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Critique My Blog!

  1. Go ahead, take the gloves off! I'm starting a (hopefully ongoing) thread for those of us who want others to take a look and tell us how our blogs look and function and whether or not they're doing what they're supposed to.

  2. Aaaaaaaand I'll go first.

    Please take a look at my blog, runningthroughrain, and let me know what you think. I'm using the Freshy theme, just uploaded a custom image for my header. The blog is designed to serve people in transition (career or otherwise), those with severely limited incomes, the chronically isolated, ill or depressed, and those struggling with addictions or unhealthy personal environments. I will be teaching blogging to groups of such people and wanted this to be an online "home" for them, from which they can branch out and start blogging on their own; graduates who wish will be blogrolled.

    It should, ideally, facilitate their personal growth by helping them to find and use the resources appropriate for them, presented in a way that is both appealing and accessible. I'm also anticipating a lot of dialup users.

    I have tried to make it clean yet attractive, gender-neutral, inviting (especially of comments), with a high ease of use.

    What say you all?

  3. Huh, I guess everybody loves it.

    Also, I was thinking of putting a link to a wiki page for each category, to encourage the readers to participate and contribute resources and wisdom. What do you think? Also, any particular wiki platforms to recommend, keeping in mind that there are a lot of beginners who will be participating.

  4. honest from the heart of my bottom: i don't quite understand the concept of the blog, and how the posts relate to the concept. i think it's just me; i can be pretty dense in certain things, like discourse analysis.

    on the other hand, that blog has raincoaster written all over it, without the naughty bits.

  5. I understand the concept as you've written. But I'm not seeing how the blog ties into that concept right now. Actually I really like the idea of what you're trying to do.

    As far as Wiki's go, MediaWiki (the one that Wikipedia is run off) is pretty good. I've played around a bit with it on another site. MoinMoin is another I've fooled with. There's a learning curve for both of them. But I'm also just editing. I have no idea the amount of work it takes to get them set up.

  6. Okay, thanks for the feedback. The blog's not robust enough to speak for itself yet; it just doesn't have enough entries. And I will be telling the people in class about it, so the majority of readers will already know what to expect. Should I go into more details about the purpose and demographics?

    What I'm really concerned about at this point is, can a person on dialup use it easily, is it readable and not jargony, does it look clean? Stuff like that. Not content analysis (as if an egotist like me would listen to that anyway!).

    Thanks for the wiki recommendation. I'll check into it; mediawiki sounds familiar, it might be the one I worked on a couple of years ago.

    And is "has raincoaster written all over it" a compliment? I'm hoping to dial down the attitude there while keeping it interesting.

  7. And sulz, you're not dense. You probably just don't know as many people in that situation as I do, so the language is unfamiliar.

    Also, does anyone know a more accessible word than "socioeconomics" for a category of blogs about the politics of work, class consciousness, and suchlike? I put Barbara Ehrenreich's blog on the blogroll, but had the worst time coming up with a name for that part of the blogroll; there will eventually be a lot of resources there, but for now she's it. And that's such a big, pompous word...

  8. Here, FWIW, is the class proposal (stripping my proper name out because I am just so, so very modest). This is the version I'm pitching to the Welfare people, because they're primarily concerned with getting people off Welfare. But I'm also delivering this to the disabled and around community centres (that is, if anyone hires me).

    Blogging for Growth

    For those on fixed incomes, one of the biggest obstacles to an appropriate and ultimately successful jobhunt is the systemic isolation inherent in joblessness itself.

    · Studies show that people in transition who document their struggles are significantly more successful at overcoming them than those who do not record their journey
    · People on severely curtailed incomes have practical difficulty networking and participating in urban life
    · Additionally, those on fixed incomes may not be able to afford the material components of creativity such as paint, canvas, clay, musical instruments, lessons, etc
    · Without concrete, measurable achievement and community recognition, it is difficult to maintain a sense of progress and optimism
    · The state of unemployment is strongly correlated with depression, inertia, and feelings of isolation
    · When people have difficulty meeting their most basic needs, they cannot in most cases grow significantly as human beings or attain measurable, publicly acknowledged achievement benchmarks until those needs are met.

    Blogging allows those facing the challenges of severely limited incomes, personal crisis, or unemployment to achieve and be acknowledged in the public sphere, to contribute, to lead, and to measure their own growth, all without cost. Because of the wide scope of the blogosphere and widely available and inexpensive digital technology, blogs can be now maintained by those with literacy or language barriers, or physical challenges that previously precluded online achievement.

    In a single day-long training session, we will teach a group of up to fifteen clients in transition to set up and maintain their own blog. We will lead them through the procedures for posting pictures, music, text, and video, as well as consulting help forums, etc, and by the end of the day they will have examples of each of the various media on their blog. In followup meetings of one hour each, once per week, we will guide the participants through the process of setting up sobriety, workout, or jobhunt logs, joining groups, blogrolling, checking statistics (readership), and participating in online personal growth questionnaires such as those based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and tracking changes over time.

    Through the process of blogging participants will have the opportunity to create original works, journal their process, share values with the online community, and be publicly recognized for their work. In this way they will maintain or build self-esteem, a sense of progress, and a substantial two-way connection to the community. This will meaningfully assist participants in maintaining their motivation for the jobhunt as well as meeting ongoing challenges.


    raincoaster is a Vancouver blogger, writer, and editor. She has been blogging for many years, both professionally and personally, and her current blog,, is ranked in the top 17,000 blogs in the world. raincoaster is a graduate of the Douglas College Self-Employment program, and former Small Business Columnist at Business in Vancouver newspaper and Occupational Pursuit magazine. She has a solid and current familiarity with the Vancouver job market and agencies working with those in transition. She has led workshops on time management, creativity, the arts, and entrepreneurship at the New Westminster Arts Club, the Greater Vancouver Alliance for Arts and Culture and the YWCA, and founded the Shebeen Club, a monthly gathering of Vancouver writers, editors, and publishers. She has extensive experience in community-building both online and off, and a particular focus on facilitating transformative activity.

  9. Anybody want to critique my blog?

  10. I like the template, like the posts, it all looks good and is interesting, but I like blogs with pictures. Can you break up the text with some pix?

  11. Nice proposal. It's an interesting concept.

    I see you included in your proposal about getting tech help. Please please oh pretty please, as a person who does tech support, please teach them to say more than "It doesn't work! Help me!" You know what basic info is needed because you've worked the help forums here. Give them a handout to fill out so they can just type it up when they do need help.

    And anyone who can work Maslow into a proposal gets a thumbs up in my book :-)

  12. Chica... how about a blog roll linking to related blogs or sites?

    You can even break it up into different categories. Go look at mine again. I have 4 categories that I put sites into.

  13. I like that proposal and I have to agree with katm that it is an interesting concept. Do let us know what happens with it. :)

  14. I'd like to suggest that you include inspirational quotes in your blog. They could be on a page or in a text widget or at the head of each post. I'd recommend that you post one each day. You can choose your own theme(s) but I'd suggest you might like to start with "beginnings". Here are some examples:

    In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment -- Thomas Carlyle

    Winning starts with beginning -- Robert H. Schuller

    The beginning is the most important part of the work -- Plato

    Mighty things from small beginnings grow -- John Dryden

    Let us watch well our beginnings and results will manage themselves -- Alexander Clark

    Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire; you will what you imagine; and at last you create what you will -- George Bernard Shaw

  15. defrostindoors

    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it:
    Boldness has beauty, power and magic in it. (Goethe)

    (this is from memory so might be a little off)

  16. @frosty
    Good memory. It's also one of my favorites.
    The correct quote is:

    Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it.
    Boldness has genius and power and magic in it -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  17. @chicablog:: nice blog, I agree with rc about adding some pics, I would also suggest an about page. Just to introduce who you are and why you blog. :)

    Can I submit my blog for critique even if it's on it's own domain? If so then please tell me what you think about Break The Silence, I just recently moved it from WordPress and am still working on it's presentation and content. It's about nothing and everything at the same time. Basically, my take on current events in the world. I need to know if it's easily accessed and easy to navigate. Also, if the content is clear and understandable. Please feel free to comment on any posts.

  18. @katm:
    I added you to my blogroll :-)

  19. I put a pic of the horrible weather in on my blog. Check it out!

  20. dialup point of view: loads most of the pages fine. pictures & videos should of course be kept at minimum if possible.

  21. Great, thanks for the feedback. I certainly do intend to put inspirational quotes there; in fact, I think that'll be a big part of the wiki, because obviously the collective intelligence knows far more of them than any one individual. Thanks for those; they're gold. I'm also going to use Jeanette Winterston's quote "Why have we submitted to a society that makes imagination a privilege when to each of us it comes as a birthright?" To me and my artistic friends, this is a very powerful question. I've seen people burst into tears when they hear it. katm, I will definitely teach them how to seek help productively and efficiently. I've had enough of the unspecific "It just doesn't work!" too.

    Jannette, I'm having some technical problems with your blog; as I scroll down, parts of the right-hand sidebar vanish; sections of the lines just break up and disappear. Also, on my computer's monitor it's about two inches too wide and I have to scroll back and forth to see it all. I'd like to see more colour; the header is nice, and the colours are fine, but it looks a little quiet for a personal site if you know what I mean.

  22. So, whaddya think of the weather pic? You could just leave a comment on it :-)

  23. Holy crap! Better you than me.

  24. Jannette. Nice blog. Good content. Great idea :)

    On FF 2, the right hand sidebar is funky. Stuff is smushed.

    Here's a screenshot

  25. @rain:
    you 'holy crap'-ing to me?!?! That was a town about half an hour away from here.

  26. @Rain
    I too like the inspiration quotes idea... however if you use any of my Precious Encouragements I will be forced to question your devotion to the betterment of the human species.

    Good blog set-up. Nothing fancy. Does what it's supposed to.

    Okay...and what about mine?

  27. @everyone: thanks so much for feed back. I think the main problem is the theme. It's width setting makes everything bigger on the screen and smudges the sidebar content. I am looking for a more suitable theme this very moment. Thanks again for feedback.

    @rain: thanks for telling me. I'm working on fixing it right now. I added Running Through The Rain to my blogroll by the way.

    @katm: thanks for the screenshot. I also added your blog to my blogroll.

    @renal: thanks. your blog great. I linked you as well... -I like linking- :)

  28. I'll blogroll you at running through rain when I get to editing it. If you don't see yourself there, remind me please.

    renal, I wish there was more colour in the blog. I likee pictures. I see that the header coordinates with the award badge in the sidebar, but for all the flaming reds and oranges, I just think it's a little static. Maybe coloured text, or textured text, like marble?

  29. @Jannette... thanks for the link.

    @renal... I like the simplicity of the theme. Your humor shines through with the titles of your widgets.

    @everyone... time to critique mine. I'm thinking about changing themes, any suggestions?

  30. Actually I have about seven different colored headers that I rotate every month or so.

    I should hold a contest for people to send in art work of Renal Failure characters. That'll get some pictures.


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