Let’s promote blogs that promote a social cause!

Today, we are taking another humble step towards promoting quality websites and blogs, especially Indian blogs.

On Indian Top Blogs, we are offering the following support to organisations, websites and blogs that promote social cause.

We believe that the work of a good Samaritan generates positivity which, if supported by people, generates a momentum in favour of the underlying cause. Our contribution may not matter significantly to big websites, blogs and organizations; it will nevertheless be a sincere appreciation for their good work. To not-so-big ones in this arena, it might act as a much needed - and much deserved - honour. It is our way of saying, we stand by you and your cause.

Here goes our offer:

1. We have reserved a space in the sidebar for free display of a website or blog supporting a social cause. It is under ITB supports this cause: bar. As of now, we are rotating social ‘advertisements’ among themselves and with stand-alone social messages. We’ll not restrict this space to only Indian websites / blogs / organizations. [If you want your social ad to come here, do send an image of 250 pixel width and up to 260 pixel height.]

our first list of Indian blogs
promoting social cause
2. Among the websites mentioned above, bloggers will be invited to send matter for showcasing their blogs on Indian Top Blogs.

3. We have identified some Indian blogs that promote social cause on a regular basis. We’ve listed them in the Directory of the Best Indian Blogs as a category and also specially highlighted them in the alphabetical list of best Indian blogs.We'll keep adding more such blogs as they come to our notice.

We have also created a badge for blogs that feature in the 'social advertisement' space or blog directory or blog showcase. Bloggers may copy the following code and paste it in html widget of their blogs.
<a href="http://www.indiantopblogs.com/2011/12/blogging-websites-blogs-for-social.html"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-N86eLmjjgTM/Tvgk--nDe8I/AAAAAAAAAtA/j6AmKMDB2ms/s200/social-cause-indian-website.png" style="border: 0;" /></a> 

Do support our initiative if you like it. Do write a line if you’ve any suggestion to offer, either by commenting below or writing to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com. Do suggest Indian blogs that promote a social cause, for directory listing.

anish-whatalife

'What a life!' by Anish is the Indian blog on showcase today. This blog has thought-provoking articles, travelogues with personal touch, and much more. 


What a life! Opinions, ideas, thoughts and more...

A blog about anything and everything that I feel is appropriate to write about, though I  usually tend to stick to genres like travel, marketing, employment, politics & society and relationships.
I don't not claim to be an authority in any of these areas. When I visit different countries, I write experiential accounts of my trips. Mine is a rather atypical Indian take on local social situations I had to deal with and other topics that get me going.
I believe that frankly expressed opinions lead to debate and discussion, and their outcome quite often is change, both personal and professional. We are able to at least understand, if not deal with situations that life throws up. After all, there is only one life... What a life!

Favicon: the cute image for your blog or website

Seen the cute little letter on the browser’s address bar just before the URL of a website or a blog? Like the tri-colour kite next to the Indian Top Blogs URL or the blue birdie next to Twitter URL? These are examples of favicon [short form of ‘favourite icon’].  Though old browsers are not able to display a favicon, all updated browsers can display it well.

Alexa favicon,
zoomed to show pixels


Favicon is an important, and often ignored, design element of websites and blogs. It acts as an unobtrusive logo for your website or blog. People relate it immediately to your web-product, much like they relate a logo to a product in the physical world. 

Typically, favicon is a 16x16 pixel image file with .ico extension. Its small size does not allow for elaborate design or play of shades. By seeing the zoomed Alexa favicon on the right, you'll appreciate the limitations of favicon.  

Favicon can either have a single picture or an animation made out of a set of pictures [as in Indian Top Blogs site]. Animations allow display of more than one identitities associated with the blog or website. 

What looks best in a favicon?

Favicons look the best when they are simple and clear. Favicons displaying a single alphabet or simple geometrical shapes come up very clear. Single or at most 2-3 strong colours with high contrast lead to strong favicons while grading colours – only if applied with care - lead to smooth, graceful favicons.  

Some companies and institutions have beautifully captured their logo in the favicon. Others have used only one or two letters or a shape that express their organization well, without trying to stuff every part of their logo into the favicon.

Look at the following strip of favicons. [Just in case you don't know some of them, they are: Alexa, Apple, Chrome, Doordarshan, Twitter, Wikipedia, Facebook, Unilever, Firefox, IndianTopBlogs, United Nations, Bing, Yahoo and Blogger.] Notice the number of colours and simplicity of design. Also note that when a complex design or more than one letter are used, due care has been taken to use contrasting colours.


Now look at the following strip of favicons of DD News, FAO, UNICEF and US government.


See the DD News favicon? The favicon could have looked much better if they retained the clear, iconic Doordarshan one and coloured it in their own shades.

See the FAO and UNICEF favicons? In trying to copy their logos in full, they have messed up the favicon while their big brother, the UN, has done a great job by just using its initials.

How do I create a favicon and put it on the blog?

You can make a favicon using any of the dozens of free online favicon creators, using an image editor or with the facility provided in the blogging platforms. If you create a favicon using a favicon creator or image editor, you will need to place it in the header of the html file of the website. Though not a big deal, but if you are not comfortable with this, use the method given below.

A quicker and easier way to create a favicon – if you use Blogger - is to use the favicon-making widget of the blogging platform itself. [Go to layout; it is on top of the header menu] In the case of Wordpress, there is no widget available right now but there are plugins to do this job.

We have seen often during detailed review of Indian blogs that many bloggers use a high-quality portrait or a scenery or photo of a product to create  favicon. It usually results in a favicon trying to imitate the details of the original photo. Obviously, a photo of a million pixels cannot be replicated in an image of 256 pixels [i.e. 16x16]. The blogger, used to seeing the original photo, feels that others would also relate the icon with the photo, but the reality is that others see it as a blob of coloured points. 

You need to process the photo before creating a favicon out of it. The first thing to do is to reduce the size of the photo as much as you can, in terms of pixels. Crop the image and select a rectangular piece out of it. Next, do save the rectangular photo as a new photo and work on it.  Remove unnecessary background. Also remove elements that have muted shades, if you can. After that, adjust light and contrast as much as you can do without harming the image quality too much. Now try to reduce colour depth to 256 or even 16 colours. If the results are OK, move forward; if not, go one or two steps back and re-try changing light / contrast / depth. The resultant picture should have clear outlines and strong colours. Now your picture is ready for making favicon using either the online favicon maker or your image editor or Blogger widget / Wordpress plugin.

Happy blogging!

aalayamkanden



Aalayam Kanden

Aalayam Kanden is a journey through the rare, unique and lesser known temples of India as experienced by me.

It is a showcase of Indian heritage and mythology.


Indian blog directory, rankings, showcase: FAQs

This information has been updated repeatedly. The 2018 update is at this link: FAQs on Directory compilation
 
We have received a number of queries on the Directory of Best Indian Blogs that we updated on 30th November 2011. We are not able to respond to each email, and we feel that some visitors might have similar queries to ask and so we’ve imagined some questions ourselves! We’ve included related FAQs on blog ranking and blog showcase also.

Will you include my blog in the Directory even now if it meets your terms?
Why not? We are open to inclusion of high quality blogs in the Directory whenever we spot them. However, updating the Directory on a daily basis is not possible. We intend to include new finds on the last day of every month starting January 2012.

Why have you mentioned blog rankings along with Directory entries? You have included many more blogs that might be very good but were not seen by you during your last ranking?
Blog ranking mentioned along with an entry is for June 2011 ranking; we’ll mention 2012 ranking when we rank blogs in the middle of 2012.

I have applied for blog review / blog showcase. Do I need to submit the blog also for inclusion in the Directory?
No. Your blog has already been seen by us and we’ll automatically consider it for inclusion in the Directory.

My blog was there in the July edition of the Directory but is not there now, while I find many other blogs in the new Directory. Why?
Do have a look at this post on selection criteria for the blog directory. Does your blog meet these criteria? For blogs already in July 2011 edition of the Directory, the main point for consideration was regularity of updation. 

My blog is there in the Directory and yet in your review of the blog you have listed out many problems. Do you apply different standards for blog review?
As mentioned in this post on blog directory compilation, we tend to be very uncharitable when making a detailed review. We hope, that helps bloggers much more than just praising the blog or making off-the-cuff remarks.

My blog has been showcased on ITB website but is not in the Directory. Why?
Blog Showcase is meant to display good blogs and let their owners talk about their best features. We showcase even very new blogs, blogs in other languages, foreign blogs and websites maintained blog-like. We are stricter in the case of Directory and even more strict for blog ranks.

Though my blog is not listed in the Directory, the blog of a blogger friend is there. I consider my blog much better in design and content than hers. How come?  
We have tried to be as fair as is humanly possible. Have you checked all the blog selection criteria mentioned in this post? If you think, we have made an error of judgment in your case, do write to us at kp.nd.2008@gmail.com.

Can you help improve the layout of my blog? Can you guide how I can improve a photo? Should I go for Wordpress or Blogger? Can you do this for a fee? Can you suggest a web designer who’d help me with designing my blog professionally?
We are not in a position to guarantee that we’d respond to each specific request, though we try to respond to emails with specific requests when time permits.
No, friends, we don’t charge fee for the work that we do. We can’t recommend a web designer too; that is beyond our ethical boundary.

Can I see reviews of some blogs for my guidance?
No, that’s private. However, if a blogger passes on our review to you or places it on his / her blog, you are free to use that.

Do you mind sharing the raw data captured by you during compilation of the Directory?
No way. We also request marketing firms not to ask us for this.

You have written in the disclaimer about someone wanting to get his blog removed from the Directory. Does anyone really do that?
Till now, no one has asked us to remove his / her blog from the Directory.
We have made this offer for three reasons:
One, some people might really not need publicity to their blog so that they are not disturbed by too many visitors.
Two, a blogger might have the feeling that his / her blog is too important for the Directory. Someone may feel slighted that his blog is placed next to a blog of much lower standing. If the blogger does not want his blog in the Directory for any reason, we feel that the Directory as well as the blogger are losers. We are here for a win-win game, not the other way round.
Three, we offer this to bloggers who suspect our intentions. When we published the July 2011 edition of the Directory, some bloggers did write on the web that we should be taken with a pinch of salt. Some even took offence to our sending them an email to announce inclusion of their blogs in the Directory. [We understand their cynicism. We are happy to share that some of them wrote very flattering emails to us and a few even have ITB badge on their blogs! We’re humbled by their kindness.] 

Why didn’t you send an email or make a comment on blogs to announce that my blog is in the updated Directory? You did that the last time.
As mentioned above, when we did this last time – in good faith – some bloggers took it amiss. We are doing our job with sincerity and are happy about it. Let good bloggers get a surprise when they discover their blog in the Directory.  

My blog is listed only once in the category-wise listing of blogs while a similar blog has been mentined twice. Why?
Could be that your blog had only a few posts or most of your posts belonged to a focus area or you write on too many topics. We have tried our best to accommodate blogs in their proper place(s) in the category-wise listing of blogs. If you want your case to be reviewed, do write an email to us; just give reasons why you feel otherwise. Before sending the email, do see this detailed post on blog categories in the Directory.

binsinuation



Bloggers Park

A blog where books are reviewed my way, society is described my way, politics is simplified my way, sports is explained my way

I am not a rebel and my way is not the highway!! I am what most of Indians are - simple and straightforward, and will call a spade a spade!!

'Dynamic views' on Blogger platform: does it suit your blog?

This is a hurried post on the dynamic views by Blogger. We were provoked to write it because when we started reviewing individual blogs today [after a long time-gap during which we were busy compiling the Directory], we found many blogs on Blogger platform having shifted to dynamic views. This is a rather new feature of Blogger, allowing the blog to be seen in any one of the 7 templates that the dynamic views function offers.

We liked the many excellent features of the dynamic views: its aesthetic appeal, clean presentation of content, smooth scrolling of posts and their listings in many ways, and so on. Earlier Blogger did not allow any personalisation in dynamic views but now you can change the header image and background colour. You can even fix a particular view, if you fall in love with that.

Why we've written this post is not to share our joy with the great stuff that dynamic views is, but to give you a caveat.

The dynamic views feature is excellent but the superb personalisation that you have carried out and all the widgets of the old blog will not be there for others to see. Though they all remain in the background, your viewers will not be able to see your cute label cloud or month-wise archives or followers or blogroll or advertisements or ... That is a big big loss for a gain in appearance of content. Don't you agree?

Well, if you have only content pane to show, without frills, you may consider switching to dynamic views altogether. Otherwise think twice.

If you have already changed your blog into dynamic views, you can revert back to the old view.

If you have changed to dynamic views but want to stay with it, do at least leave a link on the blog to allow for the old, traditional, view too. People used to the old view may like to see your blog in that shape.

Blogger team informs that it would soon come up with widgets re-written for dynamic views. When that happens, the Indian Top Blogs would perhaps shift to the dynamic views, not before that.

;)

What Kapil Sibal has done is right!


Btw, we’re not saying he’s right, we’re only saying, what he has done is right.

Kapil Sibal is doing the right thing for himself, and blogging and other social media, on three counts.

One, because when his boss, Mme Sonia, is attacked even slightly [We hear, she was lampooned, her image was morphed and there were even nasty remarks about her. Very bad, indeed.], do you think he should keep mum? So, what he did was just right for him.

Two, he is Kapil Sibal. True to his name, he must botch up things as much as he can, and create controversies where there are better ways to deal with a situation. Remember his dealing with Baba Ramdev and Anna? The final result almost always is that the government turns defensive and apologetic.

Three, what he did in the case of social media will be highly counter-productive. This indiscreet act of his serves the purpose of social media more than anyone else. So, he couldn’t have done better. The service that Indian politicians like Tharoor, Omar, Sushma and Advani could not do to social media, the savvy Kapil has done in one stroke.

Thanks #Kapil!

Google Chrome emerges as the top internet browser in India


As per data released by Statcounter, Google Chrome is fast becoming the browser of choice and has toppled Firefox to become the second most used browser after Internet Explorer. In India, it has surpassed even IE!

In India, where the usage of net has risen fast only in the last couple of years and most net users are of younger age, the percentage of users of Google Chrome has gone up to 34.75% as compared to Firefox 34.29% and IE 26.9%.   

Though we have been Firefox fans for many years, we welcome this development as it will lead to (i) more commitment from Google for improving Chrome, and (ii) more competition to other browsers, in turn improving them.

Good news for bloggers using Chrome

Chrome browser, like the open source Firefox, gains in functionality with use of add-ons. For bloggers, Chrome has many add-ons in its ‘Chrome Web Store’. With its popularity rising, we hope that more add-ons will be available on this browser as they are in Firefox. We do not use add-ons for writing blogs, but a number of bloggers use them to find topic ideas, monitoring traffic, uploading photos, commenting, etc. They range from quite functional to weird, by some are worth trying.


Indian blog directory: an effort to list the best blogs

This is fourth post in the series on compilation of Indian blogs directory 2011. Today we share with you the results we have been able to achieve in compiling the Directory of Best Indian Blogs.

Believe us, we worked really hard in our effort to include as many good quality blogs as possible in the second edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs. At the end of the exercise, which we call Indian blogosphere survey, we scanned 30,000 blogs and ended up with about 650 blogs. As happened last time when we issued the first edition of the blog directory, we will be criticized for omitting some high quality blogs and including some ‘poor’ blogs. We sincerely apologize to the bloggers whose excellent blogs we could not reach, but we insist that each entry in the directory is a valuable blog.

See, what makes the task so voluminous
and why the 650 blogs are indeed so valuable

We admit that we have only been able to browse a small portion of Indian blogs – but we’re
sure of having seen a significant proportion of active Indian blogs. We have not come across any other such exercise in India. 


We had to leave out the majority of blogs that we browsed, for valid reasons. We also had to drop about a quarter of the blogs from the first edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs. Being irregular in posting was the biggest single reason for rejection, followed by major issues relating to loading, advertisements, navigation and readability. Some blogs had inappropriate content, some had turned totally into static websites, some had become private. 


We’ve accommodated blogs looking like web-magazines or non-blog sites when we found that they were regularly updated and had some element of interactivity.

Part of our data-sheet [blurred]
most blogs got rejected
on 1/more parameters

On quality, we need to concede that we couldn’t be too strict. We used a software and some statistical tools last time, but we realized that measuring quality in quantitative terms was fraught with strange inconsistencies. This time, our approach was more traditional. Bloggers whose blogs we’ve reviewed so far would vouch for it that we are very demanding when it comes to quality, especially of design and language. But if we applied those parameters in compiling a blog directory, we’d be left with only a dozen blogs. We didn’t want our exercise to be self-defeating. Hope, we make sense.


Some will question our calling the directory as Directory of Best Indian Blogs. We must make our stand clear as we do believe that the 650 blogs we have included in the directory are indeed among the best Indian blogs. These blogs meet a minimum standard of quality. They are regularly updated. They don’t have issues relating to readability. They do not have inappropriate content. Their design is not weird. They have at least some level of interactivity. Finally, the only site that manually checks so many Indian blogs has found them the best among the 30,000 that it scanned.  Hope, you don’t mind giving the ITB team a small bit of credit for their common sense, fairness and hard work. 


PS: In later years, the number of blogs in the Directory has come down to about 300 or less as we have applied stricter standards in scrutiny of blogs.

The vast variety of Indian blogs

This is the third post in the series on Indian blogs. Today we share with you the variety of Indian blogs and their categorisation in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs coming out on the 30th November.

Based on our experience while compiling the Directory of Best Indian Blogs in July 2011 and its updation now, we have tried to categorise the blogs according to their main theme(s).

This time, we have put blogs in more than one category when they have a good number of posts on a particular theme and will add value to that category if included there.

The categories are: art – audio-visual media - comments - culture - current affairs - economics – environment – expatriates - fashion - finance - food - health - improvia - information technology - personal - photo - social issues - sports - technical subjects and niche areas - travel
  • Blogs of general nature come under personal blogs category if they talk about 'me', 'my kids', 'my house', 'my life' and so on. The ones with posts that talk of 'you' and 'they' rather than 'me' tend to be categorised as comments blogs. Such blogs have opinions on anything on the earth – so this category is ‘free for all’. When personal blogs talk less of physical matter and mundane thoughts and more on self-improvement, life's aim and spirituality, they come under the category improvia. When personal blogs have comments on topical matters more than others, they get clubbed with more newsy blogs and make the category of current affairs blogs. Blogs that discuss social problems or promote social cause come under social issues category.
  • Art includes design and décor, drawings and cartoons. Culture  includes heritage and history.  Environment includes wildlife. 
  • A blog has been categorised as photo blog only when it either deals with the subject of photography or photography as an art form, or its primarily  content is photography. A blog using photos for supplementing travelogues, recipes etc is not included in this category.
  • Literary blogs include authors’ blogs, blogs with a large number of posts on fiction and poetry, and blogs with book reviews.
  • Economics category also includes blogs on business and finance, advertising, marketing and management.
  • Information technology blogs deal with software, hardware, gadgets and web. Highly technical IT blogs come under technical subjects category.
  • Technical subjects and niche areas is the category that includes blogs of highly technical nature and those with very narrow subject area.
 Beyond the Directory of blogs,

  • We have listed Indian blog platforms, blog aggregating sites and forums of good quality.
  • In addition, we have compiled a list of blogs on (i) jobs and exams related information and (ii) stock-market analysis. These blogs serve a useful purpose, are updated very frequently and need a good deal of effort on the part of blogger, but it is difficult to analyse their content for quality as they have a set language repeated over and over. Ignoring these blogs altogether seemed unfair, so we have listed them separately.
Many bloggers have not archived their blogs in a way that allows a reader to see the complete listing of their posts. Though we went back and forth inside multifaceted blogs to get a sense of content – and we also made site search - we might have missed a major topic in some cases. 
We had started with some more categories such as product reviews, management, poems, hobbies and religion, but had to give up mid-way when we faced too much overlap among categories. Personal and comments categories too could not be dissected beyond a point.
If your blog happens to be in the Directory and you feel that it has not been given proper category listing, do write to us by sending an email to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com.

The next post in this series will be on how much of the Indian blogosphere we could cover in our latest survey.

Trends in the Indian blogging scene

This is second post in the series on Indian blogs. Today we share with you the blogging trends we noticed while doing survey of the Indian blogosphere for updating the Directory of Best Indian Blogs.

  • There do not seem to be even a lakh [a hundred-thousand] blogs run by Indians and on India which are over a year old and are updated at least once a month in most part of their life.
  • A large number of bloggers have more than one blog. 
  • Most of the bloggers lose steam midway [details in this post on blogging habits]. 
  • Young adults – who have to deal with major turning points such as leaving school / college, getting / losing job, marriage, conception, birth of the first child, break-up - often give a pause to blogging and when they re-start it, they tend to shift the main theme of their blog.
  • Of all blogs, personal blogs seem to have the highest longevity.
  • Among niche segments, tech, travel and cookery bloggers flourish well. A large number of blogs on these subjects are well maintained and have supporting photos and large archives. They have high search rankings and get a good stream of visitors.
  • Indian bloggers have a strong presence in the global information technology blogosphere.
  • A good number of celebrities / public personalities stop blogging after a while or - if they become popular -  pose restrictions on interactivity by making the blog private or login-only.
  •  In most Indian blogs, the language quality is no issue. In sophistication, the language ranges from just passable to literary and academic.
  • Indian bloggers tend to be serious writers. They have opinion on any conceivable matter on the earth, especially India’s problems, social issues, human nature and life.
  • In personal blogs, young mommies like to write a lot about their growing kid(s) and their discovery of a new relationship.
  • Overall, money does not seem to be the prime motive behind blogging by Indians.
  • Only a few Indian blog have Google Page Rank more than 5 and respectable ranks in other search engines, Technorati and Alexa. Only a few get comments in hundreds.
  • In blog search, a few blogs appear again and again on the first page [or in the top 10-20]. As not many new blogs maintain high quality and regularity, established blogs face very little competition for popular search terms.
  • Most Indian bloggers are on Blogger platform [*.blogspot.com]. Wordpress is the second most-popular blogging platform. A small number of bloggers shift from Blogger to Wordpress platform; some of them come back. [The movement from Wordpress to Blogger is very rare.]  A few blogs on these platforms graduate to websites and/or website-like  independent URL. 
  • Bloggers from India usually forget to make their blog a part of their overall web presence; they rather shift to new formats such as Facebook and Twitter, and reduce or stop blogging. On the other end of the spectrum, some bloggers seem to get too pleased with their presence in 'modern' platforms and they over-burden their blogs with social media widgets.
  • The distinction between blogs, websites and blogzines is further diminishing as more blogs and websites have similar look and feel.
  • Most bloggers either do not care for design and search optimisation or do them excessively. A good number of blogs have too many widgets and animations. Some bloggers over-indulge in widgets and hurt the blog’s functionality.
  • Teens are the most experimental of all bloggers, in all aspect: technology, variety of topics, use of language and embellishment.
  •  A large number of bloggers make their own small communities and tend to visit only the blogs that belong to their 'kitty party'. Going by their commenting habits, it appears that they often play 'You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours'. Many bloggers reciprocate badges.
  •  A number of competition sites operate in the Indian blogosphere. Some established as well as many new bloggers contribute to these sites on regular basis. In return, they get noticed and get to add badges on their blogs.
  • Some Indian portals offer blog pages. Bloggers on such portals become part of big blogging communities and tend to interact regularly with blogs within their community.
  • Blogs by newspaper and magazine columnists are usually well-composed and regular. In many cases, their blogs are replicas of their columns. These blogs have a big following.
 The next post in this series will be on the vast variety of Indian blogs that we noticed.

Where do Indian bloggers stand?

The countdown to the November 2011 edition of Directory of Best Indian Blogs has begun. From today till about 5th of the next month, we plan to share in a series of posts our experience during the blogosphere survey for the directory.

In the first article in the series, we share with you our joys and frustration with Indian blogging habits

Blogging regularity


We shared some trends that we'd noticed in our surveys, in these posts: Who does not blog in IndiaFebruary blogosphere surveyJune blog rankings and the July 2011 directory compilation.

How many Indian blogs followed which pattern 
over a year? [data of 30,000 blogs]
In our earlier post on the November 2011 directory,  we had indicated that this time, we’d do most of screening work manually. In doing so, we have had time for going in detail into the blogging habits of Indian bloggers. Our findings only confirm, statistically, our earlier observations.  The majority of Indian bloggers start a personal blog with a lot of enthusiasm and then leave it to die. Some carry it forward, but their quality and quantity pale over time. Some seem to get blogging fits now and then. Many bloggers believe in commenting more than creating posts. A good number of bloggers join blogging to test waters in their professional field or hobby. After giving out their best in some posts, they give up. Some join blogging just for money-making. They write less and advertise more. Soon they get frustrated and either give up or botch up the blog further.

Well, there are some who persevere. Some of them have become expert bloggers [especially in IT field]; some have made a huge collection of quality analyses, photos, travelogues, and recipes; some have branched out to consultancy; some – we hear – earn quite handsomely from affiliate marketing, advertisements and professional activities started through their blog(s). A few established Indian bloggers have huge following, and they synergise it superbly with their other social media accounts. 

Regularity is related to the effort needed. Some blogs, e.g. on news updates,  have numerous posts, but unless the blogger adds his own analysis, such posts need only a little effort. On the other hand, a well-rounded economic analysis, a passionate travelogue, a moving short story and an elaborate  recipe take time to create and cannot be as frequent. 

We had announced that we’d reject outright the blogs that do not have at least one post each in August, September and October 2011. However, we relaxed this criterion when we saw that long-established and quality-rich blogs too miss postings in some months. So, wherever we found that the blogger had been otherwise very regular and missed posting in only one of these months, we brought back such a blog though rejected earlier.   

Quality and design of blogs


We had, in our earlier post on the present survey for the blog directory, mentioned what quality criteria we’d keep in mind while short-listing blogs. We have observed that in quality, Indian blogs generally score over non-Indian blogs. English may be an issue, but can we be too finicky about that as long as there is spirit and substance in the content? As for design, we ignored minor flaws, except when design considerably hampered a blog’s navigability, loading time and readability. 

Let's share another observation – mostly from our detailed review of individual blogs - about Indian blogging habits. [We stand by what we said in the para above, generally speaking.

A large number of Indian bloggers tend to preach, even on intimate type of topics. When they do not preach, they tend to analyse their life’s failings, human values, human sufferings and such other serious matters. While taking life a bit too seriously, they ignore to care for their blog - the place where they pour out their heart. They ignore design. They also stuff the blog with quirky widgets. They comment 'sweet nothings' on other's posts probably to get compliments for their hurriedly composed posts. 
To many bloggers, language doesn't matter. Not that they don’t know good [Indian-] English, they either don’t want to re-edit their posts or introduce alien colloquialism and jargon for effect. 

If Indian bloggers just observe the way good bloggers conduct themselves, blogging will evolve further in quality. But in the age of SMS and Twitter, when even Facebook and Google+ look too demanding, asking bloggers to take blogging a bit more seriously is asking for the moon, isn't it?


Our next post will be on the trends we discovered during the present Indian blogosphere survey.

bemoneyaware


Be Money Aware Blog 
Awareness empowers

We would not allow one to drive a car without getting a driving license, yet we allow people to enter the financial complex world without any financial education. An uneducated individual armed with a credit card and access to a mortgage can be just as dangerous to themselves and their community as a person with no training who is given a car to drive.

BeMoneyAware Blog empowers people by making them aware of money-related stuff in simple terms. We cover the basics  in a way that readers find it interesting and are excited by it.

Why showcase your blog on Indian Top Blogs?


You have a beautiful blog on India, things Indian, your child or your pet subject. You write well. You also write regularly. You have many visitors. What more you need to grow as a successful blogger is regular hand-holding and support.

While the Indian Top Blog does the hand-holding, its blog showcase is a powerful platform for improving your blog’s popularity and reputation. 

How?

  • The blog showcase gives you at least 3 backlinks, one of them of high quality! This means, your Google pagerank improves.
a collage of some blogs showcased recently
  •  The showcase URL and photo tag have your blog’s signature. It means, if you post the link on your blog and tell it to your friends in the real world and on Facebook, your popularity grows by leaps and bounds. It is like a third-party certificate to your blog, at your own terms.
  • You have been recognized by a site that is growing fast in reputation and authority on blogging in general and Indian blogosphere in particular.
  • The best in you comes out when you write the punchline for the showcase. It acts like a blurb on the jacket of your own book.
  • It is free! You are charged $’s for getting a link from a website with Google page rank 3 or above. We not only give the link free, we do not remove it, like the charging companies do when you stop paying them. 
  • When we receive a blog for showcase, we have already noticed that blog for the next blog ranking and blog directory.

Look, how the Indian Tiop Blogs is growing. When you link with it, you also grow.
  •  Has Google Pagre Rank of 3. It is likely to grow significantly in the future.
  • Has Alexa page rank of 6.9 lakh. It was 105 lakh when we started the site 3 months back. It is coming down faster than we imagined. By the time you read this post, it might already be much lower.
  • Is on the top pages already, when you search on Google, Yahoo, Alta Vista and Bing for the best Indian blogs.

Why does ITB not charge for blog showcase?

By the way, it also does not charge for rankings, inclusion in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs and blog review.

Well, the ITB team work with a passion. They also get some good words that seem to come from people’s hearts. ITB also grows while you grow, because many bloggers write about us and our genuine effort. Many bloggers whose blogs we review keep a small badge about this on their blogs, voluntarily. Our commitment grows as we find ITB growing.

Well, if you insist on knowing our monetary rewards, let’s share our secret with you that we also have a few AdSense advertisements on the website. A very small number of people do click on them but that comes to almost nothing. We, however, tend to think that it will pay us in the long run.

You can see here our earlier posts about guidelines on showcasing your [Indian] blog and how to submit the blog for showcase.

Google's Indian initiative for small businesses

Google has given a gift to small businesses in India by offering them a platform to open a website for free. The site is also hosted free on HostGator for one year.

Thanks Google.

[The links given by Google stopped after about a year so these have been removed.]

Use labels and tags effectively on your blog

While reviewing blogs and checking them for inclusion in the Indian blog directory, we found that majority of bloggers do not effectively use the facility of labeling blog posts. Labeling, we reckon, is a great tool to highlight content and make the blog more functional.

Most of the blogs [Indian as well as others] that we have come across are of personal nature, with posts on all conceivable topics. Since blogs are regularly updated – and that is indeed their strongest point vis-à-vis static websites - the content has to be arranged chronologically and not subject-wise. This makes it difficult for the visitor to find the matter he / she might be interested in.

tags-on-blogs
overlapping items in category 
and tag clouds; and a category list.
  a bit too much!
Think of a blog as the ‘latest arrivals’ rack of a library where new books are added everyday.  If books of this rack are not sent to their assigned places, it will become difficult after a while to find the book of one’s choice. While in physical world, we need to place the books in their subject racks, in the electronic world we have the choice of tagging / labeling – it allows the objects to be grouped in many ways while they remain placed in a particular sequence. For that to happen efficiently on our blog, we need to give thought to how we’d use the tagging facility.

Different blogging platforms have their own ways of doing this job. Wordpress has the facility to put posts in different categories and apply tags to posts. Livejournal has tags only. On Blogger platform, we have labels on posts.  Community blogs often use tags to place individual blogs in different categories. Blog aggregators and blog directories use categories that are often assigned manually at the level of blog submitter or administrator. We’ll talk here about the use of categories / tags / labels on Wordpress and Blogger blogs, and we’d use 'tag' and 'label' interchangeably.

Difference between category and tag in Wordpress

Some bloggers are not sure of the difference between 'category' and 'tag' on the Wordpress platform. From a blogger’s point of view, there is just one difference as far as their basic function goes: Categories are used for major categorization [e.g. a blog on Indian websites can have these categories: English language sites, websites in native Indian languages OR Indian travel sites, finance & economy sites, sites for NRIs, etc]. Tags, on the other hand, are used for pin-pointing specific information or an information that spans across posts but does not deal with the subject of the post itself or an information that relates to specific events and will not occur again and again to justify a broad category [e.g. bringing up child, angry retorts, my spiritual side, Ritu’s wedding, grandpa]. Let’s admit that depending on the blog’s posting quantity and style,  any of the names given above can be of a category or a tag.  Wordpress mandates that each post is given a category but keeps tagging optional.

Putting a tag / label

joejachs


Encounter with a Superstar
A blog by Joe Zach, an avid photographer 

A blog that covers about everything from travel, restaurants, humour and nature to life around us.

I don't like to stick to one subject.

Am willing to write for others too.


Give your blog an Indian identity


A website should have its own identity. It should not only look distinct but also be identifiable with its main purpose, activity, location, etc. 

Indian tricolour
Most popular websites and blogs pile up a great brand value, and their brand is such that people relate it with one or more of the sites’s basic attributes. This also applies to Facebook and other social media sites. 

Tiger: Indian national animal
India has some superb national symbols. For example, its tricolour. The saffron-blue/white-green colour combination looks fine on website and blog design. It can be used for a blog or website’s theme, fonts, title bar, frame outlines and so on. The colours can also take the shape of flags, balloons, brush strokes, animations and patterns. The Indian Top Blogs website uses it as a kite in the favicon. The badges of ITB and the Directory of Blogs Indian Blogs are in saffron and green colour. 
Peacock: Indian national bird

If you have a blog or website on nature photography, travel, Indian flora and fauna, etc, you can display tiger and peacock. Both make powerful visual elements. While tiger is majestic and forceful, peacock beats all animals with its fan of colourful feathers.

Travel, culture and nature sites can also display the Himalayas and the Taj. Culture, history and travel websites can use photos of Rajasthani folk dance, a classical dance, dancing Shiva, Ganesha, yoga, lotus and other cultural icons of India. 

The Taj Mahal
India’s map can also be used. Do use the full map as authorised by the Survey of India. If your website or blog targets audience beyond India, do place India in a globe or world map. You should not show flavour of a particular location or culture if your theme is global; identifying oneself with a particular location, etc might hurt your global image. Even if you want to show your Indian identity, you need not do it routinely but on special occasions only. You can think of colouring your website or blog in the tricolour or having a flag animation on the independence day or when Indian cricket team wins the world cup. 
Kathkali dance:
face decoration

Avoid visuals showing poverty, icons of a particular religion, people – especially the poor, handicapped and socially backward - in bad light, superstitions, crime and filth. India has a good share of these all, but displaying them serves hardly any good purpose while it amplifies India’s negatives at the cost of its strong cultural and social traditions. 

This post is addressed specifically to Indian bloggers, but those from other nations can think of similar actions on their websites, blogs and other social media. 

photo courtesy: India portal, Kerala Tourism, Wikipedia

Selection criteria for the Directory of being included in the list of best Indian blogs

Updated in October 2018.

We have been compiling the Directory of Best Indian Blogs for eight years and have made a number of changes in selecting blogs for the Directory, which is the who's who of good Indian blogs in English. 


Starting with a complex formula that used Google PageRank, Alexa position, page views, etc, we changed to manual picking and have made our criteria stricter over the years.

We believe that blogging is both a personal and social activity, and we do not hold a case against blogs on very personal matters as long as they meet our selection criteria. So, while a spirited, well-composed and regularly updated blog on one’s kid, dog or garden may get included, an extremely dull blog with copy-pasted newspaper columns, not allowing any sharing or interaction and not caring to provide any archive would get left out even though its content prima facie might look substantive.

If we find a great Indian blog, we’d not bind ourselves to a maximum number of blogs in the Directory. However, we intend to have a strict filtering for quality [as explained below] and end up with about 300- 350 blogs, no more.

Blogs as young as 6 months are eligible for inclusion in the top blogs' list. However if they are not regular or slip on quality, we'd remove them in the next six months.

We are unable to include more than one blog from a blogger.

We’d include blogs that are suggested to us and those explored by us only till April 30. We normally bring out the Directory on May 30/ June 1. We have delivered on all our promises so far, and would strive to meet the deadline this time too.

Now the selection criteria. 

Our limited resources do not allow us to go beyond Indian blogs and blogs only in English. [We produce a separate list of top Hindi blogs; we tried with a Bangla blogs directory but had to abandon it as we could not cope with the additional work.] Non-English blogs are not included. Bilingual blogs are OK if the other language is used unobtrusively and English is the main language. 

We consider the following content as inappropriate and reject blogs with such content: unacceptable levels of nudity and violence; vulgarity; pornography; abuse; racial, casteist or communal denigration or hatred; rumor-mongering; slander; criminality; and other content not considered acceptable in responsible writing and visual/ audio/ audio-visual presentations. Propaganda is not welcome; promotion of universally accepted social and moral values or a just cause with wide appeal is. If the blog or its content is found indulging in plagiarism or copyright infringement, it is blacked out. 

Commercial blogs and blogs of corporate bodies are not included. 

Blogs with advertisements making more than a third  of their homepage content are also filtered out. 

If more than a quarter of content in the blog is automatically generated, the blog is not taken in. [Content in widgets such as recent comments, archives, followers and advertisements are not counted towards this.]

Blogs that have not been updated [by way of new posts] at least once in 9 out of the preceding 12 months are not included. 

Blogs that pass through the above filters are checked for a number of qualitative attributes. The broad categories are content, design and regularity. We place high value on content, followed by design and regularity.

Effort made in blogging, as evident from big and small steps taken to improve the quality of presentation, proof-reading of text, use of widgets, etc. find favor with us. Value addition [e.g. background information and external links] relating to the subject matter are considered additives to the resource base.


Qualities relating to the niche of the blog [e.g. selection of subject and depth of analysis in case of current affairs, clear depiction of recipe and display of cooked food in case of cookery blogs, mastery over subject in technical subjects, and unbiased advice in case of blogs on share-markets and review blogs]. 

Grammatical correctness of text content is expected but is ignored if it is minor and the content quality compensates for it.

Various aspects of visual appeal [e.g. whether the blog is clean or cluttered, how well is the opening screen composed, elements introduced to break monotony and make the content interesting, use of widgets, appropriateness of colors and titling, etc suited for the category of blog] are a plus point.

Quality and size of visuals, their appropriateness, attribution in case of content drawn from others are considered a positive. 

Ease of navigation and interaction, and engagement with visitors, especially in the case of personal blogs are rewarded. 

That's it. You can visit the latest listing of top Indian blogs in English at the link given above. Happy blogging!