Note: the opinions expressed by me and those providing comments are ours alone, and do not reflect the opinions of teamfortress.tv or any staff member thereof.
A friend recently pointed me towards an article lamenting a current lack of originality in written articles about TF2. I’ll make it simple by saying that I do agree—we are gravely missing some fairly unique content nowadays, and I can’t deny that some of it has been caused by the recent shift in focus of teamfortress.tv.
I am, of course, referring to the change of focus resulting in the news section focusing on professional-level competitive news, featuring content like roster transactions, team changes, and event previews and recaps. This change has been discussed quite a bit already so I’ll only say that it was a decision made in consideration of the future.
Of course, what was lost as part of that included a wide variety of opinion pieces and other non-news content. Granted, such content was not very common before, but it has all but disappeared in the new system. Some of it has to do with such pieces just not fitting in with the new preferred style, and another part has to do with cautiousness given that the site, being a news organization, has to avoid bias and ensure content is high quality.
I do feel like this situation is somewhat lamentable right now. teamfortress.tv is the best hub for discussing competitive TF2, and as a result the best way to expose content is through posting there. Unfortunately, there are only two ways of really sharing content: through an article or through a thread. With articles being featured in the News section and on the front page, it is now very strictly regulated and unique content generally isn’t allowed in it. That leaves a forum thread as the only option for most, and I couldn’t in good faith say that it’s an adequate option for posting content, as the formatting options for a forum thread are not very flexible.
One possible way to allow more diverse content from reputable sources is by overhauling the written content system. For one, creating an option for articles to be published without getting a front page headline would help, allowing the site to publish more content while being able to control which content is featured (and thus more strongly endorsed). In addition, redesigning the news page to support categories, such as news or opinion, would allow all published content to be seen in the same place while providing a visual divide between different types.
Not all good content is produced by staff members, however, and allowing others to publish content for others to consume on the site would also be a benefit. To that end, a system for allowing users to publish their own articles, albeit distinguished to clearly indicate that they are not officially sanctioned pieces would work very well for the purpose. Indeed, sites like HLTV have a user blog system where users can publish articles and receive comments. Such a system allows users who create content to receive traffic more easily, while also giving the site a chance to find such users and feature their content more officially or even recruit them on staff for more articles in the future.
I’m not sure that either of those options will become a reality in the near future, however, which still leaves a problem without a solution. Of course, content creators can try to forge their own path by creating their own site or other channel. This gives them much more freedom in deciding how they want to display content and such, which is a great benefit, but leaves them with the huge task of attempting to promote their site. Of course, they could go back to teamfortress.tv and promote their external content via threads (as some writers have done after being released due to the new content policies), but the effectiveness of such an approach is certainly much less than hosting the content on the site itself.
As such, the problem still exists will continue to do for the near future. teamfortress.tv is by far the most well-suited to promote content and stands to benefit from extending its promotion to more types of content, but whether it is able or willing to do so is another story. While it does not do so, content creators can look to working through their own channels, but directing traffic without the support of the biggest competitive TF2 site is certainly a challenge that they’ll have to overcome. It probably will become much less of a problem as the scene grows and many more people flood in looking for such content.