Category Archives: Blog Tips

Add a Community to Your Blog with BlogFrog

Posted by Kat Armstrong.

I recently met with BlogFrog CEO Rustin Banks to discuss adding communities directly to your blog. Your readers want to interact with you and with each other. Adding a customized BlogFrog community to your site allows your readers to ask questions, share photos and chat live with each other – without ever leaving your site.

With comments, your readers can only leave their thoughts about whatever it is YOU have to say. They don’t have an easy way to interact with each other. Your subscribers are obviously like-minded. After all, they are each interested in whatever you are talking about. Using BlogFrog compliments whatever blog comment service you are already using. The comments section is there for people to leave feedback and additional thoughts based on what you have written. Adding the additional components from BlogFrog adds a whole new layer, allowing your readers to talk to each other and spark new discussions.

My first instinct was to ask why we should use BlogFrog. After all, we have sites such as Google+, Facebook and Twitter to discuss things on with other individuals. Rustin was quick to point out that we are limited on these sites. We only have the capability of talking with our followers. We aren’t really giving them a way to talk to each other unless they want to jump through hoops and figure out how and where to follow the other parties on various social sites.

Believe it or not, it won’t cost you anything to use BlogFrog. The beauty is that you will be getting paid to use the service in a manner of speaking. You can enable high-quality advertising and make a higher CPM in most cases than what you will be able to find on your own.

Once you have signed up with the service and chosen your elements, it’s very simple to add BlogFrog to your own site. You’ll basically add a widget to your main page. The components are platform agnostic… install your new community on any template which allows JavaScript.

My assistant Kat is fond of saying that building a community isn’t about connecting people to you – it’s about connecting them to each other. BlogFrog has created the perfect way for you to give your community the tools they need to interact with each other, build upon what they already know and perhaps change the world.

The new A list

Damn, I wish I hadn’t read blogs today. I took yesterday off. I might take the rest of the week off. Blogging for me is at an inflection point. Blogging for me had the opportunity to become something magical: where the reader gets smarter and more informed. It seems that lately it’s become the worst of the Usenet — just straight up street fighting. My guy vs. your guy. My cause vs. your cause.

So, why do I wish I hadn’t read blogs today? Cause I saw a lynch mob beating up my friend, Dave Winer. As I read their posts (and the even more vile comments on those posts) I realize that this isn’t the blogosphere I signed up for.

Although it’s one I helped create.

No one kept their head — the knives and guns just came out in this street fight. No one called both sides and did some real reporting. No one added any value. Built anyone up. No, all I read was “Dave’s an a++hole” kind of comments. Update: Nick Bradbury kept his head.

Worse, some bloggers are asking me to join the mob! Um, no.

First, throwing out the fact that Dave’s a friend of mine and has done more for me and my family than the entire lynch mob put together, there’s the little thing of my philosophy.

My philosophy? I want better software. More software. More geek toys. More things that improve my life.

So, what does my philosophy tell me to do? Protect the inventor. Protect the guy who brought us SOAP, XML-RPC, RSS, OPML, podcasting, and a few other things here and there. Against the angry mob.

Why? Cause if I don’t, then maybe some new inventor will say “this space sucks, I’m gonna go somewhere that they appreciate inventors.” And if that happens I’ll lose. We’ll all lose.

Now, read very carefully. I have no idea who has a good legal case here. I have no idea who is in the right, or who is in the wrong. I know it’s fun to pick sides, but when there are two sides to the story we MUST stop and put on our thinking caps and MUST stop behaving like a mob. Even a guy accused of crime deserves a fair trial (and I’m not trying to tie either Dave or Roger to that).

Why?

Cause I know how this game is played. Once Dave is outta the way, they are coming after me. Or you. Or your friends.

One thing on this case: one guy called in the mob, the other guy didn’t. That says volumes to me.

I wish I had never looked at the blogs this morning. I’m sorry for any part I played in helping create this new “A list.”

Ever notice that the new A list only tears down people and ideas but never puts new ideas, new products, new tools, out there to attack?

This is why I’m trying to get away from Memeorandum and other memetrackers. I am getting pulled into this new “A list” world. Why? Cause the new A list is getting huge audiences. They are getting more comments on their blogs. More inbound links. Moving up the Technorati popularity list.

I almost bought into it myself and thought I needed to join the “attack mob” too.

If that’s how the game is gonna be played, I want off the Technorati list now.

I wish I had never looked at the blogs today.

Oh, and the “A” in the “New A List” stands for Attack or, maybe, “Ad Hominem.”¬†

I gotta take more days off

You know, I gotta take more days off. I realized that during lunch. Sitting on the top floor of the Iron Works in the Austin sunshine. Eating BBQ. Damn, I’m getting fat but I’m fat and happy. Lots of great memories from SXSW. Sitting at the table was the Liz Lawley. Craig Newmark. Lili Cheng. Jenny Lam. (Jenny and Lili do a lot of design work on Windows). Nothing important got said, just a fun lunch relaxing in the sun. I just pinched myself and thought that at some point someone will wake me up from this dream.

Speaking of fun stuff, yeah, Microsoft did the iPod box design parody¬†video. Yes, we can laugh at ourselves. The marketing team did it to challenge the box designers for our products to do better. We need more of this stuff. Microsoft is a consensus culture and consensus (which means everyone has to sign off on things) does avoid trouble, but it also makes for uninspired products and marketing. That is our internal challenge to figure out, that’s for sure!

Speaking of designers, I love Alan Cooper. Some of my favorite memories of the 1990s are sitting around with him having conversations with him. I was lucky enough to record part of a conversation I had with him recently after he spoke at a conference so you can see part of his interesting personality. He says bombastic things. But he always gets me to think and that’s why I love him.

Welp, I’m off to get on a plane heading home.

Oh, one other thing. Some people said “get over yourself” because of my last post. I’m so tired of people telling me I can’t (or shouldn’t) be irritated, egotistical, or just a jerk. It’s my blog. Deal with it. Sometimes I +am+ an arrogant, egotistical, jerk. But, who are you to tell me I can’t be that way? What? You trying to outdo me in the arrogant/ego/jerk department? Heheh!

Have a good one. 134 emails to go.

20 minutes in Houston

OK, so, I have 20 minutes in Houston. How many cool things can I post in 20 minutes? Let’s see.

Phillip Torrone has a cool how to on how to build a simple iPod Amp.

Tim Bray notices the feed icons site where you can get those new feed icons for your RSS or Atom feed and says he hates the phrase “User Generated Content.” Oh, I said that months ago when I started hearing that. That sounds like something that you don’t want anywhere near you. Gotta wash my hands after reading some UGC. Heheh.
Molly Holtzschlag has the objectification blues at SXSW and has a fun rant on how to sniff out a rotten standardista (she’s on the Web Standards Project so knows a bit about that topic).

Jim Grisanzio tells marketing expert Jack Trout that it’s time for the old-folks home.

Kiruba Shankar announces BarCamp Chennai. Dang, who knew this concept would go around the world? (Advertise your local BarCamp here in my comments).

Chris Sells brags about bagging a $366 Vista PC at Fry’s.

J Baumgart notices that NPR has a blog.

Holy f**k. Jeffrey Zeldman has full text feeds? Daniel Stout pointed that out to me (and more).

Jonathan Nolen guarantees that Skobee’s marketing guy will be well sought after at any conference from now on. Hmmm, is he coming to SXSW? :-)

After I get home from SXSW I head off to Vegas. Anyone wanna meet up next week at Mix? There’s a new Mix Meeting Place where we can sign up to meet.

Guy Kawasaki has some tips on how to be a great moderator.

Noah Kagan, of Facebook, has four easy steps to avoid making a resume. Can you believe it? A guy from one of our competitors asked me if I’d like to be considered for future positions. Then he asked me for my resume. I told him I didn’t want any job that required a resume.

The Googlers brought us a way to find a book in a library.

Charles Petzold, famous Windows developer, tells us “don’t count out WinForms yet.” That article got praises on several blogs.

Jeremy Zawodny, over at Yahoo, points at a video of what happens when a bird gets sucked into an F-16 RAF Hawk CT155202 engine.

This is just a very small portion of what you will find if you read RSS feeds instead of Memeorandum for a week. More to come later.

Better mail than jail

Drew Bell unsubscribes.

Roy Schestowitz unsubscribes and goes even further: “[Scoble's] reputation is overrated. When it comes to technology, I found that Scoble cannot tell his ass from his face.”

My reply? First I want to reply to a couple others he made. The reason I’m on WordPress is cause Matt Mullenweg won a contest I held a few months back (he’s the guy who developed WordPress). Not to mention that it was getting talked up a LOT by people who I trust (and still is). Oh, and I LIKE Matt Mullenweg and the folks he’s been hiring. Just like I like the folks over at Six Apart (my book blog is on TypePad). And just like I like the folks over at MSN Spaces (my wife’s blog is on that).

The second thing of Roy’s I’d like to reply to is his link to an article that says that there’s a back door in Vista. This is absolutely NOT true. I have been interviewing tons of people in the BitLocker team about that article and I’ll have the video up soon.

It’s amazing the kinds of rumors that get started and just how much effort needs to be spent trying to fight rumors that are totally not true (and, if any technologist spends five minutes THINKING they can see why putting a back door into source code is just NOT a good idea. But the “Microsoft is evil” view of the world is just not conducive to doing some critical thinking).

It’s a lot easier to call Microsoft advocates names and say they are lying and are corporate shills and all that. Or imply it by just saying I don’t know my face from my behind.

Regarding my skills as a technologist. I’ve done more than 500 video interviews that are all in the public eye and mostly unedited and filmed in one take — most of which are an hour long and have a lot of back and forth and I NEVER prepare, so all the questions are off the top of my head (except for the Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer ones, where I went in with a list of questions and then went impromptu halfway through each of those interviews). With diverse subjects and interviewees from Kernel architects to Xbox game developers to hardware designers to beer makers.

You try doing that many interviews with that diverse a set of technologists without knowing the difference between my ass and my face. But, just proves the old adage that you can’t please everyone all of the time no matter what you do.

That said, no, I don’t write software so if we’re gonna get into that kind of pissing match, I’ll lose. Doesn’t mean I don’t know enough to at least know the issues. I worked as an associate editor at Visual Basic Programmer’s Journal for a few years and learned quite a bit about software engineering back then (and, a lot since then too).

Personally I’m glad that Roy is an advocate for non-Microsoft technologies. I’d hate it if he was using these kinds of tactics on our side of the fence.

If I ever see a Microsoft advocate treat someone advocating another platform this way I’ll personally rail on them. That’s not a tactic that’s acceptable.

What do you think? Does this kind of tactic persuade you to switch operating systems?