Nearly 1,200 Second Life blogs and bloggers. Almost 1,600 Second Life stores and creators. All exclusively recategorised, and then filtered into embedded spreadsheets placed in 25 new blogger pages and 58 new store pages. Plus, a new form system that adds your submissions to a staging sheet, for validation and finally adding to the master sheets, bringing the registration process from what might have taken sometimes longer than a week, to possibly instant.
Why did we do it?
Near the end of January of 2015, I was doing some research on Second Life blogs for a post I was writing for SL Blogger Support about niching your blog. It had been a while since I visited Blogging Second Life, and here I found a very long alphabetical list of bloggers. As I was reviewing the listings, I noticed duplicate entries, categorical inconsistency, and an inability to sort the listings to find what I was looking for – all symptoms of a list that has been built over years by multiple contributors with little in the way of data rules.
As I reviewed the old HMTL listings for both the bloggers and the stores & creators, I considered the massive amount of work and time the site administrators must have spent in transcribing data from form submissions, then formatting them one by one in WordPress. All of this was clearly a labour of love that no doubt also required hours and hours of effort among people no doubt juggling many other responsibilities in both Second Life and real life.
I figured, if I could just categorise the listings appropriately in a spreadsheet, I could display dynamically filtered sheets embedded in WordPress pages – thereby eliminating the need to transcribe, link, and even manually update new entries. We could, effectively, crowd-source the work.
Dynamically filtered sheets of blogs or stores into webpages would not only help visitors of the site find things in more ways than an alphabetical list (by category, for example), but it would also be easier for the administrators to find and cut duplicate entries, keeping the resource up to date and reliable.
The more consistent these categories were between stores and bloggers, the better. In theory, this change would not only help new bloggers more easily find stores and creators to approach and blog about, but it would also help new creators find bloggers that were more likely to blog their products.
How did it happen?
Kilolo and Evelyn liked the sound of my proposal, and after seeing a few of my prototypes, they put their trust in me to make it happen.
Both worked for months to clean-up the spreadsheets by removing duplicates and adding missing URLs for both profiles and marketplace listings, and categorising the listings along my suggested recategorisation scheme. Finally, I made up the filtered sheets, and embedded them into the pages that make up the bulk of this website today.
Forms are now available on every page that you find listings. Every category and sub-category – for stores and bloggers alike – is displayed on the sidebar navigation. We’ll add them over time as new categories develop.
Personally, I am now very happy to see the listings sorted this way. While there is admittedly some latency in bringing up some of the longer embedded spreadsheets, once they load they really sing, and are completely searchable. Further, the specificity this data now offers enables bloggers and creators to spot niches of opportunity in their own and each other’s lists that might have been before hard to spot.
I hope you enjoy the new Blogging Second Life. Please leave your comments on what you think of the new format below. Please spread the word that registration for bloggers and creators are again open, and thank you for your continued support of and involvement in this unique and valuable resource.
All the best,
Canary Beck (aka Becky)