24 June 2007

More Skinny for Blogging N00b5

Several months ago, when there seemed to be an influx of new edubloggers, I posted some suggestions to help get established in the edusphere. I'm going to post a few more ideas, now that you've gotten your sea-legs. If you're not using blogger to publish and/or host your material, then not all of the information below will be applicable.

Whether or not you choose to share your true identity (my thoughts on doing so are here), you may want to make some choices about who can access and/or comment on your thoughts. Blogger does allow you to create permissions such that only people you invite can read and/or comment. This is highly restrictive, but might be useful if you're wanting to set up a discussion group where identities might be known or sensitive issues discussed. Nearly all edubloggers want a public forum. The trade-off here is that as long as you have blogger as your host, you will never be able to exclude certain individuals or groups. If you publish your blog via FTP to an outside host, you can use their IP filter (use StatCounter, for example, to track and identify visitors by IP so you know who is who) to screen your visitors.

A note here about the information you can get via StatCounter and other subscriptions. If you find yourself faced with a rogue visitor or commenter, you can get much more than the person's IP address, dates, and times of visits. These services will also provide you with more detailed and useful items, such as the type of browser used to access your site as well as the operating system (is the person a Mac user?). All of this information is valuable if you need to contact someone's ISP about their behavior. Most ISPs have a "Terms of Service" agreement with their users which prohibits stalking and harassment. Take screen shots of visit information and contact an ISP if you have any concerns. They do not want to find themselves in trouble and can be very helpful. Just document what you can and send it in.

Should you delete unwanted comments? Yes. When you have houseguests, do you not expect certain rules of conduct? Perhaps you don't allow smoking in your home...or maybe you want guests to remove their shoes while they're in the house. A blog may be a virtual space, but it is your space. You have the right to set the "house rules." I recommend using a verification to prevent spam comments (although highly dedicated spammers will still get through on occasion). I don't mind anonymous comments---I understand the value in protecting identity. But comments which are worded in a way that threatens or intimidates other commenters or is meant to just be ugly are deleted by me in a heartbeat. People who really want to say those things can get their own blogs in order to exercise their free speech rights. They don't have to say it on yours or mine. If necessary, you can either moderate comments or suspend them until life quiets down again.

Finally, you can "ask" via your template that Google and other search engines not cache your blog. "Robots" roam the range of the web taking snapshots of your content. Even if you delete your blog---which you may have a need to do someday---these shadows (the cache) will continue to live on. If you do not want this to happen, you can direct the robots. Keep in mind that your blog will still be listed by search engines, just the most current version. Immediately below your "head" tag, insert this line of code: meta name="ROBOTS" content="NOARCHIVE" (you will need <> brackets on the ends). You can also elect to just eliminate the Googlebot by replacing "robots" with "googlebot."

That's all for now. Perhaps later in the summer I'll post some more that is specific to FTP publishing (I have learned a ton in the last month or so), site management via Google and Yahoo!, and other bugs I'm learning to manage.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the 'what I learned at school this year post', I am working on a similar list because I had some (maybe not so) revolutionary insights this year. Plus thanks for offering new edubloggers like myself a guide to the blogiquette!

The Science Goddess said...

You're welcome!

I find that blogging is a good way to mentally put things away so that they aren't taking up headspace (and so I can sleep at night). :) Thinking about what I learned from the year was one of these sorts of things. I hope to do a few more so that I can enjoy my summer in earnest.

I'll be interested to read what you have to share.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Very useful info, SG, and much appreciated. Those kinds of thoughts have been rolling around in my head since I started, and it's nice to see how someone whose edublogging I admire has dealt with the situations and circumstances.

I agree big-time about saying only what you'd say face-to-face.

As far as privacy goes, this place helps me clarify and refine my thinking (as well as get a load off my brain), but the bread crumbs are already in place that could lead back to the real me.

And that's okay. The folks who might tumble to repairman's secret identity won't confuse him with Superman anyway. ;)

The Science Goddess said...

We all have our footprints---and are never truly anonymous. All you can do is choose wisely.

Best wishes for a smooth journey in blogging!