Back in the days of Web 1.0 (along with hit counters), it was very trendy to have a guest book on your website and to invite everyone to sign it. The highlight of my 2002 was when the author Jeffrey Deaver came by my website and signed my guestbook. He and I had been chatting by email about one of his books and on impulse I asked him to sign the guestbook. But no sooner had he done so than the book began to fill up with spam and other assorted junk.
And that’s why the website guest book is pretty much obselete now – because it’s a haven for spammers. Now that the emphasis is moving more towards blogs rather than static websites, sites such as Yahoo-owned MyBlogLog are shooting up in popularity. It’s basically the Web 2.0 of website guestbooks or to put it another way, it’s the social network for bloggers.
The beauty about MyBlogLog is that it is a closed community in the sense that you have to register to be a member and then to join a particular community, you have to apply to each webmaster to join. They then have to approve you. So no-one can spam a MBL community the way spammers used to spam my website guestbook back when Jeffrey was signing it. The moment someone starts spamming me, I can just kick them out and block them. Everytime someone applies to join my blog community, I get an email asking me to verify them or deny them entry. So I like the control that MBL gives me over the people in the blog community, something that an ordinary text guest book never gave me when spammers were running riot.
I’ve heard the usual comments and complaints – that MyBlogLog isn’t a social network, that it’s just a gimmick. Well I beg to differ. As I said previously, it’s a social network for bloggers. MBL allows you to put a face to each of your visitors. You can see who has been to read your pages, your visitors can see your face and it adds a whole new dimension to the blogging experience.
But the icing on the cake has to be a WordPress plugin made by an Italian developer. The plugin is called MyAvatars and it puts MBL avatars inside people’s blog comments. I think this is really great. Not only does it personalise and brighten up the comments page but right away you are connecting with your readers on a personal level. A couple of people have complained that the plug-in has slowed down the blog but I haven’t noticed any such delays.
MyBlogLog also gives you the equivalent of an email mailing list by giving you the ability to send out a message to your community members which will be sent to their email boxes (an ability which obviously should be used responsibly).
But MBL have also introduced a few new widgets which are worth a mention :
With Me Sidebar Widget : if you fill in the usernames of the online services you use, you can have a widget that tracks your activity around the web and aggregates it to a widget that you can put on your site. A bit like Friendfeed.
With Me Full Page : same as the sidebar widget but this one fills a whole page. It really gives Friendfeed a run for its money.
Email Signature : allows you to make an interactive HTML email signature for Outlook, Thunderbird and Yahoo Mail.
Signing up for MyBlogLog is absolutely free. If you have a blog or if you regularly visit blogs, it is definately worth signing up for a MBL account. It could completely change the way you look at blogs from now on.
Written by Mark O’Neill