Blogging for naturists: starting your own blog

Let’s say you became interested in blogs a few months back. (And if it was five months ago, there were only half as many blogs as there are now, since the number seems to be doubling every five months.) You’ve found a few — or a lot — you like to read, not necessarily naturist ones. It’s kind of addictive, isn’t it?

Well, guess what. Having a blog of your own can be even more addictive. In fact, if it’s not, you probably should not, and will not, do it for very long. And that’s OK. Not everyone needs to have a blog, let alone several. If you try it and quickly find that thinking of new things to say and then actually writing about them is tedious, just too much work, and no fun, then stop. Don’t do it. But if you find it addictive…

Well, the only way you’ll really know is to try it. You’ll probably know within a week or two whether it’s something you want to keep doing.

What follows begins with a lot of words to get you interested and maybe even excited about starting your own naturist blog. But if you don’t need the motivational spiel, just skip ahead, without further ado, to the part about “how to get started”.

Types of blogs

There seem to be several main types of blogs, which correspond to several main reasons that people have them.

One type is just a personal diary, in which you record many of the things you’d record in a physical diary — what’s happening in your life and in the lives of your friends and family, the good and not-so-good experiences, your reactions to those experiences, and your efforts to make some kind of sense out of them.

The chances are you will want to make a blog of this sort private, or available at most to selected friends and family members. You can always blog anonymously. Sometimes you can keep only selected parts of a blog private, even if you are not blogging anonymously, with the rest available to anyone who comes along. But some people do reveal (anonymously) very personal details about themselves. One might do this if one is looking for others in similar circumstances who might share sympathy and advice. It’s your choice.

A similar sort of personal diary might be kept only on special occasions, such as a vacation. By definition, a vacation on which you travel to new and interesting places is something out of the ordinary, and you’ll probably want to remember it for a long time. If it’s convenient to bring a laptop computer with you, then taking a little time every evening may be a good way to record the strange and amusing things that transpire. If you also have a digital camera, you can include your best pictures right in the blog, together with your comments and impressions. Travel writing can make good reading later, even if you’re not normally inspired to write, simply because it’s fun to write about new places and new experiences.

Read Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad sometime to get inspired with the possibilities available to those who write about their travels. Or Roughing It, which is equally funny, and even has a few passages of interest to naturists in Twain’s account of his travels in Hawaii. Today, such accounts, which consist of a series of short sketches, would be prime blogging material.

For naturists, this can make your travels even more fun, as you record the details about enjoyable naturist places and interesting naturist people you meet. You probably will want to keep such a naturist journal private by writing anonymously. But you may still like to make your writing available to anyone. This can be a good way to make new naturist friends, when you get questions and feedback from other naturists who’ve been to the same places you have.

A completely different type of blog consists of links to and quotes from interesting things you find in your virtual travels through the Web. Such things are really expanded bookmarks and allow you to save the pertinent information for locating the “good stuff” later, and for adding your own personal comments on it. Nothing’s more frustrating than trying even a few days later to locate an especially useful Web page or insightful blog comment if you haven’t taken the time to save a bookmark. And even if you did save a bookmark, without a short comment of your own, you may quickly forget why the reference seemed so important at the time.

There are many more great things that can be done with blogs, but we’ll add only one more now. That is, if you have a fair amount of experience, or even expertise, with some subject, you may enjoy writing about it for the benefit of others. Maybe you’re really into hiking and camping. So write about it. Talk about why it’s interesting, how to get started, the basic skills that are needed, what equipment to buy or borrow, where to find good places to hike and camp — and so forth. Later you’ll be able to write about specific experiences you’ve had, and what lessons you learned from them.

Although this is of obvious value for others who read it, sharing it can be useful to the writer as well. Details can and will be forgotten over time. (Like the exact location of the easily missed trailhead somewhere 250 miles from home.) But more importantly, it’s good to share what you know with others. The more you share, the more there is for everyone to benefit from, though it costs you very little.

What should you write about in a naturist blog?

But enough generalities. What, specifically, might you put in a naturist blog? Just apply the ideas above to the naturist case.

You could write about news items you see that deal with nudity or naturism, but a lot of people do that. It’s usually interesting to express your own point of view. So if you write about a news item, present some of your own opinion on it.

Better yet, write about things that only you or a few others know about. What naturist activities are you and/or your family engaged in? What beaches have you visited recently? Hiked nude lately? How do you explain naturism to your friends and relatives? Did anything amusing happen while you or your family are enjoying nude moments? (Like, maybe, your mother-in-law showing up unexpectedly.) Do your guests have problems with naked people around? That sort of thing.

Personal experiences are usually the most interesting. Seems like everyone has a story about their “first time”. Have you had any success converting friends or relatives to going naked? Tell us about it. Lots of people would like to find the magic spell to cast.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the problems too. Neighbors who give you a hard time? A spouse who’s not thrilled about it? Friends who seem to be avoiding you? Teenage kids who think you’re nuts? It’s all interesting. Everyone has some experiences like this. And you never know — someone who’s been in the same spot may have some helpful advice.

In our society, naturism is a fairly specialized interest, and there’s way too little information about it readily available. So try to write about any places of whatever kind that you have found where naturism is easily and safely enjoyed. If you like the outdoors, then talk about the beaches, rivers, swimming holes, hot springs, and hiking trails you’ve enjoyed without clothes.

On the other hand, if you like more private venues, write about the naturist/nudist camps, parks, clubs, and resorts you’ve visited. As long as you keep it truthful, talk about both the good and not-so-good points of those places. You may be able to save others the trouble of bad experiences you’ve had, as well as alerting them to enjoyable places that are easily overlooked. And keep in mind that “one man’s meat is another man’s poison,” so some things you’ve disliked may be just what someone else is looking for.

How to get started

It’s a lot easier than you may think.

The following sentence contains all you really need to know. Just go to, sign up for an account (it’s free), and start writing what’s on your mind. It’s that easy, though there’s stuff to learn if you want to really get into it.

There are even simpler blogging services than Blogger (e. g. as a part of the Bloglines service I’ve written about), but they lack some nice features. This topic is changing very rapidly, as new options that cost you nothing appear almost every day. I’ll come back to this at the end, to list a few of the alternatives. But first I’ll add a little more about getting started with Blogger, because I think it really is the best place to get started, for most people.

OK, so when you go to the Blogger start page you’ll see the “3 easy steps” to create a blog. First, you have to create an account (assuming you don’t already have one). You’ll need to provide a username and password. Undoubtedly, you’ve done this before for other services. It works the same here. In general, no one else will see your actual username, so you can make it as straightforward or obscure as you like, as long as it’s not already taken. The initial page also lets you pick a name that will be used to sign each of your posts. You can use your real name if you don’t have privacy concerns. Not only will it be shown at the bottom of all your posts, but it will be picked up by search engines, and spread on the four winds. So if you’re at all sensitive about that, you probably ought to pick a pseudonym. You can always change this name later if you wish.

Step two is to give your blog a name. This is kind of a big deal, as this name will be your “trademark”, the handle by which the world knows your blog. Think about it a little beforehand. It doesn’t have to be wildly creative. “Joe’s Naturist Blog” is fine (if not already taken). Or you can make it as quirky as you like. Just keep in mind that if the name mentions naturism or nudism somehow, you may want to be more circumspect about who will know the name, unless the blog is completely private or anonymous. You also have to provide another kind of handle that will be part of the URL that others specify to access the blog. This need not reflect the actual name, though it often does. For instance, if you enter “naturgrrl”, the URL of the blog will be “”.

The third step is to choose a “template” for your blog. This is a mixture of HTML and style-sheet code that specifies how the blog looks. The page will show you different styles, and you don’t need to know HTML to choose one. Just pick one of the dozen alternatives you like best. You’ll probably recognize most of them from other blogs you’ve visited. If you know a little about coding HTML and/or style sheets, you can customize the appearance of your blog and change details later, like colors, backgrounds, positions of different things on the page, etc. You can even switch to a different template, if you don’t mind losing any customization you’ve made. (Tip: you can copy the template from the template editor to something like Notepad, and save it on your own computer as a backup.) My advice is to keep it simple, and avoid if at all possible using a black or dark colored background. Although some folks feel dark backgrounds are stylish, they are very hard to read. You don’t want to discourage readers, do you?

That’s it. A few seconds after you’ve specified the template, your blog will be complete and ready for you to start writing. It would take too long to go into the mechanics of doing that, so I won’t. But Blogger is pretty intuitive to use, and the help is generally pretty good. Besides, most mistakes you make can be corrected later at any time. So don’t sweat it.

Privacy and anonymity

If, as a naturist, you are especially concerned about privacy and anonymity, there are a couple of other things you can do. First, look for the “Settings” tab at the top of the editing page. Click on it, and look for the setting labeled “Add your blog to our listings?” If you set this to “no”, Blogger will not include the blog in their index. That means people won’t be able to find it via your user profile or from the Blogger feature that lists blogs which have been recently updated. If you’re using a pseudonym, this may not be a concern.

A similar option is on the “Publishing” sub-options page. If you don’t want your blog to be picked up by search engines and aggregators, be sure “Notify” is set to “no”. This won’t guarantee your blog is never found by search engines and the like, because anybody who links to a page of your blog will make the whole thing visible. If you want the blog to be as private as possible, tell very few people about it, and request anyone you do tell not to link to your pages. But if you are really that concerned about privacy, it’s probably better just to use a pseudonym and not include any personally identifying information in what you write. That way your work will be available to the most people, without compromising your privacy.

There are a couple of options you should strongly consider on the “Comments” sub-options page. Anytime you add a new message to your blog, Blogger by default allows any reader to add a comment to the message. In general, this is a good thing, since it enables your readers to have a dialog about the topic of the message. However, you can disallow comments for each message, when it is created or later. If you do allow comments, there are two options you should probably change from their default values. First, it’s a good idea to “Enable comment moderation”. If you select this, then Blogger will notify you by email when a comment is submitted. You can then proceed to either allow the comment or block it in case it’s objectionable for any reason. In particular, there are evil people who use automated tools to post “spam” to any blog messages they can, usually in order to direct readers to another page. You can prevent that, without having to use comment moderation, by turning on the “Show word verification for comments” option. This forces people who want to comment to enter a specified character string displayed as a graphic along with their comment. Automated processes can’t usually do this, so their comments are never accepted.

Alternatives to Blogger

In general, the alternatives are of two kinds: more sophisticated than Blogger, and less sophisticated. Blogger is one of the oldest blogging services, and it’s fairly complete, though it lacks a few useful features. Most notably, it lacks any simple way to sort your blog posts into different (possibly overlapping) categories. A similar capability that it also lacks is a way to quickly add descriptive tags to your posts and to search on those tags. (Adding the tags is only a little extra work, but searching on them is not so easy.) Another feature lacking in Blogger is the ability to protect individual posts with a password.

In case you want to use something more sophisticated than Blogger, you have several alternatives. If you already host Web pages on a server somewhere, you may be able to install blogging software from other sources. This blog, for instance, uses a package called WordPress, which is a very nice “open source” product. But it’s not perfect either. For instance, its ability to manage incomplete posts that you’re working on in the form of “drafts” is not quite as good as Blogger’s.

If you don’t already use a Web hosting service, there are several available that provide sophisticated blogging software. Typepad is one example. But you generally have to pay for the best services, though they usually offer free trials for a limited period of time.

On the other hand, Blogger and WordPress and similar software packages have many features and a great deal of flexibility, but that sophistication and configurability come at a cost of complexity if you want to use all the features. Many people just want to start writing and not even think about having many options. There are a lot of alternatives open to them, and the number is increasing almost daily, as blogging features are being included in a number of services that have other purposes besides blogging.

The Bloglines service that has been discussed here is one of these. If you’re already using it to manage your blog feeds, it’s very easy to use the blogging capabilities too. Bloglines included this to allow you to easily save and comment on “clippings” of information you come across in the blogs you subscribe to. But it can be used for any kind of blogging as well. The blog can be completely private, or shared with the whole world, with its own URL, depending on your preference. Bloglines blogs are structurally a lot like those hosted by Blogger, but they do lack a lot of the more advanced features.

Another possibility is LiveJournal. The primary purpose of LiveJournal is social networking, and blogging fits in with that very well. (Blogger makes some social networking possible, via information you provide, optionally, in your user profile. But it has no particular features for keeping lists of “friends”.) LiveJournal also supports communities of individual users, and the blog of such a community is a shared space for having threaded discussions. LiveJournal isn’t a bad choice if you want to experiment with social networking. They even have a naturist group (possibly several), with a community blog. Frankly, I haven’t been impressed with LiveJournal, though I’ve used only the free version, and not very much. The free version lacks a lot of blogging features and customizability, but you get more with a paid account. The blogs have a look and feel that is unlike most other blogs you’ll find. The user interface seemed to me to be unintuitive and difficult to navigate. But maybe that’s just me.

Finally, out of many other possibilities, I’ll just mention Yahoo’s new Yahoo! 360° social networking service. As of this writing, the service is still in beta test. The blogs seem to have more functionality than LiveJournal’s (which isn’t saying much), and they are free. But they’re not as good as Blogger’s. There are many other networking features, but they seemed a little awkward to me. I didn’t find it clear how to define groups of “friends” in such a way that it was easy to provide details about one’s interest in naturism only to other naturists — a feature of obvious importance to many.

There’s a larger problem with Yahoo as well. In the past — and this probably isn’t going to change — Yahoo has been unfriendly or even hostile to naturism. Although there are hundreds of naturist/nudist Yahoo discussion groups, they are not allowed to be listed in the group directory or even mention “nudism” or “nudity” in their public description. (They can, however, display pictures containing nudity on the group’s homepage.) There’s this ridiculous paranoia about making it possible for children to search for such things. (Yahoo has been harassed by the usual right-wing nutcases about allowing anything to do with nudity.) They have also an established policy of deleting without warning or recourse any group which allows pictures containing child nudity, however innocent. I have noticed remarks in the Yahoo! 360° pages of some naturists that censorship is going on there too.

Until Yahoo’s policy on nudity is improved, or at least clarified, I’d suggest using their service only with great caution. The last thing you want is to have your blog or your whole account deleted without warning.

Originally posted December 13, 2005

Blogging for naturists: more about Bloglines

[Note: Bloglines still exists but no longer works as described here.]

In the last installment we talked about Bloglines and how to “subscribe” to a syndicated feed there. To follow up on that, let’s look at some other things you can do at Bloglines.

One thing you can do is search for blogs and blog articles using terms like “nudism” and “naturism”. The search will turn up both blogs whose names contain the search term and also individual posts containing the search term. The good news is that it doesn’t come up with as much junk porno as some other search engines. However, it’s not really clear where they get their results. In my search for “naturism”, my Yahoo! Humanist-naturism group turned up, among just 5 blog results. I certainly didn’t submit it, since the group requires approval for membership, and therefore no public feed is available. It is one of the links from this blog, but other links here didn’t show up in the results. Evidently Bloglines is doing some sort of “spidering” to find blogs with certain keywords, much like Google’s blog search.

Another useful thing you can do at Bloglines is set up your own blog to keep track of interesting “clippings” you find through your searches. As blogs go, this has minimal features, but it can (optionally) be shared with others. (That is, others can read it, if you want, though they can’t write in it.) If you don’t already have a blog of your own, it’s not a bad way to get started, so you can share your thoughts and discoveries with others. Once you have designated your blog as shareable (in your profile), it can be accessed through its own URL, so it can be linked to from other places, including any you may control, such as another blog or a user profile on another service. The blog’s URL will be, if “xyz” is your username on Bloglines. Even if you don’t share your blog, it’s a simple way to keep track of useful posts you find while reading other blogs and to make your own related comments. You can also save clippings in a separate space outside the blog. In this case, you can create a set of folders to group related information together. But (as far as I can tell), this space can’t be shared with others.

You can also make public some or all of the feeds that you subscribe to, in addition to clipped articles. This is done via a setting in your user profile. It’s another way of declaring what kinds of things you’re interested in and sharing with others stuff which caught your eye or which you wanted to comment on. This shared information can be accessed with its own URL, If you have a blog at Bloglines, the list of feeds will be displayed there in a “blogroll”.

Bloglines also has a directory that indexes feeds which have been subscribed to and users who have chosen to make their blog or feeds public. The directory is sorted alphabetically, but even so it’s not easy to browse because it’s so large. If you select a feed from the directory, you can preview the current contents of the feed and add it to your own list of subscribed feeds if you want. Remember that when you are dealing with a feed, it is something you read with Bloglines or some other feed reader. If the feed comes from a blog, then in order to read the blog itself you use the link provided to gain access with a Web browser. The directory also lists other Bloglines users who have made their feeds or personal blog public. If you select a user, you get to see the list of public feeds or the user’s blog (if there is one). If the blog looks interesting, you can add its feed to any feed aggregator, including Bloglines itself.

The directory also offers a list of the most popular (i. e., most frequently subscribed to) feeds. This can be interesting to browse if you find you have a lot of time on your hands for just looking around.

Once you have a Bloglines account there are several ways to subscribe to new feeds. The most tedious way is to discover the URL of the feed yourself and then use the “Add” menu item at the Bloglines site. That’s assuming you have already found a feed you’re interested in. This method is the most general one, because it works with feeds that correspond to some sort of search, such as a search you might do in Technorati. A second way is by searching the Bloglines directory of known feeds. You will be able to preview the feed contents and add it to your list if it looks interesting.

If you already know of various blogs which offer feeds you want to subscribe to, you can do it from the blog’s home page. But first, you need to go to this page at Bloglines. It will tell you how to add a special type of bookmark, called a “bookmarklet” to your browser. Once you’ve done that then all you need to do is use your browser to select this bookmark while you’re on the home page of the site whose feed you want to subscribe to. It will bring up a dialog from Bloglines to complete the subscription. Some blogs (like this one) make subscribing even easier. They provide a button (in the right-hand column here) that initiates the subscription with one click.

If you already have a collection of feeds managed by another aggregator it’s not hard to “export” them from there and “import” them into Bloglines — or vice versa. Bloglines even lets you export feeds belonging to another user (if they have been shared). It’s done with what is known as an “OPML” file. This is useful if you use more than one online service or if you have feed readers resident on different computers. We’ll talk more about OPML files at another time.

We’re nearly done, but one more feature may be useful. Suppose you want to be notified when Bloglines discovers new items in one or more of the feeds you subscribe to? There’s a way to be notified even if you’re not logged in to Bloglines at the time. The work is done with a little program called the Notifier, which you can download here. After installation, it will alert you when new items are found. This provides some of the same convenience you would have from running a full-size feed reader application on your own computer.

How does Bloglines work? It’s pretty simple, really. It gets its list of feeds from those subscribed to by any of its users. These feeds are added to the Feed Directory, and each one is periodically checked for new content. When new content is found in a given feed, all subscribers to the feed can be duly notified. This implies that feeds which no Bloglines users have subscribed to won’t be in the directory. That’s good, because it should keep a lot of junk out. However, it also means that Bloglines won’t find out about brand new feeds until someone manually adds them. There are ways that Bloglines could “discover” such feeds on its own, but it’s not clear whether that’s actually done.

We are still not done with the topic of syndication, but this article is already more than long enough, so go have some fun playing with Bloglines, and we’ll be back later with more.

Originally published November 24, 2005

Blogging for naturists: syndication and aggregators

The following is meant as an introduction to syndication and content aggregation. If you’re already using a “feed reader” or a Web service like Bloglines or Newsgator, then you probably know most of what’s here. We’ll discuss some more advanced topics in a later post. So what’s here may be too elementary for you, and you may just want to skim it quickly. Otherwise, read on…

There’s so much information on the Web these days — and there has been for almost 10 years, in fact — that keeping track of what’s most interesting (to you) is a major challenge. The advent of blogs — which have been around in roughly their present form for over 5 years, but only recently have become especially popular — has only made the problem worse.

But for almost every “problem” like this that the ‘net has created, solutions have also arisen as well. Usually more than one solution, which can make things even more confusing. “Syndication” is an example.

There are many more-or-less conventional news sources on the Web, provided by both dead-tree publishers, such as newspapers, and Web portals like Yahoo! and AOL. And now, on top of that, there are millions of blogs, collectively covering every imaginable topic of interest. How can you keep track of them all?

The answer is, you can’t, not completely. But you can make a stab at it by taking advantage of syndication. That is a way for content providers to make their information available to you in a way that is a little more automated and structured than what you would otherwise have to do by visiting 10 to 100 different Web sites per day.

Think of the Web as a huge funnel. All the information that’s out there enters at one end. Somehow or another it has to be sifted and filtered and winnowed so that what comes out the other end is what is most interesting to you.

It’s not possible, of course, to do this filtering really well without help from you, because you’re the only one who really knows what’s most interesting to you. (But don’t doubt that content providers and marketers and your Big Brothers in government agencies everywhere are spending millions to try to figure out automatically as best they can what you’re interested in. Undoubtedly, the fact you’re reading this now is telling someone that you’re at least curious about naturism, if not already deeply involved. And that someone ain’t us.)

One way you help out is via the choice of Web sites you go to in the first place, especially the search engines and portals like Google and Yahoo!. And then, which parts of such sites you use, such as their financial news or their discussion groups. And then, which specific kinds of searches you perform. Blogs present a slightly different problem. Each blog assists in the filtering process because the blog owner has made a selection of only a few items that are most interesting to him/her. Your “only” problem is to identify which of the millions of blogs has an editor whose interests and tastes you share, and then to keep track of new things the editor selects. Fortunately, most blogs are fairly simple. Except for a few of the largest, they offer just a simple linear string of messages, which may or may not be grouped by topic.

What syndication allows you to do is to specify, in a fairly concise way, just which of all these information sources is so important to you that you want to be notified as simply and as conveniently as possible when new information appears at the source. This is where you make your real preferences known, near the narrow end of the funnel.

For example, let’s suppose you want to keep track of new messages from this blog. If you look on the right-hand side of the page, under “Meta”, there is a link called “RSS”. (And at the bottom of the page there are separate links to “RSS”, one for “entries” and one for “comments”.) If you click on one of these links all you see is mostly gibberish. What you’re seeing is a file coded using “XML”, a markup language for describing content. XML is related to “HTML”, which is used to encode normal Web pages. HTML is designed to be read by a Web browser, while XML is designed to be read by a different type of program: in this case a “feed reader”.

There can be a point of confusion here, because the XML can be written using different specifications as to its contents. The most common specification is called “RSS”, meaning “Really Simple Syndication”, and that in turn has different versions itself, such as 1.0 and 2.0. A different specification is known as “Atom”. You may or may not need to know more about the type of XML used at any given blog, as we’ll explain later.

The XML file is generated automatically, and it describes the information that the site is currently offering in what is called a “feed”. The program for which this file is intended is called a “feed reader”, which is what you interact with in order to actually select and read the proffered information.

Another name for this sort of program is “feed aggregator”, because it can collect information — in the form of feeds — from multiple sources and present them to you in a unified and (hopefully) user-friendly interface. Such feed readers come in several different forms. One form is as a feature or tool that is part of another program you use, like a Web browser or email reader. Another form is a specialized stand-alone program that runs on your computer. The third form is a program that is part of a Web site and which you access through your normal Web browser (though it isn’t actually a part of the browser). There are pros and cons associated with each of these.

In order to provide a hands-on demonstration of how this works, we’re going to run through how to “subscribe” to the “feed” for this blog. But we can’t do that without talking about the specific “feed reader” you choose to use. Since we’re assuming this is new to you, we’ll also assume you don’t already have a feed reader. To make this as easy as possible for everyone, we’ll give instructions for signing up with the online service Bloglines and getting started with it.

So to begin, just click here. Right in the middle of the page you’ll see “Sign up now. It’s free.” Click that (it really is free). You will be asked for an email address and password. Provide a real address and a suitable password — preferably one you can remember, but not the one actually associated with the email account. You’ll have to reply to an email message at that address for verification. (You can change the name and password later.) After you’ve submitted that information, go to your email program and reply to the verification message. You can then go to the main Bloglines page. If you see “My Feeds” in the upper left, click on it. Then click on “Add” in the upper left corner.

Now comes the only tricky part. Go back to the “RSS” link on the right side of this page under “Meta”. Click on that with the right mouse button. If you’re using the Netscape, Mozilla, or Firefox browser, select “Copy Link Location” from the menu. (If using the Microsoft Internet Explorer, select “Copy Shortcut”.) Go back to the Bloglines page, put the cursor in the box for “Blog or Feed URL”, and press Ctrl-V (or Shift-Ins). This should insert the URL into the box. Then press the Subscribe button.

Assuming there’s no problem finding the feed, you’ll then be shown an options page. The only thing you might want to change is the name of a “folder” in which to place the feed. This allows you to group related feeds together on Bloglines (and has nothing to do with your own computer’s folders). You might want to put this feed in a folder called “Naturism”, but that’s up to you. The other options can be changed later if you want. As soon as you press the Subscribe button, the feed will be added to the chosen folder, appearing on the left-hand side.

You can now explore for yourself how to access the feed. There are plenty of help files at Bloglines to assist you and explain all the features. Anytime in the future, you want to check this feed and any others you add, you need only go to the Bloglines home page, log in with your email address and password, and check the list of feeds.

The next thing you probably should do now is to add a few more feeds for additional naturist and other blogs. Some other blogs to check (if you haven’t already) can be found in the links in the sidebar. When you go to another site, the URL for its feed can be tricky to find. Often, instead of a text link as used here, there will be a button that looks like this: or . Usually this button is a link to the URL of the feed’s XML. In this case, simply right-click on it to get the link, just as we did earlier. Occasionally a site will give you a normal link to another (HTML) page that presents a number of different options, with some explanation of what each is for.

In case you are offered more than one option, the safest thing is to select generic “XML” or “RSS”. But it all depends on what your particular feed reader or aggregator needs. Bloglines prefers the RSS option. “Atom” will frequently work too, since most readers and aggregators now support all the common formats.

If you can’t find a link for a blog’s feed anywhere on the home page, it’s possible that the blog doesn’t offer a feed for some reason. (Privacy, for example.) Or sometimes the blog owner has simply forgotten to provide the link. If you don’t see a link, there’s usually not much you can do, short of contacting the blog owner. However, if the blog is hosted at Blogspot (or Blogger, which is the same thing), the feed is normally in Atom format, and may have a default URL of the form As a last resort, you can try using the URL of the blog itself, since many blogs provide the URL of their feeds in such a way that it can be “discovered” automatically by the reader or aggregator.

You may have to guess or do some detective work to find the right URL for a feed, but it doesn’t hurt to try. At worst, the feed reader or aggregator will tell you if it can’t find the XML for the feed.

Bloglines has many other features, since it’s one of the leading aggregator services. For instance, there are many ways to search for and add other feeds you are interested in. The best thing to do now is to find a few other feeds and add them to your list. So the homework assignment is: get a little experience with Bloglines and feeds. In the next post in this series we’ll deal with some more “advanced” topics related to syndication and feed aggregators, such as:

  • Other feed-reading programs and aggregators to try
  • Explanations of how syndication works “under the covers”
  • How to make a file containing a list of your feeds that can be used with any reader or aggregator
  • How to search for interesting feeds
  • How to construct feeds based on search results

Originally published October 16, 2005

Blogging for naturists: finding naturist blogs

It isn’t quite as hard as you might think, because there aren’t that many of them yet. Or maybe that means it’s actually harder. Whatever.

Your first thought might be, “why not just use Google?” Actually, that has just become a possible strategy, because only in the middle of September it came out that Google has a brand new search facility just for blogs: Google Blog Search. (Here’s a news story.) Like the familiar Google Web search, this service lets you do many kinds of searches — by words in the blog name, message title, message text, by author, by date, and so forth.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you were simply to search with terms like “naturism” or “nudism”, you would come up with an incredible amount of junk, because there are so many soft (and hard) core porn sites that use these terms deceptively. You will also find a lot of posts that use these terms legitimately, but where the blog itself has little or nothing to do with naturism. The problem is far worse if you use terms like “nude” or “naked”.

One solution is to make the searches more specific, by including other terms like “California” or “nude beach” that must be in the post. But you still get a lot of junk. By default, Google supposedly presents the results sorted by “relevance”. Unfortunately, whatever their relevance algorithm is, it works poorly in this case. You can also request reports sorted by date. That’s much worse.

So what can you do? The good news is that there are other blog search tools, and a few work better for finding naturist blogs.

One of the oldest and most popular blog search services is Technorati. Like Google, it allows you to specify a variety of different types of searches. And you can also link directly to a search on the term “nudism” (for instance) with this URL: The search results are sorted by age (newest first), but there is far less junk in the results than what Google yields.

Technorati also allows you to search for blogs rather than posts in blogs, using descriptive terms provided by the blog owner. Unfortunately, this seems to find only blogs that the owner has registered with the term at Technorati, so you get far fewer results. Finally, you can search for individual posts that have been explicitly “tagged” with a term by the author. This too eliminates most junk, but also returns few results, because it finds only posts that the author has gone to the effort of tagging. But this situation should improve, since tagging is a relatively new idea which will be much more useful if it catches on more generally. We will discuss tags in more detail in a later article.

Here are some additional search services similar to Google and Technorati:

Unfortunately, when we checked these, they provided few useful results with the search terms “naturism” and “nudism” (but little junk, either).

Another type of search tool is a blog directory, such as the original Yahoo! website directory. At this time, it isn’t worth listing any of these. Whether intentionally or not, all of them have little or nothing very relevant to naturism.

However, there is one good technique you may not have thought of. Most of the blogging service providers, such as Blogger, have user profiles, which allow people to provide information about themselves and their blogs. Generally you can search the directory of profiles, so try a search on “nudism” or “naturism”. The nice thing about these is you can see what other interests the person has — which will probably eliminate many. The downside is that their blogs may have little or nothing to say about naturism.

There’s one additional effective strategy for finding good naturist blogs. Once you have found a few blogs you like, take a look at the list of links (if any) in the sidebars usually found on the left or right side of the main text. The links there are either sites that the blog owner likes and recommends (which is the case on this site) or else other blogs that link to the current site. Unless this list is especially long, the recommendations you find there can be very worthwhile.

And of course, whenever you find a post from another blog being discussed or mentioned on the current blog, it’s usually worthwhile following the link, even if the topic isn’t especially interesting to you. You may find that the blog that’s linked to has much other content which is interesting. If you see comments or trackbacks associated with a post, check those too, since people sometimes promote their blogs that way.

There are still more ways to find naturist blogs, but they have to do with topics we’ll discuss in future posts in this series:

  • Searches and directories that involve syndication and “feeds”, and searches that are part of “feed aggregators”
  • Searching in “social networking sites” which support blogging, such as LiveJournal
  • Using sites that provide “social bookmarking”, such as and Furl

Originally published October 9, 2005

Blogging for naturists

Let’s face it. Naturism is a fairly esoteric interest in our culture. Because of the deeply ingrained taboos against nudity in the culture, it has been pretty difficult for people interested in social (or even private) nonsexual nudity to find information about it and to discover social contacts and form friendships with like-minded others.

The cultural obstacles to forming a true nationwide (or even worldwide) community of naturists have hindered the spread of naturist ideals, values, and philosophy among those who are open-minded enough (whether they are even aware of it or not) to learn about and enjoy social nudity.

In the early days of naturism, naturist magazines and books were just about the only means of community building. More recently, personal computers and online computer systems have taken up this role, via “computer-based message systems” (CBMS).

Now we are entering a new phase of this process, with specialized and function-rich tools like blogs to make communication even easier. It’s possible that blogging by naturists (and potential naturists) will finally enable the development of a real community. But naturists as a whole seem to have been rather late in discovering the possibilities of blogging.

At the same time, there has been a proliferation of earlier types of CBMS used by naturists, especially mailing lists and (to a lesser extent) message boards. It can be very hard to find mailing lists or message boards with people you like and with discussions of naturist topics you are especially interested in. In the early days, there were just a few systems like rec.nude and the message boards on Compuserve, Delphi, and Prodigy. But now there are hundreds of active groups, and the online naturist community is quite fragmented. People have no good way of learning about interesting information that appears in places they aren’t even aware of. Blogging can help solve this problem, since the most interesting information and discussions tend to be propagated from one blog to another.

So I propose to do something about this fragmentation problem by writing a little series of articles here that provide readers with everything they might want to know about naturist blogging but were too intimidated by the technology to ask.

Naturists have been online (and NIFOC) for quite a while — some of the earliest bulletin boards and message systems for naturists were on services like Delphi, Prodigy, and Compuserve around 1990. Even before that there were PC-based bulletin board systems, email mailing lists, and (of course) rec.nude on Usenet.

These are all types of computer-based messaging systems, which have been around since the 1970s. I won’t even try to relate the ancient history, but I do go back quite a way with CBMS myself — I started using email and “computer conferencing” in 1977.

Now we have the Internet, and within that environment many contemporary types of CBMS, such as:

  • mailing lists
  • message boards
  • chat rooms (text and video)
  • instant messaging
  • blogs
  • social networking tools (such as Friendster and Linkedin)
  • web sites associated with each other in a “Webring
  • “wikis” (like Wikipedia)

Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps it’s possible to understand blogs better if we think of them as a sort of “universal object” in the category of CBMS. That is, most of the things you can do with one of the other systems can be done with a blog.

Consider the basic components of a message board, for example:

  • users
  • messages
  • topics and threads

To begin with, you have “users” — just people who want to use the computer as a tool to communicate with each other. Some systems are open, and allow anyone to join the group. Systems that are very open even allow anyone who comes along to participate, while others require a formal registration process. Closed systems require prospective users to be added by an administrator who has special authority to permit or deny access. Users may be grouped along with others in subsets of the whole user community, as “special interest groups”, “committees”, and so forth. And these groupings can be overlapping or hierarchical, like the “divisions”, “departments”, and “sections” of a business. Membership in groups can be either voluntary or assigned by group managers.

The next feature any CBMS must have is, of course, “messages” — the information that the users exchange among themselves. Messages can consist only of text, or they can include almost any other type of data — pictures, sound, video, spreadsheets, databases, etc.

Messages, in turn, can be organized into groupings much like users. Such groupings are often referred to as “sections”, “topics”, or “threads”. These organizing principles are important enough to be regarded as the third major feature of a CBMS. There can be an arbitrary number of levels of hierarchy, but let’s stick with three just for simplicity. At the top level, a section is established by a system administrator, and usually represents a fundamental grouping of possible topics. In naturism, there might be sections of a CBMS devoted to things like “clubs”, “beaches”, “family naturism”, etc. Next, within each section there will be a variety of topics. These may be established by a section manager, but they may also be created by users to collect related discussions together. At the lowest level are threads, which develop spontaneously as each message entered by someone is followed by replies from others — often producing a deeply nested tree of responses.

We could examine how each type of CBMS mentioned previously implements all or most of these common features, but that would be getting into too much detail here. The basic point we want to make is that blogs allow for all of these features, and bring along special capabilities of their own.

Each and every blog can be regarded as a CBMS unto itself, or you can think of them as just the top level sections of one entity, the “blogosphere”. A blog can be entirely a personal thing, which is simply a diary belonging to whoever created it. But even then, most blogs allow for comments from blog readers, and if there are extensive comments, they either explicitly or implicitly develop spontaneously into threads.

Some blogs (referred to as “group blogs”) are jointly owned by several individuals who have special privileges to admit new users, create topics, and make managerial decisions. But both individual and group blogs are often subdivided into a number of predefined sections and/or topic areas. It’s generally possible to assign messages to more than one topic area, when appropriate. Sometimes topics can be created by any user, with techniques such as “tags”.

So blogs can effectively have all of the features of typical message boards, but they have unique capabilities of their own as well. In particular, there are several techniques for allowing linking and interconnection between independent blogs anywhere in the blogosphere.

This can be done in several ways. The simplest way is just by using the standard Web links between pages. In most blogs, there is a separate URL for each message in the system (but usually not for user comments), and this URL doesn’t change even when messages scroll off the main page. So it is trivially easy for a message on one blog to refer to messages on any number of separate other blogs. And just as important, there are tools for discovering external messages that link to a given message. Such linkages are formed spontaneously, or they may be facilitated with tools like “trackbacks”.

Another way that blogs can be accessed by whoever might be interested in their contents is through the process of “syndication”. We won’t attempt to explain it right now. It’s enough to say that this is a way for people to be informed automatically when new messages are posted at any blog they “subscribe” to, without having to periodically visit all blogs they are interested in.

Future messages in this series will deal with the following topics:

  • Finding naturist blogs
  • Syndication — RSS, atom, feed readers
  • Comments
  • Trackback
  • Technorati tags – taxonomies
  • Your own naturist blog
  • Social networking tools
  • Social bookmarking

Please feel free to comment here and in future messages if you have questions or want more information on anything discussed in this series.

More information:

Wikipedia: Blogosphere

Originally posted September 26, 2005