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A few things we’ve been thinking about recently regarding Mackerel announcements

Hi! This is id:daiksy. I’m a senior engineer here at Hatena.

Some of the Mackerel users out there might recognize my user ID. That would be because I’m the guy that’s in charge of writing the blog posts and newsletters every Friday.

Today I’d like to talk about some new things we’ve been working on recently regarding the blog posts and newsletters.

Weekly blog posts and newsletters every Friday

Since Mackerel was first released until now, we’ve been consistently putting out updates for more than 60 consecutive weeks. (except for one week around New Year’s holiday) Bugs must be fixed and of course internal logic is also continuously being improved, so it’s actually not so uncommon to do releases on a weekly basis. However, what we want to stress here by saying “for more than 60 consecutive weeks” is that, for that whole time we have continued releasing new features that Mackerel users engage with on a daily basis.

These new feature releases are introduced every week, generally on Friday, on this blog and in the newsletter.

We’re happy to say that it seems like Mackerel users have grown quite accustomed to our weekly “Friday update” system. In fact, there have been a few times when, because of a company event or something else we’ve had to send out an update on a Thursday, we got reactions on Twitter and elsewhere like “But, it’s not Friday...”

Ways we can improve the newsletters

The main goal of our blog and newsletter is to introduce the new features that have been released that week. When introducing new features, we put detailed information about them in the blog posts and help documents, and the newsletter contains just the bullet points and a link to the blog post. Unfortunately though, with this setup the newsletter ends up feeling rather mechanical. Actually, we had a discussion within the Mackerel team about whether or not we should have the newsletters be produced and sent automatically, but reading an automatically generated email sounds pretty dull doesn’t it?

I think we’ve already got a good many of you out there who notice our newsletters and think “oh cool, it must be Friday”, but we also really hope you’ll take the time to read what’s inside. For a while I’ve been thinking I’d like to make our newsletters more like a refreshing start to the weekend, so that’s the direction we’ve decided to move in.

Again, Mackerel is a service that releases new features week after week, and we carefully analyze all of the feedback we collect from our users to continue improving existing features. Even so, we intend to do whatever we can to shorten the distance between our development team and our users even more.

That said, some of you may have noticed that recent newsletters have been a little bit different.

  • the user ID of the writer is identified
  • newsletters start out with some seasonal commentary (as is customary in Japanese culture)
  • and lastly, they include a brief report of the Mackerel team and what we’ve been up to

Next I’d like to explain a little bit about each of these changes.

Identifying the writer

This is one part of working on shortening the gap between us, the dev team, and you, the users. Ever since I started putting my user ID in the newsletters I’ve noticed more people say “oh yeah you’re the guy from the Mackerel emails!” when I’m out at programming meetups and events.

Generally I use my user ID for all of Hatena’s various services and other social networks too, so I hope that our readers can feel some sense of familiarity when they see it in our newsletters.

Seasonal commentary

Not just copy and paste “season’s greetings” type stuff, I’ll be writing some seasonal commentary fresh off the top every week. I think starting out with something light and new might help hook anyone who opens one of our newsletters.

I work at Hatena’s offices in Kyoto, a city known for it’s traditional culture, events, and seasonal festivals, so I’ll also be giving some attention to talking about Kyoto and conveying a sense of the season here.

Mackerel team status reports

For the last part of the newsletter we’ll be talking a little bit about what’s going on with our dev team, participating in events, giving talks, etc. This report will of course be something new every week so we hope our users will look forward to seeing what’s new with the Mackerel team.

The main subject of our blog posts and newsletters will continue to be focused on introducing new features, so other than these brief status reports we’ll avoid adding any unnecessary noise. We do, however, want the newsletters to have a bit more of a casual feel, so we’ll try to put in plenty of material that’s not strictly related to the update. We want to try and create a more streamlined “read newsletter → click on link → read blog post” sequence for our weekly updates.

If any of you reading this blog post right now are thinking “hey I’d like to read the newsletter too”, then we hope you’ll take a few minutes and create a Mackerel account.

If you already have a Mackerel account but you aren’t receiving the newsletters and wish to, sign into Mackerel and enable news updates from Mackerel under “Email Notifications” in your user settings.

We greatly appreciate the opinions, requests, and words of encouragement we receive from Mackerel users every day, and we hope that you’ll use the feedback feature freely to let us know what you think. Additionally, if there is any specific subject or way to use Mackerel that you’d like for us to cover in the blog we’d very much like to hear about it!