Asking for your views on the future of Slugger…

Recently Mick and I have been talking about the possible ways forward for Slugger and we thought it would be a good idea to get readers’ views.

Over the last 21 years Slugger has grown in largely response to demand, and the changing digital landscape. Although we have done our fair share of “muddling through” it seems to have worked over all that time.

At the core of Slugger is a platform for views mostly around Northern Irish politics but also other topics as well. With zero staff resources we tend to cover what comes up in front of us which means often we do miss things.

The vacuum Northern Ireland’s politics can be pretty demoralising at the best of times. Though it’s worth noting that, globally, things are very bleak as well. I do wonder by covering the current vacuum, whether we just contributing to the negativity?

I am conscious that my attention span has gone to bits over the past few years. With Covid, social media and the general gloom about it is very hard for a lot of us to focus and give our attention to anything longer than a tweet.

  • Here are a few talking points to get your views on:
  • What do you see as Slugger’s strengths? What should we build on?
  • How do we discuss serious topics in a ‘hot take’ environment?
  • How much news should we cover?
  • What do you think we should do more of? Longer posts? Podcasts? More events?
  • Do we have more open threads?
  • Above all, how do we maintain high level of insightful commentary on a shoestring budget?

The comments are Slugger’s one of its biggest strengths but also its biggest weakness as many of the views are quite repetitive when people assume their tribal positions.

I personally think the comments give a great insight into how people perceive an issue but we do have problems with minority voices getting crowded out. We also have the Pareto principle in action, where 20% of people do 80% of the comments.

The community is Slugger’s untapped resource. I would be keen to know how we engage the community more and get you more involved. The mods have been successful in helping to police the comments so I know there are readers out there who are keen to help out more if we can find the proper mechanism for doing so.

I thought about having a quick daily roundup of the main stories as a way of letting people discuss the day’s events, but I would not want this to be too burdensome for the mods as I know open sunday can get up hundreds of comments.

This is all a bit rambly I know but I prefer to keep the discussion open to all viewpoints.

We are also planning to do a one-hour Zoom focus group with readers one evening over the next few weeks. If you would like to take part and give your views you can sign up here…

If you prefer you can also email me and/or Mick directly. [email protected] and [email protected]

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