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The State of JM

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : November 27, 2007

rebel-trash-jesus.jpgIt has been a little over a month since I relaunched JesusManifesto.com as a collaborative blog. For the most part, I’ve been pleased with the results. Traffic has increased, more perspectives have been shared, and comments are up. However, I have heard some critiques. The most common critiques are:A) From friends who say: “I miss reading about you, Mark, and your personal stuff. I only read JesusManifesto because we know and care about you.”

B) From others who say: “With this latest re-launch, your blog has steadily drifted into Christian Anarchist waters. Before, the blog definitely had that feel, but it included stuff that was generally helpful to us non-anarchist types.”

C) Still others say: “I wish there were some basic 101 posts that would help me understand the stuff that has been posted lately. You post so much now, but it isn’t easy to find old posts to bring me up to speed. It is just too much too quick.”

Do you agree with these critiques? In what ways do you think Jesus Manifesto is better than before? At this point, I’m really interested in more feedback.

While I’m asking for your opinions, I’d like your advice on one more thing. Someone has graciously offered me some money to use towards the site. I’m SERIOUSLY considering switching platforms from Wordpress (which has been great) to ExpessionEngine. ExpressionEngine would allow me to upgrade JesusManifesto.com to something more like a webzine. Basically, this would allow me to categorize posts as articles in different categories, allow for more fully integrated forums, etc. Basically, it could function a bit like theooze.com functions. If I made the switch, the current authors would post content into different categories, making it easier for readers to choose the content they want to read. And it would be easier to find stuff that interests readers on the front page. For those that miss reading about my life and ministry, I would create a separate editor’s blog. People using RSS could subscribe to the whole blog, seperate categories, or just to my editor’s blog. PLUS, we’d allow people to submit articles and comment upon each of those articles.

But I want to know what you think. Would you be interested in something like this?

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Comments

15 Responses to “The State of JM”

  1. Jonas Lundström on November 27th, 2007 1:07 pm

    I read JM less nowadays, after the change. When one reads blogs, you tend to get a feeling over time for the person writing and hers or his story and context. This makes it easier to understand what is written. These collaborative blogs makes it impossible to separate the writers from each other and for that reason, it feels more like a massive dose of ideas being spread, almost without a body. Personally, I like the anarchist slant, and several of the writers has written great stuff, but I feel more of a distance towards JM now than before. (But I might not be representative at all, of course.)

  2. Matt Wiebe on November 27th, 2007 1:21 pm

    Yeah, it’s definitely a bit more of a jumbled feel lately. Some “101″ style posts to orient new people to some of the “insider language” that inevitably begins to crop up would probably be helpful.

    As for moving to ExpressionEngine, you could do basically everything you’re talking about with Wordpress and a customized theme with a few well-chosen plugins. Still, I’ve heard great things about EE, it’s just not free.

  3. Mark Van Steenwyk on November 27th, 2007 1:30 pm

    Yeah, I’ve sensed the same sort of jumbledness. It isn’t as though the posts aren’t great. But I think it is like pouring a gallon of milk into a shotglass…too much at once. And my two options are to either 1) go back to the way it was, or 2) get a bigger “container.”

    Sure, I could make Wordpress work. People use it as a fully functional CMS all the time. I’ve been adding plugins to Wordpress for a while now, and it is starting to get clunky and inefficient. ExpressionEngine costs money, but once I shell out a bit of money and learn the system, I think I’ll have much more powerful system that can be used as an authentic CMS. This will allow me make JesusManifesto into something like “theOoze” for Christian radicals.

  4. Joe Carson on November 27th, 2007 1:44 pm

    I think you basically said what you had to say with initial JM and the ratio of opinion to fact is now too slanted to opinion.

    I suggest you make it more an ezine, with you being more an editor about topics and their development. Make it more real and relevant by finding people who are actually doing something tangible - no tea drinkers allowed - with the ideas and be a platform for their efforts.

  5. Graeme Smith on November 27th, 2007 1:52 pm

    I’ve enjoyed the new stuff but it definitely feels less cohesive because of the variety of writers. However, that in itself is not putting me off reading.

    As for my thoughts on WP or EE, then I’d hold fire for awhile on that decision. There are some very good themes out there that deal with a more magazine type format, plus WP 2.4 (due out late Jan 08) is rumoured to have a significant increase in page loading times etc. It’s also worth doing what I occasionally do and reevaluate the plugins every so often. Having said that EE certainly looks good!

  6. Jordan Peacock on November 27th, 2007 3:16 pm

    I like your idea of the switch. I’ve been loving the content, and will probably use the ’subscribe to all’ option, but that way it doesn’t leave out some of the others.

  7. Jason Barr on November 27th, 2007 3:55 pm

    I like the magazine option, though I’d echo what’s said above and see if WP 2.4 might meet the needs for what you’re wanting to do - but I do think transitioning to the magazine formate could be very cool.

  8. Ben on November 27th, 2007 5:04 pm

    It would be great to be able to subscribe to different themes in the blog.

  9. Makeesha Fisher on November 27th, 2007 5:21 pm

    I’ll keep reading no matter what - - oh, and I do plan to help with content still if you decide to keep going that direction, I’ve just been crazy in my head lately hehe

  10. e on November 27th, 2007 7:39 pm

    I’m newer here, having found the site through Barr’s blog. I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. It seems like there should be some “clearinghouse” for those who are dealing with putting the ideals of Christian radicalism into practice without a supportive community. This might as well be the place :-)

  11. Jason Barr on November 27th, 2007 9:42 pm

    Not to mention hopefully encouraging us to develop a supportive community where we are. ;-)

  12. Anna on November 28th, 2007 9:51 am

    I agree with the “too much, too quick” comment. If you stick with WP, try to keep to one long post per day or two small ones. Magazine format would be great for the beginners, I think, though I’m not a techie.

    ~Anna

  13. Michelle on November 29th, 2007 2:15 pm

    I’m a new reader, so some background pages would be helpful. Thanks for asking!

  14. shaun groves on December 2nd, 2007 2:30 pm

    I use EE and like it. But, I’ve never used WP so I can’t compare. If you have any questions about EE and how we use it, feel free to shoot me some e-mail and I’ll do my best to get you a thorough answer quickly.

    -Shaun

  15. Mark Van Steenwyk on December 3rd, 2007 11:23 am

    I’m thinking that EE has too steep of a learning curve for me. I don’t have much background with REAL web-development. Wordpress is a bit tricky to learn, but I only have to tweak stuff…it doesn’t require actual web skills.

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