Weblogs have been around for some time now, but as not everyone has yet come across the concept I though it might be worth writing a simple guide.

Basically, a weblog (or 'blog' for short) is a web page which can be easily updated to act as a diary. Many people run weblogs: some as personal diaries, some to comment on any subject under the sun, some as a means of communication within a team where several people can contribute.

Normally visitors would check the weblog every few days, just to look at the recent entries.

New entries appear at the top of the page, pushing down the previous entries. The normal maximum is about 10 to 15 entries, after which older entries 'fall off' the bottom of the page but can still be accessed using provided navigation (for example the 'Archives' section on the right of this page).

Entries can contain photos, movies, links to music, links to other sites - anything you like. Some people write quite long entries but I prefer to keep to around 3 paragraphs: if an article is longer then it can be posted as an extra page you can access from the main entry.

Most weblogs have either a two or three column layout - one with the entries, one (as on the right here) with links to, for example, a profile of the writer, navigation round the weblog, links to other weblogs (facetiously, a 'Blogroll') and so on; sometimes a third column provides more links, or advertisements (many people use free weblog-providing sites which place a few adverts on the page).

Each entry usually has a facility for the reader to add their own comments, sometimes to email the author, or to use 'Trackback' to notify the author that they have placed a link to the entry on their own page. Feel free to try out the comment facility if you like.

You will notice on the right a section called 'XML/RSS FEED'. This is for use with programs which check websites and display just the titles of recent posts (and some of the text if you click on the title) - very useful for keeping a quick eye on several sites without actually having to visit them. Examples are RssReader (Windows - free) or NetNewsWire (Mac - there is a free 'Lite' version).

Also on the right you will see a collection of links to other weblogs (Blogroll) - you might like to have a quick look to see the sort of thing peope do. 'Wulfweard' posts jokes and cartoons (of a higher standard than many people), 'The Obvious?' is ex-colleague Euan Semple's weblog (he is now an IT consultant), and BibliOdyssey has a lot of fascinating illustrations from old books.

Posted by Roger Wilmut at 08:42 AM | |

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