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Net Writing

Writing for Blogs

  1. Quantity vs Quality – which is more important?
  2. The importance of your first sentence
  3. Finding Topics to Write About
  4. How to Stand Out from the Crowd


  1. Choosing the right topic to blog about
  2. What Economics taught me about blogging
  3. 7 ways for Eye Catching Titles
  4. The Joy of Blogging
  5. Common Mistakes of Blogging

Speed of WordPress Blogs Loading

Useful Resources for Testing Speed of Site


  • - noticeable slow to load 6s
  • - Dreamhost vps

Case 1 – 7 seconds to load

switched to WP-Super Cache

WP – Super Cache settings

  • mod_rewrites
  • Compressed
  • Preload
  • cdn support

Case 2 – 4 seconds

Case 3 -

  • Theme – Copyblogger
  • page speed load 91/100
  • Page load time start render 2sec

Case 4 – 12 seconds, time mostly loading images from flickr.

Difference Between Hosting and Registering Domain

  • To register a domain means simply to buy a particular domain name. For example, you might buy the domain –
  • Many companies offer a service to register domains such as
  • Many people buy domain names and don’t use them straight away.

(If you buy a domestic tld (e.g. a or the domain will be subject to the laws of that country. For example, any is monitored by Nominet. Sometimes restrictions are placed on national domains)

Hosting A Website

  • With a domain name, you can host a website at that web address.
  • Hosting means you put web pages on a web server (for example Dreamhost, Wiredtree).
  • You need to point the domain name at the Hosting company. (set nameservers) and then you can put your webpages through your hosting company.
  • Then when people visit they will see the webpages you created.

Creating Web Pages

There are different ways to create webpages. This blog is created using wordpress. WordPress is a software which makes it easier to create content.

Some hosting companies offer two services. This means you can register a domain and host the website through same company. However, you can also register your domains and point them at any hosting company you want.


XML File Backup Worpress

Another quick tip to reduce horror of wordpress blank screen of death.

Periodically backup wordpress through a WordPress XML file.

Simply go to tools and press export. This makes it easy to import into a fresh wp install and you don’t need to worry about database conflicts.

Fixing WordPress Blank Screen

Viewing a wordpress blog and seeing a perfectly blank screen is very worrying. Thankfully, there are a few quick things, that can often solve it.

  • Disable Plugins. If you can’t login, just rename the plugin folder to (old-plugin2). If that fixes it, you can try reactiving individual plugins and see which one causes problem
  • Add Memory. To wp-config add: define(‘WP_MEMORY_LIMIT’, ’64M’);
  • Try Default Theme.


Google Blog Comment Spam

If you have a blog you may notice getting a lot of comments that are like:

  • Author: Cheap DVDs
  • Website
  • Comment: Great Site! Love your post! Will be revisiting frequently!

People frequently approve this kind of comment because, hey, they’ve said you have a nice blog. But, the thing with this comment is that it could be sent to any blog post on any blog.

But, this kind of comment is automatically generated. If they are clever they send automatically to any post which is related (or not related) to their site.

I always mark these as spam because:

  • It offers nothing useful.
  • It is not a real person. It is a computer bot.
  • It is skewing google search results. Google is unfortunately rewarding people who send out all this blog comment spam (that is why they do it) – please read the excellent Jill Whelan Google Sucks all the way to the bank

Please don’t reward the spammers! Mark as spam any comment that is spam.

Rules for Approving Blog Comments

These are the rules I have for approving blog comments.

Messages that get marked as spam:

If author is juicy anchor text link. like

  • * author: Ipad Comparison site
  • * author: Cheap Mortgage loans

If your name happens to be Mr Cheap Mortgage Loans, I apologise for adding a further penalty to that of having thoughtless parents, but you can generally be safe any blog author who calls himself ‘best loans’ is trying to spam and get google link juice. Don’t reward them, mark as spam!

Comments That Get deleted

The vacuous comment that is so generic it could apply to any post on the internet.

* Hey great Post!
* Love your site! Will bookmark it for future reference!

To be honest, there is such a proliferation of these useless comments, that I often mark as spam, and not just delete.

Comments which are mainly a link to some website.

Often people combine a vacuous comment with a link at the end of a comment. It seems the sole purpose of the comment is to add a link. I usually always delete these comments. Occasionally people are genuine in pointing out a resource. These may be from regular readers, so I don’t delete out of hand.

Comments Which Attack

I don’t get many on my site, but, if people start attacking others or me, especially with any swearing, I delete straight away. I’m happy to approve comments which criticise arguments, but don’t bother to accept personal attacks.

Comments with Bad Grammar.

If any comment misplaces a grammar or splits an infinitive, it’s straight in the trash can! Only joking! But, I have sometimes taken time to edit comments which are full of basic spelling errors, which even pain me.

* Google blog comment spam

Rules for Using the Colon

The colon is principally used to offer an explanation or definition of a preceding statement.

The use of the colon is fairly simple to master: it is used to identify an explanation.

The Colon and the Dash

A colon can be used instead of a dash to make writing more formal.

  • The use of the colon is fairly simple to master – it is used to identify an explanation.
  • The use of the colon is fairly simple to master: it is used to identify an explanation.

Note: a colon is more formal. A dash should only be used in less formal writing or in specific cases where the dash is appropriate.

Examples of Using The Colon

  • The miners went on strike: they were fed up with low pay.
  • It was a lovely day: Sunny, warm and not a drop of wind in the sky
  • Aunty Brown’s Christmas pudding was a rather interesting recipe: hazelnuts, bananas and pears.
  • I’ve made up my mind: I’m going to read the entire works of William Shakespeare.

Using Semicolon for a Definition

  • Semicolon: a piece of punctuation used to join two related phrases.
  • English grammar: a system of rules to be followed in all cases, except where you can get away with variations.

Capitalisation of Letters after a colon.

In British English, the letter after a semicolon is usually not capitalised; however, in American English it often is. It is important to be consistent.


Rules for Using Semicolon

The semi colon is a relatively straightforward item of grammar, yet it can make quite a difference to your writing. If you can master the semicolon it will help your writing become more powerful, more professional and add greater variety for the reader.

1. Related Clauses

The semicolon enables related clauses to be combined into the same sentence.

  • Tom ran to catch the train; his alarm clock had failed to go off.

Note: this sentence could also have been written as:

  • Tom ran to catch the train. His alarm clock had failed to go off.
  • Tom ran to catch the train because his alarm clock had failed to go off.

Note the semi colon can only be used for phrases that are complete in their own right. For example.

  • With great trepidation, Tom gingerly arrived at work five minutes late.

The semicolon cannot be used because the first part of the sentence ‘with great trepidation’ is not a sentence in its own right; only a comma can be used here.

Why Use the Semicolon?

You can write using short sentences. Short sentences are grammatically correct. However, it can soon get tedious. If every sentence is short, writing becomes stilted. Using a semicolon enables related ideas to be joined together; this helps maintain a better flow for the reader. The semicolon is particularly effective if you use it with variety. At the start of the paragraph, you could use a few short sentences to set the scene; however, as you progress towards the end, using a few semicolons helps develop the key ideas with greater fluidity.

Another reason to use the semicolon is that it is more subtle, and allows the reader to draw his own conclusion.

Compare these two:

  • He voted for the Colonel Pickle, of the Monster Raving Looney Party because he didn’t really know anything about politics.
  • He voted for the Colonel Pickle, of the Monster Raving Looney Party; he didn’t really know anything about politics.

Simple Test.

Don’t forget, the simple test, is could the two phrases separated by a semicolon form two sentences in their own right?

Using The Semicolon In Lists

The semicolon can also be used in lists to aid greater clarity.

In our Crystal Maze team we have Bongo Smith, the finest mind of Hull; Terence Jones, the snail painter from Croydon, UK; Mandy Bongo, Professor of Herbolgy, Hogwarts, and no relation to Bongo Smith.

There are many more rules for using the comma

Rules for using colon


Writing Essays – Help and Tips

Good essay writing is a skill all students need to learn. Through practise and following some simple rules, essays can become rewarding and no longer intimidating.

Here are some essential tips to writing essays.

Example Essay Question – What were the causes of the First World War?

Answer the Question. As a teacher, this is the most frequently repeated piece of advise I give. The biggest mistake is to write what you know about a topic, rather than what the question asks. At the end of each paragraph, ask yourself – how does this answer the question. It is often appropriate to finish a paragraph by making reference to the question.

Good Introduction. A good introduction does not mean you introduce yourself and what you would like to do. A good introduction is concise and helps create focus to the rest of the question. Explain key concepts and what the essay will do.

For example, this kind of phrase should be left out.

  • Bad – In this essay I will consider various aspects of the different factors that led to the start of the First World War.
  • Good – The First World War was ostensibly triggered by the assassination of a relatively obscure Austrian prince. However, many other factors caused this small spark to spread into a full scale European war. This essays shall examine the significance of factors such as militarism, the balance of power and treaty obligations in causing the First World War.

Simple Tips for Essays

Avoid Unnecessary waffle. This is material which in no way helps to answer the question.

Keep writing simple. If possibly vary the length of sentences to make writing more interesting, but if uncertain, it is better to err on the side of caution and write in short simple sentences.

Use Paragraphs. Paragraphs should consist of 4-7 sentences. Don’t worry this is just a rough guide, but paragraphs shouldn’t be one sentence or a full page. Keep to one main point per paragraph.

Consider different points of view

Bad – It was all the Germans fault.

You Don’t Have to Agree with a Point to Include it.

Marxist historians argue the First World War was created by the ruling classes to mask the oppression and injustice suffered by the working classes.

Avoid Cliches

Bad – The war began on a fine summer’s day, and Europe was never the same again.

Give Analysis and not just description of what happened.

Bad – Archduke Ferdinand was shot. Then Austria-Hungary mobilised, then Russia then Germany

Good – The sequence of events showed the complicated system of treaties and alliances meant an escalation of war soon occurred.

Good Conclusion. Be confident to argue for one particular viewpoint. Evaluating a question doesn’t mean you have to avoid strong conclusion. Be confident to say which argument is the strongest, and explain why it is the strongest.

Bad – Clearly there are quite a few different reasons why the war started, each having a degree of merit and importance.

Good – I believe the strongest reason for the start of the First World War was the series of treaties which gave countries obligations to support their allies. This point is significant because countries felt honour bound to support their allies at any cost.

Essay Writing Plan

Identify, Explain, Justify, Analyse, Evaluate.

A good paragraph could start by identifying a particular point.

  • In Germany there was a strong national sentiment that supported the concept of war.

The next sentence takes this point and explains using evidence to support it.

  • A popular book in Germany, during the pre-war period, was entitled ‘Weltmacht oder Untergang’ – ‘World Dominion or Decline’. The popularity of this books illustrates how many ordinary Germans felt a war was necessary to protect the interests of their country.


  • In many European countries, there was also a strong sense of loyalty to the ruling classes. This made the population more willing to support militaristic adventures. Therefore there was little, if any opposition to the war aims of the Kaiser.


This spirit of militarism is quite significant, it is displayed in the enthusiasm with which war was greeted. However, a similar enthusiasm for war was also displayed in other European countries such as France and Britain, suggesting that strong national sentiment supporting war was not confined to Germany.

Other Writing Tips