Reflections on the blogosphere

Posted on May 30, 2010

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When reflecting on my blog experience I came to the conclusion that, overall, it was a positive and engaging one, although at times frustrating, certainly enjoyable as far as assessments go.

I think this type of assessment could easily be misinterpreted as straightforward and could seem to be less demanding compared to the final assessments for other subjects.  Despite this, having to learn how to navigate and operate WordPress for first time users like myself was definitely taxing at times.

After having used WordPress for the last couple of months and having familiarised myself with the platform, if I ever created a new blog, I might try out another blog platform as I found WordPress.com restrictive and convoluted at times.

While I understand that the creators of WordPress feel they must clearly distinguish between the free WordPress.com and WordPress.org which you have to pay for by making WordPress.com limiting in design, the fact that there is no standard design format for all templates gave me the irks.

I tried many different templates and for instance, in my chosen template ‘Inuit Types’, the only alterations you can make to the appearance are to the colour contrast, say black on white or red on blue etc, where as with many other templates like ‘Bueno’ for example you can edit the backgound as well as the colour schemes.  Lucky for me I like the way ‘Inuit Types’ looks or perhaps I had to like it.

On a personal note, I would not consider myself extremely tech savvy so I often found the dashboard layout of WordPress confusing at times, especially in relation to how to edit widgets.  It took me AGES to work out how to add blogs that used other platforms like ‘Blogspot’ to my blogroll.

I would be interested in testing out another blog platform in order to compare its user friendliness as I didn’t find WordPress particularly accommodating to someone who was new at this.  In saying that, once you FINALLY get the hang of it (like I said this is just my personal experience) it becomes easier to navigate.

I did also find WordPress to be rather temperamental at times and experienced a few technical difficulties and glitches which would only further encourage me to try another publishing site, or maybe this type of thing is common among blog platforms?

With my post ‘Restaurant Review – An Ethiopian Safari’, unlike my other posts where automatic paragraph breaks had been inserted which I liked, no matter what I did, this post continued to be published as one big chunk of text.  I tried putting in spaces several times and even inserting breaks into the html coding but it continually reverted back to the slab look, so eventually I had to delete that post and republish it as a completely new one.  It seems to be fine now but it did require a lot of tiresome fiddling around on my part.

As far as the traffic on my blog is concerned I found two major viewer magnets.  The first one was Facebook as I played to host to a small social experiment.  Previously the maximum views on my blog stood at around 20ish, but when I posted a link to my blog on Facebook, suddenly I had close to 200 views in one day.

Also, once I worked out how to use tags more effectively, that is to load your posts up with them, I suddenly began to have a marked increase in hits which only further encouraged me to tag things I thought people would be likely to search for or find interesting.

David suggested I change the titles of my blogs to include the words ‘Restaurant Review’ as it would encourage more traffic to my page and I think he was right as I  have seen a marked increase in my views stats on those posts.

I also worked out early on that you can leach off other people’s blog popularity by including links to their blogs in your posts and then some of their traffic is directed your way.  This makes blogging sound a bit parasitic but I suppose it is in many respects.

A lot of my experience with blogging in general was of course amusing as well.  As far as homework goes, I certainly preferred to get on my laptop and start banging out blog posts than studying for a french grammar test.

Some funny or rather odd stories also came out of this experience which initially really demonstrated my lack of understanding of the ‘blog world’.

For instance, the first time I linked out to another person’s blog, in this case it was for the niche analysis post, I ignorantly didn’t realise that the person whose blog I was linking to would realise I had linked out to his blog and then I critiqued it!  I was suddenly surprised when some slightly confused comments from him appeared on my post!  I was pretty embarrassed and thought it necessary to swiftly explain that this was for a uni assessment in which I had to ‘critically engage with other blogs’.  Now I know this, hence why I am not linking to his blog now which, for the record, is far more professional than mine and I shudder to think that I was comparing mine to it!

Anyway, that’s about all the word limit I can go over in one post, but I think I’ve expressed most parts of my experiences with blogging and WordPress.

As a whole, I think the biggest and ultimate success of this exercise is the fact that I, who was previously a blogging virgin, wants to continue blogging.

I’m off to France for exchange in a couple of months and am already trying to work out a blog befitting to the venture ahead of me.

Merci beaucoup. (that could even be my title).

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Posted in: Elucidation