June 26 update: I've had some issues with site speed after implementing Buddypress. Hold on while I figure out the best approach here. Things may be in flux a while.
Most of the interesting things happening on the web seem to involve a strong community element. Think about Wikipedia, Wordpress, Twitter, Youtube, Quora -- all of these sites thrive on community content and interaction. So this weekend I decided to update a few features on I'd Rather Be Writing to move it more in a community-friendly direction.
There's a new Questions and Answers feature (similar to Stack Overflow) on the site. Check it out by clicking Questions and Answers on the navigation bar. Ask a question about anything (tech comm related). Provide answers to other questions, expounding as much or as little as you want. You can vote up or down questions and answers too. You get points for voting and points for having the highest voted answer.
There's actually whole social framework (like Ning, but for WordPress it's called Buddypress) now activated on the site. You'll set it as soon as you register on the site. To register, click the Register link in the top black toolbar, and then log in using the Log in link on the same toolbar.
When you register as a member, you can complete a site profile, providing as much or as little information about yourself as you want. Your profile then appears in a directory of members on the site, which you can view by clicking Members on the navigation bar.
You can click links in your profile to find others who have similar profile details. It's a way of discovering others with similar interests. (I tried to create as many profile selections as possible to enable more meaningful discovery.)
Additionally, the member directory is cool because if you want more context to someone's comment, you can review his or her profile to get to know the person better.
The home page now shows more of a Dashboard-like view. You can see the latest blog posts, most shared posts, most commented posts, recent questions, recent answers, users with highest reputation, top #techcomm tweets, and so on.
The homepage also shows the latest tech comm events. All members can add events here too, though it's not as intuitive as the Questions feature. To add an event, view your profile, click Groups, and join the Events group. From there you click Calendar. Scroll down a bit and you'll see a way to post events. The homepage shows all events for this "Events" group.
By the way, notice all the options from your profile name in the upper-right corner. You can easily edit your profile or go to any other social features from the menu there.
One more detail. You have to log in now to comment. The whole Question and Answers feature doesn't work well unless people sign in. Also, the Member directory doesn't get populated unless people register and log in. Over time this site will become much richer because of the membership.
If you have any feedback or suggestions on these site enhancements, please let me know. I actually have plans to gamify the site more, but doing so requires me to learn more about event hooks and ways to tie into them, which I haven't entirely figured out yet.
Currently you get points only when you interact with the Questions and Answers feature. Point allocations are as follows:
Having an answer accepted: 15
Accepting an answer: 2
Having an Answer voted up: 10
Having a Question voted up: 5
Having a Question voted down: -2
Voting a Question or Answer down: -1
Eventually I want to create points for other actions too. And with these points I'll make badges and try to create more status rewards and incentives for members, etc. I'm not entirely sure all the directions I'll take, but it's fun to think about it. At any rate, this is version 2.0 of I'd Rather Be Writing.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.