Just a quick not to let you know that I deleted the last installment of my “Best of” series. I blame myself for this. The post included a reference to a specific piece of writing from a Fredericksburg-area blogger that I’ve had problems with in the past. Keep in mind that I did not include the author’s name nor did I include a link in the original post. Unfortunately, I missed the reference when I decided to use it in the series and it led to this blogger issuing a highly insulting response on his own blog. Again, I blame myself for this. This individual not only attacked me, but also chose to insult all high school history teachers. Within hours the post was taken down, but I did manage to save a copy of it. In the event that I learn of any comments that are personal in nature on this particular blog in the future, I will not hesitate to publish this deleted post.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
It looks like most of you have adjusted to the new comment system with little difficulty. A few of you expressed some misgivings, but enough of you have taken advantage of Disqus’s features to convince me that it has been worthwhile. I want to encourage more of you to set up an account with Disqus and “claim” your comments, especially fellow bloggers who are looking to direct more traffic to your sites. Consider Greg Rowe’s Profile Page, which includes all of his comments, an option to subscribe to his comments, and a link to his own blog. You can add links to a number of social networking sites if you like. I also recommend uploading an avatar unless you don’t mind a default image of Frederick Douglass.
I suspect that the threaded comments format has been somewhat of a challenge to adjust to. The first thing you will notice is that the comments are organized in the order of most recent first. Every comment that is aligned left is potentially the beginning of a new thread. Leave a new comment or hit the “Reply” button to respond directly to a comment. Threads can be indented five times before they align directly below the previous comment. I don’t mind admitting some difficulty following extended discussions; the trick is to learn to follow threads rather than individual comments. In other words, although the comments are organized most recent first, you may have to scroll down to locate a new comment that has been added to a old thread. Of course, you can subscribe to an individual blog post’s comments if you want to be notified as soon as a new comment is posted.
Finally, you may have noticed what is called a Wibiya bar at the bottom of the screen. This blogging tool is still in beta, but I’ve noticed it on other blogs and thought it might help with functionality without adding to the sidebar. You can minimize it by clicking on the arrow on the right hand side. I want to see where the developers take this little gadget. And I am pleased to report that I am in the process of moving the blog to a new hosting company called MidPhase. Their customer service has been stellar thus far and I am hoping that this will be a painless transition.
In our last class we discussed the importance of providing hyperlinks when responding to another blogger. First, it is intellectually honest to do so; it provides context and allows the reader to judge for herself as to whether your criticisms are warranted; and it prevents readers from concluding that you are simply engaging in a bitter/personal attack for reasons unknown.
Today’s lesson will focus on the posting of comments by disgruntled readers whose commentary addresses a subject on another blog. We will focus specifically on a comment that had been deemed inappropriate for publication, usually for reasons that are apparent in the comment itself. Consider the following example. The first thing that you will notice is that the comment has absolutely nothing to do with the post under which it is located. Again, no context is provided by the blog host to explain to his readers why the comment made it through. The reader is left to wonder why it has been posted at all. In this example, however, a third party is referenced in the comment who happens to be another blogger and a frequent commenter. Notice that this reader now has to defend himself apart from the narrative thread in which the discussion evolved. That is unfortunate. However, the most important reason why one should avoid this practice is because it prevents readers from concluding that you are simply engaging in a bitter/personal attack for reasons unknown.
See you next time when we will discuss…
I was trying to find the perfect post to demonstrate the benefits of threaded comments as well as the other features that Disqus offers and came across the following from January 6, 2009 on Lee and historical memory. It’s not the post that I want you to focus on, but the comments. First, I think the discussion moves much more smoothly with the threaded format, but more importantly, your comments are incredibly thoughtful. Readers are engaged with the topic at hand and are listening to one another. Hell, I don’t think you are going to find a more thoughtful and intelligent group of readers anywhere else in the blogosphere. Give yourselves a hand and give Disqus a try.
As some of you know I’ve been playing around with an external comment system to help improve discussion and community. Before WordPress added the threaded comments option this was the main reason why these plugins were used. I played around with it, but in the end decided that it was too much hassle since it only takes a small number of people to fail to use the system properly. The other issue was not wanting to hand over my comments to a third party. Luckily, most of these comment tools have taken care of this issue. In recent weeks I tried again, but had some difficulty syncing the comments. After the technical problems of last week subsided I decided to give it another shot. This time things are much more promising. The only issue is getting the comments from the last five days properly synced. The customer support system at Disqus is first rate so I am hoping to hear from them soon. For those of you who have commented on the last few posts please rest assured that your comments are safe.
While you will be able to take advantage of threaded comments, the real benefit is in the way that Disqus fosters community among readers. I urge you to take a few seconds to set up an account with Disqus. Of course, you can still comment the old-fashioned way, but an account will allow you to subscribe to the comments of others and your own comments will be archived from around the Web. I think that is pretty darn cool. Finally, it would be great if those of you who comment frequently would upload some kind of image to your comments.
I hope you find this worthwhile and you can start by leaving a comment to this post.