One of the best things about my work in community and new media is learning about new people. Thanks to my biography meme from yesterday, I had the pleasure of discovering more about 12 people, 10 of them really new to my world. That was exciting. What wasn’t so fun was working with the various blogs I encountered. But you know me. From my experiences, I learn and share. Here’s what I’ve got.
Make It Easy to Leave Comments
Several blogs use captcha to keep out spam. Most of these systems are built into the blog software and you have no say (blogger.com, for instance). But should you HAVE a say, choose wisely. Most of these systems are barriers to commenting, and several keep me out.
Another- I’ve discovered that several blog templates give the “You must log in to comment” line. Forget it. Too much work. I click away. That means lots of people click away, because if ever there was someone dumb enough to sign up for everything that comes along, it’s me. So, if you can disable that feature, do so. Otherwise, you smell like a marketer.
Please Add a Human Element
I visited several blogs that left me with NO IDEA who wrote the blog. No names, no pictures, no way to contact the party except through the commenting system. There are times when I want information without a face, but by its very nature, blogs are rarely that time (Engadget and blogs that are information-delivery-centric get a pass, but then, I know Ryan and Pete and some of the other contributors at Engadget, so maybe that’s why I feel that way).
For the rest of you, consider adding a picture to your sidebar. At least add a name. Take it from me: I put my full name, my cell phone, my instant messenger client, and all kinds of info, and I’m not being stalked. Yet.
Go Gentle with the Sidebar Gems
I had to check my blog to see if I was really calling the kettle black on this. I’ve got six, but I believe my six are community building tools. I have MyBlogLog for showing community. I have Upcoming.org for event populating. I have MyChingo so you can leave audio comments (video coming soon). And a few more.
When I see 40 or 50 weird things to click, it distracts me. I consider that sidebar information as a kind of “Here’s what I’m pimping” section. Every bit of it drags me to click away. Should you put a Flickr bar in there? Sure! Because it enhances connection. Promote just causes? Sure, because it’s a badge collection of things that matter. But, design that area with just a little thought.
- Enable SEARCH
- List Archives, if you can
- Display how to subscribe
- Make Sure there’s a Contact page
- An About Me page is nice, too
Hey, don’t let me throw stones all over the place. Do you want to take a shot at my blog? Am I doing something that annoys you, or that you wish I’d do differently? Do you have improvement ideas I missed in my list? Let’s look at it all together and see what else we can do to improve each other’s blogs, because your blog is a community tool for you. Make it a good one.