December 31, 2014

Midway updation of Indian best blogs directory

We have updated the Directory of Best Indian Blogs, 2013-14 edition to include some fine blogs that we found after its initial release on 30th May 2014. We also had to remove some blogs that have deteriorated since that date, in terms of regularity or content. We also had to remove two blogs that, in our humble opinion, do no longer fit in the category of blogs. Some of the blogs belonging to newspaper and TV portals decayed during the year, and some tech blogs too. A blog came up with a sticky and irritating pop-up and had to be taken away. 

Do have a look at the new blogs in the Directory, listed below:


abracabadra Abracadabra
chaiandcheese Chai and Cheese
colors colorsfash
maverickbird maverickbird
riyazsheena DIABETES !!
techn0treats TechnoTreats 

PS: If you want to know about our blog selection process, findings etc, do visit the link given here.

December 29, 2014

thoughtburps

Jay Shah - Musings & Memoirs
There are many things that keep going in my mind and sometimes I pen them down. On this blog I write about my travel experiences, poems, fiction and some random thoughts.  - Jay Shah








December 26, 2014

Updating the Directory of Best Indian Blogs

We are updating the current edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs.

It saddens us again and again when we see some good quality blogs going slack, more so when we see the seemingly infallible blogs fall badly. This updation is no exception. What we found this time is that some technology blogs that had grown fast and big have eaten dust. The reason in the case of tech blogs, we believe, is that the bloggers opted for blogging for quick money but their expectations have not come true. We will examine the blogosphere and individual tech blogs later and come out with a detailed post on that. For now, let's advise bloggers wanting to earn big through tech blogs to be patient and think long-term. If they don't have patience, they may consider finding some better way to earn quick money.

We are, at the same time, glad that we have discovered some nice blog. A few of them are those we had included in earlier editions of the Directory, then these become passive and have now become active and good again. Welcome new great Indian blogs; the Directory is richer with your inclusion.


For ITB here, 2014 was a modest but purposeful year, as all earlier ones have been. And we have tried to present to you India's best blogs in English and Hindi, and some useful advice on myriad topics. Due to our other commitments and frequent tours by two of our team members, we are not active on social networks though we had thought we would. 

We need your support to keep doing this small job sincerely, genuinely and with all fairness.

Don't forget to see on 31st December the new inclusions in the Directory.

Best wishes for the new year! 

December 23, 2014

4 reasons why you must not write for search engines

This post was provoked by an advice we found on the website of an Indian SEO 'expert'. It stated something like this [obviously, we have not copied the text verbatim]: If your site is not popular on Google etc, one big reason is that you don't know how to write in a way that search engines lap you up. We teach you how to write for search engines, so that your website is always on top pages of search engines for all keywords in your area of work. 

What is 'writing for search engines'?

Writing in which we stuff keywords, anchor text and links so that search engines are fooled to believe that the content is rich in those keywords etc. This is supposed to result in such webpages being on top search pages and in turn great traffic flowing to the website.

Don't let your blog or website have search engine-targeted writing even if offered free. In any case, don't pay to get it done. 

Why, you might ask, are we asking not to attract search engines with your writing. After all, you want more and more people to visit your blog or website, isn't it? Read on to find answers...

1. Writing for humans keeps the language flowing; all other writing is affected.

When you write in a way that stuffs keywords at the cost of flow of language, it irritates the reader. In doing so, or linking unrelated webpages (and overdoing either of the two), you'll need to break the natural flow of writing. (e.g. People get thalesemia often. You can't get thalesemia drug that cures thalesemia. The wornder medicine for thalesemia is not seen in any thalesemia drug store but in our thalesemia clinic.) 

In natural writing, you seldom use the same keyword again and again but you use synonyms. Even then, you do not harp on the same thing too much. Those who teach writing primarily for search engines too tell you to use synonyms so that search engines are not able to see your trick. But if your thoughts are broken by the need to stuff keywords in one form or other, it will seldom be a good writing.

2. Writing for humans is what modern search engines like; they don't like naked keywords

If you have been taking interest in Google's frequent modifications of 'search algorithm', you must have realised that modern search engines are trying to throw up the most relevant results in response to natural queries. Google wants to explain to the searcher the reason for thalasemia when he asks this question 'Why do people get thalesemia?' In one of algorithm updates, Google even explained how it dislikes keywords packed in a para artificially as given in the example in point 1 above.

3. When you apply a successful but bluffing trick today, search engines will likely penalise you for it tomorrow

Black-hat SEO 'experts' and search engines seem to be racing against each other, much like thieves and the police. Such SEO guys constantly invent and apply new hacks, exploit loopholes in search algorithms and come out with some other trick to fool search engines. Once these tricks are caught by search engines, they penalise the tricksters. This keeps on happening. In fact, in doing so, sometimes the search engines end up punishing well-intentioned and ethical SEO practices also. 

The notions of what is ethical and what is not (and what is ideal and what is not) keep changing. If yesterday, somebody analysed that keyword density of 4 per hundred words was ideal, it might look too much today; if they said you must have keywords equally distributed, today they might start saying that keywords should be more towards the conclusion part of the passage.

4. All tricks are for short term; quality content is forever

Tricks, by their very nature, can succeed in the short term. Luckily, in the case of website writing and blogging, there is a much more potent and long-term tool for attracting viewers: good content. Even ethical SEO tricks cannot work unless backed with good content. If you write primarily for the search engine, your writing will not be of top quality and people who come to your website on the strength of SEO will feel cheated and quickly desert your blog. Do you need visitors who come to you once (and occasionally giving you a traffic boost) and leave OR visitors who come but visit a number of your pages, take your advice, possibly buy your stuff and (the most important thing:) tell others about your good website / blog?

So, no SEO? Are we suggesting that we should shun keywords and linking?

No friends. You should make your websites and blogs as search friendly as possible. However, the target of your content should be people (who'd love it for the content and will come back on the basis of content and will tell others and bookmark your page and ...) and you should write for them, not search engines. Once you have written the piece, think of adding value by substituting weak expressions with more relevant and powerful words, putting relevant links and making the hyperlinked text (=anchor text) self-explanatory. Again, don't overdo these, especially linking. That much of SEO is ethical and it is effective enough. 

December 21, 2014

anunoys

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
http://anunoys.blogspot.in/


Anunoy-Indian-blog


A backpacker's journal for his amateurish poetry, stories, Articles, reviews and indulgence on point & shoot photography

- Anunoy Samanta

December 18, 2014

Throw a party if your blog is hated by all!

A century or so has passed since Dale Carnegie published 'How to Win Friends and Influence People'. Millions of people have read this and similar self-improvement books and many more have attended lectures by people who make you believe that to be popular, you need to be loved.

We also know that people get famous when they are mired in some controversy. The bigger the controversy, the more people talk about the involved person. Some politicians master the art of remaining in controversy to remain relevant.

When it comes to being popular, it pays to be controversial - and be hated - much more than being friendly. This is more pronounced on social media, and blogging is no exception.

So, if you want to be popular quickly, write or show things (and make comments on others' blogs) or link to content that people will not agree to. In a social media discussion, bring in a surprisingly odd viewpoint. When writing on a social topic, take a tangent towards unconventional wisdom. Others will quarrel, shout, abuse... and the more they lose nerve, the more popular you are! If someone calls you a 'troll', take it in your stride and shout at him more loudly; this will lead to a barrage of hate against you. That will be the time to quietly leave the scene, only to come back at the next opportune moment.

We have done a small research on the trending topics on social networks. Believe us, all of them except a minuscule, have turned viral on the strength of controversy. 

Of course, controversy sells better on Twitter and Facebook, but blogs too can make use of it. In Hindi blogosphere, there are groups of bloggers who keep fighting with each other. That generates a lot of spark and - as you would have guessed by now - the more abusive a post against the opposite camp, the brighter the comments, from one's own tribe as well as adversaries. 

So friends, we have stopped telling fellow bloggers to be moderate in criticism and to follow etiquette. That, we now find, makes the blog boring and commonplace. We have also dug up our college wisdom: nobody knows about a studious boy, everybody knows the rowdy. If you are still not convinced, tell us about your blog on which you'd write a controversial post and we'd make an abusive comment and we will together enjoy our popularity. ;) 


This is the reality, even if you find it bitter. A pinch of satire has been sprinked by Prabhakar.

December 15, 2014

How do terrorists manage to be one up on governments?

Twitter suspended the official accounts of Pakistan-based terror organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa and its chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, last week. In a few hours, the accounts resurfaced with '1' added after the Twitter IDs and claimed that suspension of accounts was illegal and the social media platform had bowed to India, 'world's darkest democracy'. These accounts too were suspended. 

The United Nations has put sanctions against Jamat as a terrorist organisation. India has given numerous proofs to Pakistan, from where Saeed operates with impunity (and official help), of Saeed being the mastermind behind 26/11 serial blasts in Mumbai.

Four accounts lost, do you think Saeed and his outfit are any weaker on the social media? By now, they and their sympathisers must have opened many more accounts with vengeance. And they already have tried to create the impression in social media that an anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmiri Indian government and its partner-in-crimeTwitter have been harassing a holy man fighting for a holy cause.

This week, a UK TV channel reported that a Bangalore (=Bengaluru) based employee of an Indian conglomerate was running the most influential Twitter account for ISIS, with about 17700 followers. The account was closed by the IS sympathiser, #Mehdi Biswas following the TV report. But, as was expected, at least two accounts with similar names have come to light.

It is through social networking platforms that ISIS has been prompting youth in western nations (especially Europe) and elsewhere to join 'the Islamic war' in Iraq. During investigation leading to his arrested, the police said, 'He was particularly close to the English-speaking terrorists of ISIS and became a source of incitement and information for the new recruits trying to join ISIS/ISIL.' Mehdi is reported to have said to the TV channel that he would have joined ISIS had he not the responsibility to feed his family in India. 

DIGITAL WAR AGAINST TERROR: governments' nightmare


Major nations around the world are reported to be closely monitoring terrorist activities by using latest technologies to mine social media content and analyse it with the help of sophisticated tools. In fact, such data analysis has become a big business for IT companies. Governments then use legal and not-so-legal means to stop propagation of terror and other criminal content and take action against the originators and propagators of such content. 

Major governments are also reported to have launched a digital propaganda war against terror and crime. This, it appears, is supposed to be more effective than just spying over the net and taking on the culprits. For example, the United States has launched a strong social media offensive against ISIS and Al-Qaeda. The strategy, it looks, is to make light of radical social messages through use of counter-messages and posting antidotal content on YouTube and other popular visual sites.

As per newspaper reports, US officials have been targeting social accounts with terror links at least for the last two years. The targets mainly are social network entities of Islamic terrorism perpetrators and sympathisers inimical to American interests. There is also much more and proactive flooding of cyberspace with serious content on peace, condemnation of terrorist acts, messages from opinion leaders, paying tribute to those slain by terrorists and so on.

In India, the Intelligence Bureau and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) are supposed to be taking covert actions against terror-linked social media interactions, but no public statements about their activities are available. Indian government is among those who request Twitter and Google routinely to bring down objectionable content. There are reports of Indian government telling employees not to be indiscreet on social media platforms and avoid discussions on sensitive issues. In this month itself, the Home Ministry has asked government officials to be cautious on social networks and the Army has cautioned its officers against Kashmiri separatists mis-interpreting social media discussions to mislead youth.

Deep search of the web, legal action, international cooperation and forward intelligence might help in checking 'trending' of terror content and use of the web for major crimes such as drug trade and smuggling. But, when it comes to use of social media for influencing youth, it is a constant guerrilla war in which there are no battles, and so no clear-cut wins. Actions such as filling up social media space through positive and counter-terrorism content on one hand and caution against playing into the hands of terrorists would work but slowly. These two examples show that governments are going to be on their toes trying to catch up with vitiated minds.


Want to read a related article?: abuse of social media

December 12, 2014

Updating Indian best blog directory, are you in? If in, are you safe?

We are currently updating the Directory of Best Indian Blogs 2013-14

As in the past, we'd check all the blogs in the Directory for updates and content, and remove blogs that have deteriorated in the last six months. We concede, it will be a modest, not thorough, checking. Our experience says, we'd lose 5 to 10 blogs.

We'd also add excellent blogs that have come to our notice after publication of this edition in May 2014. If you have come across a blog that you think deserves to be in the Directory, do drop an email to us at : kp.nd.2008@gmail.com 

We hope to bring out the updated Directory on 31 December.



===========
In the meantime, we are sending quick reviews to bloggers who have submitted their blogs through email and a few who participated in our Clean India Campaign. 

December 8, 2014

Obama, Pope n Modi top Twitter chart: 2014 global study

How world leaders use Twitter: study highlights 

  • @BarackObama, @Pope and @NarendraModi are the most followed world leaders.
  • @SushmaSwaraj is the most followed foreign minister in the world.
  • Most world leaders do not talk, just speak; and they do not tweet themselves.
  • Narcissists? Quite a few top leaders like to post selfies.
  • Twitter is being used more and more for diplomacy.
  • 32 national governments still do not have a Twitter account.

Who are the most followed Twitterati and how influential are they?

Twiplomacy has come out with its annual global study ‘looking at the use of Twitter by heads of state and government and ministers of foreign affairs’ for 2014.

According to the comprehensive Twitter list on Twiplomacy more than 3,500 embassies and ambassadors are now active on Twitter. World leaders tweet in more than 53 different languages, but English is the most popular language on Twitter. However, among world leaders and foreign ministries, the Spanish accounts are the most active, followed by English and French accounts.

The study found that the vast majority (83%) of the 193 UN member countries have a presence on Twitter. More than two-thirds (67%) of all heads of state and heads of government in have personal accounts on the social network. However, the Twitter craze is not evenly spread around the globe.
The 32 countries without an official Twitter presence are in Africa, Asia and the central Pacific.

The most active Twitter account among all foreign offices, Venezuelan presidency (@PresidencialVen) publishes 32 tweets a day. The Mexican Presidency (@PresidenciaMX) and the Foreign Ministry of Venezuela (@vencancilleria) come next.

The @BarackObama account, set up in early 2007, has been on Twitter’s suggested user list and is still growing as it is often suggested to new Twitter users. Barack Obama was the first world leader to set up a Twitter account when he was still a senator. Most world leaders started their Twitter accounts in 2010 and 2011.

Thirty-one accounts of world leaders are inactive and have never sent a single tweet, and seven are protected accounts. Many politicians use social media in general, and Twitter in particular, only during election campaigns.

The study says, leaders of populous countries have a clear advantage in garnering a large army of dedicated followers. That, the study seems to imply, is behind the meteoric rise in popularity of @NarendraModi and @SushmaSwaraj accounts. The study says, since his election in late May 2014, India’s new Prime Minister @NarendraModi has moved to third place. However, Modi (8.9 million followers) still is nowhere near the U.S. President @BarackObama (49.1 million followers) and Pope Francis @Pontifex (16 million followers). India’s @SushmaSwaraj is the most followed foreign minister with 1.9 million followers.

However, it’s Pope Francis, not Obama, who is the most influential Twitter global leader. @BarackObama tweets are re-tweeted 1,195 times on average whereas Pope Francis @Pontifex gets more than 10,000 re-tweets for every tweet he sends in Spanish and 6,436 re-tweets in English. He maintains account in these two languages.


Habits of world leaders

Since its last study in July 2013, Twiplomacy has found that foreign ministers and their institutions have intensified their efforts to create mutual connections on Twitter. French Foreign Minister @LaurentFabius has become the best connected foreign minister, mutually connected with 99 other peers and world leaders. It helps these leaders in directly messaging each other and having private conversations.

Europe’s leading foreign ministers and foreign ministries follow each other and have created a virtual diplomatic network on Twitter. The Swedish Foreign Ministry has been leading #DigitalDiplomacy. It recently invited 30 digital diplomats to the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy. This meeting has given birth to a diplomatic network of social media practitioners.

However (and is it unexpected?), few world leaders are actually doing their own tweeting.

In addition, they follow only a few other world leaders, if any. @BarackObama follows only two world leaders, Norway’s Prime Minister @Erna_Solberg and Russia’s PM Dmitry Medvedev (@MedvedevRussiae). Obviously, U.S. President @BarackObama and the @WhiteHouse are the most popular among their peers; they are followed by 228 and 191 peers respectively. The @WhiteHouse and other official U.S. government accounts do not follow @BarackObama, as there is a legal separation between the U.S. government accounts and personal campaign accounts.

World leaders and governments are not known for their design skills, the study reveals. Only a few institutions regularly change the header picture to highlight special events. Half of the accounts also have a background that has become almost irrelevant.

Many world leaders take to publishing selfies with other world leaders or their admirers.


What do the global leaders' tweets say?

The top world leaders, as per Twitter following, have one thing in common: they have discovered Twitter as a powerful tool, but it is a one-way broadcasting tool for them as they just speak, not talk. Only a few world leaders reply to their followers’ mentions.

African leaders seem to use Twitter solely to converse with their followers. Rwanda’s President @PaulKagame is the most conversational world leader with 87% of his tweets being replies to other Twitter users.

Over the past year, foreign ministries and world leaders have used hashtags to promote specific issues, be it #BringBackOurGirls or #ENDViolence against children.

Indian Top Blogs has many posts on use of social media, especially by politicians and other leaders. This one is specifically on use of social media by world leaders.

December 6, 2014

A blog devoted to Bhil tribes: Anarkali

We came across this wonderful blog, Anarkali, being maintained by Rahul Banerjee for the last eight years.


Unlike majority of blogs, which pertain to our own lives or our selfish passions, this blog relates to the lives of Bhils - a large community of Indian indigenous people.

As elsewhere, such people are subjugated to the diktats of 'modern' development, and are caught between the need to progress and the need to live a self-fulfilling, pristine traditional life. 

Anarkali has exceptionally rich archives on different aspects of Bhil life.

December 3, 2014

Easiest search optimization trick: give links to old blog posts

If you ask me what is the Search Engine Optimization (=SEO) best practice that you can follow without much effort and with great impact, I will say, link quality material in your website’s archives with your current post. (If you do not understand SEO, please go to this ITB post; look here for all ITB posts on SEO.)

Called ‘internal linking’ in SEO parlance, linking to archives leads to deeper visitor involvement in your blog/ website and better discovery of the its quality content that would otherwise lay hidden. This results in higher positioning of your site on search engines, higher traffic, higher chance of making money and so on.   

But internal linking is not just routine SEO and that is the reason I called it as SEO best practice! By linking your old content with a new post, you give the reader additional information on the subject without your having to repeat it.

You can give links to earlier posts by many ways such as -

  • Text links within passages, mentioning specifically about the earlier post (an example from IndianTopBlogs is linked here)
  • Text links using relevant keywords or as examples (The present post is a great example of use of keyword / example linking)
  • List at the beginning or end of the post (an example of 'related posts' list is given here). Many bloggers generate a list of earlier posts with ‘Related posts’ plugin, which is fine but not that effective. You should do it manually.

You MUST link your earlier posts when you run a series of posts. (an ITB example of serial posts is given here).

Consider taking the link to a new window instead of letting it open on top of the current post. This gives the reader the freedom to keep browsing the present post and looking at the link later, or going to the link and coming back to the present post, without a need for pressing 'back' button on the browser.

To open the link in a new window, you need to add target="_blank" within the link tag as given below:
Best Indian Blogs Directory: This link will open the ITB directory on top of the current post. Its html is: <a href="http://www.indiantopblogs.com/p/the-directory-of-best-indian-blogs.html">Best Indian Blogs Directory</a> 
Best Indian Blogs Directory: This link will open the ITB directory in a new window. Its html is: <a href="http://www.indiantopblogs.com/p/the-directory-of-best-indian-blogs.html" target="_blank">Best Indian Blogs Directory</a> 

If you are on Blogger platform, the post editor gives you the option to open the link on top of the current window or in a new window, as shown below.

internal linking is great SEO when done within limits


You should not overdo internal linking (The present post does it a bit on the higher side, for a reason). 

Putting convoluted keywords with the sole purpose of giving a link is a bad way of internal linking as it often irritates the reader and is also not supposed to be good SEO.

Before linking to a previous post, take care to see that the old post is relevant to the present discussion and has valuable, not routine, stuff.

Best of blogging!
- Prabhakar

December 1, 2014

hindi-bharat

Hindi-Bharat (हिन्दी-भारत)

A Hindi blog by Dr. Kavita Vachaknvi

भारत व भारतीयता से जुड़े सभी साहित्यिक, सांस्कृतिक व सामाजिक प्रयासों, हिन्दी में रचनात्मक लेखन (विविध विधाएँ), भाषिक मंतव्यों, जीवनमूल्यों एवं पारस्परिक आदान-प्रदान की अभिवृद्धि हेतु एक ब्लॉग.

November 28, 2014

Have you backed up your Google, Blogger, Picasa assets?

Do you know that you can take a take a back up of all your web properties on Google: Gmail, Blogger blogs, Google Plus, Google docs, YouTube, Google drive, customized Google maps etc in a single click?

Yes, you can, using a lesser-known tool provided by Google itself. To access the tool, you need to go to the Google Takeout page.

Here we'd brief you on how to 'take out' all the posts of one or more (or all) of your Blogger blogs.
  • Go to the Google Takeout page linked above. Be sure that you are logged into your Google account.
  • Scroll down to the section 'Select data to include'.
  • Unselect all properties and then select 'Blogger'. There is a small 'down arrow' next to the selection link (green button) to select specific blogs or all blogs. 
  • To archive photos associated with Blogger, click 'Picasa' in addition to 'Blogger'.
This tool archives data in various types of Google accounts in different formats. Blog posts are archived in a zipped file which opens into a file in Atom format.

The Atom file that you get using this tool is same as the file you get when you export your Blogger blog using 'Export Blog' tool inside Blogger. You can import the Atom file directly into most blogging platforms including Blogger and Wordpress.

November 25, 2014

Clean India Campaign: we'd review blogs in coming days

Thanks to all who joined our short Clean India Campaign. 

It was a good diversion from our core activity, Yet, we received some good pledges. We'd review all blogs associated with the campaigns and review those with the best pledges in detail. We'd keep the reviews confidential.

In the meantime, we got busy surveying the blogosphere and checking the existing blogs in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs, for mid-year review of the Directory. So, the blog reviews might take some time to reach some bloggers.

As we did not receive many pledges, we'd not announce 'best' pledges etc.

Best of blogging, friends!

November 22, 2014

Blogger features: search, language, feed and contact form

This is the last post in this series on Blogger's great features. The complete list of these posts is given at the end of this post. This has been updated in Feb 2016.


Create a customized search engine for your website


Have you seen a simple search box in the right column of IndianTopBlogs.com? You can easily put similar or a more complex search gadget (=widget) on your Blogger blog. In addition, you can customize this gadget to search only your website, linked sites or the entire www. You can make the search gadget here. You can put this gadget on any website or blog if that platform allows you to place an html gadget on the blog.


Want to have blogging tools and tips in your own language?


On the top right hand of your Blogger dashboard, there is an option to change language from the standard English. If you change that to Arabic, Bangla, Hindi or Russian, you will then get tools, tips etc in the language that you selected. However, if you want to write posts or pages in a particular language, you will have to change the language in the editor for that post/page.


Adding feed on your blog and taking it elsewhere


Feed in internet terms refers to updated information coming from web-sources, e.g. post updates from blogs, and news headlines from a news portal. 

If you want to automatically list 'latest posts' from your blog on that blog itself, you have a gadget for that. However, if you want to take your blog's feed elsewhere or bring another blog/ website's feed to your blog, paste the feed URL in a widget that allows linking (on Blogger, you have 'Feed' and 'Html' gadgets for that).  

The URL of a Blogger blog's feed has the following structure:

For feed of blog posts (It will give list of latest posts):
http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
e.g. http://indian-blog-list.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss

For feed of comments (It will give list of latest comments):
http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default?alt=rss
e.g. http://indian-blog-list.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default?alt=rss


Why not have an instant contact form on the blog?


Blogger has a gadget for putting a contact form on the blog. This gadget has a text box where visitors can leave their identity and message, and you get the messages in your email!

Some third-party contact forms are reported to steal your identity for their purposes, so we advise you to use Blogger's inbuilt contact form. At present, it comes as the top gadget when you go to 'Layout', click on 'Add a Gadget' and then on 'More Gadgets'.

In February 2016, we at IndianTopBlogs stopped receiving comments on posts and pages; the contact form is coming handy to receive instant comments.

All posts in this series:
1. An introduction to common features of Blogger platform 
2. Some Blogger features explained
3. Labels, widgets, themes and blog permissions
4. Export, import and back up your blog
5. Blog's html, and money making from Blogger blog

November 19, 2014

Modi keeps ahead of others in use of social media, once again!

Indian politicians have adopted social media in a big way in the last few years. People and parties critical of socially active politicians have also seen the benefit of connecting with people, especially the youth, through Facebook and Twitter. 

And while these newbies and old ones who are not too popular on social media thought they'd catch up with Modi one day, he has taken to a platform they all hardly considered of any use for politicians. Last week, Modi joined Instagram!

Modi shared his first photo on Instagram from the ASEAN Summit held at Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar. Before that, he has used Flickr and other social networking, bookmarking and sharing platforms to promote his programmes such as the 'Clean India Campaign'.

Back to Modi's Instagram account. In the last six days, over 120 thousand people have already followed the account though Modi has posted only one photo on this account. Indian youth and people of Indian origin abroad seem to be very much enamored of Modi's persona, otherwise Modi's largely one-way communication goes against the basics of social media.

By the way, Modi first took to blogging and still maintains the blog well. (Noticed that Modi's blog is now part of a biggish portal?) We have come to know that while Tweets etc going out in his name are proposed and drafted by his backend team, he likes to particularly read and re-do his blog posts. 

Shibu Soren and JMM online? Yes, you heard it right.

Just to give you an update on how Indian politicians are faring online, we found that Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, the present ruling party of Jharkhand, has recently launched its website and they have made it rather well, borrowing some points from BJP. It is also reported that the mentor of the party, Shibu Soren, 70, is being encouraged by his grand-daughters to use social media. But we do not see good engagement as of now on his or Hemant Soren's (Sibu's son and Chief Minister of the state) Facebook accounts and they do not seem promising. 

It is interesting to know how politicians have been using social media for connecting with people. We earlier carried many posts around this topic including this one that surveys the entire spectrum. 

November 16, 2014

Parents beware! Your children might be at grave risk online.

McAfee, the well-known computer security firm, has come out with a survey on social media behaviour of Indian children.

In its report issued last week, McAfee reveals that one-third Indian youngsters (8-19 years) have been cyber-bullied. It also says, while over two-thirds of Indian parents seem confident about their kids' online behaviour, more than half of the kids say they visit inappropriate content on the web and they are smarter than their parents in hiding their activities. What a disconnect!

The details should make parents worried, and they must take note and guide their children about what is right and what is wrong about online activities.

EARLY AND TOO MUCH EXPOSURE

52% of India’s youth of tween (8-12 years) and teen (13-19 years) ages access their social media accounts while at school and 27% on smart devices. Not much check on their browsing, it seems.Though the minimum age to register on social networking sites like Facebook is 13,  57% kids of 10-12 year age report daily access to internet!

SHARING IDENTITY, RISKING OWN LIVES

While 80% of Indian youth are aware that their online activity can affect their identity, 92% have done something risky online. Out of these, 70% have posted their contact details like email ID, phone and home address online. This puts them at great risk from cyber criminals. 

But read further to see how they don't stop at that.

ENGAGEMENT WITH STRANGERS

Youth are increasingly trusting unknown people in the virtual world in spite of being aware that it is risky. 53% have met someone in person after getting acquainted online. 63% of youth do not turn off their location or GPS services across apps, leaving their locations visible to strangers.

There does not seem much restraint chatting with strangers: 52 % respondents admitted chatting with strangers during online gaming and 49% on TV show fan pages. 42% tweeted live during chat shows by celebrities and others.

In trying to be more acceptable, about two-thirds of these youth re-invented their online personality, got bold and were ready to put themselves in danger to see more engagement. They felt more accepted online than in real life, especially when they got 'likes'.

CYBER-BULLYING AND ITS IMPACT ON KIDS' LIVES

About 50% of these online youth had some experience with cyber-bullying. This led to anger and embarrassment in the real world. Can we infer that cyber-bullying and other forms of deviant online behaviour might lead to a vicious cycle in which the young ones get more prone to such online and offline problems?

PART OF IT IS DUE TO IGNORANCE

More than half of the kids surveyed claimed that online risks did not apply to them: 55% thought they were not old enough to worry about their identity being stolen and 51% didn't care about having privacy online. 

WHAT DO THEY BROWSE?

Facebook was found to be the most popular site used (93%), followed by YouTube (87%) and WhatsApp (79%). Interestingly, 10-12 year olds reported higher daily access to Snapchat, Pinterest, Tinder, Tumblr and Vine than their teen counterparts. (The minimum age to register on these social networking sites is 13 years.)

PARENTS IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE!

Only 46% say their parents have had a conversation with them about online safety. 52% said, their parents simply didn't care. About 64% hid their personalities so as not to be discovered by parents. Not only that, nearly the same percentage of youth thought their parents couldn't keep up with them when it came to technology.

In this survey, 711 male and equal number of female respondents from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Pune were asked questions about their online behaviour. You can see more details of the survey here: internet behaviour of Indian tweens and teens

WHAT MUST PARENTS DO FOR ONLINE SAFETY OF THEIR KIDS?

Parents (and if they find themselves not up to the challenge, they must assign this job to a trusted guardian) must take care of at least the following so that children are not exposed to inappropriate content and cyber crime.

  • Try to learn technology and gadgets that your kids are using or are likely to use.
  • Know the risks of online presence. Before you can discuss these matters with kids, you must yourselves know the risks in using email, apps, chat and other tools for online presence.
  • Discuss things out with children. Do not pontificate; do not advise on matters in which they will not value your wisdom. 
  • Have supportive attitude when talking to them about such matters, especially when they are under cyber attack or they admit to having done something wrong.
  • With small kids, engage when they want to do online and even offline computer-related activities such as playing games. 
  • Try to understand the risks; promote activities that are interesting but safe if not educative too.
  • Disable harmful apps, settings etc on computers, laptops and other devices. Depending upon the child's age and understanding, do this after you have discussed these aspects with the child. The least, install a malware filtering firewall and block pop-ups. Enable parental control and safety settings on the browser.

Do visit our two-part series on kid blogging, which, we are sure, you will find relevant to this discussion.

November 14, 2014

chaiandcheese

Indian Fashion and Beauty Blog
www.chaiandcheese.com


"A fashion blog that covers everything fashionable... It has reviews of lifestyle products, emulates latest fashion trends and carries interviews with upcoming designers. It also showcases such designers' talented products, thereby giving them access to to a larger audience. 
It is a one stop shop for everything in vogue."

- Ragini Varma

November 11, 2014

A small blogging tip to remain focused: find your goal

One life-changing advice I received long back, when I was a student, that for success in any project in life, you need to write down the goal in no more than a short sentence. I forgot this dictum soon but when it came back to me during a management training, I took it to my heart. It has helped me focus my energies to the task in hand more than anything else. 

So this is my personal advice to bloggers. Write down in one short sentence why you are running your blog(s). Try to zero in to the single most important reason out of many that might come to your mind. Try to find a real (not imagined) reason. Try to make it as specific as possible. Re-check to make sure you are not fooling yourself. 

Your goal need not be a complicated corporate goal but if you intend to blog to make a big impact in the society or in your personal life (including making money out of it), it will have to be powerful statement. A great number of bloggers who have opened a blog as a hobby are likely to find it difficult to find a goal; but a blogging goal you must have. Maybe, the blog acts as a punching bag and helps you relieve tension OR it is a place where you jot down your ideas that you cannot express elsewhere OR it helps you share ideas with your friends… In each of such cases, you can still have a clear goal. If you did not have a goal till now, you can look for a new goal. 


Making your goal specific helps even when you think you have a general goal. Fine, you want to have a general goal that sums up your vision. Distill this to targets against which you can constantly check your progress. Set a number of specific targets within that overarching general goal. For example, if your blog seeks to help alcoholics quit drinking, a definite goal will help you retain focus and give you energy to reach as many alcoholics as you can and help them choose the remedies best suited to individual addicts.


Now analyse how achievable that goal is. Even if it is achievable, will you be in a position to put the resources (money / time / attention / knowledge and expertise / …) in use that it requires?


Draw a timeline for achieving the goal. Have short, medium and long-term milestones that you will like to reach, and with the required effort you WILL reach. Setting timeline-linked targets makes the job more achievable. 


Also analyse whether that goal will, if achieved, fit in your overall scheme of things. For example, your goal is to turn the blog a full-time business and as per your plan, the blog will earn you a hundred thousand bucks every year after two years from now and grow at 20% a year thereafter. Suppose your research shows that you WILL achieve this goal. You must now ask such questions: Will the effort be worth it? Will that money be enough to let you leave your current job and engage in blogging full time? Will the activities (e.g. in the case of food and fashion blogs, participating in public activities) crucial for blog's success take more of your energy than alternate activities? Etc, etc. 


I'm sure that at the end of this small exercise, you'll have given a direction to your blogging and found where you stand. Believe me, it helps to remain focused. In blogging, as well.



- a personal take by Prabhakar

November 8, 2014

Singapore HC finds blogger guilty of defaming PM

Singapore High Court has found a blogger guilty of defaming the island nation's Prime Minister. 

In his blog 'The Heart Truths', Roy Ngerng Yi Ling, had alleged irregularities in the management of Singapore's mandatory retirement savings scheme, the Central Provident Fund. 

PM Lee's lawyer has written to Roy Ngerng asking him to take down the original article and links posted on his Facebook pages and to offer apology. 

"My articles have been calling for greater accountability and transparency, and instead of acknowledging these issues, the prime minister has decided to sue me,'' Ngerng says, the news agency AFP has reported, "I am quite disappointed and at this point. I am still in discussion with my lawyer on my next course of action.''

With mainstream media generally supporting PM Lee, critics find the social media suitable for raising their voices. Some media watch groups and social media platforms have come out in support of the blogger and criticised this attempt to silence criticism. 

November 5, 2014

Blog jointly for great blogging performance

Are you, as a blogger, suffering from any of these?
  • Pressure to keep writing week after week.
  • Initial thrill of blogging declining.
  • Difficulty in finding new topics.
  • Blogging feels like a drag on your time and energy.
  • Poor interactivity: few visitors and few comments.
  • No money coming though the blog was meant primarily to make money.

Don’t worry; this happens to most bloggers. However, the successful among them find ways to overcome such blogging issues.

One very effective way to successful blogging is to blog together. You can make your friend or spouse or children or office colleagues or any other person whom you trust and whose views resonate with yours on the blog’s theme. You will agree that in such collaborative efforts require trust and commitment to support each other much more than anything else.

Blogging platforms allow you to have a number of ‘authors’ of a blog, each with same or different roles. You can allow this on a self-hosted blog in different ways. There can be many ways you might like the co-bloggers to collaborate.

Based on the heirarchy the bloggers follow among themselves, the collaboration may follow either of the two models (or a mix of these):

The equal peer model

One common way to have joint blogging is to open a blog (or work on an existing blog) in which many members are equal (or near-equal) partners. All write posts in their own names or anonymously. They can also have an author list in the sidebar in which names are linked to all the posts created by that author.

The leader and team model

In this type of joint blogging, one blogger takes the lead in maintaining the blog while others just contribute their posts. This style would suit a blog maintained by a school or an official group in which there are leaders / bosses and team members. The real team leader may not be the leader (=administrator) of the blog but may assign this role to a person comfortable with blog design and technology or subject expertise.

You can also look at blogging collaboration from the point of what each member contributes. You can have different models of cooperation here too:

The complementary model

Bloggers can take up different roles that complement each other. There can be one dealing with content, one with design and commenting, another with research and monetisation, etc etc. In IndianTopBlogs, we have given the role of social media interactions to one of our team members and blog showcasing to another, while compilation of directories etc is done by all (four) together.

The complimentary model

This is not joint blogging but supporting each other’s blogs. This support can be in the form of linking with the other blog’s content, commenting, writing critique about the other or directly promoting each other's blog. 
Sometimes we overuse this and sometimes we use our own multiple blogs to promote each other. This is not appreciated and so doesn’t pay in the long run.

There are many other types of collaborative blogging that you can try for a better blogging experience and benefits. Some examples:

You become member of a blogging community and contribute. A large number of such communities exist on the web. But you will have to follow the community's rules.
Closed communities allow you to register and publish blogs. But your blog is seen within the community only.
Less closely woven and more open communities allow you to register and publish blogs that are as public as independent blogs. However, members have certain advantages in terms of commenting etc.
You can open a multi-author blog and invite like-minded bloggers to contribute. Many literary blogs run this way.

There are many ways you can maintain your own identity and yet collaborate with others. Complimenting one another's blogs as mentioned above can be one way. Commenting helps in coming closer to other bloggers. You can submit your blog to blog aggregators. That too helps in blogs coming together. However, nothing beats joint blogging in terms of gains.

JOINT BLOGGING PAYS IN MANY unseen WAYS


Depending upon how you collaborate and how you synergise one another's strengths, you can multiply the effectiveness of the blog. At the same time, your weaknesses are compensated for. You now has someone with whom you can discuss the theme, the design, the prospects... You now have your in-house critic so that what goes out is of high quality; you also have an in-house mentor / supporter / encourager. You can jointly think of taking the blog to the heights that you alone might not have dared to. Joint blogging helps greatly if you get busy for some time; others keep the blog going on.

Whichever way suits you, joint blogging is a great way to go. However, as we said before, trust and commitment to support each other are the first and foremost requirements for success of any collaboration.