Sue Waters Blog

March 1, 2009
by Sue Waters
17 Comments

Are You Being A More Effective Blogger By Tracking Comments?

When I leave comments on other blogger’s posts I like to be notified on any new comments that are posted.  Maybe it is just me?  But comments by other readers and response(s) by the blogger help my learning.

Being notified of follow up comments means I can choose to continue the conversation by returning to the post to add further comments — this makes me a more effective blogger.  Needless to say, after 18 months of tracking comments, I’m ‘quite’ good at it.

Subscribing by RSS

There are several comment tracking services that allow you to subscribe to new commenting by RSS using your feed reader.   RSS is always my preferred choice when available because it makes my life easier.

Image of comment shutdown

I was using co.mments and cocomment but co.mments was discontinuing their services and shut down as of today!

Here is my detailed post on how to keep track on of new comments on other bloggers’ posts using cocomment.  One definite benefit of cocomment is if your comment is accidentally lost and you can normally find a copy of what you’ve written in your cocomment account e.g. your comment failed to post due to problems with the anti-spam word.

I’m now also using Commentful which is okay, as a backup, but doesn’t give me the type of RSS feed I like.

Subscribing by Email

There are several options if  you prefer email to RSS.

Some bloggers use the Subscribe to Comments plugin which allows readers to select ‘‘ when they write comments.  This means each time a new comment is posted you will recieve an email.

For posts that don’t have the option to ‘‘ you can always use:

  1. Commentful
  2. Bloppy
  3. Cocomment - select email notification in your account settings

Both comment tracking services provide the ability to track comments by email.

Image of Bloppy

FINAL THOUGHTS

People often ask me how I’m able to respond quickly to comments on other bloggers posts.  Hopefully this has answered those questions.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Do you like to track comments on other bloggers posts? If so, what is your method(s)?  What tips do you have for being more effective at tracking comments?

This was part of the Day 8 Task for Building a Better Blog.

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April 26, 2008
by Sue Waters
22 Comments

The Messy Aspects Of Blog Cleaning

Don’t you get frustrated with mess? I do! But I’ll procrastinate how I can clean up the mess until I can’t take it anymore. Only then will I take action.

Today was my blog cleaning day! I’ve finished what I can but still not happy (are we ever totally happy with blog cleaning?). Anyway let me show you what I’ve done so you can give me your thoughts :)

Importance Of Blog Cleaning

1484354764_18f80608a6_m.jpg

Unfortunate fact of life, we do judge a book by it’s cover! People are more likely to both read our posts and subscribe to our blog if it’s pleasing to their eyes.

We need our blogs to immediately engage first time readers, highlight that we offer great information that they will like, so they want to subscribe to our blog.

Photo from Flickr uploaded on October 4, 2007
by metz79 licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

Changed Block Image Header

I use Cutline theme for my blog because I want a clean template, with pages along the top and ability to add a tagline.

The concept behind a blog tagline is to create a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and premise of a blog. Ideally all blogs should have a tagline since they instantly tell first time readers what your blogs all about and whether you write posts in topic areas that interest them.

Unfortunately Cutline doesn’t include a tagline but it does include a customisable header which means I can add the tagline to the image in my blog header.

But I’m not the most creative person so wasn’t happy with my image. Hoping my new image header with a person staring at the ocean and my tagline Helping Others With Web 2.0, e-learning and m-learning are better.

This is what my previous header looked like:

previous.jpg

Decluttered My Sidebar

Sidebar clutter is bad because it can make your blog look messy and pulls readers attention away from what you want them to do (read your posts)!

Saying all that I think Kirsten’s comment on my I’ve Gone Widget Crazy post is important to consider:

I sort of view sidebar widgets as being partly for the blog owner and partly for their readers. So I guess if they make you happy then that’s what counts. I don’t see them as distracting, but then I’m a total global spatial and my mind is probably full of widgets.

But some of the clutter had to go!

1. Removed my blogroll

Bloggers often feature a list of their favourite blogs in the sidebar of their blog; this list is commonly called a blogroll and these are important to edubloggers. One of the reasons for adding a blogroll is so your readers can use this list to locate other blogs worth reading — you are saying “these are some blogs I like – which are worth checking out!”

Trouble is my blogroll list overwhelms my side bar so I’ve relocated it to a page on my blog. Sure some won’t be happy with this but it was that or no blogroll. And now have a pretty link to it :)

Check out my blogroll here!

2. Rearranged My Subscribe To This Blog Links & Information

I want new readers to subscribe to my blog!

Your RSS feed, email subscription and advice on how to subscribe to your blog needs to be obvious! So I’ve made it look nicer and hopefully it’s grabbing readers attentions with the icons I’ve added (check it out at the top right hand side of my blog).

3. Added a Translate This Page Widget

I’ve added a Google translator widget to my blog to make it easier to read my posts in words other than English as I have many readers that English is not their main language.

I also tried to find an Aussie slang translator but had no success. My readers definitely need this! As Kate Quinn pointed out in comments I used this aussie slang “main drag to refer to the main road through the town” in a post.

4. Changed the name of My Categories Widget

Tags, categories and search widgets are important because they help your readers locate the information they want on your blog (read more about the difference between tags and categories here).

I’ve changed the heading of my categories widget to “Some of the things I write about” because I felt the word Categories didn’t have much meaning to many of my readers.

5. Customised My CoComment Widget

Kirsten convinced me of the value of having a Cocomment widget on my blog when she said on my I’ve Gone Widget Crazy post:

As a blog surfing addict I like the cocoment reader widget – if something you have commented on else where catches my attention then I can follow it and explore further. I also know can come back to your site and follow other comments of interest – so I like that widget

So I’ve adjusted the size of the widget and changed my cocomment widget’s title to “My Comments on Others Blogs.”

6. Where I Share

I wanted to add a Show Yourself Widget like Vicki Davis has on her blog (located in her left sidebar under the title of “Where I Share”). Unfortunately this is one code I can’t seem to embed in this blog. So instead I’ve added an About Me Widget from MyBlogLog but it’s not really what I wanted.

If you know of a better widget please let me know :)

Added A Visitors Map

While I was busy decluttering my sidebar I couldn’t help looking at more widget to add.

I fell in love with Ronaldo Lima Frappr visitor’s map and had to have one. Absolutely no logic in my desire and since it caused clutter I’ve added it to my About page — which makes completely no sense!

But cheer me up add your name to my vistors map!

FINAL THOUGHTS

What have I missed? MyBlogLog for “Where I Share” isn’t working for me. Can you recommend a better option?

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April 2, 2008
by Sue Waters
10 Comments

Thanks Diigo, CoComment and TweetCloud For The Support

Image of No'sIt would appear that apparently it’s impossible to say NO to me, surely that’s not the case, however I’m feeling slightly sorry for the poor companies / individuals, this weekend, that got dragged into Sue’s World. Image of No!!!! by Claudecf.

Adventures With Diigo

Let’s start with Diigo. The educators have gone absolutely crazy in Twitter since last Thursday about this site — so much so that I had to name it The Site That Can’t Be Named.

I’ve made a conscious decision not to rush off to try every new shiny tool that people rave about because it becomes tiring/draining; it’s much better to let others do all work and wait to see if they still love in a few weeks or moved onto the next best thing (I’m with the cows — read the last sentence at the bottom of the post). However boredom won on Saturday night made me decide to try Diigo out.

Unfortunately installing the diigo toolbar crashed FireFox and kept crashing it whenever I tried to open up my iGoogle page. Nothing worse for me than not being able to do something; drives me crazy. Joel from Diigo immediately contacted me Sunday, when I twittered my problem — poor guy has been working hard since to reproduce my problem so they can check out the issue.

CoComment And Commenting

Meanwhile I’ve been having nice discussions with Christophe from CoComment; we been communicating since he became interested in my comparison between the RSS feed from co.mment and cocomment. I’ve decided to persist with Cocomment because 1) I’m so impressed with the responsiveness of their support and 2) I’m interested in the community aspects of their site (Hey Kim – you seem to be a CoComment power user — do you have any tips for getting more out of using it?).

Poor Christophe — my latest problem with CoComment addon was intermittent problems in FireFox preventing comments from being posted.

After considerable research Diigo wasn’t able to reproduce the problem so suggested I create an entirely new profile of FireFox — which I did last night. Installed Diigo toolbar – no problems. Added CoComment addon — oops now iGoogle is crashing. So we have Diigo toolbar + CoComment Addon + my iGoogle page = FireFox crashes.

Poor guys — now both companies looking into what has Sue done (but fortunately they have now been able to reproduce the problem using an iGoogle page exactly like mine).

So now we have the email competition — which company will enjoy the most email exchanges with me? Your thoughts?

My Own TweetCloud

And not to be outdone I’ve also managed to drag poor John Krutch into it; after he read my reply on Alan Levine’s post at not being able to use TweetCloud cause apparently I’m a prolific twitterer. Thanks to John I’ve now got my own fantastic TweetCloud and he is fantastic. I hope you all notice that Good features strongly in my twitters; this should dispels all myths that I rant and proves I’m GOOD.

tweetcloud.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks to Joel (Diigo), Christophe (CoComment) and John Krutch (TweetCloud) for all the fantastic support.

Would love to hear what you like the most about using Diigo and CoComment. Please let me know of resources, video etc that you recommend I should refer to for learning how to get the most out of using Diigo and CoComment. And let me know how your TweetCloud goes :)

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March 18, 2008
by Sue Waters
15 Comments

I’ve Gone Widget Crazy And Need Help To Control Widget Addiction

Edublogs have given all it’s users new freedom and allows javascript, iframes and object code to be embedded directly into Edublogs blogs. Which is great because I can just copy and paste pretty much most ‘embedding’ code picked up around the web directly into my posts or a text widget in my side bar.

Most importantly I no longer suffer from blogger envy caused by friends having cool toys on their blogs which I haven’t been able to embed. Trouble is I may have become “widget crazy” and need “widget addiction therapy”. Worst still I may have totally cluttered my blog sidebar, which is detracting to readers, so I’m hoping if I list the changes I’ve made my readers may give feedback as to their thoughts i.e. good widget, bad widget or no opinion yet on widget.Image of Lijit Search

Lijit Search

I’ve been jealous of Martin Weller having Lijit search on his blog for a long time. The reason I like the idea of Lijit is because I have my content located across lots of websites and this search allows readers to search content on my blog or all my sites (by clicking on the My Content Tab). Plus it provides some really cools statistics on how readers interact with my blog that are emailed weekly or I can check them out online in my account.

Unfortunately when readers click on My Content tab the search will also shows results from other websites – which is really bad. You want readers to stay on your sites not go to other peoples sites.

The Lijit search widget can be customised to your preferences. I’ve set mine up so that it displays where all my content is located whereas Martin Weller doesn’t display his content. To be honest displaying my content like this may be increasing sidebar clutter and I may have been better using another widget or my blog roll to link to my other websites.

I also still have my Edublogs search widget in my sidebar while I testing Lijit search.

CoComment

Okay I can compromise (although maybe my hubby wouldn’t agree :) ).  I still prefer subscribing to comments on other bloggers posts using co.mment because its RSS feed into Google Reader is better.  However I’m intrigued by the community aspect of cocomment which isn’t an option with co.mment.  So I’ve installed my cocomment widget to this blog; not sure if anyone really wants to read my comments on other blogger’s posts in my sidebar? Let’s be honest it is creating clutter.

Still need a guide to getting more out of using CoComment if anyone has seen one.

Blogroll Created Using Google Reader Shared Folders

John Larkin taught me this trick; it’s a really quick and easy way to create your blogrolls using Google Reader.

Benefit of this method is your blogs subscriptions are automatically updated whenever you add or delete a blog subscription without you having to adjust your blogroll within your blog dashboard.  Apologies to some bloggers –I’ve used two folders to create the blogrolls — Edubloggers and Non-Profit.  Some bloggers in the Non-Profit don’t exactly fit that category.

Other Widgets

I’ve also add a Shared Google Reader widget; it’s right at the bottom hidden away — not fussed if it stays or goes.  Plus haven’t been able to part with MyBlogLog widget; I like the pretty pictures :) even if I’ve not got into using MyBlogLog effectively.

I like the FeedJit widget on Frank’s blog that shows where readers are visiting from but think adding it will just make the sidebar clutter even worse.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So besides “widget addiction therapy” what are your thoughts on the new widgets i.e. good widget, bad widget or no opinion yet on widget.  Is there an important widget I’ve missed that needs to be in my blog sidebar?

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February 14, 2008
by Sue Waters
18 Comments

Can You Sell Me The Benefits of coComment?

My most important tip for keeping up with conversation on blogs is being very effective at managing my comments on other people’s blogs and I showed how I achieve this using Co.mment in my last post. But as Joaquin pointed out in the comments of this post another alternative is to use coComment.

Last week I road tested coComment to compare it’s benefits with co.mment because Alan Levine post on his annual blog absence to comment highlighted that he uses Cocomment. Perhaps I was missing something?

Trouble is I’m not sure? Ultimately what I want is a simple an effective mechanism to manage comments. Co.mment provides me with this solution. coComment definitely has more functionality and it focuses more on the community aspect.

SO I have decided that I need the community (i.e. those that use coComment) to sell me on the benefits of using coComment because perhaps the issue is how I’m using it. So my plan is to show how I use the application and hopefully this will help others highlight aspects that I’m missing.

Comment Feed Viewed In Google Reader

I like to manage comments that I track by adding the RSS feed to my Google Reader account.

When a new comment is added to a post I’m tracking using co.mment it shows an extract of the post, the name of the commenter, date, number of comments on post and the comment.

commentrss.jpg

My feed from cocomment provides considerably less information. No extract from the original post, no indication of the number of comments on the post and the name of the commenter is only displayed if that person has an account with cocomment.

If the commenter doesn’t have an account the comment says Unknown says……. To make matters worse at the moment all comments with Unknown says are being feed through without the comments!!!!

cocommentrss.jpg

The feed from co.mment provides me enough information to remind me why I am tracking the conversation so that I can make an informed decision to respond back to the comment without having to go to comment or visit the original blog. This is not the case for the feed from cocomment.

Comparing number of comments

FINAL THOUGHTS

So where am I going wrong with coComment? What am I missing? How do I make the community aspect work for me?

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