related to the directly to the topic of the Lord of the rings. If you are writing a post about cats, Lord of the rings Wiki is not the right place for it (unless you are writing about cats in Lord of the Rings!). For Lord of the rings, the ideal is for blogs to be about Wikia, or a specific Wikia community.
- Work on finding something new to say. Many topics have arguments that come up over and over again. For example, whether there should be a female Doctor in Doctor Who, or whether Han shot first. Regular users will be totally fed up with that topic, so you are unlikely to get a good reception.
- Check your spelling and grammar! Even if you have written a great blog with interesting content, no one will recognise that if you don't present it well.
- Aim for around 500 words. This is just a rule of thumb, but it's a good goal to aim for, whether your tendency is to make your blogs too short or too long! This blog is 760 words long. I always have a problem with keeping blogs concise!
- Try to include images. Sometimes you can't, but it's worth trying to find something that looks good and matches your topic. You can often find good images on Flickr's Creative Commons section or the many, many sites on Wikipedia's list of public domain resources.
- As with anything on Wikia, it's best to be generally positive. A blog about how you hate Lord of the rings books and anyone who reads them is not going go down well with the Lord of the rings community (or any other, really). That doesn't mean you can't criticize things related to a community, but do so politely, carefully, and with respect.
If you have a blog in mind for Lord of the rings, or any other community that allows them, then we love to hear about it. As well as being a fun thing to do in itself.