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Make Blogger Comments Reader Friendly!

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Blogger’s comment system is quite different to that of other blogging services, and is not so “friendly” to regular readers who may not understand how this system works.

When faced with a default comment form, visitors to Blogger blogs may feel rather daunted and unwilling to participate in the conversation. However, there are many settings which Blogger authors can change which makes commenting more enticing for readers who are unfamiliar with the way Blogger comments work.

In this post, I’ll explain how you can alter your comment settings in Blogger to make it easier (and more enticing) for readers to comment on your posts, along with a few tips to present comments in a more favorable style.

The main problems with Blogger’s comment system

Many bloggers would agree that, in contrast to other blog comment systems, that employed by Blogger is extremely lacking in functionality!

There are many things about the Blogger comment system which we can’t control, including:

  • The comment form, which must always be presented on a separate page
  • The lack of moderation settings: we can either moderate ALL comments, or moderate none. There are no language filters or other mechanisms for ensuring unwanted comments don’t appear unless we choose to moderate each and every one!
  • No WYSIWYG editor: as Jeremy Martin points out, “WYSIWYG editors are now a consumer expectation”. Sure readers can use basic HTML tags in their comments, but nothing beats the ability to click a button and achieve the same thing!
  • The irregular “login” settings: rather than offer commenters the simple function of leaving their name, email address and optional URL when leaving a comment, we are faced with choices of Google Login, OpenID details, Anonymous commenting and finally Name/URL. It seems like overkill to me…

So why does Blogger force us to use this system?

As I’m not a Google employee, I can’t offer an official explanation; however, I can offer some insight based on my perception of the system.

Each comment made to a Blogger blog is hosted separately from the blog post it refers to (perhaps even on a different server). When comments are displayed on posts (and on the comment form page), each is referenced according to it’s unique ID number and the ID of the post to which it was posted.

Separating comments from blog posts closes some security flaws which could otherwise endanger the integrity of a Blogger hosted blog. And as I’m sure those who use Blogger will agree, we receive very little comment spam in contrast to those using WordPress!

Unfortunately, increased security does come at a price: most notably for our blog readers. So let’s explore the possibilities of making commenting on Blogger blogs more friendly and enticing for our readers.

Friendly Comment Settings

In our Blogger dashboards, we have a whole page of settings which we can change to make commenting more appealing for our readers. Here I’ll go through some of the best ways you can alter these settings to invite more comments from your readers.

Who can comment?

Unless you run a private blog, you’ll probably want all of your readers to be able to leave a comment on your posts.

By default, this setting is limited to “users with Google accounts”, which (in my opinion) is the most unfriendly setting of all! It’s unlikely that all of your blog’s readers will be using Blogger themselves; many may not have a Google account (or even know what one is!). Forcing readers to log in or create a Google account simply to leave a comment adds extra steps to actually writing a comment and puts most people off altogether.

Choosing “registered users” is a slightly better alternative, but again this forces readers to need an account of some sort in order to leave a comment. If your readers do not use WordPress, TypePad or OpenID, they will likely be unfamiliar with the login required and again be unwilling (or unable) to comment.

My preferred setting is to allow “Anyone” to comment. This allows readers to sign their comments using their own name (or nickname) and add their blog URL if appropriate.

Using “Anyone” as the setting for who can comment ensures no readers are excluded from the conversation in your blog.

The only downside of this setting is that anonymous comments are allowed too, providing an opening for spammers to attempt comments on your posts. However, as I mentioned earlier, comment spam is rare with Blogger and those which do seep through the security barriers can be deleted with just a few clicks (even faster if you choose to moderate all comments on your blog).

Comment form message

While we cannot access the code used to display the comment form, we are able to add a message which can be read by any reader leaving a comment.

This message could simply be an invitation to comment, or you may like to add some “rules” for the type of comments you allow (for example, asking readers to leave comments which are relevant to the post).

A personal message on the comment form adds a sense of interaction between you and your blog readers, and could assist in generating more comments for your posts.

Show comments in a pop-up window

This setting defines whether the comment form will appear in a small pop-up window or direct readers to a separate page.

Most blog readers would prefer the “pop-up window” option. This is because it’s much easier to access the original post (by closing the pop-up) once a comment has been made.

When the comment form is displayed in the same page, there is no clear link to go back to the original post and continue reading:

As such, the full page comment form provides readers with little incentive to remain on the blog any longer!

Enable comment moderation

This is a tricky one, and only you can decide the setting which will work best for you.

In my own blogs, I choose not to moderate all comments before they are displayed. I have had very few problems with comment spam, and prefer my readers to see comments as soon as they have been made.

However, in cases where you are concerned about any of the following issues, you may prefer to moderate comments before they appear on your blog:

  • If your posts are controversial in any way
  • If you have suffered from comment spam (or malicious commenters)
  • If you have any concerns about the validity of comments in regard to the actual content
  • Or simply…

  • If you prefer to have complete control over all content posted in your blog!

If you do choose to moderate comments, I would strongly advise you to check your dashboard often for notifications. If comments are left unmoderated for long periods of time, readers can become frustrated that their contributions are not valued, and feel less welcomed as a visitor to your blog.

Show word verification for comments

Word verification (or CATCHPA as it is often called) presents a set of letters displayed as an image which readers need to type before leaving a comment on your blog.

This is used by many different blog comment systems, and is intended to thwart spam-bots since it requires human verification.

Personally, I prefer this setting to be activated for my Blogger blogs, which may account for the minimal amount of comment spam I receive. Unfortunately, the CATCHPAs provided by Blogger can at times be difficult to interpret (generally I discover this when my posts attract fewer comments than normal).

If you decide to moderate comments before they are posted, I would suggest there is no need to use the word verification setting (since you can prevent any spammers simply by deleting their comments).

If moderation seems unnecessary to you, perhaps the word verification can add that extra layer of security to reassure you about the validity of comments posted to your blog 🙂

More tips for ensuring a friendly comment system

There are also methods available which can make commenting a more inviting prospect for your blog readers. These tips do require you to modify your blog’s HTML code in some way, though the overall changes can be beneficial to reader interaction with your blog:

Change the comment link

Many blog readers will be unaware of the significance of the “0 comments” or “n comments” links (where n is the number of comments attributed to a post) which provides a link to the comments section.

Vin of Dummies Guide to Google Blogger Beta has written a useful post explaining how to change this link to a more familiar phrase.

Highlight author comments

Using a different color or style for comments you have posted in reply to those left by readers can help visitors understand when you have responded. You can read a full tutorial of how to highlight author comments at Blogger Buster.

Add Avatars to Comments

Using MyBlogLog, you can add a useful script to the comments section of your blog which posts an avatar of the commenter beside their comment. This is similar to the Gravatars available to WordPress bloggers. You can read full instructions to add comment avatars in my post on Blogger Buster.

I hope this post will have provided useful information to make your Blogger comments section more appealing for your readers! Please feel free to add your own suggestions by leaving a comment below.

Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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7 Habits That Can Make You a More Efficient Blogger

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Starting a blog is exciting, whether you’re using it as an extension to promote your current business or you’re just trying to maintain the blog as a personal endeavor. In any case, part of your success will depend on your ability to write new blog posts at an efficient rate; if you aren’t producing new blog posts fast enough, your audience could lose interest in your content. Similarly, if it takes you too long to write a new blog post, your profitability is going to decrease.

The solution is to focus on improving your efficiency as a blogger, so you can accomplish more in less time and end up with more raw content as a result.  

The Best Habits to Improve Your Efficiency

These are some of the best habits to improve your efficiency as a blogger:

  1. Dress professionally. If you’re working from home or blogging in your free time, you’ll be tempted to wear the most comfortable clothes and lounge in the living room while writing. But if you want to be successful and work efficiently, it’s much better to dress professionally and establish a professional work area. The idea is to treat your blog work like it’s your job. You’ll take your work more seriously, and you’ll be less inclined to follow distractions. It may also change how you think about your work and how you approach problem-solving.
  2. Practice good hygiene. While you’re at it, make sure to practice good hygiene—especially if blogging is your full-time job. The most obvious habit here is to shower regularly, but you’ll also want to keep your clothes clean, take good care of your environment, or as 14K Gold Teeth suggests, clean accessories like custom gold grillz. You’ll feel more professional in your environment and will have less clutter to distract you.
  3. Stick to a routine. Routines are vital for improving your efficiency. They help you establish consistent processes, which you can follow to save time and refine your habits. They give you something predictable to work with, so you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to work on next. They also reinforce your most productive habits, so you can continue working without thinking too much about it—in other words, they’re procrastination-busters.
  4. Set a strict schedule. While you’re developing your routine, try to create and stick to a strict schedule. For example, you might set a timer for one hour to read the latest news, a half hour designated to preparing an outline, and another hour to finish your full first draft. These temporal limitations help you avoid Parkinson’s law, which states that the amount of time it takes to do a task will swell to fill whatever amount of time is allotted to it; in other words, the tighter you set your timetables, the more efficiently you’ll be motivated to work.
  5. Keep an editorial calendar. Create a high-level editorial calendar as early as possible, and stick to it the best you can. This will help you ensure your high-level goals and priorities never fall out of your sight, and make sure you never run out of work. Set target dates for drafting and publication, so you’re always working toward something, and jot down your new topic ideas whenever you get them.
  6. Stay organized. This should go without saying, but the vast majority of new bloggers suffer from not being organized. They read new material that could serve as inspiration for a new post, but lose the original article. They set goals for themselves, but forget them or change them too frequently for them to take effect. Create a system for taking notes and keeping track of your high-level priorities, and stick to it.
  7. Keep reading on a regular basis. Reading is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably improve your writing, so make time for it in your schedule. Reading work like yours can help you generate new ideas, improve your vocabulary, and increase your fluency, so you can write faster.

Learning and Improving

It’s a good idea to track your time while working on blog-related tasks. It will allow you to gather data on your productivity habits, and ideally, see how they improve over time. If there’s a particular task that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time, you can drop it or focus specifically on improving it. If you notice a strategy is making you more efficient in one or more areas, you can use it more frequently or apply it to different areas.

In any case, the real secret to becoming a more efficient blogger is committing to improve over time. Pay attention to how your habits develop, and continually refine your approach.

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Oh, Now I Get It! How to Explain Complex Topics to Your Audience

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Technical writers have a great number of skills, but perhaps the most important is the ability to adapt your language to the level of comprehension your audience has. A highly technical and complex article can overwhelm readers or even bore them.

“But it’s impossible to delight my readers and keep them engaged when I’m talking about the

IEEE 802.11ac principle of broadband technology,” We hear you cry. And, we get it. Turning a technical article into a sexy piece of content can feel like a daunting task, but it’s not mission impossible.

Here are a few content creation tips that will help you explain complex topics to your audience in a delightful manner.

Imagine That You Are Explaining the Subject to a Non-Tech-Savvy Friend

One of the most important things when creating technical content for a more broad audience is consistency. So, as much as possible try to use the same tone, level of knowledge, complexity of vocabulary, and so on. The easiest way to calibrate your writing style is to imagine that you are writing for a friend or a relative that has nothing to do with your area of expertise.

Imagine you are trying to explain a particularly complex topic to them, in a friendly and light discussion. How would you approach the subject? What elements you think would bore or frustrate them?

What helps you in the real world is adapting your style and vocabulary to the other person’s knowledge. You know that you don’t have to explain what an Internet browser does, but you might have to tell them more about the coding behind it when discussing responsive web design, for instance. Use common words and keep them engaged with a lighter, friendly style.

Adapt Your Vocabulary and Structure

Let’s take a look at how you can flip your technical writing to be more approachable. First of all: use concepts that your audience is familiar with or at least has a general idea about them.

A good start is to check what search words visitors use when browsing your website. You will identify commonly used terms that are related to the technology that interests them. Use those keywords yourself to keep visitors on your page.

Also, be careful about the structure of the text when writing online, especially when you are trying to explain something complex. Make sure to split your text into readable chunks. You can also help the reader understand the subject better by using titles and subtitles to separate the main ideas of your article.

Build up the Knowledge of Your Audience, from General to Detailed

Once you have established a common language and vocabulary between you and your target audience, start methodically presenting your topic, from general level information to more detailed aspects. Applying this rule will help you readers understand the topic better without wasting too much time. Online readers tend to ignore content that is, irrelevant or hard to understand.

While it is important to get the basics straight before getting deeper into your subject, make sure to summarize the purpose of your article at the very beginning, as it will let your audience know what they will learn about after going through it.

Use Style Tools That Help Your Audience Relate to the Topic

The fun part of writing about technical topics for a general audience is getting creative with it. Because you can’t use the “boring,” “stiff” technical jargon, you must come up with expressive comparisons, examples, and analogies. You can even evoke anecdotal evidence to support the facts since they are highly relevant for many of the users.

Helping them relate to the topic you are writing about is the key to grabbing their attention. Use day to day examples for the systems and processes you are describing, or mention the best-known similar thing. Give them examples of possible situations when they can come across the topic you are writing about and enable them to talk about it themselves.

Ultimately, is all about correctly identifying the level of knowledge your audience has. Encourage them to comment and ask any questions and keep the conversations alive.

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IT Management Solutions: What is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency?

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There are many ways you can improve your employees’ efficiency. From decluttering the workspace to encouraging a stress-free environment, there is a whole range of things you can do to make your work life run smoother. One such technique you need to adopt for your company is an IT management solution.

What Does It Do?

An IT management solution such as SysAid takes all of the day-to-day programs that a business will use and consolidates them into one easy-to-use package. Every employee should be able to log on and complete all their work without having to leave the initial program.

It can contain such subsections as project management, customer relationship management, billing and invoicing, and a whole host of other features.

Why Should Employers Implement Such a Solution?

A system such as this allows managers to have better visibility over the company as a whole. They will be able to tell if an employee is completing their daily tasks to the best of their ability and will also allow them to see where they are lacking.

The data from the completion of these daily tasks can easily be tracked and analyzed to see where employees are struggling with efficiency. With some adjustments, efficiency can then be improved in these areas.

Project Management

One of the key reasons to install an IT management solution is for the project management aspects. A good project management program lets all employees know where they are with their projects at all times. Whether you are just working on the project or a project manager, you will be able to see the stage that the project is at and all the steps and processes that still need to be completed.

This collaborative nature helps improve speed and efficiency and stops the project becoming grounded in a lack of communication. If you are not yet using a project management system, you will notice that many small but important problems like misuse of resources will be greatly reduced.

Customer Relationship Management

By having your customer service staff use one portal for all their needs, you will see a great improvement in efficiency when it comes to handling customer enquiries. An IT management solution can contain a database with all your customer’s information. This means that if a case needs to be passed from one team member to another, there is little to no chance of any relevant information being lost in the transfer. Everything should be in place in the one database.

Invoicing and Billing

Keeping your various accounts and invoices in different places can lead to items being forgotten or double-charged. By using an IT management software, your managers and accountants will be able to successfully keep track of all costs and reduce unnecessary spending. This will improve efficiency as multiple enquires are not being made to complete invoices and other reports.

There are just some of the ways an IT management solution can improve your business. If you feel you need to improve your company’s efficiency, consider implementing one today.

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