Looking for alternative blogging solution

It seems I’ve come to a cross in the road and I need your advice on which path to take. And to make the deal a bit sweeter I will award the best solution with a $25 eBay gift certificate.

I’ve reached the root of Blogger/blogspot. I need features that I have not found to be available. I am going to describe what I am missing here and hope you can provide me with some advice on which solution, hosted or otherwise, that I should investigate. I have no preference for free or paid services but I need a free, full-featured trial at least.

First of all, and what actually got me started on this track, is the lack of control over HTML. Specifically I wanted to remove some adsense ads and customize them to better blend into the site. Turns out, blogger messes up comments in HTML, effectively removing any chance of controlling the adsense ads. A sub-feature here is that Blogger ads their own adsense ad at the end of the first article, a horrible image ad that I hope no-one will miss.

Second I want more interaction with you guys. I want better comments options, preferably anonymous with some captcha or similar to prevent spam. I want ping backs or something similar so I can keep in touch. Perhaps a forum of some sorts. Could be extremely simple, I don’t need anything fancy.

Third I want hosting on my own domain. I’ve registered a domain name to host content already. I would like to add some non-blog pages, such as a better index of my SharePoint articles. Better means better than tag clouds, keyword search and Google search. I know blogger supports this.

So my feature list is as follows:

– Better control over HTML content, essentially more adsense-friendly markup

– Better visitor interaction

– Custom pages and custom domain

So, which solution do you think I should choose? Write to me at furuknap<[at]>gmail.com or post a comment in this blog. The author of the solution with which I end up will receive a $25 eBay gift certificate as described on http://giftcard.ebay.com/ns/giftcert.html. Solution needs to be submitted by August 31, 2008 and a winner will be announced by September 30, 2008.

EDIT: Seems the image ad was placed there by Feedburner at my own request. I feel really stupid for not noticing this. Its gone now.

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Bjørn Furuknap

I previously did SharePoint. These days, I try new things to see where I can find the passion. If you have great ideas, cool projects, or is in general an awesome person, get in touch and we might find out together.

9 thoughts on “Looking for alternative blogging solution”

  1. If you have your own domain, and means to host your own solution, I’d go for a self-hosted WordPress.org install. If you want complete control, WordPress (or perhaps Movable Type, but MT isn’t something I’m very familiar with, so I’ll stick with WordPress), is the way to go.

    You have full control of the HTML, and you can, if you like, change the core PHP-files that make the blog. The HTML Themes is what makes the blog look and feel the way you like it, and there are tons and tons of plugins which can do most of what you’d like – and if not, you can make one yourself.

    There are plugins dedicated to ad-control, and plug-ins for comments and contact-forms, and you can even get a simplistic forum-engine to complete the deal – bbPress.

    WordPress gives you the option to creat pages within WordPress, and there is of course no problem in implementing WordPress in an excisting design, or add external pages.

    I’d definitely go for WordPress as a blogging tool, as it, as far as I can see, is the best platform for blogging.

  2. PoPSiCLe: Thanks, I’ll look into your suggestion. I’ve considered WordPress before; it seems to get a lot of users and I’m publishing using WordPress on SharePoint Magazine.

    I was hoping to avoid setting up a complete PHP environment on a hosted platform. I skimmed through having a hosted setup at WordPress.com and it seems to give me some great option, such as importing from Blogger, better stats and AKSIMET for spam protection. Do you know or have any experience with hosting on WordPress? Can I get custom components, such as bbPress, if hosting there?

    Second, what are the negative aspects of WordPress? I appreciate the good features but I also need to know what ‘turns you off’ when it comes to WordPress.

    Thanks again, a great contender to the 25 bucks 🙂

  3. Hello!

    I totally agree to popsicle!

    I have used wordpress for several years. It’s really the best blog solution in the market.

    The wordpress community is getting bigger and bigger. New plugins and themes arrive everyday.

    Also new releases containing the best plugins and security fixes arrive often from the wordpress team.

    The newest release (2.6) is fantastic !

    I’m hosting me own wordpress solution on 3 sites:

    http://www.finungdom.com
    http://himalayareiseklubb.no
    http://ellas-cafe.no

    I’m also using wordpress.com on 2 different sites (wanted to save money and time 🙂

    http://sharepointdeveloper.wordpress.com

    http://sondreogstine.wordpress.com

    – I will recommend you to use wordpress.com, it provides you with everything you need for your blog.

    – The only drawbacks I see with the wordpress.com solution is that you have to stick with the predefined set of plugins (unless you pay), and you have not full control over the site (But you have enough control..)
    – If you want to you can pay to get additional plugins from the adminpanel !

    – The other thing is that the performance is not as good on a wordpress.org own hosted solution.

    But still, it’s good enough !

    wordpress.com recently upgraded the storage space to 3 gb… so you can have your blog or many years.

    When your space is full, it’s very cheap to upgrade.

    Give the 25 bucks to popsicle 🙂

  4. I should of course mentioned some of the negative aspects of using WordPress – but most of them, if not all are negligible.

    They have some lacking in standard features – for me, I would not have used WordPress without the means for changing the code and adding plugins.

    The basic control one has in the admin panel leaves some to be desired, sometimes – for one, the category and tag-management is in it’s default state, abysmal.

    But mostly the WP-backend is easy to use, and easy to modify. (At least when running on a owned domain, with the WP.org backend).

    I haven’t really tried the WP.com all that much, so I can’t really say what is, and what isn’t possible, but as far as I know, you are a lot more limited with the WP.com solution. Since you don’t have to pay to set one up, I would recommend creating an account, and playing around with the options a bit – as far as I can see, apart from the time used, of course, you’ve got nothing to lose.

    Although, I think you would want a WordPress run off your own host. I for one don’t think the bbPress-extension is available on WP.com, but I might be wrong there, of course.

    One other thing that might be annoying with WP.org, is the support – since this is free software, the support is varying – both in its competence and frequency. Normally it doesn’t take too long before one has an answer, but one can never be sure.

    Thankfully the files themselves have plenty of comments and are usually easy to modify, but it usually takes some time and testing.

    As you say, the WordPress community is ever growing, and there are a lot of resources available online, which makes it easier to maintain, create and get support on WordPress-related blogs.

    I would perhaps try out the WordPress.com functions, but I for one would rather put up a website on a hosted domain, rather than using the .com option.

  5. Thank you both for your WordPress endorsements. I opened an account on WordPress.com yesterday, but quickly realized that they do not allow any modifications and specifically no ads of any kind. Which is usually quite OK but one reason why I want to change is to experiment with AdSense so I will have to find another way.

    Another friend, whose comment was sadly rejected because I thought it contained sensitive information, offered me to look at a fully working, self-hosteed WordPress installation. I found that it seems to solve most of my problems, even if I hate the fact that it runs off PHP. I even signed up for a cheap hosting service that offered WordPress so I could experiment fully with crashing the system 🙂

    I have also received nother tip on BlogEngine whic I will add to the ‘to evaluate’ list. I will keep you updated on any progress.

    Thank you for taking the time to offer advice 🙂

  6. Shameless plugs are quite ok, I’ll just not publish the comments if it iss too blatant 🙂

    Unfortunately I have already evaluated, quite thoroughly, any blogging features of SharePoint and have come to the conclusion that I either need to develop my own solution or not get most of what I really want.

    It is just too long a road to pave to get to the goal, so unless something drastically happens I do not think I will be using SharePoint as a blogging platform.

    Thank you for your offer, I do appreciate it.

  7. What isn’t that you really want SharePoint to do that you didn’t think it could do? You can program plenty of features pretty easily with SharePoint Designer. You can add all of the java, ASP, html, etc. that you want. You can use adsense. I created my account with Google a few weeks ago. I just need to add the code to my pages. I really didn’t want to have much in the way of ads on my site though. I figured I would put up only the ones I approve of, which isn’t hard.

  8. I am not really concerned with being able to create what I want with SharePoint, but rather the fact that most of what I want is already done, and I don’t want to spend too much time writing code just to publish some articles and tips.

    SharePoint is a great tool. I make a living working with SharePoint, I teach SharePoint, I breathe SharePoint, I even, and this is the honest-to-god truth, I even dream in SharePoint.

    The task I want to accomplish here, though, requires quite a lot of custom work on my part. SharePoint isn’t made to do what I want for this. SharePoint isn’t the solution to everything, or even most things. The fact that you _can_ do a ton of stuff with SharePoint doesn’t mean you should.

    I don’t buy a supertanker to take a boat-trip to Italy, although it certainly could be used for that purpose. Right tool for the right job. SharePoint isn’t in this case.

    .b

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