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Archive for the ‘Blog Basics’ Category

This would be a good time to check your spam filters to see if any valid comments have been inadvertently blocked. It is not uncommon for non-Wordpress bloggers’ comments to be identified as spam and you will never see their comments unless you release them from the filter. For more info, see this earlier post.

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Would you like to make it easier for people to contact you about your blog?  Adding a contact page in WordPress.com is easily done.   HERE is the relevant information from the WordPress.com support site.  Please note that it is best to turn off comments for that page.

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Most of us like to deal with fellow bloggers by name. It makes everything so much more personal! Your friendly administrators are ready to admit that we’re having some trouble keeping track of who’s who in the Photowalk. As if the fact that we have several cases of duplicate first names isn’t confusing enough, we also have some bloggers using usernames instead of names to identify themselves and some blogs failing to display the blogger’s name at all. We’d like to offer some tips to help reduce some of this confusion for everyone. (Instructions are for WordPress.com blogs because that’s what we’re familiar with. If anyone who uses Blogger would like to explain similar functions, please do so in the comments.)

  • Name vs. Username. While some usernames are totally memorable, many of us actually find names easier to remember.  If you’d like to make your actual name rather than your username appear along with your comment, you’ll need to select it as your Display Name in WordPress. To do this, sign in to WordPress.com and at the top left select My Account>Edit Profile>Name>Display Name. From the dropdown list, select your name from the available formats.  If your name is Linda, or Karen, or Bill, it would be especially helpful to include your last name or initial. (Note: WordPress users’ comments won’t necessarily appear with the display name when commenting on Blogger.com blogs. This appears to be some sort of miscommunication between OpenID and Blogger. If anyone knows a solution, please comment below!)
  • Clickable Comment Links. When people leave comments, it’s nice for both the blog owner and other visitors to be able to identify who left the comment and also to be able to click on their name to go directly to the commenter’s blog. This won’t happen if the commenter isn’t logged in, so please remember to log in to WordPress.com when you are commenting.
  • Blog Taglines. Taglines like the one on Mary Lou’s blog that says ‘as seen by Mary Lou’, help visitors to easily connect the name to the blog when they visit. Not all the WordPress.com themes support this kind of tagline so to find out if your does, go to your blog’s dashboard then Settings>General Settings. In the tagline section enter something like ‘photos by Julie’, then click Save Changes. If your theme enables taglines, it will now appear in your blog’s heading.
  • Avatars/Gravatars. If you are still using a generic avatar (WordPress actually calls them Gravatars), please consider making yourself more recognizable by replacing it with a custom image.  Sign in to WordPress.com and go to My Account>Edit Profile.  At the top right of the screen you’ll see your Gravatar image.  If it’s the generic one, why not replace it with a lovely image of YOU or something equally unique? Edit:  Thanks to Esther who shared a tip on how non-Wordpress users can create a Gravatar that will appear in comments on WordPress and other blogs.  Go  HERE.
  • About Me Pages. “About Me” pages can be useful to visitors wanting to know a bit about the photographer.  You can easily add an ‘About Me’ page by going to your blog’s dashboard, then Pages>New Page. Or, you can add a textbox in your sidebar with your name and little biographical information. To do this, go to Appearance>Widgets and drag a text widget over to the right side. You can even add an image widget and display a photo of yourself in the sidebar.  Tell us as little or as much as you want – remember it’s all about YOU!
  • Side Bar Gravatar. Once you have a unique, identifiable gravatar, why not put it in your sidebar so that visitors can easily make the connection between your blog and the gravatar that appears in comments around the Photowalk? To do this, go to Appearance>Widgets and drag a gravatar widget over to your sidebar. You can customize the information that appears with the gravatar and even make it clickable to go to your About Me page.

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A few Photowalk participants are reporting that the comments they leave on some blogs are not posting. Obviously, it can be very discouraging to take the time to make a comment only to find the remarks never appear. We would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to make periodic checks to see if any comments are being held for moderation or if any legitimate comments have been accidentally marked as spam.

There are a couple ways to address this in WordPress.com. For one method, go to your WordPress.com dashboard and select “Comments” to take you to the Edit Comments screen.

On the Edit Comments screen, you’ll see numbers in parentheses next to “Pending” or “Spam” if you have messages being held for moderation or that have been identified as spam. In this screenshot, there are none being held.

If you have messages being held, click on the word “Pending” or “Spam” as appropriate and you’ll be taken to a screen listing the messages being held. Hover your mouse over the listed post and a menu will appear with the options ‘Approve’ ‘Reply’ ‘Quick Edit’ ‘Edit’ ‘Spam’ ‘Trash’. Select ‘Approve’ to release any legitimate comment and ‘Trash’ for those you consider to be spam.

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By now, most of us have a system in place to keep track of the blogs in our blogging groups so that we don’t miss out on new posts. Your system might be as simple as saving the blogs as bookmarks in your browser or perhaps clicking through the links you’ve put in your blog’s sidebar. If so, you might have found it frustrating to click on blogs that don’t actually have new images posted. Wouldn’t it be nice to streamline the process of reading your blogs so that you always know at a glance which blogs to visit and which to keep on the back burner? All you need to do is utilize a feed reader to keep you abreast of the new content as it’s added.

Google Reader is one of the most popular feed readers. To set up your own Google Reader, you will need a free Google account, available HERE. Note that if you use GMail, have a Youtube account, or use any other Google services, you already have a Google account and can use the same username and password to log in. Otherwise, you’ll need to register.

Once your account is set up, adding blog subscriptions is easy. First, navigate to the blog you want to follow, copy the URL from your browser’s address bar, and then click on ‘Add a Subscription’ near the top left of the Google Reader screen. It helps to have two browser windows open as you are doing this, one for the blogs you want to add and one for the Google Reader application. Once the blog’s URL is copied from the blog page, move to Google Reader and paste the URL into the subscription box.  Voila!   The subscription will now appear in a list in the left hand column of Google Reader.

Once you’ve subscribed to all your blogs, you may organize your subscriptions into folders.  For example, you could have one for Blogging Groups and another for other blogs of interest. After that, every time a subscribed blog has new content added, the blog’s name will become bold, and the number of unread posts will appear in parentheses. Click on the blog name and you’ll see the title of the new posts appear in the right hand pane. You can click on the title of the blog from there and you’ll be taken directly to the blog. If you click on the title of the post, you can read the post in Google Reader without going to the blog. Google Reader will mark blog posts as ‘read’ if you click on the title of the individual post. If, instead, you click on the title of the blog, you’ll want to manually mark the posts as read.  You may customize your subscription lists to your liking by clicking on the tiny down arrow next to a blog’s name. From there you can rename the subscription, change its folder, or add new folders.  Google Reader has many more customizable features and the best way to learn them is to explore on your own. While you’re at it, please be sure to add the Virtual Photowalk Blog to your reader also.

For a bit more information about the advantages of subscribing to feeds, see THIS PAGE from WordPress.com support.

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New Blog Badge Available

Our banner creator, Val, has created a badge for all participants to use on their individual blogs. Instructions for adding it to the sidebar of a WordPress.com blog are as follows:

Right click and save the image file. Now go to your WordPress dashboard and select Media›Add New from the left side. Upload the image and copy the URL from “File URL” at the bottom (make sure you capture the entire line). Now, go to Widgets and add a new Text widget. Paste the URL you just copied into the text box. To make the image appear, it’s necessary to add some code. All you have to do is add the characters <img src= just before the URL and the character > right after the URL.

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