Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Help us give the Official Blog an official name

It's official: After forty eight months of operation, we've decided that it is time our Official Blog had an official name... and we need your help!

Today we are celebrating the fourth anniversary of the Official Blog, which was launched on March 29th, 2004, as our organization's daily voice on politics and current events. It's a historic moment for the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as a perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

Many people have asked (or quietly wondered to themselves) why we would have chosen to call this blog the "Official Blog".

There was actually no we in that decision, because at the time, NPI had very few staff, and launching the blog was solely my idea.

Back in January 2007, though, I attempted to answer the question about the name, explaining my own thinking:
It certainly wasn't named that because we were worried about a "proliferation of unofficial NPI sites". It also isn't meant to imply that any other blog or blogger is somehow any less authentic or genuine than we are.

About three years ago, when NPI was only about six months old, I was looking for a way to easily present our members' commentary and analysis. We tried retooling NPI's front page to allow for easier updating, but manual updating was still a chore.

I eventually realized that what we needed was a blog. Blogs, of course, are powered by software that takes care of publishing, archiving, and allows for people to leave feedback - as well as automatic feed generation. Having a blog would allow contributors to focus on writing, which was the goal.

Defined rather simply, a blog is just a type of web page that is easy to update with new material - and usually in chronological order. That's a broad characterization; some people prefer more specific definitions.

Blogs have become popular because you don't have to be an expert at coding HTML or any other web languages to publish your thoughts online.

We wanted to create a blog not just for sharing commentary on news and events, but also to publish announcements about completed projects or endeavors in progress - any release that we "intend for the notice of the public", as Random House notes in its definition of the word official.

We envisioned the blog as the primary periodical for the organization itself - a one-stop shop where you can read about what's new at NPI, plus follow our perspective on current events.

And we have indeed used the blog for just that purpose. When Pacific Northwest Portal is updated, when we release a new podcast, or a white paper, we disseminate the completion of such projects here and often provide in-progress reports as well, before we announce the news elsewhere or through other means.

That's the story behind the name of the blog and use of the word official. We aren't worried that someone might try to set up an online journal and claim it represents the view of the Northwest Progressive Institute.
Nevertheless, "Official Blog" isn't much of a name, and it never has been popular with our friends or readers, many of whom refer to the Official Blog as simply NPI or Northwest Progressive Institute. (And both of those substitutions are acceptable).

Over the past four years there were occasions when we considered changing the name of the blog. We've consistently decided against doing so because we couldn't settle on a name... and we thought it would just create more confusion. However, we've concluded that what's more confusing is that the Official Blog isn't cited consistently because people are uncomfortable using its official name.

As for our quandary about picking a name, we're solving that by turning to you...our readers, friends, allies, and supporters.

Over the next two weeks, we will hold a naming contest to search for the ideal name to christen our Official Blog with.

We're only going to pick one name, but if that name has been submitted by you, you'll receive something special in addition to our eternal thanks.

We're offering a multi-faceted prize, including a gift certificate to Jackson Street Books, lunch with myself and NPI Outreach & Advocacy Director Rick Hegdahl (we're paying!), a free ticket to our exciting May fundraising gala (this naming contest is the only way to get a free ticket, by the way) and finally, a complimentary copy of either Outfoxed, SiCKO, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, or An Inconvenient Truth (you choose!)

Now, here are the rules:
  • Submissions must be entered by United States mail, email, or through our contact form. Your submission must contain valid contact information. (We may consider incomplete submissions in our decision, but if we cannot get in touch with you, you'll be ineligible for the prize). Submissions that are not written or typed will not be accepted.
  • All submissions must be sent in by April 12th, 2008. The electronic submission deadline is at noon; United States mail must be postmarked by this date. Any submissions sent in after then will be ineligible for the prize.
  • Your submission, in addition to your contact information and the word you think we should adopt as the name for our Official Blog, should contain a concise argument in support of your nomination.
  • You may enter as many submissions as you'd like. However, if we deem any of your submissions to be bogus (in other words, spam or silly names that are not submitted in good faith) you will be disqualified from the contest, even if some of your submissions are valid - and even if we choose one of them. You may be humorous in your explanation, but the name you submit to us should be a serious nomination.
  • Nominations consisting of names we already use in our other projects (Journal on Permanent Defense; Dispatch, Outlook, Digest, and Bulletin on Pacific NW Portal) will not be considered. Please submit something original and fresh that we haven't thought of.
Oh, and finally, no purchase is necessary for entry (but you knew that!).

It wouldn't be fair to start a naming contest without offering some idea of what we're looking for in a name. Here are our criteria:
  • It must be easy to pronounce.
  • It must sound solid if it stands on its own (like The Times) or with our organization's name in front of it (like The Northwest Progressive Institute Herald).
  • It should not be something that is already in excessive use (for example, Times or Herald).
  • It should not contain a time of day (for example, Morning Herald). This is a blog and this is the age of the twenty four hour news cycle!
  • It should be reflective of our organization's mission to advance the common good through ideas and action.
Again, nominations may be submitted in three ways. If you'd like to use our contact form, follow the link. If you'd rather submit by mail, send to the following addresses:

Email. Use feedback (at) nwprogressive (dot) org.

United States Mail. Conserve paper and use a postcard!
Northwest Progressive Institute
Post Office Box 264
Redmond WA 98073
We will announce the rollout of the new name sometime during the month of April (but definitely not on April Fools' Day - the contest will still be ongoing then, and we do not want to creake confusion by jokingly ending it prematurely).

Good luck - we look forward to hearing from you!


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