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09 Feb 2009
Reactions: Blogger Gadget and WordPress Feedback Plugin

For a little while now, Blogger has offered a ‘Reactions’ gadget. It’s a tiny ajax form that sits at the bottom of a blog post and allows readers to share their immediate reaction with others. More importantly, from my point of view, it allows the author of the blog post to see what his readers like/don’t like.

There are some pretty intriguing possibilities with a gadget like this. Not only can you have the standard reactions (Cool, Interesting, Funny), but with a little creative thinking you can gather all sorts of data from users. On a link blog, one could add a reaction called ‘News to me’ or ‘seen it before’ to determine how ‘fresh’ your content is. If your blog covers many topics then ‘more like this’ or ‘less like this’ reactions could help guide future post content.

Another reason I like this gadget is that it caters to the increasingly short attention span of internet users. There are many people (me included) who will leave a page before leaving a comment, positive or negative. Since the advent of StumbleUpon, most of my browsing is done with the mouse alone. Reaching for the keyboard requires a whole extra level of commitment that I may not want to reach with every blog I come across.

I’m exaggerating a little bit, but not much. Leaving a one-word reaction with a single mouse-click requires much less thought (and grammar!) than a comment. If I have a deep response to make, I’ll write a comment. Otherwise, a simple Reaction will suffice. As a corollary to this, I speculate that allowing Reactions on a post will replace the inane ‘cool, nice post!’ comments with useful, measurable data for the author.

This is all well and good, what I really want is a similar plugin for my preferred blogging platform, WordPress. There are plugins out there that allow users to rate posts, but that’s not really what I want. As I’ve pointed out above, reader reactions span a wider range than like/dislike. In addition, I’d like some sort of admin screen that allows authors to quickly see which of their posts gathered the largest response. To that end, I’ve started working on a plugin that does these things. I’m brand new to ajax, so right now I’m getting to grips with sending/receiving requests dynamically. Neither do I have the first clue about the structure of a WordPress plugin, so there’s a lot of research to be done in that area too. Soon though, I hope to have something with a mild degree of functionality for testing. Stay tuned!


Thanks for reading! If you like my writing, you may be interested in my book: Healthy Webhook Consumption with Rails

David at 20:09

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