|Marissa from Six Apart|
|Joe from AOL|
|Before Movable Type|
|After Movable Type||
Yesterday I went to the Six Apart conference on business blogging, and while I didn't learn any new tricks- I am a blogging expert of sorts - I did learn new and more efficient ways to promote blogging.
So while the conference wasn't worth the $150 for the content, though I did enjoy the complimentary quality liquor open bar, I did have an amazing amount of face time with Marissa Levinson to bitch about Moveable Type, Six Apart's flagship product.
From back in the day, I've been a big MT fan - all my personal blogs and even Metroblogging DC run on MT. Until about a year or so ago, it was also the most cutting edge and robust blogging software available, with a vibrant developer community producing amazing functionality-increasing plugins.
But recently Six Apart took its eye off MT, focusing on the mass market Typepad, the visually corrosive LiveJournal, and the coming soon VOX. And in letting MT get static, Six Apart started loosing its earliest and most strident fans - the early adopter bloggers.
Bloggers that while not a direct source of high income are influencers and decision makers for those that will and do pay: big corporations. We're the people pushing this medium in every aspect of our lives, we will be the first to push for corporate sites to incorporate a blog, and we will be the writers filling those blogs with content. Like me, or Joe from AOL.
And we're the ones that are now waffling between MT and WordPress, seeing them as equals only because of our love and sunk costs into MT. In short - Six Apart needs to show us some Movable Type love, or we're gone, and so will the hope of making MT into Six Apart's dream: "The first choice for business."
Interestingly, Marissa agreed. MT wasn't the recent focus of Six Apart, but says it will be again - now. And she asked me for my top MT improvement recommendations. Being a blogger, you know what's gonna happen next:
My Movable Type Re-Mastery Recommendations:
Bake In Popular Plugins: Why do I need to add in a dozen plugins to a MT install just to give basic functionality? That's like buying a car and then going to AutoZone for wheels and headlights. Thank God you added Spam Filter in 3.x, but why isn't Relatede, Nofollow, TinyTuring, or Keywords standard? And if not for my find of Smart Rebuild recently, I was about to abandon MT altogether after countless Server 500 errors on my category rebuild.
Here's a simple way to figure out which plugins should be baked in: have a download counter and feedback form in the plugin directory. When a plugin reaches x number of downloads, say 5,000, and a feedback rating of 4+ starts, it goes on the product roadmap. Then pay the plugin designer to make it seamless in MT installs, and you'll not only have a better product, you'll also have a very vibrant plugin developer community.
- Customer Support
Restart Community Forums: When was the last time you answered a user's question on the Community Forum? I don't know because after too many unanswered questions, or unhelpful answers, I gave up using it. This should be your highest trafficked site on the Six Apart website, where your most rabid fans are a deep and cheap customer support resource.
To keep people motivated, offer awards (I prefer prestige over cash) for the most prolific and helpful users. Also make sure any question, no matter how droll or simple, is answered within a day and a tickler sent to the questioner.
Better yet, stop the pain before it happens. Improve your MT documentation. The 3.x upgrade documentation is so poor, Elise Bauer recommends creating a whole new MT directory!
Start Blogging Again: As of today, Mena's last Six Apart post was August 29th, and I'm really not sold on Vox if she can't integrate Dollar Short and VoxTrott. Ben's even more of a slacker, off since June. And while Anil Dash is prolific, he's not listed in management.
You're a blogging company, every employee should have a blog as a condition of employment, and it should be listed on the Six Apart website. Better yet, a requirement even for an interview. I met a Six Apart staffer who didn't even have one until after they started with you - inconceivable to me.
Where is your "featured user" list, with interviews of interesting writers using MT for offbeat purposes? Marissa had a few in her presentation, why aren't you profiling one a week? In short, where is your corporate-wide connection to your users via blogging?
And its us, your current MT users who are already sold on the product, love MT's two-person start, and want you to regain blogging back-end leadership. Your current MT users who will be in oak-paneled boardrooms today, tomorrow, asking, "Why don't we blog?" and answering "I'd go with Movable Type," or not.
Find us again, give us love. We want it. We really do.