Friday, January 28, 2005

How to Read a Blog

Something I've been thinking about writing for a while is a simple, how-to guide for those who have come to this website with the question "what is a blog" or "isn't this just another website"? In addition, Ken Leebow wrote today
Blogs are great, but bloggers need to explain in simple layman's terms what it's all about. The people in the blogosphere don't appear to be doing that.
So this goes out to Ken and all others wondering what this whole "blog thing" is all about.

I could take some time to go into the history of blogs, but I won't. I don't think the average person really cares. What they you probably care more about is what is different about a blog and how to read it.

A blog is simply a website.

However, a blog is a little different than just a website. A blog has a slightly different structure to it than a traditional website. What confuses most people about blogs is the homepage. But before I explain that, let me explain something else. Every blog post (section on the homepage such as this post) has it's own unique web address (URL). The blog website links all of these posts together to make a website...just like a traditional site.

The biggest confusion about a blog is usually the homepage. It looks different than a traditional website. That's because what the homepage does is display the latest posts or webpages added. Usually it posts them in reverse chronological order. That way the most recent entry or post is at the top of the page. Scroll down to see the next posts in order.

Another confusion is that the posts on the homepage can cover all sorts of topics. That's because there are different kinds of blogs. Some people write randomly--like journal postings. Some write about different topics and then file those entries into categories. After a while, on most blogs, some of the entries on the homepage "fall off" or disappear. Depending on the blog, those entries are now in the archives or categories. Usually you can find links to those archives and/or categories on the side of the page.

Another difference in a blog from a traditional website is that blogs usually has interactivity built in. At the bottom of most blogs is a line that says how many people have commented. If you click on that comment link, you'll be taken to that post's unique web's (where that entry alone sits) and you can read the comments left by other readers. You can even post your own comments if the blog owner has it setup to allow it.

Blogs also have something called a "permalink" at the bottom of each entry. That is "blog-talk" for that entry's unique web address. Click it and you'll see the "permanent link" for that entry.

For another great tutorial for you, check out this page.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment on this entry. Just click on the link below that has some number and the word "comments" after it. If you were on my homepage, you'll be taken to a page that has another link that says "post a comment". I'll read it and leave an answer for you there.

Hope this helps!

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