PMOG: An unforeseen boon to the atheosphere.

Fellow Atheist, did you recently notice a sudden flux of visitors from blog posts that are not seemingly linking to you? Is so, this is because I’ve been playing around with a new online game and I’ve chosen some of your articles, that I consider interesting, to insert into the playfield, so to speak.

But even if you were not one of those few bloggers who’s posts I’ve chosen for my initial experiment, please bear with me and read the rest of this post. It might be interesting to you.

What I’ve discovered is a very new and fresh on-line game which does something novel. Instead of making players actively participate in the game, like all othe browser games, and as a result require a level of attention that not everyone can afford; it turns the concept on its head and makes the whole internet the playing field. This name of it is PMOG and I think it might have the capacity, if used right, to help the blogosphere and especially the atheosphere, become both more contextual and fun.

I will not go into the details of what PMOG is or how it’s played but I want to explain why it has such a potential.

if you set aside than silly mine pranks and random fooling around with friends, the game’s true power appears in the form of missions. Basically what missions are (at least currently) is a collection of links to various pages in a serial format, along with a short description provided by the player who built the mission. This seemingly simple concept, allows something that is sorely missing.

You see, we currently have so much content produced every day that it is night impossible to find the truly interesting posts.The atheist blogroll is closing to a 1000 active blogs and it will only keep growing from there. I’m currently subscribed to almost all the blogs in the blogroll through an aggregator and I have to wade through a lot of uninteresting and repetitive posts every day just to find one or two that say something worth reading (for me).

Yes, I’ve prioritized a few blogs where almost everything written is interesting but I truly feel that there are underdogs out there who’s thoughts remain untapped while the big hitters like Pharyngula draw all the attention. Sure, places like Challenge Religion and the Carnival of the Godless help to cut through the mud, but their posts always seem disconnected from each other.

My idea then, is to use the mission capability of PMOG in order to create ad hoc “carnivals” that follow a theme and can also provide a customised commentary from the organiser in the form of pointers or clarifications.

This will have two effects that I can initially see:

  • We have cohesive groups of posts that do not depend on a computer algorithm or people belonging to the same group. Thus I may have a mission about ethics and link to people who are members of the atheosphere (generally Atheist blogroll or Planet Atheism) along with ones who are not but have something relevant to say and most of us would miss.
  • Given enough of us participating on this and allying with each other, we can push our missions to the top of the pile. This provides us with access to eyes we could not reach before.
    Already, one mission on morality that I’ve created which hit 4/5 stars rating, generated 50 hits to my article which is almost as much as a CotG. If you consider that this game is still very very new and attracts people outside atheism as well, there is true potential to increase readership on the articles that are worth it.

Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg as well. Using items like portals for example, we can utilize our distributed power to create a network of relevant links. Imagine for example someone visiting the Expelled official website and the first thing that pops up is a 5-stars Expelled Exposed portal that the owners of Expelled cannot remove. As the popularity of the game increases, this can only grow more powerful for us, which is an even better reason to join in early.

Currently most missions are the random favorite sites each player has which just as fun (AKA not) as surfing on del.icio.us and makes the overall quality very low. I believe that if we can start improving this quality through the blogosphere, with better descriptions and interesting (underground or not) articles, we can easily take over.

Finally consider that the game can only become more interactive as time goes on. It will not be too long until we can create missions with riddles, votes and whatnot.

In any case, this was my little idea for the day. You can see the two initial missions that I’ve created as a proof of concept. For them, I used the items I marked as shared and starred in my google reader (It pays to do that sometimes).

Hopefully, I’ve managed to convince at least a few of you to try this out just in case it’s worth it. In case you do, please add me as an ally so that I am aware of you and we can run & rate each other’s missions.

One last thing. Currently the game is under a lot of load from a recent sudden popularity hit so you might run into the occasional slowness or outright failure. Also, I failed to mention it until now but it requires Firefox and a special extension in order to play it.


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