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                   Thursday, November 12, 2009 - 12:33AM

3 years of blogging; thoughts on comment boxes

25 Years of Storm Observing
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So, this blog is exactly 3 years old today. A quick Windows file string search in my post folder shows a count of 878 total posts since the first one on November 12, 2006; that would mean an average of 0.8 posts per day. (All old posts are still linked on the archive page.)

This blog is and always has been completely manual-HTML based, updated in raw code with Wordpad. I've toyed around with some content management systems like WordPress and Joomla, but never have liked the control I have to give up with those, not to mention having to make CSS concessions and risk the security vulnerabilities. Right now, each new post takes me about 45 seconds to add to the blog (not counting the time it takes to compose the content and gather/crop/resize images). I've worked with HTML so long (since 1994) that I'll always be able to do the hand coding faster than I could with any content manager.

The one new feature I'm trying to develop is a script that will allow me to make new posts and add photos via my cell phone. I have a script currently that will allow me to make running updates to an existing post via the phone (which I will use for big storm observation days), but it can't create a new post altogether and can't upload photos. It basically needs to automatically create the files I currently do by hand, then edit the index page, recent post list and archive page. It shouldn't be too difficult to pull off, but I still need to find some R&D time to work on it. For now, I can't see me actually needing to compose full posts from the phone that often, so it's not a huge priority.

Comment systems on the way out?

Are blog comment boxes becoming a relic of the past, in leu of Facebook? I added my comment system to the blog back in January of 2008. But in recent months, it's seen almost no activity - being nearly completely replaced by comments on the Facebook 'Note' that is generated by the automatic XML feed import there. This means the only ones who see the comments are those who visit my Facebook page. Which I guess I don't mind, except it makes the actual blog pages resound with crickets chirping.

Maybe someone will release a Facebook app that allows a feed of Note comments to be imported to pages, similar to what you can do with Twitter feeds. I'm not a fan of adding cumbersome third-party 'widgets' and apps to my pages though - and it would mean that only my Facebook friends could comment on posts. I guess since my Facebook friends are becoming the only commenters, it might be a moot point anyway.

Commenting on your site is like talking in church... It's such a humbling experience to be in your house that you just don't do it :)
- Posted by Paul from Decatur, IL
Thanks Paul, I'm not anywhere near being worthy of that :) I've noticed this trend on other blogs too. I think it just may be a wind of change that the internet always is undergoing. I just have to try to keep up with what the next new thing is. I deal with this all the time at work, in fact my personal sites have often been test beds for stuff I end up using on commercial sites. I may end up just linking to the facebook note comments on each post, that way even if a reader here isn't on my friend list, they can still read the comments. I think that I may even be able to allow them to comment on just the note section, but I'll have to play around with facebook's security settings to see if that's possible.
- Posted by Dan R. from Charleston, WV

25 Years of Storm Observing
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