UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

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What Is Your Blog Community Talking About?

Posted by Brian Kelly on 23 Nov 2011

The Need for Better Blog Search

Quite a while ago I became somewhat frustrated with the limitations of WordPress.com’s search facility for searching this blog. I had hoped that there would be a Google search tool which could replace the search box at the top right of this blog’s Web site, but the limitations on the HTML code which can be included in blog widgets meant that this wasn’t an option. However whilst searching for alternatives I came across the Lijit search tool. Since I am not able to provide a search box for this tool it is instead provided as a link under the WordPress search box – and is probably little used. However in addition to providing a standard search for content posted on this blog  its key strength, for me, is its ability to search across my blogging community.

If, for example, I search for RDFa I find a conventional set of links to posts I have published about RDFa. But if I click on the Network tab I find details of posts published by contacts in my blog network, as illustrated.

Using a search for HTML5 I found that Anthony Leonard has published an interesting post on Fixing academic literature with HTML5 and the semantic web.

A search for “schema.org” reveals that Peter Sefton and the UK Access Management team have written several posts on this topic.

Similarly a search for “JISC” finds posts published by my networks on ‘JISC’ which might be of interest for those working in JISC, especially those with an interest in what people are saying about the organisation.

One of the interests I had in better searching was to be able to spot spam comments which I had failed to delete. A search for Viagra found only a legitimate post on “Dodgy Blog Link Spam“. How searching across my network for this term I found one blog which contained a large number of spam comments (I have informed the blog owner so hopefully the spam will be deleted shortly).

How Does It Work?

Initially I had thought that the Network search was based on harvesting blogs of people who have commented on my blog. However the FAQ states that

The Network tab contains all of the results found from the sites automatically detected from your blogroll, and any other site you’ve manually setup via the ‘Network’ section of Lijit.com.

This is somewhat strange as I know longer publish a blogroll. However use of Lijit did make me realise that the people who have commented on my blog (which, looking at the WordPress administrator’s interface, I find includes Christopher Gutteridge, Andy Powell, Chris Rusbridge, Les Carr, Anthony Leonard and Martin Hawksey) are probably people whose posts I am likely to find of interest – after all, if they are motivated to comment on my posts we will probably have shared interests.

As an experiment I have therefore revived the blogroll on this blog and populated it with the blogs provided by those listed above together with other bloggers whose content I find particularly interesting and relevant to my interests. I hope that this will mean that when I’m search this blog for things I have written about in the past that I’ll be able to see what my blogging peers have said on the same topic. And although this may be regarded as an ‘echo chamber‘ for me this provides valuable personalised searching.

I should add that I removed the blogroll several years ago in order to try to minimise clutter in the blog’s sidebar, so I’m not convinced that having a long list of blogs is my blogroll is desirable for this blog. But I do wonder what such an approach might be particular useful for project blogs, with blogrolls for all blogs provided for a particular programme helping to both help end users with an interest in the programme are to find other projects as well as providing a search facility across the blogs. It may be, of course, that others will have developed a more elegant solution for searching across a blog community, in which case I’ve welcome links to such approaches.

One Response to “What Is Your Blog Community Talking About?”

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