Lee's 'Better Communication Results' blog

A blog to help YOU communicate better for better business results!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A challenging week - and a solution at hand!

G'day fine and gentle readers. The past week has been a challenging one for me, and in the interests of helping others escape potential mental health problems, I will outline some of my challenges --- forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

As you know, I added trackback facilities to my blog a few weeks ago, courtesy of haloscan (as blogger.com accounts don't have a trackback feature). It worked fine for me --- I started trackbacking to other people's posts and all is well, albeit with a few hiccups along the way as I learnt to link to the main post, not the trackback code (oops!).

But then I saw that folks were commenting on my posts but the posts weren't showing up on my blog - they were being captured by haloscan.

Yet whenever I looked at my blog and attempted to add a comment to see what is going on, I was able to leave a comment on blogger's comments engine - hence the comment shows up on my blog, the number of 'comments' on a post clearly visible from the front page of my blog.

At first I wondered if it is was Internet Explorer versus A.N. Other browser issue.

It turns out it's not.

Constantin Basturea and Allan Jenkins have both suggested in the past that I should look at moving off blogger, but as I have commented to them privately before, I have my reasons for staying with a free service - one of which is the considerable leverage I get from having a blog address with 'bettercomms' in it.

"Bettercomms dot blogspot dot com" rolls very nicely off the tongue - handy for listeners to my podcast remembering where to go to post a comment or read my blog…

So any move to another service would HAVE to involve a strong consideration of the pnemonics of the new address.

So, a cry for help on this blog brought immediate responses from three exceptionally kind folks: Constantin, Andy Beacock and Rob Baillie.

It turns out that when I auto-installed the haloscan comments and trackback wizard and then manually edited out the comment code so that I could use blogger's comment software, I didn't remove ALL of the code. So if you go to the front of my blog you can see my most recent posts and post a blogger comment there via the comment link.

BUT, if you come to a post of mine via a link to a permanent page (for example, from someone else's blog or from a search engine) then you get to see the haloscan comment software.

Now, here's where it gets even more 'interesting', if 'interesting' is the word for it.

Constantin quite rightly pointed out that blogger.com is great for beginning bloggers, but once you have got a reasonable grasp of the underlying culture of the blogosphere, especially including trackbacks, then one should really look at a more 'grown-up' service. And I know that Allan Jenkins has long been suggesting to me that I move off blogger.

Constantin suggested I have a look at blogsome.com, which uses the WordPress engine for its free blogs. And yes, trackbacks and comments are integral parts of the blogsome offering. Fantastic! So I signed up bettercomms.blogsome.com and prepared to import all of my blogger posts onto blogsome (and along the way pinch some of Allan Jenkins' ideas for my own blog, such as the 'Subscribe' page and the Code of Ethics).

Except that it turns out you cannot import. So I am faced with the dilemma of either sticking with blogger and asking Andy or Rob to very kindly tweak my template to remove any haloscan comments code, and I continue to have the 'uncool' pairing of blogger and haloscan, or else I move to blogsome and have integrated trackbacks but no history other than from the first post I make there.

And, to top it off, "bettercomms dot blogspot dot com" is really easy to say and remember; "blogsome" can easily be confusing -- is it some as in "s. o. m. e." or "some" as in a mathematical sum?

So the point of all this?

Yes, there IS a point to this rant…

If you haven't started your own blog yet, but are thinking of it, then carefully consider your hosting service. Blogger is FANTASTIC as a beginner's service -- great-looking templates, easy to get up and running, easy to pronounce and remember, free.

Other blogging services, free or not, might be more daunting to the beginner -- what with trackbacks and so on -- but eventually you will probably want to take advantage of these advanced tools.

If you have good reasons, as I do, for sticking with a free service, then shop around and consider your options. Blogger is still, I reckon, the best service to start off with, but if you start generating a bit of a community and traffic, moving from blogger to another service may not be as headache free as you would like.

I have learnt this, to my cost.

Oh, and Ben Hamilton quite rightly asked me why I don't host my own blog as I have my own domain name. It's because my website hosting service is SiteSell, which doesn't offer either a blogging tool or access to the server to plop some blogging software on it.

I tell you, what with the hard drive failure, the collapse of my podcast host and now these blogging issues, it's enough to drive a communicator to drink.

I'll catch you next week, but for now I'll have one pangalatic gargleblaster, please, go easy on the ice and ditch the cocktail umbrella…

Update: Fellow aussie and all-round good guy Ben has just emailed me and offered hosting space on his server. This could well be the answer to my prayers! He will let me use WordPress or any other blogging engine on there. I'm not sure how that sorts out the "bettercomms dot something" issue, but all will be revealed in the fullness of time, I am sure. Many many thanks, Ben! Bless you!