Session 1

Reading and Commenting

Learning Objectives

  • Understand why reading/commenting important to success
  • How to use RSS Reader
  • How to find blogs to read
  • How to comment thoughtfully on blogs


  • Blogs or weblogs or web pages that are frequently updated – the author shares their thoughts and people can comment.
  • Blogs are social media, they are conversational
  • Social media means that anyone can publish
  • There is no longer a gatekeeper
  • Anyone can write a blog on a very narrow topic and find an audience, although a small one. ("The Long Tail")
  • Amazing growth of blogs over the past 3 or 4 years continues
  • Trust factor in social media
  • Blogging as a way to build the community, increase traffic, spread brand awareness, and learn what's on the minds of the audience

Defining Your Beat

Each person on the blogging team should have a clearly defined “beat” that they will cover.

1. List your top three topics in your beat
2. For each one, get more specific and list three top sub-topics in that beat
3. Extra credit: If you are already reading blogs, include three blogs that you enjoy reading about your topic and why.

The Beats Are Very Fluid

Expect your beat to be fluid. New blogs will flow through your beat and lead you to others. Some may be very active, while others may become inactive.

How To Read Blogs: RSS Reader

RSS: What is it?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is a file format for delivering regularly updated information over the web.

Just think about the websites and news information sources you visit. It takes time to visit those sites and find the text you want to read. RSS is a way for you to visit all those sites in one place and instantly find the new information. You need to use a free piece of web software called a RSS reader. Bloglines is one reader I'm going to show you how to use.

Any blog reader will do, of course. The best blog reader for those new to RSS readers is bloglines. Bloglines uses a folder and hierarchical structure that is comfortable to many beginner bloggers (who are not 17). If participants are already using a reader, they can continue to use what they are already comfortable using.

  • How to set up bloglines
  • How to add the subscribe bookmarklet to their browser
  • How to subscribe to a blog
  • How to organize and reorganize folders

Screencast: RSS Reader - Bloglines

Step-by-Step Instructions for Bloglines by Preetamrai
10 Steps to Using Bloglines
YouTube Video Showing how to Add Feeds

A few RSS Readers:

Reflection Questions:

What is the best way for you to organize your feeds for reading and blogging?

Some readings:

Organize by Work Flow or Value
Sink or Swim: Managing RSS Feeds With Better Groups
Organizing Feeds Yet Again
12 Filtering Tips for Better Information in Half the Time: RSS and Bookmarks
RSS Feeds Productivity Tips
A Gentle Intro into RSS

Good RSS Reading Habits

  • Set up aside a small block of time to read your feeds everyday
  • Clean house often, RSS subscriptions tend to pile up
  • Don't feel like you have to read every post on every blog, use the "Mark Read" option

How To Find Blogs To Read

Do this first ...
  • Check out the blogrolls of blogs you are reading and add good ones to your reader
  • Follow the links to other blogs from the blogs you are reading and add good ones to your reader
  • Follow the links to other blogs from people who comment on the blogs you are reading and add good ones to your reader

Which ones to add to your reader?

  • Who's the author?
  • Is the blog updated often?
  • How long have they been blogging?
  • How many community affiliations? (Flickr, widgets, blogrools, badges, etc)
  • Are there lots of comments?
  • Is the writing good? Accurate? Authentic?
  • Is there content that you might incorporate into a blog post?
  • If you decide to add it to your reader, check the side bar (or blog roll) for other similar blogs

Searching for blogs to read

Before your search, do a little brainstorming. You can use a spreadsheet, Google Doc, or paper. Whatever works.

Why Interested?
What do you want to know?
RSS Reader
Be more efficient in reading feeds
What is the best way or organize my feeds?

Search on Google Blog Search

1. Type in key words (example for above)
2. Scan results, filter by publishing date
3. Click through to blogs and evaluate
4. Add blogs that might be useful to your beat to your reader
5. Add RSS feed of the search to your reader (last 12 hours)

Search on Technorati

Here's what to do

  • Use the advanced search option
  • Scroll down and type in your key words one by one into the Blog Directory Search
  • Sort by authority, sort by freshness
  • No blogs turn up? Or only low authority?
  • Try exact phrase in keyword

Commenting on Blogs

  • Commenting is the life blood of blogging and key to building a community
  • They’re a way to get more minds into the story.
  • They’re a way to annotate someone’s thoughts such that the ideas can take on another dimension.
  • They're a way to establish authority in your content niche

Screencast: How to have a conversation
Read someone's blog post and start a conversation:
Before you leave a comment, ask yourself:

  • What did they say well?
  • What did they miss?
  • Answer questions
  • What are other people saying
  • How does it apply to you
  • Look forward
  • Look backward
  • Ask what if?

Source: How To Add Blogging Conversations by Darren Rowse

How To Become An Authority in Your Content Niche by Dosh Dosh
How to Comment Like King or Queen by Coolcat Teacher Blog
Strategic Blog Commenting A Screencast by Amy Gahran
Strategic Blog Commenting: Blog Post by Amy Gahran
Commenting by Alan Levine
Power of Comments by Chris Brogan