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arthurk
15-02-2007, 3:00 PM
Has anyone here set up a blog as part of their family history research? It's something I've been wondering about doing, but I thought I'd try to find out a bit more before taking the plunge. Some questions, then:

Is a blog helpful, or more trouble than it's worth? (Is it the latest must-have accessory for the net-savvy family historian, though now possibly a bit passť?)

What do you use it most for? (I guess it could function a bit like a guest book on a website, or as a way for several people to keep each other informed about shared research without having to send multiple emails.)

Where's the best place to host it - a big place like Blogspot, a lesser-known one, or as part of your own website? (I gather the main places feed into search engines, so might be preferable if, say, you wanted to post a list of brickwalls.)

[EDIT: 5 minutes after posting the above I discovered that one of the UK's FH magazines has just added a blog section to its website, so that's another possible place to put it.]

All thoughts welcome!

Arthur

GeoffD
15-02-2007, 9:54 PM
(I guess it could function a bit like a guest book on a website, or as a way for several people to keep each other informed about shared research without having to send multiple emails.)

I have a couple of experimental blogs for this very purpose, on Blogger. They have not been terribly successful, but early days yet. The biggest problem is the highly variable computer-savvy-ness of the participants. There has been no great rush of long-lost relatives stumbling onto the sites during their researches.

http://jacks-diary.blogspot.com/ is my first effort, which follows what I have of my grandfather's 1918-1919 diary. Links to the other sites can be found there. Have a look, and see what is possible through Blogger.

Happy Blogging!

arthurk
16-02-2007, 5:15 PM
Thanks for the link, Geoff. I'm not sure why you say they're not terribly successful - they look OK to me, and there are quite a few people contributing. Anyway, since you know what you're doing, can you answer a couple of questions for me, please?

Am I right in thinking that at Blogspot you have one account, and then you can have as many blogs as you like, each with its own name? And can you have sub-sections within each blog (say, one for each surname or place of interest), or is everything just organised by date?

Which leads to my second question: every blog I've looked at so far is in reverse date order (most recent posts at the top). Do you know if there's any way to change that? It struck me as a bit of a drawback because you have to keep scrolling up and down to read things in the proper order - particularly noticeable when there's a long post or a long thread of comments.

Arthur

GeoffD
16-02-2007, 8:23 PM
Yes, one Blogger account and multiple blogs within it. I'm not sure about the sub-sections - I think it pretty much post-by-post stuff. These things were set up to be 'stream of consciousness' diaries.

Date order is pretty much fixed, though I have heard of workarounds which I have not tried. If your invited contributors are full members, they can add to a post and keep stuff together that way.

Have a look through the Blogger FAQ and Help pages - stuff is explained fairly well there.

arthurk
16-02-2007, 8:45 PM
Thanks, Geoff. I did look at Blogger's Help and FAQs once, but found it a bit overwhelming!

"Stream of consciousness" seems a pretty good summary of the original idea to me, but the potential does appear to be wider than that. I've got my own website where I (and I alone) can upload things, and a blog seems a reasonable way to add an interactive element.

So, having got my head round it a bit more, what I need now is time to do something about it...

Arthur

GeoffD
16-02-2007, 9:24 PM
Just start one, keep it 'private' for a while, invite a few co-researchers, and give it a go. You can always delete it with the click of a mouse button.

Good luck.

Neil Wilson
16-02-2007, 10:42 PM
Hi Arthur

Have you thought of setting up a forum instead of a blog. You control who posts to it just like a blog.
Reading your post about the reverse date order and scrolling up and down this might help with that?

Just a thought but if you want more info have a look at http://www.phpbb.com/
Neil

arthurk
17-02-2007, 7:59 PM
Hmm, an interesting idea, but I think setting up my own forum might be a bit of overkill. Besides, if recent experiences here, and elsewhere according to this thread (http://www.british-genealogy.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19035), are anything to go by, aren't forums rather vulnerable to spam etc? I'd like this to be fun and useful, not a constant burden. Or do blogs get spammed as well?

Arthur

GeoffD
17-02-2007, 8:49 PM
Your forum wouldn't be as 'open' as this one. I am a member of a couple of small fora, and they seem to fairly spam free. The down side of that is a lot of 'hands on' control by the forum owner.

MarkJ
17-02-2007, 9:06 PM
Hmm, an interesting idea, but I think setting up my own forum might be a bit of overkill. Besides, if recent experiences here, and elsewhere according to this thread (http://www.british-genealogy.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19035), are anything to go by, aren't forums rather vulnerable to spam etc? I'd like this to be fun and useful, not a constant burden. Or do blogs get spammed as well?

Arthur

It is fairly easy to use the admin tools on a forum setup like phpBB which has already been mentioned. By simple procedures, such as only allowing registered users to post, it will stop the majority of passing spam. However, some spam is almost inevitable, regardless of the system used, including a blog.
Myself, I would set up a board using phpBB, then have a tinker around with it yourself - perhaps invite a few friends to test it out as well. Run it for a couple of weeks until you are familiar with the basics and then either begin to make it more generally available or create a totally new board for general use - again ensuring you take advantage of the spam reducing options such as registered users only etc.
Blog or forum, you will attract some spam after a while. But if you keep an eye on it, you can block things like open proxies which most spam is sent from and block problematic IP addresses.

Mark

Neil Wilson
17-02-2007, 10:00 PM
So if we all set up a blog/forum, we would have time for this forum |idea|

arthurk
22-02-2007, 7:43 PM
Thanks for all the ideas, but I really think a forum is more than I'm going to need at present, especially if it requires more hands-on involvement. As it is, the blog is probably still some way off because of other things I'm trying to get done.

I'm not expecting masses of posts - maybe only a couple a week, if that - and I was really only looking at ways of adding an interactive element to what is otherwise a one-way website so that the (few) people working on the same lines can make their thoughts available too if they wish.

As for spam on blogs, at least one of the sites I've looked at has various options for restricting posts, so that may be the way to go.

Arthur

kateblogs
22-05-2008, 10:31 AM
I have a family history blog at Wordpress.com, it's a free service and very easy to use. I post a mixture of info about my research and tips, advice and social history articles which are of general interest - the latter are quite popular.

arthurk
23-05-2008, 7:30 PM
Well, I got mine going, but it's not exactly well-used. A handful of comments, and I add bits from time to time, though it's presumably showing on search engines, so one day someone might find it useful. I do get quite a lot of spam postings, but by having it set to moderated, they don't actually appear, and the software/host includes a blacklist function so that certain words lead to instant annihilation. (I wish that could be the posters |jedi| but zapping the posts is better than nothing!)

Arthur

christanel
23-05-2008, 9:35 PM
Arthur
Maybe this site may have what you are looking for. It is completely free and has extremely helpful people via email and with help videos available. I put those on my desktop to access if I get stuck but only needed them at the very beginning. Nothing goes online until you want it to and I notice they now have a special genealogy spot.
I removed the full web site just in case it was regarded as commercial but just put 'talkspot' in to google.
Christina

arthurk
24-05-2008, 7:19 PM
Looks an interesting concept, but I'm on dial-up and found some of the info pages very slow to load, and I didn't attempt the videos. Maybe if I was starting from scratch I'd consider it, but my primary web presence was established quite a few years before I thought of a blog, and having already got quite a way with that I'm very reluctant to ditch it for something different. For me, a blog was never intended to be a site in its own right, but a way of adding a bit of interactivity to the existing site.

Arthur

kateblogs
25-05-2008, 11:46 AM
Well, I got mine going, but it's not exactly well-used. A handful of comments, and I add bits from time to time, though it's presumably showing on search engines, so one day someone might find it useful. I do get quite a lot of spam postings, but by having it set to moderated, they don't actually appear, and the software/host includes a blacklist function so that certain words lead to instant annihilation. (I wish that could be the posters |jedi| but zapping the posts is better than nothing!)

Arthur

Spam is a problem on a lot of blogs. I moved my personal blog to a new domain a couple of weeks ago and spammers found it before the regular readers did. |banghead|

You can check if it is showing in search engines by searching for the url on Google. or if you are using a site statistics programme you should be able to see which search engines are sending you visitors. If you don't have one, Statcounter offer a free service and it's very comprehensive. Oh, and have you added it to Technorati? People can search for specific keywords there, and I get quite a few visitors that way.

arthurk
25-05-2008, 7:28 PM
Interesting - searching for a few key words produces results at Google and Yahoo, but not Ask or Lycos. In a quick glance I couldn't quite see what to do at Technorati. Would I need to register, and then it goes and indexes my blog, or what?

Arthur

kateblogs
28-05-2008, 8:39 AM
Now you mention it, I don't think I ever get any visitors from Lycos either. Not sure why that is. I do see some from Ask though.

Yes, you do need to register at technorati - the home page is a bit cluttered so I can see why you would need to ask, it isn't immediately obvious. Once you have signed up, you add the details of your blog - title, url, description - then you need to verify it. This is pretty simple, you have a choice of adding a button and some code to your sidebar, or adding some code to a post if you can't or don't know how to to the former. Once you are verified, technorati will visit your blog from time to time to find any updates you have made. You can notify it yourself when you post, but most blogging software will ping it (let it know) automatically.

arthurk
28-05-2008, 7:21 PM
Actually I think I'll leave it for now as I have quite a lot on. There are so many sites of one sort or another where I could put links or information (including some that I've signed up to but not made full use of), that I'm reluctant to sign up for more. My website and blog are already accessible via some of the major search engines, so I'm reasonably content.

Arthur

Rove
17-08-2008, 12:35 AM
Since its been a few months since this thread was active, can we have an update on this subject. A few months always make some difference to what is making progress.

Maybe some of you who have such a blog can offer an update.


Bill in Melbourne.

arthurk
17-08-2008, 7:02 PM
Nothing to add actually. One slight inconvenience which I've discovered is that there's nowhere to put the blog's URL in my profile here. In case anyone wants to see it, please could the mods advise if it's OK to post a link to it?

Arthur

arthurk
28-08-2008, 6:41 PM
Sorry for the delay - the mods replied quickly, but then I was away from the forum for a few days. I've now put a link to my blog in my signature, if anyone would like to take a look.

Arthur

Cassandra
29-08-2008, 4:08 PM
I set up a genealogy blogspot many years back and they have not for some reason been successful. they were full of interesting items but I think the problem may have been that people have the wrong impression about "blogger" and "blogspots".

Cassandra

racing girl
16-01-2009, 1:55 PM
I have a blog that I enjoy updating and it's introduced me to some new friends in different countries. It's just a general "this is what's going on in my life" kind of blog, but I do put up the odd post in my genealogy category. Rather than writing lots of posts about every little bit of genealogical research, I prefer to gather all the data and write a little story about the person or family in question. I've only got about 4 or 5 posts in the genealogy category but would like to add more.

I use Wordpress, and I've never had a problem with spam comments, never even received a spam comment yet!! I find looking at the stats that more people read the blog than comment on it.

Brenda

arthurk
08-06-2009, 7:08 PM
Since I started this thread off, I thought I'd better give an update. If you've read all the previous messages you'll know that I started a family history blog, but I've now come to the conclusion that (in my case) it wasn't really worth the effort.

I'm not the sort of person who gives a running commentary on everything I do, and in the best part of two years I managed to create a few general pages (home page, list of surnames etc), plus a grand total of 6 articles going into more detail on some of the problems that I had yet to solve. (Looking at other blogs on the same site, that's 5 more than some people managed ;) ) Apart from a few additional comments that I made myself, these attracted a grand total of two responses. I answered both of these, and in one case asked for more information, but nothing more was forthcoming, and I now wonder if they were genuine replies after all.

Meanwhile, in spite of there being a blacklist which instantly deleted posts containing the names of various drugs etc (and which I kept adding new terms to), I've recently had to deal with 20 or so spam postings each week. Admittedly this problem could have been reduced or eliminated if I'd made it essential for people to register before posting, but I'd wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to join a discussion.

This clearly wasn't happening, so I've come to the conclusion that a blog is something I can live without. I've taken it down and transferred the articles onto my main FH website, where they should still be picked up by search engines, and if anyone finds them and wants to contact me, they can do so from there.

Anyway, I'm glad I tried blogging, but I don't think I'm going to miss it. Maybe others will have more luck, but I thought this update might be helpful to anyone still thinking about it.

Arthur

benny1982
16-06-2009, 3:51 PM
Hi Arthur

Sorry that it didn't work out for you. I dont think I will do a blog. I have thought of doing websites but would rather just add my names to various gedcoms and Genes site and Rootsweb and if anyone wants to contact me, they can do so from those sites.

If I want to do biographies of ancestors or family lines I tend to write up books on certain ancestors and family trees rather than do blogs or websites.

I set up a website on Google Groups about a surname in Sussex but I have to keep deleting spam, and even that is when they have to register to post.

Ben

arthurk
17-06-2009, 3:05 PM
Thanks for the comments, Ben. Spam seems to be an ever-present problem with any sites with interactive features, so I'm now planning to live without them. If people want to contact me via my website, they'll have to do it by email, and for that I either use an image showing the email address or else convert the address into ASCII code numbers, so as to defeat any address harvesters.

Arthur

benny1982
17-06-2009, 3:32 PM
Hi

Spam is an ever annoying thing when doing interactive websites as you said. I am sure that is how I get spam as I keep having to delete spam out of my usual email inbox. I dont know if spammers quote email addresses then sell them on. Any spam emails I recieve onto my surname history site or personal email inbox I delete straight away without even reading them.

Ben

MarkJ
17-06-2009, 3:45 PM
Spammers do sell email addresses Ben. I have commented on how they collect email addys and create cds for sale to other spammers in the past on this forum somewhere - probably in the computing/scam section at a guess.
But bear in mind that spammers also use programs which simply generate email addresses. A very basic example would be to spam addresses at lets say gmail.com. So they set the program to simply work through as many variants as they can - a@, aa@, aaa@, ab@, abb@ etc

If you watch email trends, you will often see upsurges in spam to your address for a while which slowly ease until the next time your address turns up in the automatic spamming systems.
Of course, if you have your address online - on a website for example or a guestbook - then the spammers will target you constantly. Responding to spam - in any way, either "joke" replies or clicking on any sort of "unsubscribe" link - simply increases the amount of spam you will get - because you have then informed the spammer that your address is a real live one. A "live" address can be sold for more money than one of the generic email lists....

Mark

benny1982
17-06-2009, 4:53 PM
Hi

I do know that anyone who registers for this forum has to be approved by the admin as to prevent spammers which is good. I think spammers try and make money from what they do. Also, if you click into a spam email, that can be fatal as it might contain a virus, or at least the link will. Its a pity that Microsoft and other companies dont do more to stop spammers.

Ben