Q: "How do you choose the theme for any particular week, and how do you select which weeks will have themes?"
A: From Scott Johns, magicthegathering.com Content Manager:
"Good question Carlos. First off the easy part: theme weeks happen every other week, so that part is just formula. The only time this gets wonky is when we run into preview weeks. We don’t run themes during preview weeks since the previews themselves are basically the theme. Once previews are over we skip a week and then head back to running themes every other week.
"When it comes to selecting what those themes actually are, there are several things at work. First off, I try to lean pretty heavily on set-specific themes whenever a new set hits the site. For example, after the Betrayers previews we had Ninja Week. Fifth Dawn was followed immediately by Machine Week, and Champions of Kamigawa had Spirit Week soon after its previews were over. However, that’s just one layer. We also have several super themes that go across sets. Creature types are the most common theme (followed by mechanic-based themes), but if you look back through the history of theme weeks I bet you’d be able to predict some of the ones still coming up. For example, we’ve had Combo Week and Control Week so far. We’ve also had several theme weeks dedicated to specific sets, such as Legends Week and Ice Age week. Probably the highest profile of these ongoing theme arcs were the color weeks, such as Blue Week, Black Week, etc. (While we’re on that topic I’ll let you in on a secret… we aren’t done with these yet!)
"As you can see, there’s a lot going on, and that’s just with the systematic themes. We also run plenty of themes that are completely different, such as Mulligan Week, Name Week, or Puzzle Week. In addition to all that, there’s also the question of each week’s Feature Article. Normally I schedule those out about a month or two in advance. Since I often tie the theme and feature article together in some fashion, those Feature Article slots also have a lot of influence on which themes get selected from week to week. Lastly, whenever possible I also try to space them out so that we aren’t repeating types of themes too closely together. (You wouldn’t see two set weeks close together, for example.)
"Once all that is out of the way, the final question for me is how deep a potential theme is (IE, how many columns can be on-theme, and also what possible tie-ins there are for Magic Arcana or other elements on the site.) I look for themes that allow at least one column per day to be on-theme (at which point the question of who writes on which days comes into play), and one which is open-ended enough that you’ll get several different approaches to it over the course of the week.
"And then, even after all that, believe me when I say I’m only just scratching the surface! I’m sure it seems like a pretty simple process to most readers, but there’s a lot that goes into each choice!"