No More CoComment

I used CoComment in the past, and went back to it when I read about the new version. That mainly means I installed the Firefox extension.

After that, my browser seemed to spend a lot of time telling me that it was waiting for CoComment. I remembered that this was one of the reasons I dropped the service in the first place.

Then, I was using Flickr, and needed to go to a photo page. I got the waiting for CoComment line at the bottom of the browser, then it stopped responding. I had to reboot. I tried again, with the same result.

In uninstalled the CoComment extension, and the problem went away. I admit that my laptop is not the healthiest of computers, but that seems all the more reason not to overburden it.

I don’t think I’ll be CoCommenting again. I like the idea of the service, but not its implementation.

Blog Themes

Let’s start with: you need a clean, easy to read, and well organized theme for your blog. That’s the contention of Sean at Mashable, early in a post showing 30+ 3-column WordPress themes. Interested though I am in WordPress, I’m more interested in the general question of blog design.

First of all, if you want a clean theme, you probably want just one sidebar, which suggests 2 columns rather than 3. A look at this blog will show that I’m speaking for myself. When I moved my blogging here, I decided that I wanted the sidebar to distract as little as possible from the content. That’s why there’s one sidebar, why it’s on the right, and why there isn’t much in it.

Second, why do you want a well-organized blog? Perhaps the strongest reason is so that people can find stuff at your blog. That, to me, means a search box that is prominent, or, at least, above the fold.

So it surprises me that, to find the search box at Mashable, I have to click down twice. There is a far more prominent search function, but it’s a link to the “search the Mashable network” page. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me. The search boxes at Read/Write Web and at TechCrunch are even less prominent than the one at Mashable.

I’d be interested to hear comments from Pete, Richard, and Michael about why their search boxes aren’t as prominent as I’d like them to be. They might reflect some of the points made in Blasting the Myth of the Fold, a vigorous post by Milissa Tarquini of AOL.

Big Monday, Start of Yahoo 100 Week

Yesterday was a busy day: I was busy, and so was my feed reader. There were more posts than usual, many of which I wanted to blog about or comment on. But I don’t think that I’ll be able to catch up with the backlog of starred posts in Google Reader.

I will single out a post from Read-Write Richard, one that marked the opening of a 100 Days for Yahoo series of posts that’ll appear this week. Having said that, perhaps the more interesting posts will be the ones we see in late October, when Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang’s 100 days to map out a strategic plan are up.

AideRSS and PostRank

ARSSlogoIn what order would you like your RSS reader to display posts from your feeds? If you would like the order to depend on the amount of activity on each post, then the PostRank algorithm may be for you.

AideRSS is PageRank implemented as a web service. You don’t need to register in order to try it out on the blog of your choice. Yes, PostRank is to AideRSS as PageRank is to Google Search. By the way, I am amazed that PostRank was not previously trademarked.

If you want it to remember a collection of feeds, you can register for AideRSS, since it’s now in open beta. I have, and now My Feeds there total two: this blog and GigaOm. But wait, you might say, isn’t one of those blogs way more popular than the other? So won’t its posts always be PostRanked higher? No, I answer, because PostRank is calculated relative to other entries in the feed, rather than to all entries in all my feeds.

AideRSS may make me retract my earlier advice: Don’t Subscribe to Top Blogs. If I can see the top posts from such blogs, then I might be able to subscribe to a bunch of them without feeling like the guy in the cartoon.

I read about AideRSS on Read/Write Web, one of the top blogs to which I subscribe, in defiance of my own advice.

ARRSfunny

Blog Books: 3×3

One if by link. Katie Paine reviewed three books on blogging, and did so well. Shel Israel linked to her review. I’ll link to each book’s web site.

Two if by rhyme. Let’s get mousy with it, using the structure of “Three Blind Mice” and the order of books from the above list.

Three blog books, three blog books,
What do you need?
Let’s see how they read:
The first tends to evangelize,
The second answers how and whys,
The third isn’t just for business eyes.
Three blog books.

Three if bibliolescencent. Bibliolescence is a term I coined for a book becoming obsolete. The first and second prizes for raising this concern about blogging books go to Dispatches. It would be easy to mock the book now for having a “social networks on the rise” chapter that doesn’t mention Facebook. But the foreword, by David Perlmutter, addresses the “why a book about blogs” question, and the “books are too slow” charge, rather well.

Each of the books earns its current keep. Conversations evangelizes about corporate blogging, and the gospel still bears preaching. Corporate borders on “for dummies” territory, and not in a bad way.

Dispatches is the outlier among the three, given that it’s more general and less corporate than the other two, and that it was published in 2007, rather than in 2006. I particularly like the five “blogs as” chapters, in which blogs are discussed as linkfests, diaries, clubhouses, newrooms, and then soapboxes.

So we have three good books on blogging here. This 3×3 post, together with Katie’s rather more timely review, should give you an idea of which of the books would serve you best.

Voxiversary on the Horizon

voxlogo.pngThe term Voxiversary combines Vox.com from Six Apart, and anniversary. I didn’t invent the term; a Google search shows that several people have already noted their first Voxiversary, as in “I’ve been on Vox for a year now.”

The Voxiversary I want to focus on here is the first anniversary of Vox itself. To be more specific, it’s the first anniversary of the official Happy Vox Launch Day! post on Oct 25, 2006. The launch followed a closed beta of a few months, which is why there are many Vox blogs older than one year.

Let’s backtrack, and remind ourselves about Vox, who built it, why, and at what cost. Over and back to Chaddus Bruce, writing in Wired just after the launch.

Vox is the latest personal publishing destination to emerge from the halls of Six Apart, the San Francisco company that operates some of the world’s most popular blogging platforms: TypePad, Movable Type and LiveJournal.

The social networking and blogging site is a major investment for Six Apart. The company raised $12 million in venture capital to develop Vox. By emphasizing blogging and by including features like advanced privacy settings, cutting-edge page-template designs and storage limits friendly to large video and audio files, the company wants to provide social networking that’s superior to MySpace, Bebo or Six Apart’s own LiveJournal.

So how is Vox doing? My own impression is “not too well.” Let’s take a look at an Alexa-based graph comparing Vox, WordPress.com, and Facebook over the last year. I chose those other services because Vox is a blog/social net hybrid, WordPress.com is a blog site, and Facebook a social network. (And by the way, the reason I’m not embedding the graph in this post is that WordPress.com won’t let me.)

For the year ending today, the Vox graph is by far the lowest and flattest of the three, with something of a jump up following the launch. WordPress.com and Facebook each rise steadily until a few months ago, when Facebook took off.

What makes this more disturbing for Six Apart is the question, raised by Pete Cashmore, that the firm needed Vox because its other products were stagnating. But Pete’s post is more than a year old, and his stagnation implication did not go unchallenged.

There’s lots more that can be said about Vox as its first anniversary approaches, but right now I’ll stop saying it, and hope that others will chip in, either here or on their own blogs.

Return to Top 10 Blogs

When Pete Cashmore asked for lists of 10 favorite blogs, I responded. My response has generated a fair amount of traffic (by my modest standards) to this blog, some of which followed the links on the list.

I was interested to see which links were followed most often. The medals went to: Read/Write Web (gold), Drawn!, and ProBlogger. Then there was a pack, with Coverville trailing the rest slightly.

There were a couple of surprises, at least for me. I was surprised to see RWW in first place, because I’d have thought that most people who read Pete’s blog also read Richard’s (or at least are well aware of it). I was surprised by the contrast between the second place and ninth place blogs on the “follow the links” list. I wouldn’t have thought that illustration would have attracted more clicks than music.

There have been no responses to either of the questions I posed in the previous post. In the absence of suggestions for an extra blog, to make the number of blogs on the top 10 list equal to 10, I might have to take that honor for myself.

I think that the question about the ordering of the 9 blogs was an interesting one. Take a look at the list, and feel free to post comments with guesses, requests for clues, etc.

Ten Favorite Blogs

Associated with what may or may not be blogging’s 10th anniversary, Pete Cashmore asks for lists of ten favorite blogs. I thought I’d list my current 10 favorites:

  • Universal Hub, the hub of the universe being of course Boston.
  • A VC, not just about venture capital, but also about music and more.
  • Drawn!, which has alerted me to a lot of great illustration.
  • Coverville, still the only podcast I listen to regularly.
  • Infectious Greed, another blog about VC and more.
  • Open…, about openness of source code, content, and more.
  • Little Fugitive in France, the fugitive in question being a musician.
  • Read/Write Web, still my favorite of the Web 2.0-focused blogs out there.
  • ProBlogger, which many bloggers may find helpful even if they don’t put ads on their blogs.

That’s nine blogs, described rather briefly because I’m lazy, and, unless you’re even lazier, you can click on the links. A few of the blogs that appeared on previous lists of 5ive blogs aren’t on the current list, excellent though they are or were.

I’ll close with a couple of challenges for you, my readers.

  • What is the order of the above list? (No, it’s not favorite-ness.)
  • Can you suggest another blog to go on my list of 10? (It shouldn’t be too well-known.)

When You Wish About a Feed

The wish in question is about feed statistics for WordPress.com blogs. About a month ago, feed stats were retired:

we bid farewell to our good friend Feed Stats, which tried to tell you how many subscribers you had to your blog and what software they used… Perhaps someday feed stats will return, but when they do we hope to do a much better job of collecting and presenting the data.

There was quite an outcry about this (follow the above link and see the comments for specific sobs). I didn’t join the outcry, partly because I found my WordPress.com feed stats highly implausible anyway. There are several topics in the WordPress.com forums about using Feedburner, and it can be done, but not in a way that is likely to give good stats.

With this in mind, today’s Feedburner-related news from Pete Cashmore is particularly interesting.

Feedburner’s new owner Google has gone ahead and integrated the feed tracking service into its Blogspot/Blogger.com blog platform… In other words: if you want detailed stats on who is reading your Blogger blog, it’s now easy to do.

If Feedburner can be integrated in to Blogger, surely it can be integrated in to WordPress.com? After all, WordPress.com currently uses Analytics and other services from Google. Let’s take a look at how Pete closes his post.

What we’re interested to see: will Feedburner ever be integrated into Google Analytics, creating a comprehensive stats package for blogs and news sites?

I think that those of us who blog at WordPress.com have reason to be particularly interested in this. Some of us suspect that it may have been what Matt was referring to when he referred to a future “much better job of collecting and presenting the [feed] data.”