You have just read a blog post written by Jason McIntosh.
Thank you kindly for your time and attention today.
Each post on this blog, when viewed on the website (versus an RSS reader or the like), now concludes with a little button containing a star and a number. These buttons appear by way of Starble, a weekend project inspired by last week’s thoughts about how I use various online services’ “fave” buttons.
Implemented as a simple web service, Starble works the way I thought that MetaCPAN’s “++” button did, prior to surprising discoveries made while writing (and subsequently related within) that post. Anyone can now “star” a post on this blog without needing to manually sign in to any account anywhere. The current implementation is a bit naïve, such that an enterprising soul could easily find ways to star a post multiple times. As I note in the project’s pre-FAQ, I do not find myself moved to worry much about this.
I hope that Starble offers this blog’s readers, both regulars and passers-through, a convenient feedback outlet that will function, perhaps, in the same vein as my own starring of GitHub projects: a single switch to toggle on when one wishes to send a simple acknowledgment to the author. (Greetings too complex to fit within a single binary digit remain free to move to email or Twitter.)
In this blog’s first months, I tried to achieve the same effect using Twitter widgets that looked somewhat the same, inviting readers to tweet posts’ URLs at a click, and counting the number of links each post had so far accrued on that service. However, with a couple of exceptions, this number invariably read “1” — a reference to my own tweet that had announced that particular blog post. This just made the blog look bad, I decided, as if it had no readers other than myself, pathetically shouting each post’s link into the wind. After a while of this, I removed those buttons.
While I preferred the cleaner look, I still found myself wanting to offer something for readers to do when they reached the end of a post. I would later add a little footer to individual posts containing prompts to contact me if desired, and I do delight at the feedback folks have since sent by email now and again. However, I recognize the vast gulf of effort separating one inspired to compose mail in response to a blog post, and the (I expect) far more common case of the reader who wishes merely to say “yo”. (No relation, again, to any existing social media phenomenon.)
I looked around for existing services that might already offer something like this without tying into a vastly larger system. The closest I could find was Disqus, which offers fave-buttons along with its well-known portable comments sections — but you can’t take one without also accepting the other, and I do not want to add comments to this blog, no matter how lonely it may otherwise seem.
And so, Starble, which I see as a companion to Plerd, the custom software that powers this blog. (Starble’s experimental nature, along with various technical reasons, encouraged me treat it as a separate project, rather than attempt to mash its functionality into Plerd’s codebase.) Like Plerd, it will likely kick around for many months before enjoying a proper, fully documented release. I look forward to letting it find its starry footing through this blog, and hope that it might thereafter prove useful enough to find application alongside other projects as well.
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