Sunday, May 12, 2013

Blog About a Blog

by Chuck Jones

I thought I'd do an article about blogging this week. I guess that's what happens when you try to do a new blog article every week. There are those times when you scratch your head and wonder what to do next and then grab the first thought that comes into your head.

So, what is a blog? Well, at least you know how to get to one or you wouldn't be reading this. A blog is a web log, shortened to the word blog, if the word blog could be considered a word, which we will do in this article because "Who am I to blow against the wind?" A blog is a place to present ideas, stories, topics, information, stuff like that. You will find blogs on the internet covering many topics. You name it and there is probably a blog about it. This blog, sponsored by Retreat & Refresh Stroke Camp (RRSC), is about stroke related information, and events provided by the camp. The idea is that the reader gains some knowledge or entertainment, at least, and has the opportunity to respond with their own thoughts, information, experiences and knowledge about strokes or anything else that happens to strike their fancy at the time. We are open to pretty much any topic. Responses aren't totally necessary for a blog to succeed but they certainly are welcome and sometimes they spark ideas for future articles.

Wikipedia includes this in their definition of a blog:  "Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries; others function more as online brand advertising of a particular individual or company. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, Web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important contribution to the popularity of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (art blogs), photographs (photoblogs), videos (video blogs or "vlogs"), music (MP3 blogs), and audio (podcasts). Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts. In education, blogs can be used as instructional resources. These blogs are referred to as edublogs."

Our blog has used all of those types of media. Also, using the above definition, I guess our blog is an edublog sometimes, too.

This blog you are reading now is published using a blog template provided by a product offered, free of charge, by an internet company called Blogger. They have several templates available and I chose the one you're using now as one that fits our needs.  If you've ever had the desire to start your own blog, this product is relatively easy to use. Their web address is www.blogger.com. I say relatively easy because there is a learning curve determined by your experience dealing with computers and writing in general. However, Blogger has an excellent place to get help from their support staff and a forum where bloggers like us can go to help each other with questions and problems. Like most things in life, the more you use something the better you get.
 
Since December of 2010 there have been about 76 articles posted on this blog site. Many of them have come from camp volunteers,  medical staff from the hospitals that sponsor us, and many have come from the stroke survivors themselves, but most have come from the staff of  RRSC.

Each article is called a page in blogger speak. The Blogger product keeps track of the number of times a page is viewed and, at the time of this writing, our blog site has had almost 10,000 page views since startup.  

You might ask who these viewers are. I'd like to know, too, because I'd like to thank them for visiting. I can't tell specifically who they are, but what is available is their country of origin, browser type, how many times an article is viewed, and generally what web address the viewer typed in to get to this blog. I'd say that 70% of the page views come through the blog address itself, rrscb.blogspot.com, and the RRSC Facebook page. Another 20% come through the camp web site, www.strokecamp.org. The rest have come from Google searches and a few have come from spammers or autobots that scan for sites to spam. 

Yes, we've been spammed many times and that is the reason we have to use that clunky word verification thing for replies from you. I know it discourages many of you from replying, and I don't blame you. I keep hoping Blogger will come up with something better, more friendly for you. You may not have seen any of the spams because the blog product itself does a good job of filtering out a lot of them, and the rest, the ones that do get through the filter, I delete myself when I get automatic email notifications. 

The spammers leave a message that is supposed to make you think they read your article and liked it and then ask you to visit theirs. They're wording is so phony it's obvious that they are not real replies and they always include a link to a product they're trying to sell. My favorite spam is one about buying toe rings. Now, if any of you readers are the one who sent that, I apologize and will give you another chance to sell me that toe ring.  

Some very interesting statistics I get are:

The country of origin. Here's are the top ten countries visiting our site to date and the number of times they viewed a page:

United States - 5,200
Russia           -    451
France          -    306
UK                -    300
Germany      -    215
Latvia           -    135
Ukraine        -    125
Sweden         -    121
China            -     87
India             -     55

I am convinced 95% of these are legitimate readers. I believe we are reaching a lot of people in need of stroke information and reassurance in other countries.

The top ten operating systems readers are using to visit us are:

Windows       - 7139 (87%)
Linux             - 300 (3%)
Macintosh     - 253 (3%)
iPad               - 147 (1%)
Android         - 136 (1%)
iPhone           - 89 (1%)
Windows NT - 37 (1%)
Other Unix    - 12 (<1%)
BlackBerry    - 10 (<1%)
compatible    - 7 (<1%)

I don't know what compatible means. Maybe it's a supercomputer in the Pentagon. As you can see we are being reached by every technology available today. 

I hope you found this informative or at least entertaining. If you have any questions or have something you'd like to contribute, you know where to find me. 

-Chuck

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