Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Published recipes

I've been torn over the ethics/legality of including published (as in a cookbook) recipes in my blog. If I can find a link to the particular recipe, I will always use that instead of the text of someone else's recipe. Nonetheless, I find it difficult not to include a truly successful recipe when posting and have rationalized putting the recipe out there as a kind of free publicity for the author--although I haven't actually done it yet. Am I being ethically too finicky or right on target? I'm new at blogging and would love to hear from those of you with more experience.

Friday, May 27, 2005

[Technorati] where do you rank in 10 million + ?

Eleven days ago, Technorati announced they'd just tracked their Ten Millionth Blog. Want to find out your ranking? I am not sure how accurate this is, but if you sign up to Technorati and then select Member Tools and then 'claim' your blog under the 'Claimed Weblogs' section you should get a ranking (which I assume is a number out of the 10 million + total)

At the time of writing, our Food Blog S'cool is ranked at 93,518. My own blog is higher, I imagine the ranking is based on links coming in and number of sources. Thought some of you might be interested in checking youselves out.

photograph picture

[Pictures] Multiple Pictures on One Post

How do you send multiple pictures to one post? I use hello and, even if I add the same comment to different pictures, they still show up as separate posts. Also, if I send different pictures, how do I make them different sizes?
Thanks!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

[Comments] - Recent Ones

Added into the side bar at ejm's request. Find in the right column under recent posts.
They may slow down the loading of this page. Please be patient and let me know what you think.
I think I would prefer them above the recent posts, but not sure if that is possible with the hack. Tonight I only had time to quickly throw it in and see if it works. Seems to so far.

[Misc] Fed up with Benjamin Christie?

I don't know about you - but I am fed up with Benjamin Christie who keeps sending emails asking me to link him. Becks & posh has received 3 or 4 to date. I ignore him but they keep coming. I know I can send him an email asking him to stop - but why should I have to? He is unsolicited and persistent. I've decided to mark him as SPAM instead. I know when people start blogging, they are keen to get links and Benjamin's offer seems like a good deal. But look - he doesn't even position his blog roll on his front page like most bloggers do. It doesn't seem like a very fair deal to me. If Benjamin has you listed, do you get many hits from him - I would be curious to know? I am not suggesting you shouldn't go for it if you want to, but since he just sent his first solicitation to our scool, and he obviously didn't spend the time to read what we are all about, it is obvious just out for cheap publicity and trying to sell his book. Please, just think twice before you take him up on the offer and think about what is in it for you.

Dear Food Blog S'cool,
I have just visited http://foodblogscool.blogspot.com and wondered if
you would you be interested in swapping links to my Australian Food &
Chef blog site www.benjaminchristie.com ?
www.benjaminchristie.com has information about our new TV cooking show
Dining Downunder, Chef Articles, Bush Tucker as well as Australian
Recipes.
Also my latest cookbook is now out and available. If you are interested
in selling the book from your site, email me as I pay USD$8.75 per book
sold via your site.
http://www.benjaminchristie.com/article/8/dining-downunder-cookbook
Please send me your link information if you are interested in swapping
or selling my cookbook. My Link information is below and my links page
is http://www.benjaminchristie.com/links

[Blogger] Link List Not Popping Up - HELP

Last night, I loaded my new post. All was ok. I added two food blog links to my list on the right side. All was ok. Today, when I bring up my site, the right links list (with counter, etc.) pops up for a brief second and goes away (still there and in my template). I can't think of anything I touched that could be causing it, but how do I fix it? Help!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

[Writing] Your approach or tricks to writing food-related posts?

Inspired by the thought that I could improve on the writing I do on Lex Culinaria, I recently checked out a stack of "food writing" books from the local library. I was surprised to find so many! There are whole books on how to write a recipe, the best food writing of 2004 (etc.) and on food journalism in general. I was surprised to see from some of these books that there are many recipe and food writing conventions (for example, the order in which to list ingredients and methods) espoused by these authors.

I found the sheer volume of literature on food and recipe writing surprising as I just tend to write, without thinking about how I'm writing or the reason I'm writing in a certain way.

In order to get everyone thinking about why we write the way that we do and share what works for us ....

1) Does anyone particularly recommend food and recipe (or general) writing resources that might help your fellow bloggers to improve their writing skills and the content of their sites?

2) Do you just type (like I do) without thinking so much about how and why you are writing the way that you do?

3) Do you have any particular tips and tricks or conventions or style rules that you use when you write your posts: for example, do you provide a headnote (brief summary or catchy story) under the title of a recipe as a matter of course? Do you always list liquid ingredients first? Do you split out sub-recipes (i.e. how to toast coconut) out of the main recipe (i.e. toasted coconut flan) or do you include it in the method for the main recipe?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

[misc] Traditional Journalism and blogging

Blogging is still being touted as "the next big thing" and traditional journalism is paying more and more attention to blogs. Being contacted by the media about my blog has been an interesting experience. I can't help but respond to anything I think might expose more people to blogging and my blog in particular.

Where do you stand in terms of traditonal journalists--are they your colleagues, do you want to be a journalist, do you already think of yourself as a journalist, do you see a huge difference between "us" and "them", what would the ideal relationship between bloggers and journalists be?

Finally if you are a local Bay Area blogger, would you want to meet up with the local newsmedia? (I have an invitation on my site if you do) invite here.

Monday, May 23, 2005

[responsibility] when someone asks for a plug

this topic has been covered here and there in the last few posts, as well an in the comments, but just want to ask it outright - what do you think about someone/some business asking for a plug on your blog?

i received an email over the weekend specifically asking me to make mention of their product on my blog. i'm not sure how to respond becasue 1) i actually do use their main product, 2) but the new product has nothing to do with l.a. right now, and 3) i've never even seen/read the product.

in fact, i'm pretty certain that if i actually DID see the product, i wouldn't like it, just based on the main product that i use (but i still "use" it anyway - lol!), so i guess i could make mention of it, like - here's something new, but i also feel a bit *hmmmm* about them asking me in the first place.

Friday, May 20, 2005

[Hosting] Meme Host "Guidelines"

Sam (and all):
I'd been thinking about this since your first entry on "Be Careful What You Wish For..." because I thought you brought up some good points about what people who enter should provide. On the flip side (and you've addressed one point in the Etiquette post) maybe it would help if we had a set of minimum information that the host provides when they announce.

What do you all think of this? This looks a little long but that's because of my explanations. I think the actual amount of info is short and much could be copied from month to month.

Link to original post for history and/or link to past meme - especially for the newcomers. Sometimes hosts assume that it's clear what the meme goal is but if you haven't been in from the beginning it might not be obvious and if you don't know who created it, it can be hard to find out. I'm thinking that Lenn has the entire list of WBWs right on his main page and there is some history on IMBB for SHF, IMBB, etc.

"Rules" for current version - most people get this part. This is the ingredients or theme or whatever

Deadline

Expected round up date

How to Enter:

  • Email - make sure it's provided
  • Comment - the permalink of where to post (sometimes there are several "reminder" entries, etc.)

How or if the host will reply -

Expectations - These are the things you alluded to Sam and might change based on host and meme.

  • Entry permalink
  • Entrant's name
  • Blog name and url
  • Country (yours or the wine's!) :-)
  • 2 Sentence summary
  • ...

I'm thinking that over time that last section will probably become standard and therefore easier for everyone to remember.

Is this too much? What other things would you suggest or what would you strike?

~ B

Thursday, May 19, 2005

[Hosting] meme Host Etiquette

This question comes out a previous thread and is with regards to hosting a meme ie WBW, IMBB, SHF, Paper Chef, Dining Out, etc.

There are two ways a host will generally ask you to submit entries - either via email or in the comments section. (I personally prefer email method)

I recently hosted WBW and although I didn't, on the whole, reply to any of the emails, I did endeavour to post a comment on all of the participating sites (except those requiring registration).

Q1 Do you expect a personal email reply when you mail in your entry to one of these events?
[I have never expected a reply, assuming the host is too busy]

Q2 Do you expect a personal comment from the hoster on your entry?
[I really like it when the hoster makes a small effort to acknowledge my post and let me know they have actually read my entry]

In the future I might decide to respond to evey email with a non-personal reply of reassurance:
ie
- thank you for your entry which I can confirm I have received. I expect several hundred particpants this time so please be patient while I take the time to visit every site, read every post and put together a round up. It might take quite a few days. Thank you. As well as and in addition to leaving a personalised comment on the post itself

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why Do You Blog?

The discussion on "What's our responsibility as food bloggers?" has really been great! It seems there are a couple of related themes emerging and I thought it might be interesting to pull them out and make them their own topic.

So, my first question is "Why do you blog?" - what is it you hope to accomplish or what do you get from blogging?

I've actually been thinking about this for a couple of months since a few Seattle bloggers talked about it. Some of the people are interested in a writing career - not necessarily food related - and this is their way of practicing, getting exposure, making a foray into that world. Some seem more interested in documenting and/or sharing dining experiences. At least one is already a professional writer and blogs (it seems to me) to write about topics that are interesting but don't have a commercial angle. And then there are even sub-categories within those groups.

Then we also had a post about "Making Money from Your Blog" and while I don't think anyone seems to feel this is going to support their retirement, it is yet another angle. Maybe you don't envision directly making money from the blog but the blog leading to a money making venture of some sort. And a couple people have talked about perks they might receive from companies who know they are bloggers.

Or as a couple of people have suggested in the Responsibility comments, there's the possibility of recognition, or entree into some part of the food world (not trying to put words in anyone's mouth here, these are just general interpretations).

I've been blogging for just over 5 months. I first started out wanting to share the experience of the Cooking Club some friends and I have. But we only meet every other month so that leaves a lot of time in between. So, I just started talking about what interests me in the culinary world - lots of room to make that what I want! :-) And since I am interested in moving into that world in some way, at some point, I find the blog is helping me focus on the things I really like and gravitate towards and the things I don't. As I approach my 6-month mark I'm trying to document my focus (for myself, at least) and decide what my goals really are.

But, at this point, I still consider it a hobby. And I figure whatever money I spend on it is like money I'd spend on supplies for any other type of hobby. So, I don't expect remuneration of any sort but my "reward" is in watching my stats climb. But I'm not sure I'd quit if they didn't. Apparently, I like talking - if you couldn't guess that!

So that's a bit about why I'm in this world - how about you?

[Hosting] a Meme - be careful what you wish for!

I have just finished the round up for my first Food/Wine Blogging Community event. I looked forward to hosting something so much and the experience didn't disappoint me at all. The only thing I wasn't prepared for was the length of time it took to do the round up. There were 39 wines and it took me no less than 8 hours to create my post. I am a pretty fast and prolific blogger normally so this caught me totally unawares.

I read every post carefully and left a comment on everyone's blog (except for the ones that required registration of some sort to do so). I spent a little time on the visuals which perhaps wasn't totally necessary (I would say about 1 of those hours was spent on the pictures), but personally I like my blog to look visual at all times so this part was important to me. Also, I think the pictures help break down what could be the monotony of a very long post.

Anyway, this is not by any means a complaint post, it is a warning post. I am in the queue to host some more events in the future and I intend to learn from my experience this time round.

Here are somethings I am thinking of.

Insist on receiving the entries by email - perhaps with a required subject matter so the emails can be easily sorted.

the easiest way by far must be to round up is with no categories, in the order you receive the entries.

If you do divide the round up into categories and just round up one category at a time. (Specify category as part of the Subject line in the email). There are lots of category possibilities depending on your email. Continent of poster/time of post/countries/sweet/savoury/ veggie/meat/all sorts of things.

don't think about starting the even til at least 24 hours after the even closes. some people are understandably late each time.

ignore pressure to have the round up straight away. take your time, don't stress. Everyone else hopefully will start to understand how long it will take you get round to writing up everything.

spread your round up over several days/posts. (ask the owner of the meme if this will be ok, first). Alternate with your regular posts to keep thngs varied and fresh for yourself, posting wise.

don't offer to post for somebody who hasn't got a blog. These days there is no excuse for not having a blog. You will have your work cut out for you without that extra work.

Ask people to include specific information you need for your roundup in their post. IE name of wine, country, year. (It's suprising how many people didn't actually state which country their wine came from in their post).
Ask people to include their name, their bblog name, their location, all in their submission email. Otherwise this info can take some searching.

Please bear a thought for your hoster next time you join in an online event and try and do everything you can to make their job as easy as possible.

OK - that's all my thoughts for now. Please add any more of your own.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What's our responsibility as food bloggers?

This is a topic I have been thinking about for quite a while and I hope that my line of thinking doesn't come across as too disjointed. What do you think our responsibility is, as food bloggers, to our readers and to local restaurants and the like? Do we have an obligation to be anonymous and to disclose any relationships to the organizations we blog about?

I think it all really started when I went to a new local establishment a few months back and the employee who was working there said "Oh, there have been bloggers coming through here all day." How do you know they are bloggers, I asked. He replied that sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes they just outright announce themselves.

Hm.

I know that we don't all aspire to be like journalists, but I would say that to generalize, many of us are trying to do something that becomes a resource for people.

If we are to become a resource, then do we have an obligation to act more along the lines of journalists, who would stay anonymous and quiet while doing "research"?

For my part, I would hope that any blog review I read of a restaurant or product is based on an unbiased enough experience that I, as a complete stranger to the product, can go in and get a pretty close replication of the experience that I read about in a review. I also believe that food blog reviews on the whole won't be taken seriously by the food industry until we hash out these issues among ourselves.

Is this something that any of the rest of you have thought about? Under what circumstances do you actually announce yourself to a business as a blogger? And what about receiving free things - do you accept them or turn them down? Do you disclose relationships in blog reviews? What conclusions have you reached for your blog?

meta tags and search engines

Not all of the search engines use meta tags but they can help. These are tags that are in the head section of your page. In your template, look for:

<head>
<title><$BlogPageTitle$></title>
<$BlogMetaData$>


You can add something like this under the "title" line:

<meta name="description" content="brief description of your page" />
<meta name="keywords" content="keywords for your page, separate, by commas" />
<meta name="author" content="name(s) of author(s) of page" />


This meta tag checker (scroll down the page to plug your URL into the form) can help to put your site into the search engines like Google and Altavista. DO NOT PAY TO PUT YOUR SITE INTO A SEARCH ENGINE!!!! Just follow the guidelines presented by the analysis done on your page.

Once a site gets into a search engine, generally, other search engine robots will spider the link and the site will be added to the other search engines.

Hope that helps.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Linking to other sites

What do you consider the etiquette for adding sites to the list of links over to the side (Tasty sites/sites I visit/additional reading/daily reading/whatever, is there a more formal name for that?) of your own?

If you link to a site that way, do you go ahead and email the person and then expect (assuming its appropriate material) to be added to their list too? Some people's (Pim comes to mind) sites are such food blogging hubs they have an entire page dedicated to this (oh, and Kiplog too, of course), while some people just seem to have one or two links to sites that truly interest them. I love using those links to find new blogs, so sites that have a lot of links are always places I return to.

I find that if I somehow notice someone (food or otherwise) has my blog linked from theirs I will instantly add them to mine, even if I don’t think any of my readers will care about their site or not, I just figure its rude not too. I am also incredibly flattered when I do notice it, so it’s also just my way of saying thanks. Then again, sometimes I get requests to be added, and I normally do that too.

So, what is your feeling on the etiquette of these links? Do you think there should BE a standard etiquette? Can’t wait to hear your answers!

Thanks everyone! Rachael

Thursday, May 12, 2005

[traffic] Listings on search engines

This is a first for me: I just received this email. I normally would sign my site up to any search englines I come across. But I have a silly aversion to solicitation. It's kind of suprising that this guy went to the trouble of writing me personal mail to try and get me to sign up. I've seen this kind of thing before, for people trying to sell food products, and wanting me to write about them (I always politely decline). Did anyone else get this mail? Has anyone signed up their sight with this engline? Has it bought you lots of new visitors?

Davidk@mail.cfwebsource.com

I visited your site today (which is where I got your email address) and it's a great site.
Have you got your site listed free in www.searchmonster.org? Many sites similar to yours are listed.

In case you are not familiar with the importance of being listed in searchmonster.org, let me just mention one of the many features that will drive traffic to your site;
They offer a free Macromedia flash download of their entire directory, which is now running on 1000's of other websites. This means your one submission to searchmonster.org will get you listed in thousands of other websites.

There are MANY MORE features that are even more powerful and will help your page ranking in Google, but I'll let go to http://www.searchmonter.org to check them out for yourself.

Good luck to you,
David

Saturday, May 07, 2005

[misc] trackbacks (of my tears)

I'd love a plain language explanation of trackbacks and why I should care about them. Or if I shouldn't care. Or something. :-)

I get the idea that they provide linkage between posts and other blogs that reference those posts, but why? Is it sort of a modern equivalent of calling cards--like "Sam came to visit today and wrote something about this post on her blog." Does it make any difference in (gee, I was going to say rankings, but...I am not even sure if that would apply here) anything external to the blog? Act as a useful traffic driver? Let you know your fellow bloggers are thinking and writing about the same topics as you?

I am technical enough that if I care about them I am sure I can figure out how to use them, but I apparently need to be shown the light on them.
  • What's the point?
  • What's the payoff?
  • What's the downside?
  • What's the frequency, Kenneth? (mass creds to those who get the reference)
Thanks in advance for your help clearing the fog that surrounds the mystery of the trackback...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

[Misc] Deleting comments that annoy you

How do you all feel about administrating your blog comments? Obviously, the spam you get rid of. But there is another level of post that is just annoying or off-topic or insulting. I am always torn about these. I mean, it is my blog, but how free do I have to let people be in posting their comments?

For example:

* You write a rave review of a restaurant and someone comes on and offers a differing opinion that they can't stand the place.

* Someone comes on to my blog -- an acquaintance actually -- and jokingly states that anyone who believes that we should know the source of our beef is a communist. Inflamatory and rude.

What do you think? Am I the only one who struggles with this?

(glad to join the forum - great discussions so far!)

Jen

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Language Translation2

http://www.avantbrowser.com/ is the home page for a great browser. I use it in addition to Internet Explorer. I pull up an Italian or French or German blog I want to read and copy the permalink into Avant brower and pull it up there. Then I hit the tools pull down menu and Translate is the first link. I have several options for translation. I can read most any website this way, regardless of language.

I also keep another explorer browser window upon with babelfish.com open so that I can paste my English comment into it and translate into the language of the blog I want to post on. I sometimes get comments from the blog host saying my language use is a bit funny, but it has never been called rude.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

[Photos] Using Picassa2 For Multiple Blogspots

I have two blogspots. One for food blogging and the other for family related blogging. I'm at my wits end trying to figure out how to send photos from Picassa2 to Hello for a secondary blogspot using the same computer. My primary site is recognized and therefore no problems sending photos. I tried adding a 'friend' but it did not recognize the ID. Anyone have any suggestions?