Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where had all my comments gone?

As I was updating my Proto-Portfolios the other day, I got a strange feeling that the numbers of comments I'd sent out were much lower than they should be (row five). Indeed they were. Although I expected to have missed counting a few odd comments here and there, the total displayed in cell 5K turned out to be off by over a hundred!

What was the problem? I'd been doing my best to remember to toggle the follow-up comment option ON, whenever I started to write a comment on someone else's blog. When that option is ON, before you preview or post, it looks like this if the page display is in Japanese.
Comment window: "Follow-up comments ..." ON
Not only do I get a copy of my out-going comments sent to me by mail, to collect and count monthly for entries on row five [of] Proto-Portfolios spreadsheets, I also receive mail notification of answers to questions or responses to suggestions that I post in comments on other people's blogs. Mail notifications include links that make it easy to follow-up on follow-ups. Forgetting to select that option a few times a semester wasn't the problem.

The problem was searches that I'd used to retrieve mail messages to remind me of comments on other people's blogs were missing a large proportion, more than 80%, of previous comments from first semester. A typical monthly search started like this:
Search terms from English notification message
Today it finally dawned on me why that kind of search had missed so many recent comments. Such searches failed to retrieve mail reminding me of comments that I'd left on blogs whose owners set them to display in Japanese. Sifting through All Mail archives by hand, I discovered numerous automated mail messages with Japanese lead-ins that had been slipping through my searches.

The following search, using the Japanese message lead-in, turned up over a hundred more comments to add to Proto-Portfolio tallies for first semester.
Search terms from Japanese notification message

Granted, it may be possible to refine each of those two searches with additional words or characters, for example, "... new comment [on]" (blogs set to display in English). Nevertheless, I'm satisfied that combined search results reflect the bulk of comments of which I've elected to get follow-up mail notifications.

The key to gathering info. automatically for entries on row five of Proto-Portfolios is still the same: Remember to switch follow-up comment notification ON before posting comments on classmates' and peers' blogs. The same is true for following up easily on written exchanges started or continuing in comments on blog posts: Switch follow-up comment notification ON before posting!
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