Scotts Radio :: Becoming Part of the Blogging Community
Last updated: 8/20/2002; 9:28:50 AM
 
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Scotts Radio :: Becoming Part of the Blogging Community

Becoming Part of the Blogging Community<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Newcomers to the blogging world are often very, very surprisedit’s not just a world, it’s a community in the truest sense of the word.  It’s warm, inviting and friendly, just like an old-fashioned real world community.  Community is a word that is tossed around so often that I thought it had lost all meaning – and my career includes a stint running portal technology for a set of 60+ internet sites with over 300,000 users in total.  In my blogging experience, what I have found online is a level of community that hasnt been seen since the late 1980s before the Internet became a piece of everyday life.  A good analogy for the blogging community is the following:

Blogging feels like a small rural town.  The roads may not always be paved, sometimes the electricity goes on and off but the people are friendly and everyone is happy to help you.

When you start blogging, you won’t find the fit and finish of a commercial product like Microsoft Word (the road isn’t paved), the technical support is, well, interesting (the electricity goes on and off) but what you will find is worth the journey.  If you need help with your blog or something that you are writing, post it to your blog and youll probably be surprised at the level of help you are offered.  Detailed examples are here:

Community Resources

One of the most wonderful things about the blogging community is that even though it is quite new, a rich set of resources and guides have already cropped up. Think of these as the “road maps” to your rural journey.  Just as Yahoo guided you in the early days of the Internet, so do Blogs.com, Daypop, Blogdex and the others discussed below.

Weblogs.com

Weblogs.com is a directory of recently updated blogs published and supported by UserLand Software, the makers of Radio.  Every time a Radio blog, or another blog compatible with Weblogs.com is posted to the Internet, Weblogs.com is updated with an “I’m New Message” that links to the blog itself.  This simplicity means that Weblogs.com is almost always “fresh” with the latest blogs.

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Weblogs.com

URL

http://www.weblogs.com/

Pros

Simple, updated regularly and automatically by supported software, lovely clean interface, latest New York Times articles shown on the right hand edge of the screen.

Cons

No knowledge as to what’s new in the blog is displayed; No recognizing that the blog is, say, in German when you only speak English (very frustrating).

How do I add myself to Weblogs.com?

If you use Radio from UserLand as your blogging tool then you dont have to do anything at all.  Whenever your blog is updated with a new post then Radio automatically notifies Weblogs.com.  If you use a different blogging tool then please check your documentation.  If you are a developer looking to add this support to your blogging tool then you need to add an XML-RPC ping call to your application that tells Weblogs.com that a particular blog has been updated.

How do I prevent myself from being added to Weblogs.com?

If you dont want to be added to Weblogs.com (for example, your blog is inside a fiewall for company use only), then turn off your blogging tools notification feature.  In Radio this is handed with the Prefs command.

Newsisfree.com

As noted in Chapter 7, the blogging world seems to have two basic activities: Writing New Content and Commentating on the World or Web at Large.  Newsisfree.com is a source that gives access to different newsfeeds so that you can comment on them.  All newsfeeds from NewsIsFree are RSS compatible allowing them to be fed into a News facility like Radio’s News Aggregator.  What’s even better is that you can add your RSS compatible blog to Newsisfree.com allowing it to become an easily accessible newsfeed for others to comment on.

Figure 9-2.  News is Free

URL

http://www.newsisfree.com/

Pros

Powerful, free

Cons

Can be confusing to use

Adding Your Blog to News Is Free

If you add your blog to Newsisfree then other bloggers can subscribe to it without having to navigate to your blog.  This is a huge advantage due to the large number of blogs in the world.  To add your blog to Newsisfree, see this URL:

http://www.fuzzygroup.com/go/?addNewsIsFree

Daypop.com

If you have ever noticed that even a great web search engine like Google just can’t keep up with the web’s rapid growth then you are probably wondering how or even if blogs can be indexed and searchable with their daily if not hourly updates.  Daypop nicely solves this problem by focusing exclusively on indexing blogs allowing them to tune their search engine specifically for the rapid changing nature of this new medium.  At Daypop you can search over 7,000 distinct blogs for news, commentary or breaking events.  Perhaps a bit frivolously but illustrating the changing nature of the blog community, Daypop now even indexes the Amazon wish lists for bloggers.   While indexing people’s wish lists may sound frivolous, think about what a great market research tool this is for Amazon (and they didn’t even have to build it).

URL

http://www.daypop.com/

Pros

Easy to use, fast, the leader in its category.  If you want to see something very, very cool then search Daypop for your own name as an exact phrase.  For example, I searched Daypop for “Scott Johnson” and found blogs that pointed to my own Blog.

Cons

None.  Daypop is a brilliantly simple, well executed website.

You can search Daypop for blogs that reference your own blog.  Go to [http://www.daypop.com/](http://www.daypop.com/) and enter the name of your blog in the search field and click the Search button.  This displays any and all blogs that are currently referencing your work.

A better way to search for blogs that reference yours is to use GarboX mentioned later in this chapter under Other Community Tools.

MIT Blogdex

MIT’s Blogdex is one of those classic university projects that begins with a simple idea and has potential to expand just as Yahoo did. Blogdex is an index to the information to which blogs are linking.   Blogdex operates by scanning across regularly updated blogs and compiling a list of the top 25 links in the blog community.  This is turning out to be an incredibly powerful window into what people at large find interesting.  Given the frequency and rapidity with which blog authors often apply to their blog, when something new and interesting happens, they comment on it

Figure 9-3.  Blogdex

URL

[http://blogdex.media.mit.edu/](http://blogdex.media.mit.edu/)

Pros

Simple, interesting, lets you add your blog easily and quickly.

Cons

None.

How do I add my URL to Blogdex?

To add your blog to Blogdex you need to fill out their registration form and reply to an automated email (to make sure that you are really you).  Use this url:

http://www.fuzzygroup.com/go/?addToBlogdex

Meerkat

Meerkat is an O’Reilly developed “Open Wire Service” which lets you define a personal news profile or access a number of pre-defined profiles and then view current news related to that topic.  Shown below is Meerkat displaying its Blogs profile of current news in the blog community.

Figure 9-5.  Meerkat

URL

[http://www.oreillynet.com/meerkat/](http://www.oreillynet.com/meerkat/)

Pros

Very well executed for technology specific news, smartly opens articles in new windows allowing you to keep browsing.

Cons

No support for recognizing different languages and filtering out the ones you don’t know (disappointing to see articles in French when you can’t read them), navigation across different result pages doesn’t work at all (i.e. if your topic has 100 results broken into two 50 page groups, you can’t get to the 2nd group).

Other Community Resources

Of course the blogging community isn’t just these resources.  Here are some other great resources to take a look at:

GarboX

A tool which uses Google or Daypop to show you all the sites that have linked to a particular blog item or news story, and who’s linked to each of those sites, and so on, and so on.  Highly Recommended.
http://www.fuzzygroup.com/go/?garbox

Syndic8

An alternative to NewsIsFree with powerful syndication features.
[http://www.syndic8.com/](http://www.syndic8.com/)

Fitting in with the Community

Whenever you join a new community, whether it is a group of blogs, a health club or even a real world neighborhood, it’s incredibly helpful if you make a good first impression by just fitting in with the community.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t experiment or that you have to conform but first impressions do matter.  Here are some tips.

Be Honest

First and foremost, at present, blogs are an honest medium.  There isn’t the “spin” currently found in so many web sites, books and print publications.  Blogs often provide an unvarnished look behind the scenes at what really goes on in an organization.  For whatever reason the people that tend to read blogs seem to have a very good ability to read between the lines and detect a dishonest blog.  If your blog isn’t honest, it probably won’t fit in with the community.

Write Regularly

When it comes right down to it, even if you are only commentating on stuff you found on the web, do it regularly.  In the blog community, your “currency” is your output.  This isn’t to say that it’s quantity over quality but you will find that blogging regularly is key to being accepted.

Be Polite

In a small town people are polite to each other.  Yes there are the occasional battles with the neighbors but it should be a friendly exchange, not all out warfare.  This is also true in blogland.

Give Credit Liberally

In the blog community when someone helps you out, link to them.  If they really help you, write a posting about it.  This is just how it’s done.  The best example of this is really www.scripting.com where Dave Winer, the founder of a company making money from blog software, regularly links to his competitors.  In a conventional business this would be unheard of; in a blog it’s perhaps not yet the norm but it should be.

Don’t Be Afraid to Poke Fun at Yourself

The blog community has grown up out of the larger Internet community.  On the Internet blowing your own horn, trying to impress others, doesn’t work particularly well.  People are just too smart for this today.  What seems to work on the Internet and in the blog community is a self deprecating sense of humor such as “This article is for the two people out there who read my blog (Hi Mom!)”.

It’s a Conversation, Not a Document

Documents are generally formal constructs where you really want, if not perfection, then at least “rightness”.  Even though blogs are written and can look like documents, they aren’t.  Blogs are conversations with the world at large.  A blog gives you a voice to communicate with the outside world and, as such, blogs are closer to email messages than documents.  They usually do and generally should have a less formal feeling and tone than documents.  Please note that this isn’t to say that a blog should be littered with grammatical and spelling errors but it doesn’t need to be polished like a document.

It’s Ok (and Actually Good) to Let People Know that Your Blog Exists

You shouldn’t be afraid to send an email to someone when your blog answers a question that they have.  Given that blogs are really conversations, people want to be answered.  Sending that email is actually courteous rather than an intrusion.

Don’t Give Up

I wrote over 70 blog postings before people ever started to notice that my blog existed.  Keep on posting and, over time, you will fit in with the community.

Give and Take Feedback

Very often people will post comments to your blog and or send you email.  Read the comments and emails and, perhaps, act on them.  If you do, it helps to let people know that you have taken their input into consideration.

Copyright (c) 2002, J. Scott Johnson. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections being, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled " Appendix 1 - Terms of Use ". Note: I'm new to writing a Free Documentation statement and the above might not be perfect. 

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