Encouraging your readers to comment, or not.

I’ve never been much of a person to attempt to develop community. In fact if you look at my posts this week I think most people didnt want to comment on my posts possibly because I write in a tone that discourages comments. Maybe I don’t ask enough questions. Maybe because people ping me via AIM and Twitter and give me feedback. You know what I decided on a few of my sites. To just hang it up. To flat out remove the ability to comment. And on others I installed a WordPress plugin to encourage regular readers to comment more.

It’s called the Comment Prompt

This is a very simple plugin for wordpress 2.0+
The idea is to encourage lurkers and long term visitors to take the plunge and comment on your blog. Often people just need a little encouragement so this plugin will nag I mean encourage the user by posting a message to encourage them to post. Once they have posted their first comment it stops.

Either way blogs can be a platform for community or a platform for publishing or some sort of hybrid in between.

Google Becomes OpenID Provider Via Blogger (Now Non-Geeks Can Join The Fun)

After previously rolling out OpenID for Blog*spot blogs, Google seems to have stumbled upon the perfect formula to encourage its users to embrace OpenID.

Instead of making users register with third party sites (such as MyOpenID.com), Google instead will become the “host of the party” by enabling Blogger to become an OpenID provider.
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When Your Ads Aren’t Noticed Anymore

Here on The Blog Herald, as on so many other sites in the blogosphere, there are ads, 125×125 pixel squares. We’ve got six here, some blogs just have four, others run eight. The ad, made popular by Michael Arrington on TechCrunch, is something of the de facto standard in the blogosphere, at least when we’re talking blogs about blogging, and related niches.

I like the format, an ad doesn’t need to be much bigger than that. I would prefer it if it was 120×100 pixels instead, but that’s OK, I can live with 125×125 pixels as well.

Problem is, the readers might get saturated, screening out these ads. I recently did a post on this over at Wisdump, and there are some interesting comments there to give strength to this line of reasoning.

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What Do You Bring to the Blog Table? A Remix or Your Own Special Recipe?

I’ve complained recently about how boring so many blogs are (a friend calls them blorging = blogging bores), and now I want to whine about too many bloggers becoming remixers rather than adding their own ingredients to the mix.

I love all types of music, but I have to admit that when hip-hop and scratch came on the scene, it was like everything old was new again. And it wasn’t that new. Sure, it was old done in a new ways, but it still felt old. At first it felt as if everyone had run out of new ideas. Since you can’t think of anything new, just remix the old and call it new.
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Four in five who listen to podcasts do so at home, in their entirety, survey suggests

Preliminary results from a survey carried out by the Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) — the official body in charge of measuring radio audiences in the UK — suggests that four in five people listen to podcasts at home.

The Press Gazette has gleaned some interesting snippets of information from the UK-based survey, the full results of which are due to be published later this month.

Results suggest that 4.3 million adults have downloaded or subscribed to a podcast, with 80% listening at home on their computer, rather than a portable media player.

On average, each listener downloads one or less podcasts per week, while the most popular time to listen to them is the evening. Most people do listen to the complete podcast, even though it’s much easier to skip and miss sections as compared to a traditional radio program.

(Via The Press Gazette)

Triggit “widget” service goes into private beta today, worth using?

Webware is reporting that Triggit, a new service which allows bloggers to embed multimedia and other “widgets” directly into their sites, has entered a limited private beta phase today.

The concept: various web elements, such as pictures from Flickr, YouTube videos, affiliate links, and so on, can be easily inserted into the web page without having to mess about with adding code directly to the blog template.

It works by using a small piece of JavaScript, which then makes calls to the Triggit server to fetch and dynamically modify the blog’s HTML code “on the fly”. Bloggers need Firefox to mange content using the service.

This means that it doesn’t require less tech-savvy bloggers to insert lots of different code into the template each time they want to add something (though, of course, the JavaScript snippet has to be added in the first place), which could be an advantage.

Unfortunately, it also means that a lot of functionality may be taken off site, requiring the blogger to put their trust in a third party host to correctly and consistently serve up code.

It also means that some elements, which could perhaps have been better managed with static code or blog plugins, will rely on JavaScript, which may limit the audience.

Webware says that the service is incredibly easy to use, and it’s “faster and more enjoyable” to create various elements than doing it manually. However, I’m not sure whether convenience outweighs the potential loss of control.

The closing comments in Webware’s review of Triggit says:

I would not bet on Triggit taking the world by storm, since it’s a very unusual product and there’s a chicken-and-egg problem with it. It’s not all that compelling without a large library of widget partners, and there’s no reason to write a Triggit widget until it gets a lot of users. But it does represent an interesting movement in the ongoing widgetization of content. It illustrates how easy it can be for publishers to assemble their sites from pieces and parts from all over the Net. The major blog platforms already have native support for widgets, of course, but this puts that kind of power at the item level, and using an incredibly simple visual interface.

What do you think of the concept? Have you got hold of an invitation and are trying the service? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Via Webware)

Black Hat Commenting

When I brought up the subject of whether or not journalists should be required to comment on their team bloggers’ posts, I had a problem writing about it and I’m so glad that readers helped me think this issue through. I agree with most of the commenters. Journalists should not be forced to comment when there is nothing to say, but they should also support their team bloggers when and where they can. Forcing comments is so ugly.

Still, this issue plagues my spirit. Trying to understand this issue more, I was delighted to find an interesting twist on the subject from Mihaela Lica of Pamil Visions’ eWritings in the article, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:
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WordPress Wednesday News: WordPress 2.5 On Track, Uninstalling WordPress Plugins, Premium WordPress Themes Debated, Permalinks, and More WordPress News

WordPress Events Calendar

WordPress 2.5 still slated for March. Uninstalling WordPress Plugins is a very hot topic. As are what makes a Premium WordPress Theme premium. Worried about your pinger? Want to improve your permalinks structure? MySQL has been bought. Auntie Akismet has been updated. More WordPress Plugins found with security vulnerabilities. Are you paying attention to yours? WordPress.com wins Best Blog Host. WordPress still hawking hoodies. And more WordPress news and adventures.

WordPress News

WordPress 2.5 News: WordPress 2.5, skipping over version 2.4, is scheduled for release in March and will include the new Administration Panels design along with some other great improvements.

WordPress 2.5 Weekly Digest: Peter Westwood reports on changes and improvements to WordPress 2.5 this wee includes update of the jQuery form Plugin, addition of a mass select functionality to the users panel for selecting all users for changing access permissions, a new interface introduced for Widget management, a new image uploader which has many very excited, ability to re-activate all Plugins deactivated by the Deactivate All button, ability to limit the depth of the “tree” displayed by wp_list_categories() template tag, optimization of the SQL query for determining which URLs are awaiting pinging and which have been pinged, and a lot more documentation, fixes, and improvements.
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