Blog Cleaning

Dung Beetle

Cleaning up

While I had removed a lot of the unnecessary stuff that was making it’s way to the from page of this blog and kept it so you were only seeing actual posts, (as opposed to webcasts for other sites and aggregated Twitter content) Sara pointed out to me that all of that stuff was still finding it’s way into the RSS feed.

That, I’m happy to say, is a problem no longer.

I’ve now stopped all the stuff I didn’t want cluttering the front page of the blog form making it’s way into the RSS feed and the only way you’ll find it (assuming you want to) is to go looking for it in the correct category on the site itself.

2 thumbs up for clutter reduction!

Happy days!

Favicons Are So Easy To Create. Where’s Yours? (How To)

favicons in tabsFavicons are those cool little graphics that site in the address bar and tab of your browser.

I’m amazed by how many sites either don’t have one, or are using which ever one shipped with their CMS.

Feed ReaderFavicons are a wonderful tool for branding as they provide a visual identifier to help your site stand out from all the other anonymous tabs a reader may have open. They also help your content stand out in feed readers such as Google Reader.

As I’m sure you can see from the image on the right, the blogs with favicons stand out and are far more identifiable than those which don’t have one. Those without favicons get stuck being displayed using the standard blue RSS icon in Google Reader.

Hopefully you can see mine above and have one already in place on your site.

If you don’t have one, here’s how to get one done in 3 easy steps.

  1. Fire up your favorite image editor and create a square image (200×200) and design the icon you’d like. Keep in mind that this will be reduced to 16×16 pixels in size, so don’t make it too intricate.
  2. Upload the 200×200 image to the Dynamic Drive FavIcon Generator. FavIcon Generator will reduce your image the necessary 16×16 size and output it as a favicon.ico file.
  3. Upload “favicon.ico” to the root of your site and then add the following code to the header of your site. It should be inserted before the “</head>” tag.

<link rel=”shortcut icon” type=”image/x-icon” href=”/favicon.ico”>

Clear your browsers cache and the cache on your site if you use one, hit refresh and enjoy your new piece of persistent visual branding.

FYI, there are a number of other favicon generator scripts online, but the Dynamic Drive one does the best job of reducing your image while keeping the best quality.

Enjoy!

Podcast: Splogging or Blog Pirating (Part 2)

Happy Hour with Mr. Business Golf – Splogging or Blog Pirating 2

As a follow up to our podcasts about the internet and the problems with social networks (Part 1, 2, 3, 4) Scot Duke and I recorded a segment about splogs, how they affect bloggers and how to deal with them.

This 14 minute show is the second of series of podcasts  (Part 1) to come out of that conversation.

As you remember, I am visiting with Paul O’Flaherty on Sploggers and the issues that surround what they are causing bloggers. In this second part Paul and I get down to the nuts and bolts of the issue on Splogging, what the problems they are causing and Paul offers some great insight into a few possible solutions bloggers should consider to battle Sploggers. I have a feeling you are going to enjoy this segment, so sit back and listen to what Paul and I have to say about Splogging.

Links

Download Podcast MP3: Splogging #02 12.9 Mb 0:14:09

Visit the blog at http://pauloflaherty.com/ or email paul.oflaherty@gmail.com

Leave a voice message via GTalk or mp3 at paul.oflaherty@gmail.com

Podcast: Splogging or Blog Pirating (Part 1)

Happy Hour with Mr. Business Golf – Splogging or Blog Pirating 1

As a follow up to our podcasts about the internet and the problems with social networks (Part 1, 2, 3, 4) Scot Duke and I recorded a segment about splogs, how they affect bloggers and how to deal with them.

This 15 minute show is the first of series of podcasts to come out of that conversation.

Now, in this short series of podcasts I came to Paul with a question on how to deal with the growing number of Pirate Bloggers, or Sploggers as they are commonly known. This is becoming a huge issue and is driving many golf bloggers offline since they are tired of dealing with the problem. Let’s hear what Paul has to offer as a solution to Pirate Bloggers or Sploggers.

Links

Download Podcast MP3: Splogging #01 13.3 Mb 0:14:34

Visit the blog at http://pauloflaherty.com/ or email paul.oflaherty@gmail.com

Leave a voice message via GTalk or mp3 at paul.oflaherty@gmail.com

Full or partial? Sara feeds the debate…

A little over a year ago I posted about how I felt that partial feeds are like foreplay without sex. Damn frustrating!

Sara from Suburban Oblivion has reopened that can of worms again and is getting some great feedback in her comments with the vast majority of folks preferring full feeds.

I’ve gone back and forth on this, and am finally going back to full feed. I almost hate to do it, because I know I’ll have to keep a sharp eye on where my feed is being fed(partial feeds protect from others running your RSS through their blog) and I suspect my comments will go down. BUT, I also know a lot of people get really annoyed by partial feeds, so back to full feed I go.

What makes the feedback Sara is getting really interesting to me is that it’s not coming from the tech bloggers. Sara is a "Mommy blogger" and most of the feedback she’s getting is from other bloggers like her.

Heck, I appear to be the only guy who’s commented on her post so that, in itself, should be enough to show that the feedback Sara is receiving is from a different demographic than we (male tech bloggers) usually encounter.

I publish full feeds on O’Flaherty and that will never change as it would be in conflict with my own feed reading habits.

What do you publish? Full or partial?

More posts = more attention?

Information Overload Common sense would seem to tell me that the more I post the more readers I will have and the more I’ll be able to attract.

This may be true from a search engine perspective as the more material you have the more likely it is that somebody will click on something but what about retaining the attention of you subscribers.

Do more posts mean that they’ll visit more often or that they’re more likely to click through from their RSS reader and comments

No!

Actually, too many post can have a detrimental effect on you subscriber base leading them to loose interest in your blog and ultimately unsubscribe.

I’ve been looking at my reading trends in Google Reader for the past 30 days and noticed that in general the more items were posted by a particular site the less likely it was that I would read them.

Here’s the stats for the top 40 most prolific posting sites that I’m subscribed to as well as the percentage of posts I actually read:

RSS Feed Items/Day%Read
TechAddress88.75%
Robert’s shared items in Google Reader52.15%
Buzztracker.com – Technology51.630%
digg / Technology39.124%
The Register28.821%
Techmeme21.760%
Slashdot20.260%
Lifehacker14.257%
Dvorak Uncensored12.236%
digg / Science11.414%
Techdirt.8.560%
TechCrunch8.249%
Andy Beal’s Marketing Pilgrim – Internet Marketing Blog & Consultant6.780%
zedomax.com6.353%
GigaOM6.278%
Search Engine Watch Blog5.984%
Scobleizer Microsoft Geek Blogger4.978%
Technically Speaking 4.478%
bit-tech.net news Feed4.323%
Chris Pirillo3.833%
The Doc Searls Weblog3.791%
John Chow dot Com3.562%
Profy.Com3.479%
Digital Inspiration3.378%
InsideMicrosoft3.384%
Web Strategy by Jeremiah2.873%
Google Blogoscoped2.893%
we make money not art2.859%
BuzzMachine2.686%
Google Blog Search: link:http://pauloflaherty.com/2.562%
Google Operating System2.468%
Weblog Tools Collection2.384%
All about Microsoft21.83%
VTOR – Virtual TO Reality2.181%
Shoemoney – Skills to pay the bills2.176%
Tech-Recipes.com2.168%
eHub2.165%
SEO Book.com2.075%
Baron VC2.081%
Hack the Planet1.979%

These percentages are obviously swayed by the fact that I will like some authors more than others and therefore read more of their posts. The same applies to news sources.

My own personal bias’s aside it remains fairly obvious that once you start to get above 9 or 10 posts a day I tend to switch off and not read your feed.

Some of this could be due to duplication as the high output sites listed here tend to be aggregated news sources and there is a high chance of duplicate posts which I tend not to read. 

I find it rather interesting that I read only 5% of what Scoble posts to his link blog but 78% of what he actually blogs himself.

If you think that implies that I’m more interested in Scoble for his editorial commentary than anything else, you would be correct and the same can be said for many blogs that I read.

A quick look (no maths just intuition) shows that the sites posting up to 4 posts a manage to get me to read between 70 and 85% of their stuff, while those posting above 10 see a sharp decline.

2 to 4 posts a day seems to be the sweet spot for keeping my attention.

I wonder how my stats stack up against other Google Reader users?

Oh, here’s a little something for anybody who may be suffering from information overload ;)

Duplicate post detection in Google Reader

I’ve been thinking about RSS readers and specifically Google Reader (my reader of choice) since watching the video below after seeing it on Hackzine.

For me, the most interesting part of the video is not the process that Robert Scoble goes through to read 622 feeds but his comments about the need for Google Reader also to be available offline.

It would be over the moon  if Google released an offline version of Google Reader that synchronized with the online version.

Then when I’m traveling I can download my feed to a PDA or laptop and when I get to another internet connection log in and all the feeds I’ve read offline will be marked as read online and vice versa.

Robert is also one the money that when he says that the search in Google Reader needs to be improved.

But what he misses or fails to mention in the 11 minute 38 second long is one important problem with most / all feed readers. They fail to filter out duplicate posts.

This is something that has been bugging me for a while, but Rob Neville brought it to the front of my attention today in his post:

For example, if I’m subscribed to lifehacker, I can get a new feed item from them, then if its popular then I’ll get the same article from delicious hotlist about 3 or 4 times a day, and from Digg, and if it’s a topic I’m monitoring via a search, then I get it there too. How hard would it be to check if I’ve gotten the article via some other means already??

Obviously we’re not talking about different people writing about the same thing.

We’re talking about the one blog post coming in on multiple feeds. So if you’re subscribed to O’Flaherty and if, heaven forbid, Scoble saved my post to his link blog you’d get to see my post twice.

Possibly even more times if multiple link blog creators had saved it. 

Google already have Google Desktop and they definitely have the resources to release an offline, synchronizing version of Google Reader with the ability to automatically hide duplicate articles (showing only the original post of course).

 If they do this (and why wouldn’t they?), it would be enough to ensure Google Readers supremacy (at least in my workspace) as the king of feed readers for the foreseeable future.

For those of you who haven’t already seen it, here is the video of Scoble talking about how he scans his 622 feeds everyday.

Hat tip to Tim Ferriss who originally posted the video.

Deathmatch Kirkpatrick VS Cochrane

Kirkpatrick Cochrane Deathmatch Inflammatory title I know, but there appears to be no love lost between Marshall Kirkpatrick of SplashCast and Todd “The Geek” Cochrane of Geek News Central.

This started heating up between these two after Todd started hammering SplashCast for hijacking RSS feeds.

Things became a little more bitchy yesterday after Todd wrote a post complaining that Google Buying FeedBurner is pure evil.

Have people really thought about the ramifications of this? Google will not only know what you search for, what ads you click on but they will also know EXACTLY what you are subscribed to at a very intimate level.

Anyway Todd’s post drew some comments including this simple little comment from Marshall:

Nice MyBlogLog widget over in that sidebar.

Now it’s well know that the MBL widget tracks a lot of what users do on your site. Some folks have gone as far as to say that real reason Yahoo purchased MyBlogLog was to get hold of the MBL widget and track Google AdSense click data.

Anyway Todd got more than a little defensive at that comment:

Marshall

Your just pissed because I took you to task on your RSS Hijacking and content re-purposing you folks were doing over their.

My stance on FeedBurner is not new.

What makes this comment even more defensive and bitchy is that Todd choose not to reply to or comment on the much more provocative comment posted by an anonymous coward called “test”:

Such a whiny little hypocrite with your Yahoo spyware.

I respect both Marshall and Todd. I don’t personally know either of them. I’m a SplashCast fan and have exchanged a few mails with Marshall and I’m a Geek News Central fan and listen to Todd’s podcast regularly.

I just can’t figure out why Todd is put so “on edge” by this little comment. What’s driving this?

Maybe Todd was just having a bad day?

Maybe there’s more to this than we realize?

Maybe I’m just starting rumors  ;)

Either way, I really wouldn’t have expected a “rub your nose in it” response like that from Todd.

I just seems childish and completely ignores the point that Marshall was referring to.

While Todd is complaining about Google gathering information on users he continues to feed information on his users and their clicks to Yahoo via the MBL widget.

I’d love to be at a conference with these too. I reckon there would be plenty of cold stares and “dagger” eyes shooting across the room.

Maybe we could have an MTV Celebrity Deathmatch – Marshall Kirkpatrick VS Todd “The Geek” Cochrane.

P.S. Sorry about the photoshop guys – I couldn’t resist!

Unreadable feed = no readers!

RSS SEO Blog might be a good blog! I don’t know! I must have thought it was a good blog at one point in time because I subscribed to their RSS feed.

Unfortunately that was probably the last time I read anything they posted because I can’t read their RSS feed!

It’s not that SEO Blog isn’t putting out a feed, it’s just that it’s so badly styled (read no styling) with all the text running together that I just hit “J” and jump right over it.

Check out this screenshot of how this entry looks in Google Reader!

As you can see it’s completely unreadable!

There’s an important lesson to be learnt here for all blogger’s which is to try to ensure that you RSS feed is legible to your readers.

It’s very important because if your blog has any sort of popularity at all, I’ll wager that the majority of your readers read your posts in a feed reader of some sort.

It’s just not comfortable to read text when it’s run together like it is with SEO Blog’s feed, or if it’s improperly formatted with tiny (or exceptionally large) font sizes.

As a consequence of poorly styled feeds readers are not only likely to simply skip your post (which of course reduces your possibilities for click through’s to your site) but users are also a lot more likely to unsubscribe from your feed.

SEO Blog is using WordPress so I would have expected the feed to be properly formatted by default. I don’t know if it’s a problem with the version of WP that they’re using which is 1.5.2. I would hazard a guess that simply upgrading to 2.0.10 or 2.1.3 would solve the problem (and it would be smart in terms of security fixes). 

So lets get to the entire point of this post:

If you publish an RSS feed, subscribe to it yourself and make sure that it’s legible by your readers!

If you’re using WP and would like a little more control over styling your feeds you can always try out the Feed Styler plugin from the guys at Devlounge.

Feed Styler is a WordPress plugin for WordPress users who are comfortable with CSS and would like to be able to style their feeds. Feed Styler enables you to keep your existing class and ID style declarations in your content, but allows a different style to be applied to the feed of that same content. No longer do feeds have to be stripped of style and color.

Be warned, you need a good grasp of CSS in order to use this plugin!