Preparing for DFL’s return

I spent most of the past weekend tinkering with the design of DFL, in preparation for that project’s relaunch on February 10. Yes, DFL — the blog about last-place finishes at the Olympics — will be coming back for the Torino Winter Games. Last time it was a spur-of-the-moment idea that ballooned into something huge; this time I expect that it will not be nearly as big, but I want to be better prepared anyway.

I toyed with the idea of rolling my own design, but in the end I decided to stick with the off-the-shelf Blogger template I used when I started DFL in August 2004: it’s not only ready to go already, it’s also very browser compatible. Any of my designs would take weeks to get working properly on as many browsers. So I decided to limit myself to minor modifications.

Those modifications are now more or less done. I’ve still got a few more things to do:

  • Update my Blogger profile.
  • Prepare a last-place standings table for Torino that will be less labour-intensive than the table was last time — it easily took an hour a day to update in 2004. I’m moving the tables to pop-up windows so that they don’t need a blog rebuild to be updated, and so that I can do the Torino table in PHP, which will allow me to track the results in Excel (I can use PHP to parse Excel-created CSV files).
  • Write a FAQ, to be published a few days after I restart; at least I’ll know which questions to include, based on the questions I got last time (misunderstandings of my intent, and a lot of logistical questions about the country standings, mainly).
  • I don’t expect as much media coverage this time around, but just in case, I’ll have a dedicated media inquiries page that will, hopefully, make things run more smoothly in case they go nuts on me again.
  • In an attempt to monetize the site a bit better (all told, I made $60 from two weeks of DFL in 2004 — less than a bad week on The Map Room nowadays), I’ll open a CafePress store with all sorts of last-place-related merchandise. I’ve got some really good ideas for this, but it’ll take a while to do the graphics.
  • Research eligibility rules: I’d like to know just how hard it is to get to the Olympics. I know that it’s tougher than it was in the Eddie the Eagle days, but I’d like specifics.

There is also the matter of promotion: as before, I only have a two-week window, and word of mouth usually takes longer. Were it not for Matt’s post to MetaFilter last time (which in turn set off a chain reaction among the media), DFL might have gone completely unnoticed. This time I can only assume that I’ll have an audience waiting for me — this assumption is not entirely unwarranted — and that word of mouth will have a bit of a head start this time.