20th Day

Three Links Ahead
Yesterday I went to one of the blogs I regularly visit – since the Challenge began, obviously, as I didn’t “exist” before as a regular reader – and from there I started to click away into the unknown. I’ve choosen Learning in a Flat World because I keep going to this Blog, again and again, as it always give me something challenging and passionate to think about; from the inspiring post “The Impact of Social Media” I went to Frown Town Evasion where I read Serena’s project about Students work being fully recognized: “My theory is this: make student creation and inspiration inescapable“From there I went deep down into the blogosphere, but I soon got lost into wonderful but too difficult posts to comment as it was for Visual Culture in the History Classroom
As Michele had told us to go on repeating the process  until we find  a post we could comment, I went on passing  trough Bamboo then back again until  “And He Blogs” where I read about Calaméo, a recent tool, in beta version, that allows us to publish and share documents but embedding videos in them. I thought about recommending this new tool and, when exploring the site, found that comments were allowed after  public reading of works, photos or files. We may ask permission to add contacts there, so I brought back with me a French friend to comment08.

19th Day

Commenting the Comments on my Blog
We mustn’t leave a comment without a response; to comment back in our own post shows we duly appreciate the visit of others and we may even engage a conversation with them; also, if they are new comers, they will feel that the blogger respects and cares for their comments and thus feel encouraged to pursue.
After reading the article recommended by Michele Martin, “What posts stimulates readers to comment?“I will answer to a comment from her that I have passed in silence and I will fulfill my promise to Tom Tiernan about writing an about page.
I must also add that I spontaneously feel like responding to the comments on my posts but that I try not to sound as if the commenter should be back to answer again; I would like anyone feel free to come and go, to any post, anytime, including during comment08.
Ines Pinto

18th Day

Comments on my Blog

Now I must face the consequences of my own lack of method: on Sunday I felt so enthusiastic about an article Sue Waters wrote on “Embedding Jing Screencasts Into Blog Posts” that I took the risk to download Jing and tried to capture an image made on photophiltre: I hope it will show up here.

That is why I’m starting only now to analyze the comments on my posts:

1. Which of your posts have generate more comments? (Quantity)

Perhaps I still can’t answer that yet; my posts were actually born with the Challenge, they are being modeled by the daily activities; the posts where I expressed worries or need for help have certainly attracted comments, for instance.

2. Which has generated the best conversation? (Quality)

For the moment, comments are usually single ones; they give me something to think, or they invite me to take decisions, like the one from Michele on the connotation linked to the word “policy”that caused a misunderstanding of her thought or the one from Tom suggesting me to write an “about” page.

3. Are there any patterns to the commenting on your blog? Do certain types of posts generate more comments than others? (Tracking specific features or qualities)

There are different types of comments on my posts; I can distinguish comments to greet, to encourage, to clarify, to raise a question, to answer a question, to share an opinion, to make a suggestion…

The posts that have had more comments were the one where I discussed a “hot” topic – the one about the comment police – and the one where I showed to be aware of certain blogging strategies – I made a “list” of my improvements in using technology to make my blog more attractive to commenters.

4. If you do see a pattern of commonality between posts that generate good comments, what can you do to increase those qualities in other posts? (Increasing specific qualities)

Perhaps it is not only the type of posts I’ve wrote, but also the way they have been written that counts to enable a pattern to be recognizable; it’s difficult to me to distinguish specific features on my posts as my activity is incipient; however, I should include in these specific features the endeavor to be precise, clear and open to other ways of thinking.

And bearing in mind some tips I’ve read on The Eddublogger, I will try to do several small paragraphs rather than few and longer ones; to raise questions inviting readers to engage in the conversation; to choose brief and “intriguing” titles; to link, link and link, thus recognizing the value of the presence of others and respecting their work, while keeping connected to the invisible and nurturing network.

And for the near future, I’ll try harder to honor my engagement towards comment08.

16th and17th Days

Five Comments in a Glimpse
That’s it: I’m not keeping up any more and, this time, – shame on me – its partially my fault.
Last Saturday – the 17th day – I went to the park of my village, take a long walk and think quietly about the comments I would like to write; I felt surprised to have learned by heart so many bloggers’ and blog’s names, even if I “mix up” the threads of multiple conversations.
Returning home, the task showed to be different from my previous drafts, as we were supposed to comment directly on posts; I took a deep breath and plunged in the bright cloud of Blogs; comments should be short and have some content, it was a nice and easy task, but it took a lot more than 5 minutes, wondering from post to post like a  bee among  flowers in the gardens of comment08.

15th Day

The Fantastic Commenter Award 2008
I would like to offer this Fantastic Commenter Award, invented by Scott MacLeod, to my fellow-blogger Kevin, also known as dogtrax for the way he is building Community through his commenting activity.
 I’ve always  enjoyed reading his comments, written with humor and warm affection, untiringly visiting his fellow bloggers to greet them and reflect with them in a cheerful and inspiring way.
He has been a faithful visitor and a prolific commenter all over the Challenge sphere, so far as I could notice through my own readings.
It was thanks to him that I discovered we should sign our comments with our first names and thus started my readings about on-line identity that lead me to take new decisions about this subject.
For all this, thanks, Kevin.
I daren’t offer any award to Sue and Michele who seem to be commenting everywhere at all times, as if they were the fairies of this network. Once they have conceived, organized and put this Challenge into action, I presume they would be more happy if we offer our awards to the other participants, thus continuing their effort to build community, turning to others, sharing and appreciating our fellow-bloggers.
However, I think they deserve a special kind of Award for the splendid way they are supporting and inspiring the whole Challenge; thus I would like to say, specially today, how deeply I appreciate their outstanding work and admire their generous effort.
Ines Pinto

14th Day

A Post for Comments
     Today, I came back home and discovered that Internet was down; it did never happen before: I immediately called for help and I’ve been told that it was a serious shut down, it would take some time to be fixed and that I should wait from 3 up to 7 days.
     I felt a bit lost, wondering how come would I catch the Comment Challenge…and began to  create some “paintings” with Photophiltre for future activities with my students. Happily, about two hours later, I discovered, trough Photo philtre, that Internet was on again.
     I thought  that I could, at least, use Internet at School, but right now, on my Twitter network, someone is complaining to be without internet at School for the third day now.
     I wonder how veterans would deal with the situation if they should wait from 3 to 7 days, both in School and at home?

13th Day

A Blog Post Inspired in Comments
It is just a shame that I must choose among so many interesting conversations developed in comments these last 12 days. I’m following them not so much as a lurker – not any more – because I feel as if I was invited and present in a friendly group, though not obliged to talk, as I come late in the evening and it gets harder to dwell with foreign words or just to concentrate.
Almost all of those comments would easily be the inspiring source for a post -how can I choose?
I’ll pick, randomly, a reflexive conversation generated both retrospectively and prospectively from a post at The Eddublogger about the value of using and developing our own identity as blogging teachers.
This splendid post, besides including a step by step explanation on how to change our display name and setting up our comment avatar, also raises the question about the reasons of our choices concerning on-line identity, thus generating a warm conversation of cross comments leading us to the past -“Vicki Davis’s advice to educators on the value of using their own identity (take the time to read the comments also)” – and to the future – Kimberley’s “What’s in a name? and its comments.
I notice that good past conversations, as good past posts, remain “alive” and maintain the inner energy to generate new comments and unfold conversations. They keep their original quality of challenging something in our thought patterns”
It seems to be something ethical about the question of on-line identity: for Michelle Martin it’s an unavoidable requisite to be authentic both as a person as a professional, thus assuming on the face of the world one’s words and deeds; “if you can’t stand behind your words, are they worth sharing?”as commenter Robb says.
Sue Waters, while defending the advantages of offering to others the reliability and the seriousness that a real name evokes, not only distinguishes the situation of students from that of adults dealing on-line, but also leaves up to each person the free decision to expose his real name, thus unifying the inner sense of self: “…you can only be one identity on line…”
Miss W. – as I know her – just with a simple and genuine argument conquered me: ” They (her students) don’t use their real names and they have an avatar, therefore so do I.”
I love this “therefore so do I”; for the moment, my students are my reason and my pretext for being on- line; on the School site and on the Moodle platform we all keep our real names; as soon as we go out to the “web-sea” we wear our made-up usernames. Mine is made with the initials of both my first and last real names: Ines and Pinto. I think I must sign my comments with, at least, my real first name; and I find that edublog’s is a friendly environment, where I can change my avatar for a photo, thus becoming more real to my fellow-bloggers and opening more authentically to them.
As for the user name, I’ll keep it for a while: it’s part of my identity too; I’ve chosen it, it was not imposed upon me, as my real name; it’s made of the real initials, it’s not so far from reality, I may easily explain it and show my name through it; for the moment, it is a mark of my condition of being “a digital migrant”, not entirely at home yet, in this new kingdom; it is also a way to keep by my young students as they are not allowed to walk “unveiled” yet. (Only today I’ve realized that a text from a student, duly signed, had been pinged at Technorati: I’m not supposed to publish their texts until June…)
I’m impressed by the title of Kimberly’s post: “What’s in a name?”
It keeps swirling on my head – there would be so much to say about this…
Although I’m late in accomplishing my challenge duties, I keep learning and enjoying comment08.
Ines Pinto

12th Day

Is my Blog Technology “Comment Friendly”?
Concerning technology, I’ve just made some setting adjustments, like allowing comments – there is no need to be registered and logged in anymore -, freeing comments from moderation – just for a couple of days, otherwise it will be too risky due to spam threat – and I certainly would have already embedded akismet if I just would be given time enough to remember what I’ve done with my API key.
In order to make my posts more accessible I go to Technorati to ping my blog; there I read they are explicitly asking people to do it each time they write a post.
I’ve learned all this when following the conversation generated by a post at The Edublogger: “Are your Comment Settings Making it hard for Readers to Comment?”
Also, in building my blog, I ‘m trying to create a more friendly and personal atmosphere through technology: I’ve customized the header with a real photo of my School – but I’ll change it soon, because one of my students is easily recognizable although they were quite enthusiastic about it; we simply are not allowed to publish such photos on-line.
I have also added a direct link to our blog of the Portuguese Department that has been just put on “web-orbit” yesterday. I’m responsible for the editing – my colleagues will be joining me soon – and I’ll receive help from the person responsible for the formatting – which is a Brazilian Mom of four of our students.
I’m also trying to insert links – as above – referring my statements or reflections to their original source, so readers may move freely.
And today I’ve found two new comments: surprise and joy from comment08.

11th Day

A Comment Policy
This is a realy difficult task for me right now. I’ve been reading all through several different conversations, adding diigo “sticky notes” to Neville Hobson’s “Terms of Use” and Michelle Martin’s “Newbie Guide”, and agreeing with a post by Kate Foy about not feeling the need of an explicit comment policy, but the task itself seems too hard.
Maybe I should do it with my students instead of kind of imposing them a set of rules; I will tell them about the eventual issues concerning comments, then I will give them some guidelines to reflect about it; as soon as they will be ready to discuss it, we will organize a class “assembly” and we will write down what they agree to adopt as our comment policy.
I will translate the “Newbie Guide”, if Michelle allows me, so that their reflections may rely on a “legal document” as a solid reference.
Up till now, we never had any trouble with comments, as even spam hasn’t noticed our existence; as for the kids themselves, their “on-line behavior” has been correct, so far, on the School Moodle platform or in our crazy pbwiki.
May be all went well because we have moved to “web land” just recently, and also because these students are young enough to feel honored for having been empowered as administrators.
Today is actually the 12th day of comment08.

10th Day

6 Reasons for not having Comments on my Blog
1. You sound like a Press release
Hope not.
2. You sound like an infomercial
I don’t think I will.
3. You sound like a know-it-all
Not for the moment, as I am almost at zero level, but must revisit this item later.
4. You haven’t show them how
This was important to me; when I found those students’ blogs, all over the world, I understood that their teachers had underwent a step by step project with them, teaching one thing at a time, with method and calm. I intend to follow Miss W. tips and orientations.
5. You haven’t created the right atmosphere
I deeply appreciated this:
Questions are the lifeblood of conversation . They need to be a regular part of posts. For the moment, my posts in this blog were but dead archives, excepted some texts from students. On the other hand, I must be cautious with the kind of questions I put, for I have an immoderate tendency to formulate obscure questions.

6. You just don’t seem that into it

And there is the great answer:

Blogging is about passion and about sharing your excitement about a topic. It’s those posts that tend to generate conversation, not the ones where you’re going through the motions.

I surely didn’t do this on my blog: I’ve just poured teaching stuff into it, then leave it for http://www.sqip.pbwiki.com where my 10 years old students and myself have had a great time, just for the sake of experiencing an on-line page, but without any previous project or guidelines. That’s how they got ready to “attack” Moodle.

7. Other reasons: obscurity, strangeness

If someone’s writing seems warm, inviting, authentic and transparent, then I want to join the conversation.

This is easier when engaging conversation with my kids. I’m afraid I can get too obscure when speaking to my peers; perhaps that’s why I had never though about blogging with and for adults; now that I have experienced the feeling of belonging to a warm and authentic community I would like to give it a chance.

I also feel strongly that I must take the time to look for my Portuguese colleagues on the web and try to share in my own language. It’s easier to post and to comment when “hiding” behind the veil of a foreign language; but it also helps to get acquainted with the fact that if we are exposing ourselves  to others, we are doing it  in a peaceful and gracious purpose. As it is in comment08.