classic visual map of the internet, image can be attributed to artist Barrett Lyon
Lately I’ve been irritated by the Internets. And by blogs, although I’m someone who still reads them, someone who still writes them, and still thinks the longer form is useful.
This post is divided into parts.
All is not well in Blogland, and like the song from Music Man where he sings about Trouble and it means the new billiard table in town, our trouble is the concept of “monetize.” It can be lucrative to place ads on blogs, and I have no problem if a blogger wants to make some cash. Money is always good, and hey, it’s their blog.
But I do get irritated when some of the ads have positively gotten out of hand, so much so that ads pop up on top of pictures, intrude on the blogger’s writing, and blink and pop across content. Some of the ads are disgusting (see below for examples), with that creepy crawly worms thing the worst. Because of this, I had stopped reading some blogs, but in the end, I liked the quilter and what they did, so had to find new ways to read.
Using a Reader to read blogs
So I started by using a reader. I subscribe directly to some blogs, and their post notifications come directly into my emailbox. But I don’t want all my blogs to come there. A reader will gather all your reading into one list, and can categorize the blogs (I read both ways). One well-known reader in quiltland is Bloglovin’ but I have moved over to Feedly.com.
I used to use Bloglovin’ a lot, but I found it frustrating at how many clicks I had to use to get the blog to leave a comment (I love a good conversation). And then I started noticing this:
They won’t send you to the blog, they send you somewhere in their universe, which as a blog writer, is not helpful news. It means a reader might might never actually visit a blog, to see the layout, the way the blogger has designed their space. Some writers believe that Bloglovin’ has taken content (without permission) for their in-house blog, broadcasting it on their website. The blogger-who-wrote-it will not see any of these comments. Yes, this has happened to me, and frankly, it’s kind of weird, like somebody stole my content. They will link back to me, but it’s after the fact, so that if I’m not on top of it backstage, I will never know it happened.
So I said, I’m done, and left them for Feedly.
I never log in with Facebook, instead setting up an account using my email.
This is what I see when my Feedly page pops up, with the category Fabrics/Quilting highlighted. I chose the magazine view, but you could also choose a list view. It allows me to read the first few lines of any blog post, and then decide if I want to expand it. I find I am actually reading more of my colleagues’ posts this way, as I also don’t lose them in the deluge of emails.
The blogs I added (see the very bottom left: +ADD CONTENT to add the blogs you want), I arranged by categories. The numbers show the unread blogs.
Here’s Afton’s Quilting Mod, as an example. I clicked on it from my list and the full blog shows up. I scroll through and read it, then decide I want to leave a comment.
At the bottom of the page, I click on VISIT WEBSITE, and I’m sent to her blog in a new window in a new tab (although this preference can be changed). Notice the address that shows up in the lower left — I’m referred directly to Afton’s blog to leave a comment, a real plus.
Using the Reader View in your browser to make posts easier to read.
Sometimes I’m not in my Feedly, and have clicked on one of my ad-filled blogs. So I use the Reader View. Safari has always had this, and now Firefox has it too. First, Safari.
There is an icon of stacked documentson the left in the address bar.
Click on this, and you’ll be taken to the above view (compare them). All you are getting is the writer’s content, plus their photos. All animations, ads, colors, and videos are removed (although you will see placeholders for them). Click on the stack icon to go back to their website.
I just downloaded the newest version of Firefox. Above is the webpage without the Reader View.
The webpage with Reader View. Click on the little grey page icon on the right of the address bar to be taken to their Reader View.
See also those little greyed icons at the upper left? Those are also new. I’m quite interested in the third one, the soundwave icon. My mother is mostly blind, and now I can now have my Dad set up the webpage for her in Reader View and it will read it to her. Hooray for easy accessibility for webpages!
Ads placed to drive the blog writers to pay. It worked!
I’d developed an alphabet of improv letters when I ran the Spelling Bee blog some time ago.
Knowing that if I put them down somewhere in my Sewing Room, they would disappear, I documented how I made them and put them up on a blog. For a while, WordPress and I had a bargain: they could put up an ad on the bottom of my post, and I’d keep using their stuff for free (I had converted this blog over to a paid blog some years earlier).
Then I started seeing this:
The dreaded creepy crawly ads I hated were now in between my text, obliterating the the instructions for my wonky and fun letters and words (see the one in the box in the upper left). I didn’t want to pay a yearly fee to have them keep the ads out (and I suspect — just a little — that some of the more obnoxious ads were designed to encourage me to pay), so I did the next best thing: I moved the entire blog.
It’s now back in Google’s arms at: https://quiltabecedary.blogspot.com. I have links from this blog, above, so you don’t have to remember the address. But if you ever need some wonky improv letters and words, don’t forget that it’s there.
White I spend a lot of time on Instagram, I still think that there is a place in our lives for blogs: it’s where we put up tutorials, we comment on the state of the world, we have space to write about quilts and things that interest us (by the way, congratulations if you made it this far). I don’t want to see blogs go away, so I hope this post will make your reading easier.
NOTE: If you want to start making your own Feedly list, I’ve put just about all the blogs I read way below, in the footer, but like anything, it’s a work in progress and subject to change. I update it about every quarter.