Archive for January, 2007


So I made the 2,000 blogger list…

…and all I had to was ask.

Check out the official 2,000 bloggers list and see if you can get in before it’s too late.

2000 Bloggers

It’s an honor to be a part of this list. :-)

-Eric Odom

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The power of YouTube, the blogosphere, and the internet in politics

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Dan Rather I instantly think “blogosphere”. It’s almost astonishing to consider how quickly the media world forced themselves to forget the power of the internet and its community. One of the most influential News Hosts was taken down by a handful of bloggers, and when I say taken down, I mean he went down in flames. But that seems to be long gone now. It’s not even brought up in most related conversations.

The good news is, the blogosphere is alive and well. In fact, I would say the community is sitting quietly, waiting for the 2008 campaign trail to really start heating up. I predict the internet will play a major role in the outcome of the 2008 election cycle and we’ll begin seeing new forms of information dominance move in to play.

A good example of this just dropped in to my inbox. Apparently, Mitt Romney’s exploratory committee is stumbling around grasping for damage control over a YouTube video of an earlier debate where Romney openly supported abortion rights and gay rights. Something he’s since stood against.

Call it the YouTube effect, and it is only growing. The video-sharing site, which less than a year after its founding was bought by Google for $1.65 billion, has revolutionized the transfer of information via video, spawned a number of imitators and forced candidates to recalibrate choices, from their announcement strategies to their staffing decisions.

The Mitt Romney exploratory committee almost immediately launched a video re-stating their claim. You have to applaud the quick action by the campaign team, but also admit that this kind of thing will cause head aches for just about any political campaign out there. And so it should.

Long gone are the days where politicians could dance the night away in secrecy while pretending to be a “public servant” in the public eye. The internet, the social networks, and US, the bloggers, are hot on their trails and we will not let up.

It’s time for honesty. It’s time for transparency. And if the government isn’t going to give it to us, then we’ll just have to provide it for ourselves.

God bless the internet… and God bless America!

-Eric Odom
ConservaBlogs.com

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ConservaBlogs Blog Network/Blogroll

Warner Todd Huston recently suggested we begin linking our blogs together to create a network and increase both traffic and rankings for the overall community. Thanks to this suggestion we now have a blogroll/network established and it’s ready for use.

If you’re a ConservaBlogger, or even a Conservative/Libertarian blogger who is not using our free Wordpress hosting and you wish to join, simply follow the instructions on the official page.

JOIN NOW!

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ConservaBlog Theme Vault

I’m getting a LOT of e-mails about Wordpress Themes and most of our bloggers appear to be on the hunt for something simple, clean, fast loading, and straight to the point. Because of this I’ve decided to list the themes I currently have on file. These themes are ready for upload at any time.

If you see a theme you like and want to use, simply post a request in the “Blog Support” section of the support forums.

-activate-10
This is the theme Publius Forum is using on his blog. It’s a great theme, however, I must warn that the sidebar is not at all easy to work with. I myself have had serious issues getting it to display items and images properly. If you’re new to code and Wordpress I would recommend you not attempt to use this theme.

-blue-zinfandel-squared-enhanced-20
I just installed this template for Joe Enge, and I must admit, it’s probably one of the most user friendly themes I’ve worked with to date. It’s very fast, clean, and doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. If you’re looking for something simple, this might be the theme you’re after.

-durable
This theme, once figured out, can act as a news site or content management system.

-exhausted
A simple and clean blue/gray theme

-fadtastic
This theme is HOT, but be aware, it might take a little learning to get used to making it fit your needs.

-Fresh
Fresh is the theme that powers www.conservablogs.com.

-ISM
Simple and easy to use two column theme.

-k2
k2 is one of the most downloaded Wordpress themes currently available. It’s a simple blue and white theme that is VERY search engine friendly and fairly easy to customize.

-Thought Mechanics
These guys have some excellent designs for us to use. Check them out!

-GlossyBlue
I haven’t yet tried this one, but it looks pretty slick and I might have to give it a run to see what it’s all about. It looks great!

-qwilm-03
This theme is fun! I used it on a tech/gadget blog last year and loved every minute of it.

-tech-o-crunch

-terrafirma
This is a VERY simple and easy to use theme. The theme is currently being used on the McCain Watch Blog.

Remember, you can surf through the thousands of themes available online!

If you need help with uploading themes please post a thread in the support forum.

Regards,
-Eric Odom
ConservaBlogs.com

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Stop spam comments with Akismet plugin for Wordpress

After only a little over a month of being online and offering free Wordpress hosting for Conservative and Libertarian bloggers, we’ve already began seeing a plethora of spam comment issues. As we grow, so will this problem. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you activate the Akismet plugin located under the “plugin” tab of your admin/control panel.

In order for this hack to work, you’ll need an official Wordpress API key, which you can obtain here.

After you activate the plugin you’ll see a message saying you still need to enter the API key. Click on the link and enter the key. That’s it! You’re all set and the plugin “should” stop most, if not all, comments that Wordpress has deemed spam.

Enjoy!

-Eric Odom
Director of Internet Operations
Citizen Outreach

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Looking for a Wordpress theme to give your blog a new feel?

A few years back you would be out of luck if you didn’t know how to code and needed a good look for your blog, but now that Wordpress has moved into the top ranks of blogging software, developers are lining up to create new themes for the public masses. The following is a list of places you can go to find new Wordpress themes to use on your ConservaBlog.

The Official Wordpress Theme Site
This is probably the most common place to find a template. Wordpress, being open source and community driven, allows users to upload templates they design so that anyone using Wordpress can download them and use them on their blogs.

Personally, I find the Wordpress theme site difficult to use because its search and sorting feature doesn’t do a whole lot of good. That being said, there are still TONS of themes there and if you have time to sift through them you’ll more than likely find something that fits your taste.

Alex King Theme Directory
Alex King has long been praised for his list of Wordpress themes. It’s an extensive list, but you’ll probably want to use the theme viewer so you can see what a theme actually looks like before getting more information.

BloggingPro
This is my favorite hot spot for Wordpress themes. BloggingPro has a constant watch on the theme industry and has posted some of the cleanest and most desirable themes that can be found on the internet.

This list should help you get started in finding a new theme for your blog. Keep in mind that in order to get the theme to your blog admin/control panel, you’ll need to use an ftp client to upload the files to our server. If you are not familiar with ftp you can post a request in the support forums and we’ll upload the files for you.

-Eric Odom
ConservaBlogs.com

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ConservaBlogs Basics

Bloggers from all walks of life are finding ConservaBlogs.com to be the perfect fit for a blogging home. We offer free Wordpress hosting with virtually unlimited space for posting, file hosting, and bandwidth is something we’ll continue to pump into the system as we grow. With this in mind, it’s no wonder so many folks are getting comfortable here at ConservaBlogs.com.

Now that we’re coming out of beta we’re starting to see many levels of internet skills here on our servers. Some bloggers have been doing this for years and in turn have learned the ropes of the seemingly complex code structure of Wordpress. Others are just getting started and the whole thing could be seen as a tad bit overwhelming.

If you’re new to blogging, or have never used Wordpress before, this post will be an excellent starting point to help you properly launch your blog and get off to a great start.

We’ll start with the basics.

First, when you apply for a blog here at ConservaBlogs.com, our team has to go in and manually install the software to the server. Once your blog is set up and can be found on the internet, you’ll find that everything is set to the default settings and it might temporarily seem a little messy. Fear not my friends, we’re going to walk you through it step by step.

When you receive your welcome e-mail and visit your new blog for the first time, you’ll see something like this.

New Blog

This is what you’re supposed to see. The template shown above is the default template that comes with a Wordpress install. It “should” be the template you see when you first view your blog.

Now, in the lower left you’ll see a “login” button/link. Click the link to be taken to your blogs login page.

Wordpress Login

Enter your login details. These details should be included with your welcome e-mail.

Once you login you’ll see your control/admin panel.

Wordpress Control Panel

Dashboard is the start page in your control panel. From there you can navigate to any other part of the control panel. If you wish to continue using the default theme for your blog, then you can skip this step. If you do want to look at the other templates already available for ConservaBlogs, click on the “presentation” tab/link.

You should now see images of the templates readily available in your admin panel. To pick a different theme simply click on the image of the theme you wish to use. If the theme changed, you’ll see a message saying the change was completed.

Your new theme is installed and you can begin tinkering with the options. Click on “options” and you’ll see another row of tabs open up under the main set of links/buttons in the admin panel.

The best way to become familiar with the available options is to surf around in the different tabs available under the options menu. Remember, changes only take place if you click the “save” button, so don’t worry about messing something up while you have a look around.

The following is a list of the most common changes made to new blogs before posting begins.

1) General Options
Under the general options menu, you’ll see a list of items you can change.
-Weblog Title
This is the title of your blog and it displays at the top of every page in your site. This is also the title that will show up in search engines, as well as in the top of your browser. Feel free to change this at anytime, but keep in mind that search engines don’t really like a lot of changes to site titles. It’s probably a good idea to pick a title right up front and try to stick with that title for as long as possible.
-Tagline
This is the brief description, or “catch phrase” that will appear below the title of your blog at the top of every page. You can leave this blank if you don’t have anything to put there, but it is recommended that you try and put something there. A good tip is to try and use this to tell your readers what your blog is about in a few words.
-Wordpress address (URI) and Blog address (URI)
Please leave this as is.
-Membership
This is completely up to you, but it is a good idea to NOT require people to log in for commenting. The reason is that not all visitors and readers will be willing to take the extra step of logging in to comment on your blog.
-UTC time
The default setting for time will more than likely be off for bloggers located in the US. You’ll need to change this so that your posts appear at the time that is local to you. In my case, I live in Nevada so I’m in Pacific Coast Time Zone. This means I need to change the time by -8 hours so that it reflects the time zone that I live in.

Once you have your desired settings in place, click “update options”. This will save your changes.

The rest of the options menu is fairly basic and self explanatory. There are a few other options worth a short mention. One being under the “Writing” tab and reads “Users should use the visual rich editor by default”. This is checked by default, however, I personally prefer to not use the visually rich editor because it isn’t friendly to a lot of formats when pasting text. The simple editor will make posting a much quicker process.

The second option that needs a change is highly recommended. In fact, we encourage you to take this step and ask that all bloggers in the network make this change before posting begins.

Under “permalinks” you’ll see that by default the “http://conservablogs.com/joeenge/?p=123″ option is checked. This needs to be changed to the “http://conservablogs.com/joeenge/2007/01/21/sample-post/” option because search engines seem to give more credit to a page URL/domain ends in words that match the title of the page as opposed to a page URL/domain that ends in numbers and symbols.

Making the change to your permalink structure benefits the entire ConservaBlog community. It’s important that we all make the update so that as one site we begin ranking well in the search engines.

The rest of the admin/control panel is quite simple to get a feel for once you’ve spent a little time exploring the different pages and options.

Hopefully this post will help you get set up and ready to blog. If you have any other questions feel free to post in the ConservaBlogs forums.

-Eric Odom
ConservaBlogs.com

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Firefox Extension: Fire ftp

Last night I received a copy of an e-mail conversation between Crystal and one of the ConservaBloggers. The blogger was on the hunt for a way to use ftp to get files to his hosting account and didn’t quite know where to start.

Here at ConservaBlogs we use a specific plugin for Firefox to handle all of our ftp needs. The extension, Fire ftp, is arguably one of the easiest to use ftp clients available via open source.

Fire ftp

First, in order to use this you’ll need to scrap that crappy Internet Explorer browser and pick up the free browser, Firefox. Then go to the plugin page and download the Firefox extension.

You’ll love it!

-Eric

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Wordpress Plugin: Social Bookmarks

Warner Todd Huston of Publius Forum just installed the Social Bookmarks plugin on his blog so I decided I would go ahead and post about it in case anyone else was interested.

The Social Bookmarks plugin for Wordpress is one of my favorite plugins and I use it on a good 50% of the blogs I run. Basically, the plugin places image links to all the major social networking sites at the bottom of every post or page of your blog. This allows any reader to click the image and submit your story to the social networking sites. It’s a great way to get your stories published on other sites, and if you make it to the front page of one of these sites, you’ll find up to 10,000 visits within a few hours.

You can see the plugin in action here.

Social Bookmarks (formerly known as Social Bar) is a WordPress plugin that adds a list of XHTML compliant graphic links at the end of your posts that allow your visitors to easily submit them in a number of different social bookmarking sites. You can see the plugin in action at the end of the article (just before the comments section). Furthermore, the plugin adds a page in the WordPress admin section that lets you customize it.

This plugin is free and available to all ConservaBloggers.

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Using Directories for Backlinks

I belong to a private mailing list that sends out daily tips and hints for search engine optimization. While I find most of the techniques discussed to be morally bankrupt, it’s always fascinating to read what the latest cheats and hacks for search engines are.

Today a quick blurb about directories dropped in and I find it quite intriguing. The e-mail mentioned the use of web directories, such as the famous Site Sift directory, for the purpose of creating backlinks that can boost search engine rankings.

Using web directories for link bait is old news, but I thought Google had taken preventative measures to ensure these kinds of links were devalued in an attempt to cut back on spam? According to this particular e-mail, web directories still play a valuable role in SEO.

I guess black hat SEO is still OK with Google. Shame isn’t it?

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