Category Archives: tumbleweed

Blogging and continuing missed conversations

Continuing the conversation on your blog

This post isn’t really aimed at the hardcore experienced blogger, its more aimed at those just starting out, people like me in fact. I’m fairly knew to all this and tend to blog from a search centric POV. Whilst its generally true that its search engines that will give most bloggers their traffic, there are nonetheless a variety of other  ways you can drive traffic and build the conversation within your sphere.

Blogging is popular for many reasons. Be it a tool for self expression, a tool for self promotion or just a general communication medium, its a fantastic way to reach out and have a conversation with people with similar interests.

Most of us are aware of the fantastic tools and platforms out there that enable us to see who is referencing us and in what context.

Trackbacks the process of ‘pinging’ a blog automatically is one such way. Checking your technorati stats is another. Using other 3rd party plugins or embed code is another still; Feedburner, Google anlaytics, Webtrends, Clicktracks to name but a few.Not to forget of course, the old trusty web server log files. Oh and lets not forget the ever increasing number of social media blogging communities that have sprang up recently. MBL, BumpZee, SpicyPage and my current favorite of course, BlogCatalog.

The really great thing about these is that they enable you to put a human face to your readership, letting you see who recently visited you, seeing new faces, clicking through to their sites or pages at their community and seeing what they have to say about whatever it is they do. Ive found some great blogs this way, that I otherwise may simply have missed.

I started blogging as ‘robwatts’ in January 2007. Yep, thats not so long ago at all. If you want to read my figures and stats here they are.

I currently have a little over 110 subscribers -  a technorati authority score of 208 with a rank of 19,424 and an alexa rank of  102,721 My Google PR is 4.

In comparison to other sites these numbers are very small beer, yet to be frank, I didn’t start blogging to win any popularity contest or acquire willy waving look at how big I am type scores, yet it is nice to know that people are interested in some of the things I have to say, and that these are beginning to be reflected in the various metrics fore-shown.

Its funny, but when you initially start out talking about whatever it is you discuss, you realize that, by and large you have a very small audience indeed. You might well write the most fantastic of stuff, yet if you don’t have the readership or eyeballs on your content, then not many people are going to be able to see or comment upon it. can you do anything about this? Sure you can…Ive already touched on one such automated way, but for the benefit of those who may have missed it, I’ll cover it again.

Catch your Tumbleweed

If your blogposts are blowing about in the wind, wailing away crying for a little attention then maybe you just have to let people know they are there.

I guess this was one of the thoughts that swam around in the depths of my subconscious which with a prompt or 2 pushed me in the right direction.The creative process is one of those things that can just sneak up and bite you on the behind. I was thinking about some of my posts that hadn’t received comments, and half jokingly blogged on it back in April.

I challenged the blog community (or my tiny growing readership at the time)  to calculate what their ‘tumbleweed’ score was for their blog and added as an afterthought, that I might even develop a plugin to help people automagically display their scores. Some bloggers like Andy responded, and made me realise that actually, this could well be a handy little addition to the blogging productivity box. The idea was that by having a visible metric, you could see how your posts were being responded to over a given timeframe, as well as show old posts that your newly aquired readers may have missed. So was born the tumbleweed plugin for wordpress.

Its nothing incredible of course, it just uses a little SQL and some basic maths. It may not work on all WP setups either, but it should work on most.

As for people using other blogging platforms, the short response at the moment is that it just will not work on your set ups. Blogger is kinda restrictive in terms of how it enables you to interact with the back end so my hands are a little tied. If I get enough interest or requests I may well look at creating something similar for platforms like Typepad,Drupal etc.

If youv’e written stuff that you think was good and think that people might benefit from seeing/reading again and want a little prompter to help you see how you are performing in a fun light hearted way, then tumbleweed could well be the thing for you.

Meantime, whatever it is you are doing or writing about, enjoy it!

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Tumbleweed Plugin – Get more comments on your blog posts

Last updated:July 3rd 2007  Download it here Ok as promised in a prior post Ive put together a little plugin to calculate your TR ratio.

The measurement is worked out a little like this

It counts your last 3 months number of posts and then subtracts the number of posts that were commented on. With the remainding number, it calculates what this is as a percentage of your 3 month post rate.

So, in my case – during the last 90 days I made 35 posts of which 16 received less than 3 comments. My blog therefore is currently TR6 (45% of my blog posts received no comments)

If your % is between

0 – 9 congrats you are a TR10
9- 16 not bad, TR9
16-24 TR8
24-36 TR7
36-46 TR6
46 -56 TR5
56-66 TR4
66-76 TR3
76-89 TR2
89-100 TR1

It also outputs 5 posts from the last 90 days that haven’t received comments. It pulls these out randomly, so your visitors get to see different titles they may have missed. It’s similar to the 5 posts you may have missed plugin, with the added bonus of a TR score :D

How does this help?

Lots of people make really good posts yet don’t have the readership to see them. The blogosphere is a huge sea of millions of voices with something to say.As your readership grows, and your blog gains traction, your new readers might not be aware of some of your previous kick arse posts. This plugin helps them to see these, and also gives you a fun little way of measuring your post to comment ratio metrics. The higher the number the better you are doing. It could also act as a useful reminder that you need to work harder on your blog and get out there and promote it. It would also be interesting to see how this thing could pan out across the WP community too.Anyways, hope you like it and find it useful.

disclaimer:Some server set ups are fairly restrictive, for most WP users there shouldn’t be any problems, someone contacted me earlier to advise that they had an install issue. If this occurs for you, then I will try and help you out, but cannot promise anything. Ive tested it on 2 servers thus far and it works fine. I am using the latest copy of WP, do ensure that you are doing the same. You are reminded that this is free and you use it of your own volition :)

Get it here Last updated (22nd April 2007 10:50 GMT)

Installation Instructions

1.Unzip the tumbleweed-plugin zip file
2. FTP tumbleweed.php to your plugins directory
2.FTP the tumbleweed images directory to the root directory of your site or blog
if your blog is of the structure yoursite.com/blog/ then you would put the images in the blog directory otherwise you’d put it in yoursite.com/
3. Activate the plugin
4.Put this code in your sidebar (the file usually named sidebar.php) whereever you want your posts to appear.

<?php if (function_exists(show_tumbleweed)) {show_tumbleweed(); }?>

That’s it.

Similar plugins

http://www.yackyack.co.uk/2007/04/18/5-posts-you-may-have-missed-plugin/

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