With a title like that, I could go two ways with this blog post, right? One way would be to encourage people to do stuff that’s good for the Earth, like recycling and so forth. There are probably lots of people who could do that better than me. Instead, this post is going to be about making the most of the Fedora Planet, which carries information about contributors and their work to each other and to audiences outside the Fedora Project.
I personally like to see a mixture of information on the Planet that tells me about our contributors, their work, and the things they’re doing in Fedora. Often I see stuff appearing on the Planet that isn’t really relevant to any of those topics though. When I reached out to a couple different Fedora contributors recently to ask them about posts, I found they didn’t know they could aggregate part of their blogs, based on a category or tagging, as opposed to the feed of all their content. The contributors in question were both interested in how they could do this properly, and I found that reaching out to them directly, with an offer to help, was a great way to discuss this topic in a constructive and educational way for both parties.
Why is that a helpful feature of blogging? Because it allows the writer to express themselves however they like on their blog without worrying which aggregators the content will end up feeding. A single writer may be feeding content to several different planets or other aggregators, and should have the option of where their content ends up. By having a category that maps to an aggregator, it’s easy for the author to declare where they want their content will be carried. It also gives the author a chance, when publishing, to be thoughtful about their content and where it’s most pertinent. This is also helpful for the community, because category specific feeds keep each aggregator (the Fedora Planet is just one example) more useful for everyone reading it.
I’ve been using WordPress for a long time for my blogging, and WordPress has a very easy way to set up categories for content, and provide a specific feed for each one. Interestingly though, both of the contributors I helped in the past week were using Blogspot. As I found out when I made a test Blogspot blog later, Blogspot does not make this process quite as simple or straightforward, although the feature does exist and work fine.
So, armed with that knowledge, I set up a couple extra wiki pages with instructions for how to set up category specific feeds for a WordPress blog, and how to do the same thing for a Blogspot (or Blogger) blog. I also linked these pages to the general instruction page for the Planet. Hopefully, these pages will be useful to contributors adding themselves to the Fedora Planet. Even if you’re already on the Planet, if you’re not familiar with the process of categorization or labeling, you might find these pages helpful.
Note that none of the above information is meant to stop people from discussing topics relevant to our community, but not specific to Fedora, on our Planet. My hope is that using categorization like this will continue to improve the quality of content on the feed, and even help bloggers contribute information to more aggregators.