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Saturday, 27 September 2008

Blogging -

Blogging has been around a few years now and the virtual community is settling down now that the initial boom is over. Many blogs have fallen by the wayside, some have made their creators world famous and even scored them book deals. One of the more famous examples of this is the semi-fictional diary of a call girl which became a best-selling book and then a successful TV series starring Billy Piper. The best blogs continue to thrive and grow, securing a loyal readership and earning their creators an actual income.


The subject matter of blogs is as wide ranging as human nature itself - some are merely personal diaries, others centre on interests and hobbies - movies, books, comics, music. There are blogs that deal with sex, gay issues, terminal ilness, political issues, and pretty much everything under the sun...and more besides.


I'm forever browsing blogs and okay I come across a lot of trash but there are vast amounts of well written, interesting blogs out there.


Take a look at the side box titled BLOGS AND OTHER SITES OF INTEREST on this blog. Every blog listed there is well worth reading and are all particular favourites of mine. Of course these blogs are tailored to my own interests but you'll find anything at all out there in the blogosphere.


The blogosphere - the final frontier of literature




If you're hobby is making love to chickens while covered in olive oil - there'll be a blog out there covering that particular vibe.


TEN WAYS TO GET MORE INTEREST IN YOUR OWN BLOG: (Reproduced from problogger)

10 Ways to Increase Comment Numbers on Your Blog

1. Invite Comments - I notice that when I specifically invite comments that people leave them in higher numbers than when I don’t. To some degree this confuses me as most of my readers know that they can leave comments on any post - but I guess inviting a comment triggers a response to some extent. Also keep in mind that new readers that are unfamiliar with blogging don’t always know about comments or how to use them - invitations to participate in well laid out and easy to use comments systems are good for helping them participate.

2. Ask Questions - Including specific questions in posts definitely helps get higher numbers of comments. I find that when I include questions in my headings that it is a particularly effective way of getting a response from readers as you set a question in their mind from the first moments of your post.

3. Be Open Ended - If you say everything there is to say on a topic you’re less likely to get others adding their opinions because you’ll have covered what they might have added. While you don’t want to purposely leave too many things unsaid there is an art to writing open ended posts that leaves room for your readers to be experts also.

4. Interact with comments left - If you’re not willing to use your own comments section why would your readers? If someone leaves a comment interact with them. This gets harder as your blog grows but it’s particularly important in the early days of your blog as it shows your readers that their comments are valued, it creates a culture of interactivity and gives the impression to other readers that your comments section is an active place that you as the blogger value. As the activity in your comments section grows you may find you need to be slightly less active in it as readers will start to take over on answering questions and creating community - however don’t completely ignore your comment threads.

5. Set Boundaries - I noticed that shortly after I set the rules for my comments section (with a comments policy) that my comment numbers jumped up a little. I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence or whether readers responded to knowing what was and wasn’t acceptable. It’s just a theory but I think a well managed and moderated comments section that is free of spam and that deals with well with people stepping out of line is an attractive thing to readers. I personally don’t mind people expressing different opinions to one another in comments but when I sense things are getting a little out of hand and too personal I often step in to attempt to bring some order to the situation (I rarely delete non spam comments). I find that people have responded to this and that comment threads generally stay constructive as a result.

6. Be humble - I find that readers respond very well to posts that show your own weaknesses, failings and the gaps in your own knowledge rather than those posts where you come across as knowing everything there is to know on a topic. People are attracted to humility and are more likely to respond to it than a post written in a tone of someone who might harshly respond to their comments.

7. Be gracious - Related to humility is grace. There are times where you as the blogger will get something wrong in your posts. It might be spelling or grammar, it could be the crux of your argument or some other aspect of your blogging. When a someone leaves a comment that shows your failing it’s very easy to respond harshly in a defensive manner. We’ve all seen the flaming that can ensue. While it’s not easy - a graceful approach to comments where you admit where you are wrong and others is right can bring out the lurkers and make them feel a little safer in leaving comments.

8. Be controversial? - I put a question mark after this one because it doesn’t always work (and I personally avoid it as much as I can these days) - but there’s nothing like controversy to get people commenting on your blog. Of course with controversy comes other consequences - one of which is the risk of putting off less vocal members of your readership.

9. ‘Reward’ Comments - There are many ways of acknowledging and ‘rewarding’ good comments that range from simply including a ‘good comment’ remark through to highlighting them in other posts that you write. Drawing attention to your readers who use comments well affirms them but also draws attention of other readers to good use of your comments section.

10. Make it Easy to Comment - I leave a lot of comments on a lot of blogs each week - but there is one situation where I rarely leave a comment - even if the post deserves it - blogs that require me to login before making a comment. Maybe I’m lazy (actually there’s no maybe about it) or maybe there’s something inside me that worries about giving out my personal details - but when I see a comments section that requires registration I almost always (95% or more of the time) leave the blog without leaving the comment that I want to make. While I totally understand the temptation to require registration for comments (combatting spam in most cases) something inside me resists participating in such comments sections. Registration is a hurdle you put in front of your readers that some will be willing to leap but that others will balk at (the same is often said about other comments section requirements that go beyond the basics). Keep your comments section as simple and as easy to use as possible.



UPDATE: This article had been reproduced with kind permission:


The blogosphere is continuing to grow, with a weblog created every second, according to blog trackers Technorati.

In its latest State of the Blogosphere report, it said the number of blogs it was tracking now stood at more than 14.2m blogs, up from 7.8m in March.

It suggests, on average, the number of blogs is doubling every five months.

Blogs, the homepages of the 21st Century, are free and easy to set up and use. They are popular with people who want to share thoughts online.

They allow for the instant publication of ideas and for interactive conversations, through comments, with friends or strangers.

Global voices

Technorati is like a search engine that keeps track of what is happening in the blogosphere, the name given to the universe of weblogs.

It relies on people tagging - giving keywords to - their blogs or blog posts so that its search engine can find them.

Free blogging services such as those provided by MSN Spaces, Blogger, LiveJournal, AOL Journals, WordPress and Movable Type were also growing quickly, said the report.

Image of a man at a laptop
Blogs are easy to use and can be subscribed to
Thirteen percent of all blogs that Technorati tracks are updated weekly or more, said the report, and 55% of all new bloggers are still posting three months after they started.

It also pointed to the growth in moblogs, blogs to which people with camera phones automatically send pictures and text.

Other services, such as the Google toolbar and the Flickr photo sharing website, have implemented "blog this" buttons, which also make it easier for people to post content they like on the web straight to their blogs.

The voices in the blogosphere are also sounding less US-centric, with blog growth spotted in Japan, Korea, China, UK, France, and Brazil.

Varied sphere

What is clear is that the blogosphere is highly varied, with blogs coming in many shapes and forms, whether they be professional or for personal use.

Blogs have been used as campaign sites, as personal diaries, as art projects, online magazines and as places for community networking.

Much of their appeal has been boosted because readers can subscribe to them, for free, to stay updated of any new posts automatically.

Blogs have played a part in highlighting issues that journalists have not covered. They have also proved to be a valuable communication channel for journalists in repressed countries who have no other publishing means.

They have recently shown how they can also complement and enhance mainstream press in coverage of events, such as the recent London terror attacks.

The Technorati report did not, however, break down the blogosphere in terms of gender use.

Over the weekend, the BlogHer conference took place in the US, which saw a gathering of almost 300 bloggers talk over blogging issues which are pertinent to women, and to men.

15 comments:

Ray said...

Some interesting thoughts there Gary. I'm new to blogging and added the sites that I've visited to my blog. All the sites are interesting and some I've added my thoughts to.
At the moment enjoying Dave Cranmer and James Reasoner's blogs along with the Louis L'Amour Project.
Signing in has never been a problem with me as I've been here and with Western Fiction Review from the start - if the interest is maintained there isn't a problem with signing in.
Now it's a case that once logged in I can wander all over the place.
Everything, at the moment, is all a learning curve for me.

ARCHAVIST said...

I think it is for us all. It's great to see the blogs you read regularly evolving, though. I have similar intersts to you, Ray so I'm reading the same ones. You mentioned the Louis Lamour project - when I first saw that I though the blogger was limiting himself only dealing with the one author but as it turns out its great and one of my own favourites too.

Charles Gramlich said...

Great advice in this piece. I generally try to do most of these. And I do get a lot of comments on my blogs. One thing I haven't done is riff off comments very often in my blog.

agnes said...

Of all people in the world I was easily one of the most pessimistic about computers, the Internet and now that I even know they exist-blogs. I think blogs are pretty cool but I never thought I could have one.

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Shauna Roberts said...

Nice post, Gary. What I've enjoyed most about blogging is meeting so many interesting people I would never have come into contact with otherwise.