Revisiting the mission statement – and requesting reader suggestions

The RPG Athanaeum reached something of a milestone yesterday by publishing its 100th post. My initial planning before launching this Web log involved scheduling regular “quality control inspections,” every 100 posts or so, during which the blog’s content would be evaluated on how well it fulfilled the RPG Athenaeum’s mission statement.  These inspections would also be used to give readers an opportunity to suggest ways the blog could be improved. The time for the first such inspection has arrived.

Please consider reading the following mission statement and related questions. I don’t expect every reader to find it necessary to comment on or answer every question. The questions are those I asked myself when evaluating the RPG Athenaeum, but they don’t need to be the only ones; I recognize that there may be questions I should be asking that I never considered, and would welcome feedback on those ideas as well. Thus, if you have any answers or opinions you’d like to share, or suggestions about how this blog might be improved to better suit your needs as a Dungeon Master, please include them in a comment to this post. 

The goal of this blog is codified in the following mission statement:

The intent of RPG Athenaeum is to provide information related to mastering tabletop fantasy role-playing games, which site visitors can use in their games and which visitors can improve upon by sharing their insights for the benefit of all.

  • Is the content of this blog congruent with its mission? In what ways is it failing to meet its mission?
  • Is it easy for visitors to find information on the blog? Is the category and tag structure intuitive enough?
  • Are the blog topics relevant and useful?
  • Is the information presented in logical order within the posts? 
  • Is the writing style too formal? (I was particularly ambivalent about this one. My day job is writing and editing, so I try to emphasize clarity, organization, grammar and conventions like not writing in the first person when posting a game-related topic; I do, however, allow myself to use first person, relaxed grammar and colloquial speech with site updates and comments. My intent was to provide magazine-article quality, but am I alienating blog readers by using the formality a magazine would require?)
  • Are the blog posts too long? (Another question I’m uncertain about. Many RPG blogs, by design or not, provide incomplete ideas, upon which readers elaborate, and by reading both the post and comments, a viewer can obtain a complete idea. When this blog was launched, it was my intent never to post a half-baked idea; to me, such ideas seem to be of little use to new DMs or readers seeking information they can readily import into their games. But are the posts – which average about 800 words – too long for what readers expect? Should these posts be divided into parts?)
  • Should the posts contain more or fewer examples of the ideas discussed?
  • Does the visual formatting of the posts – use of pictures, internal headings, image captions, or lack thereof – make it easier or more difficult to get the information readers need?
  • Are there any blog features – categories, pages, the “100 items” lists, Crime Scene Sunday, Pimp my Treasure Parcel, etc. – that should be expanded or deleted?
  • Are the free downloads relevant and useful?
  • In what other ways could this blog be made better?

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog, and thanks in advance to those who choose to make suggestions,

Alric

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5 comments on “Revisiting the mission statement – and requesting reader suggestions

  1. ClefJ says:

    I would say yes and no to many, supporting what you’ve been doing. I enjoy longer, thought-out posts, and the formal writing makes it easier for newcomers or people who just enjoy good writers to navigate. I would say however that I’d wish for either more imagery here and there (rather than just one picture (though they have been relevant)), or more examples with which to expand an understanding.

    The format of this blog I think is friendly, and user-friendly. I might suggest though the use of numbered pages should relevant posts go beyond what one page allows. Rather than seeing “<– Older Posts" I'd like to see something more familiar is all, such as Page 1–2. If such a thing can be made possible that is. I've often missed seeing those words 'older posts'. Maybe a bolder font?

    Everything seems fit for this, and I've been enjoying it, getting some rather good ideas from it all. The mission statement is appropriate, yet I wonder if if this is a D&D-specific blog. There are many other 'fantasy' tabletop games, though D&D being the most well known I think, might this blog accommodate any other system? Regardless, I think any post subject has had merit for nearly any system one uses for RPing.

    • Alric says:

      Thanks for your feedback. Many of the formatting issues you suggest – like the older posts link, numbered pages, and such – are wrapped up in the WordPress software; unless I moved the site to my own URL (which I eventually plan to do), I can’t change the code for it. Maybe WordPress Support has some solutions. The text breaks (those “more” links) are inserted deliberately; I do so for readers who may not be interested in the most recent post – otherwise, they have to scroll down 800 to 1,000 words just to see the next post. Even with only displaying the five most recent posts, that’s a lot of scrolling if you’re looking for something that interests you. Maybe that practice needs to change.

      About the D&D relevancy – most of my fantasy RPG experience has been with legacy and current editions of the D&D, and I don’t feel particularly qualified to discuss other systems. Looking at the posts, I can see where they could apply to other games, though. Maybe something more generic would be better.

      • ClefJ says:

        Nah, I think sticking to a focus can be a really good thing. Story elements can be transplanted sure, but things like class conflicts and treasure parcels, stories rooted in D&D, should remain I think. XD

        Understood about the site format, wasn’t familiar with it.

  2. Michelle says:

    I really enjoy your writing style. Yes, it’s formal, but it uses a high level of vocabulary and makes me feel smart.

    I also don’t think the posts are too long. When I read your blog I know I’m getting an in-depth look at role-playing and I expect the longer post. If you have a lot to say, you should say it. Reader comments are helpful, but don’t rely on them to expand the ideas.

    The topics are good. I especially like crime scene Sunday and the lists of 100 items have been helpful. I’ve used a bunch of your ideas in my game and my players have really enjoyed it. The Babelfish to make broken common speech, the game player dynamics, and the villians information has been really helpful.

    Thanks! Keep writing.

    • Alric says:

      Thank you for your kinds words and affirmation.

      I’m working on the next “100 list.” it should be done by the middle of next week.

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