Category Archives: Blogging

What Top Social Media Folks Use For Comment Systems

A few days ago I read a post by our friend Kristi Hines on a site called Income Diary titled 20 Most Influential People In Social Media. Like I did when I created my two lists of influential blacks in social media, she came up with a measurable criteria to use to compile her list.

an old design 02
Hector Parayuelos via Compfight

Kristi did a very nice job with her list. There’s even 2 black people on the list and a nice mixture of men and women. It turns out that everyone on the list is from the United States, but the numbers are the numbers. And she didn’t add some fairly obvious choices either, although in retrospect she probably should have added Darren Rowse to give it an international flavor in some fashion.

Me being me, however, I decided I had to do something different. I decided to check out the blogs of all the people on the list, and I was looking for something in particular. I was curious who had 3rd party blog commenting systems and who had the traditional WordPress system. Turns out only 3 people on the list have the traditional way that I personally like. The others had a mixture of Disqus, Livefyre, and some other options.

You might not believe this, but I didn’t find it all that surprising. It seems that the way people who get tons of comments handle things is to go to a third party system. It reduces the number of comments they might get in total, although if one is popular one will still get lots of responses, and it reduces the amount of spam as well. They can afford to do it; most of the rest of us can’t, and in my case, won’t.

I’ve sometimes referred to 3rd party systems as systems of the elite; kind of like the Republican Party (sorry; I had a moment lol). Those that are already there use it because it helps them keep things under control. Those that aren’t there but want to feel as if they’re there use it and wonder why they don’t have a lot of comments because they’re doing what the top dogs are doing.

Of course what’s interesting is that if Darren Rowse, whose blog is ranked the highest out of any of the people on Kristi’s list as far as Alexa goes, was on the list he’s one of the people who uses the same comment system most of us uses.

As Forrest Gump says, “that’s all I have to say about that.”
 

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4 Things You Can Do With Your WordPress Blog You Might Not Know Already

You know, every day it seems like I discover something new about WordPress. Some of these things I’m betting many of you know, but I’m also betting that the majority probably doesn’t know these things. So, I thought I’d share a few things to help everyone become more proficient with their WordPress blogs.

First, let’s talk about the Add New Post area. I’ve always used the HTML version instead of the WYSIWYG version, which means I code all my stuff. However, in this newer version it actually gives me some choices of things I can do that I don’t have to specifically write code for anymore. By just highlighting the text, I can then decide to bold, italicize, link, and do a host of other things I had never noticed before. That stuff hasn’t always been there, and like ads on many blogs, you just go blind to stuff. For me, the only ones I’ll probably use are bold, italicize, ul, ol and li. List posts will be much easier now; whew!

Second, while still here, y’all know about the Upload/Insert thing as it applies to adding pictures and the like, correct? You know that little box next to these words is if you want to add an image to your blog post, right? When you click on it, you can select an image from your computer and pop it into your post. You’re usually given four choices to select from if your image is large enough: thumbnail, medium, large and full size. Did you know that you can change the sizes of the first three?

What you do is go into your settings at the bottom left and select Media. Once you click on it you’ll see the 3 choices. I alter the size of medium to have a width of 235, which is just slightly less than half the width of my content area. I have the max height around 300. For the large, I changed the size to 480 because that’s the full width of my content area on this blog, and I made that the max height as well. I left thumbnail alone because making it smaller makes the image hard to see, and making it larger means it’s not quite a thumbnail anymore. If you like the images you’re putting into your blog to always be the same size, this works wonders.

Next, have you been getting more spam comments than normal lately? Do you look at the IP addresses and notice that many of them that come in on the same day come from the same IP addresses? If so you can have these particular IP addresses send these comments directly to your spam filter instead of having to do it manually.

You do that by highlighting and copying the number, then go to setting and Discussion. Go all the way down to where it says Comment Blacklist and paste the number in there. Save and you’re on your way. I also use that for some people that come by often to comment but their comments are a bit dodgy, as Sire might say.

This way it’s kind of a moderation for you to determine whether you want to allow that comment to show on your blog post or not. Some might say I’m now moderating comments, but these are people who have proven that they really aren’t participating in the process, including ever responding to questions you might ask them in a comment; trust me, I’ve tested this.

The last thing I’m going to talk about are screen options. Every page you go to in your admin area is also called a ‘screen’. If you look at the top right of each page you’ll see something called screen options. If you click on that, a menu drops down that shows you everything on that particular page except your menu to the left. You can now select stuff you want to see and stuff you don’t want to see.

For instance, on my posts page I keep things really simple because I don’t need to see all those tags and a lot of other stuff next to each post. I limit mine to title, categories, comments, date and Post Rank, which is a plugin I’ve talked about in the past. I know I’m the only author on this blog, so I don’t need to keep seeing my name.

As a by-the-way item, you can also move most things around on your screen to where you’d rather see them. Just put your mouse over the top of each window, hold down on your left mouse button, and drag the window to where you’d like it to be. Move it slowly and you’ll see impressions show up and drop your window where you’d like. Sometimes you might have to move in increments if you’re making a drastic move.

There you are, 4 things you may or may not have known. Of course, this might spark someone to write a post of their own on things they know that I didn’t know, but if you’re going to do that make sure you’ve looked at my post on 5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area and then the followup, 5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area.
 

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When Do You Unsubscribe From Posts?

Before I begin talking about the subject, I thought I’d put this message out first to see if those folks I consider as comment spammers will actually read it. This blog has never accepted keyword names, but if a first name is present I’ve always left it alone. Other comments, if I thought they were good, I’d go in and edit the name so that only initials showed up. Thing is, not one of those people has ever come back to say anything about it or leave another comment. Therefore effective immediately, any comments with only keywords in it will be deleted; I’m not even going to take the time to read the comment. I need a name, something to call you besides “Vacations In Paris”, or whatever goofy thing someone wants to promote.

via Flickr

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Because I comment on a lot of blogs, I often subscribe to the post for a while to see if someone will respond to it. That is, when it’s an option; otherwise I’ve just figured I’m already subscribed and I’m good with that. I don’t mind seeing other comments… for a while at least.

We all know what happens most of the time. Blog posts aren’t known for their periods of longevity when it comes to getting comments. A post can get a comment many months later, but most of the activity happens very early. Just a few days ago I got notified of a comment on a blog post on someone else’s blog that was written more than two years ago; that’s actually pretty neat because it gives you an opportunity to go back to that blog post to see what it was all about and possibly read it again.

But what do you do if you’ve commented on a blog kind of early and then you’re starting to be bombarded with a lot of other comments? How do you personally handle that type of thing?

The way I handle it is to first wait to see if the blog owner starts responding to any of the comments. I’ll give that a few days or so, and if the blog owner hasn’t started responding to any comments by then I will usually bail. I know that people go on vacation and have other things to do sometimes, but in today’s world everybody has access to the internet within at least a couple of days.

Also, if I’ve written a comment and already gotten a response but there’s still tons of comments coming, I’ll take a look at the comments to see what types of things people are writing. If after a while I notice that almost every comment is kind of junkie, I’ll leave. After all, one always hopes that other people’s comments are going to add to the conversation, and if that’s not happening then why bother?

In being truthful, I have to admit this isn’t a problem I have to deal with all that often. There may be a few blogs that end up with tons of people who comment all the time that I have to deal with. I actually applaud those few blogs because the owners are also responding to the comments. But I like to think I know when it’s time to move on.

So I’m asking you, do you ever unsubscribe from comments at a certain point or do you stick with a blog post no matter how many comments and up showing up until they just finally stop?
 

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Guest Posts, Comments Or Interviews; Which Drives More Traffic To Your Site?

I don’t often talk about driving traffic to one’s blog unless it’s a little research project. That’s what this is, and since you see the title, you know what it’s about.

David Peralty is Huge on the Internets
John Federico via Compfight

In the last few months I’ve written one guest post that got a lot of attention, did an interview on another blog that did pretty well, and of course I’ve commented on lots of blogs as I often do. Last night I was sitting around thinking “I wonder which of these things drives more traffic to a blog.” Since this is the only one of my blogs that can address each of these criteria I have to use it for this test. The results are somewhat shocking, at least to me, and might be to you as well.

The study period is June 1st through August 31st. This actually works really well because I wrote the guest post on May 31st and the interview was posted on June 1st (this link now goes elsewhere; the link will explain why lol). Comments are of course an every day thing, and one might think this skews the results, which it would if I was taking all blogs as one. Instead I’m only taking one blog, that being Pete’s Wassup Blog. Why? You’ll see.

The source that brought me the most visitors in this time period was of course Pete’s blog, with 147 visitors coming from there. As a matter of fact, he’s #10 after all the search engines, where 5 different Google’s have sent the most traffic overall. I comment on Pete’s blog often, and we of course have banter here as well. I think that could have an effect since we’ve been doing it for years and I’m sure a lot of people have seen my name because his blog is popular.

Second is the guest blog post, which was on Ileane’s blog, with 89 visitors, and that link is sitting in 14th place. This obviously means the interview comes in third with 53 referrals and sits in 18th place. That all 3 made the top 20 is pretty amazing in and of itself. Just for historical perspective Twitter sits in 11th place, a site called Business2Community, where I was quoted by Ari Herzog and left only one comment, was 15th, and a site I’ve never heard of and have no idea what they do called Gaia Online was 17th; all other referrers were search engines.

Now, I’d be irresponsible if I said that my results will be the same for everyone, but I have to say that based on what I’m seeing it seems that commenting really does drive traffic more than anything else. Maybe it’s because it’s something you do more often and thus always stays fresh. Maybe it’s because people get intrigued with what you have to say, or see a link via CommentLuv and decide to follow it back. I’m not really sure.

However, I hear some people saying “hey, what about that first month, June, when everything took place? What did things look like then?” Glad you asked. For just June Ileane’s blog ended up in 10th, Pete’s blog was 11th, and the one where my interview was sits all the way down in 29th.

Yup, seems commenting is the best thing for me; what do your blog stats show?
 

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I’m Not Registering, And Other Missives

Y’all know I love social media. I love getting to meet people through all the different platforms. I use it for business as well, probably not as good as others but I get by. I’ve written a lot of posts about trying to find ways to encourage people to participate in the processes, retweeting, sharing your information with Facebook and LinkedIn, and commenting on blogs.


by Tom Magliery via Flickr

Well, it seems things are starting to move in a different direction, and I’m not all that crazy about it. Seems that there’s going to be less effort in trying to convince people that maybe you have something worth sharing and more coercion to get them to participate. And I’m not playing the game; nope, just not doing it.

I’m not going to blame this on Andy Bailey, who I think is brilliant. I love CommentLuv, and I’ve been one of its biggest supporters. I know he made no money off that plugin, and probably makes nothing to very little off the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin as well. I know he’s only delivering to the masses what they want. I’m just not going along with it.

Andy is about to release a new version of CommentLuv, a premium paid version that’s going to have a lot of features to it, as well as allow people to eliminate a bunch of plugins because it will contain what those plugins handle now. It’s purpose is to help those who buy it encourage others to share their information with other people to be allowed access to the best parts of CommentLuv on those particular blogs. I don’t have a problem with the first half of this; I do have a problem with the second part.

When the most drastic changes to CommentLuv came around, users had the ability to limit the number of previous posts someone had access to select from if they left comments on one’s blog. They could just up and select a number or do something like ask people to register so they had access to more posts to select from. I decided I was going to leave things alone; after all, I’ve always been open for access without people having to jump through hoops on this blog. I also remember back 4 years ago when it was recommended NOT to let people register on your blog because some of those people had the skills to actually break into your admin panel and cause you all kinds of grief. I guess that hole’s been plugged, though I’ve never heard a retraction of that statement.

Now those who buy the plugin will be able to hold you hostage (yeah, kind of strong) by making you share their content with one of the major social media sites. They can select one, or they can give you the option of selecting which site you want their post to go to. If you do that first, then you have access to your last 10 posts to choose from.

Trust me, I get it. All of us want our content out there as much as possible. All of us want our blogs and websites to grow. But I’m not one of those people that takes kindly to coercion. Y’all know I’m rebellious about participating on blogs that have Disqus, Livefyre, Intense Debate, or any of those other things. You know I’ve stopped participating with Typepad blogs. You know I’m not leaving comments if the comment system is Facebook only. In other words, if I have to go through an extra step just to leave a comment, I’m not doing it.

So, where does that leave me? It leaves me with only having my last post as the selection, and frankly, that’s good enough for me. What you, the blog owner, will lose is the possibility that maybe I’ve written something in my last 10 posts that’s pertinent to your topic on the day I visit your post. You and your readers will just have to deal with whatever I decided to say on my most recent post; that might be good enough for you.

Oh yeah, in this instance I will still comment on your blogs. I’m not dropping anyone I already like. Goodness, I comment on lots of blogs that don’t have CommentLuv. I don’t comment for the link; I comment because I like commenting. You know, one of those guys who’ll share an opinion or statement if I’m encouraged to do so. If the commenting system is still the one I like, I’m sticking around.

But I’m not registering, I’m not retweeting through any of these means that’ll open up my last 10 posts, and I’m not playing the game. I might still retweet, but I’ll do it my way. Yeah, I know most people aren’t going to agree with me on this one. I know the explanations are coming as to why this is good rather than bad.

But, as Wanda Sykes says, “I’m a be me.”
 

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