I've got a dirty little RSS secret

Sign up for thatcanadiangirl RSS feedI’m always harping on about the importance of having a tight grip on stats to know what’s happening on your blog but… I have a secret: I’ve never tracked my own RSS feed stats.

I launched That Canadian Girl back when RSS wasn’t very popular and, while WordPress automatically produced a feed, I never bothered tracking stats around it.

Now, many years later, I’ve decided to add Feedburner to it. If you’re already reading this via RSS, it should – in theory – be business as usual, but should you spot any funny business, please let me know via the comments.

New reader? Why not subscribe to the feed now?

Upgrade to WordPress 2.5 or stay in the dark, says Technorati

A short word of advice to fellow WordPress users. Not only is WordPress 2.5 so awesomely great that you should upgrade immediately, even if it was just for the beautifully refreshed admin area (after years of staring at the same old UI, it’s so good to see a new one!) but you should upgrade if you want to keep appearing in Technorati.

Good ol’ Technorati, one of the largest blog directories on the web, has announced that, due to some security issues with older versions of WordPress, you need to upgrade to the latest version in order to continue being indexed.

Because of this ongoing problem, we’re discontinuing processing crawls of blogs that exhibit common symptoms of being compromised. We strongly recommend upgrading your WordPress installation. Even if you haven’t been afflicted by a compromise, by the time you are aware that you have been a number of negative consequences may have already occurred (for instance, flagged spam by Technorati, Google or Yahoo!) — this has been reported by many WordPress users.

This will be interesting to watch, seeing as even large blogs like TechCrunch haven’t gotten around to updating yet. Many less techy users will have to wait until their hosting’s control panel updates the Fantastico scripts to contain the latest version of WordPress. Considering the millions of ghost town blogs currently listed on Technorati, I wonder whether this will become a huge Spring Cleaning of all the unloved, dead blogs across the web. This might just turn out to be a good thing…

So, go on, get off your butt and upgrade WordPress to the latest version, and tell those around you to do the same!

Blog Topic Challenge: A topic a day keeps Vero busy

Blog Topic ChallengeThis blog has always been fairly adhoc in terms of topics, with the only running threads being technology, marketing, customer service or personal family stuff.

As an experiment beginning on Monday, Jan 7th, I’ll write a post a day – every day including weekend – on a topic of my readers’ choice. Depending on the topic, I may write a short ten liner post, or go ahead and do some full-on research if it looks interesting (and, realistically, if I have the time), but my challenge will be to post on that given topic every day without fail.

It can range from topics I’ve already written about where you want to know more, topics you’d bet your hat I know nothing about, or questions about me. Serious, silly, techy, non-techy, it’s up to you.* I’m putting my blog in your hands for a month!

To some people, 31 posts in 31 days seems like nothing, but this will most likely include some research on bizarro topics if people I know read this blog are anything to go by. 😉

Make your suggestions for my first few posts in the comments for this post and I’ll begin the Blog Topic Challenge on Monday.

[* Please don’t make me write about rugby or cricket though, I just can’t understand those sports…]

Must PR people and bloggers be like oil and water?

Last week, Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail and Wired Magazine blogger, lashed out at lazy PR people. The crux of the story is that Chris gets torrents of press releases, some more or less relevant, from public relations agencies that can’t really be bothered to do their research before sending releases around. Therefore Chris chose to publish the email addresses of a few hundred PR people who’ve sent him said releases.

Bloggr cat sez ur PR is b0ringThis story really rings true for me on three levels;

  • First, I’m a blogger, albeit a small-time one. But I still get plenty of press material, ranging from jaw-droppingly excited news to awfully written, pointless drivel. More of the latter than the former, needless to say.
  • Second, I come from an email marketing background where my key concern was whether the content I was sending week in, week out, to over half a million readers was worth THEIR while. I was, to say the least, precious about Data Protection and if anyone suggested buying lists from agencies or scraping our customer database for addresses, I suggested in return ripping their balls out and cooking them in a nice tomato and basil sauce. Once I felt that the company I worked for didn’t allow me to produce content I genuinely thought could make our customers feel warm and fuzzy inside, I had to leave.
  • Finally, in my new role at Taptu, I wear many hats – one of which involves handling some of the communication and PR. I adore that part of my job but it means I’m on the OTHER side of the fence, sending press releases, praying that bloggers won’t rebuff me or, worse, publish a post claiming I’ve spammed them with irrelevant content. That’s amongst my worst nightmares, no joke.

It’s a funny place to be, to say the least. I sympathise with both camps to a certain point; the PR people who are given targets to meet, numbers of mentions and pageviews to get, and the bloggers who want real news.

At the same time, as a blogger, poor journalism in the form of bloggers who regurgitate press releases thinly veiled as news articles make my blood boil, as I know these are the people who have lulled PR agencies into a state of comfortable laziness.

There’s no denying it, working in PR and always being on top of the latest news and the important bloggers isn’t easy and requires passion. You need to be interested in your industry and personally invested. The canyon between the passionate product evangelist and the PR Joe Bloggs who’s trying to hit targets on paper is deeper and more obvious than ever, and I’ll let you guess which one manages to appeal to me, Carlo or Chris Anderson.

So PR people, make an effort to think before you send. Send quality news, don’t blow your own trumpet too much and let us figure out whether your product is “revolutionary” or “ground-breaking”. And bloggers, let PR people know when they’re hitting the sweet spot and when they’re not.

Hopefully, we can all learn to play nice together and live in a nice utopian world where bloggers and PR people walk together hand in hand, surrounded by rainbows and unicorns. Right? Right? Can’t we? Well… I tried.

[Cat picture by edmittance on Flickr]

WordPress 2.3: Pretty much painless upgrade

Wow, well this was a pretty easy upgrade! I managed to make it as much of a pain as possible for Andrew; forgetting to disable plugins, upgrading from a pre-widgets theme, and being a whinge-bunny.

But now it’s done, with that new swish “Tags” feature at the bottom of the post. I love the ease with which I can tag posts, and I bet that tag cloud (currently at the bottom of the sidebar) will grow to show just quite how nerdy my blog posts are…

Great job, WordPress team!

WordPress 2.3 now released

If, like me, you’re using WordPress, you’ll be pleased to hear that version 2.3 has now come out of the oven. It’s upgrade time!

Matt MullenwegSome highlights: Tagging now comes as default (so no need to faff with third-party plugins), notices when plugin updates become available, automatic non-www domain forwarding, old post slug forwards to the new one if changed (Halleluia!), some improved post management and a big handful of ubergeek features. All in all, some pretty exciting changes!

It’s so funny to see that the very adorable Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, is even throwing a WordPress upgrade party at his place tomorrow. Shame, San Francisco is a bit of a trek for me. Cambridge upgrade party anyone? 😉