Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Constant's Comments on 'Comments about Blogging'

Ref Constant has other views on these suggestions.

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If you follow the tips below, you may waste your time on technical issues, and not be a very good writer-blogger.

jonah in nyc, thanks for your comments -- I've posted them here so readers can compare my responses to yours.

Bottom line: If you want to make a better blog, create content. jonah in nyc made recommendations that are related to the technical aspects of xml, rss, and promotions. I didn't find the suggestions helpful.

My overall tip for blogging: Do what you want. It's your blog. If you try to "be" something that you're not, you'll waste your time. Just write what ever's on your mind. If you don't like that tip, make your own blog and blog about it.

I got more inspiration and ideas on "how to blog" from here: Throw the baloney of the US government back on them!

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The following suggestions were offered for tips on how to blog. I disagree with all of them.

I've posted my comments before the original comments. My major beef with the article is that it really doesn't answer the question: "How can I make my content better?"

The following merely says how to provide content -- regardless its quality -- to more people. That's not helpful.

1. Subscribe to a Google News RSS feed -

Constant: This doesn't answer the question, "How can Imake my blog content better." Getting information may be a tool for research, but this doesn't help improve content. Blogging is publishing; XML-feeds are subscriptions. NOt the same thing.

___ Why would I want to "keep track" of things that aren't able to find me?

___ Who wasnt to spend time consuming other people's garbage when the goal of blogging is to do the opposite: Create new content which doesn't exist?

___ Who wants to read my regurgitation of other pepole's comments?

If people aren't interested in my ideas, they don't read my blog. Again, this suggestion doesn't tell me how to improve my thinking, makde a better blog.

Original If you do an adavanced search on Google News you can set some nice parameters for what kind of news you want to hear about. For blogs focused on a particular race I suggest both candidates names, district race (NY13), etc. This will filter all news articles to you that mention your search items. After you click search to get your results there will be an RSS link on the left side just to this specific search parameter. It will make your life a lot easier. This has proven invaluable because there are too many news sources for a small blog operation like my own to keep track of.

2. Get your blog name out there -

Constant: This is non-sense: Promoting my content -- whether it is good, bad, or crap -- is a waste of time if my blog content is not interesting. Some of the sites that are "Sate based" have quirky subsription criteria: They reject blogs without explanation.

Original Writing stories or cross postings on related blogs, the later will be more beneficial. If there is a state wide blog, introduce yourself and see if they will let you guest blog. In NY there is The Albany Project where several bloggers who cover the various state races and politics. If you don't have a state wide blog aggregate like this, then step number two after you make your blog known is starting a state group blog.

50 State Blog Network - BlogPac has stepped up and is organizing an effort to have state-based community blogs identified or created in all 50 states. For more on the project and see if your state already has a state-based blog identified see their post at MyDD. I can't find a permanent link to this project on BlogPac, so this post may be outdated.

Blogs United - Our focus is on supporting and connecting local political blogs with each other, with fresh ideas from the broader netroots and with offline political activists.

3. Use your newspaper's sites

Constant: Again, this recommendation doesn't tell my how to improve my content in my blog. I've posted links and people have whined, "Oh, you're promoting your blog." Hay -- if poeople stop asking questions that I ay hae already thought about, I won't provide my links. What a load of crap.

Original - If they have message boards or blogs of their own, start posting on there with links to your blog. Also try writing some op-ed pieces if you are motivated and let them know you are a local blogger who is covering the race. The Staten Island Advance, the largest local paper in the NY13 district has a political forum on their website. There are many active participants here that I can reach out to with cross posting, if it is a very short post, or snippets, always with links back to my blog to draw in new readers.

4. Post frequently

Constant: Making "more comments" isn't a solution if my writing is crap.

Original - I started posting long intricate posts and managed one a every day or every two days. Recently I started doing 4-5 brief entries that are concise and have seen traffic increase and lots of local linking. Finding recurring topics can make your life easier. One of my daily posts is a simple day count on how long the incumbent has refused to accept a debate schedule. It keeps the topic out there, and doesn't require much research preparation.

5. Introduce yourself to the campaign

Constant: This has resulted in my being banned. Try again. we're talking about blogs, not how to be a messenger boy for a political party. BLogs - e-mail. Not the same thing.

Original - Once you get started let the campaign know you are out there. Make sure you subscribe to their email list, and you might want to drop their Press Secretary an email and see if there is a specific press release email list you can get on. Of course meeting your candidate at an event never hurts.

6. Know the candidate you are challenging

Constant: What the hell does this have to do with making my blog better?

Original - Make sure you subscribe to your challengers email lists to keep tabs on what they are saying and doing. In addition I find it useful to download all the photos the candidate has publicly on their website. There has been too many stories recently that have come out because of public photos, like an incumbent with Jack Abramoff or even the President. If you know what they have online it will be easy to tell if they try to scrub their site of evidence of friendships.

7. Get your blog listed on various political group blogs -

Constant: Providing crappy content to more people doesn't improve the quality of my crap.


Lefty Blogs
Here is how to add your blog to LeftyBlogs runs Congresspedia, a Congress based wiki that lists related blogs to each member of Congress, such as this one for Vito Fossella
2008 Race Tracker, a new wiki with a page dedicated to each congressional district and speculation about challengers.

8. Familiarize yourself with Technorati

Constant: SOmeone could spend months getting familiar with Technoraity, but it doesn't improove my blog content. I am not going to spend my time trying to fit into a category; this blog is mine. It is what it is. Constant's pations is a category that doesn't fit anywhere. Why? Because it's my blog and there's nothing else like it.

___ What kind of testing have you done on technorati coverage of blog content?

Original - This was a slightly more advanced step when I first got started, but it is a necessity.

"Technorati is the recognized authority on what's going on in the world of weblogs. We help people search for, surface, and organize bloggers and their daily posts."
So it is basically a Google search engine for blogs. It knows when you post and tells the world if you have tagged your blog sensibly.

On the home page, on the left hand side is a button "Claim my blog". After you click through and set up your blog info you get to set various tags for your blog, just as you tag a diary here on kos. Use your tags! Use incumbent and challenger names, districts or office abbreviations (NY13 or NY-Sen) as we use. I also use a local georgraphic names (i.e. Staten Island), Congress, Democrat, Corruption. Update them if needed as your blog grows.

9. Pinging

Constant: This is more XML-nonsense. This doesn't help improve the quality of my content.

Original - Pinging tells feed sites that your blog has been updated, prompting an immediate crawl of your site.

The Technorati engine can be a little slow realizing when you have posted a new entry, so if you have the time 'ping' them. This tells them to go look at your site for updates, and expedites getting it into their system.

"Pingoat is a service that pings or notifies a number of services that keep track of weblogs and publish them. By pinging, you let the services know that your blog has been updated and hence, they crawl and index your site, publishing your blog contents, thus increasing your blog's popularity. " Pingoat automatically will ping up to 50 sites for you, including technorati, feedburner, newsgator, the list goes on. You can select which of the sites you want to set it to automatically ping. After registering your url you are provided with a link you can bookmark, that will automatically trigger a ping when you visit the site, with no additional work on your part needed.

10. Image hosting sites

Constant: Images has nothing to do with writing in blogs.

Original - You can upload your images to these sites, and they provide you with html image source code to cut and paste into your posting to display any photo you want.

11. Understand your traffic -

Constant: This is nonse-sense: My content can be tailored to a specific audience; that people are visiting my site says little about the content.

Original: Use a program like sitemeter to view traffic patterns for your blog. One benefit to this, aside from understanding traffic patterns, is using the 'By Referrals' option to see what sites are referring traffic to your blog. If you have an influx of traffic from another blog it is always good to know why they are sending you traffic and if appropriate reciprocate. Also if you follow the referral links to search engines you can see what people are searching for when they found your blog. This may give you an idea of what kind of information people are looking for. For example one of my hits toady from Google was a search for "Fossella Veterans" (Fossella being the Republican incumbent) and the viewer clicked through to my post on Fossella's failures on National Security, specifically under funding Veterans benefits.

This is a new search analysis site I came across. It is currently in Beta testing, however you can still register and use it. HitTail uses a concept called Long Tail "where the vast majority of statistically less popular items so significantly outweigh the tall head of popular content that there is actually more value to be mined from this "long tail" than the value of the popular items." The idea is that the less popular search phrases being used to find your blog/site cumulatively are larger than the sum of the most popular/regular search phrases. HitTail makes repeated notation that they are not an analytic sit software, but instead will help you understand what to cover by understanding these lesser searched items in the 'long tail' of your search driven traffic. Registering for HitTail is easy and just requires a username, password, email address and url. You do not need to supply any additional information if you do not desire. After that, there is one line of javascript code you need to place in the body text of your site. This works in Blogger as well as many other blog sites.

12. Understanding Google

Constant: Again, that I get traffic to content is in no way related to the accuracy of that content. I have a quote that I wrote, but it's not number one. I have another blogspot that I randomly put links up unrelated to anything. My real content isn't top; any my non-relevant content is number one. Conclusion: Google ranking system can be meaningless. Again, this tells me nothing about improving my blog content quality.

Original - Read up on Google bombs if you are not familiar with them. One benefit of frequent blogging on a subject is that if done correctly it can raise your blog in terms of relevance on a google search. One easy way to do this is to control a search term by constantly hyper-linking it to a specific URL. For instance whenever I reference Rep. Vito Fossella in my posts I link his name to this great NY Daily News article such as Rep. Vito Fossella. By continually doing this I have a small impact in keeping that story in the top 5 returns on Google for the search term "Rep. Vito Fossella". (updated) This article is now regularly #2 or 3, behind Rep. Fossella's own Congressional website. Google has recently announced they have changed their search algorithm to prevent Google Bombing, so this may not be as effective as it was in the past.

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What I was Hoping FOr

It would have been nice to have been given links to blogs, not "all the other stuff" -- examples of good blogs; or blogs that were illustrating what you were talking about. I didn't get that. Maybe you haev some good suggestions; all I can go on is my experience. HOwever, if you have blogs that you can point to that illustrate someone doing what you're talking about and createing a good blog, then I might take your suggestions differently.

Without any sample blogs, I'm forced to comment only on your content:

1. Stop talking about RSS-XML crap, and explain how to format blog content so people will like it.

2. Give me some tips on sentence structure, wording, and how to format a blog spot so that people can get information they want. When I think of "how to improve my blog" I'm thinking: Writing, sentence struture, formatting, how to introduce an idea, and how far to take it; thenhow t revisit old topics; how to struture my content so people will find it accessible. You didn't give me any tips on this, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

3. Give me some tips tailored to my area of interest so I can tailor my presentation.

4. Don't tell me to spend time on XML-subsrition to promote my blog: That's a waste. Did that and my area of interest is too narrow to be relevant. Getting content is different than creating new content. No, I'm not a fan of the XML-crowd.

5. Give me some tips on ways to share my information with others sho tehy are more likely to be interested, as opposed the current approach of getting upset, bannting people, then realing too late that they've banned someone who has their head on straight.

6. When your friends stop banning people who can think, maybe I'll think about opening up my comments to others. If people want to talk to me or leave a message, they know how. If you can't figure it out, then I don't want to explain.

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I do not want to hear a bullshit comment of, "You're doing somethign wrong." No, this blog: Started the Rule 603 Impeachment Proclamation discussion; and despite raising an issue, this blogger was banned for having raised the very issues specific people were whining about, "Nobody is doing anything. . . "

If the idea is good, it will go; if the idea is good, it may not go. With blogging, its hit or miss. Sometimes the world isn't ready for the right idea.

The real problem, I suspect, is that Americans are whiny and want to be given lolly-pop. Go read the main stream media if you want that, you're not getting it here.

This is my blog. If you don't like it, don't read it. I'm not going to waste my time trying to "promote" things when Americans aren't interested in listening.

I've got some excellent readers, and some very influential people who read this blog. If the ideas go somwhere, great; if not, great. I could care less. My only reason for blogging is so others can get an idea of what someone else is thinking on a particlar issue, and what some solutions might be to these seemingly impossible probles of fascism.

In my little way, I helped. The above article didn't give me any new ideas of how I can better present my content, ideas, or make a better blog.