Blog Explosion just doesn't do it for me

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I've been attempting to boost the number of people reading this blog in the last few weeks. Mainly because the more people there are reading the more likely I am to get feedback in the form of comments and postings that link to me and I find the feedback really useful; having your views challenged is the best way to learn...

Anyway, I started off by reading a load of good stuff over on Darren Rowse's ProBlogger blog and one of the postings was about a service called BlogExplosion.

Unfortunately I think BlogExplosion's basic premise is fatally flawed. I don't really see that it's something that will work well for me.

The idea behind BlogExplosion is that you register your blog with them and then they send people to your blog... Sounds great but there's a catch or two... BlogExplosion is a browse exchange service rather than just a directory. When you list your blog it's available in their directory but that's not really the point. The idea is that as well as listing your blog with them you also log in and browse other members' blogs whilst logged in to your BlogExplosion account. This works by you selecting the "Surf Member Blogs" link from the Members' section which displays a random blog with a control frame at the top. The control frame includes banners for other BlogExplosion blogs and navigation and control links so that you can move on to a new blog or view your account settings, etc. For each blog that you browse to you earn points and these points are spent each time BlogExplosion decides to show your blog to someone who's browsing member blogs. If you don't have any credits you don't get shown. The navigation frame contains a countdown timer that wont let you move on to a new blog (and earn credits) until you've spent at least 30 seconds on the current blog and it has a simple captcha to help prevent it being automated...

The problem is that although you can't really tune your BlogExplosion browsing experience that well. You can select a single category of blogs that you'd like to browse and they'll give you those, around 80% of the time, until you've browsed them all and then you get given blogs from any category... You can also select a single category to exclude... The problem is I'm not really that interested in surfing political blogs, or personal diary's or blogs about dogs or husbands or goths or whatever... I am interested in flicking through a selection of developer blogs and I might be interested in a few more categories but I can only select one. So, to date, my surfing experience has been one of look at a random blog, decide I'm not interested, flick away and do something else until the timer expires and then move on. In fact I've been spending quite a bit of time in thinking about how to work around the captcha with some code ;) and that's surely not the point.

So, BlogExplosion generates traffic but it's certainly not generating readers and, if my logs are anything to go by, I'm pretty sure that others do the same when they hit this blog (I'm not too surprised as I can be a bit techie at times and C++ is hardly the kind of thing that most people are looking for...).

The next problem is that this whole browse a selection of blogs thing seems to be at odds with how I actually use blogs. When I stumble across a blog I like I subscribe to it. Depending on the feed I may never need to visit the website again... BlogExplosion doesn't seem to cater for that mode of use very well at all. I would expect them to provide their own abbreviated feed of all member blogs so that they could give you points for reading articles from feeds. They already list the feed alongside the blog but they need to take the feeds, adjust them so that the thing members can subscribe to is a feed from BlogExplosion.com itself and then be able to track that I subscribed to 6 blogs and I regularly click on articles so that I can read the full thing. I should get credits for that! It's how most people I know read blogs!! As it is, I see a blog that I'm interested in, and I've found a few, and I subscribe and from then on one of the developer blogs that I'm actually interested in when browsing will be something I've already read from Bloglines...

Hmm... More thought needed, I think.

In the meantime, hello if you've come here from BlogExplosion. I'm sure this blog is nothing you're interested in, move along now ;)

5 Comments

Hi,
Sir i am a regular visitor of your blog. There are really some useful posts related to C++ and general software development which i've bookmarked in my favourites. As such i can view them later. Are you sure that your posts remain as it is in the next few years and not removed ? Otherwise i attempt to save the information instead of just bookmarking it.

Fahad,

Glad you find some of the content useful. I have no intention of taking postings, or the site, down and if something unexpected happens there's always google's cache or the Wayback Machine.

Hmm, thinking about how BlogExplosion just doesn't seem to "get it" I find it slightly strange that a blogging service company doesn't have a blog... Just a set of archived newsletters...

One counter on my site can tell me how someone got to my site and for how long. I've learned that most stick around only for the "30 seconds" or so if they got to my blog through Blogexplosion. Yeah, hits but no real reads. Rather have someone really reading my blog as apposed to hits. My one conclusion is there is just too much static out there, I'm souring on blogging. Also all the "hateful" blogs just turn me off. I'll be moving along now, nice visiting!

I'm glad that something like Blogexplosion exists, but I completely agree with you that it's not useful for finding good blogs. Hopefully, when enough developers see it and complain, one of them will make something better.

As it is now, Blogexplosion goes against one of the main points of blogging. I don't care what John Doe in Timbuktu says about blah blah. I don't care a whole lot about politics, and if really want to read about politics in general, I'll pick up a newspaper.

For a general overview of any subject, a magazine article, newspaper, or any of the traditional media will be better than a blog. Blogs are good at delivering rawer information quicker, or specialized details for a niche group (even one as large as C++ developers).

What I'd really like from some service like Blogexplosion is a feature to say 'give me another post like this' or 'find another blog on the same topic'. And I don't want it to see that I was reading a post about *computers* and give me another article about *computers*. I want it to see a post about C++ development and give me another one like that.

A predefined category system is just too inflexible for something like that. It wouldn't be able to narrow down the selection enough. It's hard to apply labels to the feel of a blog or its quality.

Since Blogexplosion already makes sure a viewer (I won't call them a reader) stays at a blog for at least 30 seconds, they can easily track how well a viewer likes a blog. With a little bit of feedback from users (maybe a reviewing system or something), and some datamining, finding blogs based on similar interests could be a lot better than it is now.

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