Hey, Where’d They Go?

A few people have mentioned that the large number of Bicycle Commuter Profiles we’ve been posting everyday have been a little overwhelming, and I have to say I don’t disagree. So, in an effort to not completely overwhelm our regular programming with updates to the Profiles section, I’ve now moved them to their own page. This will allow me to post more per day without making it difficult to find the other content. The plan is to post batches of updates to the Profiles page, then post only a single notification to the main page alerting readers to the update. Hopefully this will end up being a good compromise that works for both those who have told us they love the Profiles, and those who have expressed concerns over the large quantity that are coming in.

At this point we have approximately a 15 day backlog on posting Profiles. If you’ve already submitted your profile, thank you for your patience! We’ll get them posted as soon as we can. If you haven’t submitted a profile but you’d like to participate, please visit the Bicycle Commuter Profiles Page for more information.

A Quick Note About the Commuter Profiles

The response to the call for Commuter Profiles has been amazing if not a little overwhelming. Over the past 24 hours, over 50 entries were submitted. So as to not overwhelm everyone’s RSS feeds and Facebook Walls, I’m going to post no more than 5-10 per day. This means if you’ve already submitted a Profile, it may be up to a week before it shows up on the site. Thanks for your patience and keep checking back!

In the meantime, I’ll still be posting my usual news, reviews, and so on…

Tweaking Knobs

Knobs

Before becoming a graphic artist, I spent a number of years managing small, specialty retail businesses including a music store, an art supply store, and a fly fishing outfitter. I think it was in those businesses that I learned to enjoy researching and testing new products. It was also in those businesses that I learned the importance of trying new things to keep a business healthy and running smoothly. Of course, not every new idea works out, but even when they don’t, there’s usually something to be learned in the process. It’s not so different here on the blog, where we do a fair amount of knob tweaking to see what works and what doesn’t.

On the subject of trying new things and tweaking knobs, as part of our ongoing effort to create a nice place for transpo bicyclists to share ideas and learn from one another, we recently asked our commenters to use their full names when submitting comments. The idea was to encourage greater accountability and transparency among discussion participants. Many people expressed their support for the idea, but a fair number also expressed concerns about privacy.

It’s been 3 weeks now and the general consensus is that the disadvantages of the new policy outweigh the advantages. Along with the privacy issue, at least 25-30% of the comments submitted didn’t include a full name anyway. This created a bunch of extra work for us, and a big hassle for our commenters—precisely the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish. So, with that in mind, we’re going to hit the “reset” button and revert back to our old policy of requiring only a first name with your comment submissions. For those who have been using their full names in the comment field these past few weeks, many thanks for working with us. And for those who have been hesitant to post because of privacy concerns, welcome back and thanks for your patience… :-)

Reader Pic of the Week

EcoVelo Flickr Group Pool

Starting next week, we’ll be choosing one photo per week from our EcoVelo Flickr Group to feature here on the blog. If you’re a budding photographer, or if you simply like sharing your photos, this is an opportunity to gain a little extra exposure. We’ll post your photo, give you full credit and kudos, and link back to your Flickr photostream and blog/website if you have one.

If you’re already a contributor to the EcoVelo Flickr Group and you’d like your existing photos to be considered, simply tag your photos with “evpicoftheweek” (without quotes). If you’re not already a Flickr member, you can sign up here (it’s free). After signing up, simply upload your photos, tag them with “evpicoftheweek” (without quotes), and add them to our group. Good luck, and thanks for participating!

The Real Work

Ridin'

You might think that testing equipment, taking photographs, writing articles, answering emails, setting up photo contests, processing gallery entries, scanning RSS feeds, and updating software (among many other things) make up the bulk of the work we do here. If so, you’d be wrong. The real work is dealing with trolls, spammers, and plain old testy blog visitors who want to use and abuse our discussion area. All of the physical and creative work is a real joy and a labor of love. It’s moderating the discussion area that causes the most stress and strain and sometimes even makes us weary.

After going to full comment moderation approximately one year ago, our discussion area really livened up with a broader range of participants and more friendly and constructive discussions. This indicates to us that most of our readers prefer a controlled discussion environment where they can express themselves without being attacked by other users. We’ve also been told by our sponsors that they appreciate the positive tone and constructive nature of our discussions.

While it’s been a good year overall, things have deteriorated a bit this winter, with higher quantities of spam and trolling, and more people testing the limits of our discussion guidelines. Unfortunately, snarky comments beget snarky comments (I’ve been guilty of this myself), and once the bar is lowered, it’s not long before the entire tone moves in the wrong direction. We’ve been a little lax lately, allowing too much negativity to slip through, so we think it’s perhaps time to make a couple of adjustments.

A couple of things that are sorely missing on many forums and blogs are transparency and accountability. It’s easy to be flippant and rude from behind the shield of an anonymous login, but we believe most people will play nice when their name is on the byline. You know who we are, and going forward, we want to know who you are. So, starting today, everyone participating in our discussions will be required to enter their full first and last name, and a real email address, with every comment submitted (your email address will remain confidential and unpublished as always). Any comments submitted without your full name and legitimate email address will remain unpublished.

Along with this procedural change, we’ll be paying closer attention to our own discussion guidelines and applying them more consistently. What this means is that a slightly higher percentage of comments won’t make it through moderation. Believe us when we say we’d much rather not moderate comments at all, but after fielding nearly 24,000 comments over the past couple of years, we know this is required to maintain a constructive discussion area. Hopefully these small adjustments will help make our already mostly-friendly discussions better than ever.

Pick a Channel, Any Channel

EcoVelo @ Tumblr

Besides accessing EcoVelo by a direct link from your bookmarks, you can also follow our updates via our e-mail notification system, our RSS feeds, our Twitter feed, and our Facebook page. We also upload many of our photos to Flickr, and we host a Flickr group for people interested in bikes used for transportation. If all of that wasn’t enough, we’ve just added a Tumblr site for our readers who also blog at Tumblr. We were seeing an increasing amount of our content showing up on Tumblr, so we figured we’d join in the fun and start our own Tumblr site. We’ll be mostly using it to post new photos with links backs to current articles; in other words, it won’t replace our other channels, but it will make it easier for our readers who use Tumblr to reblog our posts if they’d like.

EcoVelo@Tumblr

Your Wish… A New Links Page

I asked if you liked our old outbound links list in the sidebar, and you responded by saying you’d like a new, freestanding “Links” page, preferably annotated. Well, your wish is my command; I recently created that new “Links” page, added some descriptions, and placed it in the header menu at the top of this page. If you haven’t already stumbled upon the new links page, have a look.


 
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