The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: (sign-ups are closed)
Showing posts with label CAPTCHA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CAPTCHA. Show all posts

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Robots Have Not Won Yet

Thank you to everyone who took part in the pre-challenge survey! While the results are being tabulated, please enjoy this comic. Consider it your yearly reminder request to deactivate CAPTCHA for the duration of the challenge.

web comic about robots and captcha from Facebook


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

10 Common Misconceptions About Blog Comments

Read a post, then comment on the post. It seems simple to some people. Others feel differently. Here’s a list of misconceptions about commenting on a blog post.

1- I have to write a lot in order for it to be a good comment.

Nope! Even just five kind words are worth leaving. Blog analytic programs count the number of comments or interactions each visitor leaves, not the number of characters in those comments. Leaving without a comment makes for a poor bounce rate and a negative social engagement. Meaningful, quality comments build relationships and are the ideal… but empty blogs with no comments are disheartening.
Leaving comments — It's what bloggers do for each other. How important is it to you to be a valued member of the blogging community?
You can achieve the goal of commenting on as many A to Z blogs as possible while leaving thoughts and questions based on the content of the post.
You can communicate positively by trying to add to the idea and increase your social relationships by asking a question about the post.
Bloggers depend on comments, so be supportive by taking time in April to leave as many as you can.

2- It’s rude to leave a link back to myself.

Quite the opposite! Those who participate in a blog hop are looking to connect with others. A link makes that faster and easier.
You can achieve the goal of connecting with other bloggers.
This is a positive communication strategy and it will increase your social relationships with other A to Z bloggers.
Be assured that a vast majority of A to Z bloggers expect a link-back, which is why there are instructional posts on hyperlinking a signature.
Here are four of those instructional posts:

3- I might look foolish.

Most other comment leavers don’t have time to troll to read what you wrote. The blog owner is grateful for the boost in the number of comments. It’s true that most everything online stays forever, but reread what you wrote and ask yourself if it’s really as bad as you think it is. If not, post it. If it is, then go back to just simple, polite, and kind words. Even a few smile emotes is better than nothing.
If you are worried about your spelling and grammar, try the Grammarly extension in your browser.
You can achieve the goal of coming across as a polite blog commenter capable of true interaction and thoughtful questions.
You can figure out a positive way to communicate with simple, short comments.
It is acceptable to come back to that blog on another day, as perhaps it will be easier to comment then.
Keep your comment on topic and add something of value if at all possible. Here is a post with some ideas:

4- I have to respond to every comment on my blog.

This is a matter of personal preference. Regular readers might stop back to check if you have replied. Anyone who included an important question in a comment will probably come back to check if you replied. There are some comments that are just there because someone was being kind enough to say hello. Personally, I think the nicest reply to those is to click the link the person hopefully left and leave a return hello on their blog.
You can achieve the goal of connecting with people who visited your blog.
You can increase your social relationships by sorting through the comments you receive.
Some people respond to comments imminently, some take a few days, some only write responses on Sunday, and others wait until the end of April to write replies.
Consider this: Do you expect your comments to be replied to? If you wrote this comment, would you want a reply?
Here is a good article on this subject:
A quote from the article: “the best way to respond to a generic comment is with a generic reply.

At the very least, check your comment spam folder daily during the challenge. No one likes being stuck in comment moderation purgatory!

5- I am concerned that I may actually be a robot, one with poor math skills…

I worry about this too. Captcha and the like are good ideas with poor implementation. If I can’t solve the image in three turns I give up commenting. Then I make fun of the captcha on my Pinterest board.
You can achieve the goal of inspiring a better way to prevent spam without alienating real people. For example, some systems only have a box to check.
You can communicate using humor to bond with others over this Internet creation.
Robots might take over the world one day, but probably not in April 2017.
Google and other search engines have built in calculators to help with the math captchas.

6- There is too much arguing in the other comments for my taste.

That can be a tricky one. A desire not to attract the attention of an angry mob is a survival instinct. A simple “Dropping by from the A to Z Challenge,” and your name should be more than adequate as a comment. In this case, I might link back to the challenge page or the homepage of a search engine rather than my own blog (if a link is a required field).
You can achieve the goal of leaving a comment without engaging in confrontation.
You can communicate positively instead of joining the argument.
You can maintain a positive and supportive status without engaging in conflict. You could also comment on an older blog post with less argumentative comments.
There is a fine line between facts and opinions in some cases. Do you have something of value to add? Can you bring another perspective to the topic? Consider your own blog brand, and how you want to represent yourself, before submitting a comment.

7- I do not understand the post, and therefore feel unable to comment.

I hear you. Sometimes it’s a translation problem, and sometimes the post is about a subject you have no knowledge or interest in. Once again, I’ll recommend a simple “Dropping by from the A to Z Challenge,” and your name as a comment.
You can achieve the goal of being a nice person who is dedicated to leaving comments.
You can deepen a social relationship by asking the blogger questions about the post.
You could check the blog for a post that is clearer, easier to understand, and better to comment on.
If it is a translation issue, perhaps try a different browser’s translation service.

8- I have to log in to something to comment, and then create a whole other account, and I just don’t want to.

I do not feel bad not leaving a comment on blogs with such a system. There are ways to avoid that, as is evidenced by the overwhelming majority of blogs which allow comments without forcing someone to jump through a hoop.
If the blogger has a Twitter link, I’ll usually go there and leave a tweet instead. Logging in to my own Wordpress, Google, Twitter, or Facebook account I accept. But creating an account just to comment on one blog… that’s something only extremely famous people might need.
You can achieve the goal of encouraging bloggers to disable this by contacting them through other means.
You can communicate on social media about a desire to have such functions removed.
Time is valuable, so you be assured that you are not the only one skipping a blog for this reason.
Here is a website that discusses such commenting systems. (Warning: Ad heavy.)

9- The blog posts are all just shared reposts from other blogs. I do not know if I am meant to comment here or on the original post.

As this practice grows in popularity, the amount of original content decreases. If the blogger had something fresh to add, then of course you should comment. If not, the original writer would probably appreciate you more.
You can achieve the goal of keeping blogs fresh by commenting with a question about the poster’s take on this shared repost, or by thanking the person for including a new perspective.
You can increase your social relationships by seeking out the original poster.
The blogger felt this post was worthy of his or her blog’s precious space. You can try to figure out why the blogger felt someone else had such a value and generate a comment based on that.
Here is an article about why this practice exists:
(Not to be confused with guest posts.)

10- If I comment on a blog, and then the person comments back, then I’m stuck commenting on their blog again. It’s too much!

That’s how relationships form and grow. It’s a give and take process. Sometimes one blogger posts three times a day and the other blogger posts three times a month. That certainly makes it more difficult. You have to find a balance. Figure out what works for you, your schedule, and your online-social-presence goals.
You can achieve the goal of making new and lasting connections with other bloggers.
You will only encounter this if you have communicated positively and thus increased your social relationships.
You should take the time to build this into a positive and supportive relationship.

by J Lenni Dorner
Reference and Speculative Fiction Author
A to Z Challenge Co-Host
Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer
Please visit the blog of @JLenniDorner Operation Awesome Debut Author Spotlight Organizer @JLenniDornerFollow @JLenniDorner on Twitter please WhatAreThey on Facebook pages

Monday, March 24, 2014

Checklist: Are you READY for the BIG DAY? #atozchallenge 4/1/2014

You've signed up on the list.  You've maybe written some posts.  Maybe you have a theme, but are you REALLY ready for Tuesday, April 1, 2014 when the biggest blogging event of the year will begin?  Here's a checklist so you can be sure.

1) You might have heard this before, but you HAVE TO TURN OFF CAPTCHA, aka WORD VERIFICATION aka PROVE YOU'RE NOT A ROBOT.  You really don't need that "keep out" sign. (If you're worried about spam, disabling anonymous comments is the best defense, and you can also you use comment moderation.)

If you don't know how to turn it off, there's a video in the FAQ to help you.

2) Do you have a way for visitors to follow your blog? 
You can use Google Friend Connect (GFC), follow by email, follow by RSS feed, or all three.  We recommend that you have at least one if not all three options available for guests to be able to come read more, or look at your great photos, or listen to your creative songs, or learn your awesome craft ideas.  You do want more followers, right?

3) Have you cleaned up your sidebar?  (I need to...egads, it's cluttered...) What I mean is, do you have your sidebar in a logical order?  How to follow you (see #2) should be near the top, if not THE top item. Arrange the rest of your items in the order of importance ~ what do you want people to know about you and your blog.  Some may not scroll all the way to the bottom, so put the important "stuff" at the top.

4) Do you have your participant badge displayed?  I'm talking about this one, found in the banners/badges tab above:

I know some of you have very legitimate reasons for not displaying it, and we're not forcing anyone to have it up. However, here are some reasons why it's to YOUR advantage to have it in your sidebar, and I suggest placing it right under your follower widget of choice.

* visitors know right away that you're participating

* if you put it up NOW it's advertising and we get more participants

* you avoid a reminder email from one of the co-hosts or one of the minions to please display your badge (which saves us work and we'd really appreciate that)

5) Do you know where the sign-up list is?  I suggest having it open in your browser all day so that it's easy to visit someone when you have just a few minutes.  All of those add up, and pretty soon you've been to more than the suggested 5 blogs immediately following your number on the list.  That will bring you more visitors!  This is the sign-up list.

6) Do you know what to do once you've put your first post up?  A lot of people have been asking.  The quick answer is: you've already signed up on the list I linked in #5, you don't have to link up each day.  However, here's what you should do to insure success:

* advertise your post using your other social media outlets of choice

* if Twitter is one of those, include the #atozchallenge hashtag

* for those of you on facebook, get active with the A-Z facebook page by visiting it daily to see what's going on, liking comments, adding your own.  Doing so will bring more visibility to your blog, and more visitors.

* if you include an image, others can pin your post on Pinterest

* make sure you're visiting others.  If you visit, they will come.  If you sit there, they will not.  Your success, your connections with others, your increase in friends and exposure all depends on YOU.  If you invest the time to make the first move, it WILL pay off.

* the more you get yourself out there, the more you will get out of this adventure

Yes, most of this has been said before.  It's worth repeating though.  The A to Z Team's goal is for this be a rewarding experience for you, and we really do care about you.  We may not be able to read all of your posts...but we want you to succeed.

Questions?  Contact Us tab is right up there.

~Tina, on behalf of the A to Z Team

P.S Got some new info this morning.  Be sure to read Ida's comment below. It has other following suggestions and shows you how to fix GFC if you're having problems with it.  Thanks, Ida!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Blogging is a VERB

And then we blog…

We write. We edit. We post.

And then we blog…

We socialize, network and engage in the community.

Blogging in a bubble is like cooking without eating the meal.

And then we blog…

We read other blogs, meet and get to know other bloggers, join and participate in blog hops.

See what I mean? We blog.

Dishes can wait. We’re blogging. Blogging is a verb – an action word that requires participation.

Making it hard for active bloggers to comment on your blog is like doing the dishes when you’re entertaining company. Sure, you can get away with it, but why would you be so rude to your guests?

On that note, here’s a brief list explaining why some people might not comment on your blog…

  • It takes too long to find your post. As serious as I am about blogging, there’s one thing I know to be true. Blogs are blogs. When I get to your page, I don’t want to click another link to read your post. I’m sure it will be very interesting and all that, but reading your post isn’t about giving you page views. It’s about reading what you wrote on your blog.

  • You wrote a friggin’ novel! Again, it’s a blog…especially when we’re all hopping around like flying trapeze artists, hoping not to miss any step (or blog) along the way during some of these gigantic blog hops. Save it for your ebook already, and post a blog post, without apologies for writing more words than I could write in a week. (And I write a lot of words every week too!)

  • Avoid misleading your audience by title or post. If your title promises to give a how-to on peeling oranges, I’m probably not going to want to read about dealing with grumpy co-workers. I’m certainly not expecting to anyway.

  • Check your ego at the post. Um, I’m sure your post will be great, but I’m not coming back to see what you wrote about something in two or three days, just because you were too busy to write your post for today’s blog hop. As much as you want me to appreciate your busy blogging schedule, it would be nice if you would appreciate mine too. Remember, blogging is a verb.

  • Skip the hoops already and make it easy for people to comment on your blog. I’ve commented on your blog time and time again. Yet I still have to fill out my name, email and website every time I visit you. At what point will you acknowledge my effort to leave you nice comments? I spent several minutes reading your post and now I can’t find where to leave a comment. Make it easy. Put the “Post a comment” at the bottom of the post (along with sharing tabs), just in case you said something my friends might want to read too. Captcha – think I said it all in this post on the subject.

It’s only a few days til we’re all in a mad rush to post and comment on well over 1,000 blogs in the A – Z Challenge blog hop. Hey, we’re all in this together and blogging is a verb!

Here’s to a successful A – Z Challenge for all!

M. J.

Photo credits:  Blog – commentskkkkk; Cortega9, CCA; blog iconoiiiiiii, Cortega9, CCA; Blog (1), Cortega9, CCA

Monday, June 4, 2012

the Bad...

Today we continue with Arlee Bird's Challenge analysis
The Good, the Bad, and the Evaluation...

Artwork by Ada Z at
We're gonna talk about the negatives:

        Two weeks ago we looked at the good of the A to Z Challenge. I think it's fair to say that from all the feed back we've received through the Reflections posts and your comments, the positive aspects of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge far outweigh the bad.

         Some of the negatives that have been cited are more personal and were covered  in my post on The Negative Responses to the A to Z that appeared last year.  You can go to that post if you want a more detailed coverage of negatives.

         Repeatedly this year we saw essentially the same negative aspects brought to our attention.  Some of these we tried our best to fix and I'm not sure how we can change them.

The dreaded Captcha:

        The matter of Word Verification or spam filters rests with individual bloggers.  On this A to Z site, on co-host sites, and on some of your sites requests were made repeatedly for bloggers to turn off spam filtering devices to make comment access easier.  Some of the co-hosts and participants even went so far as to leave our requests in the offending sites' comments.  We were somewhat effective, but many blogs still remained that required visitors to get through Captcha to leave a comment.  We tried.

No play, no stay:

       After sign-ups closed we eliminated about 200 blogs from the list that were advertising or non-participant blogs.  Nevertheless many of you discovered more that we missed.  Also as the Challenge progressed there was an attrition rate of bloggers who fell by the wayside.  I'll cover a bit more about this topic of the "blogs that waste our time to visit" next Monday when we evaluate the Challenge as it stands now and ideas on how to make it better.

What if we don't agree with content?:

        There were also some complaints about certain blog content that some deemed as inappropriate.  The co-hosts labored over this issue to a great extent and concluded that it was not necessarily a good thing to get into the business of censorship.  We came to the conclusion that some blogs needed content warnings, but we would not want to be excluding any blogs based on content as long as the other A to Z stipulations were being followed.  We'd like to get some feedback on this issue as we don't want to alienate any of you who sincerely want to participate in the April Challenge.

The Biggest Problem is the biggest aspect:

         The most oft cited problem pertained to the overwhelming size of the list.   Over and over I saw requests to label the list entrants, break down the list into categories, or limit the number of participants.   I think the last solution is not a good one and for me is out of the question.  One of the main objectives of the A to Z Challenge is to build community and we have been doing a pretty good job of this.  Limiting entrants would create a spirit of exclusivity that would not fit well into the idea of reaching out to expand our reach to build communities.

          There are some viable alternatives to labeling and categorizing that I think would present a very workable solution to the problem of the large list.  Some of you are in opposition to breaking things down, but I truly think I have an answer that would be an attractive way to approach this problem.   Next Monday I will explain my plan in detail to see what you think.

           Were there any other major negative aspects that you think I missed?   What more could we have done to get bloggers to co-operate with what was explained many times?  Were there any blogs that you found offensive and if so how do you think they should be handled?

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Me and the A to Z: Guest Post from Mary at Giggles and Guns

Me and the A to Z

I'm smiling, no laughing, that Lee wants me to write about my experience with A to Z 2011.

Let me tell you...

See this doppel of me from Facebook? There's a reason it's not a photo. I'm bald now due to A to Z 2011. I'm kidding. All but a few patches have grown back. If I do a comb-over like a middle-aged man you can hardly tell. Honest.

        I watched the 2010 Challenge from the sideline. Most of it anyway. I discovered it late and was embarrassed to join half way through. I promised myself I would do the next one. When registration came up I jumped right in. I started preparing posts in February. I was on it like fleas on a dog. All I had left were my six doozies -- Q, V, F, Z, U and Y. I refused to skip an entry. A couple of times I think I was almost putting up posts only a few hours apart.

       As April approached I watched the list of blogs to visit grow ... and grow ... and grow ... More than once I prayed the monitors would shut down registration. They finally did. At something like 1200+.

       Seriously, guys, what were you thinking? My original plan of scheduling posts and spending xx amount of time visiting new blogs and checking out old friends was lost. No way. After all life goes beyond blog reading. Life, eye strain and headaches can put the brakes on visiting all those sites in 30 days. Best laid plans and all that. I think it was August by the time I got to the final participants. (My humblest apologies inserted here.)

      I notice that a lot of folks hit the high hundreds (and even thousands) with new followers. I didn't gain that many. Maybe because I didn't follow every blog I visited. Everyone handles the whole following thing differently. Some click the Follow Me button everywhere they stop. Some follow only those who write a certain type of posts. Some only follow where they want to return. To each his own.

      Well, A to Z 2012 is fast approaching. I was prepared to blow it off this year. But the more I see that button and read how excited everyone is the more I have to join, no, want to join. Besides, what would I do with all the posts I've already written. They wouldn't make sense to use any other time. That's right, guys, I'm ready. Bring on April!

My hints?

  • Prepare early
  • Keep it short
  • Turn off the darn captcha and word verification. Many participants skip blogs where those are necessary. (Guilty) Imagine 1200 blogs each requiring two steps to leave a comment. That's a lot of wasted time and typing. I block anonymous comments on my blog because of an overzealous shoe salesman. Again to each his own.

THE most important thing to remember ...

ENJOY YOURSELF! Have fun. It's all about the fun and friends, old and new. I'm looking forward to visiting everyone -- hopefully, before the A to Z 2013.


There are just a few days left to submit you A to Z promotion video.  Look in the appropriate tab at the top of the page for more details.    Here's something fun from Tracy Jo Blowers at A Brand New Day.

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