BlogCatalog Updates

Blogcatalog announced on their blog yesterday some fairly major changes and I just spent an hour or so looking around to get a feel for what has changed.

The first thing I suggest you do is pop over to Blogcatalog and grab a free 7 day trial of their supporters service, so you can actually try out some of these new features (today may be the last day this is available)

Features limited to pro users (currently) include their new broadcast service, which is quite topical after the reaction to the MyBlogLog broadcast service launched a week ago.

Broadcast Messaging

Blogcatalog describes this as:-

What is a Broadcast?

Broadcasts allow you to unobtrusively send a mass message to all users who have added you to their BlogCatalog friends list.

The first thing to note is that this is based around the friends feature, and not the community feature, so if you add someone as a friend, that is giving them consent to send you broadcast messages.

Broadcast messages:-

  • Don’t send an email
  • Only appear on your profile
  • Can only be seen by you
  • Cannot (as far as I can see) contain URLs

Blogcatalog Broadcast

The one thing it is missing is email notification, and possibly including the message in the email (to make it useful)

Blogcatalog does already include individual settings for every other message sent by the service.

Blogcatalog Email Notification
It would be fairly easy to add one more setting to the same page, and it is quite likely that options in the code exist, though I would suggest that the default configuration would be to have the option set to off.

There are 2 reasons why it might be unavailable currently:-

  • Servers – there is a big difference in server load sending out occasional messages, and broadcasting emails to 100s of people at a time. That is actually one of my reservations about using comment subscriptions on a blog, and why I use SMTP with gmail for my comment subscriptions.
  • Intrusion – Daniel the lead developer of Blogcatalog, after he read my review of the MyBlogLog Messaging System, messaged me suggesting the Blogcatalog mass messaging system in development for the previous 3 weeks would be much less intrusive.
Whilst I am working with the Blogcatalog team a little in the background, I had no knowledge when I wrote my views of the MyBlogLog broadcast features that Blogcatalog were working on something similar

I think once Blogcatalog has some heavier duty servers, it would be nice to see some kind of selective email delivery included, and I would actually appreciate being able to include links.
Links are not stated as being allowed HTML, but maybe they can be included anyway.. I have to test it.

Shout To Shout

I could claim that this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and the biggest innovation so far from blogging social networks… but it isn’t, it is just common sense fairly well executed. I am sure it can be improved using ajax, tabs and threading in some way (hmm think Gmail), but for now just the fact that you can have a conversation with someone, and actually display all the conversation on the same page suddenly makes messaging on Blogcatalog useful.

I actually had a problem grabbing screenshots for this, because almost all the conversations I have are in private, so I have just picked on Daniel, and blurred it.
This is just part of one conversation…
shout to shout

This is the kind of thing I have been highlighting a need for in the background, a way to have real communications with people. Another was the Blogcatalog blog that gives me something to link to.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Blogcatalog Blog

New Design

Blogcatalog has had a general overhaul in look and feel – now is the time I wish I had kept a copy of their front page without the annotations.

Before

Blogcatalog before

After

Blogcatalog New

The changes are more cosmetic than anything, and feature throughout the site with minor touches, although I haven’t looked to see if all the XHTML has changed significantly.

On the front page the major difference is the addition of the “The Blog Spotlight” which highlights people who are paid supporters of Blogcatalog. The “languages” had already been replaced by the latest discussions.

What I would like to see is an increase in the amount of categories being displayed. Some of the largest categories are fairly sidelined as far as traffic and link juice are concerned.

Supporter Benefits

One pro benefit I would like to see is the ability to change blog descriptions without them having to pass through some kind of approval process. I have tweaked categories in the past, and the changes went live fairly soon, but I would much prefer as a supporter to be able to make changes on the fly.

With the new Twitter updates being displayed, it would be good to show more than one entry as a single entry can be fairly meaningless. Hopefully the other services planned will not be in the same place on the page. Adding my Diggs or Stumbles is great, but I would want them in a less prominent part of the page.

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more. Follow

Comments

  1. says

    Great review as always Andy.

    We are working on a notification system for the broadcasts, and haven’t launched it already pretty much for the reasons you stated. It’s an intensive process to send out that many e-mails at once. but you can expect something up and running by the end of next week, of course with the option to quickly and painlessly opt out.

  2. says

    I agree totally with you about having to wait for an approval process. I thought that I was the only one that thought that this was tedious, but it would save a lot of time for everyone involved.

  3. says

    You have written a very good review.
    Your name is ringing a bell. Are you a designer of a template used at wordpress? I have recently started using wordpress as it is free, compared to my original site http://sleepingkittendancingdog.blogtoolkit.com which is $39.95 monthly. If you are he, then I have a question. Would you kindly look at the URI address at wordpress and tell me if you are familiar with the template I am using? Should your answer be yes, I need to know how to make updates, to my side bar, widgets, buttons, etc. as I have tried another instruction however, the wordpress refused to accept. Do I need to change templates and which do you recommend in order to keep the features I presently have and be able to add the ones I want. Some as I now have on my original site.

    I truly hope you are the same person I believe you might be. That sounds strange, but I need assistance. Thank you ever so much for your time. Theresa111

    • says

      Theresa

      The Blogtoolkits blog you have isn’t very good value, you can get very good hosting for a WordPress blog for as little as $5 per month.
      That would then be a full version of WordPress on your own domain.

      WordPress.com isn’t free, because you lose freedom.

      1. You can’t currently use lots of features on your blog such as all the widgets you are used to
      2. You cant have advertising on your blog to earn any money
      3. if you decide to move to using other software, you might be able to take your content with you, but you would not retain all the links from other bloggers that bring you traffic.

      Up until now I haven’t released any WordPress themes but I do get mentioned a fair amount on other blogs.

      • says

        Andy, What do you recommend…how do I begin to create the perfect web log site? After everything I have digested thus far, I am willing to make it right. Ready to learn more.

        Really need some guidance. You have my E-mail address and if you would care to assist me, you can give me advice there and it won’t disturb your readers. Thank you very much.

        I have an Apple iMac 10.39 (July 2000) and until I purchase a new Apple, I will be working with my raspberry.

  4. says

    Wanted to quickly mention that our Broadcasts can contain URL’s, they however cannot contain HTML. You should also see a reply feature in the coming days.

    A lot of the feedback I’ve seen so far about our broadcasts has been negative, solely for the fact that many users think it’s the same model as MyBlogLog’s and that by sending the broadcasts they will be annoying a lot of users.

    • says

      Great Daniel, it wasn’t obvious from the allowed HTML elements whether a URL without anchor text would get through, and I didn’t test it.

      I must admit the feature is almost too unobtrusive. Only people who regularly use the shoutbox will currently see the messages below, which is why I think email with the right controls (friend+opt in) is the answer.

      I must admit I haven’t seen anything negative written yet.

  5. says

    Hi Andy,

    This is completely off topic but I couldn’t find your email address/contact form elsewhere on your site so I didn’t know how else to get your attention.

    When you get a chance can you get in touch with me please.

    Yaro
    yaroATblogmastermind.com

  6. says

    Andy,

    I was pretty happy when I read this post a few days ago. So many cool new feature additions.

    But today, when I logged into my Blog Catalog account after 4 or 5 days, EVERYTHING is gone because of their data loss. You may have seen my blog community, profile and friend’s list over at Blog Catalog. Loosing EVERYTHING is a bit too much data loss, don’t you think?

    Though I won’t be active on Blog Catalog anymore, I wish them good luck!

  7. says

    I would look on the way things are worded. Supporters is not the same as paying for additional features, though that is what you get access to, as well as increased exposure.

    I am still a strong supporter of MBL, and they were made aware of this situation well before the readers of my blog, as I hadn’t written or had to comment about either for a few weeks.

    If there was anything out of order in what I stated, my regular readers would have picked me up on it already.

    I practice what I believe is good disclosure, in fact I am a very strong advocate for disclosure.

    The help I am giving BC is no different to the help I have given MBL in the past, the only difference is that they have offered to give me a little compensation for the time I invest if they eventually cash out in some way.

    I noticed you were excited in entering a contest to win $2500 for ideas. I have been giving all the competitors in this niche lots of ideas for months without any financial compensation.

    I think in total I have made something like 40 posts regarding MBL, far fewer for Blog Catalog and Bumpzee, despite the fact I manage what will soon be the second largest community on Bumpzee.

  8. says

    Hey! Blog Catalog looks pretty neat. I just installed it on my blog, along with MyBlogLog, which I’ve been using for a while now. I think I’ll keep both of them on my page for now!

    -Raymond (MONEY BLUE BOOK)

Trackbacks