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ProBlogger Comment Spam Situation

David at Blogging Pro has a piece on why b5media has decided to buy an Akismet license.

In short – with 125 active blogs the load of comment spam is massive and we were finding that other tools were just not killing enough of it.

Here at ProBlogger I’ve been using the Spam Karma plugin for the last few months and have found it killed most of my comment spam but for some reason it became incompatible with some other aspect of my blog in the last few weeks and caused some issues with my commenting system (many of you noticed that comments didn’t seem to be getting through – or went through twice). I was also not getting any notifications of comments.

I then disabled Spam Karma and the problems were fixed with my commenting but the spam flooded in. I never realized how much spam I get – it was coming in at around 6 spam comments per minute!.

As a result I’ve been using Bad Behavior this week which has killed over three quarters of my comment spam but is still letting through a comment every couple of minutes (they all are being moderated at this point – hence a lot of your comments are being moderated too at the moment).

With this afternoon’s upgrade to WP 2 I’m going to be able to use Akismet for the first time with the b5 license. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it works and will give a report after a day or two.

Update: Thanks to some wonderful help from Rachel and Regan at Cre8d Design the update seems to be completed. There were a few hitches along the way in terms of plugin compatability and a couple of odd things happen but thanks to Rachel and Regan the new version of WP is working well and spam is under control – Akismet is doing it’s job very nicely so far.

My next task is to try to speed up my loading time a little as I’ve had a few people telling me that it’s crawling at the moment. I’ve made a few tweaks and have improved things a bit but think I have a few external scripts running that are causing some issues so will attempt to work on them in the coming day or two.

Thanks for everyone who emailed to let me know of issues that they saw during the update – hopefully we’ve found all the bugs.

AdSense Calendar

The AdSense team today announced AdSense Calendar (learn how to subscribe here)which interests me on two fronts.

Firstly it will be handy to follow as an AdSense publisher. The information on the calendar will include ‘monthly payment schedule, a record of AdSense blog posts, future system maintenance periods, and upcoming events–all backdated to the beginning of April 2006.’

Secondly it’s one of the first uses of Google Calendar that I’ve seen interacting with a blog and it’s got me wondering what other uses bloggers could put Google Calendar to.

I do have a Google Calendar but don’t really use it very well. I tend to use my email client’s (Entourage) calendar feature to keep track of my life – but I’d be interested to hear from any bloggers who are using Google Calendar in a public format in conjunction with their blog in some way.

Updating ProBlogger

Just a quick note to let readers know that we’ll be doing some WP updating this afternoon (we’re finally going to WP 2) and as a result there might be a little down time and a bit of quirky behavior. Let us know if you have any issues – thanks for your patience.

Mark Cuban on ClickFraud

Mark Cuban posts on Why I think ClickFraud is far greater than imagined. The whole click fraud thing continues to nag at me as a publisher who is attempting to make an honest living. I know as the current state of play stands that things are good for honest folk like us – but as click fraud continues to rise it can only threaten us. I’m not sure where it’s all headed or how (or if) it will be resolved but leaves me with a nagging worry.

Exponential Growth in Blogging – Getting Through the Early Days

Stuart has posted about receiving his first AdSense payment at Your Money 2 Keep which reminds me a lot of my early days in this game.

The thing I like about Stuart’s attitude is that despite the fact that in month 1 he only earned $1.51 he’s stuck at it.

Many bloggers experimenting with making money from their blogs don’t get past a few weeks into their venture without getting frustrated and throwing it in.

Lets look at Start’s earnings graph:

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Free Blog Poll Tools

Following on from my last two posts on blog polls….

There are a number of poll providers who have systems available for blogs.

I personally use the Democracy plugin for WordPress (AJAX based) these days and don’t have any problems with it.

Other poll systems that you might like to try (I can’t really vouch for any of them) include:

If you’ve had experience with any of these or other blog poll tools feel free to leave your comments and recommendations below.

PS: I’ve added these blog poll tools to the blog tools page.

9 Techniques for Using Polls Effectively on a Blog

In my last post on blog polls we explored why using polls on a blog can be a great technique for building interactivity and ownership on a blog but today I want to give a few practical tips on how to use them (or at least how I use them):

  1. Keep Polls Relevant - Blog Polls are most effective when they ask a question that is relevant to you blog’s topic. I recently saw one blogger polling their readership on their favourite meal. This would have been a good topic for a food blog – but it was actually being conducted on a blog about a completely different topic. Keep in mind that everything you do on your blog can either add to or take away from your blog’s worth to your readers. Polls that actually communicate something relevant are much more likely to add to your blog.
  2. Don’t use Polls just for the sake of it - connected to keeping polls relevant is that you probably shouldn’t come up with a poll just for the sake of having one. If you can’t think of a good question that adds something just don’t have a poll. I used to feel the need for a weekly poll but put them on hold for a while over the last month or so simply because I was struggling to keep up with questions to ask and was a little bogged down of the admin of them (it does take some work to run polls, especially if you do ‘results posts’ – see below).
  3. Position them Prominently - I’ve talked extensively here at ProBlogger about how a key to effective conversion of advertising on a blog is where the ad is positioned. If it’s in a good spot you can significantly increase the amount of people who click it. The same is true for getting people to participate in your poll. Position your poll high on the page and in a spot where you think people will naturally see it and you’ll increase your chances of a result.
  4. Think ahead about options you give – Don’t just slap a poll up on your blog without thinking through the options you’ll give your respondents to vote upon. I’ve been guilty of messing up in this area myself from time to time – it can actually ruin your poll and make the results quite worthless if you’re not careful. Consider all of the options that your readers might vote upon and try to cover every base possible (within reason) in your options. Well defined questions with a set number of possible answers tend to work best. Open ended questions are generally not well suited for polls (note: some poll tools will allow your readers to add their own options as answers. While this increases the sense of participation for readers it can also be abused and can make your poll very very messy).
  5. Beware of inactive polls – While polls can demonstrate that your blog is alive (see last post) they can also highlight the fact that it is quite dead. If your traffic levels are quite low and no one actually participates in your poll you it can be a little embarrassing.
  6. Announce new polls - If a lot of your readership follows your blog via RSS they will never know you’ve started a new poll unless you post about it. Write a short post defining the question and highlighting your poll and you’ll get it off to a much better start.
  7. Provide a medium for Discussing the Poll – One of the techniques I use these days when running a poll is to include a link to the announcement post where people can give feedback on the poll results and even share comments on why they answered like they did.
  8. Write a ‘results’ post - In addition to writing an announcement post I like to always include a ‘results’ post. Once again this lets RSS readers know what they might otherwise have missed about the results but also is a great place to take you poll to the next level in terms of producing a post (or posts) on what you found. In these posts I give some key stats, generally try to graph the results of the poll and highlight the key findings. Bloggers love these posts and quite often link up to them.
  9. Don’t let the poll go on too long – Define how long the poll will run up front and announce that when you start the poll. I would recommend that 1 week is generally long enough for a poll (and perhaps 5 days is better). This gives regular readers a chance to see it and vote and for them to come back a few times in the days that follow to see how the results are. I find that the majority of votes are cast in the first 48 hours and that new responses after that only trickle in.

In my last post in this mini series on Blog Polls I’ll suggest a few blog poll tools that people might like to use.

gnoos Launches

GnoosFellow Aussie entrepreneurs Ben Barren and Michael Leone have today unveiled and officially launched gnoos – a local (and global) search tool that aggregates the most current Aussie blogs.

I’ve been playing around with it during it’s beta test and it produces some great results. I’m looking forward to seeing it continue to grow and develop and to see what else they come up with.

Read more about it in today’s Age (and Sydney Morning Herald).

PS: Ask.com have launched their new blog search today also.

Tools for Tracking Search Engine Serps

Leon Kilat has a post that those of you wanting to find a way to keep a track of your Google Search Results Rankings (SERPS) might like to check out. It reviews the Sitening Serp tracker. I use a similar service at Digital Point called Keyword and Back Link Tracker which does a similar thing – although it does take some work as you have to go in each day/week to run it. Actually now that I think about it – I don’t use the tool much at all these days. I’m unsure why – perhaps its because I’m too busy or perhaps SEO has become less of an issue for me.