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Fluff, Hacks

Blog Tips – Part III Comments, Searching, Tags

Once you’ve got Navigation down (Blog Tips – Part I), Links, Landing & Leaving (Blog Tips – Part II), the next skill-set involves leaving a comment for a particular post and finding or discovering new (to you) posts.

1] Commenting

Depending on the Blog Theme, the link for comments will be either at the top or the bottom of the post. As usual the wizards who create this tech stuff always manage to make at least one thing confusing.

In this case, you need to know that clicking on any phrase that includes the word ‘comment’ will let you see the comments, and/or leave a comment.

So for example, a link that’s labeled “No Comments” obviously means ‘click me to leave the first comment’. Aaargh.

But now you know.

It’s probably a little more obvious that a link labelled “5 Comments” will take you to a view of the post and those 5 comments, where you add your own comment.

Depending on the theme being used for the blog, the comment page will either let you ‘reply’ to a particular comment, or leave a new stand-alone comment. In the case of the former, sometimes the blog will ‘nest’ the comments so it’s easy to follow a conversation.

No matter whether they are grouped or nested, just remember that the comments flow top to bottom, with the most recent comment at the bottom and you will be able to follow along.

When you leave a comment we require you to enter a name and email address. Not to worry, we don’t use that email for any spam or commercial stuff. In fact, we don’t check that either the email address or your name is valid. It’s just common blog protocol so we go along with it.

Most people don’t use their real names when they leave comments. So for modesty or security reasons, feel free to create an alternative personality for your blog life!

2] Categories, Tags and Searches

There are a few reasons you might want to use one or all of these tools:

  • You read a post before and want to find it again.
  • You’ve just read an interesting post and want to find others like it.
  • You have a specific topic in mind and want to see if there is related info on the blog.
  • Some other reason; there’s always something we haven’t thought of.

By now you’ve noticed that each post is assigned a ‘category’ and/or a ‘tag’. This is done by the person who created the post.  Clicking on a category or tag link will give you a listing of all posts in the blog labeled with that category or tag. Alternatively a ‘Search’ allows you to find all posts containing the searched term.

Quickie note on Searching. Make sure to use the Search box on our blog at the top right of the blog page; do not do a google search by using the Search box in your browser. Our blog posts are famous, but not that famous. Also, if you want to search for a phrase put it inside double quote marks.

Now back to clicking on a Category or Tag. As usual there is a trick involved; and this has to do with WordPress the software that runs our site. If you click on a Category or Tag link in the sidebar on the right side of every page, you will get a lists of posts only from our blog.

But, if you click on a Category or Tag link that is just above or below the post you get a list of posts from all blogs running on WordPress!  Go ahead and try it; click on one of the links to the right, and then one of the links at the bottom of this post. Remember to use your back button or backspace key to return here.

See I wasn’t kidding.

This is just the way WordPress runs their site, we don’t have any control over it. Scuttlebutt says that this is not going to change, so just relax now that you know how to use the tool. This isn’t a bad ‘feature’ as long as you know how it works.

Another ‘feature’ of WordPress is visible when you are in The Single Post View, just above where you enter your comments. This is a section called “Possibly Related Posts (automatically generated)”. You should see it just below where you are reading this now.

These “Possibly Related Posts” are links to other blog posts in the WordPress universe that are found and listed by the WP search engine. Although we can’t set the parameters for these automatic searches, we can if we wish, turn the feature off on our blog.

We’ve chosen to leave the feature on, as it does often bring up interesting new posts. Instead of opening a new window when you click the link, the new blog will replace our blog in your browser; so remember to use the Back button if you want to get back to where you were in our blog. Otherwise, if you come back to the Home page you will have lost your place.

3] What Are The Differences Between Categories and Tags?

I get asked this question all the time.

The answer as far as the blog reader is concerned: None, zip, zero, nada.

The real distinction is a historical geek thing, and right here I expect to lose anyone still following along. Human nature. But I’m an optimist, so I’ll give it a shot.

Categories come from a database mentality; a way to structure information so you can retrieve it if you know the right word. Usually you set up categories before you begin to use them. People who create Categories wear white shirts and ties, or pumps and dresses. At least they used to, probably don’t anymore. Think of Categories as pre-dating the internet.

Tags come from a more recent (social) networking mentality. They were created as a way to label any kind of information, such as web pages, images, media etc. Although they perform the same function as a Category they ‘feel’ more free-form.  This is probably because you set up tags on the spot, when you decide you want one. The people who create Tags are younger than you, have purple hair and don’t read instruction manuals.

Here’s a good visual example of the difference in the zeitgeist of Category vs. Tag. Look over to the right in the sidebar. You’ll probably have to scroll back up the page since this is a long post.

  • After each Category is a number telling you how many posts have been labeled with that category. Note that the Catagories are listed and indented. It’s very neat and tidy. Personally I love it.
  • Now look at the Tag Cloud. The Cloud does exactly same thing, but the size of the Tag is related to how many posts have been labeled with that Tag. The Tags are scrunched and in fact we’re not even sure if they are all listed. Personally it makes me nuts.

Need I say more?

OK, here is your Wikipedia link and we’ll give it a rest.

That’s about it for Comments and Searching and Tags. Hopefully it has made you comfortable with those aspects of our blog and you’ll feel right at home when you arrive.

Our next Tips Chapter will be on RSS Feeds, and more from behind the scenes, blogwise.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Blog Tips – Part IV RSS Feeds « Not A Mystery - June 10, 2009

  2. Pingback: All Bog Reading Tips Combined « Not A Mystery - June 10, 2009

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