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Introducing Steampunk Explorer 1.5: News, Tags, and More

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

We’re calling it Steampunk Explorer 1.5, an ongoing effort to make the website more useful without drastically altering the look and feel. Unlike software updates, this one will roll out gradually in the coming weeks.

Navigation changes

First, you may notice that the main navigation bar has changed. Before, all stories were listed in a single “Stories” menu. But now we have separate menus for News, Features, and Steampunk Digest. The “News” is brand new. You’ll now find hundreds of individual news items pulled from Steampunk Digest, going back to 2018.

Why? When we launched the site, we envisioned it as an online magazine combined with a travel and entertainment guide. So all stories, whether long or short, were handled like magazine features. Later, we launched Steampunk Digest as a compilation of news briefs. But we didn’t have a way to present individual news items on a regular basis.

That’s all changed with our introduction of a news format that permits longer newspaper-style headlines. The story you’re now reading uses the new format. So does our recent story about the closure of Kelham Hall in the UK and the challenge that poses for the Asylum Steampunk Festival.

You can expect to see a greater volume of news stories, though they won’t all have the same import as the Kelham Hall closure. We also plan to use this format for periodic roundups of books, games, and forthcoming events.

The most recent news stories will appear on the home page, and then they’ll slide over to the news pages.

To make room for the new menus, we moved the listings of steampunk performers and authors to a new Guides menu, along with our City Guides.

Tags and more tags

The news format is also related to our recent introduction of tags. Tags will allow readers to look up stories focused on specific topics, events, and creators, such as stories about theme parks and TV shows. Lots of our content was locked up in Steampunk Digest, and we needed a way to free it and tag those news items separately.

We’ve also added lots of new tags that aren’t yet exposed on the site (they will be soon). Here’s one: Mad Science, a tag for stories about steampunk contraptions that really work, as well as science stories that somehow seem appropriate for a steampunk publication. Obviously, that’s a judgment call, but who can resist a story about a grad student who developed a Vampire Apocalypse Calculator? Plus the first-person narrative by Rose M. Jones, a microbiologist and steampunk fan who went on a real-life ocean expedition that reads like a science fiction tale.

Steampunk Digest lives on

If you’re a regular reader of Steampunk Digest, don’t worry. Nothing has changed there. We’ll continue to produce it every week, but now it will include recent news items that we’ve run on the site, many in a condensed form. You can find all past editions under the Digest menu.

Event pages

One other feature we’re rolling out is event pages. The Steampunk Explorer has had event listings since the start, and they’re one of the most popular parts of the site. But previously, we had no way to link the listings to news or feature coverage of those events. That all changes now, at least with the largest events.

Now, when you click on tags for major gatherings like the Asylum Steampunk Festival, Big River Steampunk Festival, or Watch City Steampunk Festival, you’ll be redirected to a page that serves as a hub of information about those events: An introduction followed by links, event listings (if any are on the calendar) and stories, including news and features. When an event has passed, it disappears from the events listing. But with event pages, you can look up information about the events any time of the year.

This feature is still being implemented, so if you don’t see a hub for your favorite event, please be patient.

We have other new features in store, but given the changes so far, we wanted to get you up to speed. As always, we appreciate everyone who has supported the site, even if it just amounts to giving us your attention.

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