As a blogger and professional editorial and technical writer, I have collected a variety of online resources and references to help me write, blog, and work. The following are a list of Internet resources, sources, references, guides, and tools that help me with my basic blog writing research and publishing.
I use these resources to help me research, but also as link recommendations in my technical article. As a professional writer and blogger, it’s important to keep a stash of resources and links to save time. Every blogger has their own unique list of resources and sources they call upon. These are just a few of mine.
Over the next week or two, I’ll share a variety of my blogging resources, including my WordPress-specific resources. Stay tuned.
Bring The Information to Me
While it is typical to go seeking information elsewhere, I like having the power to bring the information to me, too.
Google Alerts allows you to set up keyword search terms and have Google search for them within their database and news indexes, bringing the latest results to your email inbox. I use this to track WordPress news, WordPress Tips, news about me and my blog, and more.
I also use Google Alerts to help me research information for articles I’m working on. Lately, I’ve been researching personal blogs and blog writing, so I’ve set up a Google Alerts to cover those search terms and their synonyms, bringing tips and techniques on the subject to my inbox to investigate.
Google Reader is quickly becoming one of the most popular feed readers. If you aren’t using feeds, you are missing out on one of the most valuable blogging and information monitoring tools in the world.
I categorize my feeds by my writing topics and categories, for WordPress, SEO, blogging, business of blogging, and topics related to my specific blogs such as photography, genealogy, and travel. To compile my WordPress Wednesday news on the Blog Herald each week, I dig into my WordPress feed category looking for news.
Rarely will I use the option on a blog to subscribe via feed or email to their post comments. However, if the topic is of value for me to monitor, I will do so, tracking the comments on that post.
Yahoo! Pipes is another method of using feeds from multiple blogs to bring information to you and your blog for research and republishing. It allows you to filter the information from the feeds so you can get access to what you need, not everything that’s published. Quick Online Tips and Engtech of Internet Duct Tape have fantastic guides for taking advantage of Yahoo! Pipes.
Many use various social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us, Furl and Spurl to bookmark sites of interest and share them with others. Online bookmarks are great, but it means extra steps to check out what you’ve marked and saved, and you have to be online to access them. I like bookmarking sites of interest in my web browser bookmarks or favorites, keeping them categorized by my research keywords. Which is where the bookmark links in this article series are stored for my fast access and usage.
There are a variety of ways to get access to the information you need, and any way you can get the information to come to you without wasting a lot of time poking around search engines and websites, do it.
The Core Online Research References
While there is much debate over the legitimacy of some content on Wikipedia, the world’s free online encyclopedia, there are a lot of excellent facts and figures easily found. Volunteers contribute their expertise, writing, and editing skills to make it one of the largest reference resources in the world.
Doubt what’s published on Wikipedia? Verify it. Double check. Check the Discussion link associated with the page to see the comments by those who question or dispute the information. Check other sources for verification and cross-checking. Don’t take any website’s word for it. Verify it to the best of your ability.
One of the most popular encyclopedias in the world continues to be Britannica Online which has free content and premium content by subscription.
The Open Directory Project aka DMOZ, the free online web directory, continues to be one of the oldest, valuable resources for online resources and sites. Some of the references are a bit out of date, but I love digging in to see what treasures I find within all those very diverse categories. I find all kinds of inspiration for articles and references and resources there.
Is It Fact or Fiction?
As with any research, you have to determine if it is fact or fiction, assumption or defensible truth, reality or myth. I use the following guidelines to evaluate the difference:
- Long Island University – Library Workshop on Evaluating Web Information
- Evaluating Web Pages: Techniques to Apply and Questions to Ask
- Evaluating Internet Information
- University of Rhode Island University – Facts, Statistics and Bias
- Evaluating Internet Research Sources
Go to your local library, get a library card, and sign up for online access to your public library. The online resources are amazing. You can check out book availability and reserve books from that library or its branches and have them waiting for you at the front desk for pick up. You also have access to many online services restricted to others that can help with your writing and blogging research.
If you don’t have a library near you, there are also online library resources that do not require subscription or paid registration (at least for basic information), which include:
- The Internet Public Library
- Librarians’ Internet Index
- The Awesome Library
- The Free Library
- Library of Congress Ask a Librarian
- ALA American Library Association
- Digital Librarian
- Digital Library of Canada
- Public Library of Science (PLoS)
- Virtual Private Library
On rare occasions, I’ve used national libraries if I can gain access to them for my research while traveling. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions offers the National Libraries of the World and National Libraries of the World: Address List which includes the national libraries of all major countries.
I have used the US National Archives and Records Administration for my genealogy and history research that covers the entire the United States. The American Memory from the Library of Congress also features historical maps and information from the United States Archives. These are invaluable resources for information on the United States and its history.
Make sure you know the definition of the word before you use it. If in doubt, you can use Google by typing
define:syzygy (or whatever word you are seeking) in the search form. The results offer definitions, examples of use, related words, synonyms, and more.
Stuck with a “what is it called” search for a word or phrase? The Reverse Dictionary lets you describe the concept and returns a list of words it recommends as related to your description.
Other dictionary resources include:
- Roget’s Internet Thesaurus
- Wordsmyth Dictionary-Thesaurus
The Urban Dictionary offers a look into the latest words on the streets of the web and world including words like choreplay, the definition of a guy doing housework in order to impress a girl. Whether you encounter the word or you want to find a new way of saying it hip and jazz, like using the word flojectile for the food stuff that hits the mirror as you floss your teeth, this is the dictionary for your blogging needs. Or try Pseudo Dictionary, another source for slang, webspeak, colloquialisms, and modern terminology.
Since I write for an international audience, I try to offer both American and Metric measurements on all my measurements. I also write about places and need to know how far one city is from another. I use a variety of resources including:
- Online Distance and Length Converter
- Geobytles – City Distance Tool
- Online Conversion
What Time is It Where?
I work with bloggers and clients all over the world, so I’m always wondering what time it is some where.
To set the clock on my computer, I use the Atomic Time Clock.
I use a variety of date calculators to determine the date of an event or estimating time such as how old this blog really is (as of March 4, 2008). It is 930 days old or 22,320 hours old. Want to go further? That’s 1,339,200 minutes or 80,352,000 seconds old. I use the 10,000 Year Calendar and Calendopaedia for such calculations.
Sometimes, my research involves referencing ancient calendars. Calendars Through the Ages is an online web exhibit on the history of calendars I enjoy.
I also cover holidays, especially computer, web, and blog related holidays. I also use an editorial calendar to schedule my articles and conferences, paying close attention to holidays in areas where I will be speaking. Web traffic changes on holidays in different countries, with some increasing traffic and many decreasing your traffic on the holidays. So it helps to be aware of the annual dates and holidays that could impact your blog.
Unfortunately, not all holidays are covered by only a single site. There are religious, government, federal, and traditional holidays. There are also “Special Days” and events holidays like Talk Like a Pirate Day and Blog Action Day.
Some calendars I use include:
- Wikipedia Category:Public Holidays By Country
- About.com’s Special Days Calendar
- Belief.net’s World Wide Religions Calendar
- Calendar Zone (traditional holidays world-wide)
- Earth Calendar
- Holidays.net (religious and secular)
- Holiday Smart
- Interfaith Calendar
- The American Secular Holidays Calendar
- timeanddate.com (international calendars)
I love using quotes, especially from writers about writing, in my blog posts. I have my own collection, but when I need to dig deeper, I hit the Writer’s Digest – The Online Guide to Writing Life Random Writing Quote Generator and Quote DB. They aren’t pretty but have a ton of quotes on writing to help kick my butt with inspiration and find the right words by someone else to make my point.
When I’m looking for other types of quotes, I hit Bartleby’s, the source for quotes, literature references, writer’s resources, and more.
Of course, if you are going to quote, you need to know how to quote ’em. The Binghamton Library’s Citing Internet and Other Electronic Resources is a great guide to help you learn how to cite (and quote) properly on the web.
Other quote resources include:
- Quotations About Writing and Publishing
- Quotations: The Yale Dictionary
- GIGA Quotes
- Lights! Cameras! Quotations!
- Quote Lady
- Things people said (quotes from real people)
- The Quotations Page
Movies, Television, Theatre
It’s common to reference movies, television shows, theatre, plays, and even opera in blog posts. If you need to reference a movie, the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is the resource for all the movies made. Also try the Academy Awards Database and Reel Classics.
In order to get your quote exact, consider getting it directly from scripts. Check out Movie Scripts from Script-o-rama and Simply Scripts, covering scripts of movie, radio, television, plays, and musicals.
Quoting from television? Try:
CliffsNotes are still around, the student’s favorite shortcut for learning and getting to the thick of the plot in theatre, opera, books, engineering, sciences, and more.
“Peruse this writing here, and thou shalt know,
The treason that my haste forbids me show.”
King Richard II. Act 5, Scene 3
Shakespeare Searched and The Collected Works of the Bard offer extensive online collections of William Shakespeare’s work, excellent for hunting for that favorite Shakespeare phrase and want to reference its source.
I often quote from books, especially classic novels or technical books, in my blog posts. Some I own, others I’ve found in libraries, but even more I’ve found online in digital form. You can find out-of-print and public domain books of all kinds, including classics, at Project Gutenberg and Great Literature Online.
The Online Books – Banned Books Online offers books banned now and in the past with links to the books for downloading and reading.
Other online book resources for fiction, non-fiction, and technical textbook include:
- Swedish University Network – Sunnet FTP site – Scholarly, Technical, and Web References and Books Online
- World eBook Library
- Textbook Revolution
- Directory of Open Access Journals (international)
- Electronic Text Collections
- Electronic Text Collections and Archives
- Digital Library Project Online Educational and Text Books
There are a variety of resources for looking up whose who in the past and present in addition to Wikipedia. S9 Biographical Dictionary, a wiki, covers more than 33,000 notable people “who have shaped our world from ancient times to the present day.” Biography is an online site filled with celebrity biography information hosted by the popular television channel.
Dead People Server is a database of “interesting celebrities who are long dead or newly dead.” They even include a special section called Quash Those Death Rumors to check out who people are saying are dead but really aren’t, or vise versa, and any missed are probably found in Ever Wonder What Happened To…? Also, check out Find-A-Grave, which offers pictures of graves around the world.
Who’s Who Online covers those who’ve achieved measurable online success. The Pop Sub-Culture Biography Project showcases the “contributions of authors, artists, scientists, film makers and other culturally influential individuals on underground culture in its various forms.”
There are also many biography resources on American Library Association – Biography Resources: Finding Information On The Famous, Infamous, and Obscure and the Bibliomania – Biographical Dictionary.
Free Pictures and Graphics
I write for some blogs and online magazines that require photographs or graphics to accompany the article. While I’m a professional nature and travel photography, I often don’t have images that match what I’m writing about. I’ve written up a resource list of Free Photos for Your Blog, but I’ve recently found Finding Images on the Web and Mary Laine’s Finding Images and Sounds on the Web (dated but still good resources).
Also, the Library of Congress has put many of their archived images on Flickr, offering some great free images from the US past.
Don’t forget to give credit where credit is due when you use these images, free or not.
One Stop Reference Sources
There are a variety of online sites that try to be everything for everyone, and sometimes they succeed. Some of these one stop reference sources specialize in educational and technical resources, while others are glorified online libraries with everything and anything. You’ll have to check them out to find which one works best for your blogging needs.
A few of my favorite one stop reference resources include:
- Refdesk has been around for many years and offers a one-stop research destination for news, sports, financial news, online calculators, currency converter, dictionaries, encyclopedias, magazines, literature, you name it, they probably have a link to it. I’d love to see this site updated but it still remains incredibly useful.
- Infoplease describes itself as “all the knowledge you need” and offers a wide range of encyclopedias, dictionaries, biographies, news, sciences, history, and more.
- Infomine is a search engine for “Scholarly Internet Resource Collections” which means technical and educational reference and research information on sciences, math, history, language, and more.
- Bibliomania offers free online literature from classic books, literature book notes, author biographies, book summaries, study guides for teachers, references, dictionaries, quotes, biographies, interviews, and more.
- Martindale’s Reference Desk features links to calculators, languages, translations, educational references, industry references, travel, and much more.
- Academic Index is a meta search engine for teachers and students that isn’t pretty nor easy to sort through, but you can sometimes find some interesting papers and references you might not find elsewhere.
- InvisibleWeb picks up where other search engines leave off, uncovering a wide range of topics and resources.
- Virtual Reference Shelf is the US Library of Congress Virtual Reference Desk as part of their Ask a Librarian services.
Other Online References and Resources
There are a lot of odds and ends resources I use as I write and research my blog posts. I may not use them frequently, but they are in my bookmark list to make sure I can find them when I need them.
- How Stuff Works
- Internet Archive
- Wayback Machine
- MetaCrawler Web Search
- Dogpile Web Search
- Mamma Metasearch
- Clusty – Cluster Search Engine
- Metacrawlers and Metasearch Engines Guide – Search Engine Watch
- Meta – Search Engines – Analysis and Comparison Guide
Every blogger has their own unique collection of references and resources as meets their blogging needs. What are your favorites?
- Blogging Resources and Sources to Help You Blog
- Blog Resources for English Language and Blog Writing
- Blog Resources: Researching the Research, Finding the Facts, and Seeking Supporting Evidence
- Blogging Resources: Business and Professional Resources and References for Bloggers and Writers « Lorelle on WordPress
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