Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Lesson 4: Blogging Platforms

Posted by Adam Graham on March 11, 2007

A blogging platform is simply the software you use to make blog posts. Which should you use?

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you’re going to want to pay to have your blog on a domain (adamsweb.us for example) or whether you want to go ahead and start out with a hosted blog for free. While hosting your own blog on your own domain is a great place to go as you gain more experience in this whole blogging thing is a great idea, if you’re not too sure, starting out hosting on another site (like wordpress.com) allows you to test drive the whole idea of blogging and find out if it will work for you without being charged a fee.

Lets take a look at the best and worst of blogging software for our purposes.

On Your Own Host:

First, you do need to find your own host. I’ll reccomend my host. (affiliate link) as they provide a good rate and several free blogging software pieces already installed.

I should preface the discussion by saying that if you are creative and determined enough, you can make any type of blog software work for you. The issue that comes in here is time and ease. Some platforms you can make look pretty, but it’s going to take work and the question is how much time are you willing to spend when you there are simpler platforms.

Now, let’s go into the worst and best software to use if you’re on your own site:

Worst:

Movable Type

Don’t get me wrong, because you can do amazing things with Movable Type, but for the beginning blogger it’s far too complex and it’s far too easy to make a catastrophic mistake. It is advanced blogging software, not what I’d reccomend for beginners.

Non-standard Blog Software:

My blog uses a fairly small piece of blog software called b2evolution. It’s been the bane of my existence as support is harder to find and anti-spam solutions are not as well-established. If in your blogging career, you focus on WordPress, Typepad, Blogger, and Movable Type (if you get really advanced and adventurous), you’ll do well.

Acceptable:

Blogger:

While there are problems with hosting on Blogspot, many people use a custom blogger template to host the blog on their domain. You want to be sure the template looks very good.

The Best:

Scoop or Drupal (for Community Blogs only.):

Scoop is the basis of many community blogs including Daily Kos and is by far the most common, Drupal is the basis of many blogs include Idaho’s liberal 43rd State Blues. Both come enabled with RSS feeds, and allows users to sign up and start their own diary. This is very important. A key difference between a Blogging Community and a group blog is that anyone can join a blogging community. Group Blogs are limited to those selected to become authors Please do not use Scoop or Drupal for anything other than a blogging community. Drupal, by the way comes pre-installed with Powweb.

Typepad:

Many very good bloggers swear by Typepad. It’s very flexible software that has good features. Be aware that Typepad will charge a minimum of $4.95 a month on top of your web hosting.

Word Press is the blogging software of record for bloggers across the spectrum. If you’re going to host your own blog, it is the software I’d reccomend you starting with. It has many great features in terms of spam fighting, several very well-designed templates, and provides an excellent system for managing your content.

Take a look at Ask Andrea, Save the GOP, Stop the ACLU, Jo’s Cafe and you see how much flexability WordPress offers in allowing you to customize your blog.

Hosted Blogging:

Not Encouraged:

Live Journal, My Space, Xanga, Face Book

Simply put, these are not considered as serious political blog platforms. If you want to host that will impact politics beyond these forums, you’ll want to use a more recognized software. This would be OK for supplemental purposes or to serve as an outreach, but for primary blogging, it’s a no go.

Blogspot: I’ve create several blogs on Blog Spot, and the answer on this one is a definite “No!” Not only do you have to hunt around for a good template (or create one yourself), to get the blog on a more functional level, you have to install several different pieces of code to get standard features from other types of software. Finally, some services have started to ban Blogspot as spam do the high number of Splogs. (i.e. Spam Blogs.)

Unknown Services:

There are many smaller less known services out there that offer blog hosting. My reccomendation is not to use them. In some cases, an entire domain might be banned across multiple servers due to presence of Splogs on that domain, thus limiting your reach.

Acceptable Services:

Typepad:

So you’re not going to pay for a domain name, but you’ll pay $50 a year to host the blog? Doesn’t make sense, but it won’t affect your design and
Typepad does have solid features.

Where I Stand:

For those who love political combat, WhereIStand is for you. You get to engage liberals on the issues of the day, take stands on issues and know how you match up to other bloggers as well as public figures. It’s fairly easy to set up, but the system does take a while to learn in terms of the methods. It’s quite engaging for those interested in debate rather than merely promoting your viewpoint.

Reccomended:

WordPress.com:

This is the hosted version of WordPress and offers many of the same benefit. The only downside is that the customization is somewhat limited as you can’t edit the template. Still, you can make a pretty nice blog using it. Check out the Idaho For Cox page. It took some manipulation, but it was still far nicer than anything I could have made on Blogspot. This is a good service to get your feet wet on before moving

Townhall:

This is what I reccomend for anyone who is new to blogging and really doesn’t want to mess with technical support. If you don’t want to deal with any technical stuff, this is the blog for you. Simply sign up for an account at Townhall.com and in 3 steps you can create a blog with no coding or template hassles. The only negative to using Townhall is the lack of customization. You get the truly important basic features like Trackbacks and Comments, as well as a blog roll, but all the buttons and widgets that are nice blogging extras aren’t as easily added. You also only get 10 templates, but they’re all pretty nice looking ones.

Click to Download



Update: Interview with my lovely wife, a wordpress lover, added.

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