Kampyle Reviewed

Kampyle

A few months ago, I came across a blog that had this neat little button at the upper right-hand corner, lurking unobtrusively and offering to take my feedback on their site. Rather than comments on content, Kampyle offers users the ability to comment on the site itself: its layout, overall content (rather than a specific article), its colours, etc. I thought this would offer a unique and helpful way to garner feedback from readers about what they liked and disliked on the site, which would help me make things better.

For the purposes of this review, I was going to link to the article where I first saw the Kampyle button and was a bit surprised that it wasn’t there anymore. Then I smirked a bit, wondering if they had removed it for the same reasons I am.

I’m removing Kampyle from my site, not because it’s a bad service, but because I haven’t found my users to use it in a manner that’s helpful to me. Rather, its presence has been potentially detrimental to my blog.

First, I want to say that the Kampyle service is free and easy to integrate into your blog. You need to put a short snippet of javascript into your header (code provided by Kampyle) and you’re done. It’s attractive, easy, and gives one a warm fuzzy feeling of providing another means of contact for users.

However, I found that only a few users commented on my site, and those comments were largely positive. For those of you who work in customer service or have to receive surveys, this is a bit of a surprise. Generally, the only people who fill out feedback forms are people who are dissatisfied with something, so having all positive feedback is odd. But via a medium like the Internet, it makes sense. Why waste time complaining when you can just surf away?

The positive comments told me things were great, but what I found more frustrating, they were often comments on specific articles. Notes to tell me that some instructions worked well for them, or that they liked a particular blog entry. While I appreciated the praise, I wished people had put their comments in the comments section on the blog article. Communication through Kampyle doesn’t allow for dialogue because it’s usually anonymous, and even if the individual did put contact information in, only I would see it. No discussion between readers can occur.

Of course, I don’t blame the commenters for this. They used a really nice communication tool to communicate with me, but its presence has had unintended consequences for my site. As such, I’ll be removing the code to better encourage people to use the commenting features built into WordPress.

Kampyle really is great, and I like it in theory, but I don’t know that it has a good place on a blog. If I was running a business website that had less commenting opportunities or means for discussion, I’d definitely put Kampyle on there. I might look into putting it on some of our sites at the University soon. But for a blog that’s ostensibly trying to encourage discussion within the articles itself, I don’t think Kampyle’s a good fit.

Lightbox

Just a quick post about my foray into Lightbox. I started messing with this while writing about Flickr the other day, and after a bit of tweaking, I got it working.

You could just follow the steps on this page, but installing the plugin for WordPress is probably easier. The first, however, will allow you to use Lightbox wherever and however you like, while the latter will only work inside WP.

I, of course, followed the steps to do it manually (mostly because I didn’t find the plugin until after I was done and had it working *sigh* ). Something I discovered that might be of interest to you is that, while the instructions technically allow Lightbox to work, it 1) doesn’t tell you everything you need to do and 2) doesn’t necessarily work right on blogs.

First, when you upload and extract the files, it is assumed that you’re putting those in the root of your web server. I had put them elsewhere, and subsequently it wasn’t working.

However, because they assume root (once you get them moved there), going to a specific blog entry will prevent Lightbox from working. Essentially, all the code in the JS and CSS files point to root or ../images for everything. Which is great, and works just fine on my main page (http://mstublefield.com), but when I go to a blog post (for instance, https://mstublefield.com/blog/2008/09/24/why-i-dont-use-flikr/), going to ../images actually points at https://mstublefield.com/blog/2008/09/24/images (the ../ being “go up one level”).

So, I went through the JS files and the CSS file and changed the links from dynamic to static. Therefore, instead of ../images/close.png, it became https://mstublefield.com/images/close.png. Instead of js/whatever, it became https://mstublefield.com/js/whatever. This allows Lightbox to work inside specific blog posts, as well as on the main page. The only files that need edited are the lightbox.js and the CSS file.

Secondly, the CSS file wasn’t quite working for me. The instructions say to put it somewhere and their files will point to it. Instead, I had to manually copy/paste the CSS and append it to my main stylesheet. This seemed to work a lot better for some reason. Maybe it’s that I didn’t have the CSS in the right place, but regardless, it was easier just to copy the code over.

Between adding ZenphotoPress and Lightbox, I’m pretty excited about adding more pictures to my blog 🙂