Happy New Year SL Blogger Support Readers! The team is working hard behind the scenes to make 2016 a banner year for the group. Stay tuned for several new updates coming your way in the next few weeks.
While I have you, I’ve written a new blog post on my site that may be of interest to all Second Life bloggers. It’s about my evolving view on blog comments. This post lays out a comment policy that aims to protect you (and your readers) from useless comments.
What do I consider “useless” comments? I mean comments that are ugly, unproductive, off-topic, aggressive or spammy. To learn more about what I mean by useless comments, read my article.
You’re welcome to use my short and sweet policy if it suits you. It won’t suit everyone and I discuss this below the graphic.
Below are the Discussion settings I used to reflect my policy. You can access this panel by pointing your browser to Settings > Discussion in your WordPress Dashboard:
What I changed
I’ll point out three specific things that I modified to reflect my new policy. These tips will help you use the discussion settings to reflect your comment policy:
- I checked the box that ensures comment authors fill out name and email. That’s important to ensure you can identify commenters (and blacklist them if necessary). It won’t deter people from writing in fake names and addresses. It can sometimes make people slow down and identify with their comments more. In theory, requiring this information should make them more responsible. At first, I ticked the 2nd checkbox too (“users must be registered and logged in to comment”). That created a long-winded process that made it too difficult to comment, so I unticked it.
- I checked the box that closes comments on articles older than seven days. You can change the number of days to suit you. I’m doing this to defend against comment spam that tends to target older articles. If you’re not getting spam, then I recommend you leave that unchecked.
- I checked two more boxes so that I can manually approve all comments. I think that’s crucial. Checking both of these settings will help reduce spam.
I know many bloggers want to get more comments, not fewer. Though there may come a time when your blog’s popularity invites more useless comments. My post might help anyone who is wondering what to do when that happens. This post will show you how.
Should you follow my policy?
That’s debatable. I think blog comments are an excellent resource for any blogger that is getting started. They’re convenient forms of feedback. They’re a good metric to understand how your audience is responding to what you post. Comments can be an excellent forum in which to build a little community around your blog. Some bloggers even spark friendships with other bloggers through blog comments.
When your blog gets over 100,000 views per year, you may want to rethink your comment policy to protect yourself from useless comments.
You might also want to consider blocking specific commenters if you find they waste your time with useless comments. On the same settings page, you can write in these fields:
You can use the top area to blacklist commenters. You can use the bottom field to put words that spam commenters tend to use (e.g. viagra, download free movies, cheap plastic surgery, etc.) – whatever words tend to be in your comment spam.
To get a commenter’s IP look at your Comments section in your WordPress dashboard and review the information there. I’ve highlighted what one of my comments looks like below:
I’ve highlighted the information you can use to comment blacklist a user. If you wanted to block me from commenting on your site, you could enter my name or email address. I could easily change these when commenting, but my IP isn’t something I can change without masking it through a VPN.
On the same topic, I want to direct you to the bottom of the Discussion Settings page entitled “Avatars”. Registering for a WordPress Avatar will follow you around the WordPress universe (when engaging on blogs or writing your posts). Most people seem to have the hang of it.
For your commenters, you can choose the default avatar, but I prefer selecting the Gravatar. It’s a globally recognized avatar and is an excellent free service that you can sign up for here. The best part is that you can write your bio in one place, and it shows up everywhere.
That’s it for discussion settings!
I wish you a good year of blogging with lots of productive discussion in 2016!
For this article in the series ‘Location in the Spotlight’ I travelled to the winter in *Frisland*, a gorgeous photographer- and blogger friendly location, owned and designed/decoration by three passionate people: Frislanda Ferraris, Annabell Barzane and Charlie Namiboo.
*Frisland* is recently transformed to winter, as this is one of those locations following the seasons, so it is quite new as we speak!
Of course I didn’t just go there for pictures, but I also had some questions about the background and story of *Frisland*. I am always intrigued by sim names, so naturally my first question was: “Could you, in a nutshell, tell us what the name Frisland means and/or why your sim is called that?”
Charlie, who took care of the interview (also on behalf of Frislanda and Anna) explained me “If you know the names of all the three of us, the relation is pretty obvious, isn’t it?! Well, two years ago, when Fris and I talked about our Second Life names, he admitted that he had googled his one (who haven’t done this yet?) and found an article about a phantom island called Frisland in the North Atlantic that appeared on lots of maps during the 16th and 17th centuries. He thought that was quite interesting and asked me if I’d like the idea of creating this island in Second Life. That was the moment everything started. Just as a side note: our Frisland shouldn’t be confused with the real Friesland, a northern region in Germany and the Netherlands!”
Ahhh, so my next question was already answered for a bit, but I asked it anyway! “Could you tell me a bit about the background of Frisland? (how it all started or what gave you the inspiration?”
Charlie didn’t mind telling some more and continued, “Yeah, I already started with answering it in your first question, but ok! After Fris and I came to the decision to build up Frisland in Second Life, Anna joined the team and we rented a homestead region to start building. Our plan was clear: creating a photogenic sim with a mysterious touch, a place from the past century where time stood still. Everything should appear a sort of ancient and dusty as if the residents of Frisland left their home all of a sudden long time ago.”
Charlie took a sip of her coffee and said “Of course we did some research about the fauna, flora and landscaping of northern European regions, so Frisland can best be compared with Ireland. We have never changed the terraforming, all “structures” stayed the same during the last 2 years. But Frisland has all seasons, so we change the colors and some items every quarter of the year.”
So, as owners and residents of Frislands, what are your own favourite spots?
Charlie had to think about that for a minute, but “I for myself have no particular spot on Frisland that I love most, it always depends on what season is or with whom I am hanging around. Actually I love each pixel of Frisland! Right now during the Winter season I love to sit on the bench in front of the schoolhouse and watch people exploring Frisland. Fris told me that his favourite place is the little red Chapel, the east of the sim. And I asked Anna this morning, she said that she loves the bench near the horse stable from where you can look at the ocean.”
I can see why those spots are favourites, though I have to admit..I love the whole sim anyway!
So, Charlie, people can rezz their props, after they join the group, what are the costs and for how long can you rezz? Also…any anecdotes or bizarre objects you have found?
More coffee for Charlie, while she formulated her answer: “For almost a year, you just had to send us an IM and ask for a group invite (for free). After a while we decided to let people join the group without an invite, but for a small fee of 150 L$, which helps us to keep running the sim. I think that’s only fair. We have disabled the auto return to give our photographer-guests the whole possibility of taking pics without getting in a rush. Of course that means we have to check the sim ánd return forgotten things daily. Some are “repeaters” but most people clean up after their shots, so it’s fine.”
And an anecdote? Charlie told me “So far, we haven’t found any bizarre objects. Most people handle our baby with lots of respect and don’t rez things that wouldn’t fit in. Just once a SL family used our chapel to celebrate the christening of one of their children. Fris watched them and was kinda amused till the ceremony was done and all of them vanished all of a sudden but left all of their stuff in the chapel that they had rezzed – candles, flowers, the font. So we IM’d and asked them to take their items back to their inventory, after all we didn’t want to risk a loss for them with returning them! The mother reacted kinda angrily because we dared to bother her, so we didn’t get a tip but …oh my!”
All seems pretty inviting, but you know how it goes in Second Life….Can bloggers/photographers contact you in case they have special requirements for a photoshoot on Frisland?
Charlie immediately responded “Of course! If there’s anything we can make possible, we’ll do it!”
That is wonderful and generous, so is there anything people should know when they visit?
Charlie “Well, it is a moderate sim but nudity isn’t allowed. It wouldn’t fit in the scenery and idea behind Frisland. And as I mentioned before, we have no auto-return, so please clean up *tries and sounds like a strict Mommy*…Aside from that – ENJOY FRISLAND!”
I had one more question: ‘What’s your own favourite picture you took on Frisland?’
And Charlie came up with this: “Believe me, answering your questions was the easier part but choosing a pic out of my Frisland pics was so hard! I could have chosen every pic I have ever taken there because all of them mean something to me ^^ See, I have chosen this one:
Why? Because it was the first pic ever I took at Frisland in Winter. And I must admit that I love my baby with a snowy robe the most!”
Last but not least, I want to thank Charlie, Frislanda and Anna for taking the time answering my questions, realising only afterwards I had dropped the interview on them in a very sad week when they were just dealing with a personal loss of a good Second Life friend. Hugs to them.
Frisland is a gorgeous place and perfect for photography and exploring and I hope you will all hop over and enjoy it – and when you do and take pictures, do not forget to submit them to the Frisland Flickr Group!