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Genuine comments or SPAM?

Enough said about the editing of comments. I got the impression that most people would not do it and some even may frown upon the idea. Let’s leave it to that.

Something else has sprung upon me and it has made me feel a bit silly and naïve. The reason I started looking into the option of editing comments is due to the following. Many comments I received were in the kind of English that either shows that the writer is not fluent in English or that they used a bad Google translation. Almost all of them go directly to SPAM – something WordPress does, I say thankfully!

SPAM in different shapes and forms

As I am researching the ‘art’ of blogging I started tracking the comments on my blog posts. As a result I have discovered something interesting or rather something annoying and a touch disappointing. Some days I had up to 10 comments – of course all in Spam to start off with. Some of them appeared familiar and after going over older posts I discovered that I had received the same or similar remarks before. They happen to be of a positive nature much to my liking but they seem to be templates. As I have seen exactly the same on other blogs I am drawing the conclusion that I am not the only one getting them.

This is only part of what I discovered. As I read the comments, un-spammed them and contemplated to react on them I hovered over the websites and email addresses of the writers. Only to find out that they all seem to come from websites with the same topics despite the fact that the email addresses are all different. You’ll never believe it but the content of most of those websites is about the apparently ‘highly sought’ after topic of pool cleaners. Must be! –  as the amount of promoters is abundant.

My first reaction was amazement, than disbelief followed by this uncomfortable feeling that I had been so naïve to believe that those comments came from genuine writers. They obviously did not – pool cleaners of all things!  Their websites and URL’s are different but they all seem to go back to the same source. Do I miss something here? Is there a secret society of these products that post spamming comments on blogs as a sideline?

Nice comments’ to lure you in….

Digging consequently even a bit more and looking at reactions on a larger number of my older posts similar comments have been posted coming from different sites. It didn’t take long to realise that most of them originate from sites with the same source  – the good old pool cleaner.

It really annoyed me and for a couple of days I was put off to write another article. I concluded however that it is just one of those things that happen when you expose yourself publicly. Apparently some people have nothing better to do. What I do wonder is what they think they can achieve with it. I am certainly not motivated to buy a pool cleaner nor would I recommend any of those sites. I am much more inclined to Booo them off the stage to be honest!  Anyway let them be. They have had their little moment on my site but from now on my ‘spam detectors’ will be on an even higher alert.

Then on a different note altogether – I am on holiday in Europe and think I am realistic by saying that I will reduce my blog activity to one post per week.

Time to make some changes

When I started my blog with WordPress I sifted through all the different templates and choose eventually the ‘Twenty Eleven Theme’ – the one I am using now. It is fresh and modern. WordPress itself calls it contemporary, elegant and simple.

I have been using it since the end of November and understand that it is possible to customise the theme more to my liking and to fit the purpose. I realised this week that the header contains a number of pictures that are rotated constantly. Nice pictures but totally random. They have got nothing to do with the topic of my blog.

I have decided to create my own personalised header with images that reflect the content of ‘blogexercise’. This may not be such a simple task as I can think of many aspects that represent blogging. I will try to pin down what it means for me, set a scene and get going with my camera. Probably not that easy either, but it will be good fun!

Creating a header that makes sense

Challenging on the technical front? Maybe not for some of you but it will be for me. But with an IT professional as husband and a computer savvy daughter I should be alright. First I have to decide on the actual image I like to be displayed in the header.

I had a quick look online and there are many pictures, cartoons etc that have to do with blogging. Immediately there is the issue of copyright when choosing something that is online. If you find something online that you like to use, it is good practice to check if you are allowed to and to credit the source after having been granted permission. Also check out my post ‘Your or Theirs’.

I am more attracted to having a go at creating something myself. I can take the pictures but apparently it can only be uploaded in a certain format – it needs to be 1000 x 288 pixels. My daughter assured me that she can organise that although it looks as if WordPress can also fix that for you during the uploading process. Additionally there are other websites that can take on this role for you. Just Google ‘header of a blog’ and you can take your pick!

I am starting to get got some ideas for the pictures and will leave this post for what it is and retain my creative juices for setting the scene for my new header image.

Looking forward to it!

Ready to put your ‘technical hat’ on?

I think it is time to get a little more technical. I have been avoiding it for a while but I feel I can hold off no longer. I will do an attempt to get a good grip on the basic technical attributes of a blog. By the way we are still talking about a hosted blog – a turn-key blog.

Blogging sites such as WordPress, BlogSpot and TypePad have made it very easy for the less technical equipped and in less than 5 minutes you can register and create a blog, choose your favourite template and off you go. It is user friendly and I am sure that most bloggers will be perfectly happy to have a long relationship with their ‘hosted blog’.

They are easy to set up, easy to run and their features are easy to use. In case you do get stuck they offer tutorials that cover everything you need to know about your blog’s features.  They also have automatic updates that happen behind the scenes without you realising it.

Using a ‘hosted blog’ has some disadvantages such as lack of control and limitations in designs and templates. Also your URL is not unique and it will contain the name of the blog host – in my case ‘blogexercise@wordpress.com’. This may not bother you at all but it could become an issue when your blog gets very popular and you would like to create a more professional look with your own domain. The good news is that it is possible to transfer the content of a hosted blog to a self hosted blog. It just may require some technical help!

The basic anatomy of a blog

Whatever blog you choose they all have a couple of things in common. It will have a banner, a profile and there is usually an email address so your readers can get in touch with you.

Banner or header image

The face of your blog and it contains the blog’s name, an illustration or a picture. You can find it at the top of the blog and it ideally represents your style and you as a writer.

One of the reasons that I would like to change to a self hosted blog is that I could not find a template and banner that really is ‘me’ or more importantly what I would like the blog to look like. My problem is that so far I only have vague ideas about the ‘looks’ of my blog so for the time being I am kind of happy with the face of ‘Blogexercise’. It’s simple, fresh and stylish.

Profile

A bit about youwho you are, your name, where you are from and what your blog is about. Could be a craft, a picture blog, cooking or whatever drives you to write your blog. You can reveal as much or a little about yourself as you wish but your readers will be interested in learning a bit about you.

Columns

Your blog consists of a main column where your blog posts appear and there usually one or more of sidebars where links are being displayed. You will find things there such as archives, categories, photo galleries, ads and more. In ‘Blogexercise’ you can see a list of recent posts, archives, categories and various links.

Basic so far but more to come!