FAQs & submitting your blog

Starting out

Who can be listed on HoCoBlogs?
If you live in Howard County and blog and/or represent an organization or business with its principal office in Howard County, you’re welcome and encouraged to submit your blog for inclusion on our site.

Where do I submit my blog?
Right here. It will probably take you five minutes or less to do so. (And thank you!)

Does it cost anything to be listed?
No, it’s free to be listed.

I don’t write about Howard County. Can my blog still be listed?
Yes! Of the several hundred bloggers on HoCoBlogs, most are what we call personal, topic or corporate bloggers. A sliver of those bloggers focus on the Howard County community.  Bloggers on our site share one thing in common: location. They all live in  Howard County.

What if I live right outside of Howard County?
Sorry, we have to draw a line somewhere, and the line we’ve chosen is the county line.

Can I list more than one blog?
Of course. You might want to opt out of our email list for any additional blogs submitted beyond your initial one.

Why can’t I list a website? Why does my site have to be a blog?
Our system is designed to pull fresh posts and then publish them. Websites tend to be static with information that is rarely updated. And our site is, after all, called hocoblogs, not hocowebsites. 🙂

What about YouTube channels, podcasts and other media?
If you have a site that 1) has a feed and 2) has thoughtful, original content, we’ll accept and list it (notably video and podcast channels). At this time, Tumblr, Pinterest and accounts where people mainly repurpose others’ content are not accepted. Though if you have a specific site that is Howard County-focused, please send us an email and link to your site.

Now that you’ve submitted your blog …

Where do I get one of those nifty blog badges I see on other HoCo bloggers’ sites?
Easy enough: you’ll find them here.

How long will it take for my blog to start showing up on HoCoBlogs.com?
It can take anywhere from a few hours to, at times, a few weeks. We run HoCoBlogs as a community service and, therefore, the administration and support actions sometimes take a back seat to other life priorities.

How do you decide which blogs are listed?
The first thing we do is review the blog to see if we can verify that the blogger is located in Howard County, Md. In some cases this is easy as either it’s obvious that they are in HoCo, or it’s clearly a spam blog.  In other cases we need to ask the blogger where they live. Once we’ve determined that the blog is a local blog, we check the category requested to make sure it’s a good fit. We also check to make sure that the blog is a “real blog” and not a Tumblr site or press-release republisher. (See “What is HoCoBlogs?” for more clarification.)

Are there any local blogs you don’t list?
Yes, we don’t include blogs that aren’t blogs in the true sense of the word. In other words, the blogs that we don’t publish tend to be those that are more Tumblr-like (sharing tidbits vs creating original content), blogs that copy-and-paste others’ content, blogs that mostly publish press releases (yawn) and those with automatic Twitter updates. We also don’t include blogs that are prolific (some with several posts a day), which result in a flooded category on our site, drowning out the other bloggers in that category. On rare occasions, we have either not included or later delisted a blog with what we deemed to be objectionable content. And in all circumstances we reserve the right to include or not include any blog for any reason that supports the ecosystem and well-being of the HoCoBlogs.com site.

Once you’re listed in our database …

Why isn’t my blog showing up on hocoblogs.com?
There are four primary reasons you may not be seeing your blog on HoCoBlogs. They are —

    1. It’s not processed yet — If you’ve just submitted your blog in the last week or so, we might not yet have added it. Trust that it’s in the queue and we’ll get to it.
    2. It’s in an active “home category” — Your blog’s home category may be a busy one. As you can see, we list a certain number of recent posts per category. As new blog posts in that category come in they “push out” the others that were recently posted, keeping our site’s content as fresh as possible.
    3. It’s in a different category — You may have requested a particular home category, but we may have decided that it fit better in a different category.
    4. It’s been deleted or delisted — There are times when we choose to delist or delete a blog. You can always contact us and ask if this is so.

Do I need to resubmit my blog if my URL has changed?
Yes, please do. The link you need to do so is here. And send us a note telling us to delete your prior URL, if you will.

Do I need to resubmit my blog if I haven’t blogged in a few months (or years!)?
No, you don’t. Many blogs — more than you could imagine! — go dormant. Sometimes they go dormant for an announced hiatus while the blogger takes on a new job, travels on vacation or simply needs to rejuvenate. Other blogs go dormant for a few months at a time; sometimes even for a couple-few years. Once your blog is in our database, and assuming the blog continues to fit the HoCoBlogs ecosystem, your blog will be in our system. If you don’t have any posts in 30 days, our system flags your blog as dormant and it doesn’t show up in any of our public lists; but once you begin blogging again, our system will pick up your fresh blog content and automatically post it. The exception here is the three-year mark: Blogs inactive for three years or more are deleted.

Do you de-list blogs?
Yes, we do this occasionally. We conduct in full a general database maintenance every year or so. At these times we review each blog in our database, confirm that the URL is still valid, assess the blog to see if the blogger is still local, and  confirm or reorganize the blog’s category. HoCoBlogs was started in late 2007, and we’ve probably delisted about 150 bloggers for various reasons. While we keep blogs that have been inactive for about three years in our database, beyond that, we delete them.

Blog categories

How do the blog categories work on hocoblogs.com?
Each blogger, when submitting their blog for inclusion on our site, needs to select the primary category in which they think their blog belongs. The categories are —

    1. Community
    2. Politics
    3. Arts
    4. Faith
    5. Food
    6. Personal
    7. Topics
    8. Tech
    9. Company
    10. Media

What if I think my blog belongs in two categories?
The way our system is designed right now, a blog can only be in one category. We have an interesting option for hyper-local content with specific tags that will redirect your post to another category.

How do I pick a category if I blog about many different subjects?
That’s a tough call for many bloggers! Most of us blog about a variety of subjects, and fitting into one category isn’t always a black-and-white decision. When you submit your blog, pick the best one that you think works. We’ll also review your content and selected category. If you disagree with our final category choice for you, feel free to contact us and let us know. And if your blog focus changes, tell us, too! We have specific tags you can insert into your various blog posts to redirect a specific post to another category.

What are these custom tags I see in other bloggers’ posts, e.g. #HoCoFood, #HoCoArts and #HoCoBlogs/
They’re a way for your blog to “talk to” our publishing system and redirect a particular blog post to another category. You can read more about them here.

Do I need to use the custom tags for my blog to be included?
No, once your blog is in our system, any new post will publish automatically within one hour of your publish time. The custom tags are used when you want to move a particular post from your “home category” to another category.