Archive for the 'Blogging Tips' Category


Are you still using Internet Explorer?

Browser WarsOK, according to my statistics, there are still a ton of visitors to my site that are using Internet Explorer. Why that is I cannot for the life of me understand. Some of you might have a good reason, and if so, please let me know what that reason is.

But if there are Internet Explorer users visiting this site that are only using Internet Explorer because it’s what you already have, it’s what you’re used to, and you don’t know there are other options, this post is for you.

Internet Explorer is, by far, the worst excuse for a browser that exists today. It has holes all over its code structure that allows bugs, spyware, and other unwantable things to cause havic in your computer. Not only is it unsecure, it can also make your web surfing experience a pain in the butt.

The other day I had to jump on a computer that only had IE on it, and it was a nightmare of an experience. Pop-ups happened about once every three minutes, half of the content on most sites I visited was being pushed down below the threshold of the sites, and it wasn’t fast and user friendly like I’m used to.

It prompted me to check out my sites in IE, and to my surprise, older versions of IE are ripping my sites to pieces. Even this very blog gets all messed up when viewed with older versions of IE. My sidebar gets pushed down to the fotter and other parts of the site simply don’t appear.

I’m working on fixing it all, but I feel I shouldn’t have to. That, however, is an argument for another day.

So what are your options? Well, my personal favorite for Windows is Firefox. Firefox is free, fast, clean, sexy, and has all kinds of goodies you can use. Once you get the Fox, you’ll never look back.


Firefox 2

MAC users might prefer Opera, as I understand it. I’ve never used it, so my knowledge is limited, but I have a couple of friends who swear by it.

Opera 9 - Innovation delivered

There are many browsers to choose from. You’ll certainly find no shortage of options. Just please, for the love of God, get rid of that skanky Internet Explorer.

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Linkworth enters “Pay Per Post” club

Text link advertising firm Linkworth has officially entered the Pay Per Post market.

Linkworth

First off, I like Linkworth. I’ve been a publisher for about two years now and they send a few hundred bucks my way every month. The links have always been on intrusive and I’ve had full control over who I accept as advertisers and who I reject. And most of my advertisers are happy because about 75% of them have been with more for more than a year.

But I would question this new move. Pay Per Post is a marketing scheme that allows advertisers to pay bloggers to write a post about their product or service. Back in 2006 I actually did a couple of these, making sure it was clear that the post was a PAID REVIEW. But since then I’ve been against the practice and will never do it again.

It’s not that I’m against the idea altogether, because if one is responsible about it, I believe it can be done without harming the blogosphere. The problem is… not everyone is responsible and it has started a whole new breed of spam blogs.

The controversy is not new. When PayPerPost.com hit the scene the blogosphere went wild. Many big timers came out against it and the debate grew into a very healthy level of dialog. It’s a debate that has yet to be resolved.

Business Week published a column titled “Polluting The Blogosphere” that you may want to read.

But moving on to Linkworth…

The following was just received via a Linkworth newsletter.

LinkPost – Paid Blog Reviews

The second product is called “LinkPost”. LinkPost allows partners to be paid for reviewing products and/or services from an advertiser. To qualify for this service, you must list your blog/site into our system. Once advertisers select your blog for a review, you can review their requirements and product to be written about. At that point, you can either select to write about it or decline the offer.

There is no mention of requiring a disclaimer. This means that any spam blog can pop up giving paid reviews which can artificially inflate the importance, quality, value, or relevance of a product or service.

It’s encouraging to know that Linkworth is looking to expand it’s product line, but I’m not so sure this is the right direction to move in.

Thoughts?

-Eric Odom

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Sitemeter spyware saga continues…

Sitemeter users are bailing out at record numbers and the stat counting company has still not posted anything about it in their blog, privacy policy, or public website. In the end this will be a very painful lesson on how NOT to handle your public relations issues.

Since my original post, this blog has received about 250 to 350 visits per day searching for information regarding Sitemeter’s sell out to spyware advertisers. And since that first post, the blogosphere has been working overtime making sure that readers and other bloggers are aware of the devastating decision made by Sitemeter.

The following illustration was posted over at Debbie’s Blatherings.

Sitemeter Spyware

Many of you use a service called Sitemeter to monitor your traffic; I do, or at least I used to. According to this post, the service is allowing a third-party spyware firm to plant cookies on their customers’ Web site visitors. The company was also apparently unwilling to respond to allegations, but did admit to at least one user that they have been beta testing a third-party cookie.

I have removed the Sitemeter counter from Blatherings, Inkygirl, and my Filk FAQ, will be removing it from my other blogs as well. I’m disappointed because I have been using Sitemeter’s service for several years and been happy with it up to now, and also just bought an upgraded account for Inkygirl.

Debbie isn’t the first to yank the Sitemeter code. I myself removed it from several blogs and I’ve seen countless posts over the past two weeks from bloggers who said the same.

It looks like this headache Sitemeter has created for itself isn’t going away anytime soon. This, my friends, is why you should NEVER deal with anyone who is could in any way be associated with spyware.

Just sayin’…

-Eric Odom

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Top ten online tools that will change US elections in 08′

There is a BIG shift in the way political campaigns conduct election war these days. During the 2006 elections I was contracted to do some work for Sharron Angle for Congress and it was a very educational experience and the race taught us many things about the new direction of political campaign marketing.

In our race for congress we were lucky that the opposition had little experience in online marketing. The reason we were lucky is that I had my hands full with other parts of the campaign and couldn’t spend any time on the website or out and about in the www community.

In the end we lost by about 400 votes, but the knowledge that came from working on such a campaign is something I’m thankful for. I was able to see one of our opponents get ripped to shreds by the online community because he virtually ignored them and his site did everything possible to avoid having to engage the group. At the time, this attitude worked because the social networks of Nevada were limited. Now, however, these networks have gained big momentum and I believe that if we were to see a repeat of that race he would have a very tough time slipping by without getting the online community involved.

The same can be said across the country. With more and more voters and activists moving their networks to the web, political campaigns are forced to move in that direction with their campaign plans and message marketing schemes. I believe we’re witnessing the birth of a new era in US elections.

Political campaigns would be wise to lend an ear to this massive movement of information and there are a plethora of tools that can help them do just that. I’ve compiled a list of what I believe will be the top ten players in internet activism.

1) DiggThis one is probably obvious, but I picked Digg.com as the number one resource for political campaigns. I’m not at all suggesting that campaigns “spam” Digg, but they certainly need to have staff keep an eye on the stories hitting the front page because of the level of influence Digg has.

The Digg community is now enormous and it would be a poor decision for a campaign to ignore the power of the the internet’s most prominent social networking site.

PLUS, Digg has lent a hand to any campaign willing to pay attention. The social networking giant recently added a 2008 US Elections category that is already a hot ticket in tracking popular election news. Knowing what stories are the most important for tens of thousands of internet users can be very beneficial in the age of information dominance.

2) YouTube YouChoose will certainly be at the top of the list.

Earlier this year we watched the likes of Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney, John Edwards, John McCain, and Joe Biden (just to name a few) embrace the power of video blogging, or vlogging. Hillary Clinton even went as far as to announce her candidacy via a YouTube video. YouTube YouChoose

In this day and time a lot of the marketing sector is about visuals. If you can create a visual for people to take in while listening to your message, the chances of them actually ingesting your message, remembering it, and then spreading it are much greater.

YouTube is also clearly one of the easiest and cheapest ways to put videos on the web and have them instantly enter social networks across the country.

A political campaign would be foolish to not embrace this free and powerful online tool.

3) Open CongressOpen Congress, a new addition to the social networking family, is quickly moving up the rank ladder and the community appears to be picking up traction at solid speed.

From the site:

OpenCongress brings together official government information with news and blog coverage to give you the real story behind what’s happening in Congress.

The site blends information it scrapes from government websites with news and opinion found throughout the web, and then it allows users to track, vote, comment and be involved in the overall outcome.

Political campaigns can use this to discover what issues are being watched and which ones slip through the cracks. Open Congress may not be the most important tool on the list, but it does deserve a mention and I wish them all the best in making their site work for all of us.

4) NingNing, home of the custom social network creation tool, is bound to turn heads once it grows into a major player in the social networking scene. The site is heavy on the Web 2.0 side and allows users to create their own social network on any topic they can dream up.

I can see this tool being used by activists and political campaigns who wish to rally users around an issue or marketing push. Bloggers can also harness the power of this new tool by building a network that revolves around their blog. It’s a fairly new concept, but one that can be very effective should the right person get a hold of its theory.

5) Technorati. You might ask… “are there really people that DON’T use Technorati?” In short, yes.

While Technorati blog search might not be able to funnel a lot of traffic in any specific direction, it can allow campaigns to keep an eye on what the hottest topics of the web are. A good example of this would be the recent comments by Ann Coulter about John Edwards. The comments were extremely controversial and in turn put Ann Coulter’s name as a top search in the Technorati index. This would say to anyone paying attention that the community is interested in the story and therefor political campaigns could and should have their networks talking it up as well.

Plus, there is simply no reason that ANY blog not be in Technorati’s index. Political campaigns would be wise to be running blogs that can add Technorati tags to posts and they should be pinging the blog search king every time something new is added to their sites and blogs.

6) Mozes is an upcoming player in social networking that puts a different twist on things. The site allows users to send out text messages to social networks and is proving to be quite effective.mozes

You might think this is a silly idea, but keep in mind that this was actually a very serious topic of discussion for both the GOP and DNC last year during the election cycle. It hasn’t yet been fully understood in the political realm, but bands are using it with wild success and I think this can be used to our advantage once we realize the best way to implement it in a political campaign.

Why try calling everyone on your list about a rally when you can simply shoot out a text message? Makes sense to me.

Mozes is currently used mostly by bands to promote shows and such. But I think an enterprising candidate or activist could use Mozes (or a similar service) to update users on the candidate’s schedule or to send out a message of the week. Users could just text the phrase “obama” to 66937 and get back whatever message the campaign crafts and subscribe to receive additional alerts.

7) MyBlogLog is a tool that I’ve only just began using, but one that I’ve already had great networking success with. The social networking tool allows you to get to know a little more about your readers and who they are.

Instead of the traditional stat counters MyBlogLog tracks users coming to your site and then displays their picture, along with a link to their profile on your blog. To see an example just look at the lower part of the sidebar on my blog. I’ve got the code running there and you can see a short list of my most recent MyBlogLog visitors.

Once you actually get to the site, you’ll also find that there are a lot of active communities and the growth has been phenomenal to date. Through MyBlogLog I’ve met a plethora of bloggers who I never would have met had I not signed up.

8) eventfulEventful. While in DC last week I got to meet with some of the brains behind a new Event tracking social networking site called Eventful. The guys gave me a tour through the system and I must admit… I’m hooked.

Eventful allows users to submit events in their areas, and then vote them up if they think they are good events. The system runs similar to Digg in that the community decides what’s hot and what’s not.

It’s a great way to promote an event, as well as find out what events are in any given town or city. Plus, the site includes tools that allow you to export events to Outlook, Yahoo, and Google calendars.

9) MySpace. I hate MySpace so I’m not going to say much about it. That being said, it will more than likely play a role in the 2008 elections because of its size and level of influence.

10) The last tool that can be helpful is Google Alerts. Google Alerts allow you to be notified when any persons name, any issue, or any other search term you submit is found by Google’s search spiders. Google will send you e-mail notifications when something is found, letting you know what is going on with yourself or anyone else you might be watching.

Now I know there are plenty more tools out there, but I think that if political campaigns work hard to build a network through all of the tools mentioned above they will have a serious online reputation. Whether that reputation is good or bad is completely up to the candidate.

Either way, political campaigns are now going to have to build online communities and social networks. I believe this realm is now a major part of campaigning for office in the United States.

Thoughts?

-Eric Odom

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I’ve joined MyBlogLog

This is COMPLETELY new to me. For someone who spends countless hours surfing the blogosphere, I don’t know why it’s taken so long to discover and enjoy this new social network.

MyBlogLog is a new blogging community service that brings bloggers closer to each other by building networks of information that is compiled and made readily available via user accounts.

I’m still trying to get used to the service and I’m trying to feel out all of the features, but from what I gather, the site allows you to find out more about your readers. In the past, we were only able to see an IP address and a location, along with ISP in regards to our readers. MyBlogLog links you to the profile of your visitor, which allows you to then go and visit thier page and find out who they are, what they do, who they read, and what they blog.

MyBlogLog

I’ve added the code to my sidebar (lower left) and as you can see it now displays my most recent visitors that have a MyBlogLog account. It’s an easy and free way to network with other bloggers, build good linking relationships, and find out what others are up to. And best of all… it’s FREE!!!

Try it out!

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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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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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8 Tips On Making The Front Page Of Digg

I personally have made it to the front page with two stories, so I understand what the wave of traffic and attention feels like once you’re there. I also now understand what all the fuss is about, thanks to having one of my blogs crash in the middle of the day. The traffic Digg can shoot to any URL should have anyone who tracks this sort of thing drooling on their shoes.

Making the Digg homepage is no easy feat. The community is bulging with new users and user “clubs” that bounce around looking for stories to Digg. You can rest assured knowing that the chances are pretty good you won’t be hitting the front page anytime soon. Unless of course, you find a groove.

How do you find that groove? Well, very few people know the true formula for Digg.com, but there are some proven tips that seem to hold sound logic. One of the best lists of tips I’ve found to date was posted over at SEO Egghead.

Read the list of 8 ways to get your story Dugg.

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Tips & tricks that help you find the latest news

In a growing blogosphere it can be difficult to try and stay ahead of the pack. Keeping up with the news is no easy task. Having the latest news tips and information is one of the best ways of making sure your blog is getting a piece of the traffic pie. With that being said, it can also be one of the most time consuming ways of growing your readership.

Fortunately for us, there are now a plethora of free tools available for the general public. These tools can make watching the news as it happens a much easier process. The following is a list of ways you can make your story finding journey a little more pleasant.

Technorati
Technorati is a massive blog search engines that combines tagging with spider crawls for a result that makes fumbling through the blogosphere an enjoyable experience. The tool allows you to search using your own keywords if you’re looking for something specific, or you can use keywords that others are using. You can also opt to search popular tags for a niche specific surfing experience.

Technorati has a full grasp of the importance of RSS and offers feeds for just about any page on the site. The results of Technorati are virtually real time, so you know you’re always getting the latest chatter.

PRWeb
PRWeb is arguably one of the biggest press release distribution services on the web. The amount of press releases that flow through the site on a daily basis is hard to fathom. With this amount of information being passed, you can guarantee you’ll be able to find news that hasn’t even hit the press yet.

Unfortunately, PRWeb is a little difficult to navigate. The categories are not well laid out and finding the right feeds for your niche can be a challenge. However, if you do find the right feeds you’re guaranteed to get the latest news at it’s released.

StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon is a concept that I think is still in its infancy stage. It’s brilliantly simple in the way it’s all laid out, but it hasn’t yet received the traffic and notoriety needed to boost it into the big leagues of social bookmarking.

The idea is basically that you have a button that allows you to surf websites that others flagged as interesting. It works similar to Digg in that the ranking ALGO is user based, but Stumble Upon works behind the scenes instead of using a website based system.

Using the FireFox plugin is the best way to go in my opinion. You can get more information and a download link here.

Digg
Well, this one is a given to be quite honest. Digg is a gold mine of information for any news junkie out there. You have to know your way around to find the good stuff, but it’s there if you’re ready to look for it.

With Digg, most users just visit the most popular links, but fail to stop in to the sub pages where the “upcoming” links can be found. This is where all of the latest news will be posted and this is where you should be.

You can also subscribe to the feeds of these pages and that takes a little leg work out of the process.

Digg for Firefox

LiveMarks
I’ve only recently started watching Live Marks but I think I’ll start working on making more visits and more often. LiveMarks is a project to show del.icio.us and other social bookmarking services in real time. It’s a new and easy way to snag stories as soon as they touch the blogosphere.

Del.icio.us
This is one of the most common social bookmarking services out there. It’s very simple in concept and the network has a ton of traffic.

You can get the Firefox plugin here.

infoRSS
infoRSS is a Firefox extension that synchronizes with Gmail and scrolls your feeds live on the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. I wrote about the plugin over here so if you need more information feel free to take a look.

Then of course you have the obvious sources like Google and Yahoo news. These are good sources, but by the time a story hits these pages it’s a given that they’re already out floating around the web.

That’s all I can think of for now. If you have any other ideas please comment and let me know. I’ll be sure and add them to the list along with a link to your site.

- Eric

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