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Open Thread Thursday – Genealogy Blog Bling


Judy Webster who runs, among other great genealogy blogs, Queensland Genealogy, wrote me from far flung Australia about the following issue: what gadgets, widgets, plugins, etc. do you consider ESSENTIAL for a genealogy blog?

Think of not just your own genealogy blog, but say as a first time user of genealogy blogs, what would be most helpful to these newcomers? The motivation for Judy’s questions comes from the fact that there are still folks using dial-up (rural Australia, and I bet the rural United States as well) and some blogs seem overloaded with bells and whistles which can slow down page loading.

Judy has come up with a “short list” of what she considers “must haves” in a genealogy blog:

  • About me
  • Subscribe option
  • Follow option
  • Labels (as a cloud or list, with or without numbers?)
  • Blog archive
  • Links to other blogs
  • Links to Websites about related topics

This is a great topic for this week’s Open Thread Thursday! And please, if you have a topic you’d like to see discussed among your genealogy blogging colleagues, please contact us and we’ll take it under consideration.

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Please either post on today’s topic of Genealogy Blog Bling at your own blog and then post the link here in the comments or simply add your two cents in the comments section:

  • What do you consider essential in terms of widgets, sidebar items, etc. for a genealogy blog?
  • Have you taken steps to minimize or streamline your blog in consideration of dial-up and even mobile users?
  • Where should the “bling” be placed – sidebar, header, footer, other location?
  • What about other blog template items such as font size, background color, etc.?

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

19 thoughts on “Open Thread Thursday – Genealogy Blog Bling

  1. An option to subscribe to comments (preferably via email OR RSS) is huge. I think it’s hard to keep a real conversation going if people have to manually check back to see whether others have commented after them.

    A clean look is also important. There are some blogs where I love the content, but they have so many badges and graphics and spinning things that it takes forever to load (and I’m not on dial-up). Less is more.

    I also like comment spam filtering that happens on the blogger side, not the reader side. I get frustrated with all of the Captcha codes, etc. that are required to leave a comment (and sometimes by the time they’ve loaded, I’ve moved on to the next blog). I have a blog, so I’m not a Blogger expert, but don’t they have a plug-in you can use that filters spam so you don’t have to put readers through all that?

    An “About Me” page that has a picture that’s close enough so we can see what you really look like is nice too (although I understand why some people are uncomfortable with that).

  2. I believe in the mantra “less is more” for just about everything, including blogs. I would add to Judy’s essentials list a copyright statement or creative commons badge.
    Also I notice a lot of traffic going to my Those Family Lines pages, which I include in the header as a drop down menu. I have experimented with a couple of different formats and am settling into a annotated family tree for each surname that I am exploring. I mirror this pattern in my drop down menu for blog archive categories, a widget I keep in the sidebar. It has helped some readers quickly explore the site.

  3. On the bling topic this pertinent comment from Tamura Jones was added to my blog post:

    The only thing a blog really needs is great content. Some info pages (About, Copyright, Contact, perhaps a FAQ) are nice. Most widgets and plug-ins only distract from the content. AddThis and ShareThis pop-ups are particularly annoying.
    Good content doesn’t need any bling.

  4. I’ve just left this comment on the post by Geniaus:

    For some reason I have never taken much notice of the Nav Bar at the top of Blogger’s pages. A few moments ago I made it transparent (which looks nicer) and I tested the Search box there. It seems to search my blog very nicely – in which case I only need to add a search box in the sidebar if I hide the Nav Bar or if I want to customise the search to include other Web sites. (Please correct me if I’m wrong about this.)

  5. Better late then never! I wrote up my opinions today. This was a great topic to discuss for me because I’m in the middle of redesigning my website. There are such great opinions and ideas flowing around.

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