Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Search "friend" and enter

Search for "friend connect" in Blogger's list of gadgets to put a "follow this blog" button in your sidebar.

There is another gadget available, called "Following," that does the same thing, but it is harder to find. As of this writing it is the 30th on the list if you don't search for anything.

(Update: Here's an alternative to all of these gadgets.)

Following, in this sense, is a specialized kind of subscription to your blog's feed that appears on the "reading list" section of the Blogger dashboard.

Readers who click this button on your blog are prompted to follow you publicly or privately, and perhaps to log in or open a Google account or Blogger page or other kind of account (such as Open ID), as appropriate.

Add gadgets to your blog from the Layout page of your dashboard. The trick here is that Blogger no longer lists following as one of its "basic" gadgets; you have to search for it among the 900-odd "more gadgets" that are available.

The other trick is that you won't find it by searching for "follow" or "following."

Instead the secret search term is "friend connect," which will give you a choice of 2 follow/follower gadgets (and a third unrelated gadget). One is a bit smaller than the other; take your pick.

As of this writing, the gadget named "Members" is almost identical to the one called "Followers," except that you can configure "Members" to a specific height (in pixels). The gadget named "Sign In" seems to be broken right now.

As with most gadgets, you can specify a custom title for each of these.

More About Following

The official name of this feature is "Google Friend Connect," an early social layer for Google services and other web sites introduced in 2008.

Consequently one of the gadgets is called "Members" and its button prompts readers to "join this site," which arguably is not as clear as "follow."

(Another pentimento of Friend Connect's social ambitions: If you and another blogger follow each other, you'll appear to each other as "friends" on Friend Connect.)

"Joining" your blog in this way confers no editorial privileges. It is not a way to add blog co-authors.

Google's new social layer is Google+ (and there are follower gadgets for that too).

Nonetheless following on Google Friend Connect remains a handy and amiable way for bloggers to use their dashboards to keep track of other blogs.

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