“List and provide links of 2 blogs and/or websites that you read on a regular basis (or your 2 favorite blogs) and indicate the strengths and weaknesses of each. If you have your own blog or website, share some insights into the platform you use and share some of your experiences and best practices suggestions.”
Site #1: https://www.macrumors.com/
MacRumors is a website that includes multiple blog streams, a buyers guide, and a forum that covers all things Apple. The website is not affiliated with Apple in any way, and although a majority of the material published is positive, MacRumors also publishes negative reviews and articles that cast Apple in a less than positive light. The home page which includes the main MacRumors News blog stream includes a variety of posts discussing a variety of topics including new operating system updates, reviews on new products or features, disassembly and technical analysis of Apple products, and rumors on upcoming products. Other pages include a blog stream dedicated to Apple’s Mac business (laptops and desktops), a blog stream dedicated to Apple’s mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, and iWatches), a “Roundups” section that provide summaries of the technical specifications and rumors of new and upcoming products, a “Buyer’s Guide” section that assists potential customers with selecting new Apple products, and forums where Apple users can discuss any and every aspect on Apple’s business and product line.
One of the major strengths of the MacRumors website is their ability to provide a huge amount of information that is easy to access. The top bar of the MacRumors website includes 6 links that direct users to every part of the website. One issue with many large websites is that sections of the websites are difficult to access because they require following multiple links. Additionally, the MacRumors website provides multiple ways to access the various pages. For example, in the forums, there are MacRumors.com News Discussion, Mac Blog Discussion, and iOS Blog Discussion sections that include individual threads on every individual news story where forum members can not only read the story directly in the thread, but comment on and discuss it. Finally, the very top of the page in the right hand corner has links to MacRumors’ Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages as well as options to subscribe to the MacRumors’ blog feed and email newsletter.
MacRumors is an exceptionally designed website and merges the features of a blog, a forum, and a traditional information-based website into a single, seamless website. My only criticism of MacRumors is that there isn’t a “master” blog stream that combines the posts in the three separate blog streams into one.
Site #2: https://balancebeamsituation.com/
The Balance Beam Situation is a blog that follows the world of elite competitive and college gymnastics. Although the overall tone of the blog is extremely humorous with many of the posts being comedic competition broadcast recaps and gymnastics GIF collections, The Balance Beam Situation provides excellent analysis of U.S. championships, international championships, World competitions, the Olympics, and college gymnastics.
One of the major strengths of The Balance Beam situation is that it maximizes the capabilities of the WordPress platform to provide multimedia-rich content in a professionally-designed format. The blog itself is very visually appealing which points to the power of blogging websites to create crisp, clean blogs nearly instantaneously. Another strength is that the blog is updated very frequently. There is almost never a week that passes without one or most post. The posts are always substantial, well-written, well-edited, and integrate YouTube videos, Twitter and Instagram posts, and links to other gymnastics websites.
A third strength of The Balance Beam situation is that it uses liveblogging effectively to provide real-time updates of gymnastics competitions to those unable to stream a gymnastics competition or those who don’t have time to follow a live broadcast but still want to receive periodic updates. The Balance Beam Situation updates its liveblogs frequently enough that the coverage is current with the actual broadcast but not so frequent that the content is overly rushed or poorly written. An article by the Guradian summarizes the power of liveblogging very well and it matches who The Balance Beam Situation uses liveblogging very closely: “On fast-moving stories, live blogs give the ability to post significant developments quickly – more quickly than editing and re-editing a news article. They also allow us to link out to other coverage, to include comments from Twitter and Facebook, to display multimedia (pictures, video and audio), and to include our audience in the comments below the line – all in one place.” (source: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/mar/28/live-blogging-transforms-journalism)
One of the weaknesses of The Balance Beam situation is that finding archived material is quite difficult. Although each post is tagged with a number of keywords, it’s not possible to filter posts by keyword unless you track down a post with that keyword and click it. This is a problem when trying to find coverage of past World Championships or Olympic Games which happen once every year and four years, respectively. A feature that I’ve seen on other blogs that allow you to filter posts by keyword would allow this content to be more readily available. Although it is possible to filter posts by the month and year posted to narrow down the location of a specific post, due to the frequency that The Balance Beam Situation is updated, there could still be two or three dozen posts to search through.