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Thursday, March 29, 2012

#atozchallenge: Last Minute Check List

Badge by Ada Z from collagepodge.com
     

          We're almost there!  We've passed last year's sign-ups and as of this writing pushing toward 1400.   We encourage you to sign up now if you haven't done so already.  The list will close on Monday night April 2nd.  After that it will be too late to get you signed up.   Decide as soon as you can so you can start making preparations.  We'd hate to see anyone get left out who really would like to be a part of this exciting and rewarding event.

Is your blog dressed for the event?

          Before we take off on Sunday, now is the time to get your blog in order.   Do you have the official A to Z Challenge logo (pictured above or find code in sidebar) displayed in a prominent place so you are readily identified as a participant?   In my blog travels of late I've run across some blogs on the list that show no indication that they will be taking part in the A to Z Challenge  Please display the A to Z badge prominently, preferably toward the top of the sidebar, so we know you're in the Challenge.

           For those who prefer to use one of the other badges on the "banner and badge" page of this blog or your own design because of matching color schemes, again please display this badge prominently.  Make it obvious to visitors that you are participating.

            Also feel free to dress up your blog with any additional badges and banners that will make it more festive.  Co-host Jeremy has created a stunning array of blog bling which can be found in a tab at the top of the page.   Feel free to decorate your blog for April.

Stay in the game!

            Starting Sunday April 1st make sure you are posting with the current letter prompts.  If you do encounter a problem that might cause you to be absent for a day or two, please make sure your most recently displayed post provides an explanation so we know your intentions are good.

             If we see a blog that stays inactive for five days or more or if we see a blog that shows no indication that they are actually participating in the Challenge, we will pull that blog from the list so as not to waste the time of the bloggers who come to visit you.   The list is intended for A to Z participants only and not for advertisers or blog-hoppers just trying to get noticed.

             If you do encounter a problem with posting (illness, computer crashes, emergencies--things happen we know), let us know and we will work with you and try to help in any way we can.

A Warning to those on Blogger

            Have you noticed this message at the top of your Dashboard:

                Blogger is getting a new look in April. Upgrade Now.

             The Blogger dweebs are at it again and conveniently timed for A to Z.  I haven't messed with this yet because I am concerned about it.   According to the Blogger Blog there will be an option to switch back to the old interface--if I understood this correctly.  If we have this option I plan on switching back to the old format for April.  I guess I'll change it to the new interface in May because they say that all blogs will be changed eventually.

             I thought I might give you a heads up in case you hadn't seen this message.  If you're brave you can experiment with it before Sunday.  Some of you have already changed.   I hope this doesn't whack a bunch of us with a huge monkey wrench, but I guess we've probably survived worse.

Do the right thing

     You may have received an email already from one of the A to Z Team members or you will receive one soon.   I'm going to provide a copy here as well just in case you don't see your e-mail.  This pretty well gives the basics of what we hope you'll consider doing to make the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge the best experience it can be:

    The A to Z Challenge kicks off on Sunday!
As a co-host, I’d like to thank you for participating. The Challenge is all about discipline and making new friends. Your blogging skills will be sharpened and you will meet a lot of cool new bloggers in the process. The A to Z Team has worked hard this year to make it the best Challenge ever, and once it is over, we invite you to post your thoughts and reflections on the Challenge on Monday, May 7.
Here are the basic guidelines:
Post on a topic or word that matches the corresponding letter of the alphabet, starting with “A” on Sunday, April 1, then every day except Sundays after that. (B is April 2, C is April 3, etc.)
Visit fellow Challenge participants starting with the blog immediately following yours on the sign up list. Aim to visit five blogs a day; more if you have time.
Keep posts SHORT!
Turn off word verification. Make it easy for others to leave comments.
Make it easy for others to follow you. (Move that Google Friends Connect widget or other following device high up in your sidebar.)
Use the official A to Z button. Link back to the A to Z Blog - http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/
Have fun and make new friends!

         Any questions?  Let us have them in the comment section.   Get ready to have the best A to Z April Challenge yet.






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66 comments:

  1. So glad I popped over. This answers many of my questions, and I hadn't received the email yet.

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  2. Good tips, Theresa. I especially like the "short" recommendation--makes it easy on the blogger AND the reader!

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  3. Great tips! Though I'm struggling with the short bit myself since I tend to write longer! Yikes!

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  4. Wow - I cant believe that I am practically ready, I have A-I written and scheduled and have J-O to write before my holiday, I have the logo at the top of my page and I even made a background for the challenge from felt! All I need to do now is finish those for when I am away and check out other people blogs - which is the main reason - phew! Not bad for a first timer, eh? Thanks for all the tips they have helped so much :)

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  5. I feel like I'm about to run a marathon! So excited!

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  6. Who would have thought 3 years ago the A to Z will still be going?
    I am pleased you brought up about the upgrade now as I am still on the old interface and did wonderf if it would interfere with the challenge, I have tried the new but don't fully understand so have gone back to what I know best.
    Good luck everyone.
    Yvonne.

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  7. This is going to be so AWESOME! Right now feels like "the deep breath before the plunge."

    - Gandalf Greyhame

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  8. Thanks for putting that there, I'm terrible at checking my emails. You guys have done a great job :)

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  9. Got it. And thank you. This is an amazing mega task for the A-Z team to put together.

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  10. Hey, glad my email worked for you!
    I'm not getting the upgrade message. Does that mean I've already upgraded?

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  11. I have seen the new blogger interface, I don't like it... I like the old one hopefully they let has what we want... I have also seen the future and the future for the A to Z Challenge... looks bright!

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  12. I'm still apprehensive about how well Blogger will cooperate. It's still giving me quite a few problems--more than I was seeing a few months ago.

    In any case, April is almost here, and so is the challenge. Have fun, everyone!

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  13. I have the upgrade message - not brave enough to try it yet though

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  14. I haven't seen the upgrade thing. I also haven't received the email yet either. Thanks for posting it.

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  15. I saw that message on my Dashboard about the new format and couldn't believe they were gonna do that when we are trying to to A-Z. My friend Sonnia went ahead and upgraded and said it didn't mess w/ her blog at all. I'm too afraid to do it. Can't they hold off till May?

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  16. The upgrade message is not very noticeable. It's at the top of the dashboard under the Blogger logo. That's the only indication that I've seen about it. There is a video demonstration (very short that doesn't explain much) on a Blogger Buzz post--I found it by googling "blogger upgrade April 2012".

    Lee

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  17. Really looking forward to the start of this challenge! Good post and I'm ready to go!

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  18. haven't received the email yet...switched over to the new format ahead of time so I would be used to it (it's not friendly)...trying to keep things short but you know me (lol).

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  19. Thank you for the info, I'm excited and totally ready to roll!!

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  20. Lee, you guys have just been stellar in promoting this event and making sure participants know what to do, when to do it, and tips on how to do it well. Congratulations. It is already a success.
    Karen

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  21. I hadn't seen that message about Blogger getting a new look. Thanks for the warning!

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  22. Thanks for the last minute check list, Lee.
    The A to Z team have done an AMAZING job preparing this event!

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  23. Extremely green newbie here, so please forgive me if my question seems obvious.

    Do you need to have the blog hop list on your blog? I tried (and I think managed) to do it yesterday but it seems to have disappeared. Eek!

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  24. Thanks for this....I'm a newbie and needed some help!

    Have been working up my posts in advance so I have more time to visit during the hop! :)

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  25. As of this morning, the challenge logo is in my sidebar. That's the last detail to tidy up for me... let the fun begin!

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  26. I'm worried about that upgrade too. I'm not looking at it until forced to. Last time I did, I had to revert back to the old version.

    Poor timing on Bloggers part. Will definitely keep in touch if problem occurs.

    Thanks for the motivation,Lee.

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  27. I switched to the new Blogger about a week ago. The video explaining it goes by really quickly and doesn't explain much so I spent about an hour clicking around through all the pages to see what's where and now I feel pretty comfortable with it. It's really not that bad.

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  28. You do not have to have the bloghop Linky List on your blog, but if you do I'd recommend putting it on a separate page that can be accessed by a tab.

    Thanks all. I want to acknowledge that a great deal of the A to Z success is to be attributed to the great co-hosts and to you bloggers who have helping with promotions, providing advice, and supporting us in general.

    Thanks to everyone!

    Lee

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  29. Hi Lee - great summary post - sorry haven't done my banner bit yet - I will give it a shot .. not good with those things!

    Hate to think what Blogger will do - but we'll ride the storm somehow ..

    Enjoy yourself - and once again many congratulations for all your hard work ... cheers Hilary

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  30. I'm doing a few last minute promos for the challenge too, including my own blog post for Saturday. I'm ready to go!

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  31. Can anyone tell me if/how this new interface will affect my pre-scheduled posts? And when exactly will Blogger impose this feature?

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  32. YAY, it's almost here!!! Thanks for the all the last minute info!

    I was wondering, is there a button we can put on our blogs to make it easier to visit each participant? Last year someone made something like that. I can't seem to find it this year, so I'm assuming it's not available? Or am I completely missing it in plain sight??

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  33. Who do I ask to have my blog removed from the A to Z for this year? I've been sick again and I'm worried I won't be able to keep up as much as I wanted to do it -- sigh.

    Thanks!
    marielay@gmail.com

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  34. Laura - I remember that widget! You could go to the next blog or live dangerously and hit the 'surprise me' button - I had great fun with that, zooming off and not knowing exactly where you'd land!

    Lee & Co. - Please, pretty-please, can we have that widget this year, too?

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  35. Thanks so much for the 'heads up' about the new blogger interface... I think I will go back to the old for April. I have too much on my plate right now to worry about it. Please let us know if there is an update on the issue...okay? I have A through G scheduled, and will hopefully have a couple more before the challenge begins. I've also scheduled a pre-challenge post to alert everyone. I appreciate all you are doing for us....READY, SET...

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  36. I'm good to go! And now I can enjoy my weekend!

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  37. I'm in!~

    This whole Blogger bit is exactly why I have Wordpress self-hosted. It's all mine to do with what I want.

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  38. Gonna be great! I switched to the new interface a while ago. It was annoying at first, but now I like it.
    @Amber Wordpress is much better, but Blogger is good if you don't want to host your own blog.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins
    Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins
    @mauricem1972

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  39. Last minute check, yep. Ready to submit my alternative, satire posting, ironically complete with links to this here challenge, yep!
    And now I'm um good to go...

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  40. Have the button and the banner up at my place and will be doing more promo before the challenge begins - I love the A-Z challenge and want everyone to play along!

    I just switched to the new blogger last night. It's a little confusing but only because it's new. It's really pretty easy if you just look around to familiarize yourself. I worry more about blogger going down during the switch or losing posts, etc. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    Here's to a fun month ahead :)

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  41. I'm stoked about the challenge. I didn't realize that Blogger was changing but I've been exporting my blog every time I post. And, just to be extra safe, I'm saving all of my blog posts to a good old Word document. That way, if Blogger does go down, I don't lose all my work. See you all on Sunday.

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  42. I got my checklist and am about as ready to go and I will be in the next few days. I will be out of town early to midweek for the entire month of April, so my Plan A is to schedule posts in advance and if the scheduling does not work due to technical issues that are beyond my control, my Plan B is to post them manually wherever I can get WiFi and computer access during the few days each when I'm out of town.

    If I have some cash though, you better believe that, if I have to, I will buy someone a coffee at Starbucks in exchange for the person letting me use his or her computer for 15 minutes or so....or until they finish the coffee...maybe that will buy me some extra minute, hehe!

    Good thing my outings are sorta work related...giving me immediate computer access, anyway!

    ~Nicole

    Blog: The Madlab Post
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

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  43. Let's hope the new switch doesn't create any problems. Back up is a good idea.

    Lee

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  44. Sadly I'm going to have to withdraw from the A - Z this year. Is there someone I can tell so they can delete my link. I hope to be back next year, as I had a blast last year. I'll follow along as best I can.
    Best wishes to all the A - Z'ers.
    Carol from Better is Possible.

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  45. Good luck to everyone! I can't wait.

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  46. Laura & Sue H,

    I remember that widget too but I'd say to not expect it to be up this year because as mentioned in this post and the email, the plan is for everyone to visit the next blogs AFTER their place on the list. For example: If you are #7 on the list, then you would start the A to Z Challenge by visiting blog #8 and so forth.

    While the widget was fun and helpful to use, the setup this year for everyone to start at the next blog under them helps to make sure that posts from all participants are read...between blog #1 all the way up to blog #1400+...which I think is a great idea because it helps to add a little more balance between the visits.

    ...just my 2 cents.

    I could be wrong though.

    Maybe one of the hosts will chime in and respond to your inquiry about the widget :)

    Cheers!

    ~Nicole
    Blog: The Madlab Post
    @MadlabPost on Twitter

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  47. Thanks for all of the tips on how to get ready for the challenge! My blog is ready and I look forward to it!

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  48. I'm getting mentally ready! I added the A-Z button today.

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  49. I also wanted to say that if you're on blogger, there really isn't any need to worry about the upgrade. It's no big deal. It's just a different way to work with your blogs, and the look of your actual blog doesn't change. (I look forward to the challenge!)

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  50. Good luck everyone.

    No I hadn't seen that blogger message. Not sure whether to be worried about the change back. I like lots of the new interface, though some of the old is missing...

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  51. UGH!!! I just noticed something especially annoying. When I switched over to the new blogger I just happened to notice blogger automatically turned on word verification for comments. After the switch you will all have to go into your settings to turn it off. I can only guess how many people won't even know they have it on.

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  52. I am ready and set. First timer and also newbie blogger (started February 2012). I almost didn't do it, but now I'm excited to go.

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  53. Lee: I'm going to have to bail out of A to Z. I have to spend my time right now focusing on my brain injured daughter. I just brought her home from 4 1/2 days in the psychiatric ward of our hospital here in Virginia. She tried for about five days each day to choke herself to death. She's back to her "self" now, but she's my first priority right now: taking her visiting people, doing arts and crafts with her, spending much more time with her than I have since I began blogging almost two years ago after my publisher told me I had to before they would sign a book contract with me. I'm still a young almost 72 years old, but still....I'm a single parent and had to fire the aide (whose recent behavior was part of the trigger that set off my daughter), so now I must spend some very thoughtful time and energy finding another aide. There's just too much right now in my life to be actively involved in blogging. I knew you would understand. So thank you, my friend, for taking my name off the linky list.

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  54. Am I to post a link to the A to Z challenge on every post I make? I guess I will soon find out.

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  55. My current blog schedule is to post on every day except Friday. Would it be all right to participate on that schedule instead? This sounds like fun, but I've been blogging daily for over two years and my schedule is (through trial and error) what I've found works for me. So I'd still be blogging 6 of 7 days of the week.

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  56. I woke up this morning realizing that this started today (april 1) so I'm going to start even though I have no idea what A-Z I'm going to do this year!!

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  57. Lee: In your INCREDIBLY busy schedule, if you should read my comment above, ignore it. I have my posts lined up and I'll do the best I can with this!

    Ann

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  58. Oops, I accidentally duplicated my post. Chronicles from the man cave. Please delete one, because otherwise I am taking up double the space. Thank you.

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  59. I hope more folks turn off the captcha on their blogs - for some reason it NEVER works for me, even if I listen to the audio and it always tells me I'm wrong... even when I know I'm right! I would have left comments on 4 different blogs already today, but the captcha wouldn't let me!!!

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  60. I'm not signed up so I won't use your badges but I'm jumping in midstrem anyway. A friend of mine showed this to me, so better late than never!

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