Blogging Continued: RSS feeds, Comments, and Emails

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posted by Bob on


It’s been a few posts since I started a discussion on blog services. Now I’d like to continue that train of thought with a visit to three blog-related sites. OK, one is actually a blog itself, but the format is a little different, and I didn’t think to include it last time, so BACK OFF! Ha…ha….*awkwardly pulls at collar*.

Let’s start with my favourite of the three: Google’s Feedburner. This gem won’t be useful to you unless you’re working with a blog, or some other website that has an RSS feed. And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about when I say RSS feed, then go ahead and click on that link back there. In a nutshell, RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web format used for sites that have frequently updated content, like a blog. This format, and others like it, make it possible for you to subscribe with your RSS aggregator (or reader) to sites that update frequently, like blogs or news sites. I actually mentioned some of this briefly in a previous post, right after I updated this blog with Feedburner RSS feeds.

But let’s get back to business. Your blog comes with a feed of its own. There’s likely a link on your site that your readers (people) can click to subscribe on their readers (RSS aggregator), or they could just type your blog’s address into their reader (aggregator) to get the same thing. Hopefully that went down smooth. So where does Feedburner come in? The middle. Go to Feedburner, enter your blog’s address, and select the RSS feed you want to ‘burn’ (you’ll likely just have a choice between posts and comments). Do all that, and Feedburner spits out a new link that you will use to replace the RSS feed currently on your site. It’s your new RSS middle-man!

But wait, why go through all the trouble? Well, that’s because if your readers subcribe using this new feed, as opposed to your original one, you will be able to keep track of them! Your blog service may have the ability to track how many visits you have to your site, but what if your most frequent readers don’t even visit your site anymore, and only read your posts with their aggregator? Well, now that they’re subscribed through your new Feedburner feed, you can track these guys too. Pretty cool, non?

Feedburner has a bunch of other neat features that I won’t go into here, but check it out. It’s a bit technical, but they have some decent walkthroughs specific to the blog service you might be using. It won’t bite. Promise.


Disqus is another little ditty you can add to your blog, but instead of improving your RSS feed, this baby supes up your comments. Tumblr uses this right now for their comments, and I’m sure there are other services that allow it (although isn’t one of them). With Disqus you can moderate comments from multiple sites in one place. It integrates with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, so that people commenting on your site can sign in to write a comment on your site without having to make a special account just for the task. And it also uses this integration to make sharing to these networks nice and simple. It can also look around Twitter and bring back any tweets that make mention of your stuff.

That’s a pretty brief overview, but I’ve only scratched the surface with this service, since I’m only using it on my Tumblr, which I rarely use lately. But if you want to integrate comments from your sites with your social media, then Disqus seems like the way to go.


What, other than email subscriptions, does email have to do with blogs? The answer is everything, when you’re using Posterous. Posterous is a blog, but the way you write your posts is what makes it so unique. You can post anything you want with a simple email. Want to add a picture or video or music clip? Just add an attachment. Posterous will format everything for you and make a tasty looking post just for you.

Instances where this might be useful:

  • If you were traveling and could never be sure of the quality of internet connection you might get. At the very least you should be able to send a simple email, though. Right? Well if you can do that, then you can post to your Posterous blog.
  • Maybe you and your siblings and parents want to keep each other updated on the happenings in your life. Instead of sending out a mass email, send an email to your family Posterous. Everyone can will get it, it’ll look nicer than an email, and all of those memories will be kept in a central location to be recalled whenever your heart desires. Plus, if some members of your family aren’t too tech savvy, it doesn’t matter! If they can write an email, they can contribute to the family blog.
  • On that same line, maybe you know someone who wants to make a blog, but isn’t tech savvy enough to set it up. Give the gift of Posterous! Set up a posterous blog for them, and then all they have to do to post to it is send an email.

I’m thinking of starting one, family. You in?

A Simple Request

from Robin Good

Hello dear Readers. Apologies, for yet another non-internet-exploratory-review post. This is simply to inform you that I’ve started using Google’s Feedburner to publish my RSS feed. I’m not totally sure of what I’m talking about either, but here’s the deal:

Feedburner let’s me keep track of my readership of subscribers using a reader. WordPress, the service I write this blog on, lets me keep track of stats associated with visitors to my blog, but not on people who simply read it with a reader (although it does count email subscribers, but who does that?).

So, my simple request to all you subscribers out there is to delete your current subscription from your reader, and to click on the new RSS chicklets I’ve put on the left-hand side of the page. They look the same, I know, but they are funneled through Google’s Feedburner so that I can keep track of you all for my diabolical reviewing purposes.

Thanks for your help, dear Readers, and happy new year!

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