One of the web sites that I read issued a challenge to web site owners to go back into their archives and pick out 7 posts to feature. I took this up as it would be fun to take a look back on some of the articles that have been on Fencing.Net throughout the years. Since the site started in 1998, there has been a great deal of content written by me, other article writers, and an entire host of knowledge in the forums (sometimes buried).
What was great about this exercise was it allowed me to take stock in the content that has developed over the last 10+ years to get a view of where the site has been. This is helping shape my vision of where I’d like Fencing.Net to be in another 10 years.
Here is a tour of 7 of the best posts from Fencing.net (plus one I wish I’d written)
My First Post: The Glove Game
I actually don’t know if this was the very first piece of content that I put up on Fencing.Net.
I started Fencing.Net as a hobby site when working for Internet service provider MindSpring Enterprises. At that point I didn’t have the Fencing.Net domain name yet, but saw that the information on fencing on the ‘net was very sparse and mainly consisted of people on usenet telling an FOC member that he was wrong about right-of-way. (How little things change, eh?)
My first set of pages on the fledgling Fencing.Net was a dump of my old training journals, fencing games, etc. The one I’ve highlighted is the old standby: The Glove Game. Within the Training Tips area there is a host of articles on training, mental preparation, and drills taken from my notebooks. When I went looking for the drills, I noticed that they aren’t all that easy to find: something I need to change with the current site structure.
Most of the drills were put up back in the days of the 28.8 dial up modem. That means all text, no streaming video. For the future, I’d like to spruce up all of the drills pages with video demonstrations.
By the way – I know that there is a video out there of the Glove Game. If you’re the first to send me the link (use the comments below) then I’ll send you any book from our store for free.
The post I enjoyed writing the most: Road to Athens: Women’s Sabre
What I enjoyed the most about this post was not the actual writing of it, but what came afterward. When I wrote the piece in March, 2004, both Sada and Emily Jacobson were qualified for the Olympics and Emily’s latest world cup result had put her just ahead of Mariel for the zonal qualifying slot for the 2004 Olympics. Mariel had been fencing well and continued to fence very well at the world level, but with the qualifying events done, she was on the outside looking in.
When I was researching the piece, I noticed that there were no fencers from the African nations that were very active. During the Atlanta Olympics, Egypt declined to send their men’s foil team because the NGB had decided that Egypt would not be competitive, so did not spend the money to send their teams. I wondered if that would be the case here. I left the bit of speculation in my article and published it and then sent off some questions to the FIE.
After posting that piece, I received some phone calls and emails asking if I had any other information and when the FIE would make a decision, etc. That showed me that as a journalist I could use deductive reasoning and the evidence in front of me to break fairly significant news to the fencing world.
A post resulting in the most discussion: Deconstructing the Art and Science of Fencing
While the USA Fencing Logo post and thread has generated a lot of recent comments, I wanted to go with something that was a little earlier.
I’ll admit that I posted this to goose some discussion and the whole “classical vs. modern” argument is to Fencing.Net what a discussion of the designated hitter is in a baseball forum. What was good is that this post generated a lot of discussion and led to some good points in the differing schools of thought in how to approach fencing.
Since this was posted before the move from Joomla to WordPress, the discussion is held entirely on this forum thread: Deconstructing the Art and Science of Fencing: Posted
A post on someone else’s blog that you wish you’d written: David Littell’s Fencing with Ease
There are so many smart people in the fencing community that post their own blogs or articles on Fencing.Net that this was really difficult. I copped out on this one to point to David Littell’s web site with his coaching articles.
When I started looking for other people’s content to feature on Fencing.Net, David’s site was one of the first that I found and he graciously allowed me to republish some of his articles. He’s done what I want to do to my training section and updated his articles with a series of videos. For the beginning to intermediate fencer they are a treat and there are nuggets of good information for the advanced fencer to use as well.
My Most Helpful Post: The Parent’s Guide to Fencing
Parent’s Guide to Fencing
The Parent’s Guide to Fencing
OK. This is a bit of a cop out, as it’s an eBook and not a post. In terms of helpful posts, there are a lot of articles I’ve posted on rules explanations but the one piece of content that has resulted in the most “thank yous” is my Parent’s Guide to Fencing.
This is something that I actually had someone else write for me. I have a friend who is a great writer and she has kids the same age as mine. One day we were talking and I told her that I needed to get a guide written that had all of the basic information that I could provide in a “brain dump” but that it needed to be written by someone who didn’t already know so much about fencing – that way the facts in it would be correct, but the writer would not assume too much knowledge about the sport.
That’s one of the big things that I see when fencers try to explain the sport to non-fencers. They tend to delve into the minutiae too quickly instead of providing a nice, clean 10,000 foot overview first. This guide answers the questions that parents have when they are looking at fencing as a possible activity. I know that this piece has given a number of parents confidence in enrolling their children in local fencing classes, so it’s been helpful in a couple of ways: introducing people to the sport, and getting some business channeled to the fencing clubs.
A post with a title that you are proud of: What do Grenades have to do with Fencing?
It’s a title that makes you look twice. At least, that’s the intention.
Since most of my posts are result recaps, there’s not a ton of creativity – especially if they are recaps pieced together from text messages and results from the tournament site. I can tease out a lot of flavor for the event by looking at the upsets and scores. More of that now that event videos are available.
These posts where there is something outside of the sport that can be brought in and synthesized are fun to do and appeal to my college days of Poli Sci. Other posts like the Zombie Survival Guide and April Fool’s posts are fun as well and I try to have catchy titles for them. It’s something that I know I need to work on – mixing up the content to broaden (not replace) what we’re writing about and spice up the titles to get the good content read.
A post that I wish more people had read: Bouting with Anxiety
I really wish more people had read over the mental training information that Beth Athanas wrote. In particular, I like Bouting with anxiety.
My fencing got much better when I started focusing on my head game and using that to enhance the physical training that I was doing. As we did more and more interviews with athletes, almost all of them pointed to the mental aspects of fencing and their ability to impose their will on a bout, keep calm, or adjust their in-bout tactics as reason why they were successful on strip.
This article has not seen much in terms of being read, even when it was a front page item on Fencing.Net. Yet, I see so many fencers who would benefit from 30 minutes spent reading and then reflecting on this article (and the others in the mental training section).
Fencing.Net’s most visited post ever: First Look at the Nike Fencing Shoe
Nike – for 2008This one really surprised me. You’d think that for a fencing site, that something like a beginning guide or the glossary of fencing terms would be the #1 page on the site. For all I know, that may be true. I’ve only tracked the stats on this site since late 2005, so there are between 8 and 10 years of extra traffic data not accounted for.
Since November, 2005, however, the piece that I did with Jamie Larsen tops the list. While some categories (like Training Tips, or Introduction to Fencing) received a large number of views over the past few years, the one article that has received the most attention (since November 2005) was the “First Look at the Nike Fencing Shoe”
Part of that had to do with the enthusiasm that people in 2007-2008 had for Nike coming into the fencing shoe market, part of it had to do with the overall growth of the Internet and Fencing.Net. If the full stats for the entire life of Fencing.Net were available in one place to me, I could probably find an article that beats our Nike interview. For the data that I have, however, it has almost twice the number of page views as the “Glossary of Fencing Terms” piece.
There you have it.
There you have it. 7 representative postings from Fencing.Net carving out our little slice of the web. Now I’ll toss the question out to you: what are your favorite posts (either your one favorite or your favorite type) on Fencing.Net? Do you have a blog of your own? Take the “7 links challenge” and post the URL to your 7 links post here in the comments.
To learn more about fencing, download a free beginners guide at Fencing.Net. Craig Harkins has been involved in fencing for over 20 years, including reporting at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. He runs Fencing.Net and also the fencing equipment store at http://shop.fencing.net.