For me one of the most enjoyable aspects of garden blogging is hearing what other people have to say about whatever I post about and commenting and sounding off on their boards. Whenever someone leaves a comment on my blog I try to respond right away to the comment and/or I'll reciprocate with a comment on their blog. I do it because the interactivity of blogging is what has the greatest appeal for me. I live a pretty insular gardening life, by that I mean I don't know another person in real life that does it to the point where they know anything other than common names. I had that realization not long ago when I called the extension office and tried to pronounce "Mina Lobata" over the phone. It dawned on me that I wasn't sure how to pronounce the name and that I had never actually said the word out-loud before.
I'm digressing, again. This entry is suppose to be about a garden blogging tip.
Commenting and responding are very important tools to building e-friendships and making your garden blog a fun place to visit. I got a timely e-mail from LaGringa today on the subject of commenting on my blogs. It seems she's having trouble commenting on my blogs because I have chosen to make my comment box open in a new window when you click on it. The problem is that the pop-up window sometimes is rather small and doesn't allow you to make it larger to view everything comfortably. I only noticed the same thing yesterday while responding to Dragon Stone on one of my blogs. I'd never noticed the problem because I always respond from e-mail (more on that below) and don't have to use the pop-up window. The reason I used the option of a pop-up window for comments is because I'm a right-clicker who hates to lose his place when surfing the net. I don't like navigating with the back and forward buttons because a lot of sites disable that to keep you locked on their page. So I right click all links I come across and open them in a new window. Once I'm done looking at whatever interested me I close the window and go back to where I was. Because of my surfing habits I figure everyone must be like me and right-click links so they don't lose their place. So if you're having problems on blogs with seeing comments, that have been selected to open in a pop-up window, right click the comments link and set it to open in a new window or new tab if you're using Fire Fox. The comments will be large and easy to read especially on popular blogs like Carol's.
From the Blogger dashboard you can select whether or not you want your comments to open in a new window by following this: Settings>Comments and select the "yes" or "no" radio button next to the question "Show comments in new window." For now I'm going to leave the option on my blogs for them to show up in a new window and hope that people right lick the link to have it open in a new window which is much larger than the pop-up window. But if I hear that it's a problem for more people I may use the other option.
Maybe you don't want people to comment on your garden blog and that's fine, but if you want to allow comments Blogger gives you three options from the drop down menu next to the question "Who can comment?" I chose "anyone" for my blog so that people who don't use blogger can leave a comment or question if they come here. But you can choose from "only members of this Blog", "only registered users" (meaning people using Blogger) or "anyone." Remember TypePad users are bloggers too, so give them the option of commenting.
"But what about spam or jerks?"
I forget the specifics but recently I was reading on GVs about a visitor to a blog leaving some nasty comments for a blogger, I haven't had that problem, yet, but I have had to deal with spam once in a while. Fortunately blogger gives you a couple of options to deal with both cases. Under Settings>Comments select the "yes" radio button next to the question "Show word verification for comments?" That will display a series of letters on you comments that someone must type before their comment is allow to go through. This cuts off the spam bots from posting to your blog. If you're having a problem with someone leaving comments that are not appropriate in some way you can enable comment moderation for your blog. That gives you total control over what makes it onto your blog's comments because comments don't get posted until you read and approve them to go onto your blog. Using both of these tools either in combination or individually will help you keep your comments area nice and clean.
Finally make sure to add your e-mail address where it says "Comment notification address." What this does is send you an e-mail for every comment left on your blog. You don't have to visit your blog to see if someone has left you a comment because they're delivered right to your in box.
I've noticed a few new additions to the blogosphere by members of GW as GVs popularity has taken off. If you spot a blog that's obviously new take a moment to leave them a comment about anything on their blog. It's good karma and you may make a new friend.