More Bloggers Uncloak

Yes, the “telling everyone a bit about who we are” meme seems to be really taking off! Originally started by a post from Ambermist of Battle Chicken, it has subsequently spread through the blogosphere.

Today, it has reached the pages of WoW Insider itself, with Matthew Rossi, as well as Newbie Blogger Initiative blogger Leelu…

  • Matthew Rossi at WoW Insider takes a bit of a spin on the concept of the meme, giving us an amusing list of things we might not know about his WoW-playing habits“I proposed to my wife during a Molten Core run we were both in. The way she tells it, I walked into the room while she was pet pulling Baron Geddon to Garr’s room and said “Hey, I think we should get married.” I’m a suave devil.”
  • And Leelu Butterfly offers us a list of both in-game and IRL facts about her and how she games“I’ve been playing games since … well, a long time. My first memory of playing game was on the Merlin, I thought it was ace, then came the Commodore 64 which meant more games, and coding. “

Anyone else planning to join the “uncloaking” craze?

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More Bloggers Unmask Themselves

More MMORPG bloggers are taking advantage of this summer’s lull before the storm to tell us a little bit about the person behind the keyboard.

Yes, Ambermist aka Battlechicken’s challenge to the blogosphere to talk about things a little bit more personal than their opinion of the Pandaren dance animations is really bearing fruit! Six new bloggers have taken up the challenge over the weekend, telling us things about themselves from the interesting to the very personal:

  • Dragonray at Azerothian Life talks about a very personal and upsetting experience, and how it informs her views and the things she fights for and against – triggering warning, this post discusses rape and sexual assault – “It is not something people walk away from in the next scene – and it is certainly not something that has no effect on you. “
  • Matty at Sugar And Blood talks about her real-life as opposed to her online identity“With the advent of social media, blogging, and all that it offers, I had what is both a liberating and highly combustible combination: immediate gratification for writing.”
  • Rakuno at Shards of Imagination reveals a number of interesting details about his life“I am a brazilian. Or if you want to get technical about it, half-brazilian, half-japanese. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about japanese culture. Or even eat japanese food. “
  • Eva at Image Heavy shares a number of quick things about her“I met The Boyfriend on WoW. Conveniently the huge, huge family loves him! Playing with him is when I have the most fun on the game by far.”
  • Kamalia from Kamalia Et Alia tells us about her hobbies, including her remarkably mathematical knitting“I learned to crochet from my maternal grandmother when I was in my late teens, and I only really know the one stitch that she taught me. “
  • And just in case you missed it, the Melting Pot actually jumped on this meme ourselves earlier today

Are you planning to join in the unveiling?

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WoW bloggers expose their real selves

“World of Warcraft Isn’t Real, And My Name Isn’t Ambermist.”

It’s an odd call to arms, but that is the phrase that has started a really fascinating movement in the MMO blogosphere. Started by Ambermist, who blogs at Battle Chicken, bloggers are “uncloaking” themselves, telling us a bit about the person behind the keyboard.

So far, we’ve had:

  • Ambermist herself, who tells us about her personal journey through Warcraft“In WoW, I was becoming a decent moonkin, my dps improving little by little as I grew determined to become a better player. My raid awareness improved leaps and bounds. I was writing boss strats for this blog, so I knew the fights inside and out. I was succeeding in Warcraft at the same time I felt like I was failing in the real world.”
  • Ivy at Ivy For Life tells us about the part WoW plays in keeping her connected to the world“All my friends are else where in the country, hell the world, so the only way to talk to them without phone bills is WoW. “
  • And Erinys at Harpy’s Nest tells us the story of her two coins“I’m not sure what I believe these days, the rational side, the side I inherited from my father along with his eyes fights regularly with the other side, the part of me which sees things in shadows, which still trusts a little in her Great Grandmother’s Gods but I suppose that’s just a part of being human.”

Sadly I don’t have much time to write about myself today (although Googling my name will get you a fair bit of information!), but I might well write a post along these lines as part of the Pot’s birthday celebration next week. In the meantime, I’ll be really interested to hear from other uncloaking bloggers as we all become more than just the pixels on the screen!

Are you planning to write an “…is not my real name” post? Did you write one already? Let us know!

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Hugh Hancock from the Melting Pot on the Twisted Nether Podcast

AS promised, here’s the link to my interview with the Twisted Nether team last weekend – it covered an awful lot of ground, from my gaming history, through the formation of, to tips for bloggers and filmmakers, to the current state of WoW and thoughts on the future of gaming:


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NBI Spotlight

As the Newbie Blogger Initiative closes, I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some great posts specifically from NBI bloggers.

We’ve been reading NBI blogs all month, of course, and whether you were aware of it or not, if you’re a regular reader you’ve already read some great pieces from NBI writers. But this time, we’re just featuring the NBI – so enjoy these new voices:

  • Why I Game writes a lengthy but extremely interesting piece on A Tale In The Desert’s various minigames – making charcoal, alloying and more – ATITD is quite unique in MMOs, and this piece gives a good insight into it – “And the automatic macro either breaks, or eats so much wood over manually controlling the ovens that I end up wincing and being that guy who snatches the controller and says “Let ME do it.””
  • Casually Vicious looks at the time commitments MMOs demand, and offers some experience-based suggestions for the time-limited MMO gamer“I realize SW:TOR’s big selling premise is that they focus on the story. This is done through having voice-actors perform while you wait. They blab on while you just sit there and dumbly stare at the monitor instead of participating.”
  • Diminishing Returns looks at the male-character-as-power-fantasy issue that Doone identified a few days ago, and discusses whether the concept’s worn out“When we start to question the assumptions around power and delivering thrills in video games, I believe that we can start to see more multi-faceted depiction of men and masculinity.”
  • Dreadblade looks at “E-Sports” from the perspective of a professional sports coach“From an emotional standpoint the anticipation of battle, the frustration of failure, the rush of success – it’s all there. In my guild I have found my place in a team again.”
  • And lastly – if you’re looking for more NBI action, Syp’s closing the month out by hosting NBI awards – go vote!“I wanted to host a quick award show to highlight some of the many, many amazing blogs that has come out of this.”

Spotted any gems from NBI writers this month?

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Hugh appearing on the Twisted Nether podcast tonight

Sorry about the short notice on this one – I got my times mixed up! Anyway – I’m appearing as the guest on this week’s Twisted Nether podcast, starting midnight PST tonight, Friday 1st June (aka 00:00am Saturday 2nd).

I’m looking forward to it – should be an interesting discussion.

Start times:

  • Midnight Friday, Pacific Daylight Time (that’s in 22 hours from now)
  • 3am Eastern Daylight Time
  • 8am British Summer Time

Here’s the show details page

Hope to see some of you there in the chatroom!

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The Newbie Blogger Initiative concludes an incredible month

I’d like to extend a big hand of congratulation to everyone who has participated in the Newbie Blogger Initiative this month!

For those few who haven’t heard – the NBI was started by veteran blogger Syp, aka Justin Olivetti, as a way to encourage new voices into the MMORPG community, and give them advice from respected veterans.

It has succeeeded astonishingly well, as Syp’s roundup of the new bloggers who’ve joined us attests. Over 100 new voices have joined the community, and dozens of experienced bloggers shared their knowledge and insight into how to do what we all love doing better.

Syp rounds the entire event off in his concluding NBI post:

“Starting out a blog is hard. It’s a lot like starting a serious exercise program: You can’t just fiddle about with it and hope to see results; you have to jump full-in, work through the pain and struggle of getting used to this new routine, and stick with it. New blogs require strong, regular injections of content, and then they require exposure to gain readers. The NBI was our answer to both of those: We would dole out advice as seasoned bloggers to the newcomers, and then lavish on them some link love. It wasn’t a guaranteed formula for a successful blog, but it was a major leg-up for anyone who’d want it.

So I thought, why not? I sketched down some thoughts and then started contacting bloggers, sometimes doing quite a bit of detective work to find an email address. I thought that out of the 60 or so that I contacted, we’d get a score on board. I had no idea if this idea would be poo-pooed or if it had merit, but I guess there was something to it, because just about everyone I emailed replied in the affirmative.”

It’s been fantastic to watch all the excitement and enthusiasm that the NBI has generated, and Justin/Syp deserves huge congratulations for pulling it all together. I look forward to reading many of the voices who have joined us for years to come.

And as a final note – if you are in Syp’s list of NBI bloggers, and you have an accessible RSS feed, we at the Melting Pot have added you to our feed reader and are reading everything you write! I’m looking forward to seeing all the cool stuff that the NBI produces – and welcome to the community.

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Blogging Advice from the NBI – Criticism, RSS and more

As I’ve mentioned before, MMO bloggers have seemed somewhat diffident about offering blogging advice in the past – but the Newbie Blogger Initiative has really brought a flood of advice from some of the ‘sphere’s top bloggers right to our door.

In today’s roundup, we’ve got pieces both specific and general, but always useful –

  • Criticised or flamed? Syp at Bio Break offers advice on what to do next“I respect those who respond without making it personal, but that’s a hard thing for a critic to do. No matter what, it puts a sour taste in your mouth and can make you say to yourself, “Then why did I spend all this time creating this article if this is the end result?””
  • Njessi of Hawt Pants of the Old Republic offers some great advice on things to include or avoid“I know you want people to come to your site for precious hits or advertising (more on this later), but truncated feeds are not the answer to getting more traffic. Many people read in a feed reader, and don’t want to click through – or can’t if they’re behind a firewall.”
  • Goldenstar of A Casual Stroll To Mordor talks about writing for the Internet“In the first couple seconds of opening your article, your reader will judge if they will actually read your article. They will look at your opening paragraph and scan down the page and see if this is something of interest to them.”
  • Lono of Screaming Monkeys offers his top five tips for blogging“An active blog will grow faster than a rarely active one. Sounds simple when said like that but you’d be surprised how some new promising blog dies simply because the author posted once in a blue moon. Your topics don’t always have to be revolutionary, just talk about what’s on your mind.”
  • And Rowan at I Have Touched The Sky explains RSS and blog lists“The thing about hits—and what is behind at least my own advice not to worry about them—is that not all of your readers will do so by visiting your blog directly. Many do so through RSS readers, including Google Reader, Bloglines, and various smartphone apps. “

A couple of thoughts from me here, too. Firstly, whilst I agree that if possible it’s better to win a critic over, if you’re being criticised or flamed, it is perfectly possible to fight back and win. However, it takes some skill with argument, and it’s definitely important not to simply vent onto the screen – respond calmly and with good measure, as my fencing instructor would have said. The number one way to lose an argument online is to overreach.

There are some great resources out there on the tactics of debate, and those are the ones to study if you want to learn how to fight and win against harsh critics. Also, remember – whilst you may not convince the person flaming you, it’s the people reading both sides of the argument who are the important ones a lot of the time.

As far as RSS feeds go, I can tell you that you’re about three times as likely to be featured on the Pot if you have an untruncated RSS feed. Sure, if you’re a brilliant headline writer you might get more visitors to your site with a truncated feed – but let’s put it this way: Copyblogger is the go-to resource on the Internet for headline writing, and they still run a full feed.

Any great tips to share?

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Tremendously Useful Blogging Advice

Whether you’re a new blogger or an old hand, you’ll find something in this roundup of blog advice useful!

I continue to be impressed by the community’s response to the Newbie Blogger Initiative. Over the weekend, the community’s exploded with hints and tips as helpful as anything you’d see on Problogger or Kalzumeus.

Whether you’re a new blogger or an old hand, you’ll find some interesting stuff in here. I’ve been blogging since considerably before the word was coined, and I still learned a couple of things!

  • Matticus at World of Matticus writes a tremendously useful post on things to include in your About page – following this advice will make my life easier too! – “Being a dude or a woman isn’t going to affect your blogging skill. But, I’ve been burned before in the past because I used the wrong noun when I’ve linked to or wrote about other bloggers. You can ask Cynwise and Lilpeanut. Otherwise, you may end up being referred to as an it!”
  • Spinks at Spinksville writes an introduction to image manipulation tools and image copyright“Games companies typically don’t mind if you use media from their site, especially if you are praising the game (that’s why they make it available from the site in the first place).”
  • Windsoar at Jaded Alt offers two pieces – one on choosing your blog name, and another on deciding whether you want to blog in the first place“But, the question I mulled, and the one that eventually killed my little blog that never was came to me as I was playing an alt. Did I really see myself as a shaman? And the answer was no. “
  • Rowan at I Have Touched The Sky offers a specific but very useful rundown on how to configure Blogger comments“If you have chosen Blogger (the blogging site also known as, run by Google) you may have some barriers to your blog that deter potential comments.”
  • And finally, Live Like A Nerd offers a very helpful rundown on must-have WordPress plugins for blogging“You surely want to post your most recent post to Twitter, the moment you have blogged it. You can automate this with this plugin. It lets you choose what URL shortener to use, what text you want to use to tweet, and if the tweet for some reason doesn’t go out allows you to tweet manually. “

A couple of side notes from me on this point, incidentally: firstly, if you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you need a caching plugin, and I’d recommend Hypercache for its minimal setup and high performance. Obviously, we at the Melting Pot are using WP Engine hosting so we don’t need to worry about blog speed, but that’s kind of a high end solution!

Secondly – if you’re worrying about in-game pictures that aren’t from a company site, don’t be too concerned about the copyright on them. The copyright situation is complex in theory, but in practise I’m not aware of anyone who has gotten in legal hot waters for using game images on a non-commercial site.

And finally – please, please make sure that people can find out your Twitter feed if you have one, and what gender pronoun you’d prefer to be used to refer to when people reference you, easily from your site! Otherwise I end up having to take my best guess on the latter, and that’s got a 50% chance of going badly…

What blogging advice would you give new bloggers?

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Great New Blogger Advice from the NBI

Amongst the many benefits that the Newbie Blogger Initiative is already having on the blogosphere (did I mention what a great idea this is?, I do wonder if the flood of advice posts will be one of the most lasting.

Unlike other subject blogospheres, the MMO community has tended to be a bit short on advice posts – partially, possibly, because there’s not so much real-world money at stake here. But with the NBI, some really great writers are coming out of the woodwork with great advice for their fellow bloggers:

  • Scary at Scary Worlds writes a fascinating story of how he came to blog, and some unique advice on blogging from a phone“Most of all, I do it because I love to. Over the years my phone has become the only way I can write. I write upwards of 1,000 words an hour on the sucker.”
  • Stropp has a short, sweet, and vital piece of advice for any venture – just do it“Don’t wait. Take action now. Just Do It.”
  • Starshadow offers some generally useful tips for anyone writing online“Read your posts back to yourself, make sure it flows. Ask someone to proof read for you if you’d like an opinion before you publish. “
  • And Chris at High Latency Life offers some advice on just how to find your blogging voice“For me it was an evolution, but it starts with a vision. My vision for this blog has always been to entertain. The world loves a fool, and I am that fool. “

What are your top tips for the new bloggers at the NBI?

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