August 30, 2014

Text in images: how much is too much?

Bloggers many times put text inside images with different things in mind. At times it works to their advantage while many times it makes the blog look childish.

Take the example of small sayings superimposed tastefully on images. In such cases, the entire piece looks like a piece of art and gives the text an iconic identity. You can see some examples of this in these two posts: 1 , 2. But this, like a special effect, should not be overdone in blog posts.

Text works fine as an image or inside an image, when put as the title of the blog. It helps in recall of the blog’s identity.

Poet bloggers often use a background image to enhance intensity of their poems. Some blogs excel in beautifully composing their small posts of quotations etc with appropriate images. This all is fine but only if the basics of readability, design etc are kept in mind. We have earlier dealt with this and other related aspects at this link on placing images on blogs.

We have seen a good number of blogs with background images that run behind some columns or the entire blog. Sometimes a picture is repeated (tiled) over and over to cover the entire screen. Bloggers also apply ready-made beautiful themes to their blogs. When you do any of these, keep in mind its readability. When your blog has a lot of text, avoid using images with too much variation in color and contrast as background behind the text. Also avoid tiling an image behind the text. A better way is to use the image on the margins and corners or in the top / bottom portions of the blog where you have only some links, very bold text or no text.

Image embedded text: is it copy-proof?

A number of bloggers put text into an image just to make copying the text difficult. This does make the life of the plagiarist difficult to that extent, but it is no guarantee that a dogged plagiarist will not type out the text and use it. An innocent blogger told us once that she had applied a colorful background to her blog so that others would not be able to print her poems directly. But we showed her, how a slight change in contrast could remove the background from the image!

If your content is so precious that you don’t want people to use it, do not make it public on the web rather than trying to use pictures or colors to mask it. Pictures behind text will, in most cases, irritate genuine visitors without protecting the content.

Embedding text into image is bad SEO

From search engine point of view, if text is embedded in an image, it is not readable, at least at present. So, search engines do not know the importance or relevance of such text content. 

If some text must go with an image, e.g. to describe it, give the text as caption or title or alt tag (You can see here a detailed post on applying alt attribute to images). 

The final word...

You can use image behind the text content but take care that the image adds value to the content and does not compromise the readability of the text and does not spoil the overall design of the blog. Also take care that you don't overdo it.

August 26, 2014

Quick blog reviews by ITB: an announcement

This post is for announcing a new blog review system we’d follow as long as we are able to sustain it.  We’ll call it ‘quick review’.
 
We are quite busy in compiling the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs, which will come out on 30th September. From that date, we’d welcome requests from our email subscribers for a quick take on their blog’s quality, design, navigation and other relevant aspects. It will not be a detailed review but will still give you a third-party opinion on what is not working fine with your blog.
 
As it happened with our earlier ‘detailed blog reviews’, our response may take some time if we get too many requests. So as to keep the number of requests in check, we won’t publicise it other than updating FAQ and submission guidelines.
 
The service will be entirely free and without any obligation. Since our quick review might often be critical, we’d request bloggers to treat the advice as constructive critique of the blog aimed at improving it. We wish you all good, and only good.
 
It will not be possible for us to entertain more than one request for one blog. When you receive our reply, you can once again seek clarification just on our reply, but we’d have to stop communicating if we feel that we are being taken for granted. You are free to send another query after a year.
 
HOW TO APPROACH Indian Top Blogs
 
Please be sure that you have a live subscription to ITB updates. You can use the email subscription widget is in the right sidebar to subscribe to ITB post updates.
Do send an email to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com with this subject: QUICK REVIEW. A filter is being used to screen emails by title, and so if you have put any other subject, the email will not be seen as a request for quick review of a blog.

In the body of the blog, write as follows:
  • Your email ID that you have used for subscribing to ITB
  • Name of the blog
  • If you want to seek specific advice about the blog, you can add one short sentence.
That’s all.

August 23, 2014

Huffington-India, the cold water challenge and a monkey's selfie

Huffington Post is among the top blog-turned news portals in the world. This week, it has entered into a partnership with Times Internet, with a view to launch the portal’s Indian edition. The Indian edition of this influential ‘digital first’ news biggie is expected to come up later this year. This will be HuffPost’s 12th edition.

Huffington Post boasts of over 85 million monthly unique visitors and the Times Internet maintains the topmost portal in India and news sites of its various print publications (notably indiatimes, the Times of India and the Economic Times), clocking over 100 million visitors a month.

By the way, the much loved and hated (for its taking stand against governments and celebrities and its slightly leftist bias) website began as a collective blog in 2005. Another association of Huffington Post with blogging is its blogging platform. HuffPost says, it will open blogging on its Indian edition when it starts. 


When social media helps chill celebrity heads

We have been seeing, again and again, how social media amplifies negative communication as it is easily and effectively exploited by drug pedlars, child porn industry, terrorists and other criminals and anti-social elements. A recent example of this is the abuse of social media by ISIS. In the last few months, however, we have seen social media helping spread a benign craze – to be seen pouring bucket-full of ice-cold water on one’s head. Called ‘ice bucket challenge’, this stunt has been very successfully used by the ALS Association  of the USA for raising funds for research into a debilitating disease called ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis).

The ALS Association says, it has raised over $53 million through this activity, mostly propagated by the social media. The ‘ice bucket challenge’ calls upon people to post videos showing them or someone else dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads. They must publicly name others to do the same within 24 hours and/or donate $100 to the ALS Association. Many international celebrities have helped spread the craze by accepting the challenge.

What seems to have made the charity stunt a great fundraising success is ease of doing it and the fun involved in it. It gives celebrities, always hungry for social attention, another occasion to promote themselves; and people love to follow celebrities besides generating some publicity for themselves. Less of charity and more of self-promotion and fun; but why care when it helps raise funds for charity?

Indians have not remained too far behind, with a few Bollywood celebrities leading in getting their heads chilled. 

This monkey clicked her selfie and had the last laugh, no joke!

monkey selfieNow this one, though a recycled old story, is a virtual monkey business! A selfie taken by a female macaque three years back and posted on Wikimedia has been challenged by the photographer whose camera she snatched and used to click photographs.
 

Wikimedia has maintained that since these pictures were taken by an animal, these are un-copyrightable. On such photographas (one shown here) it says, "This file is in the public domain, because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested." Interestingly, to clear the air, the US Copyright Office (USCO) has released fresh guidelines saying that animals or divine or supernatural beings cannot hold copyright over a picture.

August 21, 2014

techn0treats

Techn0Treats
http://technotreats.com/

"The blog is about all the technological treats that I come across and like, and I describe them in a simple language. Posts include description or review of websites, apps and gadgets. 
I write what I feel about the techno treats that I try, and write as I feel, even if that makes my posts a bit informal as compared to other technology blogs."
-- Jyoti Arora

August 15, 2014

Detailed blog reviews by Indian Top Blogs

Friends,

We started detailed review of blogs in 2011 and after reviewing over a thousand blogs, had to close this very popular offer. It was completely free.

Our reviews, mostly about blogging habits, editorial quality of content, looks and design, and functionalities (and not very technical and monetisation matters) were appreciated by a large number of bloggers. Some carried out a few or all our recommendations and some even overhauled or re-designed their blogs.

We had to stop this offer when we could not deal with the rush. In the meantime, we also added the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs to our listings and got more busy, and so we had to retract the offer.

We have one proposal before our esteemed blogger friends. We would decide our next course of action after receiving your suggestions, which you could give as a comment here or send to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com.

What we propose is that we'd expand our team with one more member whom we'd like to compensate for his/her time (right now we are four of us, doing all listings, background research and postings, and a bit of social media interactions, as our commitment to serving the blogosphere). As we do not, as yet, accept advertisements (other than AdSense and a recent affiliation with Amazon), we'd need some income supplement. We thought, why not offer blog reviews at a small cost, say, of Rs. 2000 ($40) per review. We are eagerly waiting for your response. Blogger friends whose blogs we reviewed may oblige us with their frank comments on the quality and usefulness of our review. 

August 11, 2014

More restrictions on blogging and other social media interactions!

It is a left-handed compliment to blogging that Russia has brought in a law to specifically restrain blogging. 

Bloggers with more than 3000 daily readers must now register with the media regulator, Roskomnadzor, and abide by its  regulations which till now were meant for the mainstream media. Internet companies will have to also allow Russian authorities access to users' information.

It is being felt that criticism of authorities on blogs, if it cannot be substantiated, could be taken as libel; if found unpalatable, authorities could ask Twitter and Facebook to remove posts.

Not only this, social networks (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) must preserve six months of data on social interactions. The information must be stored on servers based in Russian territory, so that government authorities can gain access.

The trend to restrain freedom of expression over blogs and other social media spaces in the name of extremism is only growing. Just to recall, China has been suppressing any dissent or political criticism with cracking down of social networks, instant messaging services and web-chats. Now Russia has given its media watchdog the power to shut down a website labelled as ‘extremist’.

In India, the government is reported to be considering an arrangement to track all social media interactions and take ‘appropriate’ corrective actions. There is a newspaper report this week that social media and electronic media monitoring organisations of the government, which are under the Information Ministry, are being shifted to the Home Ministry so as to make them more ‘effective’.

August 9, 2014

prismofjoy

Prism Of Joy
http://prismofjoy.blogspot.in

Neelam Dadhwal, a poet and writer, presents on this blog her creative work and her takes on literature. Getting to poetry has been a long journey for her and many of her past poems still rest in her diary. She has also written two poetry e-books.

August 4, 2014

How useful is Live Writer for blogging?

This post remains relevant for Windows Live Writer. However, an open source fork, Open Live Writer has been released in 2015. ITB has brought out a detailed post on 'Open Live Writer' in March 2016. 

Windows Live Writer is a free blogging software available on Windows OS. You can download it as part of Windows Essentials.

You can use this software to create blog posts offline, and post them later on your blog. It has many general features of present-day text processors, which are not available in the editors of some blogging platforms. Some features, such as the facility to post photos and videos by just dragging from the desktop and dropping in the editor, are quite useful.

Live Writer can create posts for (and publish them on) a number of major blogging platforms including Blogger, Wordpress, Livejournal and TypePad.     

Over the years, Wordpress and Blogger have improved the looks and functionality of their in-built editors. We feel, there is no need for users of such platforms to go for external blog-editors. However, many bloggers are used to this pretty good offline application and love it for its familiar looks and feel (similar to other Windows applications), spell-check, drag-and-drop facility for graphics and video, easy image re-sizing and placement, ease of inserting table, preview, plugins and the ability to easily sync with the blog.

Have you tried it? If yes, what has been your experience?

August 1, 2014

Why your blog is not a trash can. It's not Facebook timeline too

Most of us bloggers open our blogs 'on the spur of the moment' and keep posting on it whatever comes to our mind. In the Directory of Best Indian Blogs, you will find more than a hundred such blogs under 'personal' category. We are not saying that there is something intrinsically wrong with posting personal matter on the blog. In fact, blogs (originally called web logs or web diaries) were/are primarily meant to do that. In fact, the blogs selected by us in the 'personal' category of the Directory are indeed very good blogs.

So, what's the issue?

The issue is lazy blogging; maintaining the blog like a Facebook timeline (or worse, like a Twitter account) just because  we have not thought of making the blog something better. This also explains why a large number of bloggers have left blogging or reduced it in favour of Facebook or other networking sites: they have found new platforms better than the blog for their personal chatter or comment on whatever came in front of them. 

Allow us to give the simile of real estate. If social networking platforms are large colonies with multi-story flats, blogs and personal websites are, if finely maintained, small but beautiful villas. They have their identity; they have space to grow; they showcase their best resources.

But a personal blog has to be personal, isn't it?

Yes, a blog can be intensely personal, but it should not be trivial, routine, too commonplace, a place for gossip. For all things that you want to routinely share with friends and relatives, social networking sites are much better a place than blog. 

We'd advise that you keep your blog for substantial matters. Even if your blog is about your kid's early years, you could use your experiences as a tag to start discussion on parenting and child-health. If you are writing about how you spent your summer break in a tourist destination, make it a travel masterpiece on that destination. "The kid started walking on his own and he stumbled and he cried and I had tears in my eyes and my mother-in-law fell down as she came running and then my husband came and took her to hospital while I hugged my baby and ..." can be suitably shared on Facebook or other platforms, isn't it?

Well, you might say, what stops me from maintaining a web diary of my child's growing years? No one. Such a blog can, in fact, be a treasure that you can read when the child has grown up to become an adult; it can be a treasure for him to cherish. But that would be a deliberate and conscious decision on your part, not a product of lazy blogging because you could not think anything better. Also, it would not be a blog to share with public at large; it would be your personal diary.   

So, the takeaway is, maintain your 'personal' blog as a diary, but do post in it content that you'll be proud of years later. Do not use the blog as a trash can for blurting out anything that comes to your mind. 

This reminds us of an old article on good writing for blogs. Like to browse it?: Quality of content matters a lot