Comment Feeds, Please! (and other things about blogging)

Well, there may be a lot of „professional“ and „famous“ bloggers out there who might say what they like or dislike when reading blogs and if you want to create a „professional“ blog rather than a private little blog about the things you are interested in, then you might ask these people better than reading on what I am going to write. Because I will now tell you about a few things I dont like on some Blogs, and reasons why a blog might be thrown out of my RSS-Feed-List.

Have and Maintain a Feed

Yes, there are still people who proudly write their own Blog-Software but dont provide any feed. Even though their site might have interesting content, there are thousands of other sites who provide interesting contents, too, and at least for me, its rather hard to produce something so interesting that I am willing to periodically go to your Site and watch for news.

These times are gone. There are too much people writing their opinion online. I have just counted 439 Newsfeeds in my Feed-Reader, and at least half of them are providing information that interests me, but most of them dont do this often. I cannot manage to watch 439 Websites every time, especially because mostly I am just reading this stuff in my free time, mostly without getting anything out of it I really need, i.e. just for fun.

And something that especially gets on my nerves is when I already subscribed to a feed and then the blogger changes his Software and with it the Feed-URL, without writing a note on the old newsfeed. So I only get notice about it by the error messages of my feed reader. This is annoying!

Ah, and especially: Make it easily findable. Provide feed-links as well as link-tags which Feedreaders can recognize. I dont want to have to „search“ your site for them.

I dont care much about design, just make your site work with as little as possible

Many people like Websites which put great efforts into their site-design. There is nothing wrong with that, except that these efforts often lead to huge requirements of your browser.

In particular: If I go to your site, then dont expect me to activate JavaScript, if there is no explicit reason. If you use jsMath because you cannot use LaTeX on your provider’s Server, or you are writing browser games and therefore need JavaScript, then kindly excuse yourself when I go to your site, and ask me to activate JavaScript, rather than commanding me to do so. JavaScript uses my system resources and might produce additional security vulnerabilities – and if you are just too lazy to provide an Interface that doesnt need JS, without really needing it, I am not willing to give you the trust of letting your code execute on my Computer!

Same for Flash-Animations. Flash is like a cullender when it comes to security. There are a few domains which I trust. For example, I trust large Video-Portals like YouTube, Vimeo or Dailymotion. Because if they would become vulnerable, then they would fix it as fast as they could. I dont want to see Flash on your Website, except when its really necessary. Ok, its still necessary for embedding videos or sound – I hope that these times will go away soon, but there is no other possibility that really works by now. So yeah, I can understand that you might use Flash when its impossible not to do so.

Advertisement-Services also sometimes use Flash. I dont see why they do it, instead of just using GIF-Animations, but well, I can understand that you want to get back the money you pay for your provider, so well, keep your Flash-Advertisements – I will block Flash anyway if you dont give me a reason not to do so.

But as soon as your site has some fancy-looking sidebar or other shit programmed in Flash, I will certainly not use it.

Ah, and dont use Cookies, if there is no reason for it. Some Ad-Services might require them, but I will block them if I dont see a reason to give you the opportunity to save data on my PC!

You might use Cascading Style Sheets, and well, if you really want, you might provide additional functionality using JavaScript and Cookies – yes, these technologies are nice for some purposes, and if I read your website for a long time, I might feel comfortable with giving you the opportunity to save small pieces of data and execute small pieces of code on my PC. But if you try to force me to do so, I will not give an inch.

Oh, and a note on CSS: CSS is made to put design on your site to make it viewable with many technologies. Maybe I want to go to your site using lynx. Then please put the boilerplate-elements below the interesting stuff. I dont want to have to scroll down 5 screens of stupid login-, blogroll- and linklist-information before I finally can get to the content I want to see.

Allow comments to all people

There is a lot of comment-spam so I can understand why you might want to look at the comments I write before publishing them. I can understand when you want me to enter a captcha, I can even understand when you require JavaScript for commenting to prevent spam. But if so, dont just assume I have JavaScript turned on, tell me that comments need JavaScript before producing strange errors (or just doing nothing).

You want my name (or a representative Nickname) and of course an E-Mail-Adress of mine. Maybe you are kindly even adding my Gravatar-Icons. But dont forget to give me the possibility to put some Website-URL of mine on top of my comments. Maybe you are not interested, but other people reading my comment might be interested to get to know more about me – I help you to keep your blog alive, so in exchange you can help me. Fair is fair.

Dont expect me to register anywhere or have an OpenID. Yes, I have an OpenID, and if you kindly ask me to provide one, I might think about it. But requiring to have such a service or even registering on your blog before I can post is arrogant and if you dont give something really awesome to me, I just wont post comments on your site. And if I cannot discuss about what you write, well, your site might get less interesting to me.

Of course I can understand you if you have a blog-provider not allowing this. But well, then you might consider changing the provider. At least WordPress allows comments in general. If a blogging service doesnt allow it, just dont use it.

Have thread-based comment-feeds or at least mailing-notifications

So well, you have managed to make me put a comment on your page. Con grats! Now maybe I expect some reaction by you or some other person. If you are using one of the larger blogging-services like WordPress, the thread I just posted in has a Comment-Feed, telling me about comments given there. Sometimes, Blogs dont provide this, but they provide Mailing-Notifications if some new comments come up. I can live with that (I gave you my mail-adress anyway).

But you have to give me something. Otherwise I will have to keep that tab with the comments open. And since I am working on at least 3 distinct computers, partially with distinct browsers, I will certainly not follow these comments for a long time.

But if I cant follow the reactions on my Comment, I will think twice before posting a comment anyway.

Dont be professional

Except when you are a real journalist who has already worked for newspapers or plans to do something like a newspaper, or you host a science blog, dont be professional. I am sick of all this „professional blogging“ stuff. For me, a weblog must not be professional, except maybe when its about science – if its professional, it becomes an online newspaper, but then, it should be stated as such, and compete with others of its kind. In blogs, I want to read the opinions of many unprofessional people.

Conclusion

Well, thats what you should do if you want me to read your blog. If you are a famous blogger, than you might as well ignore me, because you have so much other followers. But surprisingly, most famous bloggers meet my requirements – a coincidence?

I like private blogs. I like scientific blogs. I like small blogs that dont write much more than once a month, as well as bloggers who write five articles a day. I wouldnt read your blog because its special, I would read it because its one of many.

Always remember that you are unique – just like everybody else.

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