How do I comment on a Blogger blog and automatically link back to my website?

Blogger changed its comment form

Recently many bloggers have become upset upon discovering that a comment they write for a Blogger blog no longer links back to their own blog–unless they have a Blogger/Google ID. Blogger has responded by saying these commenters can post using OpenID.

As the official OpenID site explains,

…people are already creating identities for themselves whether it be at their blog, photostream, profile page, etc. With OpenID you can easily transform one of these existing URIs into an account which can be used at sites which support OpenID logins.

The idea behind OpenID is that you would have one login and password for all the places you visit on the web, and that login could be associated with a website, either your profile at a service you use, or your own website. But many non-Blogger commenters resent having to sign up with yet another service–and are annoyed with the inconvenience of typing their url into every post.

You may already have an OpenID

News Flash! You may already have an OpenID. No fooling! If you are a member of AOL, LiveJournal, Vox, Technorati, WordPress.com, or have a TypeKey id, your username for any of those is an OpenID login. If you self-host using WordPress software, do you use the Akismet plugin? Then you also have a WordPress login, remember? That’s how you got your Akismet key.

Send readers of your comments to your website

You do have to type in a bit more than the username, as the OpenID website explains. It often is the url to your profile page, and that’s where the comment will link back to. But the website with your already-established OpenID may not your primary hangout on the web, or it doesn’t have your website associated with it. For example, you may have registered with Technorati for other reasons, but you don’t want your blog comments to link to your Technorati profile. You want your comments to link to your website. If you have access to the part of your html code enclosed by <head> tags, there is a way to remedy this.

Just a little html will do the trick

If you are using WordPress.com as your OpenID provider, put these two lines of code into your <head> section:

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://username.wordpress.com/?openidserver=1" />
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://username.wordpress.com/" />

If you are using AOL as your OpenID provider, put these two lines of code into your <head> section:

<link rel="openid.server" href="https://api.screenname.aol.com/auth/openidServer" >
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://openid.aol.com/screenname" >

If you are using TypeKey as your OpenID provider, put these two lines of code into your <head> section:

<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://profile.typekey.com/username/" />
 <link rel="openid.server" href="https://www.typekey.com/t/openid" />

If you are using LiveJournal as your OpenID provider, put these two lines of code into your <head> section:

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.livejournal.com/openid/server.bml"/<
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://username.livejournal.com/"/<

If you are using Vox as your OpenID provider, put these two lines of code into your <head> section:

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://www.vox.com/services/openid/server"/<
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://member.vox.com"/<

If you are using Technorati as your OpenID provider, put these two lines of code into your <head> section:

<link rel="openid.server" href="http://technorati.com/openid/" />
<link rel="openid.delegate" href="http://technorati.com/people/technorati/username/>

In each example, you would substitute your unique username for the part that’s in italics. Only use one of these, even if you have OpenIDs with more than one of them. You can use the other OpenIDs without the redirection, however. WARNING: Do not copy the code straight from this blog into your html file. As Bill points out in the comments below, the quotation marks are not right. I just tried to fix them and they aren’t fixing. Copy the code into a plain text editor (like Notepad) and delete each quotation mark and retype it. That fixed it for me.

Delegation is the name of the game

These two lines of code are known as OpenID delegation, in case you want to look up more about it. By adding these two lines of code, you are linking your website with the OpenID that you already have. When you comment with that OpenID–when you use it anywhere, in fact–your name becomes a link back to your website.

OpenID delegation in action

Here’s how it works in practice. After you’ve added those two lines of code to your website’s html, go to your favorite Blogger blog and comment as usual. Complete the word verification, and then choose the OpenID option and pick Any OpenID from the drop-down box. If you want it to link to your website, you need to type in your website’s url. You only need to type in the domain name; you can skip the http and the www. For example, when I comment on gardening blogs I would use my gardening website, coldclimategardening.com.

When you click on Publish Your Comment, the browser window gets sent to your website, which refers it to your OpenID provider. The first time you do this, the provider will ask you to sign in or ask for some other verification. If you’re lucky, it will also ask if you want to be authenticated just for this time, or always. If you often comment on Blogger blogs, telling it “always” will make the process go faster next time. If all goes as it should, your comment will be published and automatically linked to your website.

I used my WordPress OpenID to test this out. Besides asking permission, WordPress also asked if it could pass my name to Blogger. I said yes, and so my comment is signed with my first name, and my name links to my gardening website. Even though I do have a Blogger id, I am considering using my OpenID to comment on Blogger, because it links directly to my website instead of my Blogger profile, eliminating an extra click between potential visitors and my site.

What if I’m scared to mess with my code?

Most bloggers have a friend or relative who helps them with this stuff. If you don’t, I can help you for a fee.

Acknowledgements

I went to an awful lot of sites trying to piece this together. The most helpful site by far was Simon Willison’s post, which I found via a Wired article. While I was testing it out, I posted an awful lot of comments at May Dreams Gardens and A Study in Contrasts. Thanks to Carol and Kim for your kind toleration.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Very well explained…anyway, I think so. Your best “beta” tester for this explanation might be Susan Harris who seemed to be completely freaked out by the concept of delegation and html headers when she blogged about it at Garden Rant. (I lost count of how many times that thread devolved into exclamations of “WTF!”)

    We self-host our WordPress blogs and don’t use Akismet so I don’t think we have a WordPress login. We will probably set up something using phpMyID. I found this explanation under the heading Master of Your Domain helpful…for people who like to tweak under the hood. Not that I do that much any more but I, too, can delegate.

    In considering OpenID I’m not convinced it meets my needs. In addition to having to do the extra work just to satisfy Blogger, my underlying issue is that I have different blogs for different audiences. So, I don’t really want a single identity for all my comments nor do I want to point all my comments to my garden blog.

    You also have multiple blogs. Did you set up your OpenID to point back just to Cold Climate Gardening? What if you were commenting on non-gardening blogs about issues you blog about here–like OpenID?

  • Kathy Purdy

    Remember, you put the delegation on your website. So I could put that code in the html of this blog, and then sign in to comment with the url of this blog. I am not sure if I could use the same OpenID provider for both, although WordPress.com has both of my blogs listed in its universal dashboard. I could just pick a different OpenID from the several that I apparently already have, and delegate that one to this blog. I’m not at all sure that was the intention of the OpenID developers, to have several OpenIDs floating around, but the potential is certainly there.

    I also saw the explanation you refer to, and it quickly went over my head. I wasn’t sure how much of it applied only to those using a dedicated server, and I don’t know much about PHP. I did find a plugin that enables one’s WordPress blog to function as an OpenID consumer, as Blogger now does. I also found a plugin which sounds like it does the same thing that I did by hand, but it asks for a third value, XRDS Url, and I don’t know what that is or how it fits into the grand scheme of things.

    I could have entitled this post, “The Least You Need to Know About OpenID” (or the least I know). I spent a good part of a day trying to find the specific values for the websites above, combing through FAQs and support forums, which often told how to be an OpenID consumer without getting into delegation at all. Then at the end of the day, I learned from Simon Wilson that the OpenID server info is right there in View Source!

    I could have easily spent the whole day researching the pros and cons of OpenID itself–but I didn’t. I really don’t know if it is an improvement over the current state of affairs or another way to make one’s activity online less private and more vulnerable to tampering. If you can point me to a site that gives an informed, balanced view of the pros and cons, in something that approaches plain English, I’d be grateful. I know I didn’t stumble across such a thing in my research of delegation.

  • I’ll reluctantly check into doing this. Mostly I didn’t see anything wrong with the way things worked before. It seems like the technology should be used to make things easier instead of making it more difficult.
    I have more or less stopped commenting on Blogger altogether.
    I also hate that darned Captcha thing.

  • I feel exactly the same way that Bill does–that is, why should we non-Blogger users have to go through all this trouble to accomplish in a less elegant way a task that worked perfectly well for years. (Rhetorical question, Kathy–I’m not asking you to defend Blogger; I’m very grateful that you’ve spent so much time researching and publishing a SOLUTION rather than stopping at step 1, whining, like so many of the rest of us did.)

    From the comments I’ve read elsewhere about this issue, I realize that some Blogger users think we’re picking on them for choosing Blogger. That’s not it at all. Many of my best blogging buddies blog via Blogger. So I WANT to be able to continue to participate in their discussions. For them, I’m definitely motivated to jump through hoops to retain my relationship. But that is the exception. The bottom line is that many people, like Bill, will stop commenting on Blogger blogs. I know that when reviewing new blogs, I’m going to feel hesitant about striking up a conversation if it’s a Blogger blog–simply because of the extra trouble. So you Blogger bloggers out there, you are losing readers.

    What Google/Blogger has done is disable a long-standing, existing feature in order to make it more difficult to interact with their users unless you also become one of their users. I’ve worked in software a long time and I find it difficult to believe that it was just a mistake. Before OpenID was touted as a solution, how many people chose to set up a dummy Blogger blog so that they could leave comments? Doesn’t that look great in the quarterly report…Blogger has increased its market share by X per cent.

  • If you’re using WordPress, Live Journal and the rest you don’t even need to set up delegation or add code to your header. I’ve tested it twice now on my blog (most recently on Dont Quit Your Day Blogs) and all I did was choose “any openID” and placed my wordpress url in the box provided and allowed for my comment to go through.

    It has my name and the url of the wordpress blog I was testing with.

    In the same post someone who was on Blogger and moved to self-hosted finally got an OpenID and realized how easy it was to comment and have a link back.

    And as far as us Blogger users losing readers and Blogger trying to force people to sign up for Blogger accounts I find that pretty laughable.

  • Kathy Purdy

    Mr. Brown Thumb, I tried it that way, too, and it does indeed work. But what delegation does is enable you to link back to what you consider your primary website. I have a “blog” at WordPress.com, too, but I just mess around with it. I want to link to my main gardening blog at Cold Climate Gardening when I comment, and that’s what delegation enables me to do–without creating yet another OpenID.

    MSS–at Mr. Brown Thumb’s blog I tried delegating this blog’s url to wordpress.com as well, and WordPress wasn’t buying it. So I guess each blog has to have its own OpenID, or perhaps Sam Ruby’s explanation, which I didn’t fully understand, showed how to deal with that problem.

    Another interesting glitch: the first time I commented on Carol’s blog with my delegated OpenID, it asked me if I wanted to pass my first name, I said yes, and it did. Since then, it hasn’t asked, and I’m listed as my url.

  • Mr BrownThumb, I believe you mentioned elsewhere that your blog was on WordPress.com. The primary difficulty I think is with those bloggers like Kathy, MSS and myself who run our own private installations of WordPress. I don’t know how many of us there are but it seems like a lot to me. And I don’t think it is laughable at all to think that Blogger blogs will lose readers and commenters until this is worked out. However I suspect that the next version of WordPress will probably have OpenID built in. I don’t know why I am only reading about these problems on gardening blogs.

    Kathy, thanks a lot for all your research. BTW, your code snippets have two different kinds of quotation marks in them. I don’t know if this is a problem.

    I followed your instructions but it still did not work for me. I made a comment on May Dreams and then it opened my website in the comment window and that was as far it went.

  • @kathy it may have to do with the “set up” because the first time (dec 2nd or 3rd) I tested commenting with a Word Press account all I did was comment while signed out of Blogger but singed into Word Press. And chose to allow it only once. Today when I commented I didn’t sign into Word Press but chose the openID option instead of the WP option and it prompted me to sign into WP. The options presented reminded me of signing into an email account where you have to check or uncheck “remember me.” So if you don’t initially choose to be remembered you may get to choose with url is used. But I only have one WP account maybe I should set up another one and test it out.

    @Bill: No, my blog is on Blogger. A couple of weeks ago I created an account at WP because I noticed that someone was going around and registering “MrBrownThumb” email accounts with the free email providers. So I’ve been registering “MrBrownThumb” accounts left and right to try to get to them before the spoofer because I’m thinking something may be coming down the pipeline for me and it aint going to be pretty.

    Ironically, the OpenID trend is suppose to prevent or lessen the chances of comment “spoofing” and having you associated with comments you didn’t make on blogs. A while back I was reading the comments on one of those “content leader” blogs and noticed the blog owner was upset that someone kept leaving comments and dropping “Burpee.com” in the url field. While I’m no fan of OpenID I can see how that will lessen or completely end because the blog owner knows that the only time a url is left in a comment is when the owner of the OpenID leaves it. All the other times the comment can be scrapped.

    And I said it was laughable because 1) non-Blogger comments on Blogger blogs are the exception and not the norm. I don’t think Blogger blogs will be shriveling up like raisins in the sun anytime soon. 2) I don’t see how implementing a system that many other blogs already have that allow for portability and access is somehow being construed as Blogger trying to get more users. 3) Yesterday I had my first ever comment from someone using Live Journal and he used an OpenID. Before I couldn’t comment on Live Journal blogs that would link to me because I didn’t have a Live Journal account but now that I can use my Blogger account as an OpenID I’ll be more likely to visit gardeners on Live Journal since I can now comment.

    Compare your site stats to the number of comments you have received. Do you get a comment for every visit or page view? The last time I checked I got somewhere between 500-700 visits from Google searches a month with about 2 page views per visit. I have somewhere between 121-135 subscribers. I have nowhere near an equal ratio of comments to visitors/readers/subscribers. Just because a blog isn’t loaded with comments doesn’t meant that people aren’t reading it. It just means that like with most blogs a tiny fraction of the people who read it will ever bother to comment and out of that tiny fraction is an even tinier fraction of people who comment that don’t use that blogging platform. That’s why I found it laughable.

  • I also was not able to leave a comment using the prairiepoint.wordpress.com site that I created.

    When I try to do that it comes up with a screen saying I need to sign in to my Wordpress blog, but it does not have any links or provide any means to log in. Meanwhile I am already logged in to the blog in another tab anyway.

  • Kathy Purdy

    Bill, I noticed those funny quotes about the same time you commented on them. I had copied my own code into this blog’s html, and when I viewed the source in my browser those funny quotes were question marks. I just tried again with delegation using this website but the same wordpress.com account as my coldclimategardening delegation, and it does work now. I don’t know why it doesn’t work for you, Bill. It seems the folks on the WordPress.com support forum have the most trouble when a redirection is involved. I don’t pretend to know anymore about it so I can’t help troubleshoot.

    Mr. Brown Thumb, can you indeed use your Blogger ID as an OpenID? My understanding was that, at this point, Blogger was an OpenID consumer, but not a provider. In other words, it will accept OpenIDs from other sources but doesn’t provide OpenIDs itself. There are an awful lot of places that accept them without providing them, though I understand Blogger intends eventually to be a provider. And I couldn’t find the OpenID server link in your source code, either.

    Now I’m going to fix those quotation marks.

  • Strange. I changed my password on the wordpress.com site and it started working. Also the delegation on my other site started working too. I use strong passwords and the first one may have been too long or something like that. Who knows.

  • It is working on making it “native” in the Blogger templates but there has been a way to do it since Dec 3rd. I personally just haven’t taken the jump myself.

    Using OpenID for Blogger Comments

    And I just realized that I forgot to mention in the comment above that Blogger blogs have always had the option to close off comments to non-Blogger users. The reason that non-Blogger blogs allow for comments from people not registered is because the blog owner enabled comments from outside sources. So the claim that Blogger is trying to segregate us or force people sign up to comment now on Blogger blogs is doubly laughable.

    BTW I’m not sure how your comment is going handle the link I posted above so forgive me it doesn’t come through correctly

  • I did not like the “nickname” that OpenId was giving me so I changed it by going back to the wordpress.com blog and deleting blogger.com from the list of trusted sites. On my next comment it again showed me the screen where I was asked if I trusted Blogger (?) and I could change my nickname then.

    But I notice that you are using different nicknames for this blog and for your other blog, Kathy. How did you do that?

  • Looks like there is a new url field below the nickname option. Or maybe I just hadn’t noticed it before.

  • MrBrownThumb: The primary reason I blog is to find other people who share my passion. In the early days of blogging, I found other blogs through the recommendations of bloggers I liked, either via their blogrolls or through directories, like the one Kathy Purdy maintains at Cold Climate Gardening. Now that more gardeners are blogging, my main method of finding new bloggers is through comments. And no, I don’t read blogs that disable comments, nor do I recommend them to my friends.

    What differentiates blogging from other types of publishing is interaction. I read blogs rather than personal homepages or online magazines because the format is friendly to discussion. When someone leaves a comment on my blog I infer an underlying invitation to visit his or her blog–which I always do. And when I’m at someone else’s blog, reading the discussion in the comments is like meeting new people at a party at a friend’s house. If someone leaves an interesting comment on a friend’s blog, I follow up.

    Blogging is about dialog. When I refer to my “readers”, I mean the people who are involved in the discussion of whatever topic I’m posting. Of course I have more subscribers than people who leave comments regularly. And I know there are non-bloggers who read my site because they’ve contacted me via email or tell me so when I’ve met them in person. But those people are not involved in the community of the blog; however, my job as writer is to make it easier and more attractive for them to get involved.

    Let me agree with you for a moment and say it was just an innocent oversight at Blogger. How can you ignore the reaction of the people who feel shut out of the discussion on their favorite Blogger blogs? Pam/Digging and Susan Harris @ Garden Rant were both so frustrated that they wrote posts to alert their readers. Kathy Purdy invested a lot of time researching a solution and publishing it here. Bill @ Prairie Point and I have both said that we are reluctant to put up with the bother.

    And that’s the bottom line. All five of us are long-time bloggers who spend a lot of time encouraging people to join the community. So if the five of us are this frustrated…what about all those people who are less motivated, who are casual bloggers, who are less technical, who are shy about leaving comments anyway, or who are hesitating setting up their own blog? Does dropping this functionality make it easier for them to participate in the garden blogger community?

    The purpose of any tool, software or otherwise, is to make tasks simpler. The purpose of any company, software or otherwise, is to make money. These goals do not always coincide. Software development focuses on providing new functionality (sometimes making a product so feature-laden that it becomes difficult to use, e.g. Microsoft Word). Purposely disabling existing functionality is a rare move. Who wants a product which proclaims “Now with less features!” It’s like taking away free checking at your bank or disabling the power steering on a car you’ve owned for three years.

    I don’t know about you but I want to do everything I can to encourage readers to join the discussion at my blog. When I read Kathy’s instructions above, even though they are clear and concise, I can’t help but grind my teeth and wonder if it’s worth the bother. How much effort am I willing to make to join the discussion at your place? Why am I the one who has to do the work in our relationship? Why doesn’t the software do the work? It used to. Or why don’t you just come over to my place, where they system works the same way for everyone.

  • I guess you’ve noticed that Blogger has changed the comment form again and now allows you to put in your URL when you comment using a nickname. I just made a new comment on Carols blog using this method. Works just like it used to.

  • OMIGOD, I had to stop reading. Tech arguments are just poison to me, but let me know when it gets easy and I’ll give it a try. I’m not sure how much I’ll stop reading blogs I can’t comment on, whether it’ll be too frustrating to not be able to participate fully. But it’s sad to think this is where it’ll be left, with nontechnies so excluded. Keep complaining to them and on forums!!
    Even IF it were easy, I leave a variety of URLs all over the web, depending on the context, so one ID doesn’t work for me. This sucks; don’t give in.

  • Oh my god, after all that angst, after posting about this frustrating issue, after setting up a mock Blogger blog but not really liking that option, after resigning myself to pasting HTML code to link back to Digging every time I commented on a Blogger blog, after reading posts about Open ID and trying to figure out how the heck to make it work with my blog (it wasn’t already enabled; I use Word Press software, but I do not have a Word Press log-in), after finally trying out Open ID last night with major help from my tech guru (it took us a good 45 minutes to figure out how to set it up, even with the wonderful help you provide in this post, Kathy)—after all that, Blogger has put the old Nickname-with-URL feature back on its comment field. Thank you, Bill, for pointing this out! Thank you, Blogger, for doing the right thing by people who found the old system much easier. I hope never to have to give commenting another thought.

  • Kathy Purdy

    Bill, regarding this comment of yours, here is a summary of what I did:

    After inserting the delegation code specifying wordpress.com as the OpenID provider into coldclimategardening.com, I made this comment on Carol’s blog, using coldclimategardening.com as my OpenID. Wordpress asked for verification, and I said “always.” I also left Kathy as my nickname, and also filled in the first and last name fields. As you can see, the comment shows my name as Kathy. Then I thought I ought to check out how non-delegated OpenID worked, to make sure I was accurately representing it. (I may have done some more commenting at Carol’s, but I did tell her she could delete them.) Anyway, the next one I can still find is at Kim’s Study in Contrasts blog, where I signed in with the url to my Technorati profile. Technorati just asked for permission without providing an opportunity to modify my nickname, so it displays my Technorati username. Back to Carol’s blog, where I signed in with my Typekey profile url and then my my wordpress.com blog url. In all cases, the username I registered at the service provider became the name associated with the comment. After doing all that, I decided to see if my delegated OpenID still worked. In this comment, I typed in the url of my gardening blog as I did the first time, but since I had told WordPress.com to always trust Blogger, it didn’t ask me about nicknames and didn’t use mine. Then I had a lot of trouble with the delegation for this blog. Nothing seemed to work. I finally looked at the source code with my browser and realized all those funny quotation marks were rendered as question marks. No wonder it kept telling me “Invalid OpenID”! Finally I got it to work for this comment, using WordPress for my OpenID provider just as I had for my gardening blog. So you can use the same OpenID and delegate to two separate websites.

    So I didn’t change my nickname, I kept changing OpenID providers. WordPress was the only provider that let me use a nickname, and it didn’t after the first time. I am going to try what you did, Bill, and remove Blogger from my trusted list and redo the process to see if I can keep my nickname.

  • I”m getting messages saying Blogger scrapped the new system and gone back to the old, but just now I wasn’t able to comment on ELiz’s blog, so I guess not.

  • Kathy Purdy

    Pam et al., it’s sick, isn’t it? I’m not sorry to learn more about OpenID, but I would have scheduled my investigation for a more convenient time if I had known. Blogger appears to have learned a thing or two about its clientele.

  • Thanks for your comment on my blog. I will be posting again soon about how I set up a MyOpenID.com account and delegation. Kind regards. Justin

  • I would love to learn more about OpenID. Thanks for your article.

  • There are actually a few different ones out there. I have been giving this software a go and see how it pans out.

    You have a great site and i return to it ever now and then as i find the time.

  • Thanks for the post! I just finished setting this up for my blog exactly 30 seconds ago. It works like a charm. So now I’ve decided I’m going to test it here :)

    Thank you for the very helpful post! It was greatly appreciated.

  • stimulating and informative, but would be suffering with something more on this topic?

  • Hello ! :)
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your posts are really interesting
    And want to ask you: will you continue to post in this blog in future?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you:)
    Piter Kokoniz, from Latvia

  • Hi. I recently started a Blogger blog which I have different links from my website and Facebook page going to it. Is it kosher to comment on your own blog just to get a link back to your own site? I used to be with Wordpress, but found it difficult to work with as I could never see what I was typing directly into the blog space. I always had to write something up in my word processor and copy and paste into Wordpress. So, recently, because it is “push-button” publishing, I finally chose blogger. But I guess there is a down side to every choice. I have left my web address in my profile on the blog but am not allowed to hyperlink it.

  • Okay, I am back. Just realized I do have a connection between my blogger blog and my website. Cool. But I did find some helpful tips in your writing here. Thanks much.

  • Hi, Thanks for this really helpful post.
    My problem is that I set my openid to post linking to my website, but now my openid posts use my url as my NAME as well, instead of my name linking to my URL.
    I feel I must be close to having this right….can anyone lead me aright here?
    Thanks in advance!

  • @ Katie – are you using myopenid.com? That is a bit tricky I’ve found! You want to look at the persona settings a bit–likely your answer is in there. Make sure you have your Nickname filled out properly, my suspicion is that you’ve filled out your name but not nickname, which is what I believe shows up on most comments as your Name.
    Hope this is helpful!