2011 Central Florida Blogger Conference

The convention I attended while in Orlando was the Central Florida Blogger Conference. I went to this convention looking at it with two different perspectives. First, I was there to connect with local Floridian bloggers on behalf of clients and secondly I was there to see what the rest of the world is saying about social media outside of the Mashable sphere.

Someone caught a shot of me deep in thought

The conference was designed to cover to audiences, the n00b blogger who was still debating Blogger vs WordPress to the professional and marketing audience. I didn’t attend any of the introductory sessions seeing as I have been blogging since 2001 and that I do this sort of work for a living.

The speaker selection was done keeping in the central Florida theme as I’m pretty sure each came from the area. Not only did this cut down on costs, it provided the visitors to the conference a more realistic scope of possibility and networking. That being said, I found almost all the topics to be much more elementary and top level than what would be beneficial to me.

Sketch artist captures the conference keynote
Sketch artist captures the conference keynote

More often than not, I was providing asides, alternatives or more efficient/economical solutions to bloggers’ problems. At each table and each session, people gathered around me to ask my opinion, to repeat what I suggested to the speaker during the question and answer period and even to drop me their business card.

I was called a “Social Media Guru” in a bit on National Public Radio last year, a title I lament. Calling yourself an expert, guru, ninja or sansei in a field of marketing that is constantly changing is ridiculous. Never will I call myself any of those things, and if for some reason I do, please refer me to this post.

Pleasantly, only one person was referred to as a “ninja” during the entire conference. That is still one too many but far fewer than I expected.

All that being said, it is clear that there are still people, organizations and companies out there that lack the education on what social media is, what it isn’t and how it will or will not work for them. Luckily for them there are people like me who are more than happy to teach them the right way to do things.

That is the audience this conference was aimed at, those getting into blogging and social media. The amount of information gleaned by n00bs at this conference was pretty immense and invaluable. I just hope they listened carefully and took notes!

Nevertheless, the conference didn’t provide me with too much new education but I did leave with a few memory joggers, friendly reminders and suggestions. I’ll share them with you right here.

  • Don’t just talk about what you want to do, do it
  • Content is king but only when you’re able to match quality with quantity
  • Every blog needs a media page with a digital press kit
  • Fiverr.com is an awesome resource for cheap help
  • SWAG (stuff we all get) is 50% of the time SWAL (stuff we all lament)

The best part of the convention was easily the people I met, especially those that I met in my last session which was aimed at marketing, public relations and advertising professionals. We were given the opportunity to have totally open and honest dialog with not only other professionals but the bloggers we want to work with. Both parties understanding the needs and abilities of the each other is essential in a successful partnership.

Also, hear the food was terrific.

Big Wheel Truck catered the event
Big Wheel Truck catered the event

I look forward to my next blogger/social media conference now that I have this one under my belt. While I have presented at similar types of venues, I have never been an audience member, as surprising as that is for me.

Would I recommend the Central Florida Blogger Conference to a blogger or someone new to the world of social media? Absolutely. Would I recommend it to someone who has already accomplished quite a bit in this industry? Probably not, unless there are a few more workshops for people like me. Luckily, next year there should be more for people like me and those who went to the conference last year.

From the conversations we had at my last session, which was directed at marketing and PR people, the convention will continue to grow and become more advanced in the future. It will grow with its audience which is great..

Perhaps the follow-up mixer would make everything copacetic. Alcohol and networking go hand in hand you know!

WordPress Experts, I Need Your Help!

For the last few months I’ve been having issues with pop-up ads showing up on my blog. Originally I thought it was a bug with my new favorite commenting system, @LiveFyre, but that was ruled out. They were even kind enough to look around my blog for the problem and couldn’t find it.

I’ve done just about all that I can think of. I manually went through my WordPress database cleaning out extra tables and entries down to the bare essentials. I got rid of all my plugins and themes, deleted every orphan database entry, wiped my WordPress install and even got my host involved.

They did some searching and twice found an iFrame with malicious code injected in it. They removed the malicious code, twice and the problem stopped, before coming back each time.

I did my own tests, Acunetix, Norton, SiteLock and M86 security scans all came back clean. One of my Twitter friends, @TheDigitalNinja, did his own scans and found nothing. Continue reading

Welcome to LiveFyre

LiveFyre, promising to turn a blogs comments into a live stream of organic, reader created content from all walks of the Internet life. I have been a huge supporter of the people at JS-Kit and their product Echo, in fact I’ve had it running the back end of my comments for quite a while. But when I got word about LiveFyre’s new system, I had to give it a try.

For the last few months I’ve had a beta invitation waiting for me, sent from LiveFyre CEO Jordan Kretchmer. Unfortunately, work at Pure has kept me so busy that even updating my blog has become difficult. I’m going to do what I can to make these updates happen more regularly…

I finally got a few free minutes to install LiveFyre and ran into some major problems. First, it was incredibly slow, not the plugin itself but the entire site. It took a few seconds for every page to load on the back end. The front end of the blog, what you guys see, was just fine. Second, popup ads! Every time I tried to load the plugin I got a popup advertisement. Not cool. Third, it didn’t work. Simply wouldn’t import my existing comments or install into my theme which is the standard WP 3 2010 theme.

I tweeted my problems and faster than anyone could ever hope, LiveFyre was there with help. I turned control of my blog to the tech guru’s at LiveFyre, after clearing out all the orphan tables and remnants of previous plugins/themes/installs. They feared a bit of malware was hiding on my system. Nevertheless, even after wiping my database of all extraneous entries and my WordPress folder of any extra content, I still had these horrible popup ads.

True to their word, LiveFyre went in, did the install and import for me and wham, everything is perfect. They even did a sweep of my blog to check for any major issues including malware. Luckily, they found none.

I still don’t know what happened that caused all of these problems but I’m happy to say they are all resolved and I’m ready to try out LiveFyre. I’m going to use this post as a test so comment away! Link back to it from your blog, Twitter or wherever else. Let’s test out LiveFyre, put it through its paces.

I still have my Echo Live subscription but… if LiveFyre proves to be the powerful comment engine it promises to be (and it is affordable after their beta period) I’m sold. If not on the advanced features, the absolutely amazing customer service.

17 Hours for a Disqus Resolution

I hate that I might actually have to give up on Disqus.  It’s gotten so bad that even when @Disqus comments on my blog they don’t show up on their dashboard or the blog while somehow they show on my WordPress dashboard.

Not sure what’s more upsetting. My Disqus not working, over 1,600 comments missing or the fact that my blog has become a review of Disqus.  I typically only review products I adore, of course with few acceptions.  This time I feel disenchanted by a service I was so optimistic about.  And I’m honestly not sure what else I can do. I’ve exported my blog to @Giannii or @Disqus four times in three different formats.  What more can I do?

Oh and Disqus, why make a comment requiring a followup on a blog where the PROBLEM  is comments not showing up on the blog? You have my email address.

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Why I’m Quitting Disqus in 48 Hours

I tried Disqus a few years ago.  Didn’t work out for me.  So when @LeoLaporte talked it up on This Week in Tech while discussing blogs vs Twitter I decided to give it another try, even though he was actually recommending JS-Kit Echo.

A few weeks earlier I tried out IntenseDebate, which was buggy as all hell so the idea of a fresh start with a more established system was a great feeling.

The switch wasn’t so easy.  ZERO of my comments imported into Disqus, despite increasing my MySQL memory.  Disqus is pretty good about checking on things through Twitter however.  I tweeted my frustration and posted a formal complaint on their customer service system and within a few hours I had a response.

But over a week passed and nothing was resolved.  Eventually, @giannii was able to take my emailed WordPress database and upload it to Disqus for whatever they had to do at that point.

But only a handful of nearly 1,700 comments actually imported! All added up over the past year or two, only 14 comments made it in!  And that is still the case (beyond what have been added since October 21 by way of new comments to the blog).

I got a tweet from @Giannii that @Disqus would take a look at the problem last week. But another problem sprung up!  Missing old comments was one thing but missing comments that were new?

Unacceptable.  One person commented on my blog about being blacklisted by Disqus.  Hello, what?! I’m sorry but did I hear that someone can be permanently blacklisted? I can understand this for robot spammers but this was a human with a cogent argument. Their comment can show up in my WordPress comments through the dashboard but not actually on my site?  Even if what he/she is posting is relavent, which in this case it certainly was?

What about someone that posted a comment earlier in the day, which was given the “thumbs up”, and when he comes back to post a reply his comment disappears?  This was the case for @Vortex_Bits.  He left a reply to my reply on his comment.  I value his opinion greatly and considering the fact that this was a sort of debate between the two of us, not posting his comment makes ME appear as childish, sending his comment to the abyss.

On my WordPress Dashboard his comment shows up, I can even view the comment in WordPress’s editor.

So WordPress says it’s approved.  It shows up in the dashboard but it’s missing from Disqus and the blog entirely?! Doesn’t Disqus advertise the sociability of their service to create conversation within your site and the internet?  A conversation that permeates through what we typically understand as individual networks?

Unless Disqus can actually fix this by this time Saturday I’m quitting Disqus, recommending to all my friends, readers and followers that they do the same and trying out the third player in the game, JS-Kit Echo.  I love the idea of Disqus.  They have been really nice and helpful and even as late as early this week promised to look into fixing my problems. However, in the end, it is the results that matter.  You can be super nice over email, twitter and the like but if your service can’t deliver the results, I’ve gotta say see-ya-later.

If Disqus is able to fix this, and I have my nearly 1,700 old comments imported into the service and the ignored new comments published, I will sing their worthy praises.  I’m one of those people who is actually willing to pay for a service.  I’d pay for Disqus but not if it is this buggy, as bad or worse than IntenseDebate.  At least ID managed to show all my comments.  JS-Kit Echo is only $12/year, that’s looking awfully tempting.

I’d love to get your thoughts on this.  Horror stories or success stories.  Though, good luck getting them to actually post.  :-\

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Disqus the Frustration

Sad about it but my Disqus is still not working properly.  Only maybe a hundred or so of the comments actually imported.  As you can see in the screenshot below, the “latest” fourteen comments came in over the last two years.  Now, I know my blog isn’t BoingBoing.net or LifeHacker but I’ve gotten more than fourteen comments over the last two years.

Disqus Comment Moderation Panel

So, where do we go from here? How do we get the missing 1,500 comments imported?  How do I active posting a comment on an older post?  Yeah, another problem I just came across.

While I’m sure this is just a setting issue, I sure can’t find it.  That option is unchecked in WordPress and I don’t even see it as an option in Disqus.  Help?  I don’t want to poke and poke Disqus but I’d really like this to work.  I’m pay for Disqus, I like the platform that much.  But if this is how it’s going to work for, maybe I’ll look again for another option. JS-Kit Echo?  Any other suggestions of where I should send my comments should Disqus never work properly?

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Disqus the Disappointment

UPDATE: And just like that, Gianni at Disqus has my comments imported and everything works.  Fantastic.  A testament to Disqus and their support staff.  Resolved the problem less than an hour after I blogged about it! – Turns out not so lucky, click here to learn why.


Yesterday I shared my ultimately negative experience with the blog comment system, IntenseDebate.  The system was at first promising, before it fell flat on it’s face with a beautiful front end but clunky backend, inability to properly manage logins and artificially limiting features.  You can read more about why, just click back to that post.

So I switched back to Disqus, the commenting system I tried out a couple of years ago before ultimately abandoning it.  The early versions of Disqus wouldn’t synchronize comments with the WordPress database.  If Disqus ever went away, so did your comments.

I installed the latest Disqus as a plugin for the latest version of WordPress.  I rand the installation, followed the directions to import my comments and this is what happened and continues to happen.

No comments are imported! I went to Twitter and talked to @Disqus a few weeks ago.  I even emailed them about the problem and they said they’d take care of it.

And yet, still, there are no comments from my previous posts.  They all still exist in my blog, you can see there are over 1,600 of them.

If I go to Disqus to see my comments, only five show up!

There is certainly no way I can really review Disqus until I get it to actually work.  I really want to like the system and the people behind it.  They have been so quick to send help my way, even on this blog, but sadly the help never fixes the problem.

For right now though, Disqus is just a disappointment.  Even more so than IntenseDebate.  At least that would import my comments…

So why not discuss this Disqus problem but logging your comments on the form below.  See, any new post and any new comments show up just fine. It’s those pesky historical comments and conversations that never showed up to the party.

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