Archive Blogs in the UK – A follow-up survey

In November 2013 I carried out a sample survey of 114 archives in the UK, looking specifically at their social media services (see Archive Blogs in the UK – A Sample Survey for the results). I was particularly interested in the status and existence of blogs, Twitter feeds, and Facebook pages, although I did also take note of other types of social media such as Flickr and YouTube. In November 2014 I did a follow up survey of the same 114 archives to see how things have progressed.

The first table below shows the amount of blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, Youtube channels, and Flickr channels the 114 archives had in November 2013 and 2014. It should be noted that these archives break down into four categories: National (18); Local (88); Church (2); and University (6).

Social Media used by archives

Social Media Type 2013 results 2014 results
Blogs 26 38
Twitter 39 46
Facebook 43 48
YouTube 12 14
Flickr 20 26


In most cases the use of social media by each individual archive remained much the same. The greatest variation in the results appears to have derived from the World War One Commemoration, as several local archives have started up a temporary blog which records soldier’s diaries or otherwise reveals information from their records concerning the war.

I did notice that the regularity of posts in some blogs has dropped slightly in general terms. Although it is hard to be certain of the reason for this, it would seem likely to be a natural settling in of the blog as it ceases to be a new thing that the archive does, and therefore it settles into a more manageable rhythm. In a few instances the blog has transferred from Blogger to WordPress, receiving a new look and feel in the process.

The second table (below) breaks down the results for blogs, Twitter, and Facebook by the archive category in an attempt to understand, in particular, variation between national and local archives. I have added some percentages to even out the results but obviously the large variation between categories in terms of their number make these numbers limited in terms of what they really tell us.

Social Media usage by type of Archive 2013

Type Total Blog Facebook Twitter
Church 2 1 (50%) 1 (50%) 1 (50%)
Local/regional 87 13 (15%) 31 (35%) 26 (30%)
National 19 8 (42%) 10 (52%) 9 (47%)
University 6 5 (83%) 3 (50%) 4 (66%)

Social Media usage by type of Archive 2014

Type Total Blog Facebook Twitter
Church 2 1 (50%) 1 (50%) 1 (50%)
Local/regional 87 24 (27%) 35 (40%) 32 (36%)
National 19 9 (47%) 10 (52%) 10 (52%)
University 6 4 (66%) 2 (33%) 4 (66%)

Blogs: In general these figures suggest that there have been very little change. The only significant number change can be seen in the number of blogs owned by local/regional archives, which (as previously mentioned) seem to relate to the World War One Commemoration.

These include the following:

However, there are also some other variations in this pattern. Four of the blogs that do still exist do not seem to have been posted on within the last six months or contain a notice to explain that they are no longer active. This means that 8 out of the 38 blogs recorded in the survey for 2014 are either temporary or non-active as of November 2014.

Twitter: There are eight new Twitter feeds introduced by the archives in 2014. Excluding these, all pre-existing Twitter feeds appear to have increased their number of followers by an average of 33% over the course of the year. This figure of course incorporates a large variation in numbers. The British Library, the National Archives, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Record Office have followers in the hundred thousands, whilst all other archives are in the hundreds or under 7,000.

Facebook: In the 2013 study 31 of the archives had a Facebook account. This year 4 new accounts were in operation but 1 account had ceased to exist (equalling a net increase of 3). In 2014, the total of Facebook accounts in use was 34. On average ‘likes’ of these pages increased by about 34% during the course of the year, although it should be again understood that there is a huge variation in numbers of followers between accounts (the British Library, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Record Office, and the National Archives had 1,000s of more followers than any of the other archives).


Last year I was aware of the severe limitations in the methodology that I was using and problems within the results related to the numbers in each archive category. These issues remain for the 2014 study. Both surveys were carried out in November of their respective years. In each instance the archive website was examined for signs of social media usage and data collected from clicking on the website access routes. Although this captures most of the data accurately, I believe that there are some occasions when an example of social media usage is not well-advertised on the website (or ignored altogether). There is, therefore, some possible inconsistency in the data collected.

In addition, in many cases archives that are categorised as local (i.e. record offices) have an online presence only through the council website and therefore consist of little more than a collection of static pages. In these instances there are often Twitter and Facebook accounts, but they are general to the council and not specific to the archive itself. These have been ignored for the purposes of this study.

The greatest problem with the survey is its limitation of size. Only 114 archives are included, most of which are local/regional centres. There are well over 2,500 archives across the UK. This means that the study focus is too narrow and needs to be expanded for it to be of use.

In 2015 I will be looking at a different approach. Firstly, the sample is too small to gather adequate results, but secondly, the method for gathering that data is not precise enough and is too time consuming (considering the inadequacies of the results).

Is blogging useful? Kathryn Box (Manchester Museum) on blogs

Kathryn Box (Manchester Museum)
Kathryn Box (Manchester Museum)

The next Social Scholar seminar will take place at 1pm on 19 February 2014 in room 246 (Senate House, London). This month we will be looking at how two different museums use social media and how this might be of interest to academics, archivists, librarians and other related staff members and students.  As always the seminar is FREE and open to all. Click here for further details.

One of our speakers is Kathryn Box, marketing officer at Manchester Museum. This is what she has to say about blogs.

Do you think blogging is a useful pursuit for academics and why?

There is no doubt that blogging is a useful pursuit for academics. There are numerous professional and personal reasons why it is beneficial, which indeed I could talk for hours about….

From my experience at Manchester Museum, the blogging curators get to ‘diary’ their day to day practice. Ultimately building up a record of activity and events, as well as thinking (and typing) about findings, research and theories. They get to join in debates and show off about the fantastic collection they get to explore. As most academics spend years writing their thesis, blogging is an instantaneous e-journal, which breaks down the barrier between the learner and academic. Students and peers get an amazing insight into a world which goes on behind the scenes at a museum, gaining a better understanding about how curators tick and how these big cultural institutions work.

This does indeed mean that in Marketing we are asking quite a lot from our curators, on top of their already heavy work load. However thinking about blogging as a part of your way of working and resource management, it can become a source of structure and excitement. Blogs can create a level playing field for teacher and learner (blogs can be seen to have ‘democratic potential’) and it is a great way for those quiet students at the back of the class to engage.

Over time blogs have become easier and easier to set up, but time is not wasted making sure it is user friendly and enticing to the reader.  It is important for academics to stay relevant to their audience and most importantly, are active. This means a bit more than publishing a post every week. Once you’ve written a post, encourage comments (this may be tweeting about your post, making a video, emailing your post to people). Then when you get comments: reply. Encourage feedback, be honest and question responses. This all helps in starting a real dialogue and discussion, which is pivotal to a successful (and of course, useful) blog.

For the full interview with Kathryn Box visit the SAS Blog. You can also learn more about the Social Scholar on the SAS events system. The Social Scholar is a FREE event held by the School of Advanced Study every month. Please also follow on Twitter @SASNews hashtag #socialscholar. 

How to write a blog post? The inverted triangle approach

Ask a blogger what makes a good blog post and they will often tell you that it should be short – somewhere between 300-500 words or 500-1000 words in length (no longer); it should include at least one image to make it look more attractive; and it should not be concerned with footnotes or excessive referencing.  Bloggers will also suggest that the posts should be informal, perhaps placing complex topics into story formats or journal-styled narratives.  Not all would agree however.  There are other calls for blog posts to be longer in length (or as long as the subject requires them to be) and the focus of readability to not be placed on its length but on the way the content is formed.  In these cases it is the structure of the text that becomes of paramount importance.

There is much that could be learnt by bloggers from what journalists do in writing articles for newspapers, blogs and websites.  The essence of their work is to write short self-contained pieces which immediately grab the interest of the reader.  One part of this is the concept of the inverted pyramid.  This is a metaphor used by journalists to describe how information should be prioritised and structured as a news story.  Academics generally leave their conclusions to the end preferring to begin by an introductory ‘scene-setting’ paragraph, followed by the argument supported by examples.  The inverted pyramid turns this on the head.  The most important information is now at the start, with examples and further argument placed below in order of descending importance.

The inverted pyramid (wikipedia)
The inverted pyramid (wikipedia)

This type of writing focuses on getting the main point across from only a quick read.  The detail and exposition is secondary.  Journalists emphasize the first few lines of an article as the most important.  This is where you lay out your argument and the main points you wish to make, you then explain them further or give examples.  The title of the piece is also vital.  Get this right and people will know what it is you are arguing and talking about before they even begin to read the post itself.  In terms of getting people to come to a blog and read what it is you are talking about the title and first few lines are important.  Search engines will only display these parts of the post, so those searching for content that is interesting to them will only click on your blog post if it is explicitly shown to be relevant in the title and first few lines.  They will probably assess its worth on the first paragraph as well and only read on if that is shown to be what they want to read.

There is, of course, no right way or wrong way to write a blog post, but the inverted triangle does fit the blog medium well and might well be a useful exercise for academics wishing to succinctly explain their research not just for an online audience, but for their own uses.  Writing in this form might well help scholars to understand their own arguments better, which might help them formulate those arguments more easily when they come to write the peer-reviewed version for publication.

NOTE: As you might have noticed this blog post fails the inverted pyramid test by introducing the point of the post half way through.  This perhaps illustrates that this is only one way to do it, but not the only way.  Or perhaps it just suggests that I need to work on my blog writing skills.  Either way it is something that is worth considering.  

Maintaining a personal research blog – the highs and lows

I have been grappling with trying to understand exactly what I expect to gain from blogging for quite some time.  At first it was simply a requirement of the job, but then I saw potential fruit in a blog about my own research.  It would give me the opportunity to write – I thought – unburdened by restrictions of academia itself, and bypassing the need for everything to go through processes of publication.  But very quickly I got bogged down by it – finding that I was writing more for the blog than toward articles or a monograph of my thesis.  After a while my posts became fewer as the burden loomed ever higher over me.


In fact, I was pleased when I met others who shared my frustrations at the SMKE Social Media workshop held at the IHR in January.  Like me, those who expressed frustration did so not because they had lost faith in the idea of blogs as a useful medium, but because they felt compelled to write regularly and to write to a high quality level every time.  Blogs involve too much time.  This was a telling response from some of the participants.  A week later I interviewed Professor Tim Hitchcock as part of this project.  I got the impression that he sees a role for blogs, but not necessarily the one often claimed for or argued by others.  His Historyonics blog is there to upload bits and pieces that he would not otherwise publish in any other form.  Sometimes they take the form of ramblings about subjects (his attempt to work out meaning or purpose in something) and other times they are copies (wholesale) of his notes or written document for a talk at conferences, workshops or lectures.  One thing that was clear from this discussion – there was no pressure here to publish regularly.

When I visited Sheffield to interview Caroline Dodds Pennock and Miriam Dobson the multi-author blog was described to me both times in terms of making the work load manageable.  In terms of both the department blog History Matters and the Russian History blog, regular (but not necessarily scheduled) posts were seen to be important but not at the expense of putting too much pressure on any one person.  The same appears to be true for department blogs in archives and libraries.  Both the National Archives and British Library bloggers that I interviewed talked about sharing the load and making blogging manageable whilst also interesting for themselves.

The difficulty of blogging on a regular basis is therefore a very real obstacle.  Multi-author blogs do seem to be a way forward but they do not always present the best way forward.  I am still unwilling to reject my own personal blog but I feel I need to find a use for it, which has thus far been a little lacking.  Whilst undertaking this project this is one thing that I have learnt.

Writing blog posts should not be a chore, nor in many ways should it be about writing blog posts at all.  I think this is important for those early in their careers or starting out on a post doctorate to realise.  If it becomes either of these things then perhaps it needs a rethink.  Why write blog posts then?  It should be about your own research needs – forming part of the process that leads from ideas and knowledge to the setting down of arguments and understanding – and eventually towards finalised pieces for publication.  Blogs can fit into that process as a formative part of research.  Put down rough ideas and link them together.  Gather together a series of quotations or pieces of evidence and work out what they are telling you – write about it so that you gain understanding (this might be what you post on the blog), but then write it up as part of a chapter.  I remember my secondary supervisor for my PhD suggested I write down quotes or evidence on post-it notes or index cards.  This way it would be possible to layout on the floor my entire evidence base and rearrange it into an order that made sense.  This would then form the basis for a chapter.  I never did do it – I don’t think it was the right approach for me.  However, I can see a similar application for blogs.  I can put down my initial ideas, thoughts and arguments into blog posts then print those out and arrange them into a form that could become a chapter.  This might well work or it might not.

Another thing I have learnt through this project is that no two bloggers are the same.  We blog for our own reasons just as historical research is a unique and individual process.  A blog about your own research whatever form that takes should, nevertheless, rarely be about writing blog posts just for the sake of it.  What a personal research blog needs to be is part of your research agenda.  It needs to be part of a process whatever that might be.  This is what I will be trying to do with my own research blog over the next few months.  It will become part of the writing process.  Nothing will be written just for the blog, but as something that in some way or another will contribute to a book or article.

History bloggers on blogging – a few notes

The Ether Wave Propaganda: History and Historiography of Science blog run by Will Thomas (Junior Research fellow at Imperial College London) and Christopher Donohue (a PhD student at the University of Maryland), recently posted a ‘five years’ celebratory post.  Having been blogging for nearly 3 years myself on the History SPOT blog I can’t help but to think that five years is an amazing feat and helps to prove that academic History blogging is both viable and useful.

(from Wikipedia)

The celebratory post ‘Five Years in the Blog’ (posted 1 January 2013) is a reflective piece and is highly useful for what it says about blogging – the whys and wherefores as well as the inspiration and motivation to maintain it.  Will Thomas argues that scholars ‘need to take it up’ if only so that they can keep others appraised of their publications, interests, and talks.  He is also aware of something that I have mentioned previously on this blog; the fear in academia of exposing unverified thoughts and arguments in the public domain.  His answer to this is one of idealism in that he calls for historians to become more open and engaged in dialogue via the blog format.  Some historians will be up for this challenge, some will not.  There are good arguments on both sides of the metaphoric fence.

As also mentioned before here, the blog can be used for writing and thinking out ideas.  Thomas states:

“blog posts that I wrote in the summer of 2009 ended up informing an article published in late 2012”

It is nice also to get some stats.  The blog has been visited over 175,000 times since 2008 with its most popular post receiving 7,597 views.  Pretty good going!

The Impact of Social Sciences: Maximizing the Impact of Academic Research blog from LSE (The London School of Economics and Political Science) has mentioned blogging in several of its posts.  On 21 November 2012 Athene Donald wrote that women in academia shouldn’t be afraid of blogging.  She argued that women, more than men, feel anxious about writing unrefined material on a blog, under their own name.  Now this blog is referring more to the sciences than to History or the humanities subjects, so I can’t really comment.  From the History blogs I have visited though, I would say that female historians equal their male colleagues in blogging participation.

In another post an embedded slide show compares blog articles to journal articles.  Length is obviously shorter but in the blogs favour is timing (can be posted very regularly instead of 1-2 a year), can include colour images and multimedia, it’s open access rather than behind a paywall making its audience potentially massive.  [to view this post click here: Future Impacts: ‘How to’ guide to social media, podcasting, blogging and writing your REF impact case study]

Simon Wren-Lewis has reposted a blog post on the LSE blog regarding his advice for potential academic bloggers.  His subject is economics so he is talking to a different audience as well, but many of the things that he state are similar to what is argued above or elsewhere.  It is worth a look: Advice for potential academic bloggers

A recent article on the Guardian website entitled ‘where are university websites hiding all their research?’ got me thinking.  The article is complaining that research-led universities don’t often promote successfully the actual research that they are doing.  Its author, Claire Shaw suggests that the university website is the crucial place now where that information should be easy to find but often it is not.  Could greater use of blogs help?  Or, by siphoning off short research based posts, do blogs actually confuse rather than help the picture?  I’ll leave you with that thought while I ponder it myself.

If you have any thoughts about any of the above please write in the comments section below.  I would be very interested to hear what you have to say.

The SMKE Social Media Workshop: Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase

Many historians of all ages will quite possibly never own a blog or attempt to use Facebook for anything other than sharing their holiday snaps.  Some might try it and decide that it’s not for them.  Whether or not social media is a fad that will soon vanish, or a vital tool for the modern Historian was not the main focus of the workshop held at the Institute of Historical Research on Tuesday 29 January 2013, rather it was the possibilities of social media to act as a useful adjunct to historical research and as an important (and increasingly essential) tool for developing a career in History.

When I first started working at the IHR I didn’t use Twitter, neither did I know what to do with a blog.  I used Facebook, but only for its original purpose of keeping in touch with friends.  My social media output and input was pretty much zero.  I would say then, that this workshop is timely as within the last three years I have realised how important and useful these tools can be.  I have heard arguments that social media is only for the attention-seeker or best left to those desperate to hear about the latest celebrity to have lost or gained weight.  If this was once the case, it is not now.

Twitter provides a platform for spreading the word about historical projects, latest news in the higher education profession, and random but interesting (and sometimes useful) facts.  It also allows you to engage and learn about what other historians are up to.  I don’t want to know what the leading historian in sixteenth century political history had for lunch, but it is useful for me to have an idea where his/her current research is taking them.  Isabel Holowaty from the Bodleian library noted that Twitter was initially more popular with those outside of Oxford itself (suggesting an interest in knowing what is going on there) and it is only now that those in Oxford are beginning to take part as well.  Laura Cowdrey from The National Archives argued that Twitter works well in this regard, but that it is also important to know your audience (and what it is interested in) and to think about the right words to use to latch on to trends.  This really matters.

One use that Twitter is sometimes put to is as a reporting mechanism during seminars, conferences and workshops.  I have increasingly seen people sending Tweets during these events – noting points of interest for others to read and at least get a glimpse at what is happening even if they can’t be there themselves.  I’m never certain how useful this actually is, but I gave it a try for this workshop and quite enjoyed the process.  Jane Winters (Head of IHR Publications) has put together a little guide to using Twitter for this purpose which is well worth a look: Storify – Twitter comments

While Twitter is a useful micro-blog tool for making connections and learning about the latest news in the profession blogs serve a rather different role, but equally as important.  Julian Harrison from the British Library talked most about blogs, in particular the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts blog (one of many maintained by the library).  It became clear in the breakout session that Julian believes that blogs are a vital tool for upcoming historians to form an online presence that could be vital to their future job prospects.  Blogs enable you to write short but well-constructed and academically vigorous (if more informal) pieces about your research interests.  They therefore serve to inform others of your interests, enable other researchers to learn from you and to discover more about what is going on in that area of historical research.  Blogs also allow researchers to ‘publish’ some of their research ideas in an informal manner much faster than traditional methods such as journals and monographs.  They are not a replacement, of course, but a useful addition.

The SMKE Social Media Workshop: Golden Rules of blogging

Have you ever considered Unicron for dinner?  If not, why not?  Oh, right, yes of course – Unicron’s don’t exist.  There goes my dinner plans.  On Tuesday 29 January 2013 the Institute of Historical Research held a workshop on Social Media for the SMKE project.  The second talk was by Julian Harrison of the British Library, who discussed the British Library’s Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts blog.  The Unicron recipe came from a post about a long-lost medieval cookbook containing recipes for hedgehogs, blackbirds and Unicron’s.  It has some great images and advice, just a shame the post was published on 1 April (see blog post here).

Roasted Unicron anyone?
Roasted Unicron anyone?

Harrison didn’t just talk about spurious blog posts, however, the purpose of the blog is more serious – to showcase the work that the British Library does and its holdings to a wider audience than was ever possible before the advent of social media.  In using blogs, the British Library is trying to connect users with their content, facilitate research, and have a bit of fun in the process.  The blog stats were particularly interesting.  The Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts blog began in 2010 and received 14,000 views.  In 2011 this increased to 70,000 views and then in 2012 it really took off with a massive 300,000 views.  Harrison broke down the stats for 2012.  Visitors came from 189 countries although the US (38%) and UK (23%) were by far the largest group.  It is interesting that there was more interest from America than from the UK.  Harrison mentioned that they had started to time some of their posts for the American audience – placing them at midnight UK time so that Americans could receive the posts near the end of their working day (about 4pm on the West coast).

Julian Harrison also outlined his seven golden rules of blogging.  These are:

  1. Post on a frequent basis
  2. Be informative
  3. Write in a lively manner
  4. Include pictures or images
  5. Include links
  6. Know your audience
  7. Don’t be afraid to ‘plog’ (i.e. plug your blog – promote it – tweet and re-tweet)

All in all, this workshop was very useful in highlighting the usefulness of social media, including blogs, for the historian.  The claim was made that in the current climate maintaining an online profile through social media is to be viewed as vital to securing jobs; someone findable online are more likely to be given a job than someone who keeps his or her research offline.    I’m not certain if this is entirely true, yet, but I can easily see it going this way.  I don’t think this should be the principal reason for entering the world of social media though.  Self-promotion might prove useful, but it will only be successful – I think – if the reasons for posting blog posts and engaging in Twitter or photograph networks – is to further your own research and interest in a subject.  If you are excited by what you are doing, and would like to express that excitement to others, I suspect that your online presence will be better received and more enjoyable and useful to both yourself and to others.

The SMKE Social Media Workshop: The growing importance of social media for Historians

Who here Tweets?  Who uses Facebook to catch up on the latest news from History-related institutions?  Who blogs or reads blog posts?  Do you use Flickr or  We live in a world increasingly saturated with social media both in our personal lives and professional.  At least we do if we choose to do.  It is still possible to avoid this upsurge in new technology, but what was once considered an additional luxury to the working day of a historian, is increasingly becoming more vital and important.  I think this, more than anything else, is what I took away from the SMKE Social Media Workshop held last week at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR).

The workshop began with three presentations: one by Laura Cowdrey from The National Archives; another from Julian Harrison from the British Library; and a third by Isabel Holowaty from the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford.  All three discussed their approach to social media – especially blogs and twitter, but also various others such as Facebook; Pinterest (an online scrapbook); Historypin (photograph sharing platform where photographs are pinned to a map); Flickr (another photograph sharing tool); and Delicious (similar to Facebook but more centred around sharing content and links).

The workshop finished with breakout groups, where we were asked to discuss five questions about our views on social media.  There were six of us in Group A, including our earlier speaker, Julian Harrison.  Below is a rough summary of our various thoughts and ideas.

  1. Why do researchers need to develop a social media presence?

It was quickly suggested that this question could easily be turned on its head: do researchers actually need to develop a social media presence at all?  There is a lot of unnecessary information out there and maintaining an online presence takes time and effort which could be better served elsewhere.   Julian Harrison argued that maintaining a social media presence is increasingly becoming essential for career prospects and progression.  A blog or active twitter account can get you noticed, and enable you to spread the word about what it is you are doing.  Traditional journal articles take too long to come out and are read by relatively few, whilst conferences help, they are still limited to a single time and place.  Social Media enables researchers to inform others of their research instantly and delves into a large international audience.  An online presence for your research also provides you with a date-stamped proof of your research in case anyone thought to nab your ideas!

However, there is a balancing act to be had.  A few in the group explained that they had tried to maintain blogs, but found that they were increasingly spending time focusing on blog posts and not on the research questions and writing for their thesis.   The issue of priorities is a very real one and hosting a blog can become quite a chore.  Common consensus suggests that a blog needs regular posts (at least one a week), but for most researchers this is quite challenging.  Especially for postgraduates (but also true for those just establishing their career) is the difficulty of finding something worth talking about on a blog, that does not give away too much of the research, but is also watertight in its assertions.  A well-maintained blog may well be a good advertisement of an Historian’s research, but it could easily also become a negative thing if handled badly.

  1. How can you balance the personal and professional online?

It was quickly decided that social media provides the opportunity to write in a more informal and friendly manner, but that this has its limits.  There are occasions when a little personality can be seen as a good thing.  The Reviews in History e-mail subscription includes a brief paragraph at the beginning of every e-mail revealing a little bit of personal events going on in the life of the editor.  This was generally viewed positively amongst the group, who felt that it was important for a little bit of character to be injected when writing via social media.  It was suggested that two separate Twitter accounts should be set up – one personal and one professional.   Facebook was considered more challenging and there were no real answers as to how to deal with this.


  1. What are the best ways to build relationships/community online?

Knowing your audience and what they might want was considered very important.  Maintaining and posting regularly was also considered vital, otherwise people would think that the account is neglected.  The use of any social media whether that is a blog or Twitter feed, should try and keep within its remit otherwise followers might become annoyed and disinterested.  Ways to build relationships included re-tweeting other people’s posts on Twitter and commenting on other peoples Facebook pages when relevant.  Within all of this was a concern over the difficulty of maintaining various separate channels and of how to draw all of these together in one place or at least link them together in some way.

  1. How do you deal with negative feedback/interactions?

On this question there were two lines of thought.  One was to tackle negative feedback head-on by entering into a debate or pointing out your reasoning.  Another was to ignore it entirely (either moving on or even deleting the comment).  The decision comes down to what is worth fighting over.  Some people will act as trolls on social media, and it is probably never worth getting into a fight with them – simply ignore them or block them instead.  But where there is a genuine query or disagreement, this can actually fuel stimulating and interesting discussion that might be beneficial for both the commenter and the author of the original item.


  1. What are the best social media platforms for communicating historical research, and why?

Twitter and Facebook were considered popular and useful methods, although Facebook was found to be a difficult tool for communicating historical research.  Blogs were seen as the best method, although more time consuming.  Photographic tools such as Flickr and historypin were thought useful, but only if dealing with images as a principal part of the research. was mentioned as a highly useful networking tool and one that does have the ability to promote and discover interest in your field of research.  The group were divided pretty evenly between those who made use of and those that hadn’t or had only created a static, unused page.  It was generally agreed that more attempts to make use of other social media was desirable.

Our discussions ended with an interesting debate about copyright especially when related to images.  The British Library, it seems, provide any images presented over their social media systems under a Creative Commons licence, which allows reuse as long as it is not for commercial gain.  We also discussed briefly the potential problem that could occur if one of the third-party tools declined in use or collapsed.  Myspace was given as the principal example – is it possible to back up?