MUniversity of Minnesota

October 05, 2006

Tips and Tidbits

First of all, let me say this is the most active semester UThink has ever had. Almost 1,000 active blogs and more posts every day than ever before. Success has its downsides, though, as the server has now become unacceptably slow at times. We are working on speeding things up so stay tuned for that information.

However, with all the new users and blogs I have some advice and tidbits you might find useful:

  • Don't use the "Extended Entry" -- I have found through statistical and anecdotal evidence that people rarely click on the extended entry link to read the rest of long entries. So, unless you are writing something so compelling that people won't be able to help themselves, keep the entire content of your post in the Entry Body. You have a better chance of it being read that way.

  • Google loves UThink: You may have already noticed this, but if you start blogging on UThink, a couple of weeks later your UThink blog will be very high on the Google search results screen when searching for your name (or maybe even a topic you've written about). Of course, this assumes that you have a unique name, but some people are rather stunned with this phenomenon. I don't have a definitive answer for why this happens, but it is probably because of the ".lib" in the domain name. Google is probably giving a higher page rank to UThink blogs because they come from a library. Anyway, this is both a benefit and a problem obviously, but on the bright side if you want to make a name for yourself, UThink may be a good place to do it.

  • Put a search engine on your blog -- Because Google does such a good job of indexing UThink blogs, it makes sense to use Google as a search engine for your blog content. If you are interested in having a search box on your blog that searches through all your old posts, follow these instructions:

    https://wiki.umn.edu/twiki/bin/view/UThink/SearchToolForBlogs

  • Save your posts periodically! -- If you are using UThink/Movable Type as a word processor of sorts to type out long, intelligent, compelling, and wonderful works of genius do yourself a favor and save your posts periodically! Movable Type has been known to lose these posts when a button is hit inadvertently, or if you accidently hit the back or foward button on your browser. When you are typing out a new entry, scroll down the page and find the "Post Status" section. It is set to "Published" by default, but you can also set it to "Unpublished" and, again, save your posts every once in a while as you are typing them. You can also use a word processor to type out a post and then copy and paste it into Movable Type. Whatever you choose to do, just do something so that you don't lose that wonderful post you are writing. For those of you that this has happened to, you know what I am talking about. Painful.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks as the semester goes on. Also, for those of you concerned with the never ending battle against spam, we are plainning on installing the CAPTCHA Plugin. I'll keep you posted on that front. Talk to you all later!

Posted by snackeru at October 5, 2006 02:43 PM