Tag: blogging

Remy’s decade of blogging

September 24th, 2016

Remy Sharp recently celebrated 10 years of blogging. What is he most happy with? More importantly, every single URL on my blog that’s ever been published still works, and even better than that (for me) is my archive showing off the decade of writing I’ve been producing over all this time. My blog archive is […]

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Three microphones

June 20th, 2016

I began posting to my own site in earnest on March 6th of this year. I wrote: So, starting tonight that is what I’m going to try again to do with a goal of sticking with it in perpetuity. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be posting to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, but that everything […]

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I agree with Seth, read more blogs

June 3rd, 2016

Seth Godin, on his blog: Other than writing a daily blog (a practice that’s free, and priceless), reading more blogs is one of the best ways to become smarter, more effective and more engaged in what’s going on. The last great online bargain. I obviously agree with Seth. Everyone should blog. And should read blogs. […]

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Stop tracking referral spam with Google Analytics

June 1st, 2016

Nice tip from Scott Buscemi on the Luminary Web Strategies blog: Have you ever logged into Google Analytics and noticed a huge, unexpected spike in traffic to your site? Maybe your last blog post was shared by a huge influencer on Twitter — or maybe you’re the victim of referral spam. One simple click. Be […]

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Owning my words and photos and audio bits

May 20th, 2016

Jeremy Keith wrote on his blog about owning his words, or, being willing to publish his words (snarky or otherwise) on his own site under his own name. I recommend you read his entire post. But this bit stood out: I wish I could articulate how much better it feels to only use Twitter (or […]

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Everyone should write (or, blog?)

May 20th, 2016

Deanna Mascle wrote on her blog on why all teachers should write. In it she says this about why students should write in every class every day: Reflective writing at the beginning of a class or before a lesson can help students access existing knowledge and build a foundation for new information. Writing activities during […]

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Your blog doesn’t need to make money

May 16th, 2016

Sarah Pressler, on her blog:

It is true. Your blog does not need to make money. You do not need to track analytics. In fact, I believe you are better off if you do not do so. Do not look at your readership numbers, your follower counts, your “hits”. Ignore that. Just write. 

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Fits and starts and homesteading

March 6th, 2016

I annoy myself. I want to post content to my own personal site and not through closed social networks — because I want to keep control of everything I create forever. But the networks are so easy to use and work everywhere and more people read them than read this site.

Over the years I’ve said that I will post everything through my site. In 1999, 2003, 2008 and 2013 (and other years), for a little while each time, I did.

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Homesteading

December 23rd, 2013

In March 2008 I began to regret using so many different services to store and share different types of content like photos, tweets, videos, links. And so I began to plan bringing all of those services together on to my personal site.

I wanted to make my personal site the one and only place people would come to find the answer to “What is Colin up to?”.  And for a while, I succeeded. I had my photos, mobile notes, videos, links, etc. all piling up in my own personal WordPress installation. From a certain, geeky, “post-things-exactly-as-I’d-like-to” way it was Utopia.

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The Death of the Blog, Again, Again

December 20th, 2013

I love that this topic is being discussed on blogs.

John Scalzi wrote a really, really great post in response to Jason Kottke’s “The blog is dead” piece. He makes a particularly great point that one doesn’t only have a blog now but that we all have some combination of other platforms that we meet the people on.

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Teach a friend about RSS

January 26th, 2011

For the last few years I’ve been hearing chatter that RSS “is dead”, yet, I still continue to use it every single day. So, I thought – lets turn this crap on its head. Lets bring RSS “back” by teaching at least one friend how to use it.

Why?

The vast majority of people that surf the Internet on a daily basis are going to but a few sites. They wake up in the morning, check Facebook, Twitter, CNN, and perhaps one or two other sites – turn on the TV, check those sites again, do some household chores, check those sites again, and so on. Its absurd. They are so silo-ed they don’t even realize what they’re missing.

There are hundreds of millions of websites. If these same people were to check say, a few hundred websites per day, they’d be able to get little else done. Who wants to visit a few hundred URLs on a daily basis just to see what’s new?

Well, that is where we geeks who know about RSS come in and help out. We teach them RSS to save them time and to expand their web horizon.

How?

There is absolutely no need to teach them the RSS spec or how it works. They only need to know how to use it.

So, how do you use RSS? First, you get a Google Reader account or the app of your choice for your platform be it PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc. All of these platforms have fairly good RSS readers and if you’re a geek you already know about them. I chose Google Reader because a) many people have a Gmail account and so those account credentials already work, b) Google Reader syncs with a lot of applications should they ever mature to using an app.

Side note: I use Reeder on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Love!

Last night I taught my wife Eliza how to use RSS. She complained to me that she “only visits a few different websites” (which is what spurned this post) and within 5 minutes we had her an account on Google Reader with a few RSS feeds “subscribed”.

By the way, Google Reader makes subscribing to websites pretty easy. Just copy and paste the website URL in to the “Add Subscription” box. No need to know the RSS feed URL (for most sites). This makes the learning curve not-so-steep.

So, pass this on. Find someone that you think could benefit, as you no doubt have, from using RSS on a daily basis – sit down with them and teach them the ropes. RSS isn’t dead, we just don’t talk about it enough anymore.

Oh, and you can feel free to subscribe them to my blog’s feed or The Watercolor Gallery’s feed and I’d be fine with that. 🙂

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Regarding blog comments, again

March 13th, 2009

I’m behind in my reading and even further behind in my writing. Which is why I’m just now finally writing about something I’ve wanted to since earlier this week even though the original post was written in late February. Ugh.

Alex Payne, one of the many talented people behind Twitter, recently wrote on his blog his thoughts on blog comments. In a nut, Alex felt that by leaving comments off he’s elevating the level of conversation. That, if he had comments turned on, there would be less than desirable comments written on his blog. That, by turning comments off, it forces people to reply to his blog posts from their own blog. Since people don’t want to write stupid things on their own blog the level of conversation would automatically be risen. Smart.

Alex isn’t the first person to share this sentiment. I’ve written about blog comments in 2004, again in 2007, and have thought about it many times since I began blogging around the turn of the century. In 2004 I was commenting on the indirect benefits for turning off comments. The main benefit I highlighted was that by not allowing comments, you’d be forcing people to link to your site from theirs, creating more link backs to your site, increasing your blog’s audience, and improving your site’s Pagerank on search engines. All very good things for any writer. I suppose those benefits really just improve Alex’s reason. Improving the conversation while at the same time doing well for yourself.

In 2007 I was, in an ironic sort of way, responding to Jeremy Keith’s thoughts on leaving blog comments off. He said that he didn’t like having them on because of they were “examples of antisocial networking”. He made examples of YouTube and Digg being saturated with worthless comments. I’ve recently reread my post and I think I worded my response quite well, so if you’re interested, give it a read.

I think my thoughts hold up, two years later, that Digg and YouTube are, well, Digg and YouTube. Digg, generally speaking, is meant to act as a human filter for the world’s news. The comments on a Digg are, for the most part, about whether or not that particular news item, link, photo, video, or whatever should be worthy of being on Digg at all. Digg has gotten so much better than it was when it first reached critical mass. YouTube, however, still has a lot of maturing to do. The community is so vast that as you browse around the site you will see that thoughtful videos usually are rewarded with thoughtful responses while not-so-thoughtful videos are not. The nature of the beast I suppose.

There are edge cases, of course. Where you have a thoughtful video that gets the attention of the trolls. Where dumb people with nothing to do flock to a particular video and, for no other reason than their own personal entertainment, tee off in the comments in a tirade of incredibly distasteful, worthless, and (even I’ll admit) humorous commentary.

I suppose my main reason for agreeing to disagree with Jeremy was because, well, my site isn’t that popular. This isn’t Digg. This isn’t YouTube. I don’t have the problem of having millions of troll-like morons looking for an excuse to yell things like “first” or, well, any other worthless response (let alone the off-color ones). If I did I’d probably deal with that in my own way. This is, afterall, my house. I very much doubt I’d ever turn comments off entirely. One of my core beliefs, which I mentioned in my 2007 note, was that I thought of blog posts as the beginning of or the response to conversations. I still feel that way. I wouldn’t write anything on my blog, ever, if I didn’t in some way want someone to think about what I’m writing about and, if they chose to, respond to it. That is why I write.

Daring Fireball, one of my favorite Weblogs of all time, which made my Best of 2008 list, and is run by my friend John Gruber, also leaves comments off. John, who recently linked to Alex Payne’s thoughts, has covered this topic a few times. Based on what he’s written publicly about this topic I can safely say that he is in agreement with both Alex and Jeremy. And he has reason to. Jeremy’s main point about how there are too many worthless comments out there has a lot to do with scale. Daring Fireball has enough scale, though no where near the scale of Digg or YouTube, to create those types of moderation problems for John. You see, John curates Daring Fireball like a rooftop garden in a busy city. He cares for it. Every pixel. He cares for it as though it has very limited space. He uses that space efficiently. It is like he needs to get the greatest quality vegetables possible from the absolutely least amount of area. Besides John’s writing it is probably the biggest factor in the success of Daring Fireball. With as much traffic as he gets (which is about 1.2M hits per month according to his Sponsorship page) he would probably run into the problem of trolls. When John goes off on jackasses (which are some of my favorite posts, by the way) I’m pretty sure other jackasses would chime in.  With regards to Alex’s main point, about the fact that Alex really enjoys well thought-out discussions rather than terse commentary, John also tends to link to many people that mention his site in thoughtful posts. John enjoys good writing as much as anyone. In other words, I can see why blogs like Daring Fireball leave comments off.

TechCrunch, one of the most popular blogs right now, has comments on. It has some troll activity. It has some comments that, in my opinion, aren’t worth all that much. But, some people have used the comment area on TechCrunch to do a great job of responding to not only TechCrunch’s commentary but also to the TechCrunch audience. Gary Vaynerchuk, someone I consider a dear friend, runs a Web site called Cork’d. (You can read my interview with Gary about Cork’d, if you’d like). When Cork’d got hacked, and TechCrunch promptly reported on it, Gary took the opportunity to directly communicate what was going on through his own blog and through TechCrunch’s comments. I’d love to hear Michael Arrington’s thoughts on comments on TechCrunch and why they’ve chosen to leave them on for the majority of their posts. I’m positive he has an opinion on this matter.

Again, I’ve been blogging for 10 years. Longer than it has been called blogging. Longer than there has been any form of personal content management systems. This topic of comments, and whether or not to have them on my site, has been debated in many conversations with other bloggers at blogging meetups and conferences, with myself in the shower, with the road while I’m driving, in my own brain, and many other places over those years. I struggle with it. All. The. Time.  My strategy, as of today, is that if it even became a problem where I began to regret having comments on – where the comments I get on my site do not have a value to quantity ratio that I’m happy with – or when my goal is for people to link to my site from their own sites for the sake of getting linkbacks – then maybe I’ll turn them off. But not until then. And neither of those situations have happened in all of these years and I doubt they will any ti
me soon.

I’m just happy to know that other people think about these sorts of things still too. That, even after 10 years of publishing on the Web, we’re all still struggling together with the same fundamental issues that the Web, in all of its social greatness, has imposed on our efforts of sharing ideas. No matter how good the tools get, no matter how many people jump online worldwide and join the conversation, we will always have the decision to make of how we’d like interact. What we’re comfortable with for us, for our companies, and for our Web sites. The learning curve is, as far as I see it, infinite. And I’m okay with that.

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Jeffrey Zeldman: The vanishing personal site

April 30th, 2008

Jeffery Zeldman on the trend of personal sites, or the one-stop URL for each person’s published goods online, going the way of the dinosaur and how more and more people are publishing their goods on many different services.

I’d be remiss not to mention my goal of Bringing it all together and how I’m getting pretty close to my personal online publishing Utopia.

Jeremy Keith wrote about his personal efforts, and the efforts of a few others, and how the strategies all differ. It seems that there are few different ways to go about “bringing it all together”, you just have to choose which one you like the best.  Here is a short list:

  • Publish only on your own site.
  • Publish everywhere but aggregate back to your site.
  • Publish everywhere but link from your site.

There might be a few strategies I am missing, but these seem to be the most common I’ve seen lately.  I am attempting to live by the first strategy on the list, though things like Twitter I tend to keep on Twitter.

What strategy will you choose?

Source: Jeffrey Zeldman Presents : The vanishing personal site

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One possible benefit from disabling comments

August 20th, 2007

There has been an ongoing discussion as to whether or not blogs should always have comments enabled to allow its readers to be part of the conversation. I myself firmly believe that each blog post should be thought of as a starting point of, or a response to, a conversation.

Some deal with this issue from an ideological perspective in that they disable comments because they feel that people will behave differently when commenting than they would if they wrote from their own Web sites. Jeremy Keith recently said:

“Choose a random video on YouTube or a random story on Digg, read each and every comment and then tell me that the comments contribute to any kind of community discussion. They are shining examples of antisocial networking.” — Reflection

I feel this is a blanket statement, which has some validity, but I do not believe that YouTube or Digg comments are completely “examples of antisocial networking”.

Sure. Many comments found on Digg threads are a bunch of teenaged boys (the proof is in the statistics) yelling back and forth about whether or not that specific article is digg worthy – but I believe those threads are there exactly for that reason. Should the commentary on Digg be about the article itself? Or should that conversation be reserved for the article’s origin? I believe it is up to the community to decide and it seems like they have.

Not that Jeremy’s point isn’t a valid one. Someone leaving a comment on my blog may indeed be a little looser with their speech than they would if they were responding, like I am right now, from their own Web sites. And if the author of the site is not willing to weed through the comments – then perhaps it is best to disable the comments for that very reason.

But I believe there is a completely different angle to consider.

One of the benefits I see coming from disabling comments is the number of links you end up getting back to your site. It is always nice when someone writes a blog post in response to something you said or wrote and have them link to your site or post as a way to direct people to the rest of the conversation. I’ve been fortunate to have a fair amount of people doing that very thing with some of my posts here on my personal site – and everytime I enjoy it when they do. I wonder, if I disabled comments, would the number of “linkbacks” increase because I was no longer providing a way for the conversation to continue on this site?

In the spring of 2004 I published a poorly written post entitled: “Disabling Comments, The Pros” wherein I spoke about a few sites that were good examples of this “theory” at work. Some of the most popular personal weblogs to date have been those who rarely, if at all, enable comments on their posts. I don’t believe this to be “the formula for creating a popular personal blog” but I believe it may help in some cases.

I leave comments enabled because I suppose I’m not as strict as Jeremy. I don’t care if my readers (all 11 of you) comment in a little different form than they would if they had written an entire response on their sites. So I guess I’m willing to moderate, though I very rarely do, in order to keep the conversation somewhat centralized.

What do you think? Have you ever considered turning off comments? Why? You may answer in the comment form below. 😉

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About me

Colin Devroe's avatar is a photo of him, from overhead, in a parking garage in Scranton, PA

I'm Colin Devroe, a programmer and photographer living in Pennsylvania. You can read more about me on my about page. I'm also available for hire.

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