Once again, thank you to everyone that took the time to fill out our recent reader survey. Chris recapped some of the demographics a couple of days ago, which showed some interesting information. However, that recap only covered the more objective data. So here we are, with part two of the results...BSD, in your words.
6. What sports would you like to see BSD cover more frequently?
Well, we pretty much got every single sport in which Penn State participates, and some they do not ("If there is a Foxy Boxing Team, you should follow them too"). As expected, everyone wants to see more sports covered here at BSD. Unfortunately, we can't cover all of them, at least not to the level some of you may like.
To alleviate this somewhat, we're going to try to have at least a weekly update of the in-season PSU sports, at least to the extent there are any updates. Seeing as how none of the writers are well versed in some of these sports, the updates may simply be a who/what/when/where recap.
Additionally, and this cannot be stressed enough, if you would like to see a sport covered/discussed more, put together a FanPost on the topic. Like the recent men's volleyball FanPost, if your post is a good update/recap on the sport in question, we'll gladly bump it to the front page (provided we don't have another story about to publish).
Of the sports mentioned, the most frequent one listed was fencing. That's not surprising in that the PSU fencing program is incredibly successful. But it is surprising in that so many people are interested in seeing updates.
8. What do you like most about BSD?
As one may expect, there was a lot of overlap between this section and the next ("What changes would most improve BSD?"). You either like our new recruiting coverage or you don't, and "recruiting coverage" can be replaced with a couple of different topics. However, many of the responses were very kind and it's always good to see that we're reaching our target audience with our content.
One of the broad themes of this response included the community-like atmosphere that the SBN model provides. Despite the heated threads over the past few months, it seems you guys actually like each other. Additionally, this model helps us in gauging quick reactions to some news/post ideas, while also allowing everyone to exchange whatever information they may have that wasn't covered in a certain post.
From the responses, it seems you like the quantity and quality of content being produced, something we're proud of with our diverse staff. We try to cover as much as we can, but as the question above shows, we can't hit everything. It's nice to know, though, that most of you enjoy reading what we do get to.
Finally, our coverage of non-sports related issues seems to be something many of you like. It would be easy for us to simply cover our respective sports and ignore some of the human interest stories out there. But with things like THON, the RAINN campaign, and (unfortunately) other news that comes out of State College, we feel like it's our job to bring you some of this information. Once again, though, if you want to discuss something we haven't gotten to, please bring it up in the FanPosts. At the very least, it will give you an outlet to discuss any number of Penn State related issues (and some off-topic issues).
Also, as a few of you mentioned, BSD is free. So it's tough to beat the price.
9. What changes would most improve BSD? What can we do to improve the content, organization, community, or anything else associated with the site?
10. If you could pick one thing to add to BSD's Penn State football coverage, it would be...
The last two questions dealt with how we can improve BSD generally, and our football coverage specifically. A lot of these responses were crossfire. More wrestling! Less wrestling! Love the recruiting! Hate the recruiting! Less editorialism! More editorialism! One or two people demanded that comments be kept on-topic. About 100 of you said you love the tangents in the comment sections. So we obviously can't make everyone happy here.
By overwhelming margins, you like the new recruiting coverage and want more stories/updates on the non-revenue sports. So, we'll make that happen for you. You also asked for more contests and historical Penn State stories, presumably similar to the excellent series Ben wrote about past PSU quarterback controversies last August. "Where Are They Now?" type stories were a big request.
Another request, which may have been the most popular of all:
Further breakdown of plays/strategy similar to what Chris Brown does over at Grantland/SmartFootball
We're currently in HIGH LEVEL NEGOTIATIONS with someone to analyze a few key plays from each game. Some also suggested a breakdown of all plays, similar to MGoBlog's weekly feature, Upon Further Review. Our response: we'd love to. The issue is that it takes a very, very long time to put together. Watching the various facets of the same play over and over again, then writing about each individual play tends to blow up an entire weeknight, if not two. For those of us with young children and/or impatient significant others, this can be a problem. But yes, very much agreed -- it would be a great addition, and it'll be strongly considered.
Regardless, we can promise some increased level of X's and O's analysis next season. Anyone willing to help on such a project, whether it's from an analysis, coaching, or technological perspective (screencaps and clips are a huge aid to the reader for this stuff) would be quite righteous.
Many of you had complaints about the SBN platform, while acknowledging that most of these issues are out of our control (and for the most part, you're right). Many suggested that we move the Fanposts further up on the right sidebar to make them more visible. We checked this out, and we're unable to alter the template in that manner. Sorry. Also, we don't control the ad content -- that's all run through SB Nation headquarters. We also don't know why Fight On State is still teasing you with "Will Rob Bolden Transfer?" banner ads.
A few people suggested that we make it easier to sort by sport. This already exists! Just check "Sections" on the left sidebar (here's the "football" result, for example).
A surprising number of you expressed dismay about the lack of an updating scores widget, both for PSU-specific results and national football/basketball games. Some of you asked for more audio and video, including podcasts and practice video.
Many suggestions were things that aren't exactly practical because our writing staff doesn't currently have a full-time presence in Happy Valley:
A "gameday reporter". Think, tailgate coverage, "from the field" photos, and other "gameday" coverage not typically covered by the game analysis.
More photojournalism, i.e., not just relying on free publicly available images. Go out and do interviews and take your own pictures with the interviewees. Take some pictures around campus for the day's content. Make the content come alive with context and immediacy.
On original photography, we have it thanks to Mike Pettigano, at least for most home games. SB Nation also just reached a deal with a new photo vendor, which should significantly increase the library available to us.
The gameday stuff is also something you can help us with (again, none of us live near State College), and it's why Fanposts have so much potential if the community wants to pitch in with our overall coverage. Gameday experiences, tailgating photos and recipes, updates on smaller topics that we don't have the time to cover more adequately -- you can be a part of covering these topics without having to actually commit to doing so on a full-time basis. Your contributions will make BSD a better read for everyone.
Same goes for the suggestions for more statistic-heavy analysis, such as the numbers used by Bill Connelly and Football Outsiders (or, The Mathlete over at MGoBlog). There are many readers with much more advanced mathematical minds than ours, who eat this stuff up but perhaps don't want to deal with making and promoting their own site. Instead, create a blog within this blog, and start a regular series in the Fanposts! I swear to you we'll promote it as long as it's interesting and well-written.
Many of you asked for more rumors. We can copy and paste Eleven Warriors' response when their readers asked for the same thing:
More than a few of you requested more rumors on the site. I'm not going to lie, I enjoy reading them as much as the next guy, but rumors just aren't our thing. Perhaps it's because we're a blog and we go out of our way to be careful about what we run, but it's an approach that works for us. The upside is that we rarely break incorrect news and that's something we're proud of.
Honestly, we're not in a position to obtain or disseminate rumors. It's hard enough fighting for credibility as a blog without getting into that business. Basically, it's one thing for someone to start a thread over at Fight On State with a juicy rumor, and entirely different story for us to feature it on our front page.
Finally, you asked for more interviews of current players and coaches. This seems like a rather obvious addition to coverage; however, we're totally at the mercy of PSU's sports information people once the players are part of the program. Recruiting interviews? Not a problem. Post-PSU interviews of former players? We can work on that. But it's a whole different animal when the players are still on the team. Penn State has traditionally made a few of them available for press conferences during the week, but almost never for one-on-one interviews outside of that setting.
All in all, we received many fantastic suggestions, compliments, and criticisms. We received a lot of "don't change a thing!" comments, which were very nice to read. Even if your particular comment isn't featured above, we read them and appreciate your input. Thanks for helping us provide the best coverage and content possible!