Archive for category Blogging

TypePad versus WordPress.com

First, I love WordPress.  I run my blog using WordPress on my server and have found it trouble free with a helpful community and unlimited possibilities via the available themes and plug-ins.

However, for those cases an ASP managed service is called upon, I do not find the paid services of WordPress.com (or other WordPress MU based services) to be up to snuff. The lack of the ability to edit the theme files lead me to require an alternate solution.  Sure, WordPress.com allows for CSS editing that may be applied to the available templates.  However, this is simply insufficient to create the robust solutions I find my clients need. 

This lack of template editing in WordPress.com leads me to recommend the services from TypePad.  TypePad provides unfettered access to create, modify or add template files as well as any number of CSS files.  This has enabled us to do things like switch out the comments engine or add forms via third-party solutions. 

P.S.: If installing your own blog software or in need of a simple CMS for your own server I still recommend WordPress. 

Agree, disagree? 

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Offline Blog Management and Windows Live Writer Review

When blogging you will usually find yourself work in MS Word (or other word processor) and then copying and pasting your final version into the blogging CMS. This is fine for some simple work flow, but a pain when you have images to upload or are working offline (like on a plane). You may also find many of the blogging CMS’ simply weak in the editing department and want something better. There are several easy offline writer solutions to these and other drawbacks of the CMS entry tools.

My current preferred offline writing tool is Windows Live Writer. Certainly many would want to write this off immediately since it comes from Microsoft. If that is your feeling then read no further. Personally I have found the Windows Live Writer’s integration with the Microsoft Office Suite, Windows Live and my WordPress driven blogs to be preferred over the various open source and other alternatives.

Why use an Offline Reader

  • Enables you to work on posts while disconnected form the Internet and to then upload your changes to old posts, publish new posts and otherwise manage your blog all with a rapid synch operation.
  • Enables easier posting as images and other files that make up the post are uploaded along with the text. No more need to upload each item separately, figure out the URL and link on each text. This is all done when you write the post and handled for you during the publish process.
  • Better WYSIWYG integration tool set including a better spell checking and preview than the blogging CMS. For example, this can force a spell check before publishing.

Download and try the Windows Live Writer now from the Microsoft Download Center at:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=D2BAEDA0-AA9A-4080-9202-1F23902D1169&displaylang=en

So what do you think of offline post composition, Windows Live Writer or other options?

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Identify Your RSS Feeds on Your Home Page

A client was wondering why individuals and search engines are not finding their news feed. They have several RSS feeds off of a number of internal pages. However, these deep links were not found by individuals or search engines.

This is not uncommon. The best practice for the solution is to identify the RSS feeds on the site’s home page. This identification will then result in the display of all news feeds when the home page URL is placed in a news reader. In addition, search engines will then be able to more readily find and scan the feeds.

The code is simple. You should have the following placed on the home page so that the RSS feeds may be discovered by crawlers and readers. One line is placed in for each RSS feed. Change url/to/rss/file to the full URL for the RSS file.

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="url/to/rss/file">

This should be something that is coded into all sites we manage that have RSS feeds. Any TypePad or WordPress sites have this function built into the home page via the CMS.

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Blog Comment Moderation

For the fast few weeks, I have been working with a client regarding their comment moderation practices. This has inspired me to find a variety of resources like those at Ask E.T. on the subject. Going through these resources a few things became clear.

  • Companies and organizations should have some sort of blog policy clearly posted to the blog. This provides a reference document to justify the removal or denial of any comments. A blog policy need not be complicated and should be expected to be subjective and for the ease of use for the moderator – not the commenter Push Button Paradise has a straight forward policy.
  • Bloggers must adhere to their own blogging policy. If you have stated why you will remove comments, then it is important that you follow your own rules. This becomes particularly interesting if you have a blog comment contest.
  • Comment moderation has become a sensitive issue very recently with the media exposure of the recent threatening comments received by Kathy Sierra. This is a clear justification for moderating comments on personal, organizational and group blogs.
  • Posting of comments is not a free right to be expected by readers. The very basis of blogging is to promote conversation between individuals. You should expect a blog to be like someone’s home – they can always throw you out if they do not like you. A good summary of the whole commenting position is is offered by Nielsen Hayden .
  • Blog comments are not protected by any free speech right and rational commenters have never assumed such protections. This is why you have a policy, to show what is permitted. Indi has a nice post and series of comments on this subjet.
  • If you do moderate comments, simply be prepared for the reaction and provide an outlet for it. The UAE community blog has an interesting thread on this point. Folks seem to agree moderation is expected. It is what you decided not to show that you must have a clear policy. Do not simply choose to eliminate comments of those who do not agree with you
  • Bloggers do not want to moderate comments. They usually feel they must to block out truly objectionable content that veer off of the subject matter or attacks (as opposed to debates) another individual’s opinions. The Atheist Experience has a good post on this choice.
  • Don’t mock the comments you eliminate or whose posts you moderate. This aggravates the commenter and others. Don’t let your commenters mock others either — unless that is your policy. Alas has an interesting thread on this line of thought.

So when it comes down to it, I believe this comes down to thinking of a blog as someone’s home, community or place of business. Some folks like debate and encourage it. Others do not want to hear anything but support for their views. This translates directly online. Commenters must respect the choices the blogger establishes. If you want to rant and rave then do it in your own home. Post something to your own blog and cite the original source. This is really what blogging is about in the first place.

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