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State Of The Stew: We Are Listening

Hello, DNAphil here.  Normally articles about the direction of Gnome Stew are done by our Gnome In Chief, Martin.  This week starts the big layout crunch for Masks [1] and Martin is sequestered away helping to put the final touches on what we are expecting to be a worthy sequel to Eureka [2].  So while Martin is locked away pouring over text, I am going to take a few hundred words to talk to you about the follow-up to our 3rd State Of The Stew [3].

We Listen…Even To Ourselves

When we posted the State Of The Stew, we received 12 comments on the article about things we could do to improve the site. In addition to those comments, we Gnomes generated over 100 internal email’s. The one thing that all the comments had in common where passion.  Everyone felt very passionate about things we could do to make things better.

So not to waste any of your and our passion, we took every comment and put them into a spreadsheet, so that we could review them and decide how to address them. In total there were 42 unique suggestions, with several suggestions being mentioned multiple times.

Our next step will be to bring all the Gnomes together and discuss the list of ideas, and decide what actions to take. With Martin locked away for June, we have decided to hold this GnomeClave in July. We will, of course, share the outcome of that meeting with you.

We did not want to waste the energy we got from your comments, so we wanted to address two things right away, because they were the things you were the most passionate about. They are:

Increase Posts (and the rise of a calendar)

The number one comment we heard, was that our posting frequency had dropped off, especially during the writing of Masks. Before Masks, we did a pretty good job of posting an article every weekday (we save weekends to shave our halflings [4]). But with us splitting our time on articles and book writing, we let our every-weekday posting drop off.  You saw it and we knew it. So our first order of business is to get back to posting every weekday.

Last year at Gen Con, ChattyDM [5] asked us how we scheduled our articles. The secret was that we didn’t.  For three years, we Gnomes have been winging it, just posting articles in an organic process with no upfront planning. For the most part we were pretty successful with this, though sometimes we would have to post an article at the last minute.

To help us meet our goal of posting every weekday, we have set up a Google Calendar, and we are trying out having each Gnome pick the dates, in advance, for posting their articles. The calendar allows us to make sure that we are covering all the weekdays, and it should reduce our need to write some of those last minute articles. So far the calendar experiment is working well.

Facebook Articles

Another thing that was mentioned by a few people was that we were cross posting articles on GnomeStew and on Facebook. This creates confusion on where someone should go to read articles, creates two places where we Gnomes try to monitor comments, and it skews our web traffic stats.  No blame on you guys, we did that all by ourselves.

So we have changed the way we update our Facebook page. Now a link is posted on Facebook, and when you click on it, it will take you back to gnomestew.com/, where you can read and comment, where we can keep an eye on you, and where we can get a more accurate reading of our web traffic.

Where We Go From Here

We hope you are enjoying the return to weekday postings, and our more streamlined Facebook updates.  We have more ideas in the pot simmering, and we are looking forward to serving them up to you in the near future.

As always we appreciate you taking time out of your day reading Gnome Stew, and we return to our GMing advice next week.

If you did not comment on the original State Of The Stew article, feel free to leave us a comment here, and I will put it on the spreadsheet for July.

13 Comments (Open | Close)

13 Comments To "State Of The Stew: We Are Listening"

#1 Comment By recursive.faults On May 27, 2011 @ 6:31 am

Thought I’d make a suggestion regarding the posting frequency. There are a few plugins for WordPress that allow you to queue posts. You jus write and write, and then every few hours this thing will post one of your posts.

That way you guys can write with reckless abandon and it will get posted in the order it was queued.

#2 Comment By Razjah On May 27, 2011 @ 7:50 am

I’m really glad to see you guys making changes quickly. I look forward to seeing the Stew’s improvements. After you guys are done with the changes and interesting article would be to explain why you chose the changes you did and possibly why you couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t want to make some other suggestions.

#3 Comment By Trace On May 27, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

I love the quick, positive, forward momentum. The fact that you gnomes are able to honestly self-diagnose, gather info, and adapt is a great sign of the ability to make it in the long haul! I hope to read great gnomish articles ’til I’m an old whitebeard.

#4 Comment By DireBadger On May 27, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

I’m not sure if it’s actually there an I just overlooked it, but is there some convenient link to go to the very oldest part of an archive? I would very much like to browse the articles in chronological order.

#5 Comment By drow On May 27, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

what about the very popular suggestion of other forms of gnome cuisine? gnome on a stick, pulled gnome BBQ, gnome au gratin, butterflied gnome mignon, etc.

#6 Comment By DNAphil On May 27, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

See if I can get everyone in one comment…

@recursive.faults– We have a queue for the Stew, the tricky part is to get it loaded with a surplus of articles. I need to reserve a weekend for article writing.

@Razjah — Thanks. After our GnomeClave I plan on publishing our Google Spreadsheet and you can see the suggestions and the reasons we did or did not implement a change.

@Trace– Thanks for the encouraging words.

@DireBadger– That is one of the suggestions someone made. We have 900+ articles done, and not everyone has been following us since day 1, so we are looking at ways to bring some of those early articles out of the cobwebs so that you can all check them out.

@Drow– Other Gnome cuisine, a few comments:
** On a stick- sounds uncomfortable
** pulled gnome BBQ– sounds dirty, but I like it.
** au gratin– we gomes are getting a bit older and have to watch the cholesterol.
** butterflied gnome mignon– I like anything that has mignon in it.

Thanks for the comments.

#7 Comment By Crushnaut On May 27, 2011 @ 10:52 pm

I would like to hear more about the specifics on the games that you guys are running. What kind of stories are your gaming groups creating? What was the plot of the last game you guys ran? How did it go? What, in the end, was the story? How did the players counter your moves? How did the players beat your BBEG?

Gnomes carry a kind of authority. What the reader interprets from this authority is, “these guys are probably running some of the best games out there.” I think people are curious and want to know what your games are like.

Also, humans want to compare their successes with those of others to put themselves into perspective. So why not give us a little taste of what it is like to be at the table with a gnome by giving us some session highlights or session recap articles.

I would read them.

#8 Comment By Crushnaut On May 27, 2011 @ 11:00 pm

PS … why is it always a stew of gnomes, and never a stew made by Gnomes?

I always thought it was the latter, until I have heard you guys refer to Gnome Stew as a stew OF gnomes.

I mean stew is also a synonym for “deep thought” or “mulling something over”. So I always assumed that the title of the blog was a pun in that you are serving us your stew (your thoughts).

#9 Comment By DNAphil On May 28, 2011 @ 11:49 am

@Crushnaut– In the beginning we did not think that people would want to know about our games, but that comment has come up now a few times, and it is on our list now.

For the record… I am currently running a mid-level Corporation game, with 3 local players and 1 Skype player. The story is kind of epic, a global threat that the players will discover and combat in the course of the campaign.

As for the contents of the Stew, its a mystery. It is a Stew of Gnomes AND made from Gnomes. Not to get overly philosophical but the stew is not only our thoughts but in many cases ideas for articles often come about through collaboration among the Gnomes. I doubt that sheds much light on it, but there you go.

Thanks for the double comment.

#10 Comment By Martin Ralya On May 28, 2011 @ 12:53 pm

Thank you all for your feedback and encouragement! This is a funny rough patch to find ourselves in, but I’m confident we’ll find our way out of it.

[6] – I don’t mean this personally in any way, but why chronologically? I’ve never understood that form of navigation for blogs beyond the first few pages (to catch up on stuff that came out during a vacation, for example).

We do have the [7] page, which does the same thing non-chronologically.

A chronological option is easy to implement, I’m just curious why it’s needed.

#11 Comment By colormage1 On May 29, 2011 @ 10:33 pm

I don’t remember how I was sent to this website and for what article but since then I’ve read everything that’s been posted.

And I’m not even a role player. I’ve never played a game of D&D or anything like that.

But I’m a huge nerd (of the Magic: The Gathering variety) and love all types of gaming.

So regardless of actually ever putting what I read to use, I enjoy reading them.

That being said, I wonder if you could write more articles about introducing new players to the game. Or… how about some article titles I wouldn’t mind seeing:

“What to expect from your first session as GM”
“How to start your RPG collection”
“How to introduce people to RPGs”

Or stuff like that. I love this site, and it’s really got me interesting in RPGing. I just don’t really know HOW to dive in and would like some feedback or articles.

There are probably some on this site, but I can’t find them.

But I love what you guys are doing! It’s amazing. =)

#12 Comment By Sarlax On May 31, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

Chronological lists are nice for a few reasons. First, they are the history of the site. If someone wants to track how a given gnome’s game style has changed (or whatever), it’s easier to do that way.

Second, it’s often easier to remember things by location, not name. I’m much more likely to remember that there was an article “about 9 months ago” that I liked than that it was called “Challenge =/= Fun” rather than “Challenge and Complexity Does Not Equal Drama And Action.”

Third, it’s the most familiar way sites are organized. I can’t think of any site I regularly visit (except this one) that doesn’t organize its content [at least] by the date it was created. I don’t think it’s a big deal, though, since I never looked for it before.

I think it would be nice if one could navigate from article to article by time: At both ends of the post, there could be links to the next article and the previous article.

#13 Comment By Martin Ralya On June 1, 2011 @ 10:30 pm

[8] – Good points about chronological order!