Aside from the "cover" a major change to Swish Appeal that you might have noticed is the presence of something SB Nation is calling "storystreams".
Brian Galliford of SBN's Buffalo Rumblings has a good description of what storystreams are.
Think of a StoryStream as an organizational unit. It collects a bunch of smaller stories within a larger overall topic. The word "story" is in the title for a reason: it allows us to tell a story as a situation unfolds, such as the Moorman release, or the various injury updates we get on a weekly basis.
Various updates appear in a story chronologically, but they do not all appear on the page by default. We as editors have the ability to identify important updates, and those are what appear by default (again, chronologically). To see all updates, click the "All Updates" tab that appears in the left-hand pane of the stream...
Clicking "All Updates" gives you a reverse chronological view of every single story covered - or, more generally, every single angle of the bigger overall story. Each "sub post," if you will, gives you a clickable headline and its own individual comments section. Different types of content can be collected - articles, short updates, videos, FanPosts and FanShots, and more - but it will all appear reverse chronologically in the StoryStream.
However a storystream is not always used to tell the story of a single event or, perhaps better stated, the scope of the event that people use storystreams for can vary.
For example, some sites have storystreams tracking a team's entire offseason. Many regional sites have storystreams tracking games. During the NBA lockout, SB Nation had a storystream with every story about that.
Right now on Swish Appeal, we're using a storystream to publish quick updates about the playoffs at the top of our page. But, as Galliford mentions, sometimes you can be in a storystream and not even know it - for example, you're in a storystream right now.
On the right hand sidebar of this article, there's a sub-menu titled, "In this storystream" with all the updates we've published about the new features with SBN United. And that's pretty much the "story" I'm following in this stream: notes on some observations I'm noticing as we adjust to using SBN United along with you. In our playoff storystream, that sidebar is used as an organizing tool so you can navigate between our playoff-related storie
The downside of storystreams - from my perspective - is that comments easily get lost. Take the playoffs stream, for example: there are now multiple updates some of which are available for viewing on the cover, some are easy to find by opening the full stream, and some (things that we determined aren't major developments) are hidden. Here's where there's an important distinction: we have the option adding updates to the storystream - meaning creating content that only appears inside the stream - or placing articles in streams - meaning the article shows up on the site's home page and in the stream. If you comment on an article, chances are you can easily find it elsewhere, either by finding the relevant "section" it was placed in or by scrolling down the site. However, if you comment on an update, you have to navigate through that whole stream to find it again if you wanted to look at responses, say, two days later. Because of that, it seems that the best strategy is to keep that playoff stream at the top but place external articles in it - that you can also find elsewhere on the site - instead of adding updates.
In contrast, for the WNBA awards stream that you also see on the "cover", we've been just adding updates much in the way we would have used "fan shots" (the blue boxes that would show up on the site prior to the launch of SBN United) previously: as a quick update on some news that isn't necessarily our original content but we figure is major news. On our end, publishing updates is quicker for something like that for a number of reasons that I won't go into now. On your end, the developing story of who got what awards is probably just as good together as it is apart (if not better) and because there are only a limited number of distinct events in that postseason awards story - rather than 50+ over the course of a month - it's easily manageable as a user because the scope of that event is already narrowly defined. Anything we publish beyond the basic list of awards can be an article that we place in that stream.
I know that's really confusing, especially given the jargon; I'm thinking it through here because there's an email thread going on between SBN-NBA managers about whether to use storystreams or sections to publish content for NBA training camps (Wait, we can use a section too? Yes, we can post sections in the cover). But I'll break it down this way: in most cases for the playoffs, barring publishing something small like score updates or a funny tweet that just doesn't make sense elsewhere, we're going to post articles you can easily find elsewhere and add them to the storystream. For something easily bounded where we're just filling in the blanks like awards, we're probably going to just update the stream.
That's all to help you find the content and comments you want around the site while trying to maximize the power of this new tool that we haven't had available to us here before.
What do you think of our use of storystreams thus far? Helpful? Distracting? Indifferent?
Let us know in the comments.