Thursday, March 02, 2006

How to Host a Carnival and Weekend Linkfests for March 3-5, 2006

Weekend Linkfests are Here

Friday linkfests go here.

Weekend Trackbacks Trackback:

If your software won't allow you to send a trackback, you may use The Wizbang Standalone Pinger to do so. All I ask is that you link to the main Linkfest Haven ( page, NOT the post of the day. This way, if you're doing a linkfest that's acccepting trackbacks on multiple days, you just need to go ahead and send a trackback for each day. Users who click on your links weeks or even months later will be able to go and view all the most current linkfests. In addition, by using Linkfest Haven, you'll be able to find links to all of the other linkfests to include in your post.

Generally, I devote this space to explaining what Linkfest Haven is. This week I decided to go ahead and write a blogging related article.

I'm a huge carnival participant. I've been in so many Carnival of the Vanities, Christian Carnivals, Poetry Carnivals, Story Blogging Carnivals than you can shake a stick at. I've hosted three Carnivals myself:

1) The Carnival of Christmas
2) The 10th Carnival of True Civil Liberties
3) The 8th Carnival of Poetry

Each has been a source of pride and garnered lots of traffic, links, and praise for a job well done. In that time, I've observed there's a lot of effective ways to host Carnivals and ineffective ones as well.

Here's some basic advice:

1) Choose the Right Carnival

-You can get to eventually host almost any Carnival, be sure to choose one that you're a good fit for and that's the right size for you.

First, if you're hosting a Carnival where a variety of viewpoints are represented, you have to be able to respect their opinion and treat them decently in your descriptions. People submit their posts to get them promoted and don't deserve to be trashed.

One example that comes to mind is a Carnival of the Vanities last year when I submitted a post. The host didn't agree with my point of view, so in his description, he trashed and misrepresented my ideas. I don't stiff Carnival hosts, but I made an exception for him. If you're hosting a Carnival such as "The Carnival of the Vanities" or "The Christian Carnival" where there's a variety of viewpoints, you have to be objective.

Size matters. If you don't have a lot of time to devote to a project, than hosting the Carnival of the Vanities is a bad idea. With all those posts that come in, its hard for the time strapped to organize a decent carnival. Also, if you're new to Carnival hosting, you may want to try your hand at a smaller carnival before taking on a big responsibility.

Second, Organize it. Carnival entries stream in througout the week, so organize your Carnival as posts come in rather than rushing around at the last minute.

Also, key is to choose a method of organization. There are several that work and only one I know of that doesn't:

1) Issues and Themes

Divide your posts up by Theme. With the Carnival of True Civil Liberties I divided them up into "War on Christmas" and "Non-War on Christmas." Its simple but it gives people a sense of organization, so they kind find the post they wanted In the Carnival of Christmas the organization was made more complex. I went and organized the categories into themes. For example, in the Stories section, there were religious Stories, and then Santa and Christmas tree Stories.

The more logical flow you've got going, the easier it is for people to pay attention. If I read that a Blog Post is about abortion and the next one is about puppies, and the one after that about the MTV music awards, I'm heading elsewhere.

2) TV Shows, Movies, or Books

This can work out pretty well. A great example is how Rick Moran at Right Wing Nuthouse made one Carnival of the Clueless centered around how 24's main Character Jack Bauer would respond to different situations. It can be fun and different.

Also, can make up a fictional situation about yourself or relative and center the Carnival's posts around that.

3) Length

Its best used in situations where you're measuring poetry, stories, things which are to categorize. I picked up from Donald Crankshaw and used in the Carnival of Poetry. The length tells people with limited time, how much of it it will take to read the linked post.

4) Wit

In the same line, some people don't need to put massive amounts of traditional organization into a Carnival. Two examples is the aforementioned Rick Moran, and the Owner's Manual's Gary Cruse.

Moran's writing is sharp, so even though his posts aren't themed, his style and wit make it worth reading all the way through his carnival posts.

Cruse doesn't use much in terms of traditional organization. One post seems totally disconnected from the other. What he lacks in continuity, he makes up for in style. Each post has an accompanying graphic, as well as a quote from the "host of the week" which is someone from whom the quotes are taken. The way that Cruse describes his pieces and the often ironic pictures and quotes gets you to read all the way through all the time.

There's one method that doesn't and that's the method of posting all of the entries you received in Chronological order. The fact that you received a post on gay marriage after you received a post on raising puppies doesn't make it any less random to the reader.

Of course, some people do just throw out all the posts they received in random order, which brings me to my final tip.

Remember, you only get out of a Blog Carnival what you put into it. Its easy to throw together a Carnival in 30 minutes, by just saying:

Bob gives us "Roots in the Cellar" and just randomly throwing out posts. What you'll get out of that is a momentary bump in traffic and a few links. That's it. You'll gain no permanent readers. Sloppily put together carnivals don't make for fun reading.

Put time and effort into your posts. Add pictures, commentaries, and quotes when appropriate. It'll be appreciated by both the bloggers and readers rather than instantly forgotten.

For all the Blog Carnivals out there, check out Blog Carnival and Conservative Cat.