Monday, November 21, 2005

Administriva: Imshin Returns, More New Links, and My Gadget Collection

She’s back! Imshin, mistress of Not a Fish, has begun posting to her blog again, after a hiatus that I suppose lasted a few weeks but seemed like an eternity to me. Imshin was the first blogger to link to me when I appeared on the scene; she also offered me wise and helpful advice on how to survive and thrive in the blogsphere. It’s wonderful to see new stuff on her blog again.

In addition to restoring my link to Not a Fish to active status, I’ve added Iraq the Model to my blogroll. This Iraqi blog – which just celebrated its second birthday, thus earning semi-official “granddaddy” status – joins Into the Wind from Jordan and Rantings of a Sandmonkey from Egypt on my short-but-growing list of excellent blogs from the Arab world.


Gadget Collecting

I appear to be something of a technophile. I’ve always thought of myself as eminently sane and normal, but others (including Vaguely Sinister Wife) seem to disagree. Although I feel like just a regular guy to myself, I do notice that I’ve been accumulating a lot of “gadgets” on this blog: visit-tracking stuff, directory stuff, and so on. At some point I suppose I’m going to have to trim away some of these doodads – probably just so I can make room for even more new gadgets. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Guestbook by Bravenet: So far, I’ve gotten a couple of “spam” entries and no genuine entries from actual readers. If nobody “real” shows any interest in signing the guestbook, I’ll ditch it, eventually or soon after.

Link Exchange by Bravenet: I commented out the code for this “feature” a few weeks ago. While it did bring some traffic to the site, I suspect that none of the people unwittingly brought in (via annoying “pop-under” windows) were actually interested in it. For those who had pop-up blockers, the whole thing was moot; and for those without pop-up blockers, I think the whole thing was just an irritation.

Blog Directories: I’ve got links to Blogarama, Blog Catalog, BlogStreet, and Jewish Blogging. As far as I can tell (and that’s pretty far – see below), none of these directories has brought any visitors here. (Jewish Blogging may have brought one a few weeks ago – I forget.) Does anyone actually use any of these directories?

Blog Rings: I applied to join the Jewish Bloggers Ring before the holidays; my membership was pending for weeks, and was finally approved after Succot. So far I think I’ve had one visitor from this Ring. I get more traffic from Link2Blogs, but I can’t really tell how many of these visitors are “serious”.

Link Counters: I’m not really sure what to call these. I’ve signed up to Technorati and The Truth Laid Bear, both of which keep track of who links to whom. I must admit, there’s something addictive in this: I was thrilled to graduate from “Flippery Fish” to “Crawly Amphibian” in the TTLB Ecosystem, and I’m enthusiastically struggling to make “Slithering Reptile”. Watch out, “Large Mammals” and “Playful Primates” – I’m on your tail, if you still have one.

Traffic Counters: Believe it or not, I’ve signed up to five of these – I suspect that never in the history of blogging has so little been measured so much. Sitemeter is the counter I use the most; it works in “real time” (or close to it) and gives a good basic picture of what’s going on. However, it lacks (at least in the free version) things like referrer ranking and tracking of which pages people have actually looked at, and how long people lingered on different pages; so I find myself using additional trackers to fill in the gaps. Bravenet is good for tracking returning visitors versus newbies; its graphs are quite nice, but show only one week’s history. Otherwise, it doesn’t add too much. Extreme Tracking does some pretty good graphing of traffic volume, and provides halfway-decent referrer tracking; however, it’s not as close to “real time” as one might wish. Webstats4U (formerly known as Nedstat Basic) has a slick interface and gives some good reports; my worst complaint about it is that because it doesn’t offer cookie-based exclusion, I can’t prevent my computer at home from registering as a “visitor” to my own site. And finally, Google Analytics is new, slick, powerful, and promising – if they could actually get their data-gathering to start working properly. Apparently the word about this service got out before Google was really ready, and demand was so heavy that their server(s) got swamped. As a result, they’re at least four days behind on reporting “new” data – and while they don’t anticipate being a real-time service, their lag is supposed to be one or two hours, not a hundred hours! Supposedly Google is taking steps to get this service working properly; I’d very much like to see some good results.

Trackbacks: “Trackback” is a rather elegant feature that is unevenly implemented in Blogland. Trackback allows Blogger A to comment on his/her blog about stuff that’s been posted on Blog B, and give a link on Blog B (the trackback, that is) pointing to the comment on Blog A. (This sounds more complicated than it is; to see what I mean, go to this article on Lisa Goldman’s site and click on the “Trackback” link. You’ll see a pop-up window with a trackback pointing back here, where I posted an approving comment on Lisa’s article.) Blogger.com (a Google subsidiary), which hosts this blog, does not provide a trackback service – or at least not one that supports links from outside Blogger. (I should say that other than this, I am very happy with Blogger’s service.) So I signed up for HaloScan’s Trackback service; so far, it seems to work well.

All these “gadgets” are free – which, of course, makes them very tempting. On the other hand, they add “weight” to the page, making it somewhat slower to load and adding visual clutter. Some selective streamlining would seem to be in order – especially if I can find some even cooler stuff to replace some of what I’ve already got.

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