I looked over (didn't read every word, too long) the links you posted. I think something like what these blogs seem to be trying to address makes sense, and is currently a hole in our Q+A format. I see two needs that are poorly served by the Q+A format:
- Discussion. Some discussion can follow a question, but that is very narrow and structured. It would be useful to kick around and discuss topics relevant to the site, more like a real forum. Not all useful communication starts with a question. And no, the chat on this site isn't it. The little I've seen of it looks to be more random totally unstructured kaffe klatsch stream of conciousness verbal diarhea. That's too loose, unfocused, and not catagorized into conversations about a relevant topic.
- Papers. There is no place here for someone to write up a new idea, research they did, or even just a project. They could even be opinions on common topics with some work put into justifying the arguments with examples, measurements, etc.
Perhaps the SE "blogs" (I don't like that word, too many negative connotations) do these things, perhaps not. It's not easy to tell. So instead of saying whether I want the SE blogs, I'll describe what I would like to see:
- Any user with some minimum rep (mostly to prevent spammers from creating a account and then flooding us with annoying messages) can ask a question (as is now), start a discussion (like starting a thread in a real forum), or post a paper. I could see the point to some of these requiring higher rep earned from Q+A to force a certain familiarity with the site and how things are done here before being allowed to do things that might be more disruptive if done poorly. I'm thinking a few 100 rep, with posting papers possibly higher than starting discussions. The point is not to be exclusionary, but making sure someone has a chance to understand the culture before posting. We want real "members" to do this, not casual drive-by posters.
- New activity in all three of these catagories show up on the front page just like activities in questions and their answers does now. I see these three sections as being equals. I know the owners of this site are stuck on this Q+A format for some reason. Q+A is OK, but if I had to pick one I'd rather have discussions in threads, just like all the other real forums out there.
If activity isn't shown like it is for Q+A now, then it might as well not exist. People aren't going to go digging for it. There is a huge difference between something showing up in a list saying it got modified 27 minutes ago versus a little button to click on that says "blog". I think there is one of those in the top right somewhere. I may have clicked on it a few times, but most of the time I tune it out like the other noise and trim on the page.
Perhaps users can check what sections they want to get notified about, with the default being all. If someone really doesn't want to see discussions, they can uncheck the "show me discussion activity" box, for example.
- Anyone should be able to respond or comment in any of the three sections. In the Q+A section, this would be answers as they are now. For discussions this is obvious, as these responses are what a discussion (thread) is about. For papers, I think it's important that the community can comment, challenge, agree, disagree, add more information, etc.
- Rep is earned in all sections as it is in Q+A now. You get rep for people upvoting that you started a good discussion, or contributed a good post to one. The same goes for a paper, where the votes on the paper are part of the peer review process. The point is to recognize various ways people can make useful contributions to the community and the stored knowledge base.
The rep earned for each can be different. I know you earn 10 rep for a answer upvote now. I think it's 5(?) for a question upvote. Given that scale, a upvote for a good discussion topic might be 5, a good discussion post 5 (not as valuable as a good answer to a question), a good paper 20, and a good comment on a paper 5-10. Those are just rough ideas to illustrate the point. Exact value are for someone else to hash out.
- Searches search all three catagories. Even if someone just wants to ask a question as they do now, it could already be answered, in fact discussed in depth, in one of the other sections.
- Editing by others is limited in some cases. I think community editing works well enough for the Q+A section we have now. I don't know if it would be relevant to discussions, but I also don't see much downside to that. Papers should only be editable by the original author, who is also the "owner". The comments can suggest edits, but it's up to the author to make them. Think of this as a research paper you could even link to from your resume. A paper is a piece of intellectual work by a particular author, and that author must stand behind it, good or bad. If A paper gets a lot of downvotes or negative comments, I suppose the author should have the right to delete it. There is no point rubbing someone's face in a mistake, and no value lost by deleting something wrong or bad.
- Responses in the Q+A and papers section would be sorted by votes as they are in Q+A now. However, responses in the discussion section would be sorted chronologically.
Edit: Added point 7.