Blog: characteristics and features

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Blog: characteristics and features

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Wikipedia defines a Blog as an online diary.

The word "blog" comes from a contraction of "web log". The term "weblog" was introduced in 1997 by Jorn Barger who used it on his own website: the truncated "blog" term was coined by Peter Merholz who, in 1999, used the phrase "we blog" on his website, thus creating the verb "to blog".

Weblogs come from the grass roots, and immediately appealed because normal people could use the web to express themselves, with whatever they wanted to say. It became popular in America around 2001, and then exploded all over the world. It became a fashion in Italy when the first free blog providers appeared.

Blogs are characterized by their structure, their contents and their form in which the contents are written.

Click to expand/collapseThe structure

A blog is a website, and the person who writes the blog is called a blogger. You can publish anything on a blog: it's yours and you can do what you like with it. It often becomes a sort of personal online diary.

Blogs usually have a fairly standard structure, where each article (post) is numbered and has a page of its own. Each blog page, therefore, contains a post and the comments that visitors may have left on that post. Posts are usually organized in categories (threads) which constitute one of the two most common folders for posts. The second folder is where posts are stored by their date: you can look through posts made during a specific time interval, usually one month. Posts are stored in the order they arrive, from the newest to the oldest, and they may contain photos, audio, video and links to other sites. Each post is recognizable via a permalink, which is a direct link to an article. The section that contains the links to other blogs is called a blogroll.

Blogs may offer accessories, such as a search engine and RSS feeds: blogs are normally updated frequently and so these accessories may be useful to visitors looking for something in particular in the contents.

Click to expand/collapseThe contents

The real essence of a blog is its contents: messages are usually halfway between a headline and an article, and they often give a short summary, a bit like the structure of an RSS feed.

Contents are usually related to one of the categories, and they are published in chronological order. They can be about any subject. Most bloggers use blogs as personal diaries to tell other people what they think about a particular topic. Readers can follow links to pass from one blog to another, so moving through the blogsphere. Many journalists, authors and politicians now use blogs, to keep in touch with their readers and voters on almost a day-to-day basis. Blogs don't have deadlines to be published by, and so appeal to people who want to talk about themselves, without worrying about keeping to rigid schemes.

Click to expand/collapseThe form

Blogs are usually written in the first person, because they are the thoughts and expressions of the authors themselves. Blogs are often described as a written monologue.

Even companies and commercial organizations use the first person for writing their blogs. It's more informal and direct: if you write a blog, it's because you want to get in touch with the outside world and so you use the most immediate means you can.

Click to expand/collapseThe blog in WebSite X5

WebSite X5 makes handling a blog very easy. You can quickly write and publish your posts: you can elaborate on your articles with pictures, videos and audio. Comments can be handled easily: you can use an online Control Panel to approve comments before publishing them and organize how they are to be displayed.

There is a search engine, a list of recent posts, an archive by category or month by month, and you can add clouds to your blog page.

WebSite X5 takes care of all the technical aspects, and you just have to decide what to write about! Bear in mind the following points for a successful blog:

Decide what kind of blog you want to create. It's best to have some sort of identity, and a title that summarizes the blog in a word or two.
Write at least one post a day, or try to be as regular as possible. Institutional blogs should have their posts calendarized: people expect news on a regular basis, and don't like to be disappointed.
Write and add material for at least a month before you actually publish anything. This gives you time to evaluate the result and make any corrections, so you can be sure your blog is pointing in the right direction.
When you are satisfied with how your blog is progressing, talk about it with friends, colleagues and neighbors: you may be surprised by the feedback!
To increase its popularity on the Internet, try to link your blog to others that talk about similar subjects. You will need to read other posts and leave comments, remembering to leave a link to your own blog. Be careful not to break any of the editorial rules on the blogs you visit.
Build up a network of contacts with other people in the blogsphere and meet people online: that's a good way to get your blog read.

If you manage to make your blog popular, and with a good name, you could consider the possibility of using it to earn money, adding adverts and so on.