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Redesign and a Note to the Blogosphere

I’m working on a redesign, so posting will be light.

In the meantime, here are a few things that you, as a blogger, can do to make our lives as readers a little easier:

  • Let us subscribe to comments. We’re a lot more likely to discuss something if we can keep up with the discussion. Reloading a page 20 times a day to see if there’s anything new is a real pain. If you’re using WordPress, consider a plugin like Subscribe to Comments.
  • Publish a full RSS feed. I use Google Reader to keep track of over 400 blogs. Publishing a full feed instead of just a few sentences – or even worse, just the title [this means you, Teacher Magazine] – makes it a lot easier to keep up. If I wanted to load a page to read every article, I wouldn’t bother using an RSS aggregator.
  • Check your feed’s formatting. Rule #1: Subscribe to your own feed. You’ll see how it appears for other people, too. If your feed mashes together paragraphs into one huge block of text, no matter how long the article, consider checking that formatting. We want to read things smoothly and easily, not sift through text.

And a couple smaller things:

  • Don’t use CAPITAL LETTERS for EMPHASIS. Using the right words in a well-constructed argument makes THIS TACTIC irrelevant. Furthermore, it’s an offensive gesture. Do you really think your readers are too dumb to seize on key words and recognize their importance? If you NEED to do this, you’ve failed already. The alternative – and it’s a good one – is to use bold sparingly to catch attention.
  • Strikethroughs. This unbearably banal charming addition to the blogosphere irks me. We have no gripe when it’s used properly as a copyediting mark; it’s instructive and honest, two pillars of blogdom. However, most of the time it’s used to denote cheap snark and cheaper sarcasm. There are less obnoxious ways to go about this.

Any others?

6 Responses to “Redesign and a Note to the Blogosphere”

  1. Aw, come on — strikethroughs are fun.

    Totally agree on the rest, though, especially on subscriptions to comment feeds.

  2. Redkudu says:

    I need more tips for WordPress. I haven’t been able to blog much, but want to return to it, and am finding it more complex than I’d anticipated.

    Also, blogs which have small, light-colored text on dark backgrounds are difficult to read.

  3. Robert,

    I left out an important point… the main reason I don’t like strikethroughs is because not all blogging software seems to keep them in an RSS feed. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to load a site to see which of the two words the author meant to strike because there was no line in the feed.

  4. Redkudu,

    I think I’ve found an awesome WP theme that eliminates all the confusing work for us. I’m not really a coder, so even small tweaks/fixes take me longer than they should.

    The problem? It isn’t free – about $80.

  5. Guilty as charged on strike-throughs and capitals. But yes, you’re right, strike-throughs don’t always show up. Does it count for or against me that I can’t stand emotikons?

  6. PJC,

    It’s really just the habitual abusers who get to me. The occasional strikethrough/caps isn’t a big deal.

    Hating emoticons = +50 extra points.

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