Today is Gnome Stew’s fourth birthday — we launched the site on May 12, 2008. (You can see all of our launch day articles here.)

Sometimes I think the Stew comes off as a more polished operation than it really is. Not in the sense that we don’t put time and energy into producing polished content, because we do. But we started out as a bunch of GMs who love GMing and wanted to write about it and hopefully help other GMs love it as much as we do, and that’s still what we are, and what Gnome Stew is about.

I didn’t know if this site would work, though after two years of running my first GMing blog, Treasure Tables, I had a hunch that it would. It has worked, in my opinion: We’ve had over 1.3 million visitors since 2008. Million. I’ve never had a million people engage with anything else I’ve ever been a part of; it’s humbling.

If you’re here, now, reading this: Thank you. I’ve been saying you rock for the past four years, and you still rock. You’ll have to hear it for the next four years, too. Thank you.

Stats? Fuck ‘em.

For the past seven State of the Stew articles, I’ve crunched and shared site stats that I suspect only me and a handful of other people actually cared about. And that’s fine; I shared them for me, and no one else was obligated to care.

Last year, though, we hit a plateau. A few stats went up, a few stayed about the same, and some of them went down. It was depressing, despite the fact that our overall numbers were still enviable for a niche blog within a niche hobby. I did some soul-searching. A lot of email went back and forth on our internal mailing list; we had conference calls and set goals and started a calendar and did all sorts of other stuff behind the scenes. I considered stepping down as site admin and quitting blogging.

Several folks pointed out that we, the gnomes, should just keep doing our thing and not worry too much about stats. And they were right.

We write the articles that we do, the ways that we do, because we want to. We’re thrilled that thousands of readers feel the same way about what this blog is and should be as we do. Those who’d prefer Gnome Stew to be a different kind of blog, to broaden our focus beyond GMing, or to go with the flow have hundreds of alternatives to choose from, and we wish them well.

So: Not worrying about the numbers. But milestones? Hell, yeah:

  • The Stew crossed 1,000 articles (now closing in on 1,200)
  • We won our second silver ENnie Award for Best Blog (thank you!)
  • The gnomes published our second book, Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs for Any Roleplaying Game
  • The site was a finalist in the 2012 RPG Site of the Year awards (thank you!)
  • We launched our Google+ page and have around 900 folks circling us there
  • Responding to reader feedback, we made “More meat, less meta” our 2012 mantra, and have delivered dozens of practical-not-theoretical articles since January
  • Bob Everson joined the team as our proofreader
  • We started accepting guest articles, and have run some great ones (see them all)
  • We implemented some new technical stuff, like comment editing and the ability to log in using accounts you already have
  • We launched our mailing list

If I’m forgetting anything (and I probably am), I apologize.

So that was year four, May 2011-May 2012. It was a good year. Enough looking back, though. Or if you prefer: Fuck it, let’s go bowling get back to talking about GMing. Thanks for reading.

About  Martin Ralya

A father, husband, writer, small-press publisher, former RPG industry freelancer, and lifelong geek, Martin has been gaming since 1987 and GMing since 1989. He lives in Utah with his amazing wife Alysia and their awesome daughter Lark in a house full of books and games.



14 Responses to Happy Fourth Birthday, Gnome Stew! The State of the Stew, Year Four (2011-2012)

  1. WOOO! Well done, guys :)

    Gnome Stew has, and will always be my favourite GMing blog on the big open mesa that is the internet. For the past 3 and a bit years I have sat at my email screen counting the minutes until it hits 9PM (GMT+10 over here) as that is _usually_ when the Stew posts come rolling ’round. Well, maybe not counted them down, but I always feel happy when I see those familiar words pop into my feed!

    Congratulations on making it through your fourth year, and here’s to another 50 filled with GMing AWESOMENESS!

    (Note, if ever in the next 50 years of blogging you need a break, I might be able to help out with a few articles :P)

    Cheers :)

  2. Two birthdays to celebrate! The Stew’s b-day is shared with Eldest Child. Congrats, Martin. Your red cap is the pointy-est of the crew!

  3. @Troy E. Taylor – At present, my red cap is full of sand. It’s nice. Happy birthday to your eldest!

    @Ben Scerri – Ben, that’s high on the list of the coolest things said about the Stew. I’m very glad to hear that!

  4. Congratulations, you guys are great and one of the reasons I started blogging. Keep up the awesome stuff and I’ll keep coming back, and telling other people to do so too.

  5. Happy Birthday Gnomestew! Thanks a shit-ton to all the Gnomes and other contributers. Keep up the good work.

  6. Congratulations guys. The stew is always fresh and hearty! I think your successes lie in the fact that you are a true roleplaying blog/site. Many of the insights and articles, while they may be geared towards a specific game, are relevant to roleplaying in general (Yeah!). Your amazing publications Masks and Eureka are prime examples of that fine philosophy. Too many sites claim to be “roleplaying” or Game Mastering sites, and focus far too much on the mechanics of specific game systems. (Boo!)

    Keep up the good work.

    PS Don’t worry about the stats—you have fans and that’s soooo much cooler.

  7. gotta be doin’ something right.

  8. Most excellent! Your value is measured by the quality of your content. Keep it up and congratulations!

  9. Belated birthday wishes for the Stew, and all who sail with it!

  10. It’s a good thing that you make fresh batches of the stew on a daily or weekly basis. Because eating four-year old stew would be pretty gross. :)

    Happy B-Day to the Stew.

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