“About the Author”

  By Shamus   Feb 18, 2009   34 comments

I’m planning another site update. Nothing major, just a cleanup of some old pages.

I’m going to be re-working the About the Author and Best Posts sections at some point, and I thought I’d gather up some feedback before I did that. The “Author” page is probably going to shift towards being more about my work than me. Or perhaps I’ll break those two concepts into different pages. I’ll decide once I have a feel for what works. In any case:

1) What sort of things do you look for when reading about the author of a site? My picture will be there so people will know the basic name / age / gender stuff. But beyond that, what questions do you usually have about the people you read?

2) Any suggestions for my “best of” page? I’ve added a lot of content since I made that, and no doubt there are better posts in the archives than the ones I have listed on that page.

3) I know the category images are broken in at least one of the themes, and I need to get that fixed. I know that Wavatars don’t work quite right in IE6 and in some versions of Opera, but I’ve given up on solving that one. Beyond those issues: Anything else broken that I should know about?

201434 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.


  1. Conlaen says:

    “What sort of things do you look for when reading about the author of a site?”

    I don’t… Look that is :)

  2. Hal says:

    One of the “about the author” things could easily be a regional thing. No one’s asking you to post your street address or anything, but could we at least know a tri-state region or something?

    As for “best posts,” it might be good to put up a list of video games you’ve reviewed and link to the initial post in the review series.

  3. lebkin says:

    For the best posts, look at posts that you find yourself linking to great deal. Your best posts should build a framework of your views and opinions. A new visitor should be able to read those posts, and then jump into any conversation with a good idea of the context of this websites discussions.

    I wouldn’t worry to much about the “About the Author” page. I usually read that on a website once at the most, and then never look at it again.

  4. Sydney says:

    I think your best posts are your conceptual things. The DIAS article, the Failure to Communicate article, the I Know Kung Fu articles, Self-Balancing Gameplay, How Hard is this Game?, Games and the Fear of Death. They’re sort of a “required reading” to truly get your posts now, because they set down a foundation upon which some of your newer things are built. And comments will often say “It’s very DIAS”, or “It’s almost self-balancing”.

    EDIT: Aw, boo! What happened to my Gravatar?

  5. Factoid says:

    You should definitely put in there the sorts of things you do and don’t post about. People will want to know if they can expect to hear your political opinions plastered all over every other post, or if they’ll be getting a new “PC Hardware is Toast” type post every day.

    A little bit about the frequency of posts is probably good as well.

  6. Mari says:

    I’m with lebkin on the “best posts” thing. Go with the ones you find yourself linking back to frequently. That gives new readers some context when starting out.

    I think something that would be helpful for the “about the author” section is just a small introduction to how it is you came to blog about what it is you blog about. For instance, I tend to give your tech blogs more credence than some other people’s tech blogs because you’re in the industry and have a greater degree of knowledge than the average schmo on the street (making your video card blog pure genius in my book; if someone paid to do techy things can’t figure it out what chance do the rest of us have?). Maybe a little background on how long you’ve been gaming and your favorite games would help people reading your video game reviews feel more confident in your assessments of more current games. And I second the request for a general regional sort of location. If nothing else it can help readers of a linguistic bent like myself narrow down regional vocabulary a little better.

  7. rbtroj says:

    About the Author: background, relevant professional experience (if any), education, country/region, married, kids, other interests, other work (related, or unrelated).

  8. When reading about an author I like to know what part of the country they’re from. A state would be nice.

    I also like to know more about their background as it relates to what they’re writing about. In your case, Shamus, it would be nice to know more about your gaming background, what kinds of games influenced you the most, and what kind of hobbies do you pursue when you’re not gaming. (If you have any.)

    And I enjoy knowing a little bit about the author’s personal life: Married? Single? Gay? Straight? Own a pet lobster? Etc.

    Leslee

    PS I think you should introduce yourself on the bio page with a cartoon created using your Wii avatar. THAT would be funny!

  9. Korivak says:

    I’m with the people above that mentioned geographical location. I believe that where we live has a noticeable effect on who we are and how we think. Again, no need to be too specific, but things like which state, rural or urban, and basic landscape type would be interesting. (Eastern Ontario, urban river valley here).

    I would also skip mentioning your religious beliefs, if it were me. It isn’t particularly topical to the rest of the site content, and you are very serious about not letting politics intrude on discussions about game design and geek culture. Of course, this fits more closely with the Canadian approach to religious freedom than the American one (hey look, regional beliefs and opinions, as mentioned above).

    In Canada, people generally will not talk about religion at all unless the other person is a) genuinely interested, or b) known to be of the same religion. Since the blog is not about religion, and many readers are either secular or christians with different beliefs, nether reason really applies. This does go against the more common American interpretation of religious freedoms (‘I shouldn’t have to hide my religion as if I’m ashamed of it’), so consult your own regional bias on this one.

    @ #8 Seconded. A screencap bio comic would be delightfully meta for someone for that owes a good deal of his fame to screencap comics.

  10. Lazlo says:

    I like your about page, although as I recall some of the links are in need of updating (or removing). As for best posts, you could start with this as a metric:

    for i in `seq 1 2174`; do
    wget -O – “http://www.google.com/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&=&q=link%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.shamusyoung.com%2Ftwentysidedtale%2F%3Fp%3D${i}&btnG=Google+Search&aq=f” | sed -e ‘s/;/\
    /g’ | grep “links to”
    done

    (actually, I don’t think that really works. But you get the idea…)

  11. Fosse says:

    I think you need at least one of your big “category” posts. Anti DRM bits, game reviews, and state of the hobby despair. One doesn’t jump out at me for the reviews — probably because they always span several posts — but for the other two categories I’d submit the Toast one you were just forced to repost, or the one in which you actually bought and installed a graphics card. I don’t recall the title, it’s the one in which you find yourself with several bits of plastic and metal in a sealed baggie after you install the card. You don’t know what to do with them so you pretend they aren’t there. That post is great.

    For DRM, I’d submit the one in which you compare DRM shenanigans to a movie theatre gone wrong. That post nicely and entertainingly conveyed the broad strokes and nuances of your DRM position.

  12. LintMan says:

    On an About the Author blog page, I’m generally curious about what experience and knowledge that person might have that is relevant to the topics covered. (ie: Is this guy really really authoritative on a particular topic? Where’s he coming from?) Since you discuss games, computers, and tabletop RPG’s, any stuff you do or have done related to those would be interesting, if you’re willing to share it.

    I.e.: What games did you really like or hate? What do you do for a living? Software? As a game programmer? Do you have any degrees? If so, in what? What’s your PC hardware setup? Do you regularly play a tabletop RPG? As a GM? Which one(s)?

    Some of the other personal stuff people mentioned, such as you general location, or the background stuff Leslee suggested, is also of interest.

    You also asked about site problems. This is minor, but I’ll mention it: the wavatars seem to be clipped at the top using IE7, on two different computers. (ie: my wavatar’s eyes are clipped off in IE7). In Firefox or Chrome, the wavatars all display fine for me.

  13. K says:

    What does the person do for a living and a CV relevant to the text that the author writes.

  14. albval says:

    I’d agree with #6 & #8 on almost everything. The relevant background added with some human interest bits (e.g. martial status, location, unrelated hobbies…) is what I look for when I am looking at peoples’ bios. The info on writer’s experience and history in the field he is writing about helps a lot in putting the posts in perspective.

    Like #9 (but from an North European viewpoint) I’d also drop the religion altogether, but I guess that’s a cultural issue. Around here talking actively about your religion is often considered slightly bad manners and seen also as preaching, especially when it has nothing to do with the blog’s topics.

    For the best posts: I’ve been lurking here for quite a while (this is my first post BTW) and the ones I most eagerly look forward to are your game reviews. They’re not necessarily the best ones when the amount of Funny is measured, but they’re probably the most influential ones. I myself for example bought Mass Effect just a while ago – and mainly because of your analysis. When most of the game journalism and especially reviews today are pure crap, your posts really stand out.

  15. TehShrike says:

    What I want to know about the author of things I read:

    I want to know about his path to geekdom! His nerd resume, if you will.

    First games he enjoyed. First console played. First code compiled. First article written for the public. Formative moments, you know?

  16. albval says:

    Oh, and about broken thingies. I don’t know if you are aware of this already, but the links on the top bar (Home, Webcomic, D&D Campaign etc.) move sideways when clicked and sometimes the link itself won’t open until you click on it a second time. I’m using FF 3.0.6

  17. gorthol says:

    I’ll agree with everyone above. The posts that go into your “best posts” section should probably include the posts where you define things like DIAS and self-balancing gameplay and other similar terms that you refer back to in most of your posts. I suggest that it should also include your “Reset Button” video.

    As for the “About the Author” section – I know you work with computers, and I know you work from home, but I don’t really know what it is that you do. I’m actually quite curious.

  18. Aergoth says:

    Maybe include free radical on the “about the author” page. It is very well written for the source material, unlike other things I’ve read.

    Best posts, DIAS and a few other VGing articles on the one hand, maybe the French Press article for a look at the non sensical, and Computer Hardware is “Toast”. Especially include “Things wrong with WoW”. Just so people understand you don’t cater to every fan boy and “moron” who thinks “OOOOOH GRAFFIX T3H C00l!!!1111!”

  19. LintMan says:

    @K: What someone does for a living (and/or their CV) may be completely irrelevant to what they write, or it might be totally relevant.

    Say you come across a Windows programming blog and see some stuff that seems counter to what you know, or is strongly opinionated for/against something. You say: Who is this guy? Does he know what he’s talking about? Does he have some predisposed biases? Then you see that he’s a programmer at Microsoft on (say) their Vista team. You might then take his counter-intuitive statements on Windows programming more seriously than you would if it was the random blog of some second-year CS major, no? You also probably wouldn’t expect to see much negative discussion of Vista or positive discussion of linux on the MS guy’s site.

    Reminds me of this comic: http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0143.html

    Now, specific to this blog, which is mainly about verious forms of gaming, if Shamus was, say, an insurance salesman, his job wouldn’t have much relevance. (Not that that would be bad or a problem – you certainly don’t need have a specific degree or career to have a valid worthwhile opinion on gaming!) But what if, say, Shamus worked at EA? That would put an interesting spin on things, I’d think! (I mentioned software specifically, because Shamus has said some things seeming to indicate that’s what he does, and since he occasionally talks about software here and that’s my own field, I’m curious about the details.)

  20. Sydney says:

    Free Radical! How could I forget about that? Free Radical should be the first thing listed in the Best Of! In double-size font! And clicking on the background of the page should link to it!

    [hops up and down]

  21. Sauron says:

    I’m not sure what you should add to the Best Posts section, but for the love of God keep the Seven Springs story. After DM of the Rings brought me here, that post (well, posts) was what convinced me to check out the rest of the site! (Admittedly, this is because I’m an ex-FBLAer myself and your crazy antics reminded me of *my* crazy antics, but that’s not the point.)

  22. Alex says:

    Best Posts suggestions:

    -The original DIAS post.

    -I think the Why I Love Anime posts are pretty substantial too.

    -I really liked the Final Fantasy X and Silent Hill 2 posts you did. In fact, one of only two disappointments I have with your blog is that we only ever got your first impressions for Shadow of the Colossus. But judging from the archives, that article appears to have coincided with certain health related “adventures”, so I can’t really hold it against ya.

    -The Plot Driven Door

    -“Girl” Games

    -Thief 3 “Fearsome”

    -The Five Love Languages(or basically any post that tells us more about you than the subject of discussion[Ai Yori Aoshi comes to mind]. If you plan for the Author page to not really go too much in depth about yourself, then perhaps your Best Posts could sort of fulfill that?)

    -Above any others, keep the Seven Springs articles categorized there. Seriously.

  23. Noble Bear says:

    I’d like to see a separate section for all your game development stuff. not just the terrain stuff but you discussion for what would make a good survival horror and anything else of that sort where you get into the conseptual and practical nuts and bolts of dev.

    I’d also like a section for your “Best of DRM rants”

    As for you personally, I would be interested in knowing some very general biographical info like what state you live in or how awesome you think your wife is. speaking of, what were her thoughts on PoP?

  24. Kronski says:

    You should put an e-mail address up so we can recommend games/send hate mail.

  25. Octal says:

    If I’m looking at an “about the author” page, it’s almost always because I’ve read a lot of the site and liked it, and now I want to see if they’ve written anything else that I might be interested in… or, if there’s a separate link page, to kind of see where they’re coming from on the topic. Why is Person writing about Topic, what’s their experience with it, etc. (Or on a humor site/blog/book, because there might be some more amusing (if containing dubious amounts of truth) stories.)

  26. Stickle says:

    I agree: living situation (financial situation lightly implied), including with whom you live.

  27. Rask says:

    There’s something with the new article font/layout that’s making it less readable to my eyes. I suspect it’s the vertical spacing between the lines within each paragraph.

  28. Cuthalion says:

    Keep the Seven Springs posts. They really made you more of a person and less of a typing hand. (Terrible pun on “talking head”.) I also like what’s currently in your about me (beardlessness, etc.), but what you put in there is certainly up to you. State and urban/suburban/country would be nice, too.

    I agree with others that the “Toast” post should be a “Best Of”. Also, you could put a “Goldun Riter” award (or however you misspelt it) on your “Best Of” page, if that fits your sense of humor.

  29. froogger says:

    Eh, it’s all been said already but I still want to be heard.

    I always look for an authors heads circumference. In centimeters preferably.

    (not really, but I do love that word, circumference. can’t be used enough I think)

  30. Simply Simon says:

    2. I really like the “GM advice” posts. They are fun to read and have very good points.

    3. The only “broken” thing I can think of is that when right clicking the home, webcomics etc. at the top of the site in firefox the text to the right of it jumps closer. Except that there is nothing.

  31. Katy says:

    I’m sure it’s been mentioned it before, but I’d love an easy way (e.g. next and back buttons) to navigate between posts chronologically.

    For the “best of” page, can you automatically pull a list of the five posts with the most comments, and the five most frequently viewed in the last week/month/all time? This would be in addition to any posts you wanted to highlight, of course. I think your Reset Button video about Prince of Persia ought to go on the list as well.

  32. SAD says:

    (Long-time Lurker, Second-time Poster.)

    Another good Post to include: the “All the reasons I wouldn’t have survived to adulthood if I was born in the Middle Ages” Post. All kinds of fun, and spawned a lively discussion too, if I recall.

  33. albval says:

    @Katy (#31) I have to agree. I wanted to go through the older posts when I discovered the site, but going through them was too much of a pain and I quit. The topical prev-next -linking is good tho.

  34. Helm says:

    I’d like links/topics to open in a new tab but thats just me heh

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