Blog Alerts: Bloggers in Trouble

This morning I added another section to the sidebar here, called Blog Alerts, from The Committee to Protect Bloggers. The CPB is a group that raises awareness about bloggers around the world facing state or other repression because of what they’ve written on thier blogs. You should really check them out. This BlogAlert system is something I set up for them and had on my old site. It’s a system by which the director of the CPB can write a post and put it in his category “Blog Alerts” and will thus appear automatically in the BlogAlert sections of any supporters’ web sites who have resyndicated the RSS feed for that category. You can grab the code snippet via the link at Add BlogAlerts to Your Site. This is an easy way to help spread the word quickly about bloggers in trouble. (I used Feed Digest to turn the RSS into javascript-to-HTML, very easy to do.)

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Tagging Bookmarklet and How-To Screencast

Update: Just talked to a Windows person who says that the new Explorer 7 blocks some javascript bookmarklets. Going into Preferences/Security and enabling javascript will save soom bookmarklets, but not neccesarily this one. I’m going to have to get to the bottom of this for many different reasons, but it looks like this is the worst of Microsoft’s new security philosophy: block users from changing almost anything, so they don’t leave anything open to hostile intrusion. But the toolbar? I’ll figure out something asap, but I’m on a Mac so we’ll see. But I want to enable lots of Windows users to use tools like this, so I’ll see what I can figure out. In the meantime, check out the awesome screencast Beth made.

See also this post about pinging to make sure your tagged blog posts will show up in Technorati.

Drumroll please…

BlogTags

Ok, that link right there should work for people using Macs and PCs (thanks to my brother Tom the PC user!). Beth Kanter created a terrific little screencast about how to use it! Here’s the screencast itself and here’s the write up on the bookmarklet. What a neat example of collaboration, huh? Beth’s work is really cool, she’s got a great blog to check out too.

Well, thanks for the patience everybody. Hopefully this will all work now for everyone.

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Bookmarklet: Technorati Tags in a Second

Ok, so everybody loves bookmarklets – those little links you drag onto your favorites toolbar and click for instant results. There are lots of great ones out there, and I will write someday about my favorites, but I don’t want to get distracted. I want to post what I think is one of the single greatest bookmarklets out there right now – and one of the hardest to get. I don’t know why the original author of this bookmarklet took their entire website offline and used a robots.txt file to stop its contents from being saved almost anywhere, but here is…

The Technorati Tag Bookmarklet: BlogTags

Update: There has been some real confusion about how to use this bookmarklet. I’m sorry it wasn’t more clear. I’ve called it BlogTags, but you can call it what ever you want. Just hover your mouse over the words BlogTags in the previous sentence, press the mouse button and hold it down, then drag the link up to your toolbar. That’s the part of your browser just below the web adress of this page. If you can’t see a toolbar, go to View menu and select toolbar or favorites toolbar.

I love it. Drag that puppy up to your favorites toolbar and give it a click (or click on it here just to see what it does.) That code it spits out can by copied and pasted into the end of each blog post you write. I get people visiting my site through Technorati tag searches every day. You can put in the links to tag your blog posts manually, but this bookmarklet is a real time saver. I don’t know why Technorati doesn’t offer a bookmarklet like this themselves.

If you are unfamiliar with the space where the blogosphere and the tagosphere intersect, try clicking on some of the Technorati Tags at the ends of my posts here. You’ll find a whole world of other bloggers writing on the same subject.

See also: following up on the bookmarklet, my next post.

P.S. Curious how I was able to get this if the web site it came from is offline? The moment I first found it, I saved it in my Furl.net archive, which includes a cached copy automatically.

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Web 2.0 Poetry

Have been getting several visitors and links therefrom over the last few hours who have very interesting things to say themselves. Longer writings, pretty involved and conceptual, and quite well written.

Check out:

Some cool discussion. If you’re getting stressed out about it, I’ll go back to writing about less conceptual stuff soon.

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Web 2.0 Way Ambiguous

This is funny. If anybody else reading here feels frustrated about the presumtion that everybody “knows” what’s being talked about with the phrase Web2.0 Here’s a few bits of info:

The Wikipedia definition is a good one:

“Web 2.0 refers to a perceived transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of websites to a full-fledged computing platform serving web applications to end users. The proponents of this thinking expect that ultimately Web 2.0 services will replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.”

That’s a good wiki article that can be accessed via http://wikiwax.com search “web” and check out the other results.

If interested, I did post about some common traits of applications referred to as web2.0 oriented titled “Web 2.0 is Exploding.”

OK, most hilarious link about this issue that I’ve found so far is “How 2.0 Is…”

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MSN Search Beats Google on Inbound Link Search, Destroys “Blog Search” Engines

The director of The Committee to Protect Bloggers (for whom I am a technical consultant) sent me an email tonight asking what the best way to find inbound links to their blog was. The results of my investigation were so interesting to me that I thought I’d post the email I sent in response.

How many inbound links total, like to tell people “we’re linked to by this many sites”? I am thrilled to say that the best way to find out is NOT to search in Google for link:http://committeetoprotectbloggers.civiblog.org (455 results). Strange as this might seem, I am happy to report that Microsoft’s search (MSN Search, http://search.msn.com) comes back with 15,525 results. And they look pretty damned valid. Update: As of the middle of the night MSN search is now up to 17,500+ results for this search.) Now I am certainly no fan of Microsoft, but it is a happy day for me when I can say that the best search engine for your particular need is NOT Google. Unfortunately, the “blog search” engines all suck…some so bad that I emailed them asking what’s up.

So if I’m understanding your question right, I’d say in this case to use MSN Search and tell people that the NEW CPB site has been linked to 15,525 times as of this most recent search.

If you look at the MSN results you’ll note that a large number of them are from blogs, so why do these supposed “blog search” engines not find these links? Is this related to the fact that my traffic monitor is a much better way to find who’s linking to me than are Technorati, PubSub and Feedster combined?

You know what the coolest thing is? There’s an RSS feed available for MSN Search results for web search. Who else offers RSS feeds of their search results – not of news, or of blogs, but of the whole web. Nobody I know. You have to use 3rd party, subscription based GoogleAlerts.com to get an RSS feed of Google web search results. If I can get this from MSN search, do I need Technorati?

I swear I really am cheering for Web 2.0, but I’ve been super frustrated with some performance issues lately. Just to balance out the complaining, I’ll tell you I’ve been having great experiences with Newsgator (for RSS reading), Blinkx.com (for podcast search) and Del.icio.us for rebound lovin’ post breakup with Furl.net, who hasn’t returned my email or blog post – despite some one from parent company LookSmart having a Firefox tab open on this article (Furl, I Can’t Take it Anymore!) for 5 hours today. But I’m not all about complaints!

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Reputation Tracking and Inbound Links

Update: I’ve added a list of recent places I’ve been quoted over on the sidebar using the following tools: Furl.net to tag links as “citations” and FeedDigest to turn the RSS feed of that tag into a javascript-to HTML code snippet in my sidebar template. So now when I find places I’m quoted I can just tag them and they will apear here automatically. Pretty cool, huh?

I was excited to wake up this morning and find visitors coming in from News.com, where I was quoted in a story about the blogosphere’s reaction to the AOL purchase of Weblogs Inc. I think that’s testimony to the idea that stepping out on a limb to share your opinion about something can really be appreciated. I was concerned that readers would consider my take on acquisitions like that (“is independence no longer a viable business model?”) naive or silly. But I felt that way, so I said it, and apparently it sticks out enough in the discussion to have been quoted elsewhere. Fantastic. Admittedly I also stayed up too late last night reading about and writing that post, so early poster’s advantage might be part of it.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some links to a number of places I’ve been cited or linked to lately. This is the sort of thing that bloggers are supposed to be able to tell via blog search engines – technorati, pubsub, feedster, google blog search, etc. You search for your URL and then subscribe to the RSS feed for the search. I’ve created a separate folder in my RSS reader titled “Rep tracking” that holds all the above search feeds and lets me know (in theory) whenever anyone else links to me. It often does work, but just as often I find out first by checking my traffic logs and seeing where visitors to my site are coming from. Sometimes traffic logs show me first and the search feeds catch up hours or days later. A combination of both methods works best for now, I believe.

This is something I set up for all my clients who use RSS as well, and sometimes I track inbound links myself for clients who don’t use RSS and just notify them of anything interesting. The blogosphere is all about interconnected conversations and rapid response and this is a key way that happens.

So, who else has been citing me or linking back to this or my old blog lately?

That’s a snap shot of how you can use a blog to participate in online conversations. Linking, reputation tracking through search to RSS and traffic monitoring are all keys to that participation. But so is having something to say and not being afraid to say it.

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