Tim Longhurst's Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Building a better blog'

Stopping spammers, you do the math

August 27th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Every now and then, I get a comment on my blog post that has nothing to do with the post. “Hey great post – why not try out this German dating site?!” is a typical example.

It’s called comment SPAM – a computer program is running around the Internet adding links in blog posts, hoping to drive internet traffic to one (or sometimes more) websites.

I love comments from real people. I love them so much, I have my blog set so that if you comment, your comment goes online STRAIGHT AWAY, unmoderated. I do that because I like rewarding readers by showing them that their thoughts are available to the world as soon as they hit ‘post’.

Today, 40 different spam comment messages were posted onto this blog, so I’ve made a slight change. On all but the most recent posts, readers are now asked to answer a simple math question. I’ve used a free wordpress plugin and so far, I recommend it.

If you’re reading an old post on this blog and you come across the math problem in the comments section, I’d love to know how you feel about it? Is it too great an impost on users? I think it strikes the balance between no protection, and those crazy “Captcha” images, where a third of the time I can’t make out the letters or numbers I’m supposed to be typing into the box!

So I hope the bots stay out and the people are let in. If anything, the quality of the comments may go up as only people capable of simple math are able to comment… Let me know what you think!

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Category: Building a better blog

Get your face all over the internet in less than 3 minutes

July 29th, 2008 · 2 Comments

Have you noticed that on this blog (and an increasing number of blogs) commenter’s photos (sometimes known as “avatars” are appearing alongside their posts?

Here’s an example I chose at random. It just happens to be particularly enthusiastic about a recent blog post on this site:

See Wade’s face there? Well, that happened because Wade uploaded his photo to gravatar.com and now whenever he posts at a gravatar-supported blog (like this one) readers get to see Wade’s photo.

Here’s how Gravatars are explained on the site:

“A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?”

It takes less than three minutes to get one and if you comment widely, your face will be all over the internet (and on this blog if you ever post here).

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Category: Building a better blog

Tim Longhurst’s Notepad – now mobile friendly

October 16th, 2007 · No Comments

I’ve just upgraded the blog to display fast and light on your mobile device. The site automatically detects that you’re using your mobile and gives you an ultra-tiny version of the site that’s easy to read and fast to load. Check it out and let me know what you think.

I used the WordPress Mobile Plugin to make it possible. Thanks to Andy Moore!

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Category: Building a better blog

Updating the blog from the back-end

October 9th, 2007 · No Comments

So I’ve spent a few hours a day for the last two days cataloging and tagging my 200 past posts. What a task… It’s been interesting to reminisce, but I’m glad it’s over. The fruits of my labourĀ  are theĀ  Categories section of this site and the Tag Cloud (the jumble of topics covered by the blog).

For those of you unfamiliar with tag clouds, each keyword is sized according to how many times I have tagged a post with that word. At a glance, you can see the recurring themes of my posts. Pretty clever, huh?

So Blogtober isn’t dead, but the blogging of the past few days has been maintenance and improvement, but the serious work of posting is now my top priority… Thanks to Christie for encouraging me to come back to the front end of the blog and post!

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Category: Building a better blog

Categories and Tags – how to organise your blog

October 3rd, 2007 · 1 Comment

As part of Blogtober, one of the things I’m hoping to do is tidy up this blog.

A quick look at my userstats shows that about half of my readers discover this site through Google search results. Some of them stick around and read a few articles, but most just read the page Google sent them to and then leave again.

As the site is today, it’s difficult for visitors to work out what other posts might be of interest to them.

Categories and tags are a great way of organising blog posts and right now I’m not effectively using either.

So I went on a search engine mission to work out what ‘category and tag best practice’ might look like. There is no right or wrong way to organise information on your blog, but here’s what I’ve found: categories seem to work best when an article is filed under only one category, whereas tags allow you to add a number of keywords related to the aricle. So, in a line:

A blog post should be filed under a single category but may be assigned several tags.

Simple, huh?

The category vs. tags thinking is explained really well over at problogger, and then Jimmy Z had a look at two blogs that use categories well in this excellent post. (Note – the message is that having catchy, multi-word category names is a great idea).

It’s also worth mentioning that the latest version of Wordpress (the software I use for this blog) has been released and is the first version to natively support tags. That means that thousands of bloggers have been handed an easy way to tag posts for the first time, so I think tagging is set to become even more widespread than it already is.

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Category: Building a better blog