Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Dear Blogger Staff,

As a member of your service since August 2004 I would like to thank you for offering, free of charge, this valuable service to the internet community. Blogs have come to the forefront of the media world as an emerging new outlet for information, ideas and debate.

There are other blog services on the internet today, but you have emerged as the outright leader among them. The free functionality you provide is second to none. I am highly impressed with what you have offered me and countless thousands of others. I thank you from the bottom of my blog.

That being said, I've come up with a list of suggestions to make your service even better. I hope that something I write here can help in improving the blogger service. Please keep in mind that these are just suggestions and do not necessarily represent complaints.

I would be remiss if the first item I brought up was not commenting. The pyra commenting functionality is acceptable but many bloggers have become disgruntled by the increased functionality that could be added.

1. The first improvement to comments is the ability to trackback. Quite frankly there is none. Many other blog services have been able to include trackback functionality within their commenting engine and all of which are compatible with each other.

2. Something I noticed while guest blogging on a Typepad member's blog was the ability to send automated trackback pings. You would simply plug in the links to your blog and have them automatically send out trackback pings when you publish your post.

3. Another blog feature I've noticed on a handful of sites is the ability within commenting to withold all new comments for review before posting them. I see this as an optional service, as many are not very subject to the off color comments that can become prevalent within commenting.

4. This is more of an improvement suggestion instead of a new idea, but I was hoping that you could improve the security of commenting and at the same time add more freedom to the service. You could do this by adding IP tracking and blocking functionality. Many other services use this technology including the ever popular Haloscan.

5. Speaking of Haloscan, nearly all of the features of haloscan built into the simple console of blogger is what I was hoping for. I know pyra is a new and emerging system, but I thought there might be some way that you could incorporate Haloscan into your tools. I know this my require some sort of corporate contract, but since a good deal of the Blogspot bloggers are already using it the transition might be easier than expected.

Well, that's about all I have to say about commenting. I hope something in this has spurred an idea or is already in the works. I've also got a few suggestions for other things besides commenting:

1. For a javascript and HTML savvy blogger, the templates you provide are more than adequate. In fact, those that can write javascript and HTML fluently probably create their templates from scratch and just drop in the code. Unfortunately, most of the blogosphere population are writers, not scripters. Most of our coding entails cutting and pasting. It would be an excellent thing if more templates were available for automatic upload.

2. Since there are a few bloggers that are capable with javascript and HTML, you could have a channel for new template submission. As an example, bravenet has hundreds of available templates but as of yet I am at a loss to how I could get one over to my blog. (One that many have particularly been trying to get is the double sidebar variety. A good many templates have been mangled in an attempt to get this working.) Is there a method for template submission and if there is, how do we do it and where do we see the submitted templates?

3. Something other services have done is categorizing blogs into fields of interest. I can click on the "Next Blog" button a dozen times and find no blogs that spark my interest. I know there is a "blogs of interest" section and a "recently updated" section but both of these are fairly limited in their capabilities. You can see blogwise, blogarama, blogspotting and a few others for examples of websites that do this for registered users.

4. Since I'm on a roll, how about some sort of ranking structure. Sitemeter and The Truth Laid Bear have been providing the link and hit count rankings for some time now. You could incorporate these features or similar into blogger as well. Possibly, you could combine the two, links and hits, into some sort of weighted ranking structure.

Well, that's about all of the ideas I can think of right now. Looking back at all of the suggestions, about the only thing I left out was a free class on how to do your own scripting. I honestly don't expect you to honor all of these ideas but I hope this provides you some functional feedback on what your customers would like to see. Again, thank you for your incredible and free (we remember the free part) service.

Jeremy H. Bol
American Warmonger

UPDATE!: They have responded. They made quick about it too. I sent it to them the same time I posted. Here's the response:

Hi there,

Thanks for submitting your Wish List item. We greatly value feedback from
our users and review every submission.

-Blogger Support

At least they read their messages. I have no idea if they took anything for action or just round filed it, but at least they read it.

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