wistfuljane: dory & marlin (finding nemo) with the caption "well hi!" (well hi)
Jane ([personal profile] wistfuljane) wrote in [community profile] newslettering2009-12-18 11:44 am

Hiatus and Holidays

Hello - it's been awhile since [community profile] newslettering has hosted an open thread (such as it is)!

[personal profile] murklins and I are editors for [livejournal.com profile] dotcoms_refresh, a Bandom newsletter, and this year, due to scheduling craziness, the newsletter will be on hiatus for a week long period next week. It'll be the first time that [livejournal.com profile] dotcoms_refresh has gone on a break and we're quite anxious about it.

That brings today's topic: hiatus and holidays!

Has your newsletter ever gone on a hiatus? Will it this year? What were the reasons for the break and how long was it? How do you deal with the missed links? Let us know your blueprint for the perfect newslettering break!

If your newsletter doesn't go on break during the winter holiday season and your newsletter is fanwork-centric, how do you deal with the busy season? When most of fandom is busy with holiday exchanges and challenges and RL for most editors is hectic? Let us know how you deal with holiday craziness!
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (sv_ledger)

[personal profile] blnchflr 2009-12-18 08:29 pm (UTC)(link)
[community profile] sv_ledger goes on hiatus twice a year every year. All other newsletters I know soldier on, and they're troupers, amazing!

It's my impression all [community profile] sv_ledger editors always appreciate the time off; I know I do: about a month in August and for two issues over Christmas/New Year. (SV fandom is much slower during this time, anyways.)

We don't try to catch up on missed links - it'd be like coming back from vacation and having a vacation's worth of work waiting for you: You might as well not have gone away. Down time is down time.
blnchflr: Captain America Civil War (sv_ledger)

[personal profile] blnchflr 2009-12-20 02:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Well, I mean it, other newsletters are troupers :o) !
hermitsoul: woman wearing a corset (* mail: hermitsoul)

[personal profile] hermitsoul 2009-12-19 02:42 am (UTC)(link)
One of mine is on hiatus now, but that is due to fannish slow down, not the holidays. The other one is a weekly newsletter and the posting day falls after Christmas so I won't put that one on hiatus.

I have put them on hiatus in the past due to holidays/traveling. Then I did go back and collect links for whatever time I missed. However, neither of my fandoms are high traffic, so it's not that difficult to stay on top of things.
hermitsoul: woman wearing a corset (SN Jeremy: gimcrack_icons)

[personal profile] hermitsoul 2009-12-20 10:56 am (UTC)(link)
Well, it's a Yuletide fandom (Sports Night), so I'll definitely have some links next month, but I'm thinking that will be my last. I'll see if anyone wants to take it over, but we'll see. There's very little fannish activity, or at least very little I think the SN fandom as a whole may be interested in. Sports Night is one of those fandoms everyone mentions in posts, but doesn't really discuss/write for/etc, if that makes sense.

Of course, then I know I'll find myself taking on another newsletter. *sigh* It's just so wrong that some fandoms don't have a newsletter!
par_avion: collage of intl air mail stickers (Default)

[personal profile] par_avion 2009-12-19 04:30 am (UTC)(link)
Mine doesn't keep a regular posing schedule, alas. In an ideal world, it would! But I am the only person who does the vid recs (the wonderful morgandawn has her own beat) so its almost like two different single-collector newsletters under one roof.

Occasionally if both morgandawn and I are going to be offline for the same reason (generally, attending a convention) she has a back-up editor step in and format/post the links that she has already collected. If only she is unavailable, sometimes, it seems that I have posted her links before, but not recently. We just muddle through and do the best we can. The alternative is basically no newsletter at all.

I did think about posting to the comm to say that newsletters would resume after the 21st (when my finals are done) but it seemed like oversharing. :(

I dunno! I was also influenced by lim's recent meta about not apologizing for not posting, and not conducting newsletter business in your personal journal. But that leads to the weird situation where people who know me and/or read my journal know that I'm super busy w/school and those who don't think the comm is just silent for no reason.


::stops procrastinating and goes to study::
par_avion: (reindeer)

[personal profile] par_avion 2009-12-19 04:41 am (UTC)(link)
Also, when we go on hiatus at [community profile] veni_vidi_vids we don't skip any links, so that unfortunately leads to super-long posts back to back.

But the alternative is no fun either, where you miss a bunch of stuff! I like to think that "old" links are just a chance to watch that vid again, or finally leave that feedback you meant to, or see something that you missed out on when originally posted.

The hardest time of year is late August/Vividcon. We are both largely offline for a week, and while we are still in Chicago the vid recs and vidding meta start flying fast and heavy and the flurry of activity continues when we get home. That really is the hectic time of year for us.

But! This year for the very first time there is a vidding holiday exchange: festivids! So exciting! But also: so many potential new posts!

I currently have 373 Google alerts / LJ-DW notifications to go through for the newsletter, so I need to get through that backlog ASAP so that I have a clean slate before the recs for Festivids start coming in!
murklins: Indistinct background of newspaper or book page, with three black bird shapes in bottom right corner of foreground. (news)

[personal profile] murklins 2010-01-08 11:46 pm (UTC)(link)
For the record! Here is how the [livejournal.com profile] dotcoms_refresh week long December break went down.

Our newsletter setup as of December 2009: Ten editors, daily posting, one editor scheduled per day to post up the issue and also collect all of the day's links. Scheduling is done on a monthly basis, so seven editors are each assigned a day of the week and three get the month off. [personal profile] wistfuljane (Jane) and I handle overall administration of the newsletter -- we keep documentation up to date, stay abreast of changes in Bandom that the newsletter needs to account for, etc. Additionally, Jane manages all the scheduling and I manage all the backend automation (we have scripts that talk to Delicious.com). Most decisions regarding newsletter operation are made democratically, however, through LJ polls and discussions.

1. In September I sent an email to Jane begging her to spare me the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day shifts. Given the traditional difficulty of scheduling people for those shifts, I said I would rather the newsletter as a whole shut down over those days than have to work either of them myself. Much to my surprise, Jane replied that she'd actually like to shut the newsletter down for a whole week, maybe even two!

2. Between the two of us, we discussed possible dates for the break and also what the heck to do about the links we would miss during that time. Then we posted a poll to find out what worked best for our team:

When would a December break benefit you the most?
( radio ) December 24th - 31st (U.S.)
( radio ) December 21st - 27th (U.S.)
( radio ) other dates I will provide in the next question
( radio ) I don't need/want a break in December

I would prefer dotcoms_refresh took a break over the following period instead (please indicate time zone with your dates):
[ textbox ]

I will not be available on the following dates in December (please include time zone):
[ textbox ]

If dotcoms_refresh takes a break, when we come back we should:
[ ticky box ] schedule a bunch of people for the first couple days back to split up the backlog of links and cover all the days we missed
[ ticky box ] post a public entry to dotcome_refresh asking readers for missed links and include those for the next newsletter issue
[ ticky box ] ignore the missing days completely
[ ticky box ] other (I will elaborate in comments)

(Later, Jane opined that she wished we'd included an option in the first question for "either December 24th - 31st or December 21st - 27th would be fine" but it turned out not to matter much.)

3. When we tallied the votes, no one at all said they didn't want or need a break. December 21st - 27th (U.S.) was the clear first choice for dates. Additionally, no one wanted to ignore the missing links; most wanted to ask our readers to submit links and everyone who voted preferred to completely cover the backlog by taking on extra shifts. This meant Jane and I now had to figure out how to schedule those shifts. We posted yet another poll, because that is our way:

I am available to help collect links on the following day(s):
[ ticky ] Dec 28 in US (Dec 29 in AU)
[ ticky ] Dec 29 in US (Dec 30 in AU)
[ ticky ] Dec 30 in US (Dec 31 in AU)
[ ticky ] None

4. As we waited for everyone to respond to the poll, we entered a period of out of control draft writing. Jane and I don't usually send out anything to the team or to the public without making sure we have both signed off on it first. This means our draft process can have a lot of back and forth. We drafted up a couple public posts for our readers announcing our intention to take a December break, the first one to be posted in early December and then another one the day before the break began. We sent an email to all our editors reminding them to take the new poll. We wrote the post-break post that asked our readers to send in any links we missed over the break. We drafted two emails to our editors that laid out the post-break schedule (even though we were not yet sure what that schedule looked like) -- one to announce the schedule and one to remind them of it at the tail end of the break. We organized the January schedule and emailed it out to make sure we knew who would be working in the first week of the new year (since we didn't want to over-schedule anyone in the last week of Dec if they had to also do a shift on Jan 1 or 2). Finally, we drafted a quick email to send to any of our editors scheduled for backlog shifts who never checked in to say they were done. Our team is awesome, but we didn't want to assume things would go off without a hitch. :)

5. As people began to say which days they were available for backlog shifts, Jane and I started to come up with various ways of dividing up the 7 missed days. It all depended on how many people volunteered. Jane and I mocked up about 6 different schedules over the course of a week, changing things as more people voted to say they were available and also as we came up with different theories as to the best way to split the backlog. We wanted to fairly distribute the extra shifts and we also hoped to spread the backlog collection over a few days so that there wouldn't just be one massive post-break issue, but instead a few longish issues.

me: I have a feeling we're being too anal about this, but whatever.
jane: Hee! I was thinking about that the other day too.

In the end, we had 9 people available so we made a schedule that divided the 7 missed days of the friends list into seven 24 hour shifts beginning and ending at 4:00 am GMT. Three of us covered the regular Dec 28, 29 and 30 shifts while the remaining people were scheduled for six of the backlog shifts. I, being a fabulous human being (and also not being scheduled for January), took both a regular shift and a backlog shift.

It's worth noting that we are able to divide our friends list into these equal 24 hour blocks because our [livejournal.com profile] dotcoms_bot watcher account has a custom style that shows the GMT post time of every friends list entry. We had to get some paid time to set it up, but it was so worth it. Most styles only list the poster's local time, and that time isn't even based on when the post was made -- it's often the time that the poster started writing the post. That makes it really hard to divide several days of posts into fair amounts, especially in advance when you don't know if you'll be at skip=180 or skip=360 after the break.

6. So how did our carefully crafted schedule go? Um. Not as smoothly as one might have hoped. We'd told all the editors that backlog shifts could be done pretty much any time that was convenient for them between Dec 28 and Dec 30 -- we just wanted all 7 missed days covered by the new year. We ended up having to send our (pre-drafted!) "hey, have you done your backlog shift yet?" email to a few people and then we had to do a last minute rescheduling. The Dec 21 links didn't actually get collected until Jan 3, which was nearly a calamity because LJ friends lists only let you go back so far. According to the FAQ it's "up to 1000 of the entries posted in the last two weeks", but on Jan 3 ours cut off in the middle of Jan 21 at skip=740. Jane had been monitoring the situation, though, and she was certain that the flist only cut off a few posts and none of them had needed to be linked.

7. Then I wrote this comment dissecting the process and, in my examination of all the emails and chat logs, discovered that Jane and I have let drop a bunch of documentation changes that we intended to make last month. Oops! Guess we'll get on that now. :D

In conclusion: We got our break! And I think the post-break backlog collection went fairly well for those involved, even if it didn't go exactly as planned. In my case, I certainly found it preferable than having to do a Christmas shift -- I've done at least 3 or 4 of those and they always, always sucked. Would I go through all this again next December? I can't honestly think that far ahead. At least there are a lot of good template polls, emails and posts to work from now.