On 23 August 2007 I announced the launch of an evaluation of the UK Web Focus blog. The results of the evaluation, which was open for a period of four weeks, are now available. The evaluation, which made use of the SurveyMonkey software, have two main purposes: 1) to gain a better understanding of the tools used to read the blog (the platform and applications and 2) to gain feedback on the content of the blog, the publishing frequency and the length of postings. And in order to maximise the numbers of responses a follow-up request for feedback was posted on 11 September, in case readers may have missed the initial post, which was sent during the holiday season.
Of the 30 completed responses, I was pleased to read that 38.% used a UK Web Focus › Create New Post — WordPress Web-based RSS reader and 20.5% using a desktop RSS reader, with a similar percentage (20.5%) visiting the main blog Web site and 10.5% reading the blog posts via an aggregator, such as the JISC Emerge Elgg community Web site or JISC OSS Watch’s Planet aggregation service.
The most popular operating system environment was, unsurprisingly, MS Windows (64.1%), followed by Apple Macintosh (25.6%) and Unix (10.3%). Nobody admitted to reading the blog using a mobile device (whether wearing pyjamas or not :-) )
Just over half (53.8%) of the respondents have given comments on the blog – it was pleasing that those who hadn’t were willing to give reasons why (“Worried about looking like I’m stating the obvious, I always feel I should have something new and original to offer“, “As of writing this, I’m not part of the blogosphere myself yet. Anonymous or dummy commenting doesn’t feel right” and “I haven’t commented (yet) because I haven’t felt I had anything sufficiently new/original to contribute“). Interestingly one person felt that blogs are not an appropriate medium for discussion: “I try not to make comments in blogs that require a response. For me blogs are for dissemination, they do not work well for discussion. I comment if I feel I can add something to the observation being made. If I want a discussion I will bring it up on a more appropriate location.“.
The comments on the content of the blog were very pleasing for me:
- Invariably relevant and thought provoking. Informed opinion that is not opinionated.
- Entries and variety very interesting.
- Excellent, I can’t remember reading anything that I thought was a waste of my time.
- Informative and thought-provoking — it’s good to read a blog about ‘web 2.0′ that manages to raise interesting questions rather than being dogmatic about the ‘right’ way to do things.
- marvellous – timely, detailed, open, and invitingly humble!
Many thanks for those comments (he says, humbly :-)
The question on the frequency of publication of the posts, again, seemed to indicate that readers were happy:
- beats expectations – at least daily, sometimes twice – always somehow useful
- As I understand Brian’s workload and the diverse calls on his time, I am amazed he has time to produce as much as he does. I am happy with frequency at present, much more would be too much.
- Amazing: don’t know how you do it. Short ones are easy, but a considered article I find a lot of work to make relevant and to avoid complete pratfalls (small pratfalls are acceptable in blogging, I think!)
- Ideal. Frequent enough to keep interested but not so frequent that it becomes a chore to keep up
although there were some divergences of opinion:
- I wish postings were somewhat more frequent. Perhaps it should be a more central feature of Web Focus dissemination?
- I think there are too many postings-I often ignore them because I simply don’t have time to read through such lengthy and frequent posts.
- Sometimes difficult to keep up with all articles! But I would prefer too many rather than not enough.
The comments on the length of the posts also seemed to show that the current approach is working:
- Almost perfect. It is quite easy to get the gist of a post and decide whether to read in full.
- Good – enough detail usually to make it worthwhile. The writing style is good – waffle free.
- as long as they need to be in order to give appropriate detail – so just right – and effort made to embed examples very helpful
- Works well for your blog – other blogs work better with shorter news snippets but yours requires longer discussion to get point across
- I find the postings quite detailed – longer than several of the blogs I read, but the use of diagrams and screenshots etc breaks this up and prevents it from being an arduous read
- Shorter would be less useful (I think.)
I also invited readers to give other comments and suggestions. These included:
- This blog is well written and presents ideas and technologies in a very clear way. It makes good use of links for finding our more. But it does not overwhelm either. A nice balancing act!
- keep up the great service – perhaps even take on a network of distributed apprentices to propagate subtleties of ethos which may otherwise be overlooked as a legitimate set of “higher” skills – professional or otherwise
- In general, I appreciate the blog and find it useful when I have time to read it! Thank you also for taking the time to survey your readers.
- Currently, your blog is one of the Top 5 that I follow regularly Two of them are in English – the other one is Lorcan Dempsey’s
- I think it’s great to have the range of info you have and to report back on events you have attended.
This feedback has been very useful to me, so thanks to eveyone who responded.
The main issues and suggestions which a number of respondents raised which I should respond were the technical level and intended audence for the posts and problems in reading some of the posts, due, for example, to problems in rendering images. It seems that some readers welcome the advice given to those new to blogging and Web 2.0, but other, more experienced readers, would prefer more technically-focussed posts. I am wondering, in light of the feedback we are receiving from our funders and our discussions with the museums, libraries and archives community, whether to set up a blog, perhaps focussing on blogging and mainstream use of Web 2.0 services, aimed at mainstream members of that community, who may be making the first steps with Web 2.0. I will float this idea at the Blogging Masterclass and with others in the Library sector I’ll be seeing on Monday and Tuesday at the ILI 2007 conference.
But I’d most particularly welcome feedback on this from readers of this blog.