Not a sarcastic title, but a genuine query. This snippet from BlogThings from explains it.
Well, You Know What a Blog Is…
You got 4/8 correct!
But, truthfully, most blogs probably bore you.
After about a year of running this you’d think I’d know the answer. The reason I don’t is that my understanding of blogging is a bit like the way I think about Wikipedia. I think there’s a difference between the mechanics of setting up a blog and the process of running one. Besides, I know one way of setting up a blog but there are almost certainly more. If I were starting from scratch today there are things I’d do differently.
I ask as an iScience (interdisciplinary science) group blog looks more likely. The current idea is to set up a group blog that all staff have access to, and possibly the undergraduates too. I foresee two major problems. One is technical, who keeps an eye on the mechanics of running the blog? There’s a constant drive for updates to fight spammers and the department is committed to having comments enabled. There are other needs to update software as older versions become unsupported. The second aspect is the social, how do you convert goodwill into actual writing which is a problem we’ll have to work out for ourselves.
The first problem is the one that’s taxing me now. In the department it’s Alan Cann (podcasting VirologyBytes) and myself who have experience. It’s not a practical solution to have either of us being codemonkeys for the project. External hosting seems more more sensible because technical problems become other people’s problems — and there’s no penalty for success. I’ve had to upgrade bandwidth again this month. What I don’t know is the best way to externally host. The three major options seem Blogger, WordPress.com and TypePad.
The cost rules out TypePad. It’s not that iScience is strapped for cash. It’s that if you need a budget at all then admin-wise there’s a huge amount of hassle. Forms need to be filled, value justified, cheques countersigned etc, which for the sum of money we’re talking about seems so much hassle. The cost effectively doubles and we have better ways of spending £100 a year. This leaves Blogger, which is Alan Cann’s tool of choice and WordPress, which I use.
The advantages I find for WordPress are that it is flexible in what you can put in. There is a good WYSIWYG interface, the categories are easy to set up which helps in Technorati pinging. The templates are centrally managed, so that they’re hard to break and it’s flexible enough for multiusers.
The thing is that Blogger also covers multiusers well. It too has a WYSIWYG interface and while I find it a bit clunkier it’s not dramatically so. Adding technorati tags is more difficult and I’m not sure that I’d want to how explain why tagging is a good idea to people that will be blogging for the first time. An advantage Blogger has over WordPress.com is that the templating is more flexible if you want to have something that looks unique. There’s also the option to publish to your own webspace which would mean there’s a touch more integrateableness in the system. Both feature the option to invent new words like integrateableness.
At the moment I favour WordPress.com. The categorisation tool could be really helpful for sorting posts in what will be an interdisciplinary science weblog. But I could be biased simply because I use WordPress here. I don’t think there’s an obvious winner and I know most of the good weblogs are on Blogger. Are they there from inertia, there’s a cost in moving your blog, or is Blogger the better option?