When I was playing with blogging for the first time in January I wrote '..we'll see where this goes :-)'. Well, it certainly went somewhere! Here's a short overview of where we are today.
What is it that we do? Someone has commented that BlenderNation is 'defragmenting the Blender community'. He hit the nail on the head: there is *so* much going on in the Blender community but you had to keep track of lots of sites to be able to see it. BlenderNation aims to solve this and in the process, to provide a library where you can find the most important Blender resources on the web. We have no ambitions to add community features such as forums or public galleries: other sites already provide those and they're doing a great job at it. We collect and report. Nothing more, nothing less.
The project is by far surpassing my initial expectations: within three months, we've reached the point where we are being read by over 2500 people every day. Our RSS feed has 500 subscribers on average. 70% of you are 'returning visitors'.
I started off alone, but was quickly joined by four other authors. Let me introduce them to you:
- FÃ©derico Lucignano (Lox_federico). FÃ©derico is a Blender developer from Italy. He keeps an eye on Blender development for us and is currently in love with the renderer Kerkythea.
- David Millet (Spiderworm). David is a long time Blender groupie from the United States. He's the author of the award-winning 'Blender 3D: Noob to Pro'. For BlenderNation, he's preparing a series of interviews with people who are the driving forces behind Blender and the Blender community.
- Eugene Reilly (etr9j). Eugene is a self-proclaimed 3d junkie from the United States. He is continually on the lookout for all kinds of 3d tools and techniques. We built the Version Tracker just to be able to keep up with him! (more about that below).
- Rui Campos (rcas). Rui is a Java developer from Portugal. He is the head of the Blender Foundation Education Board and focuses on everything that has to do with Blender and education.
And then of course there's me:
- Bart Veldhuizen ([email protected]). Bart is an internet consultant from the Netherlands. He was involved with Blender in its early days and produced the two Blender Tutorial Guides. Later he worked as Community Manager for Not a Number and after its bankruptcy he helped Ton Roosendaal collect the required €100,000 to release Blender as Open Source software.
If you have a passion for writing about Blender and you'd like to join the team, then just contact us. We don't bite! (well, most of the time we don't).
To be able to keep up with Blender related releases without swamping the homepage, we've added the Version Tracker sidebox to the homepage. In here, you'll find posts such as updates to Python scripts, special Blender releases (brancher or platform optimized builds), commercial releases.. you name it! You'll find the Version Tracker in the sidebar column on the homepage:
All the RSS feeds are now routed through Feedburner.com. I visited a presentation by their founder a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try. Feedburner takes a lot of load off of our server: an RSS client will typically reload a feed every 15-30 minutes and with our current number of RSS subscribers (around 500, see the nifty Feedburner icon on the homepage) that could result in around 25,000 pageviews a day.. As a bonus, they provide nice usage statistics and they give me another toy to play with!
Apart from continuing to provide you with the best Blender news, there are a few things that we are planning:
- Higher posting frequency. I started out with one iron rule: at least one post a day. We maintain a queue of articles to make sure that we can this up. Only, at this moment there is so much news coming in though that we may need to increase to two posts a day.
- Social bookmarks. We've already experimented with a plugin for adding pages to sites such as digg.com or del.icio.us, but the plugin caused some problems (it completely broke the tutorials section, for one) and I thought that the layout was pretty ugly. We'll get back on this later.
- Contest. There are plans for a BlenderNation style contest but I can't give you any details about it yet. Just stay tuned :)
So, what do YOU think of how we're doing so far? We'd like to get some feedback on the things that you like and what you think stinks. As long as we don't get feedback we'll just keep doing the things we do because, well, it makes us happy :)