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The Blog Merchandising Problem, or, Blogs, V 2.0 (2.1? 3.0?)

By - January 17, 2007

Merchamazon

Late last year, in my predictions post for 2007, I mentioned something I called, quite uninventively, “Blog 2.0.” More specifically I wrote:

“10. “Blog 2.0″ will become a reality. By this I mean that Version 1.0 blogsites, of which I think Searchblog is a good example, will begin to look dated and fade in comparison to sites that employ better approaches to content management, navigation, intelligent widgets and web services, etc.”

Well, that entry caught they eye of Martin Nisenholtz, head of NYT Digital. I was in NYC this past couple of days visiting colleagues and attending the wonderful “Evening of Wonders,” run by FM partner author Josh Foer. Upon hearing I was coming to town, Martin asked me to stop by. He wanted me to unpack what I meant by that brief reference. Turns out, we had a fascinating conversation, and it led me to want to think out loud with all of you about a problem I think most folks who either write or read blogs have.

Blogs are wonderful for reading a stream of consciousness, the ongoing dialog of the author(s) and the audience (though I have to say reading comments is far more of a pain that it should be.) One of the major strengths of blogs is their conversational immediacy, when one becomes a reader, and knows the flow and grammar of the site, the ongoing postings become far more accessible.

BUT…

A brief dip into nearly every blogger’s referral logs shows that a very large percentage of readers – nearly 40 percent in some cases – come directly from search – someone who put “steve ballmer throws chair” into Google, for example, and lands here.

Now, this person doesn’t have any frame of reference about Searchblog, or its grammar, audience, or ongoing conversation. He or she is most likely to hit the post in question, read it (perhaps), and move on. This site loses a potential new reader, and this community loses a potential new member, because, in the end, I, as the publisher of Searchblog, have done nothing to demonstrate to that reader the wonders and joy that is Searchblog. In short, I’ve failed to merchandise my site.

Now imagine instead, that when that person comes from search, they are greeted with a box that pops up and is informed by the search referral information that we all carry with us as we click away from Google or other search engines. That box surfaces a smart search based on the referral – perhaps it shows the reader other posts I’ve written about Microsoft, or Google and Microsoft, or senior executives in the Internet industry. Perhaps it shows me the top five *other* posts folks read who *also read* that Steve Ballmer Throws A Chair post. You know, the kind of merchandising a good site like Amazon does all day long (from what I can tell, search referral boxes were pioneered by Cnet, for credit where credit is due). Now, wouldn’t that be cool, just for a start? Sounds hard to do, right? But actually, it shouldn’t be. The information is all there. It’s just not organized properly.

Cnet Box

But giving potential new readers a tour of Searchblog is not the only reason to think about merchandising the site. In fact, it’s not even the primary one. The real reason to think about solving this problem is to solve what I as a regular reader of many sites find most frustrating: it’s nearly impossible to navigate these sites past the home page.

Sure, some sites, including this one, make lists of “most active topics” or “my favorite posts” that we stick on our templates. These static navigation boxes help a bit, but they fail utterly to solve for a reader’s implied or specifically declared intent. And finding anything specific on a blog site is, well, a pretty poor experience. I’m not saying blog search technology sucks, I’m saying it simply doesn’t work very well. Often you find far too many posts for the keywords you enter, and there’s really no context for the ones you do find.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking – this is the problem that tagging will solve. OK, sure, let me know when that happens. For now, tagging strikes me as one more signal lost in a ton of noise – it’s up to publishers to take that signal and make something useful from it.

And as long as we are talking about signals, there are so many other ones I’d love to have at my fingertips, signals I as a publisher can weave into useful context and navigation for my readers. Links to a particular post, for example. Why can’t I have, easily, a list of all my posts sorted by how many links each has, or by a matrix of links crossed with authority of those links? How about the number of comments? Or the number of pageviews each post has received? With all of these signals, plus tags, I can start to really build useful navigation elements for all my readers, past, present, and future.

But it’s way too hard to get all this information and harder still to know how to use it. I know it’s out there, in bits and pieces, but it strikes me that no one company is really motivated to address this problem in a way that benefits bloggers. I have high hopes for Feedburner, now that it bought BlogBeat, and perhaps I’m missing some dead obvious widgets that do all this and more for any particular site. For that reason, I’d love to work on this issue with what resources FM has to throw at it. But first, I need to get smarter on the possible solutions. What say you, Force of Many?

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41 thoughts on “The Blog Merchandising Problem, or, Blogs, V 2.0 (2.1? 3.0?)

  1. Andrew says:

    At last you have addressed the question that has been troubling me for ages – not just blog navigation but a way for organically related posts to be displayed depending upon the reader. There isn’t anything yet is there? But tags, at least on my site, are having an impact.

  2. Robi says:

    Have you checked out MyBlogLog at all? Doesn’t meet all of the needs you listen, but might give you some interesting food for thought.

  3. shander says:

    I tried blogging for a bit, and tried informational web sites…but I wanted what you’re referencing but couldn’t find a way to do it.

    “about” sites are sorta there, but some how you want a news feed too, … you want the commentary to point to tagged thoughts yet the tagging needs to be tunable…

    I am thinking that the issue is one more of graphical communication…color coding, size of text they help, but grokable Icon tags that shrink or grow, perhaps slide show review of posibilities in a small window next to the static stuff…

    The issue isn’t one of “datedness”.. if solved it could be a big step forward in communication, the ease in which ideas can be put forward and understood and explored at the pace the “readers” mind is willing and able to take in.

  4. BillSaysThis says:

    There is a WordPress plugin called Landing Pages which begins to address this idea and I would also suggest my former employers, RawSugar, have technology that can add serious value in improving overall search and navigation on a site.

  5. Dr. Pete says:

    It’s funny, but I was just thinking the other day about how blogs are in many ways less functional than their discussion-board predecessors. Comments are usually very linear, and rarely are you able to break off into sub-threads. Part of it is just the nature of blogs (that the author ultimately controls the conversation), but it’s interesting how we basically started over and are rebuilding tools that we already had during Web 1.0.

  6. nmw says:

    I think the important question is which inferences are made. You suggest the inference that a person searching on Google.COM for “steve ballmer throws chair” might be interested in finding out about “Microsoft”. That may be, but get this: You will know alot more if you look where that person is *actually* “coming from”. So maybe you can make different inferences for users of Google and/or Yahoo and/or Live and/or Ask and/or *whatever*. Note that *whatever* should not be underestimated in this context. Let’s say there’s a link to http://battellemedia.com/archives/001835.php from http://www.shadow.cz/blog/?m=200611 — then perhaps you could infer that the person following the link might appreciate information that might be relevant to his/her “Czech context” (i.e., from the TLD .CZ). Or say that the source was something like “humor.US” — then maybe you could “offer” some other “humorous tidbits” (maybe even for “.US” audiences). Or if the source is “stress-management.ORG” then maybe a little box could pop up and say “please breathe deeply and count to 10″. Or if the source is some mixed-up confusion of apparently random characters, then maybe you could provide a link to a domain name suggestion engine.

    ;D nmw

  7. nmw says:

    I think the important question is which inferences are made. You suggest the inference that a person searching on Google.COM for “steve ballmer throws chair” might be interested in finding out about “Microsoft”. That may be, but get this: You will know alot more if you look where that person is *actually* “coming from”. So maybe you can make different inferences for users of Google and/or Yahoo and/or Live and/or Ask and/or *whatever*. Note that *whatever* should not be underestimated in this context. Let’s say there’s a link to http://battellemedia.com/archives/001835.php from http://www.shadow.cz/blog/?m=200611 — then perhaps you could infer that the person following the link might appreciate information that might be relevant to his/her “Czech context” (i.e., from the TLD .CZ). Or say that the source was something like “humor.US” — then maybe you could “offer” some other “humorous tidbits” (maybe even for “.US” audiences). Or if the source is “stress-management.ORG” then maybe a little box could pop up and say “please breathe deeply and count to 10″. Or if the source is some mixed-up confusion of apparently random characters, then maybe you could provide a link to a domain name suggestion engine.

    ;D nmw

  8. Oracep says:

    Coning rates and finds thinking hierarchies in posts; http://www.oracep.com can find it. What about navigating the thinking within yours, John? Your post Cones at 82%-very high, but where is the bulk of major thinking? It’s in the last four paragraphs, so we give it a Paracone Index of 3.

    0%] Late last year, in my predictions post for 2007, I mentioned something I called, quite uninventively, “Blog 2.0.” More specifically I wrote:

    88%] “10. “Blog 2.0″ will become a reality. By this I mean that Version 1.0 blogsites, of which I think Searchblog is a good example, will begin to look dated and fade in comparison to sites that employ better approaches to content management, navigation, intelligent widget [2:1:0:0:0] Well, that entry caught they eye of Martin Nisenholtz, head of NYT Digital. I was in NYC this past couple of days visiting colleagues and attending the wonderful “Evening of Wonders,” run by FM partner author Josh Foer. Upon hearing I was coming to town, Martin asked me to stop by. He wanted me to unpack what I meant by that brief reference. Turns out, we had a fascinating conversation, and it led me to want to think out loud with all of you about a problem I think most folks who either write or read blogs have.

    100%] Blogs are wonderful for reading a stream of consciousness, the ongoing dialog of the author(s) and the audience (though I have to say reading comments is far more of a pain that it should be.) One of the major strengths of blogs is their conversational immediacy, when one becomes a reader, and knows the flow and grammar of the site, the ongoing postings become far more accessible.
    BUT…
    50%] A brief dip into nearly every blogger’s referral logs shows that a very large percentage of readers – nearly 40 percent in some cases – come directly from search – someone who put “steve ballmer throws chair” into Google, for example, and lands here.

    85%] Now, this person doesn’t have any frame of reference about Searchblog, or its grammar, audience, or ongoing conversation. He or she is most likely to hit the post in question, read it (perhaps), and move on. This site loses a potential new reader, and this community loses a potential new member, because, in the end, I, as the publisher of Searchblog, have done nothing to demonstrate to that reader the wonders and joy that is Searchblog. In short, I’ve failed to merchandise my site.

    78%] Now imagine instead, that when that person comes from search, they are greeted with a box that pops up and is informed by the search referral information that we all carry with us as we click away from Google or other search engines. That box surfaces a smart search based on the referral – perhaps it shows the reader other posts I’ve written about Microsoft, or Google and Microsoft, or senior executives in the Internet industry. Perhaps it shows me the top five *other* posts folks read who *also read* that Steve Ballmer Throws A Chair post. You know, the kind of merchandising a good site like Amazon does all day long (from what I can tell, search referral boxes were pioneered by Cnet, for credit where credit is due). Now, wouldn’t that be cool, just for a start? Sounds hard to do, right? But actually, it shouldn’t be. The information is all there. It’s just not organized properly.

    100%] But giving potential new readers a tour of Searchblog is not the only reason to think about merchandising the site. In fact, it’s not even the primary one. The real reason to think about solving this problem is to solve what I as a regular reader of many sites find most frustrating: it’s nearly impossible to navigate these sites past the home page.

    88%] Sure, some sites, including this one, make lists of “most active topics” or “my favorite posts” that we stick on our templates. These static navigation boxes help a bit, but they fail utterly to solve for a reader’s implied or specifically declared intent. And finding anything specific on a blog site is, well, a pretty poor experience. I’m not saying blog search technology sucks, I’m saying it simply doesn’t work very well. Often you find far too many posts for the keywords you enter, and there’s really no context for the ones you do find.

    90%] Now, I know what many of you are thinking – this is the problem that tagging will solve. OK, sure, let me know when that happens. For now, tagging strikes me as one more signal lost in a ton of noise – it’s up to publishers to take that signal and make something useful from it.

    78%] And as long as we are talking about signals, there are so many other ones I’d love to have at my fingertips, signals I as a publisher can weave into useful context and navigation for my readers. Links to a particular post, for example. Why can’t I have, easily, a list of all my posts sorted by how many links each has, or by a matrix of links crossed with authority of those links? How about the number of comments? Or the number of pageviews each post has received? With all of these signals, plus tags, I can start to really build useful navigation elements for all my readers, past, present, and future.

    88%] But it’s way too hard to get all this information and harder still to know how to use it. I know it’s out there, in bits and pieces, but it strikes me that no one company is really motivated to address this problem in a way that benefits bloggers. I have high hopes for Feedburner, now that it bought BlogBeat, and perhaps I’m missing some dead obvious widgets that do all this and more for any particular site. For that reason, I’d love to work on this issue with what resources FM has to throw at it. But first, I need to get smarter on the possible solutions. What say you, Force of Many?

  9. SorenG says:

    I am not sure if I understand all your questions, John, but I think one possible road to address a few of them is some kind of unified organization of bloggers, which once you join there is general protocols and information sharing people agree to. So if I as a blogger join this network, then I give access to my readers of relevant other blogs or discussions on a topic. I can see the top rated blog on the chair incident, for example, which blog got the most comments, the highest ratings. I as a reader join this “one network” with a user name and PW and agree to have my watching and posting information as a part of the data that other users see.

    Now, I know there is various blog search tools out there (and this is not my area of expertise) but it seems that much more “informational sharing” could take place that would make reading blogs and finding information so much easier. People though wold have to trust some group that would help to put the pieces together.

  10. Drew Meyers says:

    SorenG – I THINK (and hope) that’s what MyBlogLog is aiming to build.

  11. EAS says:

    Nice tip, BillSaysThis. The plugin I found was actually called “Landing Sites” It seems to be just the thing, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get it working. I’ll have to give it another crack once I upgrade wordpress (hopefully all the way to 2.1) and my chosen theme gets out of beta.

  12. david says:

    Hi John,

    This is David, from OhGizmo.com, one of FM’s authors. I know exactly what you’re looking for, and I believe this article will point you in the right direction: http://theundersigned.net/2006/06/wordpress-creating-landing-sites/

    As one reader mentioned, they’re called landing pages, and do a decent job of determining where you’ve come from, looking for what, and making appropriate suggestions. They sell your site to complete newcomers.

    As for your comment about BlogBeat, I wouldn’t get too excited. I tried their recently released site stats package (discussed here: http://blogs.feedburner.com/feedburner/archives/2007/01/a_360_degree_view_of_audience_1.php) and I can honestly say it was more than underwhelming. Not to mention it likely caused the MySQL tables in a database to crash. Twice.

    That aside, the information it presents is very basic, and allows for superficial data mining. If I were you, I’d be a little more excited about Measure Map, from Google. Now that seems to have potential.

    Anyway, just my two cents.

  13. Hi John,

    This is Nitin of GigaOM.

    Re: your comments about blog search being broken. I did a little experiment in vertical search and indexed all of FM’s blogs, accessible via a single search bar. This search page gives far better results than searching at any or all the individual blogs. Most likely reason is that local search on blogs is an added afterthought. Focused vertical search is a far more powerful tool.

    Let me know if you are interested and I will make the search page available to you for testing. I suspect it has some useful applications.

  14. Ok, the demo is now set up at

    http://www.greener.com:9180/

    It’s currently called “Shiny Search”.

  15. 1- It is vital the the Blogs stats are made PUBLIC – sitemeter or Statcounter are the absolute best. It is important that this open trend continue among Top Web 2.0 or SEO Blogs. http://seoptimization.blog.com/1221628

    2- It would also be very advantagous if this blog would become a member of the MyBlogLog & Cocomment communities.

    3- The Blog is very well formated as it is, the simplicity of the layout is very user friendly, and the fast load times are quite helpful.

    4- The Previews of Comments are a stroke of genius – and allow for a quick view of what topics are the most provocative.

    5- It is in fact a good idea to have a ready reference for the amount of pageviews and Backlinks and comments each Topic has. Even the amount of DIGGs, or REDDITS, or NETSCAPEs & TECHNORATIs a popular piece has attained.

    6- One good idea would be manually to add a few links at the end of each topic to other topics in the past that were related. If that is too much work, then just do it for POPULAR TOPICS

    7- You can allow top users to set up a personalized page consisting of previous comments and an optional Biography – Picture – AND OF COURSE, a link to ones homepage :LOL:.
    This is being done on SearchMob, but not all users join.

    8- SearchMob has much potential, but one gets the feeling it is not being nurtured – as opposed to changing this blog, the Web 2.0 features could be added to SearchMob.
    It is a bit ironic that being the top member – SearchEngines STILL can NOT vote. This is creating a backlash among offended members who are not aware of this.

    9- Also there should be more guest Blog topics started. This would add an entirely new dimension to this respected blog. There are many legendary Techies who could add interesting perspectives, it is inexcusable to have a news void because someone is on vacation or traveling.

    10- When there are interviews done with movers and shakers, consider adding an audio or Video version – human communication is complex and multi dimensional, so the written word has much less potential to fully communicate than the more sensual experience of audio/visual.

  16. Keith Cash says:

    Nitin

    Nice demo, keep up the work

    Cheers

  17. John,

    Interesting you brought up that popup box for helping search users find what they are looking for and stay a repeat reader. If you search for favorite wordpress plugins, they actually have one that accomplishes this task. I havent yet implemented it but do plan to in the near future.

    xBMANx

  18. Henk Blanken says:

    Dear mr Battelle, I enjoyed reading your book (I read it in english, but by now it’s translated in dutch). The story about Google made my realize that what I want is a Google-Amazon-del.icio.us-technorati-mash-up that basically tells me what other bloggers I should read, recommendations based on their blogrolls, favorites at technorati, incoming & outgoing links and this of course all mixed whit the same kind of info about those other bloggers.

    I’m a journalist and a writer and I’ve been reading newspapers and magazines for all my life, but by know I’d like an online kind of magazine with the best of the blogs I read. New media is not about media anymore, it’s about authors. In a world of blogs we all know that there is an informal web of related bloggers. There should be a tool that diggs into that web, don’t you think.

  19. JG says:

    You write: “though I have to say reading comments is far more of a pain that it should be.

    Heh.. I apologize for my part in that, for any of my comments you’ve had to wade through; I do tend to “rant-ramble” from time to time when I’m overly passionate about a certain topic. :-)

  20. p-air says:

    John,

    It certainly seems like Sphere’s site widget begins to touch on the issues you’ve raised. As well, AggregateKnowledge which at least today appears at the bottom of WashingtonPost articles w/their “people who read this also read…” recommendations, provides that Amazon capability leveraging a network model (very interesting). As these two services begin to provide more self-service ways to interact w/them I can these directly addressing the issues you’ve raised.

    But I also want to caution you about the context issue. While at one of the early social networking companies where we monetized our listings section, a CEO we brought in thought it wise to focus our SEM efforts on the listings section. The presumption was that some % of the people arriving at our site for those listings would bleed over and join the social network which would accelerate our growth. Turns out people looking for jobs and apartments aren’t necessarily looking to join communities ;) The bleed-over % was so small that it didn’t justify the SEM expenditure and lead to the company using up all its cash.

    The lesson here is that search traffic fm both Web search and RSS search, are w/o context today and that’s fine as users are able to view content serendipitously that they might never have seeing based on intention, but as a site, trying to infer context fm one or two keywords being searched and design things around the site to address this might be more of an exercise in futility. Having said that, any marketing one can do on their site/blog should assume that most people arriving there have no idea what the site is about.

  21. Govind says:

    By merchandising if you mean showing users a few related posts to the ones they just landed on.. Many bloggers already do that. See for example, Greg’s posts – [1] [2] [3] .

    Blogs are so difficult to rate as similar.. keyword or tag matching will give far from satsifactory results. Perhaps, blogger himself giving pointers back to previous posts is the best form of recommendation. Ofcourse, one cant give references to the future posts.. but thats easier to deal with.

  22. claw says:

    Hi John,

    I’m a founder of Aggregate Knowledge and we let people add “People who read this also read” functionality to their sites through a simple web service. We’re up on Overstock.com as well as the Washington Post and we’d love to have more folks try it out and see if it works for them.

  23. John Frost says:

    This seems like a natural fit for Feedburner.com. They already collect that data with their site-stats. You could turn it on just like any other service they provide. I’d use it in a minute if they offered it.

  24. SorenG says:

    Claw, could you point me to a place you are used. When I go to a WP article like this one: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/12/AR2007011202220.html

    I see a “powered by Technorati” section on the right, and a “powered by Inform” down below. Would love to see more what you all do. Maybe you are also called Inform.

  25. Robert says:

    Hi,

    very interesting thread! My experience with blogs is limited but I’ve worked for years at enabling “personalization”. At a high level I think that for almost every web-site/page it is beneficial to be “personalized” for the visitor of the page. Referal information is one (important) source of knowlesge about the visitor. But there may be additional information available such as country of residence (as pointed out above). There’s a lot going around “identity” protocols and standards that could make some of that quite feasible. I personally prefer for cases like this “personality”. The visitor to a page presents (or not) a “personality”, which is the view that the web site (blog) has of the visitor. For blogs etc. it is not so iportant to know who I am (identity) but what I am like (personality).

  26. jkottke says:

    Just a quick note…I’m pretty sure Cnet did not pioneer search referral boxes. People have been doing this on blogs for awhile, a couple years at least. Brad Choate’s site (an MT blog, by the way) is a good example (do this Google search and then click through).

  27. Dan says:

    You lost me at “greeted with a box that pops up”….

  28. hombrelobo says:

    There is a WordPress extension call MoreMoney that allows you to specify a text whenever the user comes from a search engine, any text, including ads:

    http://www.nopuedocreer.com/quelohayaninventado/?page_id=211
    (this is the English version, the Spanish explanation is more dept, but this should be enough)

    I am looking for a similar extension for other blogs (I use blogger …. I know ….). It is a good way to receive visitors with feed subscription buttons and Google ads ….

  29. Hashim says:

    Indeed.com has a product that chieves this on news sites. Perhaps they should release this for smaller sites, like blogs.

  30. Perhaps blog content will move the direction of Flickr. I get a lot of hits on my photographs, and then fans can very easily find similar pictures because Flickr gives a million options for grouping, sets, tags, etc. Not everyone surfs the same way, so it is easy for people to find content they want. Sure, Flickr is “photographs”, but its just content that is organized very well.

    Beyond what you suggest, there is not much we can do to get rid of signal noise until we get those singularity-encroaching implants, eh?

  31. T Campbell says:

    John,

    I’ve got tremendous respect for you as a thinker, but I think you’re overthinking this one.

    If I am looking for a story about Ballmer throwing chairs, I am unlikely to be a reader who is interested in search technology. I’m unlikely to be interested in Microsoft exclusively (and if I were, would I really be happy with Searchblog?). I’m certainly not likely to be interested in every story from CNET (and if I were, why wouldn’t I just go to CNET?). I am more likely to be the kind of guy who enjoys stories about high-profile businesspeople going nuts. Such a man is not in Searchblog’s target audience, and it seems like expending resources to try to attract him would be a huge waste of time.

    It reminds me of the early days of meta tagging, where people would tag their woodworking site with “simpsons” in the forlorn hope that someone would say, “Hm, I *thought* I wanted information about Bart and Lisa, but what I *really* wanted was information about how to finish my floors! Thank you, Internet! You know me better than I know myself.” This did not happen.

    I also find personalized interfaces condescending. Isn’t this why we all left AOL? “What, I’m not GOOD enough to get the same interface as every other visitor? You think Google-News referrals are STUPID, or something, bub? I’ll find my own way, thanks.”

    And when someone blogs on a topic which they have blogged upon before, the most effective form of marketing they can do is link back to their own previous blog topics in the text of the new one, and edit their old posts to link to the new one. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.

    I came to this blog due to my interest in SEO, and I stayed because it was clear it covered my kinda topics. It has a clear-cut function which is very easy to understand. Said function is right there in the title “Searchblog,” though your URL is a little bit more of a head-scratcher to the uninitiated.

    Isn’t it time for Battelle Media to get its own site and move this over to “Battellesearchblog.com” or “Searchblog.tk” or whatever? If you’re concerned about bringing in new readers, I’d look there. But that’s kind of a tangent as I don’t know all the reasons for your URL choice. Feel free to disregard this last paragraph: I’m on surer footing with the others.

  32. T Campbell says:

    Gaah.

    “Not in Searchblog’s target audience” should read “does not REPRESENT Searchblog’s IDEAL READER,” since I am such a man, and here I am.

    Bottom line, the sort of person who’s interested in what Searchblog, or any blog, has to offer is going to find his or her interest piqued by even a random assortment of posts from that blog– as long as that blog has a clear-cut identity. Searchblog does.

  33. Chris Keane says:

    This is a great piece – an interesting follow-up would be blog improvements that serve existing readers as well as new acquisitions.

    I agree with Dr. Pete’s comments that blogs are far less successful than message boards at promoting real community dialog; your own excellent sidebar highlights aside, most blogs don’t feature comments heavily. There is little incentive for a reader to check back on an old post for a reply to their comments, and there isn’t a good mechanism for handling tangential conversations. I think this contributes to most users’ experience of discovering a single blog post, then leaving to perform another Google search.

    I’m looking forward to more widget-based services like MyBlogLog that connect a user’s experience across blogs and potentially create some of the participation rewards that were common on message boards (# of posts, rate this response, etc.).

  34. Jeff Crigler says:

    Just stumbled across this, but wanted to weigh in anyway. It’s interesting, what p-air says about what we can learn — and how much loyalty we can inspire — in various contexts. The new Sphere widget, for instance, might be only minimally useful on a blog about a narrow niche topic, or a blogger whose niche topic’s terms have analogs in other lexical domains. (A blogger about “theater,” maybe, who gets lots of Sphere links to movie bloggers.) But for a political blogger who’s following names and news stories and trends over the medium term, it’s pretty terrific as it is now.

    The holy grail, of course, is a widget or an algorithm or a process (or a set of such things) that looks at all the signals and noises John’s described–tags, clickthroughs, pageviews, comments popularity, referring source, search terms, and so on until Google runs out of server space–and finds meaning not in the individual data types or datasets but in *their intersections.*

    Big-picture, what we’re talking about (or at least talking *around*) is the notion of the semantic Web, no? Technologies that extract and present meaning from all the fragments of data and their interrelationships? So many of us are pushing toward that goal from so many different directions.

  35. tanie linie lotnicze says:

    I think that plugin Landing Pages is very useful for blogs

  36. Montoya says:

    What? WordPress blogs have had these capabilities for a long time… there are a *ton* of blogs that already do this. Just because you are far behind the blogging mainstream doesn’t mean everyone else is too.

  37. Brian says:

    I really like this discussion, amazing that I stumble here nearly a year later, but interestingly there is still no good answer. I wonder to myself often here, how should this information be organized, what if the blog universe could truly be harnessed in the same was that other social mediums have, perhaps the blog is to slow…

    I wonder about this greeting idea, I really doubt that a pop-up would be a good idea, probably would result in more people turning tail and running if every blog in the universe started greeting users, but having some sort of technology to effectively preface the post for different user types would be interesting; like perhaps at the beginning or end of the post – the “merchandising” did you like this post? subscribe to a feed of similar posts” and then the user gets posts that are tagged in the same folder, or so…

    anyways, here I am a year later thinking about a problem you posed last January… and yet the internet has already changed, and this problem still exists… perhaps a rating prompt, did you like this blog? want to read more? – these sorts of tools, that are related to the initial post, do they exist? perhaps, perhaps not, for I am no Blog genius!

  38. travesti says:

    couple limited editions, and even a new SKU, it looks like Microsoft is finally shipping “Falcon”-equipped Xbox 360s with 65nm CPUs.

  39. travesti says:

    and even a new SKU, it looks like Microsoft is finally shipping “Falcon”-equipped Xbox 360s with 65nm CPUs.

  40. Joe Lazarus says:

    I haven’t used it myself, but Lijit’s Re-Search feature sounds a lot like your idea for visits from search engines…

    http://www.lijit.com/help/re-search/definition

    I agree with your premise. I think we’ll see companies like WordPress and widget makers evolving blogs towards more complete CMS suites including merchandising, social features (ex. BuddyPress), and more. At the same time, people will also continue to use simple publishing tools like Twitter and Tumblr.

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