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.

Carrington 1.3 has been released

If you pay attention to your WordPress Dashboard (I notice mine every 2-3 days), you might have seen that version 1.3 of Carrington has been released. Carrington is the theme I use for SilverPen Publishing, but it’s more than a theme: Carrington is a unique shift in theme framework development and finds itself in a significantly more advanced category than your standard WordPress theme.

Simply put, it’s all kinds of wonderful, and I’ve really enjoyed having its style represent SilverPen Publishing. However, I have had to make a few tweaks to the theme, and when faced with an upgrade, I was hesitant to recommit myself to that task. All of those changes would have to be made once again, and I didn’t take notes on what I had edited because I didn’t think I’d have to do it again any time soon, let alone with this theme.

Most theme publishers write a theme, put it out for public consumption, and leave it. I never expect upgrades of a theme unless a major change in WordPress outright breaks the theme, and even then it doesn’t get upgraded most of the time. Alex King‘s a champ, though, and stands by his work. If I could laud him any more highly I would, but for now my praise and recommendation will have to be sufficient. Such dedication caught me by surprise though, hence the lack of notes.

Because there were some important security upgrades in this version, I went ahead and upgraded after backing up my current theme, and then spent some time going through and changing what I needed to. In addition, I actually took notes this time as I went, and I’m going to go ahead and post them here. As I read in someone else’s blog recently, notes for me, notes for you.

Reasons to upgrade:

From Alex King’s blog:

Version 1.3 of Carrington Blog is now available for download.

Upgrading is strongly recommended due to a security patch in this release.

This version has a couple of changes – both bug fixes and new features:

  • Added an image.php file for displaying media. This is not yet abstracted into the framework, but will be in the future.
  • Added a field to the settings page for adding in analytics code.
  • Fixed a problem with IE7 and the dropdown menus.
  • Explicitly send headers with AJAX responses, hopefully fixes some issues reported by Safari users.
  • Added a Log In link to the header.
  • Added code to load in translations.
  • Updated documentation.

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