Disqus for Static Site Commenting

Although I personally hate(d) Disqus, as a user, I’m testing it on a website that I turned static.

The reason I hate hated it? Login/sign up requirements.

Why I want it anyway? Because some of my sites are just begging me to have some interaction on them, and the static HTML that I moved to doesn’t really let me do that easily. The sites would be so much more fun to run with other people commenting occasionally! I thought about setting up a comment form on each page I want comments enabled on and have visitors email me their comments. Since I moderate everything anyway, no one will notice. But what if things take off and I don’t want to moderate? Or I decide discussion is being stifled by not having more real-time comments?

I’ve since discovered that site owners set the requirement to login to Disqus or not, so maybe I don’t hate it as much as I just hate the site owners who make it so that only people who want to actually sign up with Disqus can comment. Oh yeah.

I don’t like having everything I do online being all linked up. It creates the creepy feeling of being followed around and spied upon and I already have enough of that paranoia, thank you very much!

The requirement for an email address is still there, and I had that with WordPress anyway, so that’s no biggie. I hadn’t realized though, that I could set this up as not requiring actual Disqus membership and that’s really nice! This might be just what I want.

I’m not that interested in the content from commenters showing up on my pages for search engines (it won’t, because you use a javascript code with the universal setup that works with static html sites) but I’m very interested in having some interaction with visitors on certain of my sites…

The only thing left to decide is whether or not to have multiple accounts myself. I set this one up with an admin user(name) that matches the site and realized quite quickly that that’s going to be awkward to reuse on another site. ;-)

Update: I eventually abandoned this idea, because comments are few and far between and the overhead definitely outweighs the benefits of the few comments I was getting. :-)

Static Site Hell

I am in static site hell.

So, I got rid of WordPress on so many sites I can’t even count them… I also got rid of a lot of sites, period. Although I do have wide interests and an amazing capacity for picking up domains that I find appealing, I’ve decided I’ll have to forego that in the future. Life is WAY too short to spend it buying domains I’ll never develop. A (not so) short while ago, I bought my last domain for a (long) while.

Getting rid of WordPress isn’t a bad thing IMO. The bad thing is that I actually like discussion and not having WordPress means I have no commenting system on those sites now. Some of them don’t need commenting and that’s great. But some of them are definitely sites I run because I love the topics and those sites? They need commenting because without commenting I feel like I’m missing a huge opportunity to have fun with the sites!

And then there’s the updating. This is a mental block that I’m just going to have to overcome. The fact is, I’ve done the time studies to prove that I can update a static site just as fast as I can update a WordPress run site. Sure, the front-end effort is more time efficient in WordPress when I have a super-short post I want online. But it evens out when the posts get longer and the number of new images increases. I can whip out a formatted block of HTML just as fast as I can type in Word (or OpenOffice Writer when I’m stuck with it instead, no offense to Ooo fans everywhere, because it is a great free program, but dammit, I LIKE Microsoft Word). And when it gets complicated? Handcoded HMTL is unbeatable for customizing on a page by page basis and I can create a complex mini-site within a site with 10% of the effort and time I spend in WordPress trying to get it to do what I want. And I do have sites like that, where I want each section to be unique and have very little use for cookie-cutter pages.

But the problem is that even though I know this, it still feels like more of a chore to add a new article or page and I’ve really let that interfere with my site updating!

Then there’s another issue. When I converted, I kept all the old content, including tag and category pages. I can’t decide if I want to continue to update these (and even expand where appropriate) or just leave them as is and not add the new content to them (seems like a sure way to make the site look out-of-date even when it’s not), or delete them as I decide I don’t need them and convert relevant, useful tags and categories into actual subsections of the site(s). Guh. Over-categorizing just seems like a sure way to end up with a mess.

Maybe I’ll get this all straightened out soon. If not, I’ll just go back to worrying about my spy and not doing anything… ;-)

We Can All Use a Little Help Sometimes

Keyword research is not overrated. I used to build sites and pages without ever bothering to check the keywords for anything. I made sites that never got traffic, that never made sales, that—oops. Wait.

I had never heard of keyword research when I first started building sites. I made several that got plenty of traffic, and made several sales. In fact, one of those sites still makes sales and still gets traffic.

The thing is, you can build sites that work just fine without keyword data.

But, and it’s a big one, you can make sites earn a lot faster if you have keyword data that tells you what people are searching for in your niche and then you create pages that match those searches. You waste a lot of time building pages that possibly don’t help anyone because no one really wants to know anything about what you’ve just built a page around.

I can’t stand to do massive amounts of keyword research where I pull words, get traffic, figure out possible earnings, and then try to incorporate all that into my pages. I pay for that lack of interest though in slower traffic growth, less earnings, and fewer breakout sites.

I still don’t bother with traffic and earnings data, but I have been using a cool tool to help me pick out all the interesting things people search for related to some of the site topics I build around. The tool tells me what people type into the search engine when they’re looking for that topic and it has helped me with something I didn’t expect it to help with.

Article ideas. :)

I have the worst time dealing with large topics. I become overwhelmed and unable to focus. When I see the list of keyword phrases this little tool spits out for me, I immediately have something solid to grab onto—something that’s not possible when I have 4,822 ideas popping into my head at once when I think of my topic! This has saved me a lot of time just by keeping me focused and working and not flitting all over the place writing drafts I will never finish because I didn’t know where I was going with it when I started it.

And the good news is that if people are searching for these phrases, then writing that article is certainly going to help someone, somewhere.

<strike>GEOLOGY UNIVERSE</strike> Oops! Guess not

Because I have too few creative bones in my body and they mostly involve fictional tales of romance and foreign planets. This was a tough one. I had a really hard time picking out this name. I wanted something not related to the poor guy who gave me the idea, but in the end, this was as good as it got.

  1. geologyworld.com – taken
  2. earthgeology.com – taken
  3. geology.com – taken (seriously, I didn’t even have to check)
  4. geologydaze.com – not taken, but we know why
  5. geologyoftheworld.com – not taken, but doesn’t this limit me to only earth’s geology? Why would I want to do that? Mars has interesting geology and I love thinking about how the geology on other earth-like worlds might have developed.
  6. geologynews.com – taken
  7. geologyviews.com – Dang. I just thought of this one and I think I would have liked it.

I think I might be a little too tired after an overly stressful day. I now have 2 domains for the same site that I’m probably never going to build. :-o

Listening to: Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night; Blake Shelton – Some Beach

CSS Stuff that I Needed to Know but Didn’t

Ran across this CSS tip today, when I was researching an issue. I wanted to override a width in an element but the element already had a lot of styles applied to it and I didn’t want to create an entirely new ID.

Creating a new ID was my first instinct just because I don’t work with CSS nearly as much as I did when I first discovered it. I’m comfortable with the layout of most of my designs and just haven’t felt the need to more than tweak in years.

Really useful info, so check it out if you like to play with your CSS sometimes but want to keep it as streamlined as possible. http://css-tricks.com/multiple-class-id-selectors/

Islands and links

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting ideas I can work with. Today I ran across this post on reader engagement and linking out. The article, interestingly enough, touched on something I’ve been thinking about lately–or maybe that’s simply why the article caught my attention.

I have several older websites that still get email. Those emails are usually nice comments about the usefulness of the site and I always smile a little when I get one. I wonder too, why some of my newer sites don’t see those kinds of comments.

The differences between these sites is simply this: The older site has tons of links that link out to other useful sites I’ve found over the years. The newer sites have fewer links out, and are more heavily populated with my own “original” content. Now, I realize original content is important, but sometimes I know there’s someone out there that’s better able to say what it is I want said. These are the times when link outs make the most sense and when I should be linking out.

Come to think of it, many of the sites I visit aren’t spectacular in and of themselves, but they are able to pull together stuff on the web and make it useful in a way that it wasn’t before.

That’s why I like social bookmark sites. Articles and blogs are all pulled together by tags. It makes browsing easier and more useful.

Aggregators are important tools when it comes to the web, because there’s just so much data available and that makes for some serious information overload. I use up a lot of time online.

I’ve been thinking of doing more aggregation sites like those older sites I still have. I love them and I’ve always thought they served a great purpose. These days you see fewer and fewer niche aggregators–or maybe I’m just not looking in the right places!–but there’s a bigger need than ever for them. Even the small social bookmark sites get overrun with so much content that narrowing it down to a very specific topic is difficult.

In essence I’ve created my own aggregated links within Google Reader. But I’ve still ended up with so much stuff to sift through that I feel a little like I’m going to go crazy sometimes with the speed reading that I have to practice to get through all the headlines.

I’ve also noticed how stingy some sites are about linking out, and I admit I’ve caught myself being that way too sometimes.  Is this really the way I want to be?

I can make this stuff easier for others to digest by pulling it together on some of my sites. Frankly, I’m tired of trying to be an island of content. I’ve said before I have too many domain names and I might have just found a better use for some of them.

If my site is good enough, any visitors I send away will eventually make their way back.