Thursday, November 18, 2010

BA Shared Topic: Autoblogography

...or "Everyone loves metaposts!"

My participation in the BA Shared Topics is sporadic at best, I admit. But this week's seems like a pretty good one. It's a post I was planning on making in a couple months for my 1-year post. But now works just as well.

This week Ophelie prompted us to write our Autoblogography. Why we started blogging, what challenges we've faced, our favorite posts, etc.

I think this is gonna end up going for quite a bit. Run with me, though. I'll try to make it worth your time. And mine.

The Seed
But when there's a void there, I'm also the kind of person that will step up and fill it until someone else comes along that can do it as good or better than me...
-I never wanted to be a raid leader, Feb 2, 2010
About halfway through 3.0 and onward towards 3.1 my guild didn't have a lot of Feral Druids. I think I may have only been the only Feral main at the time. A few of our Druids did have Feral off-specs (or were considering them) and a few of our players had Druid alts, but that was about it.

Still, I was starting to field a lot of questions about gear, specs, enchants, etc.

Over the course of about a week and a half I put up a slew of posts on our guild forms basically brain-dumping everything I knew about the class. Each post had a specific focus and each was in regards to either Bear or Cat play. When 3.1 dropped a few weeks after I finished the posts, I went back and updated them to be relevant.

I put a lot of effort into those posts and I felt they were actually pretty well written for a guy that doesn't always have the best communication skills. I was somewhat disappointed (but not surprised) when they didn't have a read count that went much past 15 for the Cat posts or 5 for the Bears. I started to think maybe there could be a larger audience for these types of things, though.

No one to cry talk to, no place to call home
I couldn't find a good post quote for this one, so instead, totally not related to anything, Nutshell may be one of the best damn songs ever. I never got to hear Layne Staley sing it live, but the new guy, DuVall, is damn good and I got to see AiC perform at Red Rocks last month. They played that song during the set, much to my surprise. One of those concert moments I'll never forget.

Anyway, like dragonfyre mentions in her response to this topic, I have an LJ that I use with varying degrees of frequency. As I got more and more into WoW and excited about this game I was playing with people that were genuinely fun to play with, I wanted to talk about it. So I tried talking about certain milestones, experiences, and general musings in my LJ. And--like dragonfyre--it turns out none of my friends are really into WoW. So talking about it there never generated the types of discussions I was looking for.

I stopped using that as an outlet, but then I was right back to always wanting to talk about WoW and having no one to talk about it with if I wasn't sitting there playing with my guildies.

A Noob Blogger
So I have this noob in my guild, right? I'm not making fun of's a self-professed title. One I'm happy to oblige.
-Bitter, party of one?, Feb 8, 2010
Around the same time that was happening, I accidentally found out my GL wrote a blog, and a fairly prominent one at that.

I'd been following The Big Bear Butt for a while--since late 2007 when I started trying to figure out what I needed to do to get in on this raiding thing as a Feral. He'd guest-posted on WoW Insider a few times and wrote some articles that really fed me the information I needed in a digestible manner. (Ew.) Once I realized he had his own blog, I pretty much camped it for any useful material.

In late February of 2009 he made a post regarding his take on dual specs. Only it wasn't solely his take. It was his extension of someone else's take. That "someone else" happened to be Dinaer.

BBB linked to the post by "Forever a Noob" and encouraged his readers to go read it. Initially I skipped the link. I didn't play a Rogue so I felt no compulsion to go to a Rogue blog. And I'd been reading BBB long enough to know that I'd get all the info I needed once he did his own deep dive on the subject.

As I was skimming down to the meat of the post, however, I stopped. I noticed BBB was using "Forever a Noob" and "Dinaer" interchangeably. I knew a Dinaer. He was my GL. But I'd know if that Dinaer ran a blog, wouldn't I? There's no way they could be the same.

How many Rogues named Dinaer could there be, though?

So I went and checked it out. After reading a few posts and looking at his armory links I found out it was the very same Dinaer. Small world.

So it turned out I knew someone that ran a blog. A pretty popular one. In some dark corner of my subconscious, my brain decided that if I were to start a blog, I wouldn't necessarily be all alone in the endeavor.

Procrastination and Self-Doubt
I feel so ashamed. So...dirty.
-Yeah. I did it., Apr 15, 2010
Thus began an eight month cycle of internal debate. (Seriously...I can be really indecisive about the silliest of things, especially when I'm just trying to not acknowledge the decision I full well know I've already made.)

What would I actually write about? You can only make spec and gear posts so often. Not often enough to sustain a blog.

Would people care about anything I have to say? I'm not pushing bleeding edge progression. I can't compete with people who are clearly "better" than me. (Such a subjective measure, although I'll still be the first to tell you I don't think I'm that good.)

I don't have novel ideas. Nor am I the guy that's going to put out some ground-breaking theory-crafting. All my knowledge comes from the people who do that for me. I use Rawr and EJ and bloggers like BBB and Alaron to learn what I know. I'm just condensing their work into simpler terms. Who needs me with all those resources out there?

What happens if I start and I don't get any readers? Or if I can't find the motivation to post enough to make it a worthwhile blog? I don't want to be that blogger that only posts once a month.

What if I fail? Why even start at that point. I'd rather not start than fail. (Every time I catch myself thinking that, I try to imagine Wayne Gretzky taking a slapshot at my face for doing so. He's often quoted as having said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.")

There are already so many Feral blogs out there. Is there really room for another? (Turns out, there's really not. The lion's share of those Druid blogs are of the Resto variety.)

I was already teetering on the edge of quitting WoW. What would happen if I started a blog and then decided to quit but felt compelled to keep playing anyway because of the blog? How would I resolve that conflict?

What would I even call it? I totally want Feral Instincts, but it's already taken. Damn that guy, anyway.

If I'm going to start a blog it needs to look good. I'm not much of a visual designer. How am I going to make a presentable blog? I don't want to start blogging unless I actually have a good looking blog.

(Notice the abrupt shift in the types of questions and doubts I was having at the end there? Yeah...I did, too.)

Taking the plunge
I have failed in this task and thus still have an exceptionally ugly blog.
-Note to self, Jan 11, 2010
At the end of 2009 I had about 14 days of vacation that I had to use or they would disappear with the turning of the calendar. So I did what any sensible person would do. On December 11 at (approximately) 5:00 pm I shut down all my browsers and IDEs, set my OOO auto-responder in Outlook, turned off the lights in my office, and walked out of the building for the last time that year.

I had a lot of time to kill. And I figured I'd kill some of it by finally spinning up this blog.

Within a couple days I'd settled on Primal Precision for the name of the blog, figured out that I'd use Blogspot as my host (100% because the Powered by Wowhead links worked cleanly and without crazy workarounds and I wanted that functionality), and reserved the blog name.

Then...nothing. I still didn't want to start posting until I had a design, but I was dragging my feet in building one, mostly due to my already-stated limits in the realm of visual creativity. I had no idea where to even start. It was overwhelming to me.

On Jan 4, my first day back in the office after that long break, I realized I'd essentially done nothing in my goal of starting a blog during my break. I'd let the self-doubt get to me again.

Since waiting to post didn't seem to be an adequate motivator to get a design, I flipped things around. I started posting. And figured that actually having a blog that I was updating would force me to get a design done.

The early days
In this blog I'm going to try to keep up on changes in class mechanics and give my impressions. I'm going to try to keep up with gear lists and what drops that's good for us. I'm going to try and give my impressions of facing off against various raid bosses as I experience them.
-Welcome, Jan 4, 2010
My first month of posting was pretty low-key as I searched for my own voice. Most of my posts were rehashes of the ones I'd made on the guild forums 9 months prior and boss strats that mirrored Dinaer's in form and substance. The few spur-of-the-moment or topical posts that I made were pretty short and dry.

It wasn't until two weeks after my first post that I buckled down with Photopaint and Blogger's CSS editor and cranked out a design for the blog over the course of a single Sunday. It's the same design I still have as of the time I'm writing this. I'm not 100% pleased with it. Actually, to be fair, I'm about 40% pleased with it. In a perfect situation, though, I think I'm personally capable of coming up with a design that I'm 60% pleased with. I guess 2/3 of the way there isn't bad for my first attempt.

(Random thought of the moment, as I'm writing this: I really want a cookie right now.)

At that point I let the cat out of the bag, so to speak, and started trying to drive some traffic to my blog.

Learning what it means to blog
reading this is like reading lorem ipsum text
all the words are correct...
but i get the feeling that if i rearrange them, then they might make sense

-Best. Comment. Ever., Jan 29, 2010
Almost as soon as I started blogging, I tried to impose some guidelines on myself about what I would and would not post. Mostly the latter.

I would not post about bad PuG experiences. LFG was all the rage at that time and horror stories were a dime a dozen. But they were cheap, easy sources of inspiration and failed to tell any unique stories starting the second week of the tool's release. Not that said stories couldn't be told in fun or interesting ways. But I didn't (and still don't) believe in my personal story-telling skills enough to go there.

I would not post about anything serious that wasn't directly about WoW. No politics, no current world events, no "so last night I was out with my friends...". I've allowed myself the (not-quite monthly) Monthly Moderation posts. But even those are to things that are more entertaining than serious.

I would not air dirty laundry about my guild or guild members. Not that there's a lot of it to go around, but no guild has none. At the very least, I'd obfuscate names to protect the innocent. If I wasn't an Officer and Raid Leader, I might not have either of these reservations. But I feel that, being in a position of authority, I have certain boundaries I shouldn't cross.

I would not fill my blog with whiny, ranty posts about how X or Y sucks. Again, some people are able to do just that, but in a way that's humorous and entertaining. Or they're at least articulate enough to form well thought-out and written posts on the matter, rather than emo-fests. I am not either of those types of writers.

(And yes, I've failed at that last goal multiple times. But for every emo-fest post that's shown up in my blog, I've started and deleted at least two more. So I'm trying.)

I would stick to a post a day. If I had more ideas than that, I'd save them for another day.

It didn't take long for the Auto-Dispenser of Topics to run out of things to feed me...for me to run through the long backlog of posts sitting in Draft form that I could just clean up and publish. I had to start dreaming up things to write.

I think my saving grace in those first few months is that we were getting a slew of information on Cataclysm. It gave me a lot of information to "report" and a lot of little details I could discuss and try to pull apart and make practical assumptions about. Having that gave me a relatively easy source of inspiration while I actually settled into and became comfortable with the routine of blogging. Had I not had that, I don't think I would have made it nearly this long.

Still, as I look over my blog, I sometimes feel like I'm spending too much time talking about what I'm personally doing in the game and not enough on general Feral or Guild Leadership related topics. At the very least, I'm not doing a very good job of relating what I'm doing back to those topics. While it's always good for a blog to have a personal touch, I want my blog to be about more than just me.

The Golden Age Season you gradually start to feel like you're a part of this bigger community, sharing your thoughts and experiences about the game--and sometimes just life in general--it feels good. I hope it's a feeling I get to continue to experience for a good bit of time to come.
-100th post!, June 9, 2010
Between May and August I hit a pretty steady pace with my blog. I was averaging a post every-other day (though mostly posting on weekdays) and I was getting at least a comment or two on nearly every one of them. My page-loads per month crossed over the 3,000 mark and plateaued. There was still a small climb, but usually only on the magnitude of 100 or so over each previous month. That was more than good enough for me. It showed I wasn't just wasting my time. People cared about the things I was posting.

I also started getting better about reading other blogs and even occasionally commenting on them. It's still something I'm horrible about and need to get better about doing. I love being a part of this community and I do want to participate more beyond the bounds of my own little corner of the blogosphere. I've always been a largely closed-off individual, though, so it's slow going.

Towards the ends of this stretch, one specific event solidified both the I'm-being-read and I-need-to-comment-more feelings for me. I wrote a quick post musing about the personal stories of some of the Wrath bosses that we were facing. It got linked from about half a dozen different blogs and I saw about a week's worth of spike traffic. Getting mentioned from that many different sources really made me feel good. Getting no comments on that post despite the attention made me feel kinda sad. I realized that even when doing your part to drive higher traffic numbers, even a quick acknowledgment in the comments of a post is worth so much more. Why I've continually failed to remember this since, I don't know.

I vlogged!
This one was a lot harder than the Halion vid I did a few weeks ago. There was a lot more information I needed to convey and, therefore, a lot more places for me to stumble over my words and have to try again. The Halion video had 3 distinct voice recordings put together. This one has over a dozen.
-I did it again, Sept 13, 2010
Okay, it wasn't really vlogging. It was just putting together a video guide. But it did involve me actually speaking to you all. Not with my fingers ('cause that doesn't sound creepy at all) but with my voice. I don't think I can impress upon anyone who doesn't really know me how much of a big deal that is for me. It helped that I was able to treat both of my guide videos almost like I was leading a raid. It gave the whole experience just the right amount of formality and familiarity for me to push my comfort zone and get through it. But I still had to do both of those when Norfin (my partner) wasn't in the room. (I couldn't even bring myself to do the Halion vid while he was home.)

I'm not sure what it would take for me to do vids in the style of Big Red Kitty, where he just...talks about, you know...stuff. With a level of enthusiasm that would get you carted off the streets anywhere but NYC.

Booze, probably.

(Lots of booze.)

Regardless, those types of videos are one of the things I've wanted to do ever since deciding I was going to do this blogging thing. I felt there was a certain gap in the strategy videos that existed out there. It seems they all exist in three categories:
  1. Using short snippits of caption text to describe what's going on, even though it's far more complicated than the little info they're conveying.
  2. Showing a very elite group of players going through the encounter with such precision that you don't get a good idea of what they're really doing.
  3. Showing the entire encounter with very loud, very bad music substituted for any kind of explanation.
These three categories are not mutually exclusive from each other.

While I'm under no illusion that I'll ever be the definitive source of strategy videos (due in no small part to the fact that I'll never be anywhere near the first one to put them out there as content is delivered) I'd like to fill that gap that exists for the more casual raider.

I think I did an okay job on my first two attempts and I'm looking forward to doing more of them in Cataclysm.

Looking forward
I think this is gonna end up going for quite a bit. Run with me, though. I'll try to make it worth your time. And mine.
-BA Shared Topic: Autoblogography, Nov 18, 2010
(You see what I did there?)

At the rate I'm posting, I'm going to hit #200 on one of the last two days of the year. My 1-year blogoversary will be less than a week later. I'm hoping to celebrate, in part, by releasing a new design. One I started working on months ago. I have the last couple weeks of the year off work again, so we'll see how that goes this time.

As we enter Cataclysm I hope to be able to be one of those voices out on the internet that helps guide Ferals through the new content, offering valuable insight and suggestions. Being that I didn't start my blog until over half of ICC was available, it's something I haven't really had too much of an opportunity to really try to do yet.

I hope to truly begin to be able to fill that void in strat videos.

I honestly didn't expect to see a true 1 year blogoversary. And I certainly didn't expect to be in the neighborhood of 200 posts by that time if I did.

Even my readership has far exceeded my expectations. Though I'd like to ultimately get it away from that 3K/month level it's been stuck at since April. (Last month saw a huge spike, mostly thanks to Feral Instincts and Jaded Alt linking to me in their very Google-friendly 4.01 compilation posts. But levels have pretty much gone back to normal since then.)

Even if none of that happens, though, as long as I can keep having fun doing this (and I am having fun) I intend to stick around.

Other random fun quotes I had no specific place to use
So I'm walking through the airport on the way to my flight's gate and I see a lady with a pug. My first thought was, "Hey, she's grouped with 100 random people."
-You know you play too much WoW when..., Jan 21, 2010

He kept trying to get me into the game. "Just try it. You'll like it," he said. I, of course, recognized this tactic from my D.A.R.E. days back in 3rd grade and stood my ground against addictive substances.
-How'd you get started?, Feb 9, 2010

Don't get me wrong. Robes are cool. But they feel very Resto or Balance. Ferals don't wear robes. They wear pants.
-The Best Druid Set to Date, Mar 24,2010

And I pried it from the corpse of a dude who had a giant, poison-filled needle for a hand and a GI tract on permanent loop
-So awesome., Mar 29, 2010

She asked if Blizzard gives me anything for my continued subscription. I said no, but they gave me a horse for getting Dad to play. She seemed bewildered. I didn't know why. Then Dad explained that I didn't mean a real horse.
-Family Update, Mar 31, 2010

They flee Argus and end up crashing their ship into what's now Nagrand. Then they flee Outland and crash their ship into Azeroth. Frankly I'm surprised we even trust them enough to fly a gryphon at this point.
-General musings from the weekend, Apr 26, 2010

Do you love maf? I love maf. Let's do some maf together!
-Mafs Time!, May 6, 2010


-I mean it, Jul 12, 2010


  1. Saniel,

    Great's always interesting to see what got people started. For me, it was work...specifically, I was assigned to a 12-hour night shift, with NOTHING but a locked-down computer as company. I had Internet, and that was it. :) My inspiration was the Of Teeth and Claws blog...gone now, but when he quit, I wanted to keep I did.
    (FWIW, the name I wanted was Shift Happens, but that one was taken too.)

  2. That's a great narrative of the development of your blog. Good read. I like the quotes.

    I had completely forgotten about the Blog Azeroth shared topics. I was in BA when it was first founded, but it wasn't Google Reader-friendly so I gradually drifted away from it. Maybe its time to get back there.

    I sometimes wish I had gone with blogspot rather than wordpress just for the wowhead mouseover functionality. When I started my blog, I was already familiar with the wordpress platform so it made sense at the time.

    This actually causes me to reflect. I've let my blog slide lately because there has been virtually nothing to post about. Your post made me think back to why I started the blog in the first place. It makes me a little more excited to ramp it back up in Cataclysm.

  3. Ugh. I can't imagine working a shift like that. At least on the reg. I'd be lying if I said I haven't had to pull a couple all-nighters at my job.

    What line of work was it?

  4. The last month and a half, especially has been hard when it comes to thinking up topics. A lot times I'm blindly grasping at ideas, finishing posts halfway before deciding I didn't really want to write about that and starting over.

    Once I realized how close I was to making 200 posts by the end of the year, though, I became determined to make it happen.

  5. "What would I even call it? I totally want Feral Instincts, but it's already taken. Damn that guy, anyway."

    ~goes to do research~

    Your first post, Jan 4, 2010.

    My first post, Jan 13, 2010.


    Thanks for taking the time to write it though. I wish I was consistent.