Thursday, September 23, 2010

Genealogy Blog Bling

Thanks to GeneaBlogger's Thomas MacEntee who took the suggestion of Judy Webster of Queensland Genealogy to introduce the following blog topic:  what gadgets, widgets, plugins, etc. do you consider ESSENTIAL for a genealogy blog?Judy asked that we "think of not just your own genealogy blog, but say as a first time user of genealogy blogs, what would be most helpful to these newcomers? The motivation for Judy’s questions comes from the fact that there are still folks using dial-up (rural Australia, and I bet the rural United States as well) and some blogs seem overloaded with bells and whistles which can slow down page loading."

In addition to Judy's short list of "must haves", Ol' Myrt would like to weigh in with some additional essentials for those who are considering starting up a blog.

Judy's List of Essentials are posted in RED. Ol' Myrt's comments are in black.
  • About Me YES
  • Subscription option YES
  • Follow option YES
  • Labels NO, Ol' Myrt thinks these make the screen too busy.
  • Blog Archive YES
  • Links to Other Blogs HOW could I narrow it down? Therefore, I list only those blogs I write
  • Links to websites about related topics NO, too much clutter on my blog
  • PrintFriendly - so people don't have to print out all the sidebar stuff when they want a paper copy of one of my blog entries.
  • Google Search box - Custom search box works on the blog site; alternately on the web in general.
  • Remove the banner & search - because sometimes the "next" option has taken my DearREADERS to a questionable blog.
  • Facebook link for each article - so people can share
  • Twitter This - so people can share with their Twitter Peeps
  • Listen Now - Right now I use Odiogo to translate my text to a podcast to accommodate my DearREADERS with hearing challenges.
  • Comments - Open comments have been problematic in the past, so now I require moderation, meaning Ol' Myrt here must accept or reject each comment. It is essential that my DearREADERS are able to discuss a topic in one place. I no longer want those comments to come to my email box, because I travel so much, and don't want to delay the distribution of reader feedback.
Thomas asks "Have you taken steps to minimize or streamline your blog in consideration of dial-up and even mobile users?" I no longer do this. For years, I kept my podcasts, website and blog at a "low tech" stage, for in years past, online genealogists were the least internet savvy, and used very old versions of web browsers, etc. (A website owner can track stats like that!)

Now with the presentation of scanned images of old documents mentioning ancestors being the industry norm, the majority of my DearREADERS have better equipment and consider high speed internet access an essential tool. Where once we spent money hiring distant researchers, or taking trips to an ancestor's courthouse, we spend that money on the convenience of high speed internet access.

The young and techie readers tend to have cell phones and no land lines, using the savings to pay for high speed internet access. They independently learn to pull in my tweets to their mobiles with links to my blog entries.

Thomas also asks  "What about other blog template items such as font size, background color, etc.?" Ol' Myrt here uses the settings for my blog template because I love the colors. I know that sight-challenged readers can use a variety of blog readers (like GoogleReader) with a generic look if the colors aren't pleasing to them. Font size is not an issue since viewing any blog directly is easily enhanced using Windows OS commands to increase or decrease font size changes. I assume there are similar options for Mac users?!

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. Re banner - at some stage I think they have made some changes to the "Next Blog" feature. It used to be entirely random and generally dubious so I'd stopped clicking on it, but when I tried it again recently it always brings up another genealogy/history blog. I've actually found some interesting blogs that way.

  2. Thanks for your suggestions. I actually didn't mean to suggest that I thought 'Links to websites about related topics' was essential. It has proved to be popular on one of my locality-specific blogs, but in general I agree with you that it is just clutter. 'Print Friendly' is a great idea. I will have to figure out how to add that!

  3. I think that the tags is actually a great idea and doesn't have to take up a lot of space. If you add the tags to the post, people who are interested in that topic can click on it and find other posts you have tagged the same way. You don't have to put the tags on your sidebar if you don't want.

    As a blogger, it also helps me see when I am talking too much about a particular topic and not enough about another. And to see my progress on a particular project.