May 30, 2008

eBook(s) in Progress...

My first eBook, The Cheat's Guide to Customizing Blogger Templates, has been far more successful than I could have imagined. According to my hosting stats, this has been downloaded over 15,000 times since it's release (which astounds me!), and I've had loads of wonderful feedback about this.

Now that my "offline" schedule is a little less busy, I've begun writing two new eBooks which will be available for download in the near future.

As before, these eBooks will be focused on the needs of those using Google Blogger to publish their blogs, and will be available for free download through this blog:

Choosing and Using a New Blogger Template

One of the most requested article suggestions for Blogger Buster is -

A step by step tutorial to change your Blogger template without screwing everything up! (via the Skribit widget)
While I have written a few tutorials in regard to this so far, I think a complete guide would span quite a few pages if written as a post.

So instead, I'm going to release this tutorial as a short eBook, with a few added bonuses which you won't find elsewhere.

I hope to have completed finished writing this within a week or two, and will distribute this directly from the site.

"The Blogger Book"

Okay, I admit I haven't conjured up a definitive title for this eBook yet, so any suggestions would be most welcome!

This eBook will be "the biggie": a compilation of useful information, tutorials and insight to help you build a better blog with Blogger.

I hope "the Blogger book" will appeal to Blogger users with all levels of experience, from those just beginning to use Blogger to those who have been blogging for some time! It will be about using Blogger in general (rather than focusing exclusively on one aspect of Blogger), with useful sections and tutorials that you won't find anywhere else online.

As you can imagine, this eBook will take significantly longer to write. So far, I'd guess this will be well over 100 pages long (perhaps closer to 200) and although I will be giving this ebook away for free, most likely this will be offered only to subscribers (as an incentive to subscribe to Blogger Buster).

What do you think about this? Would you still be interested in "the Blogger book" if I offer it only to subscribers?

Your suggestions are warmly welcomed!

If you have any suggestions for the content (or format) of either of these ebooks, I would really like to hear from you! Please feel free to write your comments below, I'd love to know your opinions and will be sure to consider any suggestions you may have.

May 28, 2008

How to Print your Blogger Posts Effectively

As many of the posts here are tutorials, I thought it would be useful for readers to print off individual blog posts for future reference. Sure, it would be possible for a reader to choose the "print" option from their web browser window, but this would have printed the header, sidebars and other irrelevant sections of the blog, wasting paper and ink and time.

Using a combination of CSS and JavaScript, I've developed a simple yet effective method of printing only the blog post (and comments) from each blog page.

In this post, I'll explain how you can also add effective print functionality to your Blogger posts in just two simple steps.

To get an idea of what this post would appear like when printed, use the "Print Preview" function in your web browser. Whereas the current page appears colorful and includes the header, sidebars and other elements of this template, printed pages from this blog will appear like this instead:

As you can see in this example:

  • The header and sidebar sections do not appear
  • Text is black printed against a plain white background
  • The post spans the width of the printed page
  • The post retains images and formatting
  • Only the necessary areas will be printed!

How to install effective printing format for your Blogger posts

Although it took me a few attempts to ensure my posts would print in this way, I have created this tutorial to make it simple and fast for you to install in your own blogs.

There are only two steps to add this functionality to your own Blogger template:

  1. Add a few lines of CSS code (to make printed pages appear in this way)
  2. Add one line of JavaScript beneath your posts (which creates a link for readers to print the post)

There are a few different options for the style of the print link, as I'll explain below.

Add CSS Style Code to your Blogger Template

To add the print styling code to your Blogger template, simply go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard, and search for the closing </head> tag.

Immedietly before this line, add the following lines of code (copy and paste this directly to your Blogger template):

<style media='print' type='text/css'>
#header-wrapper, #header, .header, #sidebar-wrapper, .sidebar, #footer-wrapper, #footer, .date-header, .post-meta-data, .comment-link, .comment-footer, #blog-pager, #backlinks-container, #navbar-section, .subscribe_notice, .noprint {display: none;}
#main-wrapper {width: 95%}

If you like, you can preview your blog before saving. On this preview page, you'll be able to see the print preview displays only your blog posts (not the sidebar or other unwanted areas).

Finally, save your template.

Add a "Print this post" link

To notify your readers that your posts can be printed effectively, you'll probably want to add a "Print" link beneath each of your Blogger posts.

I've created three different styles for the print link, so you can choose the option which works best for your overall design.

To add the print link, go to the "Edit HTML" page again, and this time ensure that you've ticked the "expand widget templates" box.

Now search for this line:

Immediately after this line, paste one of these three sections of code:

For a simple text link:

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == &quot;item&quot;'>
<a href='javascript:window.print()'>Print this post</a>

For a button link

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == &quot;item&quot;'>
<form> <input type="button" value="Print This Page" onClick="window.print()" /> </form>

For a snazzy link with printer icon

<b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == &quot;item&quot;'>
<span style='background: url( left no-repeat; padding-left: 20px;'><a href='javascript:window.print()'>Print this post</a></span>

Once you have added this code, save your template. These links will only be visible on post pages (to enable visitors to print the full post and any comments which appear beneath the post), so visit one of your post pages to see the link in action.

You can see an example of the print link near the bottom of this post. If you click on this link, you will be prompted to print this entire post (and comments) using your default printer.

Why it may be useful to enable printing for your Blogger posts

If you publish tutorials or lengthy content, your readers may benefit greatly from being able to print and read your posts offline.

Using the methods outlined here, readers can print only the content of your posts, and not the unnecessary distractions of the sidebar, footer and header sections (which saves on paper and printer ink too!).

You may also want to print off your blog posts for your own benefit, such as to back up your posts in print format, or to demonstrate your abilities in a print portfolio.

Unlike other plugins I have come across, this method also allows you to print any comments under your post too. Comments can add a great deal of value to blog posts, and may contain reader insights which are not included in the body of the post itself.

I hope this tutorial has been useful for you! Please feel free to print this off for future reference ;) and as always your comments are most welcomed.

May 27, 2008

An Interview with Avi Abrams of Dark Roasted Blend

Dark Roasted Blend is probably the most addictive blog I have ever had the pleasure to read. Featuring "weird and wonderful things to complement your daily coffee ritual", this amazing blog is ranked among the top 400 blogs according to Technorati and at number 8 in the most popular Blogger powered blogs.

I've had the pleasure of an email interview with Avi Abrams, the founder and writer of Dark Roasted Blend, to discover more about the site and his experience using Blogger.

I hope you will enjoy reading Avi's answers as much as I did!

Amanda: I love the concept of your blog: "weird and wonderful things to complement your daily coffee ritual". What inspired you to develop this idea?

Avi: The fact that I was spending most of my coffee time hugging computer and the internet, finding great stuff - so I just wanted to share it.

Amanda: As you're probably aware, Dark Roasted Blend is one of the most popular Blogger blogs in the world (and ranks very highly in Technorati!). What factors do you think have contributed to the popularity of Dark Roasted Blend?

Avi: We update every day, we seek out unconventional content (from international sites, not just English-based), we highlight very unusual and rare technology and art - sprinkled with a liberal doze of humor and funny pictures. Plus I have to commend our audience - they are truly the stars of the site, with their knowledgeable comments, suggestions and interests. A lot of growth comes from our RSS subscriptions, which tells me that perhaps DRB is pretty addictive (viewers beware!)

Amanda: Your blog design and set-up are amazing: visually the design perfectly complements the theme, while the links all draw readers further into the archives to read previous posts. Did you design your blog's theme yourself? Also, how long did it take to create this blog design?

Avi: The design is a work in progress, as I constantly try to improve the experience. Generally I designed the site so that people could have a comfortable, almost coffee-shop-like time and stay as long as they like. Our archives remain popular for long time, as we try to keep the quality of posts uniformly high, with content not easily available on other sites. Just recently we changed to flexible layout so that we could display larger images, and there are more design enhancements coming.

Amanda: What are your favorite (or most popular) posts from Dark Roasted Blend?

Avi: This page lists the most popular articles from DRB in 2007.

Our Dangerous Roads Series remains very popular (despite being the oldest).

People also seem to like our "Futurism" section and "Abandoned Places" section.

Amanda: Most of my readers use Blogger to publish their blogs. Could you suggest one really useful tip to help Blogger users improve their blogs?

Avi: Don't ever think that nobody reads your blog, even if the number of readers is low. Keep posting good content, and the right people will eventually see it (even if they come from Google search). I also keep Science Fiction Book Review site and it always has readership, even though I do not spend any time at all to promote it. Generally, write only when you can not keep yourself from writing - something you're passionate about. There will always be people who will share your excitement. Oh... and don't forget to feed your hamsters, if you have any.

Amanda: Thank you Avi for sharing your experiences with us :)

If you've never visited Dark Roasted Blend before, do pop over to take a look. I'm sure you'll agree it's one of the most addictive and interesting sites you'll ever see!

I'd love to know your thoughts about Avi's interview, so please feel free to leave your comments below.

May 26, 2008

Featured in .Net Magazine

If you're a reader of .Net Magazine (or Practical Web Design as it's known in the US). flick through to page 18 where you'll see Blogger Buster featured as one of this month's "readers sites":

Thank you .Net Magazine!

May 22, 2008

How to Highlight Author Comments

Highlighting author comments using a different background color, border or different style of text helps readers understand when you have personally posted a response.

So far, "How to Highlight Author Comments" has been the most requested article in my Skribit widget, so in this post I'll explain how you can change comments which you have posted yourself to distinguish these from other comments on your posts.

First things first!

The main obstacle I've faced in writing up this article so far is that different Blogger templates code the comments section differently.

While the easiest method for me to write would have been to say "Find this code and replace it with this", such a method would only be usable by bloggers whose template matches the code.

Instead, my explanation may be a little more complicated than usual, though I hope this explanation will ensure anyone using a Blogger template will understand how to implement the highlighted author comments hack!

Backup your Blogger Template!

Before even attempting to customize your Blogger template, the first thing you should do is back up your template. This ensures you can easily restore your original template if something goes wrong. Also, as most of us cannot see comments unless we are viewing a post page, it would be impossible to see if code changes have adversely affected the comments section.

To make a backup of your Blogger template, simply go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard, and click on the "Download Full Template" link. This will save your existing template as an XML file which you could use to restore your blog, just in case :)

Finding the Comments Block in your Blogger Template

The first thing we need to do in order to implement this hack is to locate the "comments block" within your Blogger template.

To find the comments section, you will need to tick the "expand widget templates" box as this code is contained within your main "Blog Posts" widget.

As I've already pointed out, the section of code used to display comments varies in different templates, so in order to find this section, you may need to search for some specific tags rather than complete sections of code.

To give you an idea of what you are searching for, here is the complete comments-block code from the Minima template:

<dl id='comments-block'>
<b:loop values='data:post.comments' var='comment'>
<dt class='comment-author' expr:id='data:comment.anchorName'>
<a expr:name='data:comment.anchorName'/>
<b:if cond='data:comment.authorUrl'>
<a expr:href='data:comment.authorUrl' rel='nofollow'><></a>
<dd class='comment-body'>
<b:if cond='data:comment.isDeleted'>
<span class='deleted-comment'><data:comment.body/></span>
<dd class='comment-footer'>
<span class='comment-timestamp'>
<a expr:href='data:comment.url' title='comment permalink'>
<b:include data='comment' name='commentDeleteIcon'/>

If you are using Minima (or a similar template) you should be able to locate this section of code easily. However, some templates use <ul> and <li> instead of <dl> and <dd> tags, in which case the code you are looking for may look more like the section on this page instead, or could even be wrapped in simple <div> tags.

If you are having trouble locating the comments section in your blog's HTML code, do a CTRL+F (or CMD+F for Mac users) search within your template code for the following template tags:

  • <b:loop values='data:post.comments' var='comment'>
  • <>
  • <data:comment.body/>

The comments section of your blog's HTML code should contain all three of these template tags. Simply locate these tags and the surrounding code in your template, then work out where this section begins and ends using your discretion.

Generally speaking, this section will usually begin with <dl> or <ul> or <div> and end with a matching closing tag.

Changing the comments code to add author highlighting

Once you have located your comments section in your blog's HTML code, you will need to highlight this entire section of code and replace it with the following section of code instead:

<ul class='commentlist' style='margin: 0; padding: 0;'>
<b:loop values='data:post.comments' var='comment'>
<b:if cond=' =='>

<li class='author-comments' style='margin: 0 0 10px 0;'>
<b:if cond='data:post.dateHeader'>
<div class='commentcount'/>
<b:if cond='data:comment.authorUrl'>
<a expr:href='data:comment.authorUrl'><></a>
<div style='clear: both;'/>
<b:include data='comment' name='commentDeleteIcon'/>
<div class='commentlink-date'><a class='commentlink' expr:href='"#comment-" +' title='comment permalink'>

<div class='clear'/>



<li class='general-comments' style='margin: 0 0 10px 0;'>
<b:if cond='data:post.dateHeader'>
<div class='commentcount'/>
<b:if cond='data:comment.authorUrl'>
<a expr:href='data:comment.authorUrl'><></a>
<div style='clear: both;'/>
<b:include data='comment' name='commentDeleteIcon'/>
<div class='commentlink-date'><a class='commentlink' expr:href='"#comment-" +' title='comment permalink'>

<div class='clear'/>


The simplest way to change your comment code is to follow these steps:

  1. Copy the code above to your clipboard
  2. Highlight the entire section of your comment code in your Blogger template
  3. Paste the code from your clipboard in place of the existing code by keying CTRL+V (or CMD+V).

One quick method to check if you have made code errors is to preview your template. If you have accidentally omitted some code, you will receive an error message. In this case, you should press the "clear edits" button and begin again.

If you don't get an error message, you can then proceed to save your template.

Adding style for author comments

At this stage, your own comments will still appear in the same style as other comments. To highlight author comments, we need to add some style code to your blog template.

This step is much easier than locating and changing the comment section. Simply locate the closing </b:skin> tag in your Blogger template, and immedietly before this, paste the following section of code:

.author-comments {
background: #cccccc;
border: 1px solid #333333;
padding: 5px;

If you prefer, you can change the hex colors (#cccccc and #333333) to match the color scheme of your own template (discover the color codes for your preferred schemes using the web color calculator).

Then save your template.

Now when you make a comment on your blog while signed in to your Blogger account, your comments will have a different border and background color to comments posted by your readers.

Here is the effect of this author comment highlighting hack as seen in one of my test blogs:

I hope this tutorial has helped you discover how to highlight author comments in your own Blogger blogs.

You may also be interested to read how I added MyBlogLog comment avatars, which is the method I use here to distinguish between my own and readers comments.

Please let me know your opinions of this post by leaving your comments below.

May 21, 2008

Add Blogger Comment Count as Feedburner Feedflare

Until recently, it was not possible to display the number of comments for a post within our Blogger feeds.

However, via Google System I've learned that Feedburner have now added a new FeedFlare which you can use to display your post comment count in your Feedburner feed.

When readers click on the comment count link from your Feedburner feed, this will lead to the comments page for this post, enabling readers to read comments and add one of their own.

To activate this in your Feedburner feed, simply log in to your Feedburner account and click the link for the blog you wish to display the comment count.

Next, click on the Optimize tab, and then on the "FeedFlare" link in the sidebar.

On this page, you should easily spot the checkbox which says "Comments Count (Blogger)". Check the box which will display this FeedFlare in your actual blog feed (as this count should already be displayed in your blog posts).

Finally, save your FeedFlare settings for this new feature to take effect (or "activate" your Feedflare is you are not already using this particular feature of Feedburner yet!).

Using Intense Debate Comments?

For those who are using Intense Debate as their commenting system, you can also display your comment count using the Intense Debate comments Feedflare.

Simply log in to Intense Debate and click on the "Add-Ons tab in your dashboard.

On this page, look to the right-hand side of the screen where you will see the Feedburner Feedflare settings, like this:

Choose the blog for which you would like to display the comment count using the drop-down menu. This will then generate a unique URL in the box beneath.

Copy the URL from this box to your clipboard, and enter this in your Feedburner FeedFlare page in the box which says "Enter or Paste a FeedFlare Unit URL:

Then click the "Add New Flare" button.

Finally, save or activate your FeedFlare settings for this new feature to take effect.

Be patient!

In either case, the settings may not take effect immediately! It may be a few hours (or perhaps a day) before your new FeedFlare settings will become visible in your blog feed, though by the next feed count update, you should notice your comment count is visible when viewing your blog feed.

Also, you must ensure that you have activated the comment feeds for your posts in the Settings>Site Feed area of your Blogger dashboard. This is enabled by default, but do check to ensure you haven;t accidentally switched off this setting!

I hope this will be useful for you in adding your own comment count to your blog feeds. It's also another good reason to redirect your Blogger feeds through Feedburner if you aren't already doing so!

As always, please feel free to leave your comments and opinions below.

May 20, 2008

How to Display More then 5 Recent Posts

My latest post at Blogging Tips explains three different methods you could use to display more than 5 recent posts in your Blogger sidebar.

A few people have asked how to do this (even more so through Blogging Tips) so if this is something you are interested in learning about, please pop over to read this article in full.

I really do appreciate suggestions for future posts here at Blogger Buster, and am currently writing up articles which have received the most votes in the Skribit widget in the sidebar.

Please do vote up any suggestions which you would like to see written about soon, or add anything you think should be included by using the "Suggest a Future Post" link at the top of the widget.

May 19, 2008

The Entrecard Ebook, Multiple Blogs and Get 2000ec for Free!

I've always been partial to a freebie, so when I heard about Entrecard and the possibility of earning free advertising by using the Entrecard widget, I couldn't wait to see how this would work out.

A few months down the line, Entrecard has certainly proved itself as one of the most useful free services available to Bloggers. I wondered how Entrecard could make this free service even better, until today an email from the Entrecard team landed in my inbox which brought a great big smile to my face.

Link more than one blog to your Entrecard account

To vastly improve the current service, the Entrecard team have today enabled multiple blogs to be administered from one account, or merge two existing accounts together.

This means you can now add more blogs to your account, or merge two different accounts together in order to manage your blogs in one place.

You can easily transfer entrecard credits between accounts when merging them, or switch "identity" when dropping cards to allow both of your blogs to receive equal exposure (or not, if you prefer!).

What's more, if you add more than one blog to your Entrecard account before 25th of June, you will be entered into a prize draw where you could win 15,000 Entrecard credits.

The Free Entrecard eBook

If you haven;t already tried Entrecard as a means of blog promotion, there has never been a better time to sign up.

Entrecard have released a free eBook which explains everything you need to know, from discovering how to drop cards and advertise on other blogs to strategic ad placement and "dropping like a pro".

Even experienced Entrecarders could learn lots more about the service by reading this free download. I've only skimmed the surface so far, but from what I've read already I would strongly recommend this to anyone even remotely interested in using Entrecard or seeking means of free blog promotion.

Download your free Entrecard eBook and let us know what you think about this.

2000 Free Entrecard Credits?

Yes, you did read the title right!

In order to help spread the word about the Entrecard service, the team are offering 2000 Entrecard credits to anyone who writes about the new developments and eBook in their own blog.

This really is an inspired marketing tactic, and yes, this incentive did inspire me to write this blog post (as 2000 credits will come in very useful for the blog strategies I'm planning over the next month or so...). I'd hate to keep this information to myself though, so if you're an Entrecard user (or are interested in using this service), do pop over to the EC blog and read what all the fuss is about, as I'm sure 2000 credits will be useful for you too :)

May 17, 2008

How to Install Intense Debate Comments in Blogger Blogs

Intense Debate is a commenting system which is designed to inspire conversation. Including such features as threaded comments (allowing readers to reply to each other in comment threads), avatars and a voting system, many Blogger users are now choosing this as an alternative to the default Blogger commenting system.

Many readers have requested a tutorial about installing and using Intense Debate. So in this post I'll explain exactly what this new service has to offer, and how easily this can be installed in your Blogger powered blogs (including some troubleshooting tips to make sure everything runs smoothly!)

What Are the Main Features of Intense Debate?

Intense Debate is a fully featured commenting system which provides many more features than Blogger's standard comments, including:

  • Comment form beneath posts (on the same page)
  • Threaded comments, which allow commenters to reply directly to each other and be visible as a comment "heirachy"
  • Comment avatars (of registered Intense Debate members)
  • The ability to vote comments up/down (so the most popular comments can float to the top of the list)
  • Profiles for registered members, which include links to members' blogs and social media profiles
  • Widgets for top commenters and recent comments which you can add to your Blogger layout with ease

You can read about these features in full detail, or watch the two minute video of Intense Debate functionality which explains this service in a snap!

How to Install Intense Debate in your Blogger Blog

It is surprisingly easy to install Intense Debate commenting in your Blogger template! Even when I tried this method for non-standard and highly customized templates, I found this method worked just fine.

If you would like to use Intense Debate as an alternative to Blogger's commenting system, here is what you should do:

  1. Head over to the Intense Debate home page and add your blog's URL in the box provided. Then click on the Install Intense Debate" button:

  2. If your blog is hosted on Blogspot (eg:, Intense Debate will automatically detect your blogging platform.

    If you use a custom domain (eg:, you will need to choose Blogger as your blogging platform.

    Once Intense Debate is sure of the platform you are using, you will see a screen like this:

    Here you have the choice of installing Intense Debate comments as a widget (the easy method) or directly in your Blogger template, to appear below your posts (the recommended method).

    If you choose to add this as a widget, simply click on this option and follow the steps to add this as a widget in your blog sidebar.

    If you would prefer to use the full commenting system, continue reading instead!
  3. Installing the full Intense Debate commenting system really is a breeze! In this case, you will need to follow the steps provided on the installation page to make a back-up of your full Blogger template by going to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard, and clicking on the "Download full template" link.

    This saves a copy of your existing blog template (including any widgets and customizations) to your computer.

    Once you have done this, go back to the Intense Debate installation screen and click the "Browse" button to locate your template file on your computer.
  4. Next, you have a decision to make: you can either:
    • Choose to install Intense Debate on posts where there are no existing comments
    • Choose to replace all comments with Intense Debate comments instead.
    If you do choose to replace all comments, these existing comments will not be lost! You can retrieve and import these to Intense Debate afterwards if you choose to do so (as shall be explained shortly).

    Check the radio selection for the option you prefer, then click the "Upload file and continue" button.
  5. On this next screen, you will see a box filled with code. This is your Blogger template code which has been modified to include the Intense Debate commenting system.

    Copy all of the code in this box to your clipboard. Then go to Layout>Edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard.
  6. Replace all of your existing template code with this modified code from Intense Debate.

    You can check that you have installed this correctly by previewing your changes. If the installation was successful, you will receive no error notifications and can proceed to save your template.
  7. Finally, click on the "Finish" button right near the bottom of the Intense Debate installation page. Then visit your blog in your web browser to check out your new commenting system!

Changing the Comment Settings

Once you have installed Intense Debate comments in your Blogger blog, you may like to change some of the settings to suit your individual requirements.

To change your Intense Debate settings, you will need to access your Intense Debate dashboard and click on the "settings" link for the blog you wish to access.

Here are the different comment settings you can change to suit your needs:

  • Blog Info: Here you can alter any details for your blog, such as the URL, blog title and RSS feed.
  • Comment Posting: This section includes any moderation opions you may wish to alter. You can choose to moderate all comments before they appear beneath your blog posts; moderate posts containing words in a blacklist, and even automatically delete comments if they contain certain "banned" words and phrases.
  • Email Notifications: Choose whether you would like an email to be sent to blog authors whenever a new comment is posted (similar to Blogger's comment settings).
  • Display Settings: If you would like to enable "threads" (this allows a person to comment directly to another commenter), tick the appropriate box. You can also set the default order of comments (readers will be able to re-order this list for themselves if they choose).
  • Comment Link Text: In this section you can choose to alter the text used for your comment links. By default this is set to Comments ([#]) where [#] is the number of comments. You could change this to "[#] Responses", "Observations: ([#])" or indeed any other link text which you prefer!
  • Add another blog admin: This setting allows you to add new moderators who can access your Intense Debate settings, which is useful for group bloggers.

Changing the Appearance of your Intense Debate Comments

When you first install Intense Debate comments, you will notice the color scheme and fonts match those already present in your template! This is lucky since Intense Debate do not recommend that you alter the CSS for your comments (this is still in beta, the code used may alter and render such changes invalid).

There are however a few changes you can make from within your Intense Debate dashboard. To access these layout settings, go to your Intense Debate dashboard and click on the "Layout" link for the blog layout you wish to alter.

From this page, you will be able to alter the following settings:

  • Comment Size: This setting means you can alter the avatar and font size for each comment as "compact", "normal" or "large".
  • Button Style: This affects how links to "post a comment", "post-reply" and "submit" are displayed in your comment section. Choose from either a button or text link style (which appear like normal links in your posts)
  • Comment Layout: This option enables you to change how comments appear beneath your posts. The default setting is for comments to be permanantly displayed beneath each post. Alternatives include "peekaboo comments" (activated by clicking on the comment link), and comments in a pop-up page.

    Most bloggers choose the default (comments already present beneath posts) setting, which is also my personal preference as clicking on a link adds another step for readers and offers less incentive for actually leaving a comment on your posts.

One thing you may notice on the layout page is that "Chameleon" is the only choice of style for your Intense Debate comments, though there is an image which suggests other styles may become available soon:

Import Existing Comments from Blogger

If you choose to install Intense Debate for all your existing blog posts (including those posts which already have comments) you may prefer to import any existing comments from Blogger to be displayed alongside your new Intense Debate comments.

Importing your old comments is very easy. Simply go to your Intense Debate dashboard and click on "Overview" for the blog whose comments you wish to import.

Next click on the "Blog Tools", then on the "Import Comments" link in the left hand column.

On this page, you will be prompted to log in to your Blogger account, which will allow Intense Debate to access the API for importing your comments. Once logged in, you will be able to choose which blog you wish to import from and to (be sure to import/export comments from the same blog, otherwise Intense Debate will not be able to allocate them to the correct posts!).

When you choose to import these comments from Blogger, the existing comments will not be deleted! If you decide to uninstall Intense Debate for any reason, you can export all your Intense Debate comments to an XML file, and restore the view of your existing Blogger comments.

I'm not sure that it's possible to export Intense Debate comments back to Blogger at this time as Blogger's API does not allow comments to be automatically created using such third party software (though I strongly suspect it may be possible for respected services like Intense Debate to do this in the future).

Manage your Intense Debate Profile

One of the more useful functions of Intense Debate is profiling. By using your Intense Debate profile to leave comments on ID-enabled blogs, you can increase your reputation, link to your other social networking profiles, add an avatar and monitor comments left on all blogs you visit!

Readers can vote comments up or down (depending on their perceived value to the conversation). Comments which are voted up increase that commenters reputation (whilst the reverse also applies too).

Troubleshooting Intense Debate Installations

From my experiences is using Intense Debate so far, I am happy to say that there are very few possible problems which could occur.

While testing Intense Debate installation with both default and heavily customized (third party) Blogger templates, I have only found two possible problems which may occur during installation: imported comments may not appear as soon as they are imported, and the comment count on heavily customized templates may not appear.

Both of these can usually be resolved easily using the following methods:

Imported comments do not appear

First of all, check the comments in your Intense Debate dashboard to ensure these do appear for the appropriate blog (if not, you should attempt to import them again).

If the imported comments are present, chances are that Intense Debate has not caught up with these comments yet. Be patient, and soon enough you should notice these comments appear in the Intense Debate comment area beneath your posts.

If after a day or so the imported comments do not appear, you should ask for help in the forum. This forum is watched by members of the Intense Debate team who seem very helpful and will be able to help you resolve this problem quickly.

The comment count does not update

I've only ever noticed this problem occur in heavily customized templates where the comment count appears near the top of each post, rather than in the post-footer section.

I suspect this problem may occur because the comment-link tags is separated from other elements of the comments section, and is not parsed correctly by Intense Debates (otherwise flawless) installation system.

The fix for this problem is a little more complicated, but not too difficult.

Depending on whether you have chosen to replace all comments with Intense Debate, or only the posts which do not already have comments, you should use one of the following methods to solve this:

  • If you have chosen to replace only posts which don't already have comments:

    Firstly, backup your existing template code (to ensure you can restore your template if thhere are any problems).

    Find this section of code in your Blogger template:
    <a class='comment-link' expr:href='data:post.addCommentUrl' expr:onclick='data:post.addCommentOnclick'><data:top.commentLabel/> <b:if cond='data:post.numComments == 1'>(1) <b:else/>(<data:post.numComments/>) </b:if></a>
    Check that this section of code is not surrounded by Intense Debate HTML comments, which appear like this:
    <!-- Intense Debate -->

    <!-- /Intense Debate -->
    If these comments do not appear around this section of code, replace the code with the following instead:
    <!--Intense Debate--> <b:if cond='data:post.numComments == 0'> <div expr:id='"IDCommentPostInfoTitle"' style='display:none'><data:post.title/></div> <div style='display:none' expr:id='"IDCommentPostInfoTime"'><data:post.timestampISO8601/></div><div style='display:none' expr:id='"IDCommentPostInfoAuthor"'><></div><div style='display:none' expr:id='"IDCommentPostInfoCats"'><b:if cond='data:post.labels'><b:loop values='data:post.labels' var='label'><>|</b:loop></b:if></div> <a expr:href="data:post.url" expr:name="" class="IDCommentsReplace">Comments</a> <b:else/> <!--/Intense Debate--> <a class='comment-link' expr:href='data:post.addCommentUrl' expr:onclick='data:post.addCommentOnclick'><b:if cond='data:post.numComments == 1'>1 <data:top.commentLabel/><b:else/><data:post.numComments/> <data:top.commentLabelPlural/></b:if></a> <!--Intense Debate--> </b:if> <!--/Intense Debate-->

    Finally, save your template. If this was successful, you should see the comment count appear on your posts which relates to the true number of comments (whether Intense Debate or Blogger generated comments).
  • If you have chosen to replace all comments with Intense Debate:

    Again, backup your existing template to restore if there are problems using this method.

    Find the following section of code in your template and ensure it is not surrounded by the Intense Debate HTML comments:
    <a class='comment-link' expr:href='data:post.addCommentUrl' expr:onclick='data:post.addCommentOnclick'><data:top.commentLabel/> <b:if cond='data:post.numComments == 1'>(1) <b:else/>(<data:post.numComments/>) </b:if></a>
    Providing this section is not surrounded by the Intense Debate HTML comments, replace this section with the following code:
    <!--Intense Debate--> <div expr:id='&quot;IDCommentPostInfoTitle&quot;' style='display:none'><data:post.title/></div> <div expr:id='&quot;IDCommentPostInfoTime&quot;' style='display:none'><data:post.timestampISO8601/></div><div expr:id='&quot;IDCommentPostInfoAuthor&quot;' style='display:none'><></div><div expr:id='&quot;IDCommentPostInfoCats&quot;' style='display:none'><b:if cond='data:post.labels'><b:loop values='data:post.labels' var='label'><>|</b:loop></b:if></div><a class='IDCommentsReplace' expr:href='data:post.url' expr:name=''>Comments</a>

    <!--/Intense Debate--> <!--Intense Debate-PRE ID <a class='comment-link' expr:href='data:post.addCommentUrl' expr:onclick='data:post.addCommentOnclick'><data:top.commentLabel/> <b:if cond='data:post.numComments == 1'>(1) <b:else/>(<data:post.numComments/>) </b:if></a> -->

    Then save your template and check to make sure the comment count appears in your blog posts.

If you are still experiencing problems with your Intense Debate comments, the best advice I can offer is to visit the forums where members of the Intense Debate team will be on hand to assist you with your problems.

Over to you!

Do you already use Intense Debate? Or are you considering using this free service as an alternative to Blogger's default commenting system?

If so, please let us know your own opinions of Intense Debate comments by leaving your comments below.

May 16, 2008

4 Important Reasons to Redirect your Blogger Feeds through FeedburnerA

Feedburner is the most popular and fully featured free service for syndication of your blog feeds. Once you have set up your free Feedburner account, you can choose to redirect your blog feeds through Feedburner, instead of simply offering the default Atom feeds which are automatically generated for your blog.

There are many reasons why redirecting your Blogger feeds through Feedburner will be beneficial for both you and your readers, but while researching for a forthcoming post, I've come to realize how few Blogger users actually do this.

So in this post, I'll offer four important reasons why you should redirect your feeds through your Feedburner account, and also explain how easy it is to do.

Five Great Reasons to Redirect your Feeds

  1. All of your subscribers will receive the same feed

    Your Blogger blog is capable of publishing up to three different feed URLs for your blog:
    • (atom feed)
    • (another atom feed)
    • (an RSS feed)
    However, if you choose to redirect your feed to your Feedburner syndicated feed, all of these feeds will lead to the same single online location:
    This also means that all of your subscribers will receive a feed with the same (possibly improved) formatting.

    To seer this in action for yourself, try visiting any one of the three locations for the Blogger Buster posts feed below (all of these will redirect to my Feedburner feed URL):
  2. You will have a true indication of your subscriber base

    While many bloggers choose to add a Feedburner account and offer this syndication to subscribers, those who don't redirect their feeds through Feedburner will seem to have fewer subscribers!

    It is virtually impossible to know how many subscribers retrieve your default blog feeds unless you redirect them through Feedburner (or another service which is able to catalog feed retrievals).

    Most Bloggers who choose to redirect their feeds through Feedburner notice a sharp increase in their subscriber count. Also, you will be able to monitor your subscriber count, since you will have access to daily, weekly and monthly feed analysis.
  3. Monitor the growth of your blog using the subscriber count

    As your blog matures and your posts reach a wider audience, you will undoubtedly notice an increase in your subscriber count.

    Using your blog's subscriber count is one method of analyzing your blog's growth, and can also offer statistics of page views and popular posts.
  4. Using Feedburner offers readers more incentive to subscribe

    This may not seem so obvious until you make a comparison between these two pages:

    The page on the left is an unformatted, default feed page which is accessed when feeds are not redirected through Feedburner. The page on the right is a feed page generated by Feedburner. As you can see, this is much more visually enticing, and includes easy subscription options for your readers to use their favorite feed readers to subscribe.

You may be surprised how easy it is to redirect your Blogger feeds through Feedburner. Assuming you have already created your free Feedburner account, here's how to redirect your Blogger feeds:

  1. Go to Settings>Site Feed in your Blogger dashboard.
  2. In the box which says: "Post Feed Redirect URL", type the URL of your Feedburner feed (eg:

  3. Save this setting!

I hope this post has helped you realize the benefits of redirecting your Blogger feeds through Feedburner. Please feel free to leave your comments (or indeed, your own incentives!) below.

May 13, 2008

Coming soon to Blogger Buster...

Over the next few weeks I have some great posts planned for Blogger Buster. Shortly I'll be adding a new widget to the sidebar to offer a little hint at what these will be about, and in this post I'd like to update you on some forthcoming changes to the site.

I'm really glad to see that many of you have suggested or voted for posts in the Skribit widget (take a look at the bottom right of the sidebars if you haven't already participated).

So far, the most popular suggestions have been:

  • How to highlight author comments
  • How to use Intense Debate Comments for Blogger
  • How to add a section after each post that shows who has linked to your blog/that post.
I'm already working on the Intense Debate post (just finalizing any troubleshooting issues) and will work on the other two as soon as this is published.

Other "feature posts" which are still in draft are:

  • The 50 most popular Blogger powered blogs
  • Another 50 (or so) excellent Blogger XML templates
  • Yet more unique and inspiring Blogger designs (I have about 40 so far, but I'm still researching!)

Of course, I'll probably change the titles before publishing, but I hope this will give you an idea of what to expect soon!

Blogger Buster Birthday Celebrations

It's been almost a year since Blogger Buster was created (and I've enjoyed every minute of this year of blogging!) so in honor of the occasion I'm planning a bit of a birthday bash for this blog.

Starting from the beginning of June, I plan to post a few special articles, and also have a competition or two.

More on that coming soon!

Replying to your emails and comments

As some of you may have noticed, last week I was a little bogged down trying to keep up with the number of emails and comments received.

While I've always tried to respond personally to everyone who has taken the time to send an email or comment on my posts, it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep a good balance between correspondence and writing blog posts (especially as I'm also a full-time mum!).

So if you have emailed or commented recently without a reply, please don't feel offended. I will get back to you as soon as I can. I will also soon post an FAQ to try and answer some of the most commonly asked questions, which will help you all find answers more quickly and lighten my inbox a little!

Tell me what you would like to read!

I hope you will all enjoy the posts I'm planning for these coming weeks, but if you have any suggestions for future posts, don't forget to suggest these using the Skribit widget in the sidebar!

As always, your comments and suggestions are warmly welcomed, so please feel free to leave a comment below.

Blogger to Introduce Star Ratings for Posts?

This weekend I noticed some interesting news in the Blogger Status blog:

Some users may be seeing star ratings on their posts without having opted in to this new feature. This is an experimental feature that was accidentally enabled on some users' blogs. We're currently working to remove star ratings on all affected blogs. In the future, you'll be able to choose to opt-in to this feature; it won't appear automatically.

I didn't notice this appearing on any of my blogs (I would have loved to see a sneak preview of this!), though I would imagine this feature will be rolled out for Blogger in Draft soon, as can be seen in this screenshot:

I can't help wondering if the Blogger team may even add more functionality to this feature once it's ready to be released properly. Perhaps this could be used as the basis for a popular posts widget (powered by Blogger rather than a third party script)..?

If you're impatient to use such functionality for your blog posts before Blogger release this, you could try the "star ratings" widget offered by Outbrain.

I'd love to know what you think about this upcoming feature for Blogger, so please feel free to leave your comments and opinions below.

May 11, 2008

Change the Title Tags for your Blog

Until recently, the title tags generated for each page of your Blogger blog would display the blog title first, then the name of your post.

This wasn't so good for SEO (search engine optimization) as this made keywords from your post titles appear after your blog title.

Luckily, Blogger have come up with a simple fix for this problem for those who use Layouts templates: the <data:blog.pageName/> tag!

This new tag is already installed for new blogs (or if you change your existing template to one of Blogger's default ones).

However, if you have customized your template or uploaded a third party template, you will need to change the original <data:blog.pageTitle/> to the new <data:blog.pageName/> tag for this change to take effect.

But don't worry: this is REALLY easy! Here's what you have to do:

  1. Go to Layout>edit HTML in your Blogger dashboard.
  2. Search for this tag: <data:blog.pageTitle/>
  3. Replace this tag with the following:
    <b:if cond='data:blog.pageType == &quot;index&quot;'>
  4. Save your template! (See, this is an easy hack!)

Once you've changed this tag, you'll see that on post pages, the default [blog name] page title format for your post titles in the browser window will be replaced solely by your post title instead.

This will increase the chances of your posts being picked up in search engine results for keywords which appear in your post titles (and can ultimately help draw more targeted traffic to your blog.

I hope this little trick will be useful to you all! And for the Blogger team (if you're reading this): Thank you!

May 10, 2008

A New Definition of "Blog"

The word "Blog" is an abridgment of the term, "web log":

A website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order (Wikipedia)

But on Digital Inspiration today, I discovered a much better meaning for this word: the initialism of Better Listing On Google!

Blogs do tend to do better than static websites in search results as they are updated regularly with new content, and are more likely to be linked to by other blogs.

These days, many online businesses choose to add blog functionality to their site in order to gain more exposure and achieve better rankings in search results. Also, as blogs are updated more frequently than other types of websites, they benefit from being indexed more quickly.

Personally I prefer this new definition of "blog" to the elusive (and sometimes vague) definitions provided by other sources!

Feel free to tell us your own opinions by leaving your comments below.

May 09, 2008

Another Popular Posts Widget from AideRSS

AideRSS analyzes RSS/blog feeds to determine the popularity of each item according to the number of comments, Diggs, bookmarks, backlinks and clickthroughs.

One of the most useful features of AideRSS for bloggers is the ability to analyze the popularity of items in your own blog feed. Consequently, you can use this data to create a widget of your highest ranking feed items - your popular posts - which can be displayed in a widget in your sidebar, which is very easy to install!

Getting Started With AideRSS?

To begin analyzing the rank of items in your own blog feed, simply visit the AideRSS homepage and type your blog's RSS feed URL into the box.

If you use Feedburner to burn your Blogger feed, enter the URL of your Feedburner feed (eg:

If you do not redirect your feeds through Feedburner, you will need to enter your feed URL like this instead:

On the following page, AideRSS will analyze your blog feed, then refresh to offer results of each items Postrank:

Once you've taken a look at the popularity of your most recent posts, you can go ahead to create your popular posts widget by clicking the "Sharing and Widgets" link near the top right of the screen.

This page displays a preview of what your widget would appear like on the left, and the code you can use to display this widget to the right.

Adding the AideRSS Popular Posts Widget to Your Blog

To add the widget in it's default format, simply copy the code in the box, and paste this into an HTML/JavaScript widget.

If you would prefer to customize the widget, there are prompts in the JavaScript code which explain how to change the following:

  • Date Range: Choose from Year, Month, Week or Day
  • The Number of Posts: by default, this is set to 5. Simply replace this variable with the actual number of posts you would like to display.

If you prefer, you can even add the JavaScript code to display the results with a post, like this:

To use the JavaScript in a blog post, you must ensure that you create your post in Edit HTML mode, otherwise the JavaScript will become malformed and not display once your post is published.

There is no need to register with AideRSS to analyze your blog feeds or use the popular posts widget.

Once you have first analyzed a feed URL using this free service, you will be able to access the data anytime you like.

More about AideRSS

This popular posts feature is not the only useful aspect of AideRSS. You can also use this free service to save time by filtering your feed subscriptions to display only those which you may be interested to read. Also, Jake Luciani used AideRSS functionality to research the best time of day to publish blog posts.

You can learn more about this popular internet startup on the AideRSS about page, and get a feel of what this system is capable of by looking through the API pages.

Please let me know what you think about this widget by leaving your comments and opinions below.

May 08, 2008

The Best and Worst Times to Publish your Posts

At one point or another I'm sure we've all wondered the same thing: "What is the best time to publish our posts?".

Jake Luciani has done some pretty hefty research to find the answer to this question. By analyzing over 10,000 entries from Digg,, Reddit and Mixx, he has discovered the optimum times of day, and days of the week to post for best results in social media and maximum comments.

According to Luciani's results:

  • The best time to post is Tuesday to Friday between 10am and 2pm Pacific Standard Time (PST)
  • The worst time to post is on Saturday or Sunday between 3 and 5pm PST

These findings seem to correlate with the times US blog readers are most active online (around lunchtime and just after work on weekdays), so posting around these times should work well for bloggers whose readership is mostly based in this area of the world.

If your main readership is located in another part of the world, you may want to consider altering these times to suit your own audiences active times instead.

Here are charts displaying the full results of Luciani's research using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time):

Don't forget to account for the time-zone differences when working out the best "local" time for you to publish your blog posts!

For a detailed explanation of Luciani's findings, head over to ReadWriteWeb's article which analyzes the data and method used in great detail.

I hope this will be useful to you in deciding what is the best time to publish your blog posts. Please let me know what you think about Jake Luciani's research by leaving your comments and opinions below.

May 06, 2008

Suggest Future Posts for Blogger Buster

Do you have any burning questions about Blogger?

Is there a particular article you would like me to write about?

At Blogger Buster, I am committed to writing posts about Blogger which you will all find useful or interesting. I appreciate your suggestions and input, and to make it even easier for you ti suggest future articles, I have added a Skribit widget to the sidebar.

This widget will allow you to suggest ideas for posts which you would like me to write about in the future! It's really easy to make a suggestion: simply click on the "Suggest a future post" link at the top of the widget, then write your idea in less than 100 words. Alternatively, you can vote for a suggestion which has already been made, and help this idea float to the top of the list.

You don't need to register or login to Skribit to make or vote for a suggestion, and you can vote for an article more than once.

Registering with Skribit enables you to track the progress of your votes on any site which uses a Skribit widget, and also to create a widget of your own to feature in your own blog sidebar.

I'm sure many of you would like to suggest future posts or have questions about using Blogger, so please jump in and offer your ideas!

As suggestions posted in the widget are answered in my posts, I will link to the post from within Skribit (though I'm not sure this will appear in the actual widget).

Also, I will soon be posting a full article about adding and using Skribit in Blogger which will answer the default question: "Why are you using Scribit".

As always, you comments are appreciated so please feel free to leave your own below. And be sure to post any ideas for posts you may have in mind! Reader interaction is something I really love about this site, and a feature I would like to foster in regard to future posts.

Google Analytics Integration for Blogger is on the way!

Google Analytics for Blogger is currently in private beta! Over the next year, the Google team will be refining this interface until it's ready for public release in both Blogger and Google Analytics accounts.

Analytics for Blogger is the product of collaboration by several teams and marks the transition of Measure Map customers to a new Google Analytics interface which has been designed for Blogger users.

This development was announced by Jeff Veen at the South by Southwest conference held a few weeks ago:

Many of you may remember when Google acquired Measure Map, our analytics product for blogs. When we came to Google, our first job was to take the experience of providing clear, accessible reports, coupled with powerful tools for analysis, and apply it to Google's already robust Analytics product. The result of that collaboration launched last May, in the redesigned Google Analytics interface.

Since then the team has been hard at work fulfilling our original promise: to help bloggers understand the impact that their blogs are having on the world. To that end, we've rebuilt Measure Map as an integrated feature of both Google Analytics and Blogger. We hope you like what you see (via Google Analytics Blog)

Now I have to say that this development is something I have been hoping to see for some time! Such statistics present in the dashboard of our Blogger powered blogs would certainly save us time and effort visiting many different sources for information of blog development, backlinks and the like.

As soon as I hear news of any developments regarding this new interface, I will be sure to post it here!

In the meantime, I'm working on a post outlining the different methods currently available to Blogger users for statistical reporting of our blogs, so be sure to subscribe for news of future posts!

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Browse through the Archives

All existing posts are still available to view while I'm working on the site, albeit seen in a much simpler interface. Feel free to browse through the archives to find tutorials, templates and articles to help you build a better blog:

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