I’ve been reading a few TP blogs which, like mine, contain discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As I came across these blogs, I thought to myself: “wouldn’t it be great if those of us interested in this subject could somehow communicate with each other? I don’t necessarily mean via trackbacks, though that’s a good idea. I mean by creating a kind of affinity group within TP for those TPers whose blogs deal with this subject.
Then, I thought: “this would work also for bloggers who blog on other subjects.” Why not create a TP ODP (that’s the open directory that Google uses to categorize its websites)? You could organize affinity groups around subject areas that bloggers are passionate about: sports, music, books, technology. I don’t mean vague categories. I mean specific categories which people feel passionately about like say (these may be lame examples but you can fill in the blanks if you have different ideas), folk music, blues, hip hop, gardening, New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, New York politics, California politics, Iraq War, etc.
This could work in two ways:
1. when you first create your blog, there could be a check off for people to list which affinity areas they’d like to be included in (I’d allow people to only choose one or two areas so that things don’t get too big and diffuse)
2. bloggers could identify each other or they could create a UserGroup thread for that subject to find others interested in it; and then create the affinity group once they reached a certain threshhold (say 25 bloggers interested in creating such a group in a given subject area).
The affinity groups could express themselves in several ways:
1. you could have a Typelist with a link to a separate TP page that would provide links to each blog in the group (and have a separate page for each affinity group)
2. you could have a Typelist which actually lists ea. blog w. a link; or if the group is too large you could have a most recently updated list of blogs in the group (we’d be talking about blogs updated only with posts in that subject area).
A large part of the organization of these groups could be based on the categories listed in the blogs themselves. If TP participated in setting up say, the Mideast affinity group, you could search for blogs containing categoy titles composed of certain words like Israel, ME conflict, ME peace, etc. Then you could query the owners of these blogs asking if they’d like to particpate in an affinity group. Another way to do this might be for a TPer who wanted to create such an affinity group to ask you to do a search for your database & see what it comes up with. After doing such a search, the resulting bloggers could be asked if they were interested in such an affinity group.
The potential problem or weakness is that it could become too diffuse. You don’t want 1,000 affinity groups. Maybe you want 50 or 100 to start out. You’d also want to automate this to the greatest extent possible because I know how busy TP keeps you and this idea would only add more to your plate.
But the beauty of this concept is that it further deepens the TP sense of community & bonding w. each other. It can be very lonely to blog on subject like Mideast peace, particularly given how horrible the situation is there. But if you can create a mini community around a few others who blog on the same subject–then your hopelessness and sense of being cut off from things would be relieved. The addtional beauty of it is that these affinity groups could really add to site traffic. This is something I’ve really been working on with my site. I’ve found that one of the best drivers for traffic is cross linking between my blog and someone else’s who I like. Affinity groups are a natural form of cross linking.
Let me know what you think of this idea. If you have ideas about how this could work technically I’d like to hear (that’s my weakness).