Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Planet Atheism FAQ

What is Planet Atheism?

Planet Atheism (PA) is an aggregator of atheism-related blogs. At any time, PA shows the most recent twenty or so posts from its member blogs, in chronological order.

Is Planet Atheism a blog?

No, it's an aggregator of blogs. It doesn't have original content of its own, but gets it from the member blogs.
In practical terms, however, you can read it as a blog with more than 75 different authors. :)

Is PA a blogroll, then?

Again, no. Technically, a blogroll is simply a list of links, like those most blogs have on their sidebars. There are also more "serious" blogrolls, which are maintained by someone and then shared among many blogs. For instance, one I heartily recommend is Mojoey's Atheist Blogroll. We're not in competition, since we provide two different services; in fact, we're members of each other's service. :)

Are you ripping off other people's content?

Not at all. All of the members have either asked to join, or accepted my invitation. I'd never add a feed to PA without the author's express permission.

What can PA do for me and my blog?

Two words: increased readership. Many people who might never have found your blog otherwise (not due to lack of quality, but simply because the web is so huge) may read it through Planet Atheism, enjoy what you write, and visit your blog to post or read comments.

Sounds cool! Can I join?

Sure, if your blog is about atheism, secular humanism, protecting the separation of church and state, denouncing the abuses of religion, and so on. Details on joining are at the end, since I'd like you to read the rest of the FAQ first. :)

Wait... most of my posts aren't about that at all, though I do write a couple of good ones on that subject from time to time. What can I do?

I'd never tell anyone to write about anything other than what they want to write, of course, so please don't ever consider changing your blog's subject matter because of PA. :) If at least 50% of your posts are about atheism, you can join (a little variety now and then actually makes PA more interesting, in my opinion).

But what if your atheism-related posts are less than 50%? You have an alternative, then: provide a category feed, which includes posts from that category only. In WordPress, it's easy; I don't know if you can do it in Blogger, though. Consult your blog service / software's documentation, or, if desperate, ask, and maybe I or someone else can help.

What do I need to join?

Basically, your blog must provide an RSS or Atom feed. All the popular blog platforms (Blogger, WordPress, etc.) are fine.

Also, this is not mandatory, but I'd really prefer if you provided full feeds, instead of just small excerpts, as many blogs are configured to do. For the (comparatively few) readers of PA who really prefer excerpts, there is a Planet Atheism - short posts version.

But I need to provide excerpts for some other service I'm a member of...

This one is easy: join FeedBurner (it's free), then configure your blog to provide full feeds, and FeedBurner to change it into excerpts. Provide your original feed to PA, and the FB feed to whoever needs excerpts.

Wait a minute. If PA will provide my posts in full, won't that mean that nobody will need to visit my blog anymore? My blog is supported by ads, and...

In my experience, the advantages far outweigh any possible disadvantages:
  • readers will still need to visit your blog to comment or read comments, and with many more readers, the number who do so will actually increase
  • your regular readers aren't likely to change their habits, and will keep visiting your blog; you won't "lose" anyone to PA
  • since each of your posts in PA includes a link to the original version (on your blog), search engines such as Google recognize which is the original version, and send readers there, not to PA
  • you gain PageRank from the links to your blog on PA, improving the odds of your posts appearing in search results
  • being on PA makes you a part of a growing community which actively comments on each other's blogs, mentions your posts on their own blogs, and so on.

This is nice! What can I do to help Planet Atheism?

Basically, help spread the word. For instance:
  • Add a permanent link to PA on your blog's sidebar (you can use these buttons)
  • Mention PA in a post (many current members already did this when joining, and it has helped a lot)
  • Tell other people about PA ("did you know of this convenient place to read a bunch of interesting blogs about atheism and humanism?", or "we atheists aren't the monsters you believe we are. Want to know what we're really like? Here's a nice place to start...")
  • Know of a great atheism-related blog that isn't aggregated? Suggest to the author that he/she joins!
  • Unleash the power of social bookmarking: add PA to your bookmarks, join the PA community on MyBlogLog, vote for PA (by installing the toolbar, and clicking on "I like it" on it) on StumbleUpon, and so on.

Who are you?

I'm Pedro Timóteo, author of Way of the Mind, among other blogs and sites. More about me here.

Why do you hate God? / You can't prove God doesn't exist! / etc.

Sorry, but this is a FAQ for Planet Atheism, not atheism itself. There are many fine atheism FAQs out there, such as this, this, or this.

I'm sold! :) How can I join?

Just email with your blog's details (name, URL, feed URL, and possibly a short description).

Last updated: 20 May 2007