Book Blogs: What are your favorite features?

I spend lots of time visiting other bloggers’ pages in my efforts to idle away time at work night.  There are some really cool features and extras that some bloggers have on their pages.  And then there are some not-so-cool features.  (But of course these are just my own personal pet-peeves and I still visit blogs that have these features.) 

In the blogging community in general, I find the follwoing the most annoying things on blogs:

  • Music: I love music…but don’t relish a musical assault when blog-hopping.
  • Fort Knox Security: Why, oh, why do I have to enter nonsense words, the name of my first-born, and my mother’s maiden name to leave you a comment.  It makes me want to weep a little (and not leave you a comment, but I do anyway).  *Update: Apparently, Blogger uses word verification to prevent spam.  I never knew…and all this time I thought it was just to torture me. Ha!
  • Long Posts: I don’t mind a long post (400+ words) every few days, but can’t commit to reading War and Peace every time I drop by. 
  • Stalker Widget: I get so nervous from the widget that says, “Nat @ Book, Line, and Sinker just arrived from Anytown, USA.”  It’s just too stalkerish to me.

My book blog is new and I’ve been doing a ton of book-blog visiting–such clever stuff out there!  I haven’t had the time or energy to figure out how to install the features, but appreciate them.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Bookshelf Feature: Shows off what books the blogger is reading.
  • What I’m Reading Slideshow: Small images of book covers that flash by.  Much more sophisticated than my sidebar still pictures.
  • Rating System: I love when bloggers have a rating system.  Sometimes I don’t have enough time to read an entire review and the rating system makes life easier.

So, what are some of your favorite (or LEAST) favorite book blog (or regular blog) features?  Have at it!

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36 responses to “Book Blogs: What are your favorite features?

  1. I’m with you on the music – I don’t like any web site that makes noise when I visit it – I usually jump a mile.

  2. I also agree about the music. Scares me to death when I forget to turn down the volume after listening to Pandora.

    On the security. Having been hit hard by spammers, I can understand why this is done.

    As for the long posts. I read somewhere that most people’s attention span on the internet is worth about 1000 words, so I try to keep my reviews, rants, raves, etc. below this.

    However, there are some bloggers who write amazing essays about reading, writing, life etc. They do it so beautifully, that I never notice the length.

    My feeling is that if you are not going to get to the point quickly enough, at least make the trip on the way there interesting.

  3. I don’t like automatic music. If it is there and I want to listen to it I will, but if I don’t I can be pretty much guaranteed to move on if something starts playing automatically.

    As to comments, I took word verification off for a couple of months, and after having to delete spam for a few hours three or four weeks in a row, I conceded defeat and put it back on. I don’t like it, but I also have better things to do with my time than monitor spam…like blog hopping.

  4. I totally agree about the music. I usually have my own music playing on my computer while I’m browsing, so if someone else’s music starts playing it just drives me insane.
    One thing I think is great is when people keep track of the books they’ve read at some place on their blog. I don’t care where, but I think it’s nice to have a nice place to see what their tastes typically are.

  5. Have to agree with you on the music. It usually startles the you-know-what out of me because I don’t expect it from a blog.

    Gotta agree with what others have said about the security–it cuts out the spam. I had to start using it on my personal blog that hardly has any readers and implemented it from the beginning with my book blog.

    As for features I like: anything like bookshelves showing currently reading, etc., blogrolls, recent comments widgets, label clouds as opposed to a long list of labels… And I have to admit I really like rating systems, too. I use boring old stars but I really like that you use bookmarks. Wish I’d thought of doing that 🙂

  6. I tend to think the less frills the better. And if the blogger is a good writer? Long posts are fine with me.

    I don’t like slideshows and auto scrolling things, I almost hate all of those widgets that pull feed from someplace else. The reason for this is that both computers I use? sloooooww.

  7. Basically I still think it’s content over looks. It’s like how you should pick a mate: looks are a plus, yes, but I’d rather have one with a brain. =P

    I’m more a fan of the still pictures (such as the ones in your sidebar) because I have no patience to sit there and watch the slideshow go leisurely through the images. I’m a heavily visual learner, so I like to have all that I need to see out there, right then, right there.

  8. I’m guilty of two of your three annoyances. 🙂

    Music can be annoying, I agree, in particular if the music comes on as soon as I open the blog. I don’t mind it if I have the choice to turn it on myself though–sometimes I do, more often I don’t.

    I know some people don’t like the word verification. I tried going without it, but the moment I gave it up, my blog was hit hard with spam right and left. And I’m not talking about one or two or even three or four spam messages. It was more like 10 to 20. I could go with the moderator approval feature, but since I don’t often check my blog while I’m at work, comments wouldn’t appear for hours on end.

    As for long posts, I am not much of a talker, but give me a keyboard and a computer screen and I have plenty to say. I do tend to ramble as you can tell by my comment here. 🙂 I actually like longer posts to shorter ones personally.

    I’m starting to really waver on the rating system. I don’t plan to get rid of mine, but I often think of just using it for my own purposes and not using it publicly on my blog. Since my rating scale is top heavy, it can confuse some people. I’ve experimented with it recently and no one seems to notice I haven’t offered ratings for my recent reads. Or at least no one has said anything.

    I really don’t like the reading slide show, now that you mention it. I do like the bookshelf feature. I’m so bad about updating my “what I’m reading now” feature that it’s become quite useless.

    nat says: ha! don’t worry…i still visit blogs even if they have features i may not adore. 🙂 it’s just subjective…

  9. Another no-vote for force-fed music, regardless of whether it can be stopped or muted after the fact. I almost never visit myspace pages for this very reason.

    Post/comment length tolerance is for me dependent firstly on my mood and then on the quality of the writing.

    LibraryThing is pretty neat although I don’t care for the name or its intracaps (on the other hand, its awkwardness works in its favor as a memory aid).

    I’m ambivalent on rating systems for books or anything else for that matter; too often readers rely on a rating for a bottom-line assessment and give short shrift to the detailed analysis. I think the best approach is to have a three-part review: Summary (no more than three sentences long), Expanded Examination (as long as is necessary), and Rating (consisting of the reviewer’s dichotomous yes/no, up/down, yin/yang, mustard/ketchup, yea/nay, et al. conclusion).

  10. I agree with everyone else on the word verification. I’d rather not receive spam.

    I also prefer still photos than slides.

    I like white or light blogs. Black or darker backgrounds strain my eyes, and sometimes I give up reading just because of that.

    I don’t really mind whether reviews have stars or not. I don’t put any myself because I have a hard time putting some reads in a specific number. What I do is just state my favourites and best-loved reads on my wrap-up posts.

    But maybe one day I’ll do that..

    I like music if it’s the kind I like, but so far that’s only happened once. All of the other places I visited that did have music I didn’t like, so better not to have them, especially when my baby is sleeping. Although lately I never hear any because I’ve been almost always on mute mode.

  11. I don’t use the word verification, but have entered a pretty extensive list of words that will send a comment into moderation, and a list of worse words that won’t be allowed at all.

    I agree on the music – I hate that! I often surf blogs in the evenings while watching TV with my husband, and it drives him crazy when sounds start blasting out of my computer.

  12. I’m annoyed by pages that have a lot of bling on them.

  13. Yours is the only book review related blog I read, so I can’t attest to others out there. I COMPLETELY agree with you on all the general blog annoyances. I don’t have the secret code spam filter on my blog; Aksimet seems to do just fine filtering everything. Maybe someday I’ll have to install something stronger, but for now all is good.

  14. I hate music that turns on automatically — especially early in the morning or late at night. And I also don’t like seeing my name and town on a list (although the town is never where I really live).

    I like seeing what people are reading — list, book covers, or whatever.

    I’m not fond of word verification, but I understand why it’s done.

    And I do like a rating system.

  15. I want all the gadgets and apps but I don’t have half an idea of how to get them on. (working…) You’ve changed lots here…

  16. Great post! I don’t really have anything new to add (I too hate music, but use word verification and a rating system), but I’m enjoying the discussion.

    I also agree with Bybee: too much bling is bad – if one’s so distracted by all the gadgets, the content becomes lost, which is never a good thing.

    Makes me feel better about not paying more attention to the layout (and widgets, etc.) on my blog… 🙂

  17. Oh definitely the music. I am normally on the PC whilst everyone else is watching TV and they don’t appreciate the music suddenly blaring out.

  18. I guess I am in the majority here about the music feature. I find it distracting and it freaks me out sometimes when I am visiting a new blog and don’t expect it.

    I really like long posts that are well written, and I dislike rating systems

  19. I totally agree with you!

    I think the main reason I blog about books is to discover new books to enjoy, so it really annoys me when people just summarise the whole plot, but don’t actually tell me if they enjoyed reading the book. Rating systems make it easier for me to instantly see if they enjoyed it, but I don’t mind them being absent if the final paragraph of the review sums up their feelings on it well.

  20. You always have such interesting posts!! I love it!

    I agree with the music thing. I love music and there is usually at least one of them going all the time in my house and office, but I don’t like it on blogs either.

    I’m still trying to get all the cool features added to my blog too! I’d love to find a way to have “stars” show up w/ my rating, but I haven’t figured it out. For now, I just have to use words to tell you how many stars.

    I love it when other reviewers rate their books, because if it’s a book that I’m going to read, I won’t read their review until I’ve read the book. So, the rating sends me either to or away from the book!

  21. I don’t like the automatic music…it kind of freaks me out! I don’t like the so and so arrived from wherever that much either…I do better with the still pictures although I have done slideshows myself. Your writing is always informative and entertaining…really don’t need bells and whistles!

  22. Am I busted? My posts are not that short. (Usually in the 700-900 word range. But not on purpose, I swear! It just happens. Please forgive me!)

    nat says: hayden, your posts are a different animal all together. you’re in a class all your own. i read your blog for enlightenment and education. your posts never feel lengthy!!! xoxo

  23. all those captchas and everything really get me too. HATE THEM. Plus, I always enter them in RIGHT and it says that I do not, which just cannot be. Lame.

  24. You hit them all in the head. 🙂 I completely agree.
    I used to have a music player but it had to be turned on to be heard. I don’t use word verification and have only had to deal with spam once. I just deleted.

  25. Couldn’t agree more about Hayden’s posts or others of her ilk; good writers never feel long. I abhor any sites w/ music unless they are MUSIC sites, and like Panny never visit myspace b/c of it. THANK YOU CLAIRE, for the comment about black/dark webpages w/ light text. They whack my eyes out to the point I’m seeing spots. Even if the material is interesting, I have to click off. And I prefer pages w/out bells & whistles. ANything that makes my browser load slower makes me angry.

  26. Music on a page that you can’t turn off is a total turn off. I don’t mind the security features (well, I think one is sufficient) for comments, because as a blog owner, I get a lot of spam (on my site, so long as you enter all of your info, I need only approve your first comment and then you have carte blanche). And if the person is an engaging writer, then long posts don’t bother me… but my big pet peeve with book reviews is when people spend most of their time writing a synopsis of the plot. I don’t want more than three sentences about what the book is generally about, because I can find that stuff out for myself. I want opinions! What did you like? What did you hate? That’s what makes your review truly yours. This isn’t fourth grade – enough with the book reports!

  27. Oooh my!
    I can stand almost anything on a blog if I love the posts, but music is something I really can’t stand. When it starts, I automatically close the tab of my window. Most of the time I will open it again to look if I can turn it off; if not, chances are I will have disappeared from the blog in a matter of seconds! I usually love music, but I like chosing what I listen to and when I listen to it!
    Long posts are something I enjoy when it’s on the subjetc of something I enjoy! Especially coming from someone who post strong opinions with a good argumentation (books or movie reviews, for instance).

    What I do enjoy on a reader’s blog : a rating system; a good classification system that allows me to find books by rating, name, genre, etc. Regular posts, and a “what I’m reading” now spot on the sidebar. It give’s me a little idea of who the blogger is, and it’s a good conversation starter! 🙂

  28. Automatic music is a pet peeve of mine as well!

  29. I’m with you … I hate the music on blogs. As soon as it comes on, I go frantically searching for a way to turn it off.

    And the word verification thing .. I’m on Blogger but I turned it off and I have barely gotten any spam. I think people overreact about it . I wish they would all turn it off and if they have a problem , then turn it back on.

    I like seeing covers .. but moving ones I just can’t follow to well. Stills work better for me but that is a matter of personal preference.

    And as for long posts…well, I’m guilty of that but I try to counter it by not posting every day.

    And I’ve been trying to work on a rating system that seems meaningful. I’ll have to revisit that.

    And I finally deleted the “_____ has arrived from _____” because I just wasn’t sure of the reason for it. I tried to eliminate everything that didn’t seem needed. : )

    Love this post. Love posts about blogging — meta-blogging!

  30. So who DOES like music??

  31. So if I add music you’ll stop bugging me by commenting on my blog?!??!?! KIDDING! thank you for stopping by and leaving such nice comments… I love how easy it is for WPers to leave comments and track comments etc at other WP blogs but I think more bookbloggers are blogspot, so I try not discriminate – but the crazy extra effort to fill all those boxes in and click here, now click here and ‘are you sure’… AAaghhh! And some blogs don’t even allow non-blogspot comments so ptooey on them if they don’t want me to stop by and say hi. I feel bad, tho, if they stop by mine and I cant’ figure out how to leave them a comment back. oh well.

  32. I too detest it when Music starts playing out of nowhere!

    And the word verification thingy makes me want shout at the top of my voice!

  33. I’ll join in with the rest about music on blogs. If I can’t figure out how to turn it off, I’m gone!

    Any kind of word verification. There are some blogs that make it so tough to post a comment that I feel as though I’ve had to jump through flaming hoops, turn a couple of cartwheels and tapdance to the “Star-Spangled Banner” just to say something. I can understand that some blogs have trouble with spam, but there’s got to be an easier way to keep that sort out!

    I happen to like the Stalker Traffic widgets, but it’s not because I want to track everyone down and ring their doorbell. I like to see how big “a pull” my blog has and what posts visitors are landing on. I use mine as a tool, not a stalking device.

    Right now the thing that annoys me the most about a blog is if I’m trying to contact the blogger and there’s absolutely no contact email address listed anywhere on the blog. I’ve lost track of how many bloggers I haven’t contacted due to that!

  34. I am with you on long posts. If I am not in a very attentive mood I skip right over them. I have enough trouble focusing to read the books, I don’t want more on blogs!

    I love bookshelf features too. I also love when people give shout-outs to their commenters. I have my top 6 listed in my sidebar. I have seen a new award going around for that, too. It is very time-consuming to comment on everyone’s blog, much less a lot of their posts, so I like this feature.

  35. My book blog is a couple of years old, but I’ve only recently started writing for other people. It started out as a blog for me to keep track of some complicated books but then people started reading it. Being a writer, I started writing for my “audience” and now, hell, I have to start thinking about *features.* Sigh. I guess I’d better go pretty the place up! But no music! Absolutely no music! 😉

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