CEOs and top officers must blog because of its huge advantages

"Should CEOs be blogging?"

Natural question.

Someone who has not applied his/ her mind to this question would perhaps give a straight answer, 'NO'. And there would be many reasons for that, e.g.
  • Blogging is a sheer waste of time. The time you would spend on your blog can get you much better gains if you invest it in your business/ career.
  • People in higher positions cannot afford to indulge in gossiping or writing a diary or a low-level hobby such as blogging.
  • Blogging does not serve a business interest, not definitely in my area of work.
  • Blogging is for people who have too much time in hand and no productive work to do, maybe lifetime chairmen of large corporations.
  • Maintaining a blog is boring. You cannot sustain it.
  • My web and social media officer advises me not to be on the web except for promotion of the company and its products.
  • I have not seen many CEOs or Chairmen blogging. The few old guys who blog have lived their life and use the blog for sermonizing.
  • Blogging would hurt if I (a senior officer, not CEO) showcase my talent and ideas on the blog and the bosses don't like that. It has the potential to damage my career and reputation if accidentally something unwanted gets posted.
So, why indulge in something that gives no earth-shaking dividends and is a recipe for accidental disaster?

Well, if you applied the same amount of skepticism to many other things you do, including networking, hunting for the next job, socializing in after-office hours, making presentations and speeches, etc, you would find them even more risky. Since you are likely to get direct results due to such activities, the risks are worth taking. That's why you are not scared of them, right?

Let me show you that blogging is even more paying, some of it indirectly. Let me show how it acts as a multiplier of other actions that you take for career promotion, building a personal brand, creating a fan following, improving employee relationships and so on - what can be assets for senior managers, CEOs and thought leaders in general.

Let me begin with an article by Peter Aceto, ex-CEO of Tangerine Bank. He has made this beautiful observation about blogging by CEOs:
But perhaps we're asking the wrong thing—whether CEOs should "blog."
Instead, how about this question: As leaders, are we reluctant to see the value in transparency and embrace it?
If you're thinking this is about social media, you’re wrong: This is about finding a better way to lead, to govern, and to do business. It's about transparency.
I tossed this question around and got another remarkable argument about blogging by senior managers:
Blog if your competition is not blogging. That will keep you ahead as a leader with content. Blog if your competition is already blogging. And do that right now.
As a senior functionary or thought leader who is not blogging yet, I would request you to please take a walk with me, slowly, step by step.

leadership blog by top CEO, Bill Gates
Bill Gates blog: global leadership, social good

What type of blog should CEOs maintain?


I am talking here about a professional blog, which can be part of the company portal or a stand-alone one (better). The blog can have a personal section or (if you already have a big following, e.g. you are Chairperson/ CEO of Facebook, Apple, Infosys or GE) you can sometimes share your personal experiences for others' benefit.

I am also talking about a personal blog not directly related to your company. It can be an extension of your thinking side, sharing side, human side.

CEO blog must be sophisticated and awe inspiring, is that right?

Not at all. A CEO blog - or a leadership blog by any other person - can be a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress (Amitabh Bachchan, 77, runs a blog on Tumblr, a platform reported to be more popular among juveniles, and posts daily. He writes a post daily on the blog!)

However, it is better is to have a standalone, 'self hosted' blog, not on Tumblr, Wordpress or Blogger. Maintaining a Blogger blog and mapping it to an independent URL costs just $10 a year; maintaining a Wordpress blog in the same way costs $25 a year or so. A self-hosted blog costs $30 a year onward. Active politicians who want to have a personal website with many sections need to open a self-hosted blog with costly plan, but others can manage with smaller blogs.

As far as its design and sophistication are concerned, the blog can indeed be very simple in structure and much of its secondary data can be automated, so that it does not need much maintenance.

Any type of blog can easily be integrated with social networking accounts such as Twitter.

How frequently should a CEO/ leadership blog be updated?

Not too frequently. Once in a week might be good enough. Even lesser.

What type of posts suit a CEO blog or one by senior officers?

If you are the top guy, you should write posts with meat -  articles that people would refer, articles that give insight into the industry, posts that give direction to the future.

Your articles (called 'posts' in blogging parlance) should usually be on professional matters. Once in a while you can think of sharing a personal experience.

You could sometimes be announcing some new thinking or development within your company.

Your association with company's social activities could also be shared once in six months or so.

If you are in the middle rung of the ladder, a personal blog would suit you quite well. Participate on the company's internal blogging platform/ internal social network/ intranet, if available. Write progressive articles and avoid sharing any information or thoughts that your bosses will not like.

If you already are a thought leader, sky is the limit for your blogging. Sometimes write on the society, national economy or such topic of wider appeal. But do not make the blog a loud-speaker or a place to sermonize. Rather, share ideas.

Is internal blogging in the company not good enough?

That is an option, and is much better than the routine, customary messages from the top brass. You could be writing a blog on the company intranet and encourage other top officers also to blog. That is a good way to communicate on managerial and professional matters and/ or connect with employees.

Effectively done, CEO blogging with employees in focus can help develop a trustful and participative corporate culture. It can help reduce tensions, factionalism and mistrust if already there.

Well, you can have an internal blog for communication with employees in a more informal way, and another for yourself. Remember that internal blogs have limitation in terms of what you write and who all read it.

Does CEO blog make sense when I am already on so many places on the web?


I came across such questions while doing research for this blog post: My company website has a Chairman's section, and I have a social media team. My social media team sends me draft articles for special occasions, which get published. My messages are all over our company website. I write for the annual report and for souvenirs. Is that not enough?

Most CEOs seem to be satisfied with their official communication or that generated by their web/ social media/ PR teams.

But why should your thoughts remain un-shared? Why should you not provide thought leadership in your industry? Why should you not contribute your thoughts to nation building? Why should you not throw your force behind positive social actions? 


However, even as the top functionary, if you have decided that your online personality should remain limited to official communication, so be it. At least be informal and write the stuff yourself (or re-write the draft submitted to you) so that it shows your own thoughts and perspective.

Is a LinkedIn account not good enough for business networking?

LinkedIn is supposed to be the social network of choice for professionals, and LinkedIn itself now allows you to post articles. However, since a stand-alone blog is a much more valuable property, I propose that you write posts on your blog and post their extract on LinkedIn (or an other business communication network that you use), and then link the two.

There also are business blogging platforms, enterprise social networks and  industry forums that promote sharing of progressive ideas. You can think about being active on them.

Do CEOs really blog?

Most top executives have some sort of online presence including those of Fortune 500 companies. However, very few of them maintain a blog. When they do, their blogs tend to be uni-directional and dull. Uni-directional in the sense that the top guy talks so that others listen and follow, and there is no conversation. Dull in that the talks do not inspire, they do not come from a thought leader... in most cases the boss's talk is as if he/ she is reading the Director's Report at GBM or a press release.

Yet, a good number of CEOs and senior functionaries blog, and their blogs inspire. Among those who regularly blog, I give here a small list of blogs of top company executives and sundry thought leaders:
  • Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, maintains a very resourceful blog, gatesnotes.
  • Matt Mullenweg, the founder and CEO of Automattic, the company that runs Wordpress, maintains a personal blog.
  • Kevin Roberts is the founder of Red Rose Consulting. His blog KR Connect is a free blog on Blogger!
  • Tom Glocer is ex-CEO, Thomson Reuters. He started blogging when he still was CEO of the world's largest news agency. His blog: Tom Glocer's Blog
  • George Colony's blog: an example of a CEO writing regular posts on the blog section of his company Forrester's portal.
  • Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and now a Partner in Greylock, maintains a blog.
  • Richard Branson, head of Virgin group of companies, also writes a blog regularly on his company's portal.
  • Bill Mariott, Chairman of Mariott International, maintains a blog, Mariott on the Move.
  • Larry Gaynor is President and CEO of TNG Worldwide. His blog: The CEO's Blog
  • Matt Cutts, the head of Google's US Digital Service explains technical matters and developments relating to his company and else, in his blog, Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO. The entire SEO community looks forward to his next post.
  • Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, very regularly posts on her personal blog.
  • Amitabh Bachan - voted as the actor of the century, he finds time to publish a post every day on his blog, Bachan Bol.
  • Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO of HubSpot has a blog on startups and related matters, OnStartups.com.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to have a thoughtful blog till he became PM. Now his blog is part of his portal: Narendramodi.in
blogging for business
Dharmesh Shah blog: serious industry talk

Advantages of CEO blogging: a sum up

There can be different scenarios and one size does not fit all. The type of online presence you should have depends on your personal and company's goals from such a presence. As the list above shows, even very busy CEOs can blog if they decide to, and their blogs are indeed quite insightful.

Again, your goal would decide whether you should write about personal thoughts and experiences or on company and industry matters. You might have sensed that there are advantages of both, in different ways. So, it is your call to choose one of them, or - if you have so much to share and can get time to compose posts - you can choose both!

The above discussion would give you a fair idea that blogging is useful in more ways than one, for the officer/ manager/ CEO as well as the organization he/ she is a part of. Let me sum up the gains that the top brass and his/ her organisation makes by blogging:
  • If you are the top functionary, it gives your organization a face. You, the head, talking with the people your company wants to address makes a direct contact and high impact. Your explaining a difficult situation or preparing staff/ clients for a new development is much more genuine and carries much more weight than a press release, even a press conference.
  • Your blog becomes a great communication channel for you and your organization. And for you, it can remain so beyond your narrow official position.
  • Blog, inherently being a refreshing web entity, gets good search engine optimization (SEO), thus helping in web-discovery of your company.
  • Nothing beats a blog - not a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter account, nor an occasional speech on the company website - in establishing you as a leader, an expert, a brand. Over a long period, the blog can multiply your potential as a thought leader in your field or in general. You can make your blog the fulcrum of your brand-building and integrate Twitter etc with it; that way, you leverage the best qualities of different media. 
  • The blog acts as a repository of wisdom, as against information. If you can think beyond the topline and bottomline in the balance sheet, you would know the importance of such an invaluable resource.
  • Contrary to the general impression among professionals and senior officers about blogging, it has been found empirically that blogging can boost one's business and career in many ways. The space here is not enough to show the surveys and studies, or go into the arguments. I have given a full chapter on business blogging in The Manual of Blogging (Forgive me if it looks like promotion of the book, but the chapter is really relevant for those undecided about the importance of business blogging.)
  • Blogging, let me repeat, need not be a burden on your time and energy. It should be a natural extension of yourself. You can blog once in a while or everyday depending upon your busyness and your creative urge. If it is part of the company's blog, be regular. Never forget to acknowledge good suggestions and feedback; never take offense to criticism; yet, never allow people to take you for granted.

When you - the CEO or a senior officer - should NOT blog

Blogging is likely to be counter-productive:
  • If you think of the blog merely/ primarily as an instrument for PR or career progression.
  • If you would use the blog for one-way communication, i.e. use it as an additional channel to make speeches or send routine messages to employees. 
  • If you do not have a commitment towards your company.
  • If you are not prepared to be authentic.
  • If you would depend upon others to write posts on your behalf.

Blogging best practices for businesses

Blogging needs patience. It needs self-discipline. It also needs, especially when it is CEO's or a senior officer's blog, restraint in sharing information and making commitments. It also needs that you shed a bit of your ego and sometimes share your defeats, pains, achievements and special moments of happiness - especially on personal blog. 

Well, blogging also needs a bit of time and resources for sprucing it up. The last part is the least important. Your company will sure take care of it if the blog is on company portal. For personal blog, you can invest a few dollars a year on it, can't you?

a top CEO blog
Richard Branson blog: as bubbly as it can get, yet thoughtful

This article on Forbes has some good ideas on how to make posts that make an impact, so instead of copy pasting them, let me give a link to the original article: The 17 Rules of CEO Blogging

This is another article, on OrbitMedia, telling how to blog as CEO.

3 top male lifestyl and fashion bloggers from India

Lifestyle blogging is now one of the most visible niches in blogging. It is dominated by ladies, but there are some prominent male lifestyle bloggers too.

Lifestyle blogging encompasses fashion and also includes other areas such as family life, hobbies, culture, travel and other lifestyle topics.

In India, the lifestyle blogging by/ for males came a bit late but has now caught up with the western world. I showcase here three top male lifestyle bloggers from India. Each of them excels in fashion and - as is the basic principle of success in blogging of any type - they all are passionate about fashion and lifestyle.

Purushu Arie

Purushu Arie is a fashion designer, illustrator, stylist and fashion blogger since 2009... and "founder of India's first gender-neutral label". He is a strong votary of neutrality of gender, age, race, appearance and other cultural differences.

lifestyle blog

bowties and bones

This lifestyle blog by Allen Claudius ("I am a socially awkward, bearded fashion blogger.") talks mainly on fashion and sometimes ventures into cultural life of Indian males - food, music and nightlife - too.

fashion blogging

Urban Eye by Riaan George

By Riaan George, this "India's no. 1 luxury blog" talks about travel and aviation besides the core topics of luxury, fashion and grooming. He says, "Urban Eye by Riaan George is a veritable style guide featuring the coolest and trendiest updates on the web."

Indian luxury fashion blog

How to become a fashion blogger?


These fashion blog examples are a very small sample from thousands of successful fashion and lifestyle blogs in India. Dozens of them are listed on major Indian blog directories; the Directory of Best Indian Blogs is a dependable resource you could be looking at.

An examination of fashion blogs in different parts of the globe shows that they pay well but only if the blogger is dedicated to fashion/ beauty/ lifestyle. A part-time approach is not likely to pay in fashion blogging niche because of huge competition from brands, review sites, apps and other bloggers.

Those wanting to open a fashion blog and make money from it should take inspiration from established blogs and adopt the best practices followed by them. For success as a fashion blogger, the blogger must commit himself/ herself to working hard on various aspects of blogging, e.g. 
  • posting regularly on the blog
  • keeping the blog updated with new fashion trends/ events/ celebrity news
  • focusing on a niche while sometimes talking about the broad subject
  • maintaining the blog well with a nice design and with relevant photos and videos
  • a bit of SEO 
  • blog promotion, including inserting ads through AdWords and on Facebook/ Instagram
  • integration of blog with other social media (e.g. Instagram or Pinterest)
  • using the right earning streams such as PPC ads, direct ads, affiliate ads and other ways of earning, but not too much
If you are based in India and want to become a successful fashion blogger, study the special needs, fashion habits and buying habits of Indian buyers. You will need to study Indian fashion bloggers and also Bollywood trends, ethnic and traditional Indian wear, and new offers from top designers.

Is blogging dead? What its history tells about its furutre?

How did blogging start?


Blogging started when the World Wide Web was yet emerging and people in technology field were discovering that simple HTML pages could be used to inform others about new developments in the tech community. Such regularly updated HTML pages also served as virtual diaries of events.


blogging history: blog started with an HTML page
The first-ever blog

The June 1993 page of 'What’s New' website maintained by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (Illinois University) was a simple web page that listed what all was happening in the field of IT at that time, with hyperlinks to sources.

Swarthmore student Justin Hall’s 'Justin’s Links from the Underground', started in 1994, is regarded as the first personal blog.


first personal blog - by Justin Hall
Justin's personal blog
    

When the web diary became a blog


Individual efforts towards regularly updating information were found useful, but everybody could not adopt it: one needed technical knowledge and a dedicated server to make the HTML page available to others.

In December 1997, Jorn Barger, who had been writing his online diary 'Robot Wisdom' for years, coined ‘weblog’ for ‘logging the Web’. He described his diary as the ‘day-to-day log of his reading and intellectual pursuits’. The word ‘weblog’ was dissected into ‘we blog’ and shortened into ‘blog’ by Peter Merholz in his blog 'Peterme' in April 1999.

Blogging platforms


Blogging took wings only when blogging platforms came into being. They gave people a medium where they could express themselves and interact with others without any knowledge of web technologies.

Bruce and Susan Ableson started 'Open Diary' in 1997 as a blogging platform where one could open an online diary and interact with other community members. 

Brad Fitzpatrick started 'Live Journal' in April 1999, initially as a platform to update colleagues about his activities.

Pyra Lab created the legendary blogging platform, 'Blogger' in 1999, which was bought over by Google in 2003.

Blogging becomes all pervasive, all inclusive


Blogging gained the critical mass to become a force to reckon with when people adopted Live Journal and Blogger in a big way, around 2000, and many new platforms took birth.

Blogs started being taken note of by the marketing world and the mainstream media. In the US, this started early but spread worldwide after BlogAds and AdSense started in 2002 as agencies serving advertisements to publishers on the web. The definition of 'successful blogger' changed from being social influencer to being able to make money from blogging.

Personal blogs, being low-cost properties, also started attracting attention of affiliate marketers. In 2006, Squidoo came up as a platform for content creation that shared affiliate commission with bloggers.

Blogging in languages other than English took time to establish, especially those written in non-Roman scripts.

Blogging in its traditional sense seems to have peaked around 2010-15, depending upon which region one looks at. It is still growing fast in some languages and regions where it picked up late or could not grow earlier because of strife.

But then came social networking, and it became a much bigger online activity than just blogging. However, when all forms of hybrid platforms arose, the line dividing traditional blogging and other forms of social interaction became hazy and has now almost disappeared.

Some of today's biggest websites arose from small blogs and they even now maintain the feel of blog. We have some blogs with big editorial teams while most blogs remain to be personal hobby blogs. The mixing of platforms has expanded the scope of blogging to social sharing and networking, and the regular YouTube contributor and one on Instagram also identify themselves as bloggers.

The dark side of blogging history


If the history of blogging has been so amazing in giving individuals a voice, democratizing the web and becoming a stream for making money, it has not been without bad patches. 

There is a long history of bloggers being persecuted and prosecuted because of their critical articles about religious dogma and governments, libelous content, etc. Employees have lost jobs, political leaders have lost their exalted positions, and journalists have lost lives. Criminals have used social media, including blogging, for nefarious purposes.
A good number of bloggers have invited wrath of others (usually because of ignorance or indiscretion) for stealing others’ content.

The future of blogging... Is blogging dead?


The future of blogging is as promising as it was during the peak days of traditional blogging. It is being taken seriously as a new form of mass media. Mainstream blogs now are richer, more professionally managed. 

A large number of bloggers now earn good income from blogging and associated activities. They make the blog the fulcrum of their online/ social media activities. 

People who do not maintain regular blogs do 'blogging' in myriad forms including podcasting, posting videos, sharing pictures, putting long form content on social networking sites and so on. 

Blogging is sure to keep growing in the years to come; however, what shape it would take is anybody's guess.

The history and other aspects of blogging are discussed in much more details in 'The Manual of Blogging'. The above is an excerpt from The Manual's chapter on blogging history.

Criminal turned crime blogger, Kok

This is an interesting story of a murderer who turned into a crime blogger and challenged criminals while writing about them and living a life full of adventure, threats, pleasure, controversies, notoriety and fame.

The story of Martin Kok's life, as it has appeared on Wired, lucidly shows how crime and crime blogging are going hand in hand in Holland. Kok's blog Vlinderscrime (=butterflies) became highly popular (a million visitors a month, according to a separate report), received advertisements and was quoted in the mainstream media. 

As a blogger, Kok didn't care for fact-checking and disclosing people's identities. He wrote about people indiscreetly and challenged them, and his links in the underworld made him a highly resourceful crime blogger.

A number of attempts were made on Kok's life, and he finally succumbed to an ambush outside a brothel near Amsterdam, on 8th December 2016. 

His blog is, as expected, dead. His Twitter account is still alive and shows 17.8 thousand followers!


Screen shot of Kok's Twitter account

This post is based primarily on the article 'The Strange Life of a Murder Turned Crime Blogger' in Wired with inputs from other sources.

Blogging with no concern for others - is that the right approach?

This post is in response to a recent one I saw on a Hindi blog in which the blogger says that her blog contains whatever she feels like, and no offence may be taken if her writing hurts anybody's feelings. She goes on to advocate that one's own satisfaction should be the best measure of what should be written on personal blogs.

We should write from the heart: for ourselves and for others, isn't it? 

Let us start with creative part of the proposition, and recall what established authors have been recommending about literary writing: Write in a way that satisfies your own self. Only then can you put your best into it.

... and how top journalists often add something like this: Write with the reader in mind. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. What does he want to read? How does he think? How will he accept your writing or respond to it? Only then can your copy be effective.

There is no marked difference in both these sets of propositions. I feel that the first one should not be interpreted as ignoring the reader or caring a hoot for others' feelings. The first one wants you to be a perfectionist while the second advice wants your writing to be effective. When read together, they produce perhaps the best writing advice: Put both your heart and mind to your writing; give it all the  force that comes from the best expressions and that comes from shaping it with the tools of the writing craft.

The first point perhaps talks about the emotional and talent part of writing. I have no authority on the ingredients that lead to writing that shakes people's minds: the knack of writing good prose, using apt and forceful expressions, ability to imagine and dream plots, putting the imagination on paper, and so on. Not many are borne with this talent and not many can inculcate it in themselves through training. I am one of those who cannot write too well and so must close the 'writing from the heart' part of the discussion here.

However, what we all can do is to use the craft well. We can ensure that we write standard language. We can ensure to make the prose free from grammatical and proof errors. We can avoid inappropriate language. We can commit not to copy-paste others' prose. If we are not proficient in English, we can decide to revert to our mother tongue, or get the final prose edited by someone else if English is so important.


blogging for money or personal blog

Writing for oneself and forgetting the reader?

That seems arrogant and unprofessional, even for a personal blog. A blogs is a public space on the web [unless we have restricted its viewership] and whatever we write here is for public consumption. We also cannot afford to ignore the  society. Writing in vacuum can be good for a private blog or a personal diary, not for a blog.

Blogging cannot be irresponsible

Though the blogger mentioned here may not be indiscreet in her writing or posting visual content, but her message smells of indiscretion, isn't it?

As bloggers, we must not write what could hurt others's sentiments, support anti-social and criminal ideas, or copy-paste others' content. We must scrupulously follow national laws and universal canons of ethics. 

A blogger can take creative liberties, but with responsibility. 

Social media safety tips recommended by Facebook itself

Facebook has posted a PDF file on its blog, which gives very useful tips on how to use Facebook (for that matter, any entity on the internet) safely.


internet safety tips for Facebook users, others

Though the PDF file is addressed to journalists, it is an authentic guidebook for all social media users. If you do not want to browse the PDF file, the tips in brief are given below.

Keeping one's web properties such as email and social media accounts, blogs etc is very important. Most of us know these web security measures but still ignore them. For them, these would serve as reminders. For others, they might look something new. These are:

  1. Protect your password: use a strong password; if you like so, use a password manager.
  2. Get alerts about unrecognized devices. Facebook has an alert setting that sends an alert when the account is accessed from a new device. 
  3. Turn on 2-factor authentication. After you log in with password, Facebook asks for another key, which is a code sent through SMS or generated through other means. 
  4. Use Facebook checkup tools. Keep checking the security of your account at regular intervals.
  5. Manage your presence on pages and profiles. Review who can tag you, post on your timeline, comment on your profile and so on. These are available in privacy settings. 
  6. Control your location on posts. Facebook does not share your location by default, and you can think of not opting for location sharing.
  7. Protect your communication. Facebook says, when you communicate through Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, your messages are secured with end-to-end encryption.
  8. Block harassment, by blocking people who you do not want to be looking at your activities or messaging you.
  9. Report abusive content and impersonation, to Facebook so that they can take action. For this, there is a 'Report' link connected with messages and comments.
  10. Know what to do if you are hacked. If your account gets hacked despite all actions, immediately try to log in and then change password. If not, contact www.facebook.com/hacked.
Most of these options/ settings are available also on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.

How to deal with spam on blogs and other social media entitites?

Spam is so much prevalent on social media and apps that the comment boxes of our blogs and websites, social accounts and even SMS inbox often receive more of it than genuine messages.

What is spam ?


Spam is an irrelevant and uninvited message. Spam is usually sent to many users with the help of an automated tool. Spam can contain malicious content too.

I give below the snap of spammy comments that I have received recently on this very blog. I have not included many that were exact repeats. So, it clearly is a case where someone might have found some merit in commenting on my blog (e.g. a backlink from a genuine website) and he/ she has automated the commenting process so that my blog gets repeated comments. None of the messages look genuine as they talk all nonsense. The links given in the comments are also usually not related to the topics covered in the blog, and none has the URL of the sender or a URL embedded in the comment. That shows, the commenter is either testing the ground or is not a professional spammer yet.

What would happen if I allowed all these comments on my blog? Search engines would consider my blog of low value, and whatever value still remains would be 'stolen' by the spammer for the URLs that he puts inside comments.Visitors to the blog would know that I am not serious about the blog and they would not like to put their comments. 

None of these comments has appeared on the blog is because  I have stopped them before they could harm the blog. How?

How to avoid comment spam on blogs and other social media?


Experts suggest many ways to avoid spam in comments on blogs and other social media. Let us examine them one by one.

Does captcha check spam effectively?


A captcha is the mechanism through which commenters are asked to prove that they are human beings and not a machine. 

There are different types of captchas: asking you to write numbers and digits shown against a mesh background, asking you to do a mathematical calculation, asking you to identify a particular type of pictures (e.g. a road sign or a flower) out of many given, and so on.

Captchas definitely make automatic spamming difficult but they are defenseless against spammers posting comments manually - but such spammers are also much less in number and they have physical limitations.

Captchas have a negative side too: Difficult or confusing captchas end up annoying genuine commenters. They have to use the captcha again and again, which is frustrating. People with poor eyesight find them unusable. 

Deleting comments manually: is it a better way to deal with spam?


Since getting comments on blogs is difficult these days, some bloggers do not want genuine commenters to be put off by a captcha. They would rather allow everybody to comment and then manually remove the unwanted comments at the end of the day/ week.

This is a less efficient way of dealing with comment spam, but is OK with blogs that receive a mix of comments and not too much spam.

Comment moderation: an effective way to stop spam


The most effective way to stop spam from appearing on your blog is to not allow its entry into the blog. For this, you have to check each comment and then allow the ones you want to appear on the blog. Blogger and Wordpress have inbuilt options for such comment moderation. Most website builders and content management systems (CMSs) have this provision.

There are two issues with comment moderation: One, the commenters do not see their comment immediately, which demotivates many visitors from commenting. Two, it is time-consuming. 

Should I accept comments only from an approved ID, so as to avoid spam?


Some bloggers allow comments only from those with approved IDs. For example,
  • Some blogs do not allow anonymous blogging at all.
  • Wordpress has an option to allow comments only from Wordpress account holders.  
  • Blogs on the Blogger platform can limit commenting to those with Google/ Blogger account.
  • Many websites/ blogs install third-party commenting apps such as Disqus.
  • Many websites (e.g. news portals) allow commenting only from registered users.
This method is automated and so the blogger or website owner need not bother about the genuineness of commenters. 

However, this method of avoiding spam too has limitations. One, it restricts comments from those not registered in a particular way. Two, it does not stop manual spamming by registered/ identified people.

Not accepting comments to avoid spam: is it the right way?


Ah! This is like keeping your house's door shut even for your friends.  Many news websites, government websites and big blogs allow you to share their comment on social media but do not allow you to react to them. I do not advocate this approach as it goes against the spirit of interaction on the web.

how to avoid spam?
Comment spam on a recent post
On social networking and social sharing accounts, you can check spam by changing privacy settings, which might lead to lower number of responses from friends and followers. For example, on Facebook, you have options on who can view your profile information and comment on it, and who can post on your timeline/ comment/ share/ tag, etc. You also block Facebook accounts from accessing your content or even following you. There is also an option of ranking comments. 

Some platforms such as TikTok/ Helo and local social networks seem to be liberal with all type of social engagement. If you are on such platforms, be much more discreet.
 

What type of check you'd apply on your website, blog or other social account to evade spam?


Frankly, you have to pay some price in the form of putting off genuine commenters, so as to avoid paying a bigger price (of having spam on your web entities). 

On the blogs, I prefer comment moderation. When I check comments before posting them on my blog, I have no worry about an unwanted comment appearing on my blog even if I do not get time to look at the comments for many days. Yes, visitors to the blog do not see their comment instantly on the blog, but that is a small price I have to pay for not allowing comment spam on my blog.

When I discussed the matter recently with some social media friends, I found mixed responses. Many agreed with me and a few disagreed too. Patrick (@patricksplace) argued strongly that he would not go for comment moderation because his commenters are likely to be put off when the comment does not appear on the blog right then and there. He would rather delete spammy comments after they have appeared on the blog.

On other social media accounts, I recommend a balance between full privacy and full openness. Social networking accounts get different types and number of undesirable content depending upon the content and user profile (gender, age, locale, sex preferences etc). You should be even more careful on social networks and image/ video sharing sites (than blogs and websites) because of the risk of instant spread of spammy/ abusive/ harmful messages and your indiscreet responses to them.

Getting your Twitter account verified | or the opposite of it!

Today I received an email from a stranger who claimed to verify Twitter accounts for free. It had a link to a YouTube video showing how to do that. 

On its support page, Twitter says, "The blue verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic." However, that is half the truth.  

When I checked the veracity of the claim made in the video, I discovered things that I must share with my genuine blogging/ social media friends. So this post.

Twitter does not do manual 'verification' of accounts

 

We see many accounts, especially of celebrities and corporations, on which there is a blue tick mark to show that it has been verified by Twitter. In public perception, this is a certificate from Twitter that the site is not only genuine, it is important. 

twitter: social media

Twitter used to verify accounts that officially belonged to public figures. Then it started seeking submissions from Twitter account holders and verified accounts if they met its verification criteria. It would un-verify an account if the account posted bad content or acted in a manner that was inappropriate according to Twitter policies. 

From February 2018, Twitter has stopped that.  It has posted this message on its account @TwitterSupport:

  • Verification was meant to authenticate identity & voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance. We recognize that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon. 
  • Verification has long been perceived as an endorsement. We gave verified accounts' visual prominence on the service which deepened this perception. We should have addressed this earlier but did not prioritize the work as we should have.
  • This perception became worse when we opened up verification for public submissions and verified people who we in no way endorse.
  • We're working on a new authentication and verification program. In the meantime, we are not accepting any public submissions for verification and have introduced new guidelines for the program.
That means, the tips and tricks for Twitter verification as given in YouTube videos or on the posts earlier posted on blogs and social accounts no longer work. Twitter will, perhaps based on genuineness of actions being taken on the account, come out with new verification norms some day. As of 2020, it has not done so.

Anarkali: a down to earth blog for a down-to-earth purpose

If you want to see how a blog can serve a social cause beautifully, without much concern for the technology and frills applied by professional bloggers, visit this blog:
Anaarkali - The saga of Bhil Adivasi Indigenous People.


simple blog design

The blog runs on blogspot and has applied the simplest theme out there. No customization, no optimization. Just using the blog as  a free option available - to be present on the web and spread information about Bhil tribals and publish inspiring and sad stories about them.
There is not much engagement on the blog but the blogger, Rahul Banerjee, keeps publishing relevant posts incessantly. Good that a prominent chronicler of good Indian blogs, Indian Top Blogs, has taken notice of the blog and has included it in its directory that boast of 'best' Indian blogs.