08 Sep 2013
This year, we're going to be experimenting a bit with the format of our Monday morning feature Audibles at the Line.
We started Audibles back in Week 7 of 2005. (Here's the first column, in case you are curious.) It was basically slapped together because we had no idea what else to run for content on a Monday morning. But there have been a couple of big changes since we first did Audibles.
First, you may notice that the original Audibles was a lot shorter than Audibles has been in the last couple years. There were fewer FO writers then. That means it was a lot less work to put together on Sunday night.
Second, back in 2005 we didn't have this thing called "Twitter." And over the last couple years, Twitter has wrecked holy hell on the idea of Audibles at the Line. The original point of Audibles was that it was a way for the FO writers to share thoughts with each other about the games we were watching. Then we put it online to share those thoughts with the readers. Now, we can easily share our thoughts both with other FO staffers and with all the readers, in real-time, through Twitter. So we've all found ourselves in the last couple seasons trying to figure out when we should post a thought on Twitter, and when it should go in Audibles, or when we should do both.
Readers have requested that we make Audibles an actual updated chat or liveblog during games on Sunday, rather than waiting to post it Monday morning. I've always been hesitant to do that, because I never wanted to assign specific FO writers to be online at any specific time. I like the idea that our Sundays are still free to be ours. My writers can watch the games they want to watch, with the teams they want to watch. They can comment when they want, and if they need to do something with their families, they can DVR a game and comment on it later. They can access an e-mail thread through a computer, or a mobile phone, so they can watch games at home or with friends or in a press box or in a sports bar or wherever they choose, without the requirement that they be constantly checking a chatroom.
Twitter gives us some of the benefits of an online, in-game chat without taking away the freedom of FO writers. It also opens things up for readers to contribute.
And so, we're going to play with the format of Audibles starting today. If you want to follow Audibles at the Line live during Sunday's games, check on Twitter for hashtag #foaud. You can also use this hashtag to make your own comments about games you are watching. All we ask is that you be selective in when you use the #foaud hashtag. PLEASE don't use it 20 times in a game. The best way to use it is if you want to specifically ask a question of an FO writer about a game we are watching. We'll try to respond to some of those questions over Twitter.
Tomorrow, we'll choose the best Audibles comments by FO staffers, with a few by FO readers, and run those as the first part of Audibles at the Line. Then we'll run a longer-form set of comments, a paragraph or two from each writer about the games they watched on Sunday. This should be more coherent than the usual Audibles, while still allowing for some back-and-forth between writers in a discussion format.
This new Audibles format is going to be a work in progress, so bear with us over the next few weeks as we get it into proper shape. But we think overall this new format will allow for more interaction with readers, more timely commentary during games for those who follow us on Twitter, and less very late Sunday nights for the Football Outsiders assistant editors.
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