Having a website

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably never give much thought to what it takes to keep a website like this one up and running.  This blog tells you a bit about the details of running a website.

Hosting:  you need a web address (this one is www.markavery.info) and that’s something you have to pay for.

Design: web pages need to be written and that’s something that I didn’t have a clue how to do so I needed to find someone to design and write these web pages.  I had to provide an outline of content, provide the photos, provide links to other pages, provide an outline of the content and layout, and write the actual content in most cases.  I think this website looks pretty good and I can put you in touch with the guys who did the work for me if you are interested.

I’m now fairly competent at making adjustments to the pages on this website: Home, About, Fighting for Birds, Contact and Speaking.

Writing the blog: this blog is a WordPress blog and it’s as easy to write as writing a document in Word once you get the hang of it.

I have written a blog almost every day on this site since the beginning of May 2011 – over 475 in all.

I’m sometimes asked how do I come up with the ideas for what to write about.  The answer is that when you get into the mindset that you have to write a blog every day then you are always looking for the next subject and it becomes second nature.  And, as you know if you are a regular reader, I am opinionated.

How long does it take to write each blog? It depends, but 40 minutes might be about the average, at a guess.  Actually it is correcting (most of ) the typing errors (and some spelling mistakes although there aren’t, touch wood, too many of those) that takes the time.  Also, putting in the links, like this one, is a somewhat time-consuming process – so I hope you do follow the links sometimes and find them helpful.

Pictures:  uploading images to the blog takes quite a while too.  I use a few of my own photos (which are nothing special I agree) and download images from the Wikimedia website.  Do you like them?

Comments:  all the comments which appear on this site are checked (moderated) by me before they appear.  This means that there is a delay, sometimes longer than others depending on what I am doing, between you posting something and it appearing.  I very rarely refuse to post a comment (I can’t remember doing this for a very long time) but I sometimes edit comments slightly – usually if there is any danger that they might be offensive or libellous.  I make a point of making it clear if I have edited any comment.  I rarely correct the spelling, grammar or typing of comments because I don’t have the time, and the authenticity of the comments is part of their value (but some of you have benefitted from the occasional correction of spelling and once or twice an obvious mistyping either created a rude word or hid the sense of the comment).

Do, please, comment on the blog – it is quite easy. And the variety of comments, some long and some short, and the variety of views, some mad and some sane, make the blog much more interesting for me and for other readers – of that I am sure.

 Numbers of comments: there have been well over 5000 comments made on the 475+ blog posts on this site.  That 5000 figure does include my own comments (1350+ of them) and I do try to welcome every new person who comments on the site, and I do comment on comments, as regular readers will know.

The most prolific commenters on this site, and the only ones in treble figures, are: Dennis Ames (310), John Miles (142), Roderick Leslie (141) and Filbert Cobb (105).  I’d like to thank them for their dedication (and for the quality of their comments over time) but I ‘d also like to thank the much larger number of people who have provided occasional comments now and then, sometimes just a single comment.

Spam comments: one aspect of having a website and a blog that you don’t see is the number of spam comments that arrive here.  I use Akismet as a a filter to catch such comments.  Given that this site has had 470+ posts, on which c5000 genuine comments have been posted – how many spam comments do you think have been filtered out?  The answer – over 28,000!  You didn’t know that did you?

The spam filter occasionally let’s spam through (but only 0-4 cases a month, so it is pretty good) and just occasionally , but rather inexplicably to me, puts a genuine comment into the spam box.  I weed out any spam that gets through the filter but I do occasionally miss a genuine comment that has been regarded as spam by the filter – for which I apologise.  I’ll let through any (non-offensive) spam that is posted as a comment on this post just so that you can see the type of thing involved.

Insurance: as a freelance writer I need insurance in case someone sues me.  Because I have a blog that insurance is higher.  Because I allow comments on the blog, the insurance is higher still, and because I invite guest blogs, the insurance is higher still.  I have never tried to disentangle the insurance costs for this blog alone but I guess they might be as much as £1/day.

Who reads this blog?:  I don’t know for sure!  I do know that the readership is wide and varied.  Most weeks I come across someone new who tells me that they read this blog – and that’s really nice.  This blog is widely read by conservation professional across NGOs, the statutory sector and the civil service.  Politicians read the blog – but not as much, I think, as my RSPB blog (well, that’s fair enough, I don’t have a potential readership of a million members any more!).  Farmers, birdwatchers, normal people, fieldsports enthusiasts, friends, enemies and people who can’t sleep at night seem to make up much of the rest of the readership.

Where do the readers live?:  over 99% of visits to this blog are from computers located in the UK.  The next countries in decreasing order of appearance are the USA, France, Ireland, India and Spain.  In the first six months of 2012 this site was visited from readers from 110 countries on Earth.  That’s rather surprising to me.

Within the UK the split between the four nations is pretty much according to size of population.  I realise that this blog has an English emphasis – that’s because I live in England, and in southern England at that, and my understanding of, and exposure to, English conservation issues is greater than that of/to those in the celtic fringes. If ever I move home, that would change!

How many readers are you?: this blog has grown over the months and now attracts over 5500 unique visitors each calendar month.  Thank you all!

Advertising: unlike some (see here, here, here), this site has no advertisements.  I’ve thought about it as a way to defray costs, but I don’t think I would make much money and I would be very picky about who I would allow to advertise here!  The main consideration is that I’d rather not.  Actually, that isn’t quite true.  If I thought that allowing advertising here would make me over £2000/year then I would consider it.  That would be my ‘price’ – so I don’t think it will happen.  I’m sure that if I asked you, the readers, if you would like advertising here you would say ‘no’ – but I’m also fairly sure that if there were advertising here it wouldn’t drive many people away.

Where am I?: all I need to run this website is a few hundred pounds a year and access to the internet.  I can write this blog from the computer in my office at home, from a friend’s house, a hotel room or a motel room somewhere in Montana.  My iPhone gets emails when any of you posts a comment and I can moderate comments from a train, the opera or a football match (and I have done all three in the past).

Editorial control: Nothing gets onto this site without me approving it. And no-one else has editorial control over it.

And finally…:  I didn’t expect to write as much as that, and I didn’t have to, but I did.  I’d be interested in feedback here about what you like/dislike about this site and this blog  – although I can only say that I will consider any suggestions, not that I will necessarily take any action on them.

And given that you get this blog for free – buy my book please!

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27 Replies to “Having a website”

  1. Well done Denis. I am not writing this to try and catch up or get away from Leslie. I, myself, do a diary. A couple of £s a year and when i want to tell any one anything I can make a comment, write articles for magazines or write a book. Mark's blog has been brilliant and kept us up to date in what is going wrong in the world around us and I am sure if money was the problem he would be given the money to keep this blog going from especially Defra and a certain MP called Richard Benyon !

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  2. Well done Mark,found that very interesting,always find it nice to see new people comment as well as us regulars especially as one blog that I commented on those prolific commenters obviously resented intruders unless you joined their clique and their views.Really appreciate the effort you put in to your blog and this one brought home exactly how much effort is required plus of course knowledge and you must spend considerable time getting information together.Amazing the numbers of spam comments.Personally would hate to see any changes to your blog at all as I think the wide range of subjects you cover encourages a wide range of us readers and perhaps my biggest admiration is three fold of your knowledge,determination and the fact you hardly ever do not print a comment unless offensive however forceful some views expressed.
    Well done.

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  3. Thank you for your efforts Mark and well done Dennis. I thought I would put an entry on here to catch you up but you beat me to it.

    I use WordPress on the Cotswold Water Park sightings blog and can support Mark's view of it. I am not sure that visitors are in fact from all over the world, it does seem that ISP's seem to use servers from all over the place. Finally Mark, you now have me worried - weblog insurance?

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    1. Bob - I need professional insurance as a writer and whatever else it is that I now am. Having a blog, posting comments and having guest blogs all helped bump up the price!

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  4. Hi Mark,
    here's why I read your blog.
    1. You obviously delight in observing the British Countryside and its wildlife. Everyday occurrences delight you, and I feel like this myself, so its great to read first hand the words of someone else who appreciates wildlife the way I do.
    2. I admire your campaigns and the fact that you speak out about things that are going wrong in the countryside. When I go to read your blog I know you are going to write about the things that matter to me too. Much of this stuff would not be broadcast/easily available to us "public" if it were not for people like yourself who go out of their way to produce blogs. It has inspired me to keep on bothering my current MP who does not seem at all interested in wildlife. She is the type that just sends out the press statements of Richard Benyon, or whoever, without I think even trying to understand the issues involved.
    3. Your professional background means you know how policy makers think and work, and that means that the "public" like me get a better understanding of what is going right, and wrong, with government policies of environmental issues (agri-environment schemes for example).
    4. Your blogs are informative, interesting, varied and entertaining. It is fine as it is - no need to change it.
    Thank you (and I will be buying your book).

    For your information I am a 53 year old grandma; a self-employed cleaner of domestic and business properties, an amateur naturalist and (hobby) organic/wildlife gardener. I am a member of various environmental NGOs (RSBP and Buglife for example). I live in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

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  5. Mark, since joining the world of twitter a few months ago I regularly cast an eye over your offerings, often informative and written with charm and wit. In the blog above, your description of categorise outside " normal people", meets with a smile.
    You have given me the incentive to attempt a blog for myself, which is currently in the process of being bolted onto my website. www.riversidebeef.co.uk. If I manage to tackle a subject matter and make as half as interesting and informative as your writing, I will be pleased !!

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    1. Jon - good luck! My book Blogging for Nature (available from lulu.com) has 10 useful tips in how to blog!

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  6. Once retired and out of the loop it's easy to fall into the hole of isolation and just become more and more depressed about the state of the environment. Your blog gives people like me a look through the window and your thoughts, plus those of all the others, makes me feel as though all is not yet lost.
    Plus I love your sense of humour.
    And p.s. - where and what is the country that is not on earth????!

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  7. I can not claim to read your blog everyday but most of the posts I have read are good and some (in my opinion) are truly inspiring. Living a multi faceted life, Ecological Contractor, fisherman, shooter, ex-falconer and a passionate (and longtime) conservationist (YOC member in 1973) I very often find difficulty in finding sensible opinion. While I don't agree with all of your views I respect them all. As a much less frequent blogger, I know the effort blogging takes. Thanks!

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  8. I’d just say how much I have appreciated your blog Mark. Since departing the UK some 10 years ago, for project work, you have since provided me with a source of reference, where I feel I won’t miss any important issues that I know concerns us both. I am kept pretty busy, so I do not comment as often as I should like, but be assured I do not miss a blog! Now and again I have been motivated and inspired by your words i.e. I campaigned hard on the recent Buzzard fiasco.
    So thank you Mark and keep up the good work. By the way, did I mention we are organising the first edition of the Iberia Bird Festival? Hope you google that and approve of it, worthwhile cause I’d say!

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  9. thank you for writing the article about how you set about a blog.
    It was interesting
    Alison

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  10. An excellent and informative piece. I also enjoyed listening to your interview which was great fun!

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  11. I like this web blog very much, Its a rattling nice situation to read and obtain info .

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  13. You appear to have blocked comments from me. Mrs Cobb thinks this is a good thing: as she accuses me of spending too much time commenting on blogs when I should be working and maintaining her supply of organic walnuts

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    1. Filbert - unaware of any blocked comments. If a comment by you had been put in spam folder I might have misses it as there has been an awful lot of spam recently. Your comments, so far, are always welcome.

      May I suggest you buy Mrs Cobb a copy of Fighting for Birds? Then you can share an interest - that is my only reason for suggesting it, of course.

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      1. Seems OK now - thanks. A long comment didn't appear in the blog as it usually does. If this results in a double posting, my apologies

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