Tag Archives: blogging

Is syndication and responses a measure of blogging success?

Given that today marks the 5th year of http://blogs.sun.com (or just “bsc” to us Sun bloggers), and that it was this month two years ago that I published my first blog article (entitled “And finally“, an opinion piece on Gartner’s top ten predictions from 2007), I thought it would be nice to explore what “success” was in terms of blogging.

The most obvious indicator is large and regular readership, but I can’t imagine that that is all there is to it. The next most obvious criteria might be opinion setting, but measuring this seems troublesome and unscientific at that moment (until at least further semantic web infrastructure is in place to better relate meme flow across the Internet, although saying that Autonomy have an excellent visual analysis tool which is an early leading example in this field, the problem with this current non-semantic web model is that you have to generate meta-data by supposition, some of which is irregular at best).

Inward and outbound links are a major contributing factor in the calculation of Google’s “PageRank” algorithm, but I expect this to change significantly in the next few years as two things occur, increasingly effective “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO) techniques which will require modification to Google’s rating criteria, and the rise of the semantic web as increasing amounts of meta-data is included with unstructured data across the Internet, driving up implicit relationships between information.

And that leaves me with syndication and pieces written in response to your articles. Frankly I’m not sure that you can qualify syndication as a measure of success of your blog, but I do think it’s a good indicator of how far your message is being spread. I’m still uncomfortable with this, as I would prefer something more Empirical, however I think it may be about the best ‘soft’ indicator we have at the moment.

So using syndication of, and responses to, my articles, as a potential leading indicator, I correlated the following list. Historically I would have used Technorati to generate this information, but Technorati is suffering from some real issues lately, it’s page layout has become befuddled, and worst of all it’s not capturing (even remotely) the responses to my articles, subsequently I used Google Analytics’ “Referring Sites” breakdown instead (the list below isn’t remotely exhaustive, so if there is anything missing you’d like me to add let me know).

Integrating Disqus and Roller Weblogger on blogs.sun.com

I’ve recently updated my site to use Disqus the blog comment hosting and conversation site.

Done this for two reasons:

  1. Firstly my usually frustration with any status quo means I want more functionality delivered yesterday, and although I’d started to have a look at the functionality I wanted and how I might add it as a Roller macro / velocity code I didn’t want to spend a huge amount of time coding it out (the functionality I specifically wanted was the separation of comments and trackbacks, as well as comment ‘threads’).
  2. Secondly to gain readership and comments from the sizeable blog comment audience that Disqus have built up (Disqus is estimated to be running on over 30,000+ servers).

I’ve already had a couple of comments from Disqus members, and I’ll have to see how it goes before I start heralding it as an unprecedented success, but I’m very pleased with the results (both aesthetic and functional).

Sadly the Disqus comment import function was initially provided for WordPress and Blogger, but apparently wasn’t fully functional; subsequently an update is due out soon that will hopefully include Roller Weblogger. See this Disqus forum entry, and it’s threads for more info: How do I import comments?

Given this was the case I wanted to make sure my blog supported my new Disqus commenting system, but would still show my old comments if there where any for an entry. Here are a few examples:

The code I developed, which has to be separated into two components (number of comments associated with a blog entry, and comment entry form and comment display), is below, but if you use or copy it please note that you need to replace the Disqus supplied JavaScript for my site with your Disqus comments hosted sites JavaScript code. ¨C18C

Combined Roller Weblogger and Disqus Number of Comments code

For comment numbers I’ve broken it down into displaying “n Comments” for Disqus on it’s own, whilst “x Comments (new, via Disqus) and y Comments (legacy, via Roller)” for comments hosted on both systems.

This replaces the code in the Roller Weblogger “_day” template which displays the number of comments per blog entry.

Don’t forget to replace occurrences of ‘eclectic’, my blog handle, with yours (just one, about the fifth line from the end).

## Number of Comments

<a href="$url.entry($entry.anchor)#disqus_thread">View Comments</a>

#set($commentCount = $entry.commentCount)
#if ($commentCount &gt; 0)
    (new, via <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://www.disqus.com/" target="_blank">Disqus</a>) and 
    #if ($commentCount == 1)
        <a href="$url.comments($entry.anchor)">$commentCount Comment</a> (old, via <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://rollerweblogger.org/" target="_blank">Roller</a>) 
        <a href="$url.comments($entry.anchor)">$commentCount Comments</a> (old, via <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://rollerweblogger.org/" target="_blank">Roller</a>) 

<script type="text/javascript">
(function() {
		var links = document.getElementsByTagName('a');
		var query = '?';
		for(var i = 0; i < links.length; i++) {
			if(links[i].href.indexOf('#disqus_thread') >= 0) {
				query += 'url' + i + '=' + encodeURIComponent(links[i].href) + '&';
		document.write('<script type="text/javascript" src="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://disqus.com/forums/eclectic/get_num_replies.js' + query + '"></' + 'script>');

Combined Roller Weblogger and Disqus Comment entry and Comments display code

This basically displays the Disqus commenting system, along with any Disqus hosted comments, however if any ‘legacy’ Roller Weblogger hosted comments are found it displays those too.

It replaces the code in the Roller Weblogger “permalink” template which displays comments themselves (the same changes may need to be made to the “weblog” and “searchresults” templates too).

## Comments

<h2>Comments (new, via <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://www.disqus.com/" target="_blank">Disqus</a>)</h2>

<div id="disqus_thread"></div><script type="text/javascript" src="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824js_/http://disqus.com/forums/eclectic/embed.js"></script><noscript><a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://eclectic.disqus.com/?url=ref">View the forum thread.</a></noscript><a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://disqus.com/" class="dsq-brlink">blog comments powered by <span class="logo-disqus">Disqus</span></a>



#set($commentCount = $entry.commentCount)
#if ($commentCount &gt; 0)
    <h2>Comments (old, via <a href="https://web.archive.org/web/20090830081824/http://rollerweblogger.org/" target="_blank">Roller</a>)</h2>

Additional benefits that I’ve picked up by implementing Disqus include:

  • Following commentators.
  • Having my, and my sites, comments followed.
  • Being able to easily ‘reblog’ my comments and make blog entries out of them (looking forward to trying this, although I haven’t yet).

Finally here’s my Disqus profile for you to have a look at: http://www.disqus.com/people/wayne_horkan/

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