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Open Thread Thursday – Daily Blogging Prompts

daily blogging themes

The Daily Blogging Prompts are arguably one of the most popular features here at GeneaBloggers. Why so? Here are some reasons:

  • the themes make it easier for new bloggers and helps give them structure and a sense of belonging in this community that is new to them
  • unifies the genealogy blogging community around a specific topic
  • the themes get folks to look at the same topic from different perspectives by reading other blog posts
  • make it easier for bloggers to post; serves as an ongoing editorial calendar for genealogy bloggers

The most popular themes are Tombstone Tuesday and Wordless Wednesday when each day can garner 50 or more posts!

But there are times when you just need to change things up, redo the house, wear something new as it were.  So we’ve been thinking about various ways to make some changes to the Daily Blogging Prompts.  We are totally open to your ideas and suggestions.  See the prompts below to get this week’s Open Thread Thursday rolling.

* * *

So, what do you think we here at GeneaBloggers should do with the Daily Blogging Prompts? Weigh in with your opinion either in the comments or at your own blog (and leave a link here in the comments).

  • Should we stick with just one theme per day and with the current set of themes?
  • Should we rotate the themes on a schedule – quarterly or semi-annually?
  • Should we have a menu of themes for each day and under a general posting for that day, complete with roll up widgets etc.?
  • What new themes would you suggest?
  • Would it be appropriate to have a specific theme or a day sponsored by a genealogy vendor or site?

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

40 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday – Daily Blogging Prompts

  1. I agree — changing things up can be good. Actually I kind of like the “menu of themes for each day and under a general posting for that day” idea for days with more than one theme.

    I have been doing a “Friend of Friends Friday” on my blog and would enjoy that being a theme for everyone to participate in.

  2. Vendors, I would rather NOT see that.

    I like the idea of menu of themes for each day. Gives so much more flexibility to bloggers, more ideas for themes for me, a VERY good thing.

    Wedding Wednesday will be appearing on my blog in the coming weeks. I have used Monday Minutiae when I want to discuss several different subjects in one post. LOVE Treasure Chest Thursday.

  3. I like the idea of a menu of themes for each day. I don’t want to have to stick to a theme for each day. Also, I would love a “guest blogger” menu option for one day to encourage folks to communicate and exchange more.

    What is a roll up widget? And where do I get one?

  4. Well, I just got here, as it were, so I’m still bursting with ideas based upon the existing themes, which are all new to me.

    However, since I’m so full of it (THEMES, sheesh) right now, let me share the wealth:

    Dead-End Day: Post a summary or story of your dead end in your research. Summaries can be posted here, and everyone can go around to the others’ postings like a round-robin dinner or something. Everyone can give it another pair of eyes, offer suggestions, commiserate or whatever. IF this reoccurred, people could take in the advice given in previous installments and continue the saga with their chosen line, or choose another dead end to share, as they choose.

  5. I like the idea of a menu of themes for each day. That way people can mix it up however they want – not that anyone can’t write about whatever they want whenever they want but I do find the themes helpful. They definitely helped me get started blogging and without them I’d probably be posting less.

    Suggestions: I’m planning to start posting some of my unidentified photos so – Mystery Monday. This could also cover actual family mysteries.

    My 1st impression of a “vendor sponsored theme” is no.

  6. I really like the idea of themes, but often miss out on a daily theme due to pressures of work and not having the time to find something “appropriate”, so multiple themes for each day would be good. It would give me an opportunity to post more often. I have two separate blogs but the subject matter overlaps (my own genealogy and Scottish genealogy in general) and some themes are more appropriate than others. And, per Marian, what’s a roll up widget? 🙂 I often think I am missing out by being a Newbie!

  7. Changing things up would be fantastic! The menu theme sounds like a great idea. There are those who really like the current themes. Whatever works! Some themed posts that I’ve worked on in the past include Military Monday, Extended Family Friday, where I post information about extended family member(s). Another that I’ve done in the past is Spotlight Sunday where I simply spotlight a family member who was born during that week or month and do a short post on their life.

  8. Personally, I do not like daily blogging themes. It takes all the creativity out of blogging. I prefer when everyone writes and posts whatever they want on whatever day they want it! But that’s just me…

  9. I like the idea of multi-themes that can be used at any time. I don’t like restrictions, so if I feel like doing “Wedding Wednesday” or “Festive Friday” or “Census Thursday” I can create my own theme. I do like the fact that the themes do resonate within the blogging community, so those of us interested in cemeteries look forward to “Tombstone Tuesday” to see what other bloggers are posting. As Donna mentioned, I like doing my own thing, too, but the themes are also a nice way to aid us in our writing. I think it’s especially helpful for new bloggers. I may only use a theme once or twice every two weeks these days, but it’s a nice crutch to have if you need it.

  10. I like having the blogging themes available. So far I have used all but Follow Friday at least once. My favorites are Sentimental Sunday (because it’s so broad) and (in my case, Not-So-) Wordless Wednesday (because I have so many pictures). Although I expect to run out of my own surnames and tombstone pictures soon, I especially like to scroll through the roll-up widget for Tombstone Tuesday and Surname Saturday and look for my surnames!

    I agree that it would be nice to have a menu of choices for themes for a weekday (we already have a choice on Wednesday). I like some of the ideas others have proposed.

    I’m not so sure about vendor-sponsored themes or days. I don’t want them to use my posts for their purposes, and don’t want to appear that I am endorsing particular products or services. Are there some plusses to vendor sponsorship of which I’m not aware?

  11. I echo the support for the menu of themes. as well as a preference against commercial sponsorship of the theme. That said, he or she who pays the bills ought to have the final say on that subject.

    I would love to see themes that tie our families to historic events – Civil War, the Depression, Industrial Revolution, etc.

  12. I’m whole heartedly with Donna on this. I’m no fan of the daily blogging themes at all. Thomas, how about putting a list of “crutch topics” on the side column of this blog for people to reference now and then when they get stuck for ideas and leave it at that? (And drop the days-of-the-week-thing, please! 😉

  13. I like the idea of being able to post anything I want on my blog and not have to always adhere to a theme for a day. Sometimes though, a theme will jog a memory and I can participate. I’m not one to be tied into any one formula, which could be a plus, or a minus. I would like to see a choice of ideas for each day of the week so it ups the chances of me finding a topic if I choose to do so. How’s that for wishy washy? 🙂

  14. I have both made up my own themes and used some of the existing ones, as appropriate and convenient. The way the themes help me is not in coming up with ideas (have too many of those already), but rather providing me with the schedule and discipline – Surname Saturday makes me post my families (“cousin bait”) regularly, Memory Monday keeps me working on writing down my life for descendants, etc. If I can’t fit a subject into the schedule for a particular day, I’ll just give it a different name and do it another day (such as Transcription Tuesday instead of Amanuensis Monday). So, to answer the question, the menu idea is good and could be adapted to fit each blogger’s style, subject matter, and schedule.

  15. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear… “A rapier wit, a cloud of inspiration, and a hearty Hi-Yo, Blogspot!

    Yes, in the beginning, that unique band of daring and resourceful family historians led the fight for creativity and absolutely no order in the world of geneabloggers.  

    Would that their legacy rode across our imaginations again!” Geneabloggers, lay down your cookie cutters and take up the mantel of originality. Please!

    Signed – that cranky masked old woman

  16. Another thought, writing a Tombstone Tuesday or Sentimental Sunday currently gets us on the Genea-Blogger page via the roll up widget. You may or may not feel that is valuable to your blog. That said, I have found some great blogs that way that I may not have found otherwise. With, what, over 1,000 bloggers now, I know I won’t discover them all, and may not with the rolling widget either, but, I sure have enjoyed the ones I have found via the themes and rolling widgets. Just another tool that is offered because of the themes.

  17. Daily blogging themes are, indeed, popular in the genealogy blogging community, nay, the blogging community. For many of the reasons listed above. And have been for quite awhile [ has been around since 2006]

    Whether or not creates roll-up widgets for geneabloggers participating in this theme or that theme — isn’t going to have an impact on whether or not I use that theme. If I have a “Wordless Wednesday” to post, I don’t plan to check to see if it’s rotated in or rotated out here.

    The widgets are a great tool, though, and a wonderful benefit to the community. They do provide a location to go to see all the posts on a daily theme from those in the genealogy blogging community.

    And new ideas — wherever they may come from — are always good.

  18. I only use themes on three of the six days that I blog (even God rested on the seventh day.) They are Wedding Wednesday, Thriller Thursday, and Sympathy Saturday. I didn’t want to be limited to tombstones, because I knew I’d never remember whose I posted. So with Sympathy Saturday, I post funeral cards, obituaries and yes, some tombstones. These work for me and I sure would like to see a menu of blog themes. The other three days are more or less random and generally relate to which project I am working on at the time. Family letters have certainly given me a wonderful mother lode of topics.

  19. My favorites to write & read are TT, TCT & Surname Sat., though I read/write others. I’ve also done “Friend of Friends Friday” & think it’s a great idea to publish info on slave records that could help others find their ancestors, though there are other forums for this as well. FoFF also could be used in a general sense to publish “leftover” info from research, involving slavery or not, that could help others. I’ve used MM & think “Mystery [Photo?] Mon.” is another good idea. But it doesn’t really matter; writers will write, regardless.

    It is nice to gather GeneaBloggers in one spot via themes at least occasionally to give bloggers exposure & create a sense of community. Whether or not you keep all the themes, I’ll keep blogging on my favorites. And on my own ideas, of course.

    Fellow GBers — don’t forget you can also do a blog carnival if you want to get people around a topic.

    I tend to be against sponsored topics/days as it could imply endorsement of a product/company by all writers posting on that topic, and I would not want a co. to then feel it could use said content for its own commercial purposes… now, if they want to pay me for it, we can negotiate. 😉 Say if genealogy site “A” had sponsored your recent “Labor Day” roundup? I doubt they’d then want a post with a record found on competitor site “B” included in it. Good luck finding “sponsors” (advertisers) who won’t want any editorial control. A slippery slope, my friend… with you in the middle mediating.

  20. As a very green genealogy blogger (just over a week) I have found the themes very helpful. First starting out there is so much information and trying to decide a focus seems a little overwhelming.

    Have been reading the blogs on the widget daily and finding entertainment, instruction, and inspiration. Really enjoy seeing the interpretation other bloggers have on each theme.

    Agree about branching out with other themes. Nice suggestions posted!

  21. Certainly blogging themes are a great way to get your blog going when your new. Some like the idea, of having a theme to inspire them, while others don’t. Nothing wrong with that. Choice and change are good things.I now find I have trouble pigeoning-holing what I want to write about into a particular theme. So I have not participated in the themes as of late.
    I recognize by being part of a theme, you get your link posted on geneablogger’s list for that day and there is merit in that, but sometimes I can’t make it work.
    So it’s up to the individual, for me somedays it works, some days not so much.
    Although I do have an idea for a theme, and was actually planning to post about it next week and perhaps get things started. See if anyone is interested in joining me.Let me know what you think. Foodie Friday- bloggers can post an old-fashioned heritage recipe, with a little story or memory behind the recipe, a fun way to finish the week. Or perhaps your seeking a recipe, a great way to find one.
    I know many search for old-fashioned recipes and not just genealogists. Perhaps this meme could open the doors to some new readers. Food and their recipes are great part of our culture, often times our only link to our past. Are you interested?

  22. Still being new as I am to blogging the themes have helped me to start my page and to keep me committed to trying to post dailty , but I dont always have something
    to post for that days theme so I like the idea of have a few different themes for a day to pick from.

  23. Can I vote here for Melancholy Monday? While I have (more than?) my share of folks that could be included in Madness Monday, I know I find things in my family research that are sad or poignant.

  24. All this has already been said, but I of course would like to add another to the pot: I like having the daily blogging themes and widgets. Both are an asset, as I’m sure I’ve gotten visitors by participating. A menu of new ideas sounds great.

    Having said that, I might only participate in a couple of themes a month. That’s my prerogative. I do not write posts to follow the themes and use the themes only when they happen to fit. I do believe we all should encourage and appreciate individuality and creativity. (Lord, I need help in the creative part!)

    Just the other day I posted “A Saturday Story,” simply because it was Saturday, and it fit. 🙂 Like Military Monday already mentioned, I’ve used Saturday/Sunday Soldier. I’ve also used Church Record Sunday and Movie Monday (when posting a video). I’ve seen “Silent Sunday” on another blog, which I of course cannot remember the name of, and really like that one.

    Last, but not least, I vote for leaving the vendors out of it. Promoting them on one’s blog is an extremely personal choice.

    OK. I think that’s it.

  25. I love the idea of a menu of themes to choose from. As a new blogger, these themes really helped me to get going with ideas for blogging. And, like Greta, the themes help me keep to a schedule and the discipline needed to be a regular blogger. However, now that I’ve been blogging for a bit, I find myself wanting to break out of the mold a bit more to pursue what my blog is all about. So in that vein a menu of themes could be a good thing. Oh yeah, I’m with Marian – where do I get a roll up widget?

    A theme I started a while back is Sorting Saturday to help with all the sorting I’ve been doing in the family home. I’ve noticed a few other bloggers joining in on it as well. My favorite themes are Wordless Wednesday and Treasure Chest Thursday.

    I’m with Carol and TransDutch on using the roll up widget at GeneaBloggers to find other blogs and check what others have written on a particular topic. I’ve found some great blogs that way that I wouldn’t have found otherwise. I’d like to think that one or two people have found my blog that way as well.

  26. I am somewhat surprised by the negative comments against daily blogging themes in general coming from people who regularly participate in carnivals.

    There is basically no difference between a carnival and a “daily blogging theme” except the former is usually monthly and the latter weekly. It’s a regular gathering of posts under a predetermined theme. They both serve either as a ‘crutch’ or an ‘inspiration’ depending upon whether you are seeking a negative or positive term.

  27. An interesting set of questions and an equally interesting set of responses. I’m really not sure how I feel about this topic myself.

    In my own experience, it was nice having a weekly theme to help me when I first started my blog (back then, we were really focused on TT and WW). I then created my own Saturday in the Attic theme, which may (or may not) have led to Treasure Chest Thursday. I then started Friday Finds to share all of the interesting nuggets I accumulated throughout the week. While I still periodically do my Saturday thing, I’ve pretty much dropped the others and never participated in some of the newer ones (Madness Monday, Follow Friday, Surname Saturday, etc.). I initially found them helpful in giving me something to post at least once or twice a week, but I pre-posted them several weeks at a time, so it kind of defeated the purpose of “writing” every week. Additionally, it was becoming too difficult to keep track of what I had already posted in past TT and WW posts, making it a more time-consuming task.

    Bottom line: Themes are helpful when you are just starting out, but I think more often then not, it becomes cumbersome and people eventually drop the themes from their blogs (perhaps sticking with just one they really like to post each week).

    Now that I’ve said all that, I realize this really didn’t answer your questions 😉

    P.S. I’ll probably get smacked for saying this, but I am not a big fan of blogs that ONLY have posts based on daily themes. I give new blogs a chance, but if all I see after three or so months is WW post after WW post and nothing else, I’m gone.

  28. I like the idea of a daily menu of topics. As a new blogger it helps me if there is a topic suggested. I have also done a Friday Findings, to show how I researched a particular issue. How many Saturday Surnames can we do? How would the vendor sponsorship work? What other ideas for themes can we come up with? Anything that jogs us to write is helpful.

  29. Wow – this Open Thread Thursday certainly got a response!

    First off – I like the daily themes simply because on the days when I feel less creative, I can find something to write about. It helps me get a push through my “no one reads my blog anyway – so what does it matter?” days. I like to know that they are there – and I think that they are totally great for the newbies. Plus – no one has to use the blogging themes, but they offer a crutch of support and discipline for people who need it.

    I like the idea of a menu of different blogging themes. The more options, the better.

    My take on the vendors thing is mixed. I can see some benefits both vendor and consumer if (and that is a big if), the vendors pose questions like “What do you like about _____” and “What do you dislike about ______” and “What can we change about _____ to make it better”, etc. If the vendors actually listen and implement some of our suggestions, then it will create a better product for the consumer and more business for the vendors. Win-Win situation.

    But where I get worried about a vendor sponsored day is that some vendors might expect positive responses or get mad at a blogger for being critical of a company or product. I don’t want to see anyone bullied by the vendors.

    When you say sponsorship – do you mean pay geneabloggers? I totally understand that the website costs money and I’m completely supportive of finding ways to cover those costs. But my fears stated above make me worried.

    I like the idea of a monthly theme (but then again – wouldn’t that be a carnival?) that is different for each month of the year but year after year the themes stay the same. For example, every year for December we can talk about creating family history gifts or show pictures of the gifts that we create. In June we can talk about weddings. In September we can talk about the schooling of our ancestors. In May we can talk about our military ancestors. Etc. (Those are really lame ideas…. but just using them to give the example).

    That is my two cents….

  30. I haven’t used geneabloggers daily blogging themes because I can’t figure out how to get my post connected to the list…. That said, I love to be able to go to the lists and see what other bloggers have posted. I don’t look at all of the posts every day but pick and choose and look at some of them. The lists allow me to find new blogs that I might not have found without the list.

    I like the idea of a variety of themes for each day. I also think it would make it easy for the compiler of the themed posts (is that you, Thomas?) if he used a link list where we could go to the link list, add our name and the url for the post. (Such as is used at Is that widget what you call a roll-up widget? If so, where do we find it for geneabloggers to link our posts to it?

    I think anything that helps us see what other bloggers are writing about is good.

    I don’t like the idea of having vendors involved.

    Thanks for keeping geneabloggers going, Thomas.

  31. I have had some negative feedback that said it looks ‘unprofessional’ to have Sunday, Monday etc in the title of my blog posts. Is there a way (as Nancy suggested) to submit URLs and have posts on a theme appear in the rollup widget? I do find that very useful, and I read all the Follow Friday and Surname Saturday posts and many of the others. I would support the idea of an extended ‘menu’ of daily themes for those who find them helpful. I am already using ‘Sources Sunday’, in which I feature a *non-Internet* source that I have used for genealogy, such as a specific source or series in a record office; a book; or a library, museum etc as a source in the broader sense.

  32. Judy

    Not sure why it would look unprofessional but here is what you can do: as long as you include the blogging theme name in the first line or paragraph of the post, it helps me immensely. I have over 500 blog posts to read each day to see if they need tagging – yes, this is all done manually by me. I used to have an old oak tree filled with elves who assisted but somehow they discovered a concept called “union” and now, well, they just don’t perform like they used to.

    I will check out Sources Sunday and look into adding it. Thanks!


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