How to Make OPEN SALON Even Better

Those of you who read my blog entries on Open Salon may have noticed my absence the past week.  I've still been posting blog entries every day on my original City of Kik destination, but the live feed that is supposed to synch my entries onto Salon's blog site has "had a few hiccups," to quote Thomas Rogers.

I love the Open Salon community of writers and readers.  I've posted my mostly positive reaction to it during my first week on OS and during my first month also.  Now, after a little over three months, here are my suggestions on how to make the OS experience even better.

1.  Fix the damn live feed.  It synchs only twice a day so the delays from the first time I post on Google's Blogger to the time it appears on Open Salon are outrageously long -- sometimes hours, and as this week has shown, sometimes days.  The work-around solution is to delete the feed URL and to then set it up again, which is annoying.  The other work-around solution is to avoid the feed option all together and to just copy and paste my blog entries directly on OS, but posting twice, once on Blogspot and then on OS, is tedious to say the least.  I'm not going to abandon my original blog and yet I don't want to lose my OS audience.  The real solution is to get rid of the bugs in the feed and make it as close to an instantaneous synchronization as possible.

2.  Offer more design options.  One of the reasons I don't want to abandon my original blog location is because I'm very happy with the aesthetic choices it gives me in terms of layout, widgets, design, etc.  Open Salon would go a long way in winning more original content providers who are currently using Blogger, Wordpress, or some other blog generators, if it offered more bells and whistles when it comes to personalizing the OS experience.

3.  Allow a customized blog roll.  Right now, on my OS page, the OS writers I follow appear chronologically based on when I started following them.  I should be able to rank them as I wish based on the topics they write about, how frequently they post, how well I know them, etc.  On the side, new posts by all the folks I'm following on OS appear -- there should be the option to add blogs from outside the sacred halls of OS as well.  Most blogs allow you to add any site to your blogroll; Open Salon should do the same.

4.   Allow update alerts for new comments on others' posts.  Right now I receive an e-mail alert every time someone comments on OS entries I've written.  I would like the option to also get alerts for threads on posts written by others that I would like to follow.  Again, this is a function that is common on most other blog services.  It would boost continued readership on many posts and spur even more comments.  Since feedback is one of the great selling points for Open Salon, I think this is a must-have to spark even more discussion in the community.

5.  Improve the Personal Messages feature.  Currently, we can only send messages to fellow OS users that we're following, and we have to click each name individually if we want to send to more than one recipient.  There should be a "Select All" option to send a message to everyone on our list.  People are using the messaging system to promote their blog entries, and I certainly do not want to encourage more unwanted spam, but sometimes there is a need to communicate with everyone via a mass message, (like when I complained about the feed problems), and having to manually enter each and every name is beyond cumbersome.  Likewise, there should be a "Reply All" feature for the same reasons.

6.  Allow customization of the Home Page.  I'm not suggesting that we pick and choose what gets on Open Salon's "front page" -- I leave that to the Editors who do a fine job selecting those and the Editors' Picks.  But I think OS users should be allowed to select how the Home Page is laid out on their screen.  Any future redesign of OS should hopefully allow users to customize how the stories appear on their homepage once they are regular OS contributors.  In other words, if you love politics then the political stories will be on top.  If you love entertainment and pop culture, then posts about movies, television, and celebrities should be on top.  And so on.  This still allows off-topic entries that the Editors select to appear on the Home Page and it allows readers to discover new writers and topics they might not otherwise look at, but it also brings the stuff to the top based on each person's personal tastes.  Open Salon is often compared to magazines and newspapers, but it is primarily an electronic medium, an ONLINE publication, which affords it certain dynamic options that would encourage repeat visits and contributions.  Open Salon should take advantage of that and start thinking outside the Traditional Media box.

Those are my ideas, do with them what you will.  Thanks for reading.