Open Startup: New Askablogr Features & Tweaks

Q: Hey Chris, check out the new changes to Askablogr. We’ve expanded the number of characters for questions to five hundred characters now. Question lists (like the front page), should now sort in the order that they are answered, instead of when they were asked. Also, if you don’t want to put the widget on your blog, you can get a simple HTML link, or if you want to be a little bit more fancy, a simple HTML badge that you can put on your blog.

A: Nice work, Craig. And for readers who are following the Askablogr story, here’s a little color on these recent updates:

  • Expanded character limit on questions: We received feedback from a few new members that our 200-character limit on the question form was too short for their readers to really express themselves (and I’d noticed this myself as I sent welcome messages to new members). So we’ve, somewhat arbitrarily, expanded this by double-plus to 500 characters.
  • More widget / link options: Many of our international users were frustrated by our current English-only site and widget, and others just wanted a little more freedom to express themselves. We weren’t ready to bite off full internationalization quite yet, but we’ve opened up the widget code so those who want to can take the raw HTML and style it any way they want (including rewriting the “ask” text in their native language). If you go this route your widget won’t automatically update when we push new changes, but we don’t do that often, and we’re happy to give up control over the widget if it makes the service more useful to members.
  • Question list display order: This is a little bug that had been on our list for a while. Previously, Q&A lists displayed in reverse chronological order based on the date the question was asked. So if a blogger answered an older question first, replies to questions received later would be buried in their Q&A list instead of appearing first. We’ve changed this so that Q&A display based on answer date, so the freshest answers are always on top.
  • Right rail clean-up: Craig didn’t mention this, but we also dropped some content from the right rail on most pages to see if it helped our AdSense targeting. We’d been experimenting with including recent questions and tags in the right rail, but they were confusing Google’s crawler to the point that our ads on Q&A pages were usually not relevant. Since dropping this content the ad targeting has improved significantly, and we’re expecting that to improve click-through over time as well.

So, nothing dramatic in this release, but wanted you all to know that we continue to make little tweaks – mostly based on member feedback – to improve the product. If you have further suggestions, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Ask Chris DeVore a question.