He chose . . . poorly

I’m seriously starting to regret my choice of blog platfrom.

When I started this humble blog, I didn’t know much at all about what was what.  I researched a little, but I ended up choosing wordpress.com over Blogspot mainly because my girlfriend is an artist and had already done a lot of research, settling on wordpress.com as the best platform for her needs.

There were a couple of things I soon found out.  One, the main reason my girlfriend chose wordpress was so that she had the option later to move to self-hosting at wordpress.org with minimum upheaval, and two, just about everyone else in the 40k blogging community uses Blogspot, and the few who use wordpress (like Rob over at Warhammer39999) use wordpress.org, not wordpress.com.

Now there’s very little chance that my blog about toy soldiers is going to explode in popularity and embroil me in a bitter ownership struggle with my blog platform over the content (hey, it could happen!)  That issue is just not as important for me as it is for my girlfriend and her art, which is her job.

In terms of the wider 40k blogging community Blogspot, as a subsidiary of Google, allows your blog features like Disqus and Google Followers. WordPress.com, as a Google competitor, does not.  So every gaming blog I go to has a nice, cross-blog communications paradigm and a nice visual “Followers” thing.  I can’t have them.  I’m not even allowed to join the Bell of Lost Souls alliance because my blog doesn’t support these features (sadface).

On the plus side, my blog stands out in other people’s blogrolls – a lone wordpress favicon in the sea of Blogspot.  Unfortunately, when people actually check out Warp Signal they can’t easily follow it, and they can’t join in the discussion using their Google identity or even Disqus.  Wow.

So what do I do?  I could try and transfer it all over to Blogspot now, but like most of us I’m a busy man.  I’m also a very visual person, and to be honest I find the Blogspot themes too bright and clean-looking.  I know aesthetics is not important to many people, but I’d rather not have a blog at all than have one that doesn’t look the way I want it to.

I could go self-hosted with wordpress.org but that would, quite frankly, be ridiculous.  I’m not particularly interested in web administration like Rob, and Warp Signal is not a business, or even a personal creative space like Porky’s Expanse.  It’s just some guy rambling about gaming in his spare time.  It simply does not deserve the organization, money and energy that self-hosting would demand when stacked against my already busy life.

So it’s beginning to look like I chose the wrong platform for my needs, but I’ve already written three months worth of content.   I suppose I could just resign myself to being on the fringe of the 40k blogging community.  But the desire to be popular is a powerful thing.  It’s probably the reason most of us put our thoughts up here in cyberspace when you get right down to it.

I feel a bit like I’m on the Playstation Network and all my friends are on Xbox Live.

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11 responses to “He chose . . . poorly

  • Porky

    I see the dilemma. My suggestion would probably be to come over to the bright, clean side. I actually think of WordPress themes in the same way, although looking more closely now, I do see the shading and softer edges.

    It’s not so tricky to get Blogger arranged the way you want it – the designer is fairly simple and you could probably get something looking good quickly, then go back and tweak when you have the time. That tweaking could be a fun bloggable journey too.

    To give you a sense of what’s possible design-wise, have a look at these blogs; I’ve tried to pick some that don’t look so Blogger-y.

    http://von-gameover.blogspot.com/
    http://talktoyouniverse.blogspot.com/
    http://thehopelessgamer.blogspot.com/

    I’ve not explored anywhere near all the options in the designer myself, and maybe much more is possible. Another option is to set one up, play with it before committing and just delete it if you change your mind, with no content lost.

  • David Stillberg

    I had the same problem with my blog. If you want to spend a little, try to find a cheap web hotel to host a WordPress installation. I don’t regret my move one bit. I like the WP interface so much better than Blogspot’s.

  • Thor

    I run a self-install of WordPress and even on .com you can have, at least some, of what you want. I know the .com gives you limited access to stuff unless you pay but I assume you have free reign to install plugins? If so then you can find the Disqus plugin and install it. For Goodgle Friend Connect, go to Google and set it up (www.google.com/friendconnect/), and then it will give you some code. Take that code and create a text widget in WP and paste in the code, done. I’m assuming they let you do text widgets, be a sin if they didn’t.

    Really, WP is a far better product to Blogger _IF_ you have a self-install and aren’t running on the .com platform. A self-install is easy and all you need is web hosting, which you can find for around $5 a month. The installation itself is easy too, honestly. If you don’t mind dropping $5 a month on your blog then it’s the way to go.

  • James S

    Thanks for the advice guys. I’ll have to have a bit of a think about how to proceed, but from what Thor and David are saying it sounds like I might just go for the self-install option. I’m not sure when, but one weekend when I get a bit of spare time (and I’m not painting eldar) I’ll sit down and figure it out.

    @Thor, the Google friend connect thing won’t work. You can have text widgets on .com but they don’t allow Javascript and apparently the code that Friend Connect generates contains Java. I’ve tried it a few times without success. I think I should probably just suck it up and pay the few bucks a month. It’s not much and I would have a lot more freedom.

  • Thor

    As a programmer, I can understand why they wouldn’t allow Javascript on a shared environment, though it sucks.

    As I said, if you really want to push forward and not be restricted then go for the self-install. You’ll be glad you did. Now, I’m assuming in the .com install there’s a way to export your blog, save a database backup?

  • GDMNW

    I’ll host your site for a year, for free, if you decide to go self-hosted. You’ll need your own url unless you’re happy with warpsignal.gdmnw.com 😀

  • James S

    Stay tuned GDMNW, I may just take you up on that . . .

  • GDMNW

    No worries. Just say the word. You’ve got my email address. Otherwise just visit my site and use the contact button.

  • callaghan04

    I entirely feel your pain. There are a few decent blog roll/ networks that you can go to but otherwise WordPress really isn’t so great, I’ve tried over and over again to get the BolS HTML widget to work, even tried getting Tue basic RSS feed but to no avail. Surely one day we’ll get something!

  • GDMNW

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a hard time of it.

    I’d be happy to help you get onto a self-hosted site. I think you’d find self hosted wordpress can do everything you’d like it to, probably more.

  • GDMNW

    Lol.

    And that’s why you should read the comments! What a necropost!

    G

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