A big thank you to all those who took the time to give us some feedback about Blogging Pompeii. The majority who replied were professionals in the field, but there were also some useful comments from members of the public. It was interesting to note that many people heard about the blog through word of mouth (or word of email!) - so keep spreading the news!
Overall the comments were extremely positive and constructive. Here is a brief summary, which I have divided into 1) Things we can do now; 2) Things we can do with a bit of help; and 3) Things we (unfortunately) can't do.
1) Things we can do now
i) There was a great deal of discussion and comment about the current policy of only allowing named contributors to comment on posts. In the end, more people wanted to keep the current restriction rather than remove it - although it was a close-run thing.
Here is my solution: the current restriction will remain, but comments can be emailed to email@example.com. We will then post them on readers' behalf. Alternatively, anyone with a Facebook account can comment freely on the Blogging Pompeii mirror site.
ii) There were some useful comments about the structure of the blog. I have already made a few changes, including removing the label cloud (which was getting a bit unwieldly) and making the search box more obvious. You can now also see a list of recent posts - which at least gives an overview of current activity to those who are too busy to visit the blog every day. If you have any other suggestions about structure or appearance, email them to me.
2. Things we can do with a bit of help.
i) The most popular items on Blogging Pompeii are the news about current events and news about current research initiatives. However, MANY people want more news about current field work. This is unpublished- apart from occasional press releases - which means that we need researchers in the field to post information about their work. This is obviously tricky since Blogging Pompeii is a blog, not a formal publication. But there are a few possibilities here:
1. Contributors can keep their profiles updated with news of their current projects.
2. Contributors, or anyone with a current project, could send in links to their project websites to be added to the list of current projects, and can post when updates have been made to these websites.
3. Contributors can consider writing a brief informal summary of their work for Blogging Pompeii, to tide us over until proper publication.
4. Contributors should post or email in any new publications about their work.
5. Perhaps we can interview people about their current projects. If anyone would like to interview a fellow scholar for Blogging Pompeii, or if anyone would like to be interviewed, email me.
ii) Discussion! Many, many people commented that they would like to see more discussion. One of the problems here is that the blog is so fast-moving that posts quickly drop from the first page. However, I think we should give discussion a chance! I am willing to start discussions (if I know anything about the topic!), or to find people to start a discussion - but I would like readers and contributors to suggest topics that they would like to discuss or see discussed. Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. I notice that discussions often develop out of questions asked by contributions. A good example is the recent discussion of how to identify modern mortar! In general questions get good responses - demonstrating the good will and desire to help that exists among contributors! So, questions might be another way to generate more discussion. Think about posting some questions, or email them to us.
Related to i) and ii), several people commented that they would like to see more contributors blogging about their current work.
iii) More book reviews! Ok, this would be great! But it needs contributors to review books!
iv) Web conferences and lectures. Wow! I would love that. But I have no idea how to do it, or whether blogspot blogs can do it. If anyone has any ideas about this - about how to do it practically, or about possible topics, - or if anyone would like to organise such an event, email email@example.com.
v) Project calendar. There is already a link to the Pompeiana project calendar in the right hand column. More people should use it!
vi) More links with Pompeiana.org. Yes, great! Any ideas about this should be emailed to me, or to Eric Poehler of Pompeiana.org.
3. Things we (unfortunately) can't do.
i) A weekly summary of posts. Sorry, I don't have time to do this! But in the right-hand column you can now see a list of recent posts. I hope this helps!
ii) Translation of Italian. I have a problem with providing translation: this is an academic site that aims to bring together scholars from around the world. I want to avoid the impression that this is primarily an English-language blog. Contributors should feel free to blog in their own language, in the knowledge that other scholars can understand them. I want to encourage more Italian, French, Spanish and (sigh) German, and I don't want international contributors to think that they have to blog in English (which might put them off posting at all). The idea is to be as inclusive as possible.
Providing translation is also time-consuming ...
However, for those who don't know much Italian, we will attempt to give a very brief idea of what an Italian article is about. That will help a bit, I hope.
iii) Remember that Blogging Pompeii is dynamic, not static. We can't expand the blog format on this site, and we can't set up discussion groups or email groups. We can develop more links with Pompeiana.org, however, and readers should also take a look at Peter Clements' useful AD 79 site (answers to some questions asked in the survey can be found here).
Finally, one frequent comment - readers would like to see posts from a greater number of contributors. I would say that over the year the number of people posting has steadily increased. But - if we are to have a true sense of community, which is the primary aim of this blog - more contributors need to develop the blogging habit! Contributors - embrace your inner blogger! And UPDATE YOUR PROFILE.
Remember that this blog is a democratic and open enterprise. If you have any further comments or suggestions over the coming months (and years!), email them in.
P.S. If anyone would like to see the full survey results they should email firstname.lastname@example.org.