Making Your Own Luck

Do you ever feel helpless? As if problems are too big or too unfixable, and there is not enough time or love to go around? Try out this survival skill: make your own satisfaction.

How do I create my own satisfaction? Let me count the ways.

Taking a Bite Out of Crime

Today I reported a scraper to Technorati. The slimeball I reported was pasting a copy of a response to my Tips for Nonprofits Meme on to the last half of copy after copy of other scraped posts. Every instance triggered a trackback that happened to include the text “If you link, Elizabeth will contact you about including your tip in a compilation of tips.” Oh, the irony. As of now there have been perhaps two dozen trackbacks at the rate of three or four a day.

After reporting that scraper I felt like the energizer bunny. I can’t stop the rain, but I can help Technorati keep their hip boots clean as they wade through sorting what I’m sure is a flood of doubtful sites gaming their system for reputation points. If Technorati follows through I’ll get another little boost in the batteries. If they don’t, I still have the initial boost. I did not make the report in an effort to put the scraper out of business: I made an effort for good, and let that good be enough.

Note to self: look into owning a pair of pink bunny slippers to wear while getting in the mood for energizer bunny action. Pink, because I would also like to glory in being-femlike-ness. So there.

Glory In It

Bunny slippers bring me to another nice self care tactic: bite-sized basking. Again, the idea is not to end spam in our time, become a measurably evolved human being, wear yon bunny slippers to the top of the heap in my niche or even to have a nice day. The point is to set myself up to notice a goodness. Sometimes checking my stats does this very nicely, but only if I am not stressing about meeting a goal. Some flexibility of purpose is necessary. For this reason, the Monty Pythonesque Big Teeth bunny slippers would not be as appropriate. Too aggressive. Accept the sunshine, as-is.

So, if I’m going to be all go-with-the-flow about seeing the sunshine in my life, how do I get more of it?

Make Your Own Luck

Sometimes this is direct and purposeful, like when I asked directly for input in yesterday’s tell me what you want post. Sometimes cause and effect is less direct.

For instance, check out Ladies Who Launch on using social media to make your own luck.

…I was checking my Facebook, an action I try not to do every day, and after signing up for and playing a bit of The Oregon Trail, I checked one of the emails in my Inbox (my Facebook inbox…I call it Face-mail). It was from a guy I didn’t know. Suspect? Yes. Curious? Yes. Turns out he’s a reporter from the Wall Street Journal doing a story on the writers’ strike. I support the writers’ right to potentially lucrative money from online content. However, I was quite excited when Jon Stewart was coming back. I also want the crew to have work. So I watched. I was disappointed in the way Jon addressed the strike. I visited the Jon Stewart Daily Show Facebook Page, of which I’m a Facebook “Fan,” and declared my views on the Wall, and suggested we all “unfan” the Page until he either goes back off the air (because it does weaken the strike) or brings more awareness.

Thus, I got contacted by this journalist as one of many who may be in his piece on the strike, The Daily Show, Letterman and Leno. Afterwards, he asked about what I did, I quietly gave my web and blog sites which he took. So, set up your own luck, folks.

Katie Jones

Making just any comment on Jon Stewart’s Facebook Page wouldn’t have made a difference. Katie had to both share what she thinks and put some energy into thinking it. Thinking. That means she had an idea while being herself.

Care and feeding of luck: lather, rinse and repeat. When the journalist made contact, I’m guessing that Katie Jones was less likely to get stuck at “ummm, gee, that’s nice,” because she had years of experience stretching her creative and articulate self, as reflected by her web presence.

I don’t think anyone gets a place in the sun by being lucky, and I don’t think luck appears because of a place in the sun. There are tandem steps. Motive, means and opportunity, with a side of playfulness and generosity. Faith and practice, sometimes heavy on the faith. Willingness to put one foot in front of the other with eyes open, on a regular basis, like an exercise regime. Willingness to be changed by all of the above.

Speaking of an exercise regime, thus endeth the eleventh post of 100+1. I have passed the first 10 percent of my goal of 100 posts in 100 days and am about to bask in it by treating myself to a glass of wine before bed. Life is good.

Tell Me What You Want

Thanks in great part to a Stumble from Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People, I’m having a nice flush of visitors today. Yaaay! Yesterday there were two sets of live eyeballs here that weren’t yours truly. Today, so far, MyBlogLog says it looks like this:

MyBlogLog screen shot
AbleReach Blog
Readers: 220
Page views: 505

Offsite clicks: 4

About 50 of the page views could have been mine. I was messing with my theme and that always means a lot of refreshing. MyBlogLog seems pretty good about Readers vs Page Views, and once I left I left for good, so I’m trusting that only one or two of the Readers is me. If 218 readers are responsible for about 450 page views, that probably means that a lot of those 218 are new and looking at more than one page. Returning visitors are more likely to read what’s new on the blog’s home page and then bounce.

Does anyone want to share how many of their Stumble spike traffic is return or new visitors?

Before this, I’ve had one Stumble spike, and the visitors were about 90% new. Normally I’ve been running at about 60% new. I expect the new visitors number to go down when I’ve been around longer – this blog’s first post was almost two months ago.

Now that I’ve gone on a bit about searchy stuff, I have a request. Tell me what you would like to see here. Though it doesn’t have to be something I’ve already said I’m interested in, ya gotta read me first, though, because I’d like to be in character when I follow through on this – LOL.

My idea list is all over the map, and I’m open.

Send me an email or comment here.

Golly, there aught to be a prize for the reply that makes me the happiest and most interested. Hmmm… To keep the friendly exchange going, if I pick your idea and you’re interested, I’ll interview you here.

If nobody answers – ROFL – maybe I’ll have to interview myself.

Feeding the (feed)Reader

Yesterday was odd. I had pretty good readership according to FeedStats, but MyBlogLog, Google Analytics and the stat thingy that comes with my server told me I had two visitors on January 12th, aside from myself. Two! Not kidding! Also yesterday, one person added themselves to this blog’s MyBlogLog Community, and two others went to my MyBlogLog member page and added me as a contact. Someone must have thought I was doing something right! Thank you, especially for doing it yesterday!

Let the Full-Text Hoopla Begin

For those who prefer to access me via feed, I’m going to switch to full text. I’ve done excerpts up until now because I wanted to cut down on vulnerability to scrapers until this site is better established. If 70-95 percent of you are seeing this via feed, am I doing myself any favors? Let’s consider some statistics:

  • Referring Sites 81.62%
  • Direct Traffic 15.62%
  • Search Engines 2.76%

70-95 percent from feeds trumps just under three percent from search engines, hands down, no matter what the search terms are. Besides, paying attention to my stats is paying attention to my users is a branding statement. Thar ye be.

Falling For FeedBurner

I’ve resisted FeedBurner. Some of my past experience has been with email based newsletters, and I didn’t want to use a service that took over management of email-based subscription. FeedBurner doesn’t do Customer Relationship Management (CRM) type list management stuff. Asking users to register separately seemed like a pain in the patoo for the user.

That was before considering yesterday’s stats led me to a new attitude.

Since I am in a surrendering to enlightenment sort of mood, I, well, surrender. Point blank and with abandon. There are now feed reader generated “Subscribe” links in my sidebar, but I didn’t stop there.

Surrendering came with some seductive benefits. In the options of my brand spankin’ new account on FeedBurner’s site, over and over again, I said “yes!” I was expecting stats and chicklets, but I got a lot more. I found a configurable bonus linky thing to paste into my WordPress theme. The end of each post will now contain links for subscribing, Stumbling, Emailing one’s self a copy, sharing on Facebook and saving to Handy. I found a way to have Feedburner automatically add my affiliate code to any links I make here to Amazon. Also handy – I’m likely to link to books, and also likely to forget to add the code.

To top it off, FeedBurner can export a list of subscribers into a CSV file that I can then import into CRM software. If I do ever decide I need to add permission-based email newsletter, I could send out a round of emails that offer an option to subscribe. My privacy policy already covers me with this text: We may infrequently pass links and information about other services on to you, but we will never share information about you with others.

It took a while to get through FeedBurner’s many options, and I’m still fixing things. All the various tabs and options are a lot to get through! Their FAQ are pretty good, and I’m determined; I’ll live.

FeedBurner Resources

FeedBurner FeedSmith Plugin

Helps to set up Feedburner.
By FeedBurner
Set up at Options > FeedBurner

Originally authored by Steve Smith, this plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber.

Grown Up Soul For the Inner Child

I’ve been writing most of the day today, off and on, and not getting anywhere. I’ve made a stab at practical idea after practical idea and come up with phrases that don’t stick together in paragraphs, and flat-spirited paragraphs that I can barely force myself to finish. Where’s the love?

It’s been like being on a diet and having a craving for chocolate fudge brownies. Instead of relishing eating half a brownie, or even a whole brownie, I’ll manage to nibble on everything else in the house and still not feel satisfied until I get my hands on what I wanted in the first place. Maybe I should have had the brownie.

The funny thing is, if I hadn’t promised myself I’d write a post every day I’d probably have been completely satisfied with spinach salad and a side of marinated boneless skinless chicken. I’m the kind of person who will happily eat a tomato for a treat-like snack. Not today. Got craving craving craving.

I get horny for my creativity.

Gilda Radner

Three cheers for Gilda, and two miscellaneous observations from me:

  • Search tech stuff makes me horny for communication.
  • Marketing is all about trend, but connecting is about what works for people.

Where am I going with this?

What’s going to work for me today? I am sooo tempted to head back into plotting what seemed practical when I thought I knew what I was doing this morning. But, this post is like an expose`, right? So, what’s going on in the back of my mind when I’m horny for my web-related creativity?

There’s a one-two punch.

One: yum yum Internet.

…the Internet is the hottest thing to happen to communication since movable type – the printing press, not the blogging software. The way it connects us across cultures and experiences is nothing short of revolutionary. Seven generations ago my ancestors were getting out of Virginia after the Civil War. Seven generations from now our descendants will be learning about the communication revolution of the early days of the Internet. The world will be a different place for them because of what we figure out today about the power of the link.

Ritual, Branding, Manners, Identity

Two: grown up soul for the inner child.

I want to make niche sites like Miriam’s Mexican Dress. Something with a personal sense of home culture. Seriously. Except some of my niches would be a leetle different.

For instance, when I was a teenager my grandfather and I got out the drill and the big hammer and made a very funky scratching post for my intrepid kitty. The dang thing fell apart, as most first runs will do, but I loved it literally to pieces. For thirty years I’ve thought that I’d want to make another, and make it better. Since the dawn of the hobby site (think Geocities 1.0) I’ve wanted to make a web site all about making cat furniture. I even own the drill and the digital camera, and enough scrap lumber for a trial run or two.

I could probably list a dozen more ideas for fun (IMHO) 20 page starter sites that could sell a few downloads and some advertising every year. Some would lend themselves to adding more pages of fun over months and years. Waaay different than the perennial…

I Quit My Job and Now I’m Rich

Follow my super secret plan. I’m a Rock Star.
Buy my ebook and be like me. Buy my system and I will tell you how.
Here is a picture of me and my new young wife in Hawaii.
I made $5,000 yesterday and so can you.
Buy my DVD. Anyone can do it.


If some people’s kids have the nerve to post gawd awful scams and spam, why am I waiting to document the creation of cat furniture or chocolate truffles or how to take apart an owl pellet? And don’t get me started on kid-style hands-on science, or I’ll be up all night writing and checking to see what sites would work better with decent photos and clear directions.

This doesn’t sound grown up or practical, but it does feel like me. Maybe these kinds of projects can be my battery rechargers. It could be that I won’t know unless I try — how’s that for tentative enthusiasm. LOL

A Defined and Navigable Space

My 100 posts project needs a home. I want all 100+1 in their own group, with easy navigation between them, and I’d like some sort of countdown widget.

For a countdown I chose KB Countdown Widget.

KB Countdown Widget

KB Countdown is a sidebar widget that comes with nice documentation and several pre-configured options. You can even add html. My only complaint is that because of this plugin I didn’t have a reason to learn to write the php myself, but, hey, it’s done today instead of later, so I think I’ll live. You can see it in action at the top of my left column.
By Adam R. Brown.
Configure at Presentation > Widgets.

Count the years/months/days since, until, or between events. Optional bar graph for tracking progress between two dates.

Adding Tag Tags to a WordPress Theme

I want each post to show a list of any associated tags. I think the end of the post is the best place for a list of tags, and because categories are the big stuff of what the post is about I’m going to leave categories at the top. Tags feel more like a “related posts” sort of a thing, which is more expected at the bottom of a post.

According to the codex, to add a list of tags that are associated with a specific post, I need to use the following:

<?php the_tags(); ?>

First available with WordPress Version 2.3, this template tag displays a link to the tag or tags a post belongs to. If no tags are associated with the current entry, the associated category is displayed instead. This tag should be used within The Loop.

The WordPress Codex on the_tags

To list the tags at the end of a post, paste

<?php the_tags(); ?>


<?php the_content(__('Read more'));?>

and before

<?php endwhile; else: ?>

In my theme I only needed to add it to index.php. In yours, you may also need to do the same to single.php. Here’s what it looks like in my index.php:

<?php the_content(__('Read more'));?>
<div style="clear:both;"></div>

<?php the_tags(); ?>
	<?php endwhile; else: ?>

<?php _e('Sorry, no posts matched your criteria.'); ?>
<?php endif; ?>


If you try adding this code and nothing shows up, check to make sure you’ve added it before the endwhile; else: bit that marks the end of The Loop.

Adding Previous Post and Next Post Links

To help people cycle through my series, today I added links for going backwards and forwards between posts. The WordPress Codex has some straightforward examples of how to use next and previous links.

This is the basic code:

<?php previous_post(); ?>    <?php next_post(); ?>

The parameters for both of these tags are format, text and title. These parameters should be separated by commas and enclosed in apostrophes. I made use of them like so:

I chose to insert two pair of left angle brackets, followed by the permalink: '« « %'

Add “Back” and a colon: 'Back: '. If no link is present, no “Back” and colon will show. To make it clearer exactly what these links are, I have labeled them with “back” and “next.” Other choices are words like “previous” and “forward,” but my command decision of today is that I like “back” and “next” because they are nice and short.

Use the title: 'yes'

So far, we have this:

<?php previous_post('&laquo; &laquo; %', 'Back: ', 'yes'); ?>

<?php next_post('% &raquo; &raquo; ', 'Next: ', 'yes'); ?>

Because some of my titles are long enough to trigger a line break, I want a line break between my longer previous post and next post links. Also, I think they’d be a little easier on the eyes if “Back” floated to the left, and “Next” floated to the right. I used floated divs for this, choosing not to add a class to my stylesheet because it wouldn’t cut down on the amount of code. If you do a View > Source and this is no longer so… well, could be that I changed my mind. ;-)

<div style="float: left">
<?php previous_post('&laquo; &laquo; %', 'Back: ', 'yes'); ?>

<div style="float: right">
<?php next_post('% &raquo; &raquo; ',
 'Next: ', 'yes'); ?>


Tuck it in between

<?php the_tags(); ?>


<?php endwhile; else: ?>

and I’m done with the previous and next post links.

Voila. Home sweet 100+1 post home.

A Ritual of Incubation

I went to sleep last night wondering what on God’s green earth I am going to blog about today, and woke up with ideas for three niche sites. One is web design related and may not be practical, but is worth looking at for several reasons. One has to do with literature and would be rewarding, though it could involve some serious work. One would be a whole lot of fun to get started – it’s one of those “like being a kid again” projects, without the air guitar.

I slept like a baby and woke up with three site maps and a couple link building strategies dancing in my head. If only a small slice of these ideas becomes part of something I make and enjoy, I’m still ahead. Not bad for a good night’s sleep.

How did I get from “what in the world am I going to blog about,” to two and a half new ideas for niche sites? Methinks it was ritual. Readiness plus ritual can stack the decks in our favor.

Often, when I go to bed at night, I review achievements and feel-goods of that day, then reflect on what is still on the to-do list, and drift towards picking one or two things to promise myself I’ll work on the following day. I fall asleep envisioning success with some specific thing or other.

I got into that habit out of desperation: I am an insomniac par excellence. Using some sort of positive focus helps me limit what my mind is doing and get to sleep. Herb tea doesn’t do it. An extra glass of wine works only as long as my head is fuzzy. Identifying something I am bugged about getting done and imagining steps towards achieving it with a positive and yet passive focus is the magic key. It works.

More often than not the result is no more spectacular than a peaceful night’s sleep, and my dreams don’t usually have a direct application to the practical world. Once in a while the dream experience is like taking a tour through real world possibilities. Problems get solved, or ideas are born.

I promised to write about whatever would help me develop a foundation of my brand. What’s the relationship between waking up with ideas and what I want for my brand?

Faith? Encouragement? Making problems simple, letting go of the big picture, concentrating on the achievement of small and positive steps? Giving one’s self credit for setting the stage?

I’ll be dreaming on it.

To Be or To Do Be Do Be Do and Spam Control

There’s nothing like a search for meaning to plump up one’s to-do list. I committed to making 100 posts in 100 days, as I feel out the values behind how I want to brand this site. Four posts in and my to-do list is about a mile long. The basic run down on where the initial list-o-stuff is coming from looks like this:

  • Personalization
  • Productivity
  • Pick some stuff I like

But, you see, everything has lots and lots of homework, housekeeping and backstory. Intelligible backstory may end up being a challenge, or at least that’s what it looks like now. How can I write 100 posts even loosely centered around the meaning of meaning without slipping into self indulgent chaos?

Failure often stems from lack of a coherent game plan, inviting the wrong team members onto the bus, & not facing brutal truths. Tactic or trap, writing from the self-center person can be an intentional grammatical style book decision.

Arrogance & Writing in Self-Center Person

So be it. LOL. Right now, here I am at intentional style book decision, and this is what there is, and for now I’m tunneling into homework and housekeeping, one chunk at a time. At the very least, I will have learned a few things about what it is like to write on a schedule.

Yesterday I blogged about plugins that add author Gravatars and MyBlogLog avatars to comments. Looking into them got to be a higher priority when I was writing out my thoughts about what my personal brand may be. You see, I look at links and think of the people behind them or in front of them. Putting a face on comments is a natural extension of who I am as a brand. Besides, I like seeing them.

Doing that didn’t seem right without also talking about today’s subject – spam. To communicate through them ya gotta enable them, use them, and trust them. As soon as there is a way in there will be spam.

Spam Moderation

This is how I deal with comments, from the admin setup side of WordPress.

Users must be registered and logged in to comment is left unchecked at Options > General. Because I want interaction to be easily available I do not require registration.

Everything else non-plugin happens at Options > Discussion, where I have all boxes checked.

The first three are communication related. I ping others (Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article,) allow others to ping me (Allow link notifications from other blogs,) and allow people to post comments.

The rest have to do with how much moderation I want, and how much communication I’d like about moderation. For the most part, I like to be e-mailed whenever anyone posts a comment, or a comment is held in moderation. I’m not a fan of having yet more emails stacking up in my inbox, but this is a worthy cause.

To keep a leash on what gets out there, before a comment appears an administrator must always approve the comment, and the comment author must fill out name and e-mail.

I also use Simple Trackback Validation to control trackback spam. Here are the basics on Simple Trackback Validation and two other anti spam plugins that most practiced bloggers will be familiar with.

Plugins that Filter Out the Un-person

Simple Trackback Validation

Does just what it says. I use it here. I have it set up so that all trackbacks go into a moderation que: something I find comforting.
By Michael Woehrer.
Configuration available at Options > Simple TB Validation

Eliminates spam trackbacks by (1) checking if the IP address of the trackback sender is equal to the IP address of the webserver the trackback URL is referring to and (2) by retrieving the web page located at the URL used in the trackback and checking if the page contains a link to your blog.


The gold standard. Remember to check the spam bin for false positives.
By Matt Mullenweg.
Configuration and API key entry at Plugins > Akismet Configuration

Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.” See also: WP Stats plugin.

Math Comment Spam Protection

Some people like to add Math to Akismet. Using Math will cut down on the number of spam that get to Akismet’s spam bin, making it much easier to sift out false positives.

By Michael Woehrer.
Configuration at Options > Math Comment Spam

Asks the visitor making the comment to answer a simple math question. This is intended to prove that the visitor is a human being and not a spam robot. Example of such question: What is the sum of 2 and 9?

Comment Avatar Plugins

As promised yesterday, here are some brief reviews for plugins that will add author Gravatars or avatars to comments. A Gravatar is a globally recognized avatar. To get a Gravatar, users must register with Gravatar. MyBlogLog users can upload an avatar when registering their blog with MyBlogLog.

Some Gravatar and Avatar Resources

Keeping the Conversation Going

How many times have you left a comment on a blog and forgotten the exact URL or wondered what others might have to say next? Subscribe to Comments takes care of that. This is one of my favorite plugins.

Subscribe To Comments

Inserts a checkbox under the comment form where users can choose to receive an automatically produced email alert whenever someone else posts a comment to that specific post. Users can manage their own subscription.
Based on version 1 from Scriptygoddess By Mark Jaquith.
Configure at Options > Subscribe to Comments

Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry.

Plugins for Comments – Gravatars and Avatars


In version 1.1 the link to the plugin page (above) is broken. This is the correct link. This plugin requires simple editing of the comments.php file. Users who are not as familiar with editing a template file may appreciate a reminder to enclose the suggested code in an image tag, like so:

<img src="<?php gravatar("PG", 40); ?>" alt="" />

Users who are comfortable with PHP will find ways to customize this plugin, but it is not as well documented as Filosofo’s WordPress Gravatar Plugin.
By Tom Werner.
No configuration option from the dashboard

This plugin allows you to generate a Gravatar URL complete with rating, size, default, and border options. See the documentation for syntax and usage.

Filosofo’s WordPress Gravatar Plugin

Requires simple editing of the comments.php file.’s usual straightforward documentation includes a way to specify a CSS class and a default image for those who are not registered with
By Austin Matzko.
No configuration option from the dashboard.

Add Gravatars to your WordPress theme in a way that customizes easily and degrades nicely.

Easy Gravatars

Though Easy Gravatars uses only Gravatars and doesn’t have the configuration options of other Gravatar plugins, it has enthusiastic supporters because of its simplicity. CSS, maximum size and rating are configurable, and a blank, one pixel gif is inserted when no Gravatar is available. No need to edit the template – just install the plugin and Gravatars will appear.
By Dougal Campbell.
Configure at Options > Easy Gravatars

Add Gravatars to your comments, without requiring any modifications to your theme files. Just activate, and you’re done!


MyAvatars is my favorite. It works, and you get both MyBlogLog avatars and Gravatars, because MyBlogLog avatars are used unless Gravatars are found. Requires simple editing of comments.php. Fine tune by adding desired formatting to the comment section of your style sheet and you’re good to go. In my case I used this:

 img.MyAvatars {float: left; margin: 0 5px 5px 0;}

By Andrea Micheloni & Napolux.
No configuration available from the WordPress dashboard.

This plugin allows you to add avatars to WordPress comments.

WordPress Gravatars

No editing of the theme is needed. Has a nice configuration page, and can add a Gravatar or use a favicon. If this one also supported MyBlogLog avatars I’d be using it, because it has nice integration with other widgets for Author Profile and Recent Comments. It can even insert a Gravatar at the top left of post content, where you’d want an author image.
By Rune Gulbrandsøy.
Configuration available at Presentation > Gravatar

Makes use of Gravatars, places Gravatars in the comments section. Uses the comment authors email to display their Gravatar. It also gives the user an Author Profile picture, based on his or hers Gravatar. Change your options here. As of version 2.2 there is also a widget for Recent Comments with Gravatars.

Avatars: Putting the Person in Personalization

People are what makes the Internet sing. People. Not search engines, not spiders, not even money, and especially not infomercials that promise easy money from “free” Internet businesses that rake in the cash and run themselves without personal attention.

Underneath the tech and the design, or the lack of it, there are honest to goodness humans who are absorbing, rejecting or reacting to a site or a page, or the need to do yet another redesign. Most of the time, a relationship to the human presence is inferred, calculated or taken on faith. Web site owners make a play for traffic, and use analytics and server logs to try and figure out what users care about. Users could be thinking anything at all.

And the Blog Said: Talk to Me

Humans don’t do well in isolation. We care about trust. We are curious and opinionated – essentially social. Put the power to tweak a web site in our hands and it’s only a matter of time until we figure out how to do two things: promote something, and have a conversation. Because of our natural attraction to both of these things, the birth of blogs was inevitable.

Blogs with their comment spam can be sticky business if not moderated. Fortunately, the longer blogs are around, the better tools we have.

To control promotion, blogs can use plugins for spam control and trackback validation. To encourage conversation and add more “human” to the touch of a comment, I like to put a face on the commenters through some form of avatar. To get the most possible avatar action, with the least hassle for users, my ideal comment avatar plugin would use both gravatars and MyBlogLog avatars.

Tomorrow I will review plugins for enhancing comments, especially comment avatars.

Because I’m taking 100 dedicated days to grow a site that reflects my values, and the human relationship aspect of the Internet is big with me, the adding of commenter avatars is a good fit.

Identity Groundwork

Today I am making a commitment to 100 posts in 100 days. I’ll be using those 100 posts to explore how my personality and my values can be a foundation for my “brand,” as reflected in my blog and what I do on the Internet.


For the journey. To backtrack, here’s a quote from yesterday’s post:

Symbolic expressions of values: what are they and where do they come from?

Here, I could postulate. I could make knowledgeable-sounding lists and generalizations. I’m not going to do that because what I really want to know is what the process of exploring meaning is like, for me, blogging and in my flesh and blood life. After exploring I’d feel more genuine about defining, though getting to finite definitions wouldn’t be the point: I want the broadening experience of a journey.

I have a slightly crazy idea.

What if I committed to making 100 meaning-of life posts?

Ritual, Manners, Branding, Identity

Ok, Ok, there are also practical applications to consider.

Here’s my acid test for if a dream (or a slightly crazy idea) should become a goal, or be backed by a specific plan.

The dream is:

  1. Reachable – logistically possible.
  2. Peaceable – a purely subjective gut level judgment.
  3. Wise – practical, productive and in line with my other goals.

Let’s start with Wise

Branding is a good thing. Under the skin, branding is more than colors and shapes for a logo or a business card. Branding is all about values. Branding is how a company communicates their personality. Branding is like body language in that it demonstrates what can be expected. Trust and engagement are more possible if the personality of the entity and that of the target market are in sync.

If I were developing this site for a client, I would start with a study of the brand (personality, culture) of the client’s business and how that can connect with the client’s goals and target audience.

Since this is my site, I am free to choose to develop it for myself. As a business, starting with the me-me-me isn’t a hot idea. There has to be a connection to a purpose, a way to demonstrate understanding and fulfillment of brand promise. There again, I am at an advantage: putting my “me” where my mouth is can become part of my brand.

One of my pet peeves is sites that try to look like somebody, in order to fit in or impress somebody else. The result is superficial, untrustworthy and disappointing. By starting out this way I’m doing the opposite. I am choosing to share how I’d encourage any small business to develop their brand identity: focus on what a target audience cares about is more effective while also knowing your own “wow” values, your identity. This can lead to the most productive and genuine ways to connect with a target audience.

Moving on to Housekeeping

Part of turning a dream into a goal, and a goal into a plan, is taking it seriously, and part of that is doing the housekeeping. Cleanup time.

The seasonal icons are now gone. I chose not to update them because I don’t want to be limited to one image per category. I want more art in my everyday life, and making images for that space could be part of that, if I leave that space open.

This blog is now my home page. There are three reasons why that makes sense.

First, the blog is where the action is. The home page should be a focus of action, not a place to get through on one’s way to the action.

Second, there is no compelling reason to separate the blog from the home page. Because I am self-hosted and have design skills, I can tweak the home page to make a space for more than one kind of action, when I want this site to do more in the future.

Third, Technorati has me listed under both and, and those two are reacting to each other. Googling around revealed multiple tales of woe from others dealing with the same situation. Technorati can combine accounts, but that’s no guarantee of a long term fix. The same general issues apply to link juice. By combining “home” and “blog,” I take control of my own solution.

Until Tomorrow!

There is more I could write about tonight, but it’s after midnight here and I have arrived at my personal “enough.”