HalfEagle.com’s Blog

News about that “Scouting Blogs and News” website

Archive for January, 2009

300 links visited in ten days!

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Since HalfEagle started tracking links almost ten days ago, over 300 links have been visited! Interestingly, the tracking script has had over 3,000 hits, but those are mostly search engine spiders, robots, and scrapers.

After filtering out those about 10% are actual people and about 10% of those came from twitter! (Not bad considering there are only about 20 followers of HalfEagle’s twitter account.)

I haven’t done much analysis yet, but to think that HalfEagle has sent 300 pageviews to the different Scouting blogs in just ten days is pretty cool to me. I’m pretty excited to be able to track how effective HalfEagle is at promoting each Scouting blog. After all, the goal here is to get people to leave HalfEagle and visit the different Scouting sites. I’m glad it’s working. :)

P.S. I’ve also cleaned up a few issues with some blog URLs which changed format. If you clicked a link in the last few days and saw “No link found.” that issue is now fixed. I’ve also made that page better so that if there is that error again, there’s still a link that a person can click to follow. If you know your blog is about to change feed providers or change it’s URL format, you can always send me a message here and I’ll fix any issues right away. Thanks!

Written by Gregg

January 27th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Administrative

HalfEagle Live! (A Twitter Experiment)

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I’ve always enjoyed the site twistori because it is such an interesting experience to watch the random connected together.

Since I’ve been on somewhat of a Twitter roll this holiday weekend, I decided to see if I could make a similar experience for Scouting related tweets. I think it’s pretty neat so here it is:

live.halfeagle.com

Of course, I say this is an experiment for a few of reasons:

  • It may cause a pretty large strain on the server if a bunch of people use it.
  • Caching tweets takes up a *lot* of space on the server.
  • I haven’t really tested it anywhere except Firefox and Safari, so it might not work at all.

So there’s a decent chance that someday this won’t work anymore. Until then, here’s what it can do! :)

Choose from five different “channels” by clicking the appropriate word across the top. Once the tweets start flowing, you can move your mouse over one for more options. If you click “visit” you go to the original tweet. If you click “flag as awesome” then you just voted for that tweet being worth keeping. If you click “remove this tweet” you’re saying there’s something wrong with that tweet — maybe it’s inappropriate or it has weird characters. Once you click “remove this tweet” you’ll never see it again!

All the links inside each tweet should also work, you just have to move your mouse over them for them to become underlined.

So, play around with it and let me know if you run into bugs or if there’s a feature you’d like to have added! :D

Written by Gregg

January 19th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Posted in Administrative

New Way To Access HalfEagle: Twitter!

with 7 comments

My Troop got back from a weekend campout today a little after 12. By the time all the Scouts were picked up and the Troop gear had been dropped off, I was pretty tired but also pretty excited. We have a lot of really great things happening in our Troop and a lot of cool activities coming up. So, instead of going home, showering and napping, I decided to pop into work and do a bit of Scout “work.” Hi, my name is Gregg and I’m a scouterholic. ;)

Once that was done one thing led to another, and here I am reporting a brand new feature for HalfEagle! The live Twitter stream of Scouting posts is just *so* cool to me, I figured HalfEagle could do something on Twitter as well. A few tutorials (and hours) later and HalfEagle now retweets every blog post that hits the home page here.

What’s this mean? A couple things. First, if you enjoy reading HalfEagle and have a Twitter account, it’s even easier for you to be notified when new posts show up. Just follow HalfEagle and updates show up on your Twitter home page! Second, every Scout blogger on HalfEagle is now getting their blog posts directly promoted on Twitter. That should mean more visitors and more people exposed to Scouting. Win, win! :D

Now, when you go to HalfEagle’s Twitter page you may say, “Whoa! Why are all the links to halfeagle.com‽ Are you stealing my visitors?”

The short answer: Twitter limits each post to 140 characters including the URL and the easiest way to fit more of each post title and the blog name was to make a shortened version of each URL. That URL does an immediate redirect to the actual URL so the visitor never even sees a HalfEagle page.

The slightly longer answer: There are a lot of URL-shortening services out there, especially for Twitter. Rather than try to dynamically create short links using one of those services, I thought it’d be faster to just do it on HalfEagle. As it turned out it was really easy and saved me the time of having to integrate HalfEagle with *two* sites in order to post to Twitter. About that 301 redirect, it should preserve any search engine “link power” that those redirect links garner. So if someone links to one of HalfEagle Bot’s status pages, that link power will “flow” through to the actual blog post page, not to HalfEagle.

One more thing…

When I set up the redirect links for Twitter, I realized it might help to track how many clicks the different posts get. I realized that setting up a redirect for all the links on HalfEagle would allow me to generate a pretty good idea of which blog posts are the most interesting to HalfEagle’s visitors. Traffic isn’t the best way of measuring quality — it’s not even that good of a way — but HalfEagle needs some way to recognize the best work of our bloggers. Hopefully in a month or so, that data will be helpful in improving the popular posts page. If that data doesn’t improve HalfEagle for everyone, then I’ll turn off the tracking, plain and simple. :)

If you are a blogger and worried about search engines, please know that both redirects, the full url “/*/” redirects and the short url “/r/” redirects are 301 redirects. A 301 redirect passes along all of the “link power” that comes through HalfEagle. So there’s nothing to worry about there. :)

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and your bug reports! :D

Written by Gregg

January 18th, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Posted in Administrative

Technical Difficulties — Now with Flood Control!

with 5 comments

When I checked HalfEagle today I was very surprised to see just two sites filling the entire first page with posts!

I quickly disabled both sites to find out what had happened. In one case, the blogger had simply posted four items during a short period of time on similar topics (so it looked like one post that was repeated). In the other case, the blogger had switched over from hosting his own RSS feed to having FeedBurner host it.

The first situation happens every so often and is not a big deal. The second situation is rare but wreaks havoc whenever it does happen. The best solution right now affects both equally. Basically, if any one blog posts multiple times in rapid succession, HalfEagle will only show the first two posts with an extra link to the blog’s home page to see the rest.

You can see this right now on the home page with Scouting Maniac’s National Jambo 2010 posts, it shows the first one then links to his home page with the text “…and 2 others from Scouting Maniac.”

I hope this is a fair compromise between accommodating bloggers who post frequently and protecting the home page of HalfEagle from being overrun because of a technical error. If you have another solution, please let me know! :)

Written by Gregg

January 14th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Administrative

Scouting Twitter Stream and a new Scouting Blog

without comments

Steve B. recently brought up the subject of Twitter so I went and took a look to see if people were tweeting about Scouting. Turns out, lots of people are mentioning Scouting all the time. Not much of a surprise there, so HalfEagle now includes recent Twitter posts about Scouting. You’ll find it on the HalfEagle home page in the right sidebar underneath the Google headlines.

What inspired me to work on the site today? Well a comment from Mark W., a JASM for Troop 1616 in Soldotna, Alaska asked that his blog, Scouting Maniac, be added to HalfEagle. It’s a great blog to get the perspective of a youth leader who is transitioning to become an adult leader. It’s been added to the site and is already appearing on the main page. Want to see your Scouting blog on HalfEagle? Check out the criteria then post a comment to that page for a review. :)

While I was at it, I used AddThis to get an easy to use bookmark/sharing button. It was a very easy service to use and will provide some neat statistics, too. Assuming anyone uses it. ;)

I also added a favicon for the site. What do you think? halfeagle-favicon

Finally, I went ahead and added Google Analytics to HalfEagle. What with the popular posts page and archives, it will be helpful to know if people actually use those pages.

Change means bugs, so please let me know if you experience any difficulty with HalfEagle.

Written by Gregg

January 1st, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Administrative