Goodbye CommentLuv

“…blogging has changed, and the blog itself is no-longer where many people read and interact. Read in the feed and comment on social media. Blogging is still there, but I think comments are slowly dying…

A feed and social profile were luxuries years ago, however now it seems they are part of blogging itself – if you don’t have them do you have a blog at all?”

That is a quote from a comment I left in June this year.

Digital media explorer Ari Herzog has noted how blog comments are evolving, and he now offers his readers the ability to leave a comment via the standard (vanilla) WordPress commenting system, as well as via Facebook and Google Plus.

Blogging is still very much alive, however as my opening quote suggests, the way authors go about publishing content and how readers then go abut digesting and debating this, has changed significantly in recent times.

CommentLuv

Just over two years ago I wrote a post detailing why you should use the CommentLuv plugin. Today very few 0f the reasons I state still hold true.

I have now deactivated CommentLuv on Technology Bloggers for these simple reasons:

Two comments with CommentLuv links

Two great comments with irrelevant CommentLuv links.

  • CommentLuv looks messy – take a look at the two comments to the right. They are both great comments, but they are followed by an untidy, irrelevant link. If someone is interesting in your site, they will check it out anyway.
  • CommentLuv promotes spam – having looked through our comments, very few of our genuine visitors actually take advantage of CommentLuv, yet almost all the spam comments we get include a CommentLuv link.
  • CommentLuv increases load time – you know how obsessed I am with speed, so much so, any plugin which significantly impacts load time is now under scrutiny. CommentLuv is quite a heavy plugin which I have found has a big impact on page load time, and that extra lag isn’t justifiable for what it offers.
  • CommentLuv is bad for SEO – one of the key things Google has been clamping down on of late is irrelevant links. If you run a site about lawnmowers, and you have a large number of links coming from a technology website, it probably doesn’t do you any favours. Similarly, if I have written an article on something tech related, comments with random links introducing irrelevant keywords, dilute the content and probably don’t do my article any favours.
Google SEO chart

CommentLuv is arguable bad for SEO.

CommentLuv was once a great plugin, but its time has passed. The web is changing, blogging more so than ever, so it is time to say goodbye to CommentLuv.

Technology Bloggers turns 2!

Today, Technology Bloggers turns 2!

Happy Birthday Technology BloggersMany blogs get abandoned within the first year, blogs that last more than a year are rare. Blogging is said to have died and been reborn so many times, with millions of blogs, big and small falling by the wayside. But we haven’t!

Amazing growth, a growing social influence, and ranked in the top 275 technology blogs on the internet by Technorati, Technology Bloggers has had an amazing two years; and there is loads more to come!

Always striving to improve, every day we are becoming a bigger name in the technology industry.

Lets have a look at what’s happened in the last year…

Traffic

The blog has undoubtedly grown in popularity since last year. Here are some interesting visitor statistics which show the extent of our growth.

  • In year two (2012/2013) we had 65,000 unique visitors, 20k more than in year one (2011/2012)
  • Overall the number of visits were up 88% year on year
  • Year one saw 70,000 pageviews, whilst year 2 saw a staggering 64% increase to 115,000!
  • On average people spend 100 seconds (1 minute and 40 seconds) when visiting the blog

Social

Our presence on social media has significantly grown in the last year. We now post every article (title, excerpt and link) to Twitter and Facebook, as well as interesting things we find across the net, and developments – like my recent visit to the Gadget Show Live – more to come on that soon.

  • Our Facebook page has gained 246 new likes, which is a 473% increase in the last year
  • We now have 275 followers on Twitter, which is 299% up on the year 2011/2012
  • Since last year we have joined Google+ and now have 33 followers

Want to join our followers? If you subscribe you can get updates from the feed. We will only ever post something additional if we think it will interest you.

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Achievements

As a blog we have achieved far more than traffic and a strong social presence, here are some of our other great achievements:

  • Almost 4,000 comments have been posted by around 500 different commenters
  • We have 175 feed subscribers 63 of whom subscribe via email
  • We are ranked in the top 300 technology blogs in the world by Technorati (we are currently ranked 261, which is in the top 0.6% of all technology blogs in their index)
  • We were awarded British Gas’s blog of the month last April
  • We have a Google PageRank of 4 (although this doesn’t really mean very much)
  • The blog has attracted 71 different writers 24 of whom have written more than one post
  • Of our writers, 4 of them have 10 posts or more and 2 authors who have written more than 50 articles
  • Many of our writers are now claiming Google Authorship, strengthening the names behind the content on our blog

Community Awards

In the last two years, we have awarded 12 community awards in total. These awards have been given to 7 different people, with notable award winners including: Alan Tay winner of two awards; Peter Lee also winner of two awards; myself, (Christopher Roberts) winner of two awards; and Jonny Hankins who has won three awards.

2012 Community Award WinnersWinners of Technology Bloggers Community Awards - 2011

The Future

Our current growth seems to be showing no signs of slowing down, everything is just accelerating at the moment – which can be hard to manage!

In the pipeline for next year there is already a series, a competition, and loads of ideas for new posts!

Thank You

As always, thanks for playing your part in the community. Without you we couldn’t operate. Read, write or comment, everyone is important and everyone is part of the community.

Thank you everyone, here’s to another great year :-)

By the way, this is our 400th post!

Technology Bloggers community awards 2012

Slightly later than last year (I was on holiday in Italy over New Year this year), I am now going to announce the winners of Technology Bloggers community awards!

This is the second year of community awards, and this year, the awards were democratic. I gave you (the community), the opportunity to suggest awards and nominations, and then you voted on who you wanted to win each of the six awards.

This year each award had 4 nominees, meaning that there were 24 nominations; which were filled by 13 different people.

You have voted, and the results are now in. Here are this years winners.

Top Commenter

Nominees:

  • Lillie Ammann
  • Peter Lee
  • David Jamieson
  • Neil Duncan

Runner Up

Lillie AmmannThe runner up for this years top commenter community award is Lillie Ammann! Congratulations for Lillie for her nomination, she doesn’t comment very often but when she does, it is always kind words and useful feedback :-) You can find out more about Lillie by visiting her blog.

Winner

Peter LeeWith 57% of the vote, the clear winner of this years top commenter award is Peter Lee! My thanks go out to Peter for his fantastic contribution to the blog. Peter commented on the blog around 60 times in 2012, which is quite a lot! Never were his comments bland or meaningless though, they always added value to the article, which is a credit to Peter and the community. Peter has a website which you can visit called Computer How To Guide.

Top Writer (Contributor)

Nominees:

  • Alan Tay
  • Hayley Anderson
  • Nick Sotos
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Hayley AndersonHayley Anderson took 29% of the community vote, putting her in second place. Hayley likes to write about nanotechnology, a very interesting industry which is advancing all the time. Hayley maintains a website herself, which is about Microscopes.

Winner

Alan TayThe winner of the top contributor category of the community awards 2012 is Alan Tay! So far Alan has contributed 7 articles to the blog, and displays many of the characteristics of a good writer. Alan often replies to people who comment on his articles, and generally writes thoughtful and useful material. Alan is a specialist in IT Security, which he blogs about on his own site too.

Top Writer (Author+)

Nominees:

  • Christopher Roberts
  • Jonny Hankins
  • Steve August
  • Ron Fletcher

Runner Up

Jonny HankinsIn a very respectable second place is Jonny Hankins. Author and innovation and responsibility researcher for the Bassetti Foundation, who currently resides in Boston (USA), Jonny has been a great author this year. His posts have inspired, amazed and amused, making him a true credit to the blog. Check out more of his work by visiting the Bassetti Foundation website.

Winner

Christopher RobertsIt is with the utmost pride that I announce that the winner of the top author award 2012 is me – Christopher Roberts! It was a close fought contest between me and Jonny and myself, with 37.5% and 62.5% of the vote respectively – I am honoured to have won. Personally I feel that Jonny’s posts are often better than mine, but I shall acknowledge to the public vote and declare myself the winner. Thank you everyone :-)

Rising Star

Nominees:

  • Steve August
  • Jonny Hankins
  • David Jamieson
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Steve AugustWith 25% of the vote Steve August is the runner up for this award. Steve is relatively new to the community, and yet in the 5 months of 2012 that he was part of the community, he posted 7 app reviews – his preferred area of writing. Steve also contributes to Alpha Digits where you can read more of his work.

Winner

Jonny Hankins63% of the vote saw Jonny Hankins take the 2012 community award for rising star! My heartfelt congratulations go to Jonny for his fantastic contribution to the blog. With 59 posts and a series under his belt already, who knows where 2013 will take his ever progressing blogging career!

Most Friendly Member of the Community

Nominees:

  • Tammi Kibler
  • Peter Lee
  • Lillie Ammann
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Lillie AmmannLillie Ammann was also nominated for this category, and took 25% of the vote, making her the runner up for this award 2012. Again, well done Lillie for the nomination and votes, you are a truly valued member of the community.

Winner
Peter LeePeter Lee took his second award this year by winning the most friendly member of the community award. Huge congratulations to Peter, as willing two awards is quite something! I look forward to your participation in 2013 :-)

Top All Rounder

Nominees:

  • Christopher Roberts
  • Jonny Hankins
  • Alan Tay
  • Chadrack Irobogo

Runner Up

Jonny HankinsNow for the big one, the top all rounder. In the past I have referred to this as “Technology Bloggers ultimate award” as it is for someone who is an example an outstanding community member, which is why it is very deservingly that Jonny Hankins was nominated for this award, which he claimed runner up status for. One community award and runner up for another two, not a bad 2012 Jonny!

Winner
Christopher RobertsI am truly humbled to have received 91% of the vote for this award. I love this blog and the people who make it as great as it is, which is probably why I put so much time and effort into posting content, moderating comments, tweaking things and generally just doing my best to make it a fantastic site to visit. Again, I would like to thank everyone who voted for me, I am truly grateful.

Well that’s 2012’s awards over, 6 categories, with 7 unique winners and runners up, democratically chosen by you: the readers of the blog.

2012 Community Award Winners

2012 was a brilliant year for us, and our visitor numbers prove it. Here is a sneak peak at some traffic stats that I wouldn’t usually publicly release.

Technology Bloggers Traffic

The number of visits the blog has had (per month) since it started on April the 13th 2011.

Happy New Year everyone, here’s to 2013!

Community awards nominations 2012

In around three weeks time I hope to reveal the winners of Technology Bloggers 2012 community awards.

To do that, there are a few things that need to happen, one of which is for you (the community) to vote as to who you feel deserves each award.

The aim of the awards is to recognise key and valued members of the community, and to celebrate the brilliant personalities that make up our blog.

Here is a quote from my article on the awards last year:

“…at the end of the year, we shall celebrate the people who have helped make this blog the huge success it is today.”

Last week I asked for your award suggestions and comments, and from the response I received, I am assuming that everyone pretty much liked the awards we had last year, so we are going to stick with them.

So, without further ado, let the voting commence!

Below you can find the 6 awards that are up for grabs, and the nominations for each award. Read the description of the award, consider the candidates and then cast your vote as to who you feel should be claimed victor.

Top Commenter

Who do you feel posts the most valuable and interesting comments, which you always enjoy reading?


Lillie Ammann's AvatarPeter Lee's AvatarDavid Jamieson's AvatarNeil Duncan's Avatar

Technology Bloggers Community Awards 2012 - Top Commenter


Top Writer (Contributor)

Which writer do you feel has made the most valuable contribution to the blog in the last year. Who’s articles do you love to read?


Alan Tay's AvatarHayley Anderson's AvatarNick Sotos's AvatarChadrack Irobogo's Avatar

Links to writers archive pages: Alan, Hayley, Nick and Chadrack.
Technology Bloggers Community Awards 2012 - Top Contributor


Top Writer (Author+)

Who has been your favourite author (including those of editor and admin status) this year?


Christopher Roberts AvatarJonny Hankins AvatarSteve August's AvatarRon Fletcher's Avatar

Links to writers archive pages: Christopher, Jonny, Steve and Ron.
Technology Bloggers Community Awards 2012 - Top Author


Rising Star

Who do you feel has great potential and in the future will become an ever more important member of the community?


Steve August's AvatarJonny Hankins AvatarDavid Jamieson's AvatarChadrack Irobogo's Avatar

Technology Bloggers Community Awards 2012 - Rising Star


Most Friendly Member of the Community

Who do you feel deserves this years award for conducting themselves in the most friendly, and supportive way they can?


Tammi Kibler's AvatarPeter Lee's AvatarLillie Ammann's AvatarChadrack's Avatar

Technology Bloggers Community Awards 2012 - Most Friendly Member of the Community


Top All Rounder

As I said last year, this is Technology Bloggers ultimate award! Who do you feel is the bet all round community member?


Christopher Roberts AvatarJonny Hankins AvatarAlan Tay's AvatarChadrack Irobogo's Avatar

Technology Bloggers Community Awards 2012 - Top All Rounder


I will be adding voting widgets to the sidebar to make sure that we get a reasonable level of votes in.

Voting closes on the 30th of December 2012. The winners will be announced in the community awards article hopefully on December the 31st, or soon after.

Congratulations to all nominated, happy voting!

How to find impartial reviews

One of the first things I do before I spend significant money on any product is search the internet for reviews of that product. It might be a physical product such as a computer monitor or a digital product such as a file storage service. One thing I’ve found over the years is that not all product reviews are truthful.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few product review websites that give positive reviews to sub-par products. The root of the problem is that almost every product in the world has an affiliate program that backs it. Webmasters join these affiliate programs and receive compensation for every customer that clicks through and purchases a product.

Whenever there is a financial incentive to sell products, webmasters will be tempted to write positive reviews no matter what. The more sales these webmasters generate, the more money they make. This can make it difficult for us searchers that are in need of legitimate, unbiased product reviews.

EDITOR NOTE: Please note that Technology Bloggers admin team will never give a good review of a bad product, it is unethical and against what we stand for. We will also never enter affiliate schemes which require us to promote a product we don’t believe is value for money – note by Christopher

1. Search For Discussions

The most unbiased product reviews are written by people that have no incentive to sell those products. Two of the most reliable places to find reliable product reviews are discussion forums and the comments section of major websites.

Discussions:

Let’s take online file storage for example. You can search the internet for “online file storage reviews” and find dozens of websites that review online storage services. Some of these websites are dependable, others… not so much.

What you can do instead is run a Google search for reviews, but then narrow the search down to discussions. You can narrow down the results by first running the search and then clicking on the “more” link on the left side of the Google and then the “discussions” link beneath that. See below:

Google search for discussions about online file storage reviews

Clicking on this link will change the results to only include discussions related to your term. These tend to be real discussions between real people and are therefore pretty reliable.

Note: Remember that you are likely to see more negative reviews than positive reviews when you search for discussions. People who are happy with their products post fewer comments than people who are angry. Keep this in mind as you read through various discussions.

Comments:

If you’re looking for a physical product, you can often find a good number of comments by visiting large websites such as Amazon.com and BestBuy.com. Visit those websites and search for the exact product model that you’re considering. The chances are you’ll find unbiased comments related to that product.

2. Find Trustworthy Websites

Not all review websites are bad. In fact, some are awesome. They will break down the product in its entirety and give you both the pros and cons. The key is knowing how to identify these websites.

For the most part, you can tell if a website is trustworthy or not by reading through a few reviews. The writing style will tell you a lot. Trustworthy review websites tend to stick to the facts. They will tell you both the pros and cons of any product. They will also give you hard numbers that you can use to compare various products.

Low quality review websites tend to offer more generalities than facts. For example, bad review sites will tell you that a product is “amazing” or “life changing” but they won’t back those claims up with hard numbers or legitimate reasons to like the product.

However, it is worth noting that some websites make it a point to only review products that they deem to be of high quality. They don’t even waste your time writing reviews of products that are inferior. But even in this case, the reviews include hard numbers and are willing to note both the strengths and weaknesses of each product.

Letting you know about recent updates

As the loyal readers among you may have noticed, there has been a lack of posting in the last week or so, but don’t worry, this trend shall soon be halted, as there are many new and exciting posts written, planned and on the way very soon.

This article is just to keep you in the loop and let you know what is going on.

Usually, I will endeavour to keep people up to date with updates to the blog via our social channels, specifically Facebook and Twitter. I feel the blog is a place for content, whilst notifying you about updating the ‘frills’ that are the design and functionality updates should be the place of social media.

Social Media Updates

Let me start by letting you know how our social side is currently evolving. A few months ago, Facebook stopped feed compatibility, meaning that if you liked us on Facebook, you no longer got updates regarding new posts. Now however I have linked Twitter to Facebook, so every tweet @tecbloggers tweets is also posted on our Facebook page.

UPDATE: We now tweet under the username @TechBloggers.

This means that you can now receive updates of new posts via your Facebook feed.

Some tweeters like to spam you with content every five minutes, likewise, update Facebook statuses practically all the time. I don’t believe in this, and only post/tweet an update should it be something you may want to know. Updates like small site improvements/issues and interesting content are the sort of thing we use our social media channels for.

Occasionally if I find, or someone brings to my attention something interesting that I think is worth sharing to the community, but doesn’t warrant a post, then it may get shared via social media. Don’t worry about getting spammed if you subscribe, we will only be posting stuff you probably want to know about.

I have also recently added a cover photo to our Facebook page, as it was looking a little bland. I didn’t have any great ideas, but I think it works for now :-) If you have any suggestions, by all means leave them in the comments below.

Facebook cover photo

Technology Bloggers Facebook cover photo.

In future, I don’t plan on writing as many of these sort of posts, as I feel it is better to keep you informed via social media, of updates as and when they occur.

If you don’t want to miss out on future update news, subscribe now!

Twitter Icon

Facebook Icon

In other news…

Top Writers

For a long time now we have had a top commenters widget at the bottom of every page, however the observant among you may have noticed the appearance of a new widget: a top writers list.

I came across the plugin whilst searching for something else, and thought it was a good idea. This is a community blog, so if we highlight the top commenters, why should writers not be recognised too? Well now they are :-)

A screenshot of the top commenters and top writers list

The top commenters list excludes administrators and resets every month, the top writers list doesn’t.

Design Updates

Technology Bloggers design is constantly being updated and tweaked. I believe that continuous improvement is important. Most of my time is spent writing and replying to comments, however I do dedicate some time to improving other areas of the site.

One recent update is the removal of the social icons from the sidebar, and the addition of a new set of social buttons to the header. I felt that this area needed a bit more colour, and the buttons bring just that!

More Speed!

A few weeks ago I posted on our social channels:

“Just moved servers in order to speed up the blog :-)
Do you notice a difference?”

We encountered a few problems, however they were soon sorted out, leading me to later post:

“A few hiccups later, Technology Bloggers is fully functioning and faster than ever!”

The blogs response time was sometimes really quite slow (usually higher than 2000 miliseconds!). I moved the blog to a different server and the response time is now around a quarter of what it was, currently around the 550 ms mark.

That is one reason you may have noticed the blog loading faster, another is because of the relentless efforts that I have been putting into slimming things down and reducing load times.

Google’s Page Speed tools have been very useful, enabling me to see where the site lags, and what can be done to improve it. I think there may be an article on the way soon with more detail on Page Speed, and how I have and am still using the tools to speed up the blog. Watch this space.

Jonny

For a while now, Thursday here on the blog seems to have been Jonny’s day, with him posting a regular feature on a Thursday for more than ten weeks now.

The day is not a dedicated day to the writings of Mr Hankins, however at the moment, I feel it is good that the regular feature is on a fixed day, as it gives consistency. His articles are very popular, and it is a delight every Thursday looking to see what new and innovative topic he has chosen to cover.

Jonny has been busy travelling of late, meaning that last week he was unable to post. Don’t worry though, he already has an article written and lined up for us for tomorrow :-)

Competition

Just a quick note about a competition I plan on launching next Monday. Technology Bloggers has teamed up with two other blogs, and hopefully will soon be launching a competition in which anyone bar the three prize donors can enter for a chance to win one of three $50 USD prizes in a $150 competition!

UPDATE: This will now launch on Tuesday.

Until Next Time

That’s about it from me now, so remember, if you want to keep up to date, be sure to subscribe to our social profiles, and stay tuned to the blog to see our exciting future unfold…

Friday the 13th and 1 year for Technology Bloggers!

Some would call today an unlucky day, as it is Friday the 13th, a day renowned for its link to bad luck. It is not an unlucky day for Technology Bloggers though, as today we are celebrating our first birthday!

First birthday candleI want to use this post to thank everyone who has been instrumental in creating this fantastic community blog we have, and also to showcase the blogs fantastic achievements, just 1 year in.

Traffic

The first thing I want to say about Technology Bloggers, is how blow away I am by the traffic we have received. Excluding December, every single month, the number of people visiting the blog has grown.

In June 2011, we received just over 1,200 visitors, in October 2011 we received around 3,400 visitors, and last month (March 2012) Technology Bloggers had almost 7,000 people visit the blog. Don’t believe me? Check out our Google Analytics:

Technology Bloggers traffic statistics from April 2011 to April 2012

Technology Bloggers traffic statistics from April 2011 to April 2012

Awards

Top blogs often receive awards, and I am proud to announce that Technology Bloggers recently received it’s first award. Last week Technology Bloggers was named the British Gas Blog of the Month!

We were awarded the British Gas Blog of the Month for our work on educating people about smart meters, and how they are changing the way we use our electricity, along with our work on environmental issues. Special thanks go out to Jonny regarding his series Can We Improve the Health of the Planet?

Other Achievements

After just two weeks of the blog being live, I wrote an article about our achievements, I did the same four months in. As today is the blog’s first birthday, I thought it right to do the same sort of review today, and compare it with our past reviews.

Two weeks in Technology Bloggers had 14 articles, which had been written by our 4 writers, four months in the blog had 65 articles written by 15 writers. 1 year in, this is Technology Bloggers 205th article, and we currently have 47 writers! That means we publish an article, on average every 1.78 days, and each writer has written on average, 4 articles. Many of our writers have written just one article, whilst some like myself, Jonny and Ron have written significantly more – we average 47 articles each!

Two weeks in, Technology Bloggers had had 85 comments posted by 22 different commenters. By 4 months, we had had 788 comments posted by 120 commenters. When this article went live we had had 2,849 comments contributed from over 500 commenters! That’s a lot of comments! Special kudos to Jonny, Alan, Anna, DiNaRa, Peter and Neil, for their outstanding contributions to Technology Bloggers commenting community :-)

14 days in, and at 4 months, I wrote about Technology Bloggers Alexa rank. To be honest, it isn’t very accurate, and I have given actual traffic statistics for the blog, but I thought I should mention it anyway, as I have done in the past. 2 weeks after its launch, Technology Bloggers was ranked in the top 1,400,516516 of sites on the internet, by Alexa. By August 2011, Alexa believed we were in the top 165,351 of sites on the web. Today our rank is 85,826, which is a very respectable rank, but nothing to become to obsessed about.

Technology Bloggers is still a Google PageRank 3, which is very credible for a 1 year old blog, however again, is nothing that accurate or to be obsessed over.

Across social media, since August we have had 41 new likes, taking our Facebook page up to a total of 52 likes, and 45 more Twitter followers, taking us up to 69 Twitter followers. Our RSS feed is also well subscribed to.

Basically, Technology Bloggers is doing really well, and that is something we should all be proud of!

Dofollow

Technology Bloggers started out as a dofollow blog, and it will remain dofollow for the foreseeable future. It is a community blog, and so that everyone can benefit, the blog should be dofollow.

Thank You

Now it’s time for me to say thank you to everyone who has been a part of the blog this year. Thank you to everyone for your contributions and efforts, which have helped make this blog the fantastic community blog that it is today!

We have already had community awards, and will have one every year. In this article I would like to pay special thanks to Jonny, Ron, Alan, Chadrack, David, Marc and Peter who have all played a massive role in ensuring Technology Bloggers is where it is today. I have no doubt that without these people, the blog would not be as good as it is today, and the community would be noway near as strong.

Here’s to the future success of Technology Bloggers!

Well done everyone and thank you, lets keep this community alive, so we can all continue to benefit :-)

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