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Law and Ethics for Bloggers

Shai’s posted a series of posts over at About.com on Law and Ethics for Bloggers that cover some worthwhile topics for bloggers to explore on topics like copyright, creative commons licenses and blog etiquette.

AdSense Exchange Rate Discrepancies?

There’s an interesting thread over at Webmaster World on whether the exchange rate that AdSense is using to convert income for it’s publishers is accurate or not when it comes to the Canadian dollar. I’m yet to really look into it as it applies to the Australian dollar but the thread has caused some real debate!

Source: email from Ryan

What do You Do?

How do you describe your blogging business to people when they ask ‘what do you do?’

Building Blog Credibility – 11 Tips

I never did quite finish my Blog Credibility Series. Sorry about that but the week sort of got away from me with the birthday thing, catching up on some projects I’d put on hold, starting a new blog and there being a public holiday here on Tuesday.

So I thought I’d finishing it up by posting a few other random thoughts on ways of building blog credibility and inviting you to fill in the numerous gaps I’ve left in the topic (the more I think about the longer the list of factors that build credibility). Here’s a few more thoughts (I’ve started numbering them at number 5 because I’ve already made four points previously in these posts – 1. longevity, 2. experience, 3. expertise and 4. design):

5. Writing Skills - Can the Blogger convey their message?

Blogging is a written medium and as a result one of the factors that a blogger will be judged by is their ability to convey a message by writing.

There are many voices that you may choose to write in and many types of posts that you might like to experiment with but all of them can be written poorly or well and as with every other aspect of your blogging your writing skills will either add to or take away from the way that people see you.

6. Critical Mass/Readership – While numbers are not everything they do have the ability to tell you something about how a blog is being viewed by others. The Get the latest price on the The Wisdom of Crowds (aff) type thinking argues that crowds tend to be wise and make good decisions and something can be said for this when it come to blogs. Of course as soon as I began to write this post I immediately thought of some highly trafficked blogs that I think display a total lack of credibility (I’ll refrain from names until I write my ‘tell-all biography in my 70′s).

I wouldn’t totally base my opinion of a blog based upon traffic but it’s a factor.

7. Participation Levels - This is another one that I’d never fully base my opinion of a blog on but you can learn a lot about a blog by the number of readers who seem to be engaging with the content on it, especially in comments. Pure numbers of comments are one factor but also the quality of comments and the opinion of those commenting on the blogger’s writing is important. Once again – it’s just a small piece of the ‘credibility pie’.

Participation of the blogger themselves in their own blog is also another factor that can build credibility. Bloggers who just write posts and then ignore the comments of their readers risk being a little one dimensional in their blogging. Responsiveness and personal interaction with readers has a real impact.

8. Others Opinion – Perhaps in a similar way the opinion of other bloggers can be a factor in measuring how credible a blog is. This can be measured to some extent by the number of links a blog gets but probably some more in depth analysis of the type of links might be worth looking into.

Similarly, working with other respected bloggers can build credibility. Aligning yourself with a respected partner who is willing to give testimonial to your worth as a blogger goes a long way to winning new readers.

9. Consistency – As I analyze which bloggers I see as credibly in the fields that I’m interested in one of the factors that I see in all of them is a level of consistency. This doesn’t mean they need to be predictable or boring – but rather that they blog in such a way that shows they know who they are, what they are doing and how they’ll go about it. Their blog’s don’t change focus every second day, they don’t contradict themselves in what they present, they are not swayed by popular opinion of them and they produce quality content regularly over a long period of time.

10. Generosity – Another important factor to me is the generosity of bloggers. I don’t mean that they give presents or prizes etc – but bloggers who go out of their way to give their readers a genuinely useful experience on their blog. This might be in the form of content that would cost them considerably elsewhere to taking the time to respond to reader questions or comments etc. I think that bloggers who go out of their way for others grow in their reputation and stature with others. This doesn’t mean you need to give away everything for free – but it’s amazing what impact you have when you give away more than people expect in your posting.

11. Transparency – This is a big one for me. I don’t mind bloggers getting something for themselves out of blogging but what does bother me is when I see bloggers attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of their readers by not being honest about their true motivations. Credibility comes when people trust that what you are saying is truth and when there is a lack of truth the consequences for a blogger can be significant.

Transparency also comes into play when you make a mistake or need to apologize for something you’ve done or written. The way bloggers admit to mistakes and rectify them says a lot about their character.

Lastly on the transparency front a simple inclusion of features like an ‘About Page’ and a way to contact the blogger can add real credibility to a blog. There’s a certain amount of accountability in putting your name to a blog and giving people a way to get in touch with you.

And? – As i wrote above – the list I’ve come up with here and the four other factors I mentioned earlier in this series (longevity, experience, expertise and design) are by no means a definitive list. What makes a blogger credible to you? What makes them dodgy? Interested in your thoughts.

Blog Comment Form Design

Smiley Cat Web Design had a cool showcase post a few weeks back that highlighted great comment section designs and today posted another showcase that is looking specifically at comment form designs.

Once again there are some nice examples there of some great blog design.

ProBlogger Vidcast

After my previous post on video on blogs I thought I should put my money where my mouth is and do one myself.

It should be noted that what follows was a spur of the moment recording and that technically it will leave a lot to be desired. Content wise I talked about my move to publish full feeds and add feedburner ads to them (a double up I know for my email newsletter list).

Also – I’m aware that the video and audio become out of sync more and more as it goes along. I’m unsure why this is as when I uploaded the video it wasn’t like this. I’m pretty sure most of you will be pretty frustrated with it by the end – sorry but something happened at the YouTube end I suspect. This was my second attempt to upload it, the first one was still ‘processing’ my upload 5 hours after it completed uploading and kept telling me it would only take a few minutes longer. Oh well – it’s a start.

I’d be interested in feedback – more on the medium than the message.

Update: The irony is that in the video I talk about my lower traffic to this blog after moving to full feeds but that producing a vidcast that can’t be viewed from within the feed has actually caused a surge in traffic an comments on the blog. Using media like video could well be a strategy for getting actual eyeballs on your blog if you’re publishing full feeds.

Alternate Ads and the noscript Tag

This article by Eric Giguere is adapted from his upcoming e-book “Uncommon AdSense. ProBlogger readers will also find his contextual advertising blog of interest. Please Note that if you use the AdSense code outlined below that you should add your own publisher code and channel codes to it to make it your own.

AdSense and Chitika, like most ad serving programs, depend on JavaScript being enabled in the user’s browser. The code you paste into your web pages is JavaScript, so if the browser’s JavaScript support is disabled the code doesn’t run and no ads are displayed. Even your alternate ads won’t display — the alternate ad facility still requires the JavaScript code to run. Nothing will be displayed, in fact, if JavaScript is turned off. This is where the <noscript> tag becomes important.

How <noscript> Works

If JavaScript support is enabled, the browser executes any code it finds between a <script> and </script> pair and ignores any markup it finds between a <noscript> and </noscript> pair. If JavaScript support is disabled, however, the contents of all <script> tags are ignored and the contents of the <noscript> tags are displayed instead. Consider this simple page:

<html>
<body>
<script type=”text/javascript”>
document.write( “<b>Hello!</b>” );
</script>
<noscript>
<b>Goodbye!</b>
</noscript>
</body>
</html>

Load it into a browser with JavaScript enabled and you’ll see “Hello!” with JavaScript disabled you’ll see “Goodbye!” instead.

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Video and Blogging

Over at b5 some of our bloggers are beginning to experiment with video in their blogging. Sean at our boxing and wrestling blog is doing Predictions Posts using YouTube. He’s also brought in a friend on some and the results are pretty cool – two guys chilling out and arguing about a fight – very conversational and despite the lowish quality video quite engaging (even though I have no idea what they’re arguing about).

I think we’ll see more and more of this in the months ahead and it really excites where it all could end up. I know of one blogger who has been doing this type of thing on his blog for a few months now that is currently negotiating a deal with a cable TV station to produce similar content for them. I can’t mention his blog yet but I know that the videocasts that they are producing are as popular if not more popular than their audio versions (podcasts) and their blog posts.

Will You Reboot on May 1st?

cssreboot

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

There’s been an unofficial holiday on the web for the past 6 years or so. It’s called the May 1st reboot and it refers to the date that web designers have chosen as “spring cleaning” day. The day is used to go through websites and apply a new design, or cleanup artifacts that have been left lying around the site. In just a handful of days, the blogosphere will play its own part in the May 1st Reboot and it’s being organized over at CSS Reboot. While I’ve already done my reboot a few weeks early, there are currently 1,319 signed up to participate in the CSS Reboot which offers no rewards save tons of exposure and potential for traffic. From their about page:

The CSS Reboot is a community event for web professionals. May 1st, 2006 at 18:00 GMT Rebooters from all over the world will launch their web standards-based redesigns simultaneously, bringing traffic, interest and a little respect to their sites. There are no prizes or arbitrary winners, just great exposure and the knowledge that we all participated in something great.

Of course, to reboot you don’t have to join up with the official site. Perhaps some spit and shine on your own or grabbing a ready made theme will do nicely.
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