Posts Tagged ‘feed’

Adsense for Feeds

January 31, 2009

As many of you know, since becoming a part of Google in June of 2007, the FeedBurner team has been hard at work transforming FeedBurner into a service that uses the same underlying architecture as many other Google applications, running in the same high-volume datacenters. As a team, we chose this path for one reason: our highest priority is making sure your feed is served as fast as possible after you update your content, and is as close as technically possible to being available 100% of the time.

As many of you also know, a month ago we opened up ability for all AdSense publishers to move to this new platform, and just a few days ago made this move available to all FeedBurner publishers. What many of you do not know is that we have been carefully moving publishers for about six months now, looking hard at traffic patterns, debugging issues with these account transfers with publishers and their hosting and service providers, and working with many of our partners (including many other teams at Google) who run feed aggregation platforms to ensure feeds from this new platform are polled and distributed as fast and reliably as possible. (One example: we moved over 100 external Google blogs and their respective FeedBurner feeds over to the new platform as soon as we could; charity (and bug-fixing) begins at home!)

We are very aware of our responsibility to the RSS ecosystem. We are aware we host and provide service to not only some of the largest publishers, but also the feed for your site, the feeds that you rely on for mission-critical news and information, and even some feeds government provides to distribute information on a timely basis to their citizens. We know that many of you run businesses that critically depend on your feed being delivered quickly and reliably, and thus have been working with many of you to ensure that these feeds are delivered in tandem with a monetization solution that allows you to continue business as we go through this transition. FeedBurner has the privilege of serving millions of feeds globally that represent an incredibly wide spectrum of content.

It is this scale however, that makes our transition to Google’s platform technically complex, and as we have started to open up account transfers to all users, it has also amplified the permutations of publisher web server configs, service providers, feed readers, search engines, and so on, and so on. We want to ensure that the time we spend tackling this technical complexity is not mistaken for lack of urgency, concern, or priority.

Just as an example, we are aware and have been working on a known issue of returning a “502 Error” or “503 Error” when checking for updates after certain feeds are migrated. This is a very general error message, representing a number of underlying issues, but in many cases it is a service provider throttling or disallowing traffic from Google. Although we came across many of these issues during our testing phase, in reality we knew a lot of these challenges would not fully surface until we released at scale, which we now have and are dealing with as high priority issues within Google.

To help communicate these issues and resolutions much more effectively, we have created a new blog and feed that you can subscribe to during this transition period. We plan to keep these around as long as necessary. We may also add features to the site that allow you to report your own feed issue details.

The extended team — including both original team members of FeedBurner, newer team members that joined us since we’ve been at Google, and the rest of Google — is excited about our future on this new integrated-with-Google platform that all publishers will be on at the conclusion of this account transfer process. We are excited because we see the potential for scale and innovation on this platform that will make for a true next generation feed management solution. Most of all, however, we are excited about getting publishers excited for these possibilities as we reveal what we have in store.


Use Gravatars to Add Personality to Your Blog

January 31, 2009

In this post Jack Gamble from Babeled sheds some light on a handy service – Gravatars which is a tool that many people are adding to their blogs (I’ve got it operating in the comments section of both TwiTip and Digital Photography School at present).

An important thing to remember as you develop your blog is to build an identity that distinguishes you and your site from the rest of the blogosphere. One tool that can help to accomplish this is the use of Gravatars.

Gravatar is the abbreviation of the phrase “Globally Recognized Avatar.” In short, it is a small image, normally a head shot, of the author or commenter. The Gravatar you chose will be tied to your email address; therefore any enabled site will automatically feature your image next to your comment.

The sense of sight is relied on more so than any other. In a text dominated world, it is difficult to quickly establish an identity with readers in the short time most people will spend on any page of your blog. Think of a newspaper in the editorial column where popular columnists will feature a small photo of themselves next to their articles. This allows the readers to quickly put a face on the writer.

Choose your Gravatar carefully. Don’t pick just any picture. Make use of an image that lends itself to your blog’s identity.

Let’s look at two writers over at Babeled.

gravatar-1.jpgThe first is yours truly. I write under the pen name “Man Overboard.” This name was derived from my former job as a commercial fisherman and it is also a play on words that hints at my tendency to overreact to certain issues.

As you can see, the Gravatar I have chosen shows my ugly mug through a port hole on my old boat making a face that says “don’t take me too seriously.” This small image next to a comment or blog post immediately tells the reader more about me than a full page of text ever could. Above all, it does this while occupying only a very small amount of valuable space.

-2.jpgNext is our very own Cartoonist who goes by the name Keeks. Take one look at his Gravatar, a cartoon self-portrait, and you know everything you need to know about this guy and his obvious sense of humor.

Another reoccurring piece of advice you will commonly receive at ProBlogger is to frequently comment on other blogs. Most sites require you to enter your email and URL to comment. The Gravatar you chose will be tied to your email address, so any enabled site will recognize you and hence your Gravatar image will automatically appear next to your comment. Again, the Gravatar will help to identify you as a face with a personality (and more importantly a blog) of your own. As you make your way throughout the internet, the chances that your Gravatar becomes noticed increases with each comment.

Also, by placing the same picture on your profile at various social media outlets you will increase its visibility and effectiveness. Be sure to use the same profile image for Mixx, Stumble Upon, Reddit, Facebook, and any other social networking tool you employ. Each time you display the image it becomes product placement for your blogging identity.

Gravatars become even more important for multi-author blogs. At Babeled, I am one of many regular writers. My Gravatar, and that of my coauthors, is a useful tool that allows our readers to quickly distinguish between the many personalities that contribute to our various topics. As the comments develop, the Gravatars create the impression of watching a dialogue between two easily identified writers with different points of view.

If you don’t already, I encourage you to enable Gravatars on your site and start using them immediately. You will find this practice very helpful as you strive to separate yourself and your site from the endless sea of bloggers on the internet today.

~Man Overboard