Beginning Blogging 12. Social Blogging.

I think that one of the most enjoyable sides to Blogging, unless you happen to keep your blog private of course, is the socialising side of it. I have found that when compared to forming online friendships via other social network methods such as Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, blogging is the only way that you can feel confident that you know the person concerned and can decide whether you feel comfortable in forming an online friendship with them. Because of the more detailed information contained inside their blog posts, its easier to feel as if you actually know that person even if they live at the other side of the world from you and you will probably never meet each other in person. It would be very difficult to do this from the limited insight you can gain from a short sentence or a 140 letter comment!  So how do you find other peoples blog posts to read them and then form any online friendships on Blogger or WordPress?

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Windows Live, its not the same……..

For the last five  years Windows Live has been my home on the Internet. Its where up until recently I tended to spend most of my time when online.  I made loads of ‘friends’ on there.  Spaces friends. It was so easy to make friends  because it was one of the few sites where you had your own ‘webpage’ easily constructed just the way that you wanted it.   Then you could, via your Home page, find other users Spaces and  go and read what they had to say,  then decide if you wished to be friends with them or not. Your home page contained an absolute brilliant search feature where you could search by Gender and age for example, thereby searching for like minded folks by using lots of useful criteria.

y1pL5FiVW-WIorH_sVKz3K9XgMntmdTpNCaRtm_o3TFib9hO7sM3bi6Ctb_dqf-JfrS6YLTg_-mjOS5Qjr2o4MKJQ  You could share your photos via your Spaces page, show your favourite books, music, films and for any visitor to your Space,  it was fairly straight forward to arrive at a decision as to whether they liked what they saw and then become your friend. Not only that but your home page also showed you a ‘running’ update of NEW users Spaces as well, so you could mosey over there and make friends with them if you liked what you saw. For me and countless others,  there was no other blogging site quite like it for forming friendships and becoming a  community.

Then Wave 3 arrived. None of the changes made to the Windows Live site in Wave 3 had been asked for by the ‘bread and butter’ ordinary user. Not only that, but the whole site became a nightmare to navigate around. Users couldn’t  find their friends. Why? Because now they were referred to as your Network and  not Spaces friends as before.   Users panicked. At  that time I became very busy trying to help those on my Network who couldn’t find their way around because of the new changes. Many of my friends ended up leaving the site  because they just couldn’t get used to any of the new changes, nor did they feel the changes enhanced  the site or improved it.  

 What's new with your network feed

One of the biggest changes was the introduction of a feed on your home page called ‘What’s new with your Network’ and the  inclusion  into that feed of ‘Web Activities.’  The idea behind this was that when anyone in your Network did anything on another site such as Twitter, Digg or flickr for example, it would show in your ‘What’s new with your Network’ feed.  Since the inception of this idea, many more sites have been added including Facebook.  The big problem  with this idea is that you can’t actually react to any of these updates apart from clicking on the update which just serves to take you from the Windows Live site to the external site.  Over a period of time, this has had the increasing effect that Windows Live users have slowly drifted away to using these other sites instead of staying on Windows Live as they were doing before Wave 3.

On your home page, you could be forgiven if you didn’t realise that on Windows Live you can create a webpage of your own called a Space. Despite the fact that previously this was the ‘hub’ of most peoples usage pre Wave 3, in Wave 3  it was ‘shunted’ to the depths  of the More tab with the result that anyone new joining Windows Live will not even be aware of its existence.   To add to this, where previously you could skip from blog to blog easily and also find new people with just one click, now its an absolute nightmare to go to another users Space never mind finding any new ones.

Any updates made on the site itself such as someone posting to their blog or making a comment on someone else’s blog which used to take centre stage on your home page, now tends to get  lost in a barrage of ‘Fred Bloggs said this on twitter’ or ‘ Sid Blank stated this on Facebook’  and as your home page only displays up to 20 updates by default, you miss most updates anyway, unless you were to sit there for hours glued to your home page!  You can extend this to 50 updates from your Home page, but cannot make that the default number.

Unlike on Facebook or twitter etc, the feed updates do not let you interact with them in any way. You can’t even ‘like’ or ‘unlike’ them and you certainly can’t comment on them. They are just feed updates and the only thing you can do is click on the URL if present or the update itself, and therefore whizz off somewhere else.  Is this really the outcome that the Windows Live teams wanted to occur?  I know that I wouldn’t want to encourage my users to go elsewhere if I had a site, I would want them to stay right there.

Some more spam Then there’s the constant spam to contend with in the  comments on your blogs.  Windows Live doesn’t employ Captcha. Well, not for comments at any rate.  It employs Captcha  if you try to complain about said spam where you the innocent party in the whole affair,  have to fill one in alongside a copy of the spam message you received and  the URL of the perpetrator.  Then repeat the whole thing again in a follow up email.  If the Live teams want to see proof of the Spam perpetrators, they just have to go and look at the comments on their own Space! 

Its all very off-putting for users including me, and if I am getting fed up when I have been an avid Windows Live user and stalwart fan then it  really isn’t looking terribly positive in my book.

I know its not easy to get feedback from all of your users, especially when you are such a large corporation such as Microsoft.  Its easier to ask those users who can make their voices heard such as the MVP’s, the Information Technology people and the professionals, but obviously there is a mismatch between what they think is an essential feature for the site and what the ‘ordinary everyday’ user actually needs.  Meanwhile Windows Live is slowly bleeding its users elsewhere.

TG

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Social Networking overload.

thumbnailCAH8WGQV Are you like me suffering from Social Networking overload? Lately I seem to be subscribing to more and  more social networking sites that profess to be the latest ‘must have’ to enable you to keep tabs on all of your online friends and contacts.  it’s got so bad that I now find myself subscribing to sites that  promise to amalgamate all of my social networking sites into one place and keep them all organized for me so that I can keep on top of it all!

windowslive icon I’ve completely lost track to be honest of just how many sites I am currently subscribed to and despite being retired and therefore able to spend a great deal of my available time online I just haven’t the time to contribute to them all.  Of course the answer is to stop joining any more but as soon as I tell myself not to join or sign up to any new sites I will often find that I’ll read someone’s tweet about a fantastic new site they have found  that is the next big thing or I’ll read someone’s blog about a new ‘social networking’ service that’s the latest must have and next thing you know I’ve signed up and joined another one! 

Twitter_logo For my blogs I am now busy trying to find gadgets and plug-ins that  let my readers know just exactly which sites I use so that they can find me, although its highly unlikely they will come across me on any of them as I just don’t have the time, and lets be honest here, if a retired Granny hasn’t the time to contribute to lot’s of social networking sites  then who has?  I really will have to refrain from joining any more. It rather reminds me of those Sky users who pay out a huge amount every month so that they can have hundreds and hundreds of channels and then spend most of their time just watching the same old four or five they could get for free.  Besides which I have badly been neglecting my blogs of late, usually because I am too busy tweeting or else I am reading all the updates from my vast collection of  social networking sites!

friend_feed_logo_allrightsreserved Let’s face it, we can only be in one place at a time when we are online, no one can  be everywhere at once,  and I have realised this recently  having become aware of  just how many new services are becoming available just to help us keep on top of all that Social Networking we are all doing. The other downside of having all of these different Social Networking sites occurred recently  when I needed to upload  some photographs so that my family and friends  could  see them.  Instead of just uploading  them once  to one particular site, I found  myself having to upload them to my Windows Live SkyDrive, my flickr account and my Facebook account which meant that because I had  quite a few photos to upload the computer was  busy for up to an hour or more. (Is there a photo uploading service that you can upload your pictures to once and then it distributes your pics to all of your photo sites for you, and if not why not?)

digg-logo_2 I know that I am not alone in experiencing ‘Social Networking overload.’ When the Windows Live teams introduced Web Activities to Windows Live, quite a few users on there turned most of the updates from their friends off after finding them to be ‘too noisy’. As a matter of fact, I was personally informed by someone in my Network on Windows Live that  my twitter updates  were  ‘too much’ and so I ended up disabling most of my updates on there so I didn’t annoy others in my Network.

We might all feel that we need to be constantly  broadcasting every move we make whilst we are online, every picture we take, every news article we read, every new ‘social networking’ must have we have stumbled upon, but do remember everyone,  it doesn’t necessarily mean that your online friends want to be constantly reminded of your online presence or what you are doing from one minute to the next,  and they just might go and turn you right off!

TG

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