New things are scary and change is hard. Here's a bit about where we're at and where we're going.

In this version of Kinja, the Observation Deck goes from free forum to group blog, essentially. We're the second site to get this newfangled tech, and there have been a few lessons learned from Jalopnik's trailblazing.

  • Too many cooks in the kitchen leads to chaos.
  • People who aren't allowed in the kitchen to add to the chaos get upset.
  • I'm decorating my kitchen so all I have is kitchen analogies.

Given the above issues, we've decided to limit the amount of people who can start topics. There's no hard number, but it is less than "everyone." We've got about 20 right now. When we've switched over fully (i.e. The Odeck That Walks Behind gets turned off), we'll monitor for a week and see where we stand. If we're light on topics, we'll add more people. If it's a tsunami of topics, we'll stand pat for a bit.

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This means we're not adding more topic starters right this moment. We tried to pick people who are prolific odeck posters for this first round - and it is only the first round. We absolutely will add more people. This is just what an IT person would call the pre-production freeze.

If you aren't a topic starter, here are a few things to consider:

  • We'll have an open thread every day for folks to talk amongst themselves.
  • Write a blog post on your own blog and ask for it to be crossposted.
  • Both of the above things are a great way to get invited into the kitchen when we need more cooks.
  • Build your own kitchen! We can all have our own group blogs. Add the people you want posting on your group blog. (I intend to make my own book blog, for instance.)

The first two points are important - we're looking for topic starters who post often and add to the conversation. As I said above, this freeze isn't a forever thing. We want to make sure we don't have a deluge of posts out of the gate, but we also don't want people to feel excluded. The goal is to curate for the perfect blend of quality and participation. It's going to be a work in progress.

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Got questions? Ask here, hit me up on Twitter, or shoot me an email at eridani99(at)gmail.com.

Updating to add a FAQ:

Q: Why wasn't I chosen?

A: When you have to choose a set of people that is "less than everyone" the upshot is that not everyone is chosen. When we were looking through people to add to the first wave, and I will reiterate again that it is only the first wave, we looked at the most prolific posters on the odeck in the last few months. It wasn't about seniority or favoritism or anything else. We wanted a busy, thriving blog here from the get-go. That was the only consideration, and we didn't even get all of those people in this first round.

Q: Isn't this just like the star system?

A: It depends on how you mean that question. If you're asking, "Is this a way to showcase the content of prolific commenters who consistently produce at a high level?" then the answer is yes. If what you're asking is, "Isn't this just a group of people the mods like?" I refer you to the question above about why people were or were not included. Plenty of people I am friends with were not put in this first round. Plenty of people I am not friends with and don't know well were put in this first round. Content is king. It will continue its rule going forward.

Q: Doesn't this exclude new commenters?

A: There are multiple ways to look at this. Right now, today, if you don't know the open forum is there, you're likely to never stumble across it. It is, in fact, very exclusive. (As is evidenced by the fact that I only didn't recognize ONE person in this thread.) If you do find it, you can post there, which is definitely cool.

In the group blog format, the potential for cross-posting is huge. That's why having active, prolific folks is important. If they see a cool post in a thread, they can crosspost it and have the odeck discussion of it begin. That person gets a notice that their post was shared, and they can come on down and see it. I expect this to drive more traffic here and, as such, be a much more highly publicized space. Commenting in open threads, taking part in discussions already active - it is the same way any blog functions, except that in this one, you do have the potential to become a topic starter.