Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Your Verbs Have Been Lost and Will Be Invisible Until Sentence Author Revision

Dennis G. Jerz teaches new media journalism as an associate professor of English at Seton Hill University. He has an interest in interactive fiction, usability, and technology in literature, and writes at his Literacy Weblog.

The marketers and programmers at Google’s are not speaking with each other much, or so it would seem.

The folks in charge of the home page love verbs.

Here’s a thumbnail I cropped from the home page.

Verbs, verbs, everywhere verbs! Create! Publish! Go! Post! Interact! Take a tour! Name your blog! Okay, well “Get” as they use it in “Get Feedback” is a bit lame, but it’s better than “Feed!”

Bear in mind I’m analyzing just one tiny sliver of the site, but the designers know that every square inch on a home page is precious, and look at how much effort they put into using verbs. For crying out loud, if you type the URL, you’re forwarded to a page named “start,” and the inline title of that page is “Blogger: Create your Blog Now – FREE”

But have you tried leaving a comment on a Blogger site lately? Here’s the message you get:

Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval.

Oh! The pain!

The awkward passive “has been saved”! Those withering remains of verbs in “visible” and “owner” and “approval”!

Either the folks who designed the Blogger home page have never used the site, so they didn’t notice the incongruity, or they noticed it but the programmers declined to do anything about it. Comments are a huge part of what makes blogging worthwhile (anyone out there? anyone?), so it’s important to make commenters feel welcome.

Nobody asked me, but here are some suggestions.

Thanks! I’ll hold onto your comment until the blog owner can approve it.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit like having Clippy’s ghost living in your blog. We can still be businesslike, without completely destroying all illusion of activity.

Comment submitted. Owner will review it for approval.

So we still have the passive “submitted” and the nominalized “approval,” but the verb “review” assures the commenter that someone will take action on it. But can’t we be a little more personalized for the default template?

I’ve notified [author of post] that you’ve left this comment.

Thanks for the comment! I’ll review it and post it when I get the chance. – [blog owner’s name]

Thanks for submitting a comment to [title of entry here]. [Author of post] will review it for approval.

Okay. Your comment will appear here after the blog owner approves it.

Wouldn’t any of these be an improvement over the impersonal original version?


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