6.29.2010

"Usernames must be at least 5 characters long" Facebook bug for custom URLs

FacebookIf you've been getting this obnoxious error message —

"Usernames must be at least
5 characters long"


— when you're trying to set your Facebook custom URL, you're not alone.

I was having this problem lately. After much thought, trial and error while typing in possibilities, and a public opinion poll, I had decided on the custom URL for my Hobo Mama page: http://www.facebook.com/HoboMamaBlog

I toddled off to the Facebook link to claim my URL — http://www.facebook.com/username — which works both for personal Facebook pages and for business/blog/etc. fan pages.

I typed my choice into the little box and hit "Check availability." And, um … no. Facebook scolded me with an incomprehensible message: "Usernames must be at least 5 characters long."

HoboMamaBlog, I read. HoboMamaBlog. I stared at it. I squinted. Yes, even without all the bother of actual counting, that sucker was definitely over 5 characters.

Well, good old Google to the rescue.

I found this Hubspot blog post by Ellie Mirman: "How to Create a Facebook Page Vanity URL." Ellie in the post did not explain the error and offer a workaround — but Ellie in the comments section helpfully did!

Piecing Ellie's advice together with some advice I found on a Facebook forum that I for some reason can't locate at the moment, I played around with entering my name, erasing it, clicking "Check availability" while there was nothing in the box, then typing it in again. It still took a few tries, but eventually: It took! I have my new Facebook page URL!1

So, basically, it's a known bug. Facebook is aware of the issue (I'm told), but so far this is the best workaround.

Assuming you don't yet have a Facebook custom URL, here are the details on how to get one:

First, the why: It's easier! You can tell people to find you on Facebook by saying, "Go to Facebook slash HoboMamaBlog." Rather than saying, "Go to facebook.com/pages/Hobo-Mama/322453825286." Oof, what a mouthful! The former also fits better on business or calling cards, darling. And, you know, why not? It's fun; it's cute; it shows you care.

So you want one? Good.

Where: Go to http://www.facebook.com/username.

Facebook custom URL username screenshot
You can click on images to see them bigger.


Personal first: You will have to set a personal user name first if you don't already have one before setting any for your pages. My personal Facebook name is http://www.facebook.com/hobomama (and feel free to friend me if you like). As you can see, I "stole" hobomama from myself so it was no longer available when I wanted it for my blog's Facebook page, which meant I belatedly had to come up with something else.

Permanence: Do think long and hard about what you want your permanent URLs to be, for all your Facebook profiles and pages, because so far Facebook is being hard-nosed about allowing changes to usernames. Basically, you can change your personal one once. You cannot change your business (page) ones. You cannot transfer a username to or from someone else. (So on that note, triple check your spelling, too!)

Eligibility: All verified Facebook accounts are allowed to set a personal username. Fan pages, however, must have 25 fans before you can set a username for a fan page.2 (This is to prevent name squatting.)

What's in a name:
  • Usernames can only contain alphanumeric characters (A-Z, 0-9) or a period ("."). I was kind of bummed that no other punctuation was allowed, such as an underscore. If you use a period for your own aesthetic sensibilities, know that it does not make your username unique from the same name without the period(s). That is, "hobo.mama" is considered the same as "hobomama." I did check, thanks to Toni Lamn's suggestion.
  • Usernames must be at least 5 characters long. Har har har. But it's true. "HM" wouldn't fly.
  • You can't claim someone else's username. (Duh.)
  • You can't claim a copyrighted username — or you might be able to, but Facebook can then take it away if a rights holder complains. So even if your last name is McDonald and you're managing your family fan page, don't bother registering "mcdonalds" as your username.
  • "Certain words" are not allowed. I think we can all guess what might be on that list. But, really, do you want your mother to see such a username? Shame on you for even considering it. Unless you're not Facebook friends with your mom. Then it might sort of rock.
  • You're also not allowed to use super generic words like "pizza" or "flowers," to prevent (again) people from squatting on popular SEO terms.

How: Type in your username and click "Check availability." If you get the infamous "5 characters" error and your username is, in fact, more than 5 characters, then backspace, click "Check availability" anyway, then type again. Rinse, repeat. Hopefully one of those times Facebook will obey and let you go through with the process. You'll get a big warning that this will go on your permanent record. If you are happy with same, go ahead and confirm. Congratulations! You have a personal username, i.e., custom URL with Facebook.

Select Facebook fan page from drop-down menu


Down to business: So, if you have a Facebook fan (er, "like") page and want a username for that one (or multiple pages), then you just go back to the same link — http://www.facebook.com/username — and start again.
  • Click "Set a username for your Pages" underneath the yellow box telling you your personal username has already been set.
  • You'll see a drop-down menu with all the pages where you're an administrator. Select the one you want.
  • The same rules for usernames as above apply.
  • The same error might also apply, so use the delete-and-click workaround.
  • Remember the important differences between fan page usernames and personal:
    • You need at least 25 people "liking" your page before you're allowed to set a name.
    • The name you choose will be permanent. Full stop.
  • Once you're ready, click to confirm.
That's it! Now you should be the owner of a brand-new Facebook Page custom URL. If you have multiple pages, just repeat the process again.

More info can be found in the Facebook help section on the subject.

Enjoy! And visit me. And like me! I'm nice.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lauren-Wayne-author/104277789602502?ref=ts (sigh — so long, so ugly)
http://www.facebook.com/HoboMamaBlog
http://www.facebook.com/CarNatPar
(I set that one, too, while I was at it.)



Thanks again to Ellie for posting the workaround!



1 I only have a custom URL so far for my Hobo Mama page, because my Lauren Wayne page is soooo lonely that I do not as yet qualify for one. Anyone want to "like" me there? Anyone?
2 Did I mention I need more fans? I need more fans.

Lauren Wayne Facebook smack-down

6.28.2010

Where to write out of the house

Here's an article that offers an alternative to the local coffee shop for getting some writing done outside the home:

Better Than Vanilla: Where’s the perfect workspace for a freelance writer?, by Chad Schomber


It's a place with free wi-fi, comfy seats, convenient outlets, and a hushed atmosphere. Guessed it?

It's the library.

Seattle Public Library Capitol Hill Branch


I alternate between the library and a coffee shop when I need a place to hang out while I'm out with my laptop.

The things I most like about the library?

  • Plenty of seating, including cozy armchairs and sturdy tables, depending on your needs
  • Atmosphere much more conducive to working than just goofing around on Twitter (ahem)
  • Can stay as long as you want without feeling guilty about not paying enough "rent" — your taxes will take care of that!
  • In the same vein, can employ the outlets and wi-fi in a cavalier manner
  • Need a reference book for research, or perhaps a magazine for a break? They're all right there.
  • Since I'm on a Mac, sometimes I use the library computers as references for how my site looks and behaves on a PC. And, of course, if you don't have a laptop, here's your chance to enjoy some unfettered out-of-home computer access!
  • Clean, unlocked restrooms

What I'm not so fond of?

  • Can't eat or drink
Sigh. I get in the mood for a snack, or at least something to wet my whistle as I work. Sure, there's a drinking fountain out in the lobby, but it's hardly the same thing as nursing a mug of white tea, is it?

Other places I've brought my laptop?

I've hung out at various cheap restaurants. Teriyaki places and sandwich shops work well, if they're close enough to leach the wi-fi from a Starbucks. You have to buy something to justify your seat, but honestly — a meal at a place like that can be cheaper than a drink at Starbucks! Barnes & Noble has really comfy seating and a café, a relaxing atmosphere, and plenty to browse if you're feeling uninspired. The downside to all these places: no outlets. So you have to save your battery but good. I keep my screen dimmed to migraine levels, so it's a trade-off.

One of the rare non-Apple laptops seen in an otherwise cool park full of cool people


Working outside is a catch-22. It has to be warm (and non-rainy) enough to be comfortable to sit outdoors for a long period. (Many's the time I thought the day was pleasant until I stopped moving and realized it was darn chilly.) But when it's warm enough to be comfortable, it's usually bright enough that your laptop screen is completely unreadable.

If all else fails, of course, there's always going back home...

Where are your favorite places to write? Any new locales I should scope out?

Photos courtesy, from top, brewbooks on flickr (cc) and Ed Yourdon on flickr (cc)

6.25.2010

Lauren's link love

I've been participating in the Sunday Surf tradition over at Hobo Mama, as practiced by Authentic Parenting and Baby Dust Diaries. But sometimes I come across a link that has nothing to do with parenting but that I still want to share.


Finally, it occurred to me: The blogging- and writing-related ones can go right here!


Sometimes I do whole posts on articles that have been particularly helpful as a tutorial, but other times I've just enjoyed reading and learning from a post when I don't have anything specific to blog about in response (or not yet, anyway). So here's my chance to give a plug to those excellent articles I come across!


woman working at laptop in a home business



Let me know if you have any favorite posts or blogs to share! (Yes, it can be your own.) I'm always looking for good writers who blog about blogging or writing, either to subscribe to a feed or to follow on Twitter.


Thanks for the great articles, everyone, & happy reading!
Lauren


Photo courtesy channah on stock.xchng

6.23.2010

Wordless Wednesday: Profile outtakes

I decided on a new profile picture, which I'm slowly changing things over to. I used to use just my old, tried-and-true Hobo Mama logo, but maybe, I dunno, people want to see a face sometimes? So I thought some sort of combo package would be a good deal. I settled on this:

Lauren Wayne long profile picture with Hobo Mama logo HoboMama.com


I thought it worked out pretty well considering I took it of myself in the mirror.

Want to see the backstage magic that brought this self-portrait to you? You know you do.


Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
Um, over a bit.

Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
Oops, too far.

Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
Aaalllmost...just a touch farther...

Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
Whoops.

Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
Nice camera.

Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
Nice tummy.

Lauren Wayne profile outtake HoboMama.com
You are very dramatic about that camera.


Now aren't you impressed I got one that worked?

Go over to Hobo Mama to link up your Wordless Wednesday post,
and find more at my super-cool collection of Wordless Wednesday linkies.

6.22.2010

How to turn off comments in Blogger

There are times you want to stop readers from commenting on a post, either from the very start or after a certain time.

For instance:
  • If you run a giveaway that has ended, you will want to prevent any new entries after the closing of the contest.
  • If you are writing a post that is unconducive to commenting, such as an About Me or Advertising page, you might want comments turned off from the time you post.
  • If you have posted on a controversial topic and are receiving too many negative encounters with trolls, you might choose to turn off comments on that particular post.
  • If you are going on vacation or need a break from the internet, you might choose to turn off comments until you return and can moderate and reply.

There are many reasons to turn off comments on a specific post1, and it's easy to do in Blogger.


Click on images to enlarge.
Blogger post options drop-down menu
Go into Posting --> Edit Posts, and then click "Edit" next to the post you want to work with. Once on the post-editing screen, you'll see a link at the bottom of the post box that says "Post Options." Click on this to launch a drop-down menu of further options.

Blogger allow comments settings in post
In posts, the Blogger default setting is to allow comments. If you want to stop commenting from here on out, click "Don't allow, show existing" (as with a giveaway). If you want to hide all the comments on the post as well as preventing new comments from being made (as potentially with an inflammatory set of comments), click "Don't allow, hide existing." Note that neither setting deletes comments that have been made, and you can revert the settings to "Allow" at any time.

Be sure to click "Publish Post" (the orange button) at the bottom to make your settings live!

In Blogger pages the comment default setting is don't allow hide existing

If you are working in the new Pages function in Blogger, be aware that the default setting is "Don't allow, hide existing." You can leave this or change it as you wish. Be sure to click "Publish Page" if you want a change in settings to take effect!


That's it.

It's easy enough, and much easier than putting up flashing warnings on a giveaway that's ended yelling at potential entrants not to enter! It will save those potential entrants from wasting time or feeling embarrassed that they've entered a contest that was over, so it's a nice goodwill gesture if you're a giveaway host. I try to turn off comments as soon as a giveaway has ended.

Stay tuned for a tutorial on turning off comments in WordPress.


1There is also a way to turn off comments on your blog completely, but we can cover that in a separate tutorial.

6.12.2010

Get rid of "You are posting comments too quickly" in WordPress

Here's another easy tutorial for me to write, because I'm not writing it.

I happened across this post from 3 Kids and Us when I was looking for information about that annoying WordPress message that greets me whenever I'm entering a giveaway:
You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.
That chaps my hide, because — dang it — I want to post my giveaway entries quickly! I don't need to dilly-dally and think about whether I'm following someone on Google Friend Connect. It's especially annoying if I'm just copying and pasting a repeated comment for multiple entries, say 3 entries for grabbing a button — I really don't need time to consider. Come on, just post my comment already, WordPress!

Thank goodness, Cat from 3 Kids and Us knows the solution, so click on over to read about installing the Disable Check Comment Flood plug-in — and then, please, if you are a WordPress giveaway host, do it. Cat also gives advice on how to prevent comment spam after installing this plug-in.

This isn't a problem in Blogger, by the by, where I can post comments as fast my merry fingers can paste them on in.

6.03.2010

A Precious Jewel, by Mary Balogh, and breaking with convention

Defying the genre's expectations


The premise behind Mary Balogh's A Precious Jewel is intriguing to me as a writer.

The book is an (unaltered) rerelease from 1993 featuring two characters from The Ideal Wife — one of whom is only a minor character, a friend of the hero, and the other who is never seen onscreen as it were but only talked about in her absence. To make matters more complicated in terms of the Regency formula, the former does not fit the standard hero mold in his own right, being rather unintelligent and not as fabulously titled as most, and the woman in question is his mistress.

Mary Balogh talks about the dilemma in her introduction to the rereleased A Precious Jewel:
I was writing traditional Regencies at the time and could hardly have a working prostitute as a heroine and a beta male as a hero!

But the characters "haunted" her to the point that, against fellow authors' advice, Balogh sat down and wrote their story in two weeks. She was subsequently surprised when her editor accepted it without question or revision.

I can understand why, though. It was riveting to get through, even as I was made uncomfortable by some of the characterizations and scenarios. I just couldn't stop reading till these two interesting people's lives were resolved.

Now, Balogh does "cheat" a little by making Priscilla Wentworth, the aforementioned prostitute, a down-on-her-luck gentlewoman instead of a typical working-class prostitute. But it's true that Sir Gerald Stapleton is a beta male. He's titled, but he's not astonishingly handsome. More significantly, he's one of the only heroes I've ever read about who isn't all that bright. Usually they're all geniuses and glib with words and magnificent in bed — Gerald hasn't ever kissed a woman before he meets Priscilla.

But their relationship doesn't start with kissing. It starts with something ostensibly much more intimate — a regular encounter at a brothel where Priscilla, aka Prissy, is working. Gerald is so dissociated from his own feelings and so mistrustful of women that this is the only way for him to connect. There were elements of this that were distasteful to read, but Balogh doesn't do a bad job with it — she makes it clear that the way Gerald is treating women and Prissy in particular is not healthy after all, and of course he must change before their love can flourish.

Priscilla, on the other hand, rather besottedly falls in fantasy-love with Gerald from their first meeting, and there is a little sense of "but why?" — for me, more in terms of Why would a bright woman love a dim man? than the other (many) considerations. But Balogh makes it justifiable by showing us Priscilla's attraction to Gerald's wounded and kind heart (underneath it all), and Priscilla never forgets that she is not a suitable candidate for any love or commitment from him in return — she accepts her role in his life and embraces her fantasies for what they are. Priscilla's development becomes more pleasing toward the end, as Priscilla has to learn to be who she is at heart and find people who accept her for herself, past and all. I was a little worried that I couldn't respect Priscilla (not for the sex worker part, but for her lack of feminism about doing Gerald's bidding), but she becomes more real and nuanced to me as the book goes on, as does her development.

In fact, if Gerald is a sort of beta hero, then Prissy is a sort of beta heroine. Every time I read a gentlewoman-becomes-a-sex-worker plot, I have to wonder how believable it is. Priscilla suffers the loss of close family members and ends up seeking out her former governess at her "finishing school" — not realizing the finishing school is actually a high-class whorehouse. Priscilla decides to throw her lot in with Miss Blythe's "girls." Wouldn't most women raised as Priscilla was and given the morals of her upbringing, when presented with several possible options for making a living, choose anything but prostitution? (And, for that matter, how exactly did her ex-governess end up a madam?) I'm still not entirely convinced her choice was realistic, but I realized that if her character had been entirely strong-minded and defiant of expectations, probably she would not have wound up a sex worker at all or would have been a different kind of mistress, and the story would not have happened. So in that sense, her personality (or lack of a strong one, at least) makes a certain sense. I did appreciate how Balogh wove into Priscilla's thoughts a reconsideration of her own choice: that Prissy chose that route before she fully understood the implications, and that she wouldn't necessarily choose it again if given the chance. Indeed, she is given something of a second chance toward the end.

Here's an example that stood out to me in terms of making the earlier portions of sex-for-hire seem less sordid, by pointing out that their relationship at the start was inadequate. In this scene, Gerald is beginning to realize this as he forces her, through his own fear and distrust and immaturity, into the old positions of mistress and employer again:

But she did and said only what her training had taught her to do and say. And that smile, which had always seemed so warm to him, was not warm at all, he saw when he looked searchingly into her eyes. It was not warm, and it was not a smile. It was a shield, a cold and metallic shield behind which she hid.



And so he allowed himself to fall into the ritual she began. He bedded her, and even told her before he joined her on the bed and mounted her that he wanted it the old way. He did not love her body at all. He used it for a pleasure that did not turn out to be pleasure but only physical satiety.

And he was punished justly. She was warm and soft and yielding—and utterly passive. The way he liked his women to be. Sex without a relationship. Physical intimacy without involvement. The illusion that he was in control, that he was master.

It's portions like this that make me as a reader feel less guilty for enjoying the story, even though the hero's often not all that heroic, and even though, as a woman and a feminist, I wish Priscilla had been stronger from the start and not quite so acquiescent.

I feel like both Priscilla and Gerald mature in believable ways over the course of the book, until they become fit partners for each other — who come together not because of circumstance but through choice and genuine love. I thought the very end was extremely touching and not a little humorous.

I'm not trying to spoil the plot, but of course you probably know by now that romance novels end happily…. I'll stop there, though, and let all the details be a surprise!

Limits to doing the unexpected in your own writing


I just wanted to talk a little more about doing the unexpected with your writing. I think there are limits and caveats but also the potential for great things.

First of all, we're not all Mary Balogh with a dedicated following (hi, Mary! *waves*) and a loyal editor. If you're looking to publish your first novel, in whatever genre (including literary), it's probably best to stick to the tried-and-true. Not the boring — put your own spin on it — but when you're trying to get your foot in the door, this is not the time to reinvent the genre.

Secondly, there are limits to how far you can bend the expected even when you are Mary Balogh. If she'd written this same novel but had the characters die in the end (spoiler: They don't!), that would have defied the point of the genre, which is romantic resolution.

Thirdly, and maybe this isn't third, because I didn't really think through this in numbered progression but just as a jumble of thoughts, so maybe it's really just related to one and two, and I'm going to start a new sentence now. [Deep breath.] I think it's easier to change details within a framework than the whole framework itself. For instance, within a typical romance novel formula of guy + girl = love and marriage, you can play around with back story and location. I've seen successful Regencies set in China or the Arabian desert, or dealing with tough issues like incest, alcoholism, spousal abuse, and adultery. There's plenty of room to play within the framework, but it would be sort of silly to write a poem with only 4 lines and call it a sonnet. If you're writing a romance, it needs to be romantic. There are subgenres you can write within, if you want to write a romance between two women, or one set in a futuristic world, or one that contains elements of the supernatural. My understanding, though, is that all of these still need to be … yes … romantic.

Fourthly (?), as relates to heroes and class distinctions and subgenres as well (fifthly?): Regencies are about upper-class England. There it is. Someone in your novel should be part of that world. But I think a successful Regency could play with this by making one or more characters pretending to be part of the world, for instance. And I've certainly seen plenty where one or the other protagonist was of a lower class or not from England originally. Outside the Regency world, there's more leeway to play with class. Contemporary novels are wide open in terms of where you want to set your protagonists on the income ladder, and where in the world you want to plop them. Historicals tend to deal more with the upper class, regardless, but I've certainly read some successful novels that deal with solely middle-class or working-class characters. Western romances (as in Wild Western) in particular come to mind. Most romances play with upper-class settings, and my thought on that is — it's fantasy. It's more escapist to ponder how the other half lives and loves.

I'll leave you with a warning. I was in a writing class where a fellow student was reading his short story. It was written in the first person, and there's a fight at the end where the protagonist narrator is hit in the head, and there the story ends. "Wait, what happened?" we asked in dawning disbelief. The student smiled. "He died." He was quite pleased with himself.

He died? The narrator died? Without warning or foreshadowing or intimation that this was a ghost writing the story? Um, no. The Lovely Bones and American Beauty can get away with breaking one convention because they take the time to set up a believable reason for it. Don't break rules simply for the sake of being different. It's much better to be different with a purpose that helps your story!

When have you broken with convention in your writing or been tempted to? Did it work out the way you wanted? What (published) books have you read that have successfully defied convention?

6.02.2010

Install the DoFollow Plugin for Wordpress

Today I would like to welcome Tom (aka CodeNamePapa), who has written a guest post about how to give your fellow bloggers and Carnival participants a little link love on your site. Tom is an IT guru, and he is one half of the natural parenting duo responsible for one amazing son. You can normally find Tom's wife Dionna over at Code Name: Mama where she shares information, resources, and her thoughts on natural parenting and life with a toddler.

[Editor's note: If you are a Blogger user, stay tuned for a follow-up post on DoFollow for Blogger.]

line through nofollow rel=nofollow dofollow badge buttonHello. I'm here to talk about something you may or may not spend a lot of time thinking about: the inner workings of your comments' links for self-hosted Wordpress sites.1

I could make this the shortest guest post ever and simply say, "Do your commenters a favor and install the DoFollow plugin from Semiologic." But, since I enjoy being "a tech nerd" (or whatever Dionna calls me) I've written plenty more on the subject at hand — if you'd like to have some background information (or don't want to install plugins willy-nilly) please read on.

NoFollow vs. DoFollow for Wordpress blog comments


I'm going to break this post up into three sections:
  1. How do Google's bots search/scan my site, and what is PageRank?
  2. What is NoFollow?
  3. What is DoFollow?

1. Google bots & PageRank:

In a nutshell, part of how Google and other search engines work is as follows:
  • Google has computers (aka "bots") set up to scan the internet for new pages and content.
  • Eventually, a bot will scan your site.
  • Once the bot has seen enough, it will use the links it finds and skip to the next page/article/site to scan.
  • The bot uses links that may be pointing internally to your own site or they may point externally to someone else's site.
"PageRank" is Google's algorithm that determines how important/popular your site is.2 A small part of the formula involves how many pages link to YOUR page. For example, if you have a brand-new site, you'll have low PageRank because no one else knows about your site yet. Older sites or sites that everyone knows about will have higher PageRank because they have more content, and more sites link to that content.

The description above is super-simplified and not a complete explanation of how it works (no one actually knows how it works — except maybe Morpheus), but for this post it will suffice in order to explain the next two points.

2. What is NoFollow?

NoFollow was created about 5 years ago to combat comment spam. Since it was implemented, the default Wordpress setup adds a "nofollow" attribute to any links in a comment. As a search bot reads through your site, it will see the links in comments — but once it sees rel="nofollow" it will ignore the link and move on.

The benefit of this is that should spam comments exist on your site, Google won't use those spammy links as evidence that the spam site has important content, and the spam site won't have its PageRank raised. Why does that matter? Because if a spam site has high PageRank, it could conceivably start appearing higher on a search results page when YOU use Google to find something. I think we can agree that it's a good thing for spam sites not to be boosted in search results.

NoFollow keeps the web a little safer by not rewarding spammers for getting their links displayed on your site and scanned by the search bots. This page — http://codex.wordpress.org/Nofollow — does a lot better job of explaining it in-depth.

You may be wondering, "What about real sites from real people? Shouldn't real sites from loyal readers experience the benefit that a link on my site would provide?" This is where the Do Follow plugin comes in.

3. What is DoFollow?

A link that is considered "dofollow" (i.e. a link that does not have a "nofollow" tag) would tell the Google bot "follow this link and have fun crawling that page, too." The link itself doesn't need to say rel="dofollow" — the bots will follow any link unless it's told not to (i.e. unless the link says rel="nofollow").

What plugin do we recommend to get rid of "nofollow" in comment links? We are using the Do Follow plugin from Semiologic. The plugin simply strips the "nofollow" tag from links in comments, thereby making that link "Do Follow" just like any links you'd place within your own content.

Further explanation can be found on Semiologic's site. You can install the plugin from your Wordpress Admin panel (Plugins, Add New, search for "Do Follow", and Install).

4. Don't Let Spammers Off So Easily

By using the DoFollow plugin, there is a slight risk that a spam link could be scanned by a search bot. Of course, there are additional steps available to keep this from ever happening.

One step is to configure Wordpress to hold all comments for moderation — this means you will sort out manually what comments are spam and which are real. You can also configure Wordpress to automatically approve a comment if that commenter has gotten a comment approved previously (these options are available in your Wordpress Admin screen under Settings, Discussion).

The best way to do the bulk of comment filtering is with the Akismet plugin. It's a tool that has saved us from countless hours sifting through comments to decide which are real and which are spam.

How do you install Akismet? Well, once Wordpress installs, Akismet is already installed, too! All you have to do at that point is activate Akismet from the plugins panel. If you are a Wordpress.com user (meaning they host your site for you) Akismet is running in the background 24/7 without your having to do anything.

Give a Little Link Love to Fellow Bloggers


By installing the DoFollow plugin (or similar), you are giving a little bit of link love to bloggers who take the time to leave comments on your site. Will it encourage people to comment? Probably not3 — but it's one small way you can thank those who provide feedback on your writing.

Have you installed DoFollow or a similar program? Have you noticed any differences?



1 If you are a Wordpress.com user (you host your site through Wordpress.com rather than just using their blogging software on your own privately-owned site), it does not look like you can install plugins of this type.
2 To see what your PageRank is, just visit the PageRank Checker.
3Although you can find various badges and lists to advertise yourself as a DoFollow blog if you think it would inspire your readers.
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