Menu

Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

I’m still experimenting with reposts (I’m unsure if I like them yet) and I’m adding an image to my statuses now and then. Fun to shake things up a little bit.

Colin Walker hits 1000 posts

Colin Walker:

I am enjoying blogging now more than I have in a long time. The addition of microblogging greatly removes the burden of constantly writing essay pieces and the clamour for perfection that it instills. And that’s something to be thankful for.

Agreed.

Congratulations to Colin. I expect him to hit 2000 in no time.

John George shares a solution

John George, fellow NEPA.js attendee:

I’m writing this because I discovered the hard way that .NET Core’s ‘dotnet run’ command is NOT meant to be production ready. My biggest headache was that my website shut down when I exited my shell. Not even the ‘disown’command would dissociate the running service from the user.

Posts like this by John often do not get enough attention. While it may not be applicable to you right now – dozens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people searching for this issue over the following months and years will be very glad that John took the time to do the write-up.

Kudos to him. More developers should write about their solutions.

Get your NEPA BlogCon 2017 Tickets

NEPA BlogCon 2017 tickets are available:

Attendees can expect presentations and roundtable discussions on branding, content development, podcasting, vlogging, and more.

I like the format changeup. (See also) Looks like some friends are presenting as well. Go grab your tickets.

Mobile blogging goals (audio)

Recorded September 10, 2017

Starting with this audio bit I’m making a few changes.

I’m ditching the episode numbers. My audio bits are not a podcast, they aren’t really episodes, and keeping track of the numbers is just more work. I will, however, denote in the title that this is an audio post.

I’m also switching to the audio format that comes directly out of Voice Memos on the iPhone rather than doing the work of converting the file to MP3. If you have any issues listening to this audio file please let me know.

Enjoy the listen!

Links

Download Audio File

Jack Baty: “Please just start a blog”

Jack Baty on his rather handsome looking new blog:

Would you all please just start a blog? I don’t care which platform you choose. Pick one and publish. Cross-post or don’t. Implement Webmentions or don’t. Allow comments or don’t. Tweak the design to within an inch of its life or don’t. Publish long posts or short, it doesn’t matter.

I wish.

Chris Lovie-Tyler on supporting different building blocks of the IndieWeb

Chris Lovie-Tyler, from the other side of our planet:

After reading a handful of Colin Devroe’s posts (links at the bottom), I’ve made a few decisions.

I’m glad my posts, in which I was just thinking out loud and forming my own opinions on these matters, helped him to form his. I believe everyone should do whatever is right and sustainable for themselves.

Colin Walker opens up comments

Hooray!

Colin Walker:

Colin Devroe’s post was the tipping point (I told you his points were compelling) and I decided it was time to get over myself and look at opening things up again.

This is the post Walker is referring to. You can read his follow-up as well.

Like me, Walker has opened up comments on his blog.

Any one that has a blog and is worried about moderating comments can let that fear go. Those days are over. Even if you’re incredibly popular there are tools that would make this relatively easy (like Disqus). And since the site is 100% yours that allows you to be super strict in your policies should that need arise.

One side note: I have WordPress set to automatically close comments on posts older than 30 days. Perhaps 8 or 10 years ago I wrote a WordPress plugin that did this since most comment spam was a result of a bot that worked like a Google spider. It found related posts via Google and left comment spam. By closing comments on posts older than 30 days this alleviates a huge amount of spam. This feature is now built into WordPress and works perfectly. It isn’t ideal, and I may consider turning that off in the future, but for now it means I only get about 5 spam comments per week which are automatically blocked by Akismet.

Colin Walker: “Should replies be posts?”

Colin Walker, in a post on whether or not replies to other posts (or, comments) should be their own posts:

There has to be a line, a point where a comment is just that and not a reply. It’s a question of semantics but not everyone’s answer to “what is a comment and where does it belong?” will be the same.

I struggle with this a lot.

It is likely the point I should have made in my post regarding Micro.blog becoming a commenting service (and the fact that I don’t like that). I don’t want to reply on my blog to every reply to my posts on M.b because then I would have dozens and dozens of posts on my blog that would be very tough for readers to follow contextually. I believe the commenting mechanism that has been around for decades, even un-threaded, is far more useful than dozens of desperate posts stitched together loosely with a link that says “in reply to”.

Webmention attempts to bridge that gap between post and reply but that also is tough to follow along if the thread gets unwieldy.

However, I also don’t want to reply to every reply on my posts directly on M.b either (though, I do from time-to-time) as that isn’t much better than using any other silo like Twitter or Facebook. Should M.b go away, all of those conversations would be lost.

This isn’t a new issue nor is it exclusive to M.b. If I replied on my own blog to other people’s posts on their own blogs (like I am in this post to Colin Walker’s blog) then one side of the conversation could disappear at any time. I can only control my side of the equation. But at least if I have my own blog I have control of that one side.

I think it is good that these topics are being discussed again. The same debates have been swirling since blogging began, they swelled again when the indieweb movement began to take shape, and I think they are happening again as a result of M.b’s growing community. I do not believe there is one single answer to many them. You have to do what is right and sustainable for you.

For now, here are my personal rules for replying to posts. These will most definitely change over time.

  • If I want to say a quick “congrats” or “excellent post” or something of that nature I will leave a reply directly on their blog. If they do not have commenting turned on I will attempt to email. If they do not have email publicly available I’ll say nothing at all.
  • If I have something substantive to add to the conversation, or if I would like my “followers” to see the post I will quote the post on my blog with my additions to the conversation. Like this post.
  • If I simply want to direct people to the content I will use my new repost tag that I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve seen others use the “a post I liked” type post. That could work too.
  • If people reply using M.b, Twitter, or Facebook I will not reply on those services*. But I may reply on my own blog.
  • If I would like to keep my reply private I will attempt to email.

As an aside: I know some of you do not want to leave a public comment. I love getting reader emails. I get a fair number of them. And some of them have been excellent conversations. So please don’t hesitate.

* I no longer have a Twitter or Facebook account. I do have a M.b account but I’m beginning to wonder if I need one as I have my own fully functional weblog. If I didn’t and I wanted a microblog and didn’t want to use Twitter, I could see having an account. If I wanted a more fully featured blog I still believe WordPress is the best tool for that. Also, I’m sure as the M.b community grows it could mean that my content would be discovered by more people. I think M.b may end up being a thriving, well run, community and service. It is why I backed Manton’s efforts via Kickstarter. But, if I have my own blog, and if I really don’t care much about my content being discovered, then I see little reason to syndicate to it. For the time being I’m still going to as I want to see how the service matures.

Colin Walker on thinking out loud on his blog

Colin Walker:

It’s always a little weird glancing at my visitor stats and seeing that someone has read a post that no longer reflects my position.

100% agree. Most of my posts are out-of-date and my opinions have changed slightly since I’ve written them.

I love this bit:

This is why I always refer to the blog as an ongoing conversation with myself – it is the public manifestation of working things out in my head.

That is why I say that writing is how I think. See also.

Fred Wilson’s public record

Fred Wilson:

AVC has been going on for almost 14 years now. I write every day, mostly about tech and investing in startups and observations about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

He goes on to say that this has created a public record. A record that shows when he was right and when he was wrong. And he really likes that.

So do I. I wish I wrote as consistently as Wilson does. I really like having a public record.

Side note: AVC won blog of the year in 2009 here on my blog. I wish I still gave out awards like that.

Zach Leatherman’s garden

Zach Leatherman:

As my own little corner of the web uncermoniously turned ten years old this year, it’s really starting to feel more like a garden than a piece of software. I certainly enjoy tending to it. I can plant what I like and with proper care it can grow into something useful.

First, how cool is his last name?

I like this analogy of comparing a personal web site to tending to your own personal garden.

Ron Chester on Webmentions

Ron Chester:

I have only one reservation about the development of this IndieWeb stuff. While it is in progress, most of these websites have disabled regular comments, if they ever had them. Often there is also no contact information given, or it takes a lot of hunting on their websites to find it. So if one doesn’t have webmentions working on one’s own website, there is no obvious way of communicating with these folks about things they post. I have found that if they’re also on the Microblog website, one can post a message there, addressed to them. But that seems pretty round about, when an old school place to post a comment on their original post would be very easy to leave.

Please go to his site and read his entire post.

I read Ron’s post before making my decision to turn comments back on. Also, my email address is available on every page of my site. So if anyone would like to comment on anything on my site they should be able to do so both publicly and privately with ease.

Side note: One of the reasons we all turned off comments, aside from the benefits of disabling comments like more traffic to your site (I wrote this post 10 years ago!), is that people claimed that moderating comments is too much work. I no longer think that is an issue. Even if my blog became a popular place to comment I think I’d be able to keep up with it with the tools we have available now.

As a result of this decision, I’ve now opened commenting up on all posts so far in August 2017.

Replies from Micro.blog and oh hai, comments

If you visit my site at all you may have noticed many of the recent posts have replies showing up on them from Micro.blog. Here is one example post. That is because webmention works pretty well on Micro.blog.

However, this is causing me a bit of frustration because it feels as though the conversation about a post is happening on Micro.blog rather than on people’s own blogs. Even if those people have their own blogs they are using Micro.blog to reply*. It is an interesting thing to see. Effectively, Micro.blog is feeling a lot like Twitter – replies to my posts are on there so I have to go there to reply to those replies.

To that end I’ve decided I’ll start turning comments on some posts (like this one). I’d much prefer people reply to my blog posts on their own blog or – starting today – on my blog. Even though I like Micro.blog better than Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean I want to have to navigate to that web site each time I want to reply to comments on my posts.

* I’m unsure if that is what the M.b team wants to happen. But that is what is happening right now. Also, M.b is supposed to be a host for blogs if people want it to be. But, again, even people with their own blogs are using M.b’s reply feature to reply to posts.

My personal blogging tips

I’ve been writing things down on my own blog for a few decades. I wish more people did too. If you’d like to have a personal blog but struggle finding things to write about, here are a few tips that may help.

  • Don’t post about what you will do, post about what you’ve already done – In other words, I try to avoid the “I should blog more” posts and just get on with blogging more. Also, I like posting photos and status messages sometime after they’ve happened.
  • Find a theme – Niche blogs do extremely well. So stay on topic. Personal blogs do less well but they should still have a theme and that theme should be you.
  • Create reasons to post – My What I saw series and observations series give me a reason to write. Should I feel writer’s block I can fall back to one of the series.
  • Have a schedule – I try to post one or two posts per day prior to 9am. Some are scheduled in advance some aren’t. Everything else that happens is completely random.
  • Be totally fine with missing the schedule – Sometimes I don’t blog for a few days or weeks due to time off away from the computer or just being focused on something else. And I’m totally ok with that.
  • Don’t post test posts – Create a staging or a local development environment to test your site’s features. It is really easy to do.
  • Try not to care about stats – Stats are useful for a number of reasons but obsessing over them won’t help you at all. Check them once a month to see how you’re doing.
  • Create an inspiration list – In your notebook or notes app write down some topics you’d like to write about someday. Make it long. Like, 50 items. Don’t worry too much about what should be on it just start writing the list down. When you can’t think of anything to write about look at that list and simply pick any one at all and check it off.
  • Subscribe to a bunch of blogs that interest you – More than likely the conversations started by others will give you more than enough to write about.
  • Perfect is the enemy of good – Just hit publish.
  • Have fun! – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed blogging all these years and I don’t imagine I’ll be stopping any time soon.

If you have a neglected blog or are just starting one – jump in! Oh, and don’t forget to email me the URL.

I saw one of my photos appear on Micro.blog’s Discover page. Thanks for that @manton.

Marisa McClellan on the early days of blogging

Marisa McClellan:

I miss those early days of blogging, when you didn’t need perfect pictures and a post didn’t require a vigorous social media campaign in order to find some readers.

Those days aren’t over Marisa! We’re still here. Still posting imperfect pictures!

Twan van Elk on social media

Twan van Elk:

Everytime I open up my feed reader and read about people’s lives, thoughts, work, observations, what they ate, that beautiful flower they saw, I ask myself: why do I enjoy this so much more than any social media timeline I’ve ever been on?

Because blog posts feel more permanent than social media posts causing people to share wholesome, thoughtful pieces (generally speaking) to their personal blogs rather than spewing acid-filled buckets of hate.

Colin Walker on evergreen content

Colin Walker:

Evergreen content. It’s what many bloggers crave. Posts that keep people coming back. Passive traffic that you don’t have to do anything more to receive.

Back-in-the-day we called this the longtail. Publish enough posts on a given niche and generate tons of traffic over the longterm due to people searching for those topics and your blog becoming a valued resource.

The problem is that it is crap traffic for a personal blogger. It is someone in a moment of need of a piece of information and they are looking for it via your site. It isn’t reflective of your audience size, it isn’t someone that is interested in your opinion or perspective, it is just someone that jammed their fingers in the right order on Google and found your site.

I have a post here on my blog that generates ridiculous amounts of traffic. It skews every number in my analytics. None of those thousands and thousands of people ever come back to my site. Very few even click around. I’m glad people are finding my solution to that particular issue but other than that it provides me no value at all.

That being said, if I was a professional blogger that wanted to make a living at writing I’d be all over it as it is the best traffic for generating money via advertising.