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.
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.
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.
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!