As is often customary on icy days -- and Columbia is one pristine sheet of ice this morning -- we're going to stay inside and do some housecleaning. Might as well include Rock M on that. As the Mizzou basketball season begins to (mercifully) work its way to a close, I'm beginning to make plans for offseason content. Obviously we'll continue to talk about other sports into the spring, football recruiting will remain a perpetual topic, and I'm figuring there will be some sort of ongoing "fixing the basketball team" series. But ... what else would people like to see through the spring and summer? Is there something RMN hasn't done much of -- or something we have previously done that was enjoyable -- that you would like us to bring, or bring back, to the table?
Along those lines, this week we tinkered with a concept popular in the Vox Media universe: evergreening.
One of things we're exploring at Vox.com is how to make better use of all the reporting, writing, and coding we've done before today. [...]
For one week, we asked our writers and editors to update and republish a number of articles — one each day — that were first posted more than two months ago. This is hardly a brand-new idea in digital journalism. But we did it a little differently. Rather than putting the old article back up again unchanged, or adding a little apologetic introductory text to explain why it was coming back and was possibly outdated in parts, we just told people to make the copy as good as it could be.
So we changed the text to be up-to-date and accurate. We changed the headline if the writer felt the old headline didn't work very well. We added new information. We added new ideas. We rewrote sections that dragged. The result was that some pieces went up virtually identical to their original form. Others bordered on unrecognizable. Our articles have always had "updated at" rather than "published at" adjacent to our time stamp, so we simply changed the "updated at" time. Everything got tweeted from the @voxdotcom twitter account and some of the stories went up on our Facebook page.
In a five-day period, we ran 88 of these stories, and collectively they brought in over 500,000 readers. That was great to see. The articles generated a lot of positive feedback, and some pieces that writers really put a lot of work into but that didn't attract much readership the first time around became hits.
What was interesting — though not completely unexpected — was that no one even seemed to notice that we were flooding the site with previously published content. A lot of the articles were enthusiastically shared by people who had shared them the first time around, too. No one seemed gripped by a sense of deja vu, or, if they were, they didn't mention it. [...]
Every single day, genuinely important, wonderfully interesting things happen in the world, and it's, of course, a core mission of journalists to tell people about them. But lots of important things aren't new at all, they're just longstanding patterns, structures, or systems. Even more commonly, some new development causes an issue to get attention or seem more relevant, but once you do start paying attention you see that you're just looking at one aspect of a longstanding issue — one you've written about extensively before.
Between SI re-ranking Missouri's 2012 recruiting class really high and Dorial Green-Beckham becoming a hot topic at the NFL Combine, this week offered us a couple of opportunities to do some evergreening. I thought these two pieces turned out pretty well, and it was exciting because I had mostly forgotten these pieces existed before Fullback reminded me of them (thanks, Fullback!). And I figure if I had forgotten writing them, others may have forgotten reading them. And I liked them!
As we move forward, this is a concept I think we're going to play with a little bit more. I like it, but does anybody feel they're being duped or anything? Simply updating these pieces instead of writing a new piece with "As I wrote before..." linked somewhere in there certainly offers a deeper, perhaps more interesting reading experience, but I don't want it to seem like we're running a #content bait and switch here. So I thought I'd seek some feedback from the crowd.
I also thought I'd seek some suggestions. Are there pieces or series in Rock M's past that we should either revive or revisit? I figure enough time has passed since our endeavors with the Wall of Excellence and Rafters that we can induct another class (and likely revisit previous inductees) for each. But as we move forward, if you think of previous Rock M pieces that, based on current events of some sort, should be touched on again, let me know. This site has been around a while now -- nearly (gulp) seven and a half years now -- and the archives are pretty immense. Might as well use them.
Anyway, feel free to share your thoughts. And definitely use this as a live thread for the (non-basketball) day's activities, both Mizzou-related (Wrestling vs. Illinois at noon, Softball vs. Arizona at 4:30, Baseball vs. A&M-CC at 7:30) and not (plans for the day)