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How to write blogs

internet basicsIs writing a blog easy?

Yes, and it can also be cheap. If the last column on reading blogs (web page, 21 November) interested you, one easy way to start is with Blogger (www.blogger.com) which offers a free service completely within your web browser. This includes hosting at Blogspot, so you get a URL in the format: [yourblogname].blogspot.com. The free service has some limitations though, and Blogger has suspended taking new customers for its premium services at the moment, so you should consider the alternatives.

What are some paid alternatives?

Here are three others that do not require any technical knowledge to use:

LiveJournal is at www.livejournal. com/. This also includes hosting, but, unless an existing user recommends you, it costs US$5 to try out for the first two months, or US$25 a year. A major aspect of LiveJournal is its community features, see www.live journal.com/support/faq.bml. While it requires only a web browser, there is software that you can download to work offline as well.

Radio Userland (radio.userland.com/) costs US$40 a year, but can be tested free for 30 days. This requires software to be installed: Windows 98 (or later) and Macintosh versions are available. This product keeps a copy of your content on your computer, as well as on a server. A step-by-step introduction can be found at www. oreillynet.com/pub/a/javascript/2002/12/30/weblog_intro.html.

TypePad (www.typepad.com) uses an advanced version of MovableType software. A 30-day free trial is available and prices start at US$5 a month, or US$50 a year. Although more expensive than the others, it is very easy to use, and has some smart features.

Are there any rules about posting?
Always link back to whatever it is you’re talking about, if possible. The context in which something has been said is hugely important. Don’t just repost a full entry from another person without giving credit and a link to the original. Quotations from another person’s content should always be clearly marked as such. For more general issues of ethics, see http://www.rebeccablood.net/hand book/excerpts/weblog_ethics.html.

What is a “blogroll”?

A blogroll is a list of blogs that you visit, or want to remember, or want to draw attention to. Many bloggers list one as a sidebar. You can make use of a free service at www.blogrolling. com to do this.

What is a permalink?

This is a “permanent link”, a way to reference an individual blog entry, “for ever”. Newspaper stories often have long URLs, to ensure uniqueness, so that you can save the URL and that, years later, it still works. Weblog software automatically generates a unique permalink for each separate post (not page) that you create, and weblogs reference each other’s entries using these.
Simon Sarmiento blogs at www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk.
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