Learn Something New…

I just found out there is a 4000 character limit to answers on LinkedIn!

Someone asked about hosting a blog carnival, in a way that sounded more like intent to start a new blog carnival.  Rob Sama suggested me as an expert.  I took the bait and answered:

It seems I have been invoked.  I’m the guy who for all practical purposes defined what a “blog carnival” is, in terms of taking the original inspiration of Carnival of the Vanities and adapting it to carnivals defined by topic.

That said, I agree with Rob Sama on the current state of blog carnivals, and the existence of “Blog Carnival” has been both useful and at the heart of the concept’s collapse.  If I wanted to start something that was the conceptual heir of a blog carnival from scratch these days, I would not name it a carnival, try to distinguish it clearly, and promote accordingly.

That said, I have an important question right up front: Do you mean you want to HOST a carnival, as in hosting one week’s edition?  Or do you mean that you want to CREATE a carnival and be the sponsoring or home blog for it?  That’s two very distinct answers, though knowing the former would give insight to the latter.  Which means that if you are thinking of creating a carnival, having hosted some other carnival first might be informative.  For that matter, so might participating in some other carnival.

If the question is merely one of hosting, then much depends on the rules and guidelines of the carnival in question.  Do you link all entries?  Do you have standards?  Themes?  In brief, hosting a blog carnival edition is about getting the submissions, reading the posts and screening them as needed, and composing a post on your blog that links to them in some appropriate and readable form.  I’ve given hosts who were unsure blow by blow descriptions, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

I’m going to assume you mean you’re thinking of starting a blog carnival.  I’ve answered that one directly many times, as well as having people extrapolate from seeing what I’d done.

Pick a topic or niche.  Perhaps leave some flexibility to expand or contract if it’s too big or small as originally stated.  See if one already exists that covers the same thing, and decide whether to duplicate or not.  Don’t use the same name as another carnival.

Pick a period of time between editions.  Weekly is the norm, but monthly ones have long existed.  In keeping with that, pick a publication day and a cutoff day and time for new entries.  You might see what days are most popular, like Monday, and go with another.  You might also base the day on some associated factor, like CotC being on Monday on the idea of people starting the week with a collection of the prior week’s best posts on business and economics to peruse.

Have a page or site that is the home of the carnival, where you can have information, rules, guidelines, links to past editions, and future hosts listed.  Most new carnivals rely on “Blog Carnival” for some of this, to the point where people sometimes take “Blog Carnival” to be the authority over and prime source of info your carnival.

A carnival isn’t a “real” carnival unless it migrates from blog to blog, as opposed to being always hosted by one blog.  It’s fine to run it in-house a while to get a handle on it, get it established, and be comfortable understanding what your hosts will run into.  It’s just not truly a carnival if the plans is for it never to move around.

Promotion is important.  CotC exploded out of the gate in part by being a new concept the blogosphere was ready for in 2003, and partly due to strong participation and linkage.  If you’re starting a blog in a particular niche, you will want to get word out to likely entrants.  Those are also people who can give you sanity checks when the idea is new and still in flux.

Have some care with who hosts, and that they understand what is involved.

If you host one or more of the early editions, you set the standards for how lax or strict to be in practice, as far as allowing off-topic, excessively spammy or self-promoting entries, etc.

It’s your carnival (or not-a-carnival, if you go with the advice near the top), so really the rules and standards employed can be…

I added the ellipsis when LinkedIn started yelling at me about being over and I had to back up.  The rest would go something like:

anything you want, including not being a “real” carnival.

Another element of a carnival that almost goes without saying is the primarily self-submitting nature of it.  CotC has always allowed hosts to add good links they selected from out and about, but ultimately it’s about people entering links to their posts.  If it’s someone going out and finding a bunch of posts to link on some topic, well, that’s a link roundup; a venerable thing that predates even the first carnival.  If a roundup is what you’d really like to do, go for it.  Promote it.  Give it a cool name, like the old cul-de-sac.  Just don’t call it a carnival.

Running a blog carnival can get old, boring, tedious, sometimes annoying, and that’s why the blogscape is littered with the carcasses of sometimes remarkably short-lived carnivals, even if they were good ideas.  If you are the carnival organizer, you are the ultimate fallback host if your scheduled host goes AWOL, or you can’t even find a host in the first place.  You are the person who gets squabbled at when someone thinks their post was unfairly excluded, or when the host does a bad job.

I’m probably leaving something out, but that would about cover it.  I tried to add a second answer to finish, but it’s one answer, period, and even adding a clarification fails if you are up to the character limit in the main answer.

I sometimes think Carnival of the Capitalists might be best off retired to a business magazine’s online presence, or a business blog portal, as a weekly roundup that combined truly superior self-submissions and items of interest found by the editor.  The name and some momentum would come from the CotC’s history, and accepting submissions would be a bow toward it having been a “real carnival” in the past.  The blog carnival meme is dead.  Much as I berate “Blog Carnival” for killing it, the meme was already dying at the time that was founded and sped up the process.

Update:

If you read the post in the first few moments it was up, pardon the repetition.  I was typing in the browser at LinkedIn, pasting bits into w.bloggar when I thought I was going to get interrupted or to avoid losing it before I saved, and then when I pasted into this post I got multiple iterations of the beginning of the answer.  I think I cleaned it up to normality now…

Posted by on 12/28 at 09:53 PM

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