Friday, 24 February 2006

Technorati: favorite blogs; help others add your blog, and thoughts on Technorati Favorites






If you've not yet heard, the blogosphere search engine Technorati have recently introduced a "Favorite blogs" feature. Only Technorati members who are logged in can add favorite blogs (limit of 50), but anyone in the world can view others' favorites, e.g. see Technorati's selected bloggers' favorites, and my own favorites page (which I've just started compiling).

This post is an introduction or tutorial on Technorati's Favorite Blogs feature, for both bloggers and those who read blogs, with some howtos. In this guide I'll first give the code to insert in your blog template to help others easily add your blog to their Technorati Favorites while viewing your blog (see the new button at the top of my pages?), then mention the benefits of Favorites for those who read blogs, and give some general thoughts about Technorati favorites.

Help Technorati members favorite your blog

Yep, "favorite" is a new verb, at least according to Technorati's favorites help page!

If you're a Technorati member, once you're logged in you can access a page with code for buttons (that link just takes you to a sign in page if you're not signed in or not a member). The page is customised for your blog URL so you can just click in the box with the code for the button you want, then copy and paste into your template - but remember to choose the right blog from the dropdown list first, if you have more than one blog. It looks like this, and as you can see they've offered quite a few choices of buttons or just text (see mine at the top of my blog):


However, even if you're not a Technorati member you can still hack your template to add the code/buttons or a text link, see below. The buttons all relate to my own blog for illustration, but the code below can be copied/pasted exactly as is if you're on Blogger and it will work for your own blog URL - if you're not on Blogger, just change <$BlogURL$> in the code to the URL of your blog (you can leave out the "http://" if you wish, it seems to make no difference with or without, it's easier without):

Add to Technorati Favorites!
Code:
<a href="http://technorati.com/faves?add=<$BlogURL$>"><img src="http://static.technorati.com/pix/fave/tech-fav-0.gif" alt="Add to Technorati Favorites!" /></a>

Add to Technorati Favorites!
Code:
<a href="http://technorati.com/faves?add=<$BlogURL$>"><img src="http://static.technorati.com/pix/fave/tech-fav-1.gif" alt="Add to Technorati Favorites!" /></a>

Add to Technorati Favorites!
Code:
<a href="http://technorati.com/faves?add=<$BlogURL$>"><img src="http://static.technorati.com/pix/fave/tech-fav-2.gif" alt="Add to Technorati Favorites!" /></a>

Add to Technorati Favorites!
Code:
<a href="http://technorati.com/faves?add=<$BlogURL$>"><img src="http://static.technorati.com/pix/fave/tech-fav-3.gif" alt="Add to Technorati Favorites!" /></a>

Add to Technorati Favorites!
Code:
<a href="http://technorati.com/faves?add=<$BlogURL$>"><img src="http://static.technorati.com/pix/fave/tech-fav-4.gif" alt="Add to Technorati Favorites!" /></a>

Add to Technorati Favorites!
Code:
<a href="http://technorati.com/faves?add=<$BlogURL$>">Add to Technorati Favorites!</a>

Of course with the last one you can just change the link text to anything you like, e.g. "Add this blog to Technorati favorites".

Show your Technorati favorites on your blog

For bloggers, Technorati will also provide free code you can add to your sidebar to display on your blog the latest posts from your favorite blogs. Mine looks like this:



You can get the code for your own blog to copy/paste if you sign in to your Technorati account and go to their favorites widget page, but in fact the code is quite straightforward, it's just this (change YourTechnoratiUserName to your own Technorati user name, of course):
<iframe src="http://widgets.technorati.com/faves/YourTechnoratiUserName?t=posts" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" style="border: 1px solid rgb(0, 0, 0); padding: 0pt;" frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="auto" width="200"></iframe>
Display someone else's favorites! The eagle-eyed will already have spotted that this means you can in fact display posts from some other Technorati member's favorites on your own blog instead of (or as well as) your own favorites, if you know their Technorati username. Just use the same widgets code but change YourTechnoratiUserName to theirs. (If they've start their own Favorite Blogs list you can figure out their username easily - just click on their name on Technorati (e.g. from a Technorati search results page) to see their Technorati profile, and if they've got favorites there's a link to "Check out what's new in X's Favorite Blogs". The bit after "/faves/" at the end of that link will be their Technorati username.)

For blog readers

Technorati favorites is of course designed primarily for the benefit of those who read blogs. I think it's a very neat idea (whereas, for instance, I don't quite follow what's behind Technorati's other newish feature, Technorati Explore - which will be the subject of a separate post).

Previously, people who mainly read blogs (rather than writing them) didn't have much incentive to join Technorati. Membership did have lots of pluses for bloggers, in terms of giving them several more ways to raise the profile of their own blogs (see my post on Technorati membership for more on that). But for the average blog reader, well you could search Technorati without a membership, and that's primarily what you'd want to do, so why bother to sign up?

Now, by introducing Technorati Favorites, Technorati have cleverly made their site a whole lot more attractive to those who follow blogs. Here are some advantages.

View latest posts from your favorite blogs

As a reader who is a Technorati member, you can add up to 50 blogs to your Favorite Blogs, and then you can see all the latest posts from your fave blogs, in order of newest posts first (from whichever blog), on one page - with the ability to see older posts too (though only up to 6 pages' worth in total, see later). That's pretty convenient.

(To see your fave blogs page, either login and go to your Faves page via the Favorites link in the grey bar at the top; or else, which is easier, go to the URL http://technorati.com/faves/YourTechnoratiUserName - you can go to that URL and bookmark it in your browser or on Del.icio.us, etc. So mine is at http://technorati.com/faves/Improbulus.

Now the point could be made that you can do all that already, you can check out your fave blogs via a feed reader e.g. Bloglines. But I think that Technorati still are very smart to make available this new feature available in order to draw in more users and make their site more useful to their existing users. Remember that takeup of feeds is fairly limited so far, I haven't looked up the latest surveys but I recall it was something like less than 5% of Net users actually use feeds (or even know what they are), even with Web-based readers (though I predict that feeds are going to grow exponentially in popularity, it will take a while longer). Making it easy for users to acccess the latest posts from their favorite blogs from anywhere on the Net via a simple Web browser without having to sign in is a great idea.

Plus, you can also view your Favorite Blogs page (or anyone else's) in a feed reader too, if you prefer to do that - see Technorati's blue RSS icon RSS icon at the bottom left of the Favorites page. Or just add to your feed reader this URL (changing YourTechnoratiUserName to your own username or whosever you want):
http://feeds.technorati.com/faves/YourTechnoratiUserName?format=rss.

(Yes, all this is not far off from bookmarking your favorite blogs on Delicious or some social bookmarking service, but this way you see the newest content from your favorite blogs too, all together on one Web page, which is an advance. There are other ways of doing that, e.g. pulling together feeds from different blogs into one place via various tools, but they don't always display very well, and this is an easy and quick way even for beginners to aggregate content from their favourite blogs.)

You'll also notice that your list of favorite blogs will be shown in a box to the right of the faves page, so you see both the latest posts from your fave blogs, and the list, all on the same page.

Sharing your favorite blogs

It's simple to share your favorite blogs list and latest posts from your favorite blogs too, just by sharing or publicising the URL of your faves blog page. For example, My Technorati Favorite Blogs (or a badge like - that was one I made earlier, feel free to use it if you wish! Here's a howto). Or of course you can display on your own blog (or indeed a webpage on your website) the latest posts from your favorite blogs or someone else's via the widget, as mentioned above.

Search just your favorite blogs

Another advantage of Technorati Favorites is that you can (again when logged in) confine your searches of Technorati to just searches of your favorite blogs (your search results page will have a Your Favorites tab to refine your original search just to show results from your fave blogs).

Again, in fact, you don't have to be logged in in order to search just your Technorati Favorite blogs at all. Just type into your browser address bar your search in the format:

http://technorati.com/search/YourSearchTerm?faves=YourTechnoratiUserName

or use this form to search just in your Technorati Favorite Blogs (opens in a new window):



Adding or importing your favorite blogs

Technorati have thought about most things here too, like providing a bookmarklet or favelet to add a blog you're viewing in your browser to your Technorati Favorites. (What's a bookmarklet or favorite?), and including a Favorites icon on their site at various places like search results pages, which you can click to add a blog to your favorites.

You can also "favorite" blogs from any lists you might currently have on Bloglines, BlogRolling, Google Reader, NetNewsWire or Typepad's TypeLists by importing a file from your computer. Technorati have produced for instructions on how to do that for each of those services - see the Technorati favorites importing help - and no doubt they'll be adding more.

Bugs and Issues

Technorati obviously need to tidy things up a bit still - e.g. the navigation bar at the top to get to your Technorati Account page, Profile etc doesn't have the full complement of links in IE even though it's there in Firefox. Plus, the display of some search results (when searching just your fave blogs) needs to be tweaked in IE as it can be a bit odd with some overlapping (some other pages also don't quite look right in IE yet e.g. the Favorites help page. Shows that Technorati developers must use Firefox as their default browser, sensible chaps and chapesses!). See what I mean about the grey bar and the display -

Firefox:

IE:


Also, if you go to any favorites blog page (not just your own) you may find that the links at the bottom of the page to previous pages only work if you go back to no more than 6 pages only. Beyond that, if you try to see anything older than page 7, it takes you back to page 1. In other words if you try to view Fave pages beyond page 6, anything older than that just takes you back to the first (i.e. newest posts) page. It's not just my faves, I've tried it on other people's fave pages too, and it's the same thing, in both IE and Firefox. I guess Technorati should think about disabling display of links to anything beyond page 6 (or whatever's the current oldest possible page) at the bottom of the faves page as it's confusing just to find you're back on page 1.

Other thoughts on Technorati Favorites

It's interesting in the Web 2.0 world how so many things are converging in many ways, in this case web pages and feeds and social software - and not just social bookmarking of static web pages or sites, but the sharing of dynamic information; not just blog URLs but the actual content of posts from specific blogs. This is yet another illustration, an excellent one, of that increasing trend.


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7 comments:

The Little Master™ said...

Great post!

You can't view fave blogs separately on Technorati can ya? They should've gone the whole hog and let you save individual posts as well.

Still...a nice feature.

:o)

John said...

I've added a text link earlier today!

ChickyBabe said...

Once again...thank you Imp :).

Improbulus said...

Thanks for the comments, TLM, John & CB.

TLM - not sure what you meant by viewing fave blogs separately? You mean, is there a list of fave blogs? Doesn't look like it, you have to access them via the user's Technorati profile at the mo. And saving individual posts would be getting even closing to Delicious etc wouldn't it?

John said...

Apologies for going off topic. What are you thoughts on AdSense for Feeds? I know that we can't yet access this service (outside the US), but I'd be intrigued to read any opinion you may have.

The Little Master™ said...

The viewing faves seperately thing, what I meant was, if I select favourites right, it'll show all posts from all of my faves, mixed up obviously, since they've been posted at different times. There should be a way to view your favourite blogs seperately.

It's nothing major, but they could've just left the user the option of doing so.

As for the whole social bookmarking thing, they're doing it now with whole blogs, so I guess it'll be a good idea to allow individual post bookmarking as well. It'd be natural progression.

:o)

Improbulus said...

John thanks for the comment, I'll post something about that as soon as I can.

Thanks TLM, see what you mean now. Why don't you let Technorati know that you'd like to see that option (which seems a very good idea)?

Individual post bookmarking, we shall see if that comes - but it's definitely verging on Delicious territory there, isn't it?