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The 5 O’Clock Club: Navel gazing

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

The 5 o’clock club was launched in its current form, just about 13 months ago, on 29 June 2016.

That June 2016 decision was motivated by a lot of suggestions & discussion over the previous week that were focused on providing a different forum from the Daily Slop that would allow for a different kind of discussion, and provide HH members around the world a time-zone friendly place to join the discussion.

In the inaugural post, Ken wrote at length about his aims with the new regular feature.

"The 5 O'Clock Club" post is dedicated to all those Redskins fans who come here on a daily basis to mix it up with their like-minded brethren. Instead of posting this in the evening, I will push this out each morning (my time) at 5 AM EST. (In reality, I will be preparing this the night before and scheduling it to post.) Recognizing that there are plenty of you who get to work earlier than me, go to bed later than me and generally look for a place like this at different times of the day than I do (meaning from every other part of the world than where I live), my hope is that this post will create a great spot each day to talk about...well, let's just see!

I do envision this space as a home for the regulars to carry on their normal debates (some more contentious than others, as always), and as such, I do envision/hope this post will contain the most congeniality. After all, we will be defined by the way we treat others, and this presents an opportunity to put our community in the most positive light possible. If trolls appear, they will handled by the moderators.

To keep it simple (or as clear as possible) , I ask that any new subject be introduced with a clear title and that all comments about that subject be contained underneath, so that people can scroll down and choose which conversation to join.

Without further ado...welcome to the 5 O'Clock Club!

That inaugural post picked up 119 comments; and that was just the start! The 5 o’clock club quickly became a forum for user-driven discussion. The comments section typically featured four or five excellent links to articles, and lively discussion.

While some people saw it as merely an early-release of the Daily Slop, I always saw the 5 o’clock club posts as something different from the Slop, and something that filled an important need for the HH community.

Firstly, the 5 o’clock club — published during a ‘dead spot’ in the daily news cycle — was more user-driven, as opposed to the Slop, in which the discussion was usually framed by the selection of links offered in the main article.

But more importantly (to me) was the timing of the 5 o’clock club. See, the Daily Slop appears around lunchtime on the East Coast of the U.S., but that’s around midnight my time. Even if I was awake to catch the Slop when it came out, the compelling discussions taking place in the comments section were 6 hours old by the time I got out of bed to go to work, and typically about 16 hours old by the time I got home from work and had time to join the discussion. The Slop, while a really cool daily feature (and the centerpiece of Hogs Haven) was simply timed really badly for me, and lots of other members reading around the world.

By contrast, the 5 o’clock club appeared about an hour before I got home from work — the perfect time for me to join, and remain involved in, a lively discussion in the comments section. With the Slop posting 6 or 7 hours later, and focusing on the fresh articles in the news cycle, the conversation could move from the early 5 a.m. post to the mid-day post, providing different forums (fora?) for the HH community, while encouraging and allowing greater participation from people living in time zones dramatically different from the DMV.

From the day Ken launched the new daily feature onward, I used to make it a point to try to find an interesting article that I could add to the 5 o’clock club every day.

Unfortunately, due to the horribly difficult timing of the 5 o’clock club, it was often posted late, or not at all. Inconsistency is the death of user-driven content, and the 5 o’clock club became increasingly hard to find, and it was an increasingly sterile place to visit when it was published.

About a month ago, Ken sent me an email. This is what he wrote to me:

I wondered if you might be interested in taking a stab at hosting [the 5 o’clock club] for a while. It is an incredibly easy post to do and schedule. All I really want from it at a base level is a poll each day on some question.

You would be free to add anything else you wanted but scheduling a week's worth of poll questions would take 20-30 minutes under the title, "The 5 O'Clock Club (date): topic"

Even if you just took it for a month to see how it goes, I feel like you would be a good one to lead that discussion.

So, on 29 June 2017 — one year to the day from Ken’s inaugural post — I took on the responsibility for the “club” posts (temporarily) and started publishing the 5 o’clock club articles.

Mine have been a bit different from Ken’s. He used links to “The Audible” to provide a launch point for the post each day; I have relied more on writing a few (sometimes more than a few) paragraphs to provide a launch pad for the discussion.

In addition, Ken focused the 5 o’clock club as a Monday-Friday (or even Tuesday - Friday) feature, whereas I’ve been posting articles on the weekend as well, albeit with a slightly more relaxed structure on Saturdays & Sundays, with topics that aren’t always very strongly tied to football or the Redskins.

I’ve seen a pretty consistent level of participation from day to day in the comments section, and a lot of the discussion has featured high level engagement between commenters. The discussions have been civil and the range of topics has been reasonably broad given the time of year.

I have noticed that the comments section in posts that I have written has not really carried on the strong tradition that Ken’s posts had of the commenters introducing a range of topics each morning via links to new articles. Instead, the comments section for the past month has tended to color inside the lines of whatever discussion I’ve outlined each day.

By contrast, in Ken’s inaugural 5 o’clock club post in 2016, the commenters introduced and discussed Joe Barry’s defensive philosophy, expectations for Kirk Cousins, Tony Romo-worship in Dallas, the question of whether the Redskins run-offense or run-defense had been worse in 2015, NFC East cornerback rankings, Andrew Luck’s new contract, and a few commenters pissing on the idea of having both the 5 o’clock club and the Daily Slop.

I suspect that the reason why the current “club” posts haven’t generated as much user-driven content in the comments section is because I’ve stifled that by putting too much content at the top of the page. Counter-intuitively, perhaps, my feeling is that when we’re in this “dead zone” in the NFL year, the article needs to have more stuff in it, so I’ve been writing longer & more structured “club”” posts than Ken usually does. I’m hoping that, with training camp starting, commenters will have some new grist to toss in the mill, and will set the discussion agenda more independently.

Still, the reduced amount of user-driven content might be connected to my style of presentation of the “club”.

As we move through training camp, the pre-season, and into the regular season, there is increasingly more actual news -- more actual football — more to actually talk about, so the article can probably just kick things off with a short comment and a poll question, and the readers can take it from there.

In any event, here’s the point I’m trying to get to:

Ken asked me to take care of the 5 o’clock club feature for a month to see how it went.

My month is up.

Training camp is on, meaning that the flow of ‘real news’ will begin again.

Ken and I need to discuss whether I continue to produce the “club” feature, so I want to get some feedback from the readers, since you’re the reason it gets published.

  1. Do you guys want to continue the 5 o’clock club as a thing? Is it a valuable addition to the site, or not really?

If so,

2. How do you want it formatted? Do you want more of the type of discussion-framing that I’ve been doing for the past month, or would you prefer a more spartan presentation that relies on the commenters to drive the topics?

3. Do you want the club 7 days a week, including Saturdays & Sundays (including game days)? For that matter, do you want it on Mondays, when it competes with the Six Pack?

4. Do you want me to continue to be responsible for posting it daily?

5. Do you have any other suggestions for making it a feature that is more responsive to your needs and the needs of the broader Hogs Haven community?

Leave your feedback in the comments below, and welcome to the 2017 season.

Poll

Which day do you enjoy most?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    New year’s eve
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    4th of July
    (1 vote)
  • 11%
    Halloween
    (5 votes)
  • 18%
    Thanksgiving
    (8 votes)
  • 15%
    Christmas
    (7 votes)
  • 6%
    Your birthday
    (3 votes)
  • 2%
    The super bowl
    (1 vote)
  • 40%
    The first Sunday of the NFL regular season
    (18 votes)
44 votes total Vote Now