How can we make the Live Blogs better?

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Malaysian Grand Prix F1Fanatic Live Blog

The new F1Fanatic Live Blogs of the practice, qualifying and race sessions have proved really popular, with hundreds of you joining in the Grand Prix comments.

But I think we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what we can do with this feature so please give me any feedback on the service so far. Here are a few thoughts I’m working on at the moment:

Covering the sessions

What makes Live Blogging really powerful is that loads of people can contribute at once. So how can we harness that to cover F1 better?

One way, which we’ve already started to use a bit, is to have feedback from people watching F1 via different sources – television broadcasters around the world, radio announcers, plus online coverage such as the live timing screens and Renault’s excellent live telemetry.

Another way could be to have different people tracking the progress of individual drivers. So if you’re a Nakajima fan you could be out appointed Nakajima specialist, keeping a close track on his progress and making sure the rest of us don’t miss anything.

Would you be interested in helping us follow the race this way?

Another way might be to divide it up by roles – have one person keeping an eye on pit stops, another monitoring track and weather conditions, another changes in the running order and so on.

Software

At the moment F1Fanatic Live Blogs is run using CoverItLive. How well do you think the software worked? Do you know of any alternatives that might be better?

I’m in discussion with the CoverItLive people at the moment and will pass any relevant feedback on to them, especially if you encountered any technical problems.

Share the Live Blog

If you run an F1 website then you’ll be able to place the F1Fanatic Live Blog on your site from next week. I’ll post the relevant code closer to the time (to make sure you don’t miss it why not subscribe to the RSS feed?).

Wanted: Moderators

Over 1,300 messages were posted during the Malaysian Grand Prix alone and the moderators who helped out last weekend played a vital role in making the Live Blog a success – thanks to Ollie, Duncan, Journeyer and Arun.

We do need some more moderators, however, so if you can spare a bit of time during any of the sessions to help ensure people’s comments appear on the blog as quickly as possible, please contact me via the comments below or the contact form.

Wanted: Friday hosts

After the Bahrain Grand Prix I won’t be able to run the Live Blogs for the practice sessions as I’ll be at work! So I need at least one person to run each of those two Live Blogs.

If you’re interested in doing this, please contact me

Anything else?

What more can we do to make the live blogs better? What did you think of the live blogs so far? Please leave your comments, suggestions and ideas below.

You can also send feedback to F1Fanatic.co.uk via the F1 Fanatic Facebook Group:

F1 Fanatic Facebook Group

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 26 comments on “How can we make the Live Blogs better?”

    1. I tried joining the live blog last week, but the interface didn’t seem to work well for me. It kept jumping to the top – the first message. It would then jump down again to the last posted message, then jump back to the top. Kept doing that for the 10 minutes that I tried to join in. Made it very annoying to do pretty much anything. I guess that’s not how the interface works and is surely due to problems from my side (maybe because of Firefox 3 b4).

      Like I commented last week (don’t know if you noticed my comment), and since you’re open to other alternatives, I’d recommend IRC for this kind of live commentary/interaction. Me and my friend already run an IRC server (related to PSP hacking, but can be changed as need be, also have another dedicated server which could be used as a standalone F1Fanatic IRC server) and would love to have other F1 fans on the server. Most of our current visitors are Europeans and fans of F1. We also have a webinterface allowing people to join in from their browser (without having to download a seperate IRC client).

      Thanks for listening, and bye!
      Pranav.

    2. Forgot to mention btw… Apart from the web interface, most multi-protocol instant messengers like Pidgin, Adium, Trillian support IRC and would work just as well.

    3. I quite like it as it is!  I didn’t mess about with the window all that much, but then only thing I would suggest would be if the comment window could be made bigger – quite often I would find myself watching the TV and then would have to scroll up a bit to read what I had missed.  Sounds a bit petty when you see it written down lol.

      As for watching the drivers in turn, roll on the interactive digital channels so we can do that for real and give it some justice!

    4. the CoverItLive works fine. I like those little polls :-)

    5. One idea would be to use an existing services and just filter the output. For instance, use Twitter.com as a service and their API to filter out every entry containing a certain word (or letter combination) during the race broadcast.This way everyone store there own content on their own account (probably remove the need of moderators) and all your doing is aggregating data.Here’s an example when Twitter has been used to monitor the president candidate in the US. http://politweets.com/.Think something similar could work really for covering live F1 events.The good thing with agreeing a certain word or letter combination to filter each race (for instance all post mentioning ‘F10801’ (being F1: Formula 1, 08: year, 01: GP number)), means that you can later extend this gathering of data. And later on start aggregation other services, as photos from Flickr, or Blog post via Techonrati.

    6. I think the liveblogs have been working really well. It has to be said though, moderation is an absolute pain and I do wonder if we would be better off using plain old IRC. Another little niggle is that I would like to be able to send my message be hitting enter rather than having to click the submit button all the time. It is really annoying when you are trying to send messages as quickly as possible, but you have to faff around with the mouse! ISTR this was possible when I wasn’t a moderator…

    7. The CoverItLive gizmo worked just fine for me – I was actually quite impressed with the way I just had to click on the link in your post, Keith, and was immediately thrown into the action.

      I had the ITV feed and Live Timing open in other windows and found that everything fitted pretty well, not requiring me to constantly switch from one to the other.  What might be an idea for the future (I know it’s not possible now because of jealously-guarded copyright) would be to have these feeds embedded into the chat window so that we only need to have one window open.

      At this rate, we will be able to throw away our TVs – wouldn’t that be nice?  :D

    8. Great idea about having people track individual drivers, I would be well up for taking 2 or 3 drivers to cover over a weekend. One thing I think we might need to consider in time is as the number of people increase, we are going to get a lot of people saying the same thing during the session. To ensure everyone gets a quality experience, perhaps we should consider having more than one live comments session – Maybe one where regulars go – they would be invited or have to respond to a RSVP to a session reminder and would gain access to a session limited to say 50 people, where as the occasional users can come and go freely in a public session.  I say this as sometimes when a piece of action happens we will get 5 or 6 people saying the same thing and this might dilute the impact of the comments in the session. Other than that I think it is a great feature.

    9. I did go onto the live blog, but when the race started ny eyes were on the live timing screen at f1.com and the TV, I would have loved to join in but just too much going on for me
      Even I cant do that amount of multitasking!
      Gr8 idea though

    10. I used the live blog for Australia practice (not the race however as I watched it DVR time-delayed), and really enjoyed it.  I tried it again in Malaysia, but it kept crashing my computer (fresh WinXP install w/ FF2.0.latest).  After a little messing around, I gave up.

      Generally though I will not be watching the races live however, as most of the European races run at about 7am Sunday morning here (at which point I’m at church).

    11. Duncan, the enter key thing is annoying. Interestingly, people who aren’t mods are able to do this because they don’t have the tinymce (?) text box thingy. But mods do. It annoyed me as well.

      I’m with Clive and impressed about the whole ‘being thrown straight into the action’ thing. Generally speaking, I think it is fine, but I do agree that there needs to be a way of showing information about the race or viewing options without the need for users to persistently ask "How can I watch F1?" A sort of FAQ that is always around.

      Given the popularity of all this I have a few ideas that I’ve been mulling over, but I won’t waste space on the site with a overly long message. I’ll shoot you over an email at some point in the next few days.

    12. It works great, but I couldn’t moderate on Sunday because my Net was not fast enough and the site kept timing out.  But that’s out of your control, Keith.  What I would suggest is that we have special guest moderators and/or chatters from race to race.  It would be great if we could get some F1 people past or present to join us.  :)  Otherwise, you’re doing perfect, Keith.

    13. Clive:

      I had the ITV feed and Live Timing open in other windows and found that everything fitted pretty well, not requiring me to constantly switch from one to the other. What might be an idea for the future (I know it’s not possible now because of jealously-guarded copyright) would be to have these feeds embedded into the chat window so that we only need to have one window open.

      I almost managed it! F1.com doesn’t work – they must have code on their site to prevent this sort of thing. TBH I’d imagine ITV would take a dim view of this sort of thing as well, but it’s nice to think about. Click here to see, but I’ll take it down soon in case it annoys anyone! Maybe we could keep the frame on the right though – embed the Coveritlive window in a bigger page with all the FAQ etc in it?

    14. I might be able to start doing the Friday sessions from Bahrain onwards, but it would have to be on a race-by-race basis because my job situation is currently in flux.

    15. I enjoyed the blog experience and it was fast and furious the way that comments were coming in – I had trouble watching and reading and adding small comments – but great idea and well done Keith again

    16. ps well done to the moderators as well

    17. Glad to see you’re all enjoying it! The CoverItLive team have been keeping an eye on this thread and offered some useful tips:

      * Anyone who’s commenting (mods included) can use Ctrl+Enter to submit comments without having to click Submit
      * They’re working on the Firefox 3 Beta glitch and have made some changes that may remedy the fault (remember that browser is Beta)
      * Can anyone who’s had problems with Firefox 2 send me any more details?
      * I will be offering some different-sized viewing windows next time as well. Can you give me an idea what sort of sizes you’d like?

    18. A wide resolution would really shine. If I can get it going, I’ll probably be watching Live timing, the Live Blog, the race and live telemetry on my 26" monitor :D. Would fit in perfectly for a 4 window splitscreen layout.

    19. Cyanide: Which live telemetry do you mean? From the Renault site?

      I use IRC and IM etc, but I think the CoverItLive thing is very good as it doesn’t require people to install anything whether it’s an IRC client or Java or anything.  Plus you get the polls and integrated replay thing that you don’t get as easily with IRC.

      The one slight issue I had was quite a noticeable delay in some cases due to the moderators presumably being overwhelmed.  Are there many comments that don’t get published?  I would have thought the majority of users could be trusted as sensible enough to not abuse the system, allowing moderation to be disabled.

      As for my setup, I prefer having separate windows for live timing/live blog/ITV feed.  I created myself a link direct to the .swf of the ITV feed so I can resize the window to whatever size I like.

      As for live timing, doctorvee is correct in that there’s code checking that it only runs on the official site.  I figured out the protocol live timing used ages ago but I’ve still not done anything useful with the information yet…

      An FAQ is definitely a good idea for the blogs though, especially for people looking for live TV coverage.

    20. Thanks for that Christopher. How do you get to the SWF it would be useful to be able to resize it and not have it in a browser window?

      And yes, the moderators did find it a bit hard to keep up at times (disabling moderation is not an option yet) but the more people who can volunteer to help, the better that should get.

    21. Im quite fond of the coveritlive widget, and note that during australia mods were doing the equivalent of an irc +v to allow trusted users to bypass moderation… Perhaps users who’ve shown a reasonable level of decorum for 5-10 minutes should be allowed to comment freely, with privaleges being revoked in the event of naughtiness.

    22. That is basically what we do, Kris, unfortuntely there’s a limit to how many people can be allowed to post without moderation.

    23. The only feedback that I have is that the different font sizes for Mods and regular users distracts me.  I know you guys are good, but with so much going on my eyes are drawn solely to your comments.

      Probably my problem not yours!

    24. Hey Keith. Thanks for the pic man, I was really taken aback when I saw my name featured in a great site for f1. as ever, I am willing to help in moderating any time you need (damn, so much happened in F1 world in just a week). But the friday practice thing is giong to be tough since I too am in USA (central time zone), and working. We’ll put up a request, whoever can handle for that particular race (and reliable for you) can hold the mantle for that race. As far as comments on improving the live blog, I am late, but think I’ll be latest (a tamil movie dialogue!)We often comment on anything interesting that happens on the race, not to a level of high knowledgeable f1 pundit (one who can shoot instant statistics and history), but for the help of people who can’t watch the race (like speed tv’s ads that seem to be never ending during a race) to know as it happens when something does. People like you, Ollie, Vee, Milos… can do the pundit like commenting, while me and others can put up ‘as it happens’ comment. So, this will prevail.* To improve, what we can do is – more polls (I thing there were only 3 last time :( ) , and other media (probably old ones!) pertaining to the race, when I was talking about DC, I showed his ‘superman’ pose in podium 2 years ago to my friend. * Is there a way we can embed the f1-vision animation on the blog, imagine it buddy, the live blog will be awesome then..

    25. Keith: for this race, ITV have moved the URL to http://www.itv.com/utils/simulcastPlayer.swf

      I just run that in a new browser window and turn off all the toolbars, status bar etc..

    26. Aw crap… with the new URL… they’re actually enforcing the UK-only restriction on the swf file.  I used to be able to watch by  just directly opening the swf file, but now it’s giving me a "UK only" error.

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