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Where Next For Ruby Inside? Your Opinion Is Needed!

By Peter Cooper / February 7, 2008

rubyinsidelogo.png

When I founded Ruby Inside in mid 2006, I decided to settle on a simple format. I post several times a week about the most interesting things that appear or happen in the Ruby community with just enough editorial that the news has a curated, experience-backed feel, as opposed to a fire-hydrant "wall of news." The keystone to this technique is to post several times a week so that you don't get either bored or fatigued (I unsubscribed from TechCrunch when they began to post more than a couple of times each day). This format has clearly worked well, with over 13000 subscribers now reading Ruby Inside on a daily basis, but times are changing.

A few months ago I launched the "Interesting Ruby Tidbits" series, where, unsurprisingly, interesting Ruby tidbits get posted, usually about 4 or 5 items to the post. This lets me post about a lot more stuff without breaking the cardinal "several times a week" rule. The activity in our community has, however, led to the point where even these compilation posts don't allow me to post about all of the things I've seen that would interest you!

In the past couple of days I've begun to play more with the list type of post, such as The Ultimate List of RubyCocoa Tutorials, Tips and Tools and 21 Merb Links, Tutorials and Other Resources. Posts like these always do very well in terms of traffic and bringing in new readers. They don't typically present "news," even if they contain reasonably up to date content, so have always felt, to me, as if they contrast to the regular content.

My question is: Considering the heavy flow of high quality content and news in the Ruby community nowadays, how should Ruby Inside deal with it? I have my own answers to this, but as the people who make this site what it is, I'm keen to find out what YOU think. If the majority of the content on Ruby Inside was the "list" type of post, would you prefer it, or would you unsubscribe? Do you want things to stay as they were, and I'll stick to just a handful of stories a week? What do you prefer, and why? What would be a deal breaker to you? Should we split into Ruby Inside and Rails Inside?

Ruby Inside will need to evolve to avoid falling into a tailspin, as many blogs have done in the past. I want to know what you think.

Comments

  1. Don says:

    So far so good. The "Ultimate List" probably takes quite a bit of work on your part, but I did like that thrown into the mix along with your traditional posts and the "Grab Bag" style compilations. When they're on target (I've been meaning to play with Merb), they're immensely helpful. The topic is in big letters in the title, so it's simple to skip one that might not interest you.

  2. Anko Painting says:

    I'd say it would be nice to have all the news as seperate items on the main page, but have a editorials sections (with it's own feed) for the existing content.

    There aren't many good news sites on ruby that i've found, and it would be good to fill both tastes in one site.

    Anko

    p.s. your site is great.

  3. vasudeva says:

    I find the 'list' type of post only occasionally helpful, when it concerns something I happen to be working on or curious about at the moment. They tend to be more like resource grab-bags than articles. They may do well because they're easily-digested, but I also think they tend to be a lot less relevant or interesting.

    Personally speaking, I'd like to see you continue breaking the cardinal "several times a week" rule; as long as we have editorial oversight keeping the quality high, rock out. (I do like the "interesting tidbits" series a lot.)

    In short, keep up the good work, please -- and thanks.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I really like the format of Daring Fireball. Your list style posts and interesting tidbits content could serve as his "linked list" section, and then you'd have several editorial/informational posts. I like it because it's a nice grab bag of content that's uniform enough to catch my interest (primarily one topic that I'm really interested in) but varied enough that it's not boring (a la TechCrunch, where each post is really long and typically boring).

    I think you have a good thing going here, and with a little refinement (cleaning up the page design by maybe showing an intro paragraph on the front page and clicking through to view the full list of links or offering RSS feeds of just the links or just the stories or something else) it could be even better. :)

  5. Brian Broom says:

    I tend to like the single topic per post type entries better. I flag them in my newsreader, and its easier to deal with them as single topics. I liked the more in depth lists as well, especially the ruby cocoa one, as this is something I have been thinking about learning. Every post can't be a huge list, but if you have them they are great.

  6. Stephen Waits says:

    I wouldn't change. Yours is my favorite Ruby news site. Nicely written, with the wheat separated from the chaff. Perfect.

  7. Eric Anderson says:

    I unsubscribed from TechCrunch for the same reason. If the amount of volume is increasing then that just means I would prefer you do more filtering. More than a few items a week will just overload me and cause me to unsubscribe.

    I don't mind the posts where you put together a number of items that don't merit a post by themselves but the long lists I just delete. I'm sure you spent a lot of time on them but again the amount of information is too much for me.

    Obviously this is your site so do whatever you want that makes you happy. But if you want to know what keeps me personally subscribed then it is good content that is trimmed enough that I don't get overloaded. Then is what you have been doing in the past and I hope you keep it up.

    Thanks for all the great work you do!

  8. Peter Cooper says:

    @Eric: As a "quantity sensitive" subscriber, what would say is the limit for you? Currently Ruby Inside does tend to have more than a few posts a week, usually between 4 and 8, so this is good so far. But what would you think about, say, a maximum of 10 posts a week, where one of those posts is a "And Everything Else" type post?

    My thinking is that perhaps sticking with the existing mix is the best idea, but then doing a bumper "everything that didn't quite make it" type post each week so that I can still get out a bunch of interesting stuff for those who are willing to read it.

  9. Eric says:

    One possibility is to have one large feed, and a couple of subfeeds which offer the different styles (one for normal, one for big-list). Overall, though, your everything-else post once a week would be fine with me. An extra post a week wouldn't be too much for me--this is one of my favorite feeds. So long as the quality of the information doesn't drop, volume is not a problem.

  10. MilesZS says:

    I also unsubscribed from TechCrunch, due to both volume of posts, and general boredom with the content. That's neither here nor there, though.

    Although it may sound gimmicky, why not have a end-of-the-week list of some sort (on Friday, possibly have some catch-all that has a consistent title -- I have enjoyed Ruby Tidbits, mostly). I would suggest choosing one topic per week to cover in an 'Ultimate List', separate from your catch-all list. Other than those two, keep up the original content.

    I'll be frank: I subscribe to a feed because I want content. Many of the links in your lists I have already seen, and I prefer to get the article directly in GReader, rather than click through on someone else's article, _unless_ the link is given as further reference material to a content-full article. (Did that make sense?) Of course, I don't mind the occasional recommendation, which I think my suggestions above would cover well.

    In other words, if you start throwing a bunch of posts that are mostly just links to other articles at me, I would be apt to unsubscribe. I hope that doesn't seem harsh. Indeed, I hope it can be helpful.

  11. windexh8er says:

    I for one am a news feed junkie. I probably read 200 - 300 articles per day over my favorite topics (Ruby being one obviously). Your posts are quality and I, personally, would like to see more in all of the formats you're currently posting. An example was this past weekend there were no posts on any of my feeds. I was slightly disappointed but I guess you get what you pay for!

  12. Peter Cooper says:

    Also.. any opinions on doing mini-interviews? There were quite a few of these several months ago but I haven't done any for quite a while.

  13. postmodern says:

    Perhaps a tagging/category system is in order?

    Somedays I just want to read about Ruby Security or Ruby being used for INFOSEC tasks. Other days I want to see what the latest news is for Shoes or Nitro+Og.

  14. Eric Davis says:

    I like the current format. I can take in a few long original posts a week with a few list type posts. The main benefit of the original posts is that I can hear the perspective of someone really inside the Ruby community. The link posts help me see general trends in the community without a lot of effort on my part.

    I'll stay subscribed as long as the posts:

    * are below 2-3 posts a day on average
    * are about Ruby, Rails, or Web development

  15. Markus says:

    I like the tidbit collections. But I would like to suggest a new naming convention. It would be easy to remember if I already read "Performance patches and other ruby tidbits" but I find it hard to remember if I already read "Interesting ruby tidbits #15".

  16. Matthew Lang says:

    I'm happy with the current format. I agree with Eric that too many posts in a week would turn me away from subscribing to Ruby Inside. However I think there is still room for a couple of extra quality posts each week. As long as there isn't more than 2 posts each day then I would be happy.

    The "everything else" post once a week, is a winner for me. A summarised list of interesting Ruby and Rails things on the web would be great.

    I wouldn't mind seeing some interviews as well. In an interview you get to hear people's opinions about the latest Ruby/Rails developments that they might not write or blog about on their own sites.

  17. Eivind Uggedal says:

    Separation of Rails/Ruby seems like a good idea. I tend not to bother with Rails related info these days.

  18. szeryf says:

    I wouldn't mind if you posted up to 3-5 posts a day. If you have more, just do some selection -- this will result in better overall content. I don't find the list-style posts helpful (maybe because I weren't interested in the topics). The tidbits are ok. I don't want mini-interviews or any interviews at all.

    Another idea: maybe setup a separate RSS feed for every type of content (news, tidbits, lists, interviews) for people to choose from?

  19. zimbatm says:

    The Ruby community is lots of small groups doing things in their side and sometimes it's hard to track all of them. It's nice to have some "what's going on in..." topics. On-ruby's interviews for example. For the post frequency, I'd say 1/day is good with maybe a special item on Sundays. You could also have different feeds for the various content "types".

  20. mike says:

    i would like to see list items such as "The Ultimate List of RubyCocoa Tutorials, Tips and Tools" and "21 Merb Links, Tutorials and Other Resources" to be its own section. These would be less news-like materials or resources that people can refer to.

  21. Matt Mower says:

    I'm not a big fan of these "huge list" type posts (e.g. the recent RubyCocoa list post) on the blog. Unless it happens to be a topic I am about to research then it's just a big bunch of links I am unlikely to follow. I tend to skip these posts.

    That said, I think the collection of such information is valuable. Maybe it would be better offered through an accompanying wiki?

    I think it would then be more interesting to see a post that drew together some of what was important about the resources linked to.

  22. RossC0 says:

    I think this site is doing a fantastic job of announcing Ruby news and providing some editorial insight to some of the many articles out there. Long may it continue!

  23. PhilT says:

    Keep it lean! Personally, I have a lot of news to digest everyday and find I tend to discard high frequency posts that aren't interesting. Quality not quantity. I'm sure you'll do a good job as usual. Thanks.

  24. Luke Pearce says:

    I agree with Matt re not being too interested in the huge lists unless I happen to be researching it, however, sometimes I think its good to see and have in the back of your mind when researching at a later date.

    I guess you could have problems with people's expectations if you have a lack of news however people do tend to like stuff thats regular. How about "Topic Wednesday" where you do a full merb/cocoa style article and "List Friday" where you do the tidbits type list? I think that would work quite well...

  25. Geir says:

    I also dropped Techcrunch due to volume. I agree with Eric in comment #14.

    I prefer having only one feed for Ruby Inside. The tidbits idea you've got going now is more useful to me than separating things into more feeds.

  26. Andrew France says:

    I think that you've got the format just right and have done an excellent job. Interesting Ruby Tidbits is my favourite type of post so more of them would always be welcome. I found the Merb list post pretty useful and have nothing against them. I wouldn't recommend splitting into separate blogs or categorising as that'll lead to a lot of fragmentation, keep it simple! :)

  27. FrankLamontagne says:

    I'm really liking the compilation kind of posts. To me it's better to have fewer posts with more content than the other way around. I hate when I realize I am overwhelmed by a feed (Like many others, I unsubscribed from techcrunch for this reason).

    Instead of splitting rubyinside into "rubyinside" and "railsinside", a better idea would be to provide several feeds on Ruby Inside (All content, Rails, Ruby, News, Tidbits, etc). The problem with this approach however is that it could get complicated if there are too much categories.

  28. Bozhidar Batsov says:

    Hello, Peter!

    I'd first like to congratulate you on the fine job you're doing maintaining this hub of Ruby news. I first learned about this site from your book(which was the first book on Ruby I read, btw) and have been following it ever since.

    I think that the optimal format for the site would be two separate feeds - one about major news with 0-2 posts a day and one about other interesting, but not extremely notable events/releases. A rails section, which you mentioned, will most welcome as well, though I personally get sometimes sick of all the attention Rails is getting, despite projects like Merb(which you did great to include recently).

    Keep up the good work!

    Best Regards,
    Bozhidar

  29. Mike says:

    One change: Make it easy to get old content. I can't seem to find it.

    A Reddit style format does let you cram more content on a page but doesn't let you see if it interests you, before clicking.

    The current format is nice in that you get a larger summary, but it's so long that you can't fit many articles on a reasonably-sized page.

    I think the newest "high-priority" news ought to have a one paragraph summary and list about 5-10 articles, on the left.

    On the right, a large number of one-line titles should appear (maybe 25), with the ability to see older articles.

    So, I think the current format is nice, with some tweaking. I don't think it needs an overhaul.

  30. Steve Butterworth says:

    I totally agree about Techcrunch and think you strike the balance very well. 1 post a day would be my ideal. I don't have any problem with the tidbit or list postings in fact these are among the most useful. There is more chance of me reading through a tidbits post of 4 or 5 items than there is of reading these if they were 4 or 5 separate posts. Its just the way I consume RSS I guess.

    Anyway, love the blog, you're doing a grand job for the Ruby ecosystem especially here in the UK. Thanks.

  31. vasudeva says:

    Peter, since it seems that a number of subscribers find your interest in having more content an immediate deal-breaker, how about having a headliner attribute on each post. The main RSS feed could grab only headliner articles -- articles that you feel stand out. You could then set up a secondary feed that reports everything.

    Bonus: If you were to do this by massaging the current RSS feed, then people who already have enough to deal with wouldn't have to change their workflow at all. Their current feed will continue grabbing only the best of Ruby Inside. Those of us who want more will take the trouble to find and add the 'everything' feed.

    My apologies if this is obvious. I have a personal agenda. I'm interested in helping out, but really I just want more of this website, and am willing to spend cycles on trying to get what I want :)

  32. David Ellis says:

    Please continue the "Interesting Ruby Tidbits" series. Each post reminds me of the "____ Recipes" or "____ Cookbook" series of books.

  33. Michael Klishin says:

    Peter,

    I think Ruby Inside should ally with PeepCode and conquer the world.

  34. Frank Nielsen says:

    Glad to hear you're thinking about this. I do not want the current amount to go up at all. I would love to see a Ruby/Rails split.

  35. Rob Bazinet says:

    I think the mini-interview idea is a good one, expose those making it happen in the community to those in the trenches using Ruby on a daily basis.

    I also like the idea of multiple feeds, say Rails specific or Merb specific if the giving feed can sustain activity. Maybe you want to consider bringing in some addition people to write content, possibly specific areas of expertise. If you add content to any degree it may be hard to keep up with just yourself.

  36. Mayank says:

    I don't mind you moving from “several times a week” to "few times a day", but posting a list makes me (mostly) skip the list. A list looks more like a on-demand read (open a link if you NEED it). So i will definitely prefer more stories than fewer lists.

  37. Alastair says:

    I think the list posts are great, it's sometimes hard to find examples/tutorials on a topic so it's nice to have them all in one spot (and edited by someone I trust).

    As for posting several times a week I actually read blogs more that post about once a day, don't force it but if something is interesting why not?

    I also think you need a shiny new logo ;)

  38. Allen says:

    Peter--

    I like the site as is, 4-8 posts a week is perfect at least for me. Don't stop the list posts. I like how you do those. However, I like the idea of having a "Top" feed, a "Lists" feed, and an "Editorial" feed. I use 43Folders' method for controlling RSS Feeds and a couple of feeds would allow me to fine-tune sorting info.

  39. David Parker says:

    I think just about everyone above has stated what I agree with already.

    I don't care for the list posts unless it's a topic I'm currently checking out. Even though, you may just make a different feed for each big category: Ruby (language), Rails, Merb, etc. Then the lists are pointless.

    I also don't like more than ~2-3 posts/day. I tend to unsubscribe to those types of feeds.

  40. Markus says:

    I like Ruby Inside the way it currently organized. Normal posts of interest to the Ruby community, and when necessary, a list of links for a specific topic, i.e. RubyCocoa, Merb.

    This is my most visited blog, and I would like to thank you for all your hard work.

  41. Jorge Diaz Tambley says:

    I think there are plenty places where we can find the latest news, many of us are subscribed to feeds like that.

    The posts are right as they are now...

    For those interested in news you could write a list of links say once a week

    Regards from Santiago, Chile

  42. Luke says:

    Have you considered using a tumblelog for your readers that prefer constant updates and news, as you get them, and then just consolidating from that for interesting, editorialized posts on your main site?

    I am subscribed to both several tumblelogs that I get a ton of content from every day, but it's generally just links to other people's articles, releases, etc and to a few blogs like this one with more editorial content and less consistent posting.

    I like them both equally well.

    TechCrunch did become extremely annoying, but they combined the two in the most horrible possible way: constant articles that had way too much editorial content.

  43. Shai says:

    I really enjoy coming here so I would say keep it as it as.

    I would only suggest (and I saw other similar suggestions) to break out a few different feeds. That way if anyone wants something a bit more specific they can get at it.

    Thanks again for all your hard work. Definitely appreciated.

  44. Mark Thomas says:

    It's all about quality over volume. I don't have time for the firehoses. RubyInside is my favorite Ruby site because everything has been pre-filtered and analyzed.

    And there's some value in the everything-that-did-not-make-it type posts, but I like to scan the titles before i jump in and read. Those posts may or may not be interesting to me. Maybe you can separate them into separate mini-posts organized/tagged by topic. Or maybe you can get some volunteers that are close to certain focal topics, such as JRuby, Rubinius, or whatever, which would allow you to increase the volume without sacrificing quality.

  45. Mitchell Blankenship says:

    I would suggest going to maybe one post a day. The most important thing to me is that the posts are enjoyable to read. They aren't robotic or just imported from another source. All the posts I've read on RubyInside have a very personable feel to them and that's what keeps me reading. Well that and the fact that there is good information in the posts. There may also be a way to do a feed for certain aspects of ruby such as a feed for rails news only for people that are really only interested in that aspect of ruby something like that.

  46. Mike says:

    I read Ruby Inside because I write Ruby. I also code in other languages and I track developments there as well. Tracking Ruby news is time-consuming. I like having a place go to where I can get the main stuff and dive deeper when it interests me. Sometimes I'll tag an opinionated person or their project, but the news factor dies off really quickly. Ruby Inside gives me Ruby news. Who cares if you don't update every day?

  47. anand says:

    Keep the good job. This has become a nodal site for the ruby community.

    As for me, I like the tidbits style. I would also love pointers to interesting code snippets.

  48. Nate Leavitt says:

    I think your site is great! I love the mix content that you post. I wouldn't change a thing!

  49. Bradly Feeley says:

    I like the interesting tidbits quite a bit. I think the recent longer list posts for Merb and Cocoa are too long. Personally i would rather have the 5 best links on a topic than 20 I have to sift through.

  50. mstolove says:

    I'd prefer a little more frequency of posts, say a couple a day. I like your 'Tidbits' posts very much. They are an excellent 'grab bag' of current trends, apps, code, etc. I almost invariably click through on those.

    The 'Ultimate Lists' can be a bit visually daunting, but they are highly topical, relevant, and an excellent compilation of resources. Definitely a keeper, but perhaps condensed to an intro paragraph or two on the main page with a link to the detail.

    I also really enjoy the 'Rubysphere' section. You could easily double the amount of content there without any complaint from me.

    I'm less enthralled with "Ruby Heroes...". Don't get me wrong - I really love the linked code samples, conceptual exercises, and other pertinent content. I'm less enthused about someone's adventures in photography, and really find the inclusion of hiring and/or party announcements questionable. A cynical person might think a company was simply blogging to get on the feed, and that would be SAD.

    Altogether, I think it's your editorial judgement that truly enhances and differentiates this site. That's ultimately why we're all returning. Keep that, and you keep us all.

    Thank you for all your efforts.

  51. Charles Roper says:

    Lifehacker has a good (but rather hidden) way of letting you choose what and how many posts you get from them a day:

    http://lifehacker.com/344188/get-only-the-posts-you-want-from-lifehackers-site-feeds

    Note how you can combine categories and use "not" filters. So you could do not:rails for example.

  52. carnz says:

    I really like it the way it is now. Therefore I have three words for you concerning future plans: less is more

  53. Peter Cooper says:

    Thank you for all of the comments. It's really appreciated!

    A little summary..

    I am not keen on rolling out a complex feed production system for Ruby Inside. I'm not against them in general but for Ruby Inside it's a bit past that stage to be getting into tagging, etc, just from my personal POV. However, Ruby Inside does have lots of categories (see sidebar) and it should probably be made possible that you can subscribe to the *categories* if you want just, say, Rails news, or just the compilation posts, etc.

    Someone suggested posting more, but only allowing certain posts from that stream into the main thread. I think that's a good idea, and one I will be looking into. This will reward the people who visit the site, but still mean those reading the feed will not suffer. I can then make a different feed available for the full "firehose."

    I do not plan to change the content or volume to any great degree. There may be a few more lists here and there, but other than moving to a once-weekly "and the rest" type post, I think the quantity and type of posts will remain somewhat similar.

    I am also likely to redesign the site a bit. The front page may move to more of a "magazine" feel with more content available, but requiring a click through (rather than full posts on the front page, as now). I may include a box with the latest Ruby Reddit links and other aggregated links, so that the Ruby Inside front page can still act as a one-stop shop for those who want to see the news, but not necessary be a part of it (such as voting at Reddit, etc).

  54. walter says:

    I enjoy the quality posts in the current feed. If there are too many mixed posts I might miss it if the topic is too vague. I don't have time for tidbits but appreciate the feed. Therefore I agree that as this is naturally splitting off into different formats to then make different feeds, news, tidbits, lists etc. Thus you can determine the relative popularity of each feed. As well, you can refer to other feeds within a feed if you deem it relevant to a news topic for example without making me filter the topic.

    Hope that helps
    Walter

  55. subbu says:

    If you ask me to pick just one blog in Ruby/Rails world, then I would pick RubyInside. It has a good mix of articles, news, and links. Many a days if I don't have enough time to browse through my entire Ruby/Rails section of RSS feeds I just open RubyInside. But the only change I'd like to see is the ability to directly go to the article from "Latest Ruby Links" section. Right now it takes 2 clicks to reach the final article. An additional click on the dzone site.

  56. Jon Egil says:

    I really like this blog, so any critisism is cleary meant to be taken in a positive tone. The "interesting tidbits" is often not very interesting. If news doesn't warrant separate postings, they're really not more interesting when grouped. Three pieces of news of 1/3 value is less than one post of 1/1 value.

    The lists are awesome, they really plow new ground and show me _a lot_, and I come back time and time again.

    So please: BIG news and lists. Also, less frequent postings are better than more frequent. Quality over quantity.

  57. david reese says:

    I like the interesting tidbits and other selected Ruby news. That's the value you add -- digesting the and commenting on the important stuff. Sometimes i read the DZone ruby links, but the quality there is really iffy compared with what you post on Ruby Inside. (of course their snippet app is great ; )

    The "Ultimate List"-type posts are less interesting to me, as someone said, unless i happen to be researching that particular item (say, Merb, or RubyCocoa) at the time. Otherwise they're just overwhelming (like the 21 merb links!!)

    hey, thanks for asking, and for the blog!

  58. Brian says:

    I dont mind if ruby inside has as much news as techcrunch in a single day - I like a lot of news; this is the main site i go to for ruby news. It'd be nice if it was the only site.

  59. david rabbich says:

    Nice touch asking your audience.

    I think you are doing a great job.

    Your moderate stance makes a big difference with credibility. Respecting your readers time by condensing as much as possible works for me.

    One thing I would personally like is some references to particularly well written open source apps so I can learn more good technique. I have had enough of trial & error in search of goodness.

  60. Greg Edwards says:

    First, Peter, thank you for publishing this blog! It's a lot of work, I'm sure.

    I think you've done a great job so far, and I also like the "21 tips" type of entries as well (I already do my own research on these types of topics, but your recent articles have been really helpful to confirm for me that I've found/not found all the information on the various topics -- which is a real value given how distributed Ruby information is). Basically, everything you've done recently and all along has been great!

    Recently, I've been less interested in Rails (but more interested in Merb and other alternatives), but I don't mind seeing Rails stuff here (it's up to you :-)

    Thanks,
    -Greg

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