AniBlog Tournament: Round 2, Matches 5 – 8 Voting

Once again, if you see me criticizing something about your blog, it’s nothing personal.  I tend to tear apart people’s websites when I do comparisons such as this, so just keep that in mind.

Aniblog Tournament | HTML Bracket

Round 2, Day 3

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Match 5 – #8 Tenka Seiha vs. #57 Open Your Mind

Design: I guess there is nothing inherently wrong with Tenka Seiha’s theme.  It might be nice if the RSS link were higher on the page maybe, and, again, I’m not much of a fan of such a dark design (but you do have a choice between 3 color themes too!) but there is nothing which just screams at me.  I wouldn’t necessarily call it a good design, but I wouldn’t call it bad either.  Open Your Mind uses a pretty common design, but is on, so there is only so much they can do about that.  However, I don’t really like how far down the page the categories list is, and an RSS links seems to be nowhere to be found.  Also, and this is kind of a pet peeve of mine but… *whispers* no one cares how many visitors you’re getting…especially not enough to put it as the 3rd thing on your sidebar! *ends whispering*.  Having a monthly web stats post or something…OK, fine, it’s once a month. But on the sidebar? And so high on it?  I think this may be the third time in a row, but I think considering the two designs, I’m going to make this one a push again.  Winner: Push

Post Rate/Style: Neither blog appears to have an issue with posting rate, so that’s good.  For posting style, I’d think it’d be a bit nice for Tenka Seiha to perhaps have a bit more in their preview text.  Otherwise I don’t really see anything wrong with the post style.  It pretty much consists of the thoughts on each episode and then the gallery.  With Open Your Mind, again, posting style is typically a picture and a couple of paragraphs, so I don’t really see anything wrong with it.  so far, and not very much to distinguish the blogs.  Winner: Push

Content: Tenka Seiha’s typical amount of content for their episode review posts is about 2 paragraphs of thoughts, then the image gallery.  That seems to be running on the low side, for me, especially since that seems to be the standard.  However, Open Your Mind seems to have even less content, which is compounded by the fact that it set up to be an editorial blog.  In fact, it’s lack of content is why I voted against Open Your Mind in the first round, and it’s the reason why it appears like I’ll do the same in the second round. Winner: Tenka Seiha

Overall: Well, I didn’t find either of these blogs to really stand out all that much, but Tenka Seiha had more “there” there.

Winner: Tenka Seiha

Match 6 – #25 Borderline Hikikomori vs. #89 2-D Teleidoscope

Design: Other than the dark design, there isn’t very much to say about Borderline Hikikomori.  I guess I do have to say that the search box is so dark, it almost gets lost, and the RSS link is toward the bottom of the page, but otherwise it seems OK.  2-D Teleidoscope has probably the most bland design in the history of the web, though I guess it doesn’t necessarily hurt anything.  My big problem with them is this: no links to archives. No links to categories. No links to RSS.  Nothing.  While I’m not a huge fan of their color choices, I still think BH still handily wins this category.  Winner: Borderline Hikikomori

Post Rate/Style: Both blogs have a pretty decent posting rate, with Borderline Hikikomori doing a little better, but probably not enough to make a difference since they’re episode blogging and 2-D is editorial blogging.  BH uses the dreaded IPIP (Image-Paragraph-Image-Paragraph) post format, though in this case, the larger font and the smaller images makes it at least bearable, since the text doesn’t just get lost.  2-D does the IPIP thing a little bit too, though they typically have at least a couple paragraphs together at a time, which makes it better.  I think as a result, 2-D might take this category by a nose.  Winner: 2-D Teleidoscope

Content: BH seems to have quite a bit of content per post, which is always good, though it seems to depend on the author how much of it is recap and how much of it review.  Meanwhile, 2-D Teleidoscope also has some pretty good content as well, and when it comes to several paragraphs of episode review vs. several paragraphs of editorial, given similar writing quality, I’m pretty much going to give the edge to the editorial blog, unless the review site has enough actual thoughts by the author to make up for it.  Winner: 2-D Teleidoscope

Overall: This match might be the hardest for me to decide on so far.  2-D won the content category, which up until this point, has pretty much decided to winner, but in this match, they didn’t really win it by much.  They also won the Post Rate/Style, but again, not by much.  The only category Borderline Hikikomori won was the design category, but they won it by a larger margin than 2-D won either of their categories, but it’s also the least important category out of the three.  I think BH has just enough “review” in their episode review posts to make the content category close enough, that their design win can overcome the content difference and the post rate/style difference.  But it is just.

Winner: Borderline Hikikomori

Round 2, Day 4

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Match 7 -#9 hontou ni vs. #73 chaostangent

Design: hontou ni has a pretty good design to their blog.  It’s very clean and organized.  All the important “sidebar” things are easily accessible (RSS, Search, Categories).  It’s just an overall excellent design.  I’m trying to find something to criticize about it, and about the only thing I can come up with is maybe the order of items in the sidebar.  But that’s still a personal preference.  They order they have things in still makes sense, depending on what way you think is the easiest way for people to find content (I personally like to put the search box first thing, but you don’t have to).  However, they go up against perhaps the blog with the best conceived design of the entire first round, and perhaps the entire tournament: chaostangent.  It really is hard to say how impressed I am with chaostangent’s design.  The one noticeable missing item, however, is that I can’t easily find a link to the RSS feed.  I can’t find one on the page at all actually.  I mean, I can find it by adding “feed/” to the URL, but a visitor shouldn’t have to do that.  I also never really got why people have RSS feeds from other sites on the sidebar, but that’s just me. (and you have no idea how far I’m having to reach when it comes down to criticizing that).

However, why I think I’ll end up putting choastangent first in this category is this:  hontou ni took and modified a standard wordpress theme which, normally, would probably give you a great shot at winning the design category right there.  However…I have no idea what theme – if any – chaostangent is using.  The only thing I could gleam from their code was that they are using WordPress, but that’s about it.  However, given the author’s background, and what I saw in the code, I wouldn’t be a least bit surprised if he built his design from scratch.  I think it is this, which ultimately leads me to picking chaostangent here. Winner: chaostangent

Post Rate/Style: Neither blog has a problem with post rate, so that’s a non factor.  There isn’t anything particularly wrong about the post style at hontou ni that I can really see.  Nothing that particularly annoys me anyway.  chaostangent has a minor case of IPIP, though it’s more like IPPIPP, so it’s certainly not as bad, and most of the paragraphs have some beef to it, which make it even better.  They also have a little insert on their post, which is something I haven’t really seen anywhere else.  At least not in the anime blogosphere.  I just like chaostangent’s post style a tad better, especially with that little added uniqueness.  Winner: chaostangent

Content: Unfortunately for hontou ni, it’s primary author, Zyl, now writes for Sea Slugs!, meaning that a good deal of the posts nowdays is a picture, with a link to the Sea Slugs! post about that episode.  Indeed, 4 of the 10 posts on the homepage are currently like that.    However, that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t some pretty good posts on the site.  However, even with that, I just think chaostangent runs them off the road with content.  Perhaps the only thing bad I can say is that he occasionally writes about non-anime things, but for now, he does it with such infrequency, that I can’t really hold it against him very much. Winner: chaostangent

Overall: I think the main thing that hurt hontou ni is just the fact that Zyl is doing most of his episode blogging over at Sea Slugs! now instead of here, and that takes a good chunk of the site’s good content away.  Maybe it would have had a better shot at winning otherwise, and I think against a mere mortal opponent, hontou ni may very well have won, but as it is, I’m not sure how I can give this match to him.  Meanwhile, the more I look at chaostangent, the more I feel that it is going to be quite a formidable out for anyone who faces it in the future.

Winner: chaostangent

Match 8 – #24 Ogiue Maniax vs. #88 Caraniel’s Ramblings

Design: Ogiue Maniax’s design is pretty, well, black and white, but there isn’t anything that I’d say is glaringly wrong with it.  I think the sidebar headers (the light green) is kind of hard to see on the white background, perhaps, and the site is unusual for having the sidebar on the left instead of the right (not that there is anything wrong with that), but other than that, there isn’t much to note other than just the general lack of colors.  Ogiue Maniax, along with Caraniel’s Ramblings, is hosted at wordpress, so there is only so much I can say about the designs.  For whatever reason, I kind of feel that Ogiue is a little easier on the eyes, so I’ll go with them.  Winner: Ogiue Maniax

Post Rate/Style: Ogiue has posts pretty much daily, which, for an editorial blog, is quite impressive.  They don’t use any kind of annoying post styles, so that’s also a plus.  Caraniel’s also posts quite a bit, which appears to be a mix of episode reviewing and other writing, so that’s a non-factor in this match.  Maybe the only thing I have to say about Caraniel is that they use some of the IPIP style in their episode review posts, and since pretty much everything else in this category is equal, I think that pushes it over into Ogiue’s favor.  Winner: Ogiue Maniax

Content: This is where, I think, Ogiue Maniax starts showing some chinks in the armor.  Not because of writing quality, because it’s good, or necessarily because of writing length, because the posts are of a pretty decent length, especially for an editorial writer who is writing almost daily.  Where I think the chinks come in is that there are sometimes topics which aren’t necessarily anime related, and that is something that I decided I would look at.  It normally isn’t an issue, but it does come up eventually.  For an example, on the current homepage, I think I counted 3 out of 10 posts which had no relation to anime, even tangentially, and another couple where the connection was tenuous.  There’s nothing wrong with it…it is their blog.  I just wanted to point that out since it is something that I explicitly stated I’d look for (and have already before).  Caraniel’s Ramblings has a pretty good level of content, though half of it does deal with episode reviews.  So the question comes down to this: does Ogiue’s main anime-related editorial content overcome the fact that maybe a quarter of what they write isn’t anime related?  I think in this case it does, but it was close for me.  I went through a bit more of the archive to get a better feel for the blog, and I just kind of felt that, even though there was some of the non-anime content there, most of the other posts did seem to make up for it.  So I’m calling this one for Ogiue as well.  Winner: Ogiue Maniax

Overall: Despite this being a sweep, Caraniel’s Ramblings is hardly a bad blog.  I think it’s still a pretty good blog.  I just think that it ran up against another blog which was a tad out of it’s league in this round.

Winner: Ogiue Maniax

13 thoughts on “AniBlog Tournament: Round 2, Matches 5 – 8 Voting

  1. While these posts are interesting to read, I think you’re missing the main reason people vote for a certain blog in these polls: Writing Quality.

    A blog could have amazing design and 10 posts per day but if the other blog is a better writer than I’ll vote for that one.

    • but if someone has amazing writing, but never posts, then what’s the point? That’s why that measure is there.

    • I like that you’re looking at all categories and I think design is very important. Not all blog readers are looking for dissecting editorials. Sometimes people are just looking for a quick relaxing place to read opinions, reviews, summaries, or witty lines. For those readers, blog design makes a difference. They want to see pretty images; they want to feel like the site is a personable place; they want interactive navigations. It’s kind of like comparing Entertainment Weekly to the New York Times. Both have their set of readers that care about different things. To compare the two, one should look at everything.

      In 2DT’s case though, I have so much respect for his writing that it outweighs any “flaws” to his design. And the simplicity draws your attention to the most important thing his blog offers, writing. Personally, I love how there’s nothing else to distract you away from the posts. Though, I’d agree that RSS and some sort of navigation (archives/categories/tags/search/any one of these) are basic necessities.

      • I’ve been sufficiently shamed. :( It took me a little bit to figure it out, but archives and RSS are now live! Still deciding whether or not I want a tag cloud.

        Thank you, Josh. You’ve made my blog a better place. *thumbs up*

      • lol it if makes you feel any better lol, looking at the bracket, if you win this round (and it definitely looks like you are), I think your blog is going to be an easy choice in the 3rd round for me, even without any fixes.

        I think sometimes, and hontou ni is a prime example of this, one blog can hit another and they just don’t match up well for one reason or another (at least to me), though, I think I said several times yours was very, very close. You really do have some good content, and, even though design is the least important of the 3 categories, I still think some of the improvements will help. :D

  2. I’d call OYM a joke blog rather than an editorial. One of the few out there with consistently bite-sized entries and I don’t have to dig through lines of episodic writing just to crack a smile.

    Also, while I like your analysis, your structure is extremely rigid and often fail to grasp some of the unique specialties of certain blogs. E.g… I don’t get why post-rate matters if the author can both consistently (say 1/week like Eternal) and only on topics they’re passionate about; or that 2D-T has a specialization in anime-link-culture editorials that really makes it stand out, especially compared to BH’s run-of-the-mill episodic.

  3. Hm, your critique hits on some points that I’ve been considering. Like the IPIP format. It always bothered me because of the way it breaks up the flow of the text, but I’ve continued to use it because I feel that illustrations are important for the content of the post as well. Is there a different format of putting in images that you think is better, and why?

    I’ve also been trying to get away from putting in a summary into the episode posts because they really serve no purpose: those who haven’t watched it won’t want to read it for fear of spoilers, and those that have watched it… have watched it! Of course, any review needs to provide some story details in order to contextualize the critique, but I believe in keeping it to a minimal level.

    But then again, what is the purpose of episode-specific posts anyway? I’d argue that they shouldn’t even be reviews. Because most anime series tell a connected story throughout the season, reviewing a single episode is like reviewing a single chapter in a book. That’s why I prefer the term “commentary.” It should just be a narrative about what the blogger thought of the episode and got out of it, not necessarily trying to judge the quality of the episode by itself.

    And in that context, perhaps summaries in episode posts do make sense; sometimes, people just want to go over the episode step by step and post their thoughts on each individual section. That’s the approach I took to my posts on Durarara, vs. the more high-level approach I take to my posts on Arakawa Under the Bridge. I feel like there are legitimate use cases for either type of episode posts.

    • Looking at your blog again, I think the IPIP I saw on your posts weren’t anywhere as bad as on others, because many times the paragraphs are larger. I think the issue is not IPIP per se, but how much is written between Images, and paragraphs in blogs tend to be, two, maybe three paragraphs, plus the fact that people tend to use huge images. Using smaller images, larger text, and longer paragraphs do help to mitigate what I don’t like about IPIP. For example, I’d still like a post who had one 5 or 6 line lone paragraph between images than even someone who had 2 paragraphs, but they were only 3 total lines.

      I think part of the point of what I was writing was, even though you were using the IPIP format, you were doing it in a way that actually wasn’t too bad. Maybe having an extra paragraph between images would help the flow a bit more, but it doesn’t have nearly the problems as most blogs that use IPIP for the reasons I listed.

  4. Many thanks for your comments on my site, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a positive review! To address some of the points you raise:

    The design and build is entirely from scratch and while it’s not up to the standard I would like, it gives me enough flexibility to do most of what I want. In the past I’ve based a lot of the builds off Sandbox which is great if you only want to mess with the CSS but it does come with a lot of cruft.

    With regards the IPIP (or IPPIPP) format you mention, I’m always very aware that I do write an awful lot despite my intentions otherwise and I try and mitigate that first impression people get when clicking on a post of “WALL OF TEXT. My life is too short for this!” Also, anime is a visual medium and is something I’d like to celebrate which is why I spend a lot of time picking screenshots rather than just throwing loads of them in at once.

    The RSS feed link isn’t something I had considered putting on, I’ve always used the browser address bar RSS button for the main feed and put links in for other ones like category or tag specific ones. On a similar note, the “other people’s feeds” is an exchange program for the two sites, so they put my feeds up on a rotation. I don’t get any quality traffic from doing it but it’s nice to feel like part of a wider community on the off chance someone does find my site enjoyable from one of their sites.

    My non-anime postings are usually when I’m job hunting or trying to woo a prospective client but thankfully I’m settled now and doing neither so I can indulge in my passions rather than the necessities.

    Again, many thanks for your words on my site, I really value anything anyone has to say, positive or negative. I genuinely didn’t think my site was well known enough to make it through the first round, and I don’t imagine I’ll progress much further, but I’ve been surprised before! Now to work on getting that RSS link in…

    • Well, I had never visited your site before the tournament, but I’m trying to judge blogs as they are and not just because I’ve visited them before.

      Ah, the other RSS feed thing makes sense. I’ve seen other blogs have that, and I haven’t really counted it against them or you, but since I couldn’t come up with anything else, I decided to mention it lol. It’s just sometimes a curiosity I have about why some people do it *shrug*

  5. Didn’t see this post until today. I changed the search box color on BH, and it makes more sense anyway. The script I can’t seem to edit makes the background white when you click into the box. I moved the RSS feeds up to the top in a new Text widget to remove the other “meta” links no one uses, but it looks kind of daft. Maybe inspiration will strike later. Outside of those on the design front, the blog has always had dark colors, and I just kind of prefer them. I have tooled around with the CSS a bit over the past few months, though, especially the comments section.

    No comments on the post rate.

    Dreaded post content though. It’s something I’ve been working on since lvlln told me to try and write more of my thoughts and less of a summary. Honestly, I feel like my last few posts bear more resemblance to an editorial written on a single episode than a “traditional” episodic post. I’ve been trying different things and running with ideas as they come to me. I’m not going to win any Pulitzer Prizes, but I’m at least pleased with the progression I’ve made over the past few months. Now if I could just get over this new case of writer’s block…

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