It's been almost ten years since a website called "BrownsTNG" debuted in time for the Browns to participate in the expansion draft. Those early stories were about the same things we're covering right now: the search for a head coach, free agents about to hit the market, and more.
Since those early days, Lane Adkins and I have been a constant on the site, which has gone from being BrownsTNG, to Bernie's Insiders, to it's current incarnation as the Orange and Brown Report.
As we start to near a decade on the internet, both Lane and I had some thoughts to share with you about how the OBR relates to the "mainstream media" and about some things we do that a lot of visitors don't know about. A lot of new Browns fans continue to find the site.
Without further ado, here's Lane, and then I'll talk about some other things on the site to check out beyond the front page stories and forums.
It's not all about our own stories, though. We hope to provide a place where Browns fans can come to have any sort of discussion about the team, or find any sort of information that they need. So, with that in mind, here are:
Top Ten Free OBR Features You Don't Know About
1. OBR Newswire
We've been doing this since 1999, and a bunch of other sites have started doing this as well over the last couple of years. Here are some differences between what we do and what some of the other sites do:
- We create RSS feeds for the newswire, so you don't even need to hit this page to follow all the articles we link. Hundreds of Browns fans every day use the OBR's Newswire RSS feed.
- The OBR's newswire is frequently updated throughout the day. Most others simply update once or twice a day, if that.
- We don't censor our sites. The Plain Dealer, ClevelandBrowns.com, and even local TV channels will all link Browns stories frequently, but they all carefully censor links to OBR stories, among others, even free ones. Sneaky, fellas, sneaky.... but fans will find out about us anyway. The web can't be controlled.
- Linked articles are tagged by player or coaches name, and so forth. Want to see stories on D'Qwell Jackson, for example? Click here.
2. Special Player Profile Features
Every major football site has player profiles, and even blog sites often try to link to player profiles on the official site or ESPN. They're generally just some boilerplate bio information and statistics.
While the OBR's player profiles certainly have that stuff, we've got some cool features squirreled away on the profiles you probably don't know about.
First, we've been faithfully tagging newswire stories with player names for over a year now, so you can get a listing of all newswire stories about a particular player, and all recent photos of a player with a click of two handy buttons:
Plus, in addition to having articles about the players listed on the left side you can search for every article and forum post about a player on the network:
3. Photo Library
Introduced earlier this year, the OBR Photo Library contains all the photos
provided by the Associated Press and Getty Images, along with the OBR's own
photographers. Photos are tagged by date and player so you can use those to
surf, and see which photos most fans are looking at. This one isn't linked on
our menus currently, but you can find it by going through the player profiles
(see above) or the staff blogs (see below).
4. Staff Blogs
Our new wordpress blogs are used to hold all sorts of documents and comments
that aren't considered front-page worthy, as well as the odd bit of breaking
news and commentary. Fred Greetham often uses the OBR staff blogs (like he did
during Randy Lerner's recent press conference) to post breaking news from Berea.
Open for comments and so forth, the staff blogs require a separate sign-up from
the rest of the OBR and are hosted off-site. On Monday, for example, Fred posted
three news items from Berea, and Barry posted a listing a the Browns 2009
opponents. We were publishing more info than most fans could read via the blogs
during much of the season.
5. RSS Feeds
The OBR has been a big proponent of RSS feeds for a long time, fashioning our own back in 2003 before Scout supported them. We're still big on them, and a couple of us will admit to spending a non-trivial amount of each tracking stories for the newswire and other news via RSS feed readers. All our blogs, front page stories, rumor central, newswire, and even our forums and individual player profiles have RSS feed support. Based on our stats, not as many people are using them as we would hope. But if you want to visit the site every day to get the new info, that's cool by us too.
Look on the page linked directly above and click "subscribe to feed" by any
of the feeds you want.
6. Fan Blogs
We've had some sort of blogging system on the OBR since 2004. Many fans come here for the news and forums and maybe don't think to check out the blogs, but there are some great ones, including original Browns blogger Ace Davis, the always-insightful Mark Leonard, and video wizard extraordinaire Nonee. We'r always looking for more bloggers to join up as well. On an internet with hundreds of people blogging about the Browns and Cleveland sports, we've been blessed with some of the best and most experienced bloggers around. And, of course, an RSS feed is available.
Look for the Munilot to be upgraded to a new software system over the summer, and use a commenting and login system common to it, the staff blogs, and Rumor Central.
These are two new features I've put together to try to integrate some of our other stuff together. I haven't figured out a way to post all our updates to the small spaces for site customization that Scout provides, so I eventually gave up and created a whole page dedicated to tracking the latest stuff on our pages.
Rumor Central is a nod back to some stuff we were doing back in 1999 and 2000 when the site started. It's mostly updates about rumors regarding the Browns with some barely concealed snark and cynicism about the league and the media. I know it's going to get me into trouble, and will keep it going if folks read it.
We're big fans of these services and are constantly experimenting with them as a way to reach more Browns fans, and stay connected with our friends from the site. The OBR's Twitter feed is by far the most popular Browns-related Twitter feed out there, and constantly posts updates when new stories, blogs, and rumors hit the site. We have over 400 followers in about a year, which is pretty good for a team-related feed. I don't think I've seen a single-team feed with anything around that. Our feed is also another way to interact with the site... we respond to questions in it, as well as throwing out some updates and thoughts that aren't directly covered in the OBR's stories.
The OBR's Myspace page is also popular, with over 1,000 friends linked up to the site, but we're late arrivers at Facebook. That page has also taken off like a rocket in the last week, and it's somewhat appalling we weren't spending more time on Facebook earlier. We're still learning about the service. Nonee is the biggest user of our Youtube page, but we've been starting to favorite some videos and hang out there as well.
9. OBR Calendar
This one is actually useful. We use it to post important dates for the Browns and NFL, as well as upcoming chats or other events. And, of course, there's an RSS feed for it as well.
10. The Free Chat Room
Scout.com introduced chat rooms on all their sites several years ago, and those chat rooms are reserved for subscribers. We hold special chats in them on a regular basis, and will continue to do so.
At the same time, we've also run our own chat room since 2000 which is 100% free and open for all Browns fans to use. It's integrated with our live gameday coverage and often gets to hundreds of fans talking on draft day. It's a great place for real-time interaction, although it's sometimes hidden from view.
You can find it by selecting "Chat Room" off the Forums Menu (the
"Subscriber" link points to the premium one), or you can go to it directly here:
Fans have often held ad hoc chats in there, and there are often a few dozen of us in there during games, even in this age of DirectTV and almost universal availability of Browns games. This chat room is open and available for your use every day, around the clock.