I was planning to write about something completely different today. But then I came across this interesting post by André Gérard: How To Name a Publisher. Because I enjoyed it so much I tried to leave a comment. The captcha was very simple, and I tried several times, so I have no doubt that I entered it correctly. But this was always the result:
ERROR: Could not read CAPTCHA token file.
I tried to find a way to contact André to let him know about the problem, but I couldn’t. Hopefully he’ll get a trackback to this post and discover the problem.
Anyway, this brings me to my main point:
Test Your Blog
As a software developer, I know the importance of testing everything. Even trivial changes where “nothing can go wrong” (famous last words of arrogant developers). Even the events that “will never happen”. I don’t know if Murphy’s Law is familiar to people outside of technical fields. Basically it says that anything that can go wrong will.
If you know a little about computers and want to be entertained and frightened at the same time, check out Forum On Risks To The Public In Computers And Related Systems (Warning: you may never again want to use any form of transportation more complex than a bicycle).
The moral of the story is to test the various features of your blog (or any other website) when you first put them out there, and any time you make any structural changes.
Be especially sure that important features like comment submission, subscribe buttons and contact forms work. Make sure people can participate. If you’re not getting any comments or followers this could be why.
The simplest way to test is to logoff and go to your blog’s URL like a visitor coming for the first time. Try leaving a comment, subscribing to your RSS feed and your email feed (and make sure you have both of these). Or you could have a friend do it for you.
Also, speaking of Contact forms…
Have a Contact Form on Your Blog
I’m guilty of this too (wait while I go add it to my to do list…).
If someone wants to contact you without leaving a public comment, make sure there’s a way for them to do so. You can just put your email address there (in a spam avoiding form, like “r dot e dot hunter2012 at gmail dot com”). But a Contact form on a page of its own is more visible.
Sure you might get some spam from this. But being reachable is important. Spam is just the price you have to pay in this world. Besides, the filters are getting pretty smart. I don’t get any spam on my gmail address.
If anyone’s interested, I can post details on how to set up such a form in WordPress once I’ve done it myself.
Oh, and don’t forget to test it!
Let me know what you think.
Update: I’ve added my Contact Form. It was very easy — WordPress already has a Contact form that can be added to a page. One little oddity is that WordPress only allows all or nothing for page Rating and Comments. I want this on my About page, but not on my Contact page. Oh well.