One thing leads to another

As often happens, I was reading something this morning that gave me an idea, which gave me another idea, which kept me busy for a couple of hours. You see, social networking and I go way back. Maybe not as far back as some other people I know, but back nonetheless. I have always been fond of the message board thing and even ran a few myself. I’m well into the blog thing now, and while personal blogging is, for the most part a one man-or-woman show, I like to think that there’s plenty of room for community building within the confines of a personal blog. Most of these community-building opportunities are centered around comments.

I installed a few comment-related plugins today and tweaked a few others that I’ve had around for a while, and I thought I’d give you a mini-tour.

Plugins

First on the list is a little Linky Love for my loyal commentators. I set up this customizable plugin to display the visitors who have left the most comments in the last 30 days. Their names are links to their blogs. (It only displays those visitors who chose to leave their URL.) I like the idea of helping to spread the word about those bloggers who help make this blog a friendly place, and basing it on comments is one great way to do that.

Plugins

For the last few months I’ve been using a threaded comments plugin that I modified heavily to give it the look and feel that I wanted. I think threaded comments are the key to developing a community – the idea that you can direct your comments to each other in addition to me is very appealing. I’m frankly surprised that more blogs don’t do this. When you reply to someone else’s comment, they are notified of the reply so that they may return and keep the conversation going if they wish. Don’t worry – all email addresses are still kept private. The original plugin didn’t do this, but I thought it was important, so I modified the code. All notifications appear to come from me and not from the person who actually left the comments.

Plugins

I used to have a plugin installed that let you subscribe to the comments. I removed it when I installed threaded comments because I figured it was unnecessary. I’ve rethought this strategy and added it again, with a few changes. For one thing, the subscription checkbox is now not checked by default. Additionally, there is an explanation of what you are actually subscribing to. And lastly, you can now subscribe to the comments even if you don’t plan to leave one yourself.

One other fun little thing I added: I found a plugin that will check your website, look for a feed, find the title of your latest post, and append it to the end of your comment. I haven’t actually seen this work yet, and I’m not sure if I will keep it or not – it really depends on how it looks and whether I feel it disrupts the flow of conversation by being there. In theory, though, I think it’s a nifty idea. I want you all to see what the others are writing about in their blogs. Promoting each other is a wonderful thing.

So, the moral to this story? I appreciate your visiting me here, leaving comments, and helping to build a friendly little community. And if I can show my appreciation by sending a few new visitors your way through a couple of fun plugins, all the better!

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About Lisa

I raise boys, take pictures, knit sweaters, keep a less-than-perfect house, blog memories, sew skirts, play with clay, daydream about beach weekends, avoid home improvement projects, crochet blankets, and spend slightly more time looking at screens than I probably should.

18 thoughts on “One thing leads to another

  1. I like your change to the text of commentluv, I’ll be doing some updates soon to it so there can be an options page for the user to choose their own message that appears. Yours is a good default (I might slip in the word “commentluv” though)!

    I like the idea of threaded comments too, I know CL had some issues with threaded comment plugins before so it would be nice to see if it works with yours.

    See Andy Bailey’s latest blog post: 400 USD enough for a custom blog design? help me please!

  2. I always love to read your blog – cause I realize that I’m not the only one that does XYZ. I am definitely one that gets distracted into doing something else. As for the changes on the website, I’m sure they are really cool. I wish my engineering brain was more computer programming saavy. Maybe it’s working with all the non-engineering folks in Human Resources that is turning it mush. LOL

    • Heh, well, I’ve *definitely* lost a large portion of what I used to know as a programmer, but thankfully most of that is syntax-related. I’ve still got the theory down. And as long as I can teach myself some new programming language syntax without too much fuss, then I can keep current. Well, current enough to keep my site running nicely. Not current enough to do it for a living at this point!

  3. Threaded comments drive me a little bit batty. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s not organized quite like a forum, and so I tend to get a bit lost. I like the way yours function much better than others I’ve seen. If a threaded comment section buries comments by collapsing the comments people tend to ignore the threads and just reply to the original post, which makes things a bit messy. The comments at Digg come to mind.

    Anyway, glad you were inspired to reward your readers a bit! Fabulous!

    See what kerflop has been blogging about: The Blogroll New World Order*

    • The main draw of the threading, in my mind, is to be able to reply to my commentators right here and know that they’d see my reply. Without the threading I’d either have to just hope that they wandered back to read what I had to say in reply, or I’d have to take the reply to email.

      I agree that this threading is pretty readable – I made a lot of modifications to make it look the way I wanted it to. And the plugin lets you specify how deep the nesting is allowed to go, so it won’t drill down infinitely.

      I enjoyed reading your post yesterday after following the link at OMSH. I thought it made a lot of good points, and I’m glad I get the chance to comment to that effect here, since I couldn’t do it there.

  4. I’m neither here nor there on threaded comments, except on blogs that have humongous numbers of comments. If they’re threaded, it’s harder to read just the ones that were put up after your last visit. I won’t complain here, though, until you become one of those 1000-hits-per-day type places. Then I’ll become a real PITA.

    • Yeah, that’s a scenario I hadn’t given much thought to. I kind of figure if you’re interested enough in the conversation to come back and see what has been said since you left, then you’re interested enough to subscribe to the comments via email or rss.

      We’ll see what I think someday if the comments become more of a hoppin’ place.

    • My pleasure! I really think it helps with the community aspect of this place. And like you, I find myself clicking on some of those intriguing post titles and discovering some nifty little corners of the blog world. Very cool, in my opinion. And now I’m off to find out why Sculpey III makes you mad ;-)

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