The best carnival presentation doesn’t end at neat and clean. You really want to dazzle your guests. No matter how winning the rest of your content is, these new visitors are only coming over for one thing: the carnival. An uninspiring, corny, or slipshop presentation will not encourage further exploration of your site. If you really want to impress, be creative. This is key. Readers may not think less of you for a rote presentation, but they will absolutely applaud for a novel, informative, or funny one.
Why is creativity so important when it comes to carnivals? Because ultimately, a carnival is just a directory of loosely related posts. An unorganized array of links may have been acceptable during the web’s formative years, but these days we need more. In a sea of information, the way content is aggregated takes on as much importance as the content itself. One of your primary responsibilities as host is to bring order to the formless mass of submissions. The theme of a carnival might provide certain cues as to how posts might be grouped together, but even if the underlying connection doesn’t lend itself to easy organization, you really have to find a way to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find the posts they’d like best.
What’s that you say? When a person reads a carnival, he checks out every single post. Dream on! Again, back when carnivals were the exciting exception and not just another expected facet of blog life, readers might have curled up with a new edition and devoted hours to enjoying each post thoroughly. Nowadays, readers are more inclined to pick and choose, especially when a popular carnival might include upwards of thirty posts.
Figure out a logical scheme for presenting each post. In a carnival like I and the Bird, posts can (and in many cases have) been organized by geography, taxonomy, date, or mode of avian observation. But some writers, even birding listers, don’t want to just make lists. The most memorable carnivals are ones where the writer gets conceptual. For example, with I and the Bird, we’ve had everything from a send-up of The Canterbury Tales to a deftly illustrated comic strip to a tawdry tabloid. Other brilliant carnival presentations that come to mind include Orac’s Old West-themed Thirteenth Meeting of the Skeptic’s Circle and the Medical Madman’s hawking of dubious medical remedies in Tangled Bank #28, subtitled “Alternative to a Healthy Mind.” These are just some of the countless examples of carnival cleverness illustrative of the power of presentation. These hosts delivered big time and, in doing so, won much respect.
If you are going to do this, and by this I mean invite a multitude of new potential readers to marvel at your magnificence as a blogger, ringmaster, and host, do it right. Make the memorability of your presentation the toast of the town.
What carnival presentations stand out in your mind as exemplars of cleverness and creativity?