Critical analysis of the blog h-europe

H- Europe is an online blog created by the students of the Master in Contemporary European History of the University of Luxembourg. The blog, which discusses European History and its historiography, contains diverse articles written by the Master students and also bibliographical suggestions. The aim of this paper is to give a quick overview of the positive and negative aspects of the blog regarding its presentation, structure and design by discussing the opinions of the Master students about the blog.

Positive aspects of the blog

The majority of the students see the different categories of the website as a major strength. Almost every student highlighted the importance and positive aspect of the division of contemporary European history into different categories such as “Culture”, “Economics”, “Politics” and “Society”.

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Screenshot of the homepage

This classic composition of the homepage, in addition to the “Home” and “About” section, gives the homepage structure and makes it easy to navigate. Five out of eight students also mentioned that these categories could be found in the bar above but also in a box on the left-hand side of the homepage.

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Screenshot of categories

While four students stressed the advantage of this redundancy of categories as it makes the site more accessible and easier to navigate, one student thought of this as being a disturbing repetition.

Another positive aspect of the blog is its professional presentation. Many students highlighted that the choice of plain colours, such as white and grey, give the presented themes a certain seriousness and underline the professional character of the blog. This stands in contrast with blogs originally only being a platform used by teenagers, which is nowadays not the case anymore.

While the first page of the blog presents already the six most recent posted articles, many students thought that the blog has a good number of articles posted, which allows us to get further into the theme of European History. Also, the fact that you can find bibliographical suggestions concerning a specific topic in history was a well- received aspect of the blog.

Furthermore the multitude of functions of the blog such as the possibility of leaving a comment, posting articles on Facebook and Twitter were seen as a positive clincher of the blog. Additionally the “search field” is very useful and permits an easy and quick navigation on the blog. But also the “print friendly” button was well received among the students who thought that it was a nice alternative to the usual printing options which are normally offered.

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Screenshot of the comment section


Negative aspects of the blog

Concerning the negative points, we can start by the fact that the majority of the students think that the section “World war one goes Twitter” is not in its proper place. The lack of explanation concerning the different articles or sources leave the visitor of this blog wondering about the usefulness of this section which seems to be slightly out of context

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Screenshot of the homepage


By analyzing the layout of the blog the majority of the students think that blog looks a bit too understated and simple. While the basic colors are mostly appreciated by every student, the lack of other visual effects such as pictures, symbols, maps or videos are however seen as a negative point of the blog.

Another problem with the appearance of the blog is the map which is shown at the top of the page. In fact the map is very exhaustive by showing many countries of Europe, but we have to see that it also shows countries which are not in the European Union.  The students therefore ask themselves which Europe the blog is talking about. Does the blog talk about Europe as a geographical space or in the frame of the European Union.

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Screenshot of the homepage

Beside the spatial uncertainty the students think that there were some unanswered temporal questions. For example in the descriptive of the blog we can find no indication about the period of time the blog aims to focus on.

In addition to these negative points we can see that the choice of language constitutes a problem for the students. The blog and the articles, written in English and French, leave a large part of the students disappointed by the fact that the blog isn’t trilingual. While German constitutes an official language in Luxembourg and is also used as one of the main languages by the University of Luxembourg, students are a bit confused by the omission of the German language. Also the students wonder why the choice of language was not explained in the description of the blog itself. Hence the students think that the blog would be more coherent and accessible for the visitors if there was only one language used, like English for example.

By analyzing the blog, the majority of the students are furthermore disappointed that the blog doesn’t feature any link to the University of Luxembourg. Like this the blog is also difficult to track for people who are interested in the History Master program of the University of Luxembourg.

Talking about the technical features of the blog we have to state that unfortunately some of the links such as “Open Day”, “Zeithistorische Forschungen” and “University of Luxembourg”, the only link to the university, do not work properly.

Concerning the links in general some of the student suggested that there could me more Flux RSS added to the blog which direct the visitor to information about the authors of the articles, like for example the existing Flux RSS on Frédéric Clavert.

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Screenshot of the link of the website


As a conclusion we can say that the blog was mostly well received by the students. The division into different categories, the number of articles featured, the choice of the colors of the layout and the multitude of features such as the possibility to leave comment are seen as a contribution to the seriousness and professionalism of the blog.

On the other hand we have to see that the blog also has a few weaknesses like the section “World War one goes Twitter” which seems a bit out of place. The lack of visual effects, the choice of language, the technical gaps and the lack of information about some topics could be ameliorated according to the students to allow a better experience while visiting the blog of the Master students in European Contemporary History.

Review by Laura TEUSCH & Coline WASCOTTE of the Master in European Contemporary History, 1st year, summer term 2013/2014, University of Luxembourg

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