Currybetdotnet recent comments round-up 2008-10-28

 by Martin Belam, 28 October 2008

Once-a-month or so I like to round up any interesting comments that have been left on the site. You can find previous round-ups for August and September. Here is the selection for October.

The 'dofollow' comment debate

My promoting blog comments post continues to attract lots of comments, most of which are link-building spam, although there are occasionally the odd comments with a bit of thought put into them. Brad raised an interesting point about having a 'dofollow' policy:

"I think to the extent that dofollow encourages people to really read the posts and genuinely contribute to the conversation, it is a good thing.

There are software tools out there that help you to find dofollow blogs in your area of interest, so if you are genuinely looking for communities to participate in you are more likely to choose dofollow blogs to participate in than nofollow blogs."

Tom Gordon also mentioned 'dofollow' in his comment.

"I like the fact that you allow do follow to encourage commenting.

But I think blogs in general lack a motivational factor when it comes to CONTINUAL commenting.

Someone coming by, making a good comment and leaving, is probably a lost opportunity in getting that person to be a frequent commenter.

Forums make it so that a if you post often, you will likely eventually be upgraded to an "administrator" who has special privilages.

Maybe if the bloggin sphere could come up with something similar.

I saw one blog that only allow do follow links on members who have made 5+ QUALITY comments."

Myself, I can't help feeling that the concept of 'dofollow' is one that is unknown and rather technical for the average drive-by web users. It is something that is important to the niche of webmasters trying to get their site ranked well via backlinks, but isn't something that will give your blog 'mass appeal'.

Guardian comment accessibility

Back in November 2007 I did a quick survey around UK newspaper sites looking at accessibility issues with their designs. Recently Malcolm Coles left a comment on my review of The Guardian, raising some accessibility issues with their current design.

"The Guardian's latest redesign means things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse on the javascript front - it's now required to use the comment functionality.

With JS off, you can't even see the comments, let alone respond."

He has more to say on the topic on his own blog.

Social media and

Social Media icons

My old pal David Thair left a thoughtful response on my post about social media and He was defending the lack of visibility of content compared to content on a couple of important demographic grounds.

"But the problem here is that social bookmarking sites still haven't broken through to the mainstream in the UK.

Not only that, but their userbase is international (by which I mean, mostly American). So the likelyhood of any localised British content - no matter how good - making it to the top is very small, because the number of users who will save/share a link to that will always be tiny in comparison to items with American geek appeal.

And with regards to iPlayer content - well, that isn't available internationally, so again, not enough people will save links to it to be significant."

I certainly take his point, however, I still think, if you'd ask me to guess the ratio of news-to-non-news BBC URLs that were popular on social media services, I would have put it much lower than the 67 to 1 it appears to be.

The original post was picked up by Alan Connor on the BBC's Internet Blog as well:

"if you're the kind of person who 'does' Digg, you can have a tremendous effect on Internet Blog if you and your Digg buddies hammer that Digg link below and guarantee the team here kudos, adulation and the respect of our peers. Game that system!"

Using the iPlayer inside and outside the UK

"I don't quite understand why you would publish this post. Your title makes it sound like you have a solution for those outside the uk. However, you clearly don't and this post was a complete waste of time."

nka was not impressed with my account of trying to use the iPlayer in the Starbucks underneath a BBC building only to be told I wasn't in the UK.

Google is a great search engine, but it isn't a semantic one, and so this post ranks highly when people search for solutions to using the iPlayer outside of the UK, even though it isn't really about that at all.

I responded to nka on the post, and via email as well:

"I'm sorry you found the post a waste of your time. It was written over 14 months ago, at a time when the BBC iPlayer was a limited beta test. I believe my video clip was the first on the Internet showing what happens if you try to use it from outside the UK - or indeed inside the UK if the BBC has got their geo-location ideas wrong - at a time when few people would have seen the iPlayer."

I also pointed out that the post in question does have a big caveat at the top:

"Sorry - this article doesn't explain how to use the iPlayer from outside the UK, it is about what happens when the BBC thinks you are outside the UK. There are, though, some suggestions in the comments for overseas users."

Another comment on that post raised a smile. In a 'what have the Romans ever done for us' fashion, C. Shamis cited the American taxpayer's investment in GPS, the Internet, the Panama Canal, and the polio vaccine and contrasted it with the BBC's locking up of content.

"To ask the BBC licensees to pay for the development and production of something, then give it away (free!?) to the rest of the world is not something that the BBC is willing to do.

It's really a pity that the only thing holding back the dissemination of the signal (and really just how many oversees listeners are we talking about anyway?) is that somebody in the BBC upper echelon feels that it's not fair; they didn't pay and we certainly don't owe it to them. So our response is to go OUT OF OUR WAY (using methods like IP geocaching) to deny them access to our programming.

So the next time your turn on your GPS, ask yourself what the world would be like if every single public good produced had to be accounted for down to the last p."

Actually, that comment highlights one of the areas where the iPlayer has been very bad for the BBC's reputation. Because of the geo-IP and DRM restrictions around television programme streaming and downloads, it seems that the corporation gets less and less credit for their DRM-free podcasts, that are freely available to listeners around the globe.

Piper Bill in Crete

I mentioned yesterday that I have stopped writing the 'Lemon tree of our own' blog now that we have moved back to the UK, but I thought I would highlight this recent comment left over there by Piper Bill Jenkins. He is a 74 year old guy from Liverpool, who planned to tour Crete this year to play his pipes at war memorials all around the island. He left a comment at the beginning of October to say he had completed the trip - except for one village.

"Hi, I did it. 35 villages and laid a wreath at each one. Archanes was one I deliberately missed out. Letters to the mayor and others went without answer. I got the feeling that Archanes wanted to sweep history under the carpet. I placed a wreath dedicated to the victims of Archanes on the memorial in the centre of Heraklion. Othwise a wonderful experience. "

Although Bill left a few comments over the year, he never left any way of getting in touch with him, which is a real shame because I would have made the effort to meet up with him when he was on the island. At one point he was also contemplating playing at German war graves, in what would have been a great symbol of reconciliation and forgiveness.

"After traversing the island of Crete I will probably visit the allied war graves at Souda Bay but can I muster up the courage to play at the German war cemetery at Meleme? It will not be easy but after all the last words of Christ were 'Forgive them .....'. We will see."
War memorial near Anogia


Interesting post - it's not often someone rounds up a couple of months of comments and responds in a Points of View stylie!

Regarding DoFollow comments - I think that most people who tend to comment on individual and smaller blogs would tend to be bloggers/early adopters themselves, and therefore the dofollow link is a way of thanking them for taking the time to contribute a valid point - just as replying in your own comments, or a round-up like this provide inclusion and reward.

If comments are nofollow, and the blogger in question never responds, essentially the benefits of community are lost.

My attitude would be 'forgive, but don't forget'. Like the current generation who ignored the economic lessons of history, and now we have an easily-preventable depression in the offing.

Piping at your ancestral enemies graves would, however, be going a bit too far, I think. WW2 was only sixty years ago.

I'm suspicious that all this apologising and eulogising your enemies by politicians is to appeal to women voters and finesse us into greater EU integration.

There's also the pernicious idea that 'we all did bad things, so none of us is better than the other'. In religion, it's called 'indifferentism'.

Following on from my comment that you mention above about the guardian and accessibility, I noticed another javascript oddity with johnston press. Perhaps they don't want people with javascript off to click on to their pages from google news. ...


Bill Jenkins the lone piper. The comment about me thinking of playing at the German War Cemetery - well it was just a thought but I gave it a miss for a number of 'private' reasons. I am off in 2009 to take up what has been a six year battle to get both British and Nepalese authorities to admit that they allowed a fifteen year old Gurkha to be sent to die in IRAQ (1941). I have been there twice but have had no help to find the village of this wee lad. I am making another effort but this time will approach the Maoists former 'rebels' to help me. See Bill Jenkins Bangalore to see just how dedicated I am to find the lost, forgotten and remote war graves.

Bill J. Liverpool.

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