Monday, January 24, 2011

Blogging and Technology

Recently, Amy Coffin of the We Tree Genealogy Blog wrote an important post about blogging and how easy (or not) bloggers make it to leave comments.

She pondered whether bloggers unintentionally make it more difficult than necessary for their audience to comment on blogs.  She asked other bloggers to answer a series of questions about their practices.  It was clear that many of the bloggers hadn't given much thought to it previously and many changed their settings based on Amy's discussion.

The Mechanics of Reading Blogs

This post really got me thinking about blogging and technology.  First off, I was reading the blog post on my smart phone.  I enjoy reading it that way because it has a really nice interface. It shows me only the blog post itself and cuts out the distracting navigation menu and extraneous stuff on the side of my Google Reader. However, it makes if really difficult to leave comments.  You take the challenge that exists normally on a blog and then double it when using a smart phone.  I just wonder how many comments blog authors lose because of issues like this.

Blogging Technology Needs to Be Better

After realizing that, I started wondering why, with so many millions of bloggers in the world blogging on endless different topics, that software developers don't do more to make blogging better.  It makes me think that the developers aren't bloggers themselves or else they would change a few things.

Wish List

Here's my wish list for a few things that I would change.  I'll only mention a couple things here but the list could go on and on.  These are directed at since that is the program that I use.

1) Make the interface for comments easier to use for readers who are not techies.  What are all those options anyway?  I don't even know what some of them mean.  For someone who is not tech savvy it's downright scary.  If anonymous posts are allowed, feature that clearly and simply at the top and put all the other techy options beneath that.  Stop scaring our readers away!

2) Make "Open Link In New Window" a menu option when adding links.  It's so simple it should be obvious but clearly it's not.  Please stop driving our readers away to other sites or helping them get lost when they can't find their way back.

3) Put more effort into the interface for smart phones.  Make it easy for smart phone users to leave comments.  More and more people are using smart phones.  Reading blogs is a great thing to do when you are sitting in the doctor's office or at the soccer field waiting for a practice to end.  More people would read blogs and comment on them if you focused on this up-and-coming technology.


Blogger developers, please give us an easy button!  The technology is there to make the interfaces easier to use while providing more advanced options at the same time.  Perhaps you need to create some focus groups so you can find out directly what we want.  Ask us how we use the programs.  We'll be happy to tell you.

Bloggers - tell me what's on your wish list!


  1. I wondered if there is a way to do # 2 on your list, I would LOVE that!

  2. With WordPress it is possible to have links open in another window. Mind you, you have to know to choose that option when adding a link because it defaults to opening in the same window. When reading other sites, I often right mouse click and force links to open in another window or tab rather than having them open in the same window.

  3. I'm commenting here from my iPhone. I have often tried to comment on blogs this way and been thwarted. On some blogs I can, others I can't, and I haver worked out how to tell in advance. Although I can type in text I can't publish it.

    It is a concern. When I look at my blog stats there is a growing share of visits from smartphones.

    If you are reading this comment, it's possible to comment on your blog from an iPhone.

  4. I'm a technical guy, so can sometimes offer suggestions that are a little daunting for the non-tech crowd - apologies if below is confusing for anyone.

    If the blogging software you use doesn't have an option to make a link open in a new tab, you can always add some simple code by hand to make it do so.

    Once you add a link in a post, find something in the blog post software that says "Edit HTML."

    If a plain vanilla link looks like this:
    ... a href="">This is a link!<...

    All you need to do is add the following after the site URL: target="_blank"
    (Note there's a space before the word target and that is an underscore before the word blank.)

    The final result will look like this and will open in a new window:

    ...a href "" target="_blank">This is a link!<...

    (I had to use the ... in part of the examples so blogspot would show them as text and not links.)

  5. Marian, I hope you'll send your suggestions to blogger. They may not be quickly responsive to suggestions but I believe they at least read and consider them.

    I had a survey about comments on the sidebar of my blog a week ago asking people to respond. I posted the results. There were lots of comments in my original post when I requested the participation of other bloggers.

    I'm not tech savvy, but as JTT commented, it's an easy fix to make links open in a new window. It's less than two dozen keystrokes in the right place - not as easy as mousing an icon but not too hard.

    Now I have to go read Amy's post about comments.