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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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…
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Blogcatalog Blog
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.
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.
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.