Blog Platforms: Cons and Pros. With your hosts Kabir (pros) and Evan (cons).Posted: February 20, 2011
Good day. Today Kabir and I have decided to switch things up a bit, so instead of blogging about industry developments and all of that good stuff we’ll be blogging about blogging systems. In short, we’ll be blogging about how you blog and what you blog with so that you can make more informed decisions about blogging before and while you blog so that you can blog better. That is, after you read this blog.
With that said, let’s analyze the pros and cons of a few popular blogging interfaces and content management systems. Kabir will be rockin’ the sunny-side up pro mic, while I will black hat this sucker and bring the cons. We’ve chosen two blog-specific services (WordPress, Blogger) and Drupal, which is a content management system commonly used for larger sites that may contain a blogging component. Note that we are assuming that you are hosting your own blog and thus will spare you the DNS and IP voodoo.
Naturally, because Kabir and I both are tending to our yachts in different parts of the Bahamas, we are going cons first. Viva la difference.
WordPress is probably my favorite out of all of these, but its malleability works against itself in a variety of ways. While its easy posting system and fast and functional setup rock harder than Black Flag before Henry ruined the band, it’s fairly generic in terms of layout if you jump in after pulling it right out of the box. Translation? Your stuff is gon’ look like errebody else’s unless you or the comp sci undergrad that you pay in vodka and Iron Man comics sack up and BRING IT, signore.
Another common groaner is that certain functions that should be self-evident in WordPress’ back-end can be slightly confusing. We’re looking YOUR way, links and menu setup! Rest assured that you will end up having to tool around with this aspect of WP a bit to make sure people end up going to the right places without employing a bloodhound or an FBI profiler. Pro-tip: it helps if you own a pocket protector and have a haircut that could land you in Kraftwerk circa ’75.
A common concern about WP is its vulnerability to MySQL injection and other security threats. A script kiddie can easily fire gunk into your database and bring havoc upon your site by posting comments with the right password and code, so make sure whoever sets up your site is on point and doesn’t use simple passwords. Read more about this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQL_injection.
It also gets upgraded… A LOT. Be prepared.
Side note: keep in mind while you analyze these systems that blogs are meant to be read on technological platforms where reading drives most people to the point of ocular trauma. Design your blog to be clean, functional, and easy to read and your visitors will reward both you and your appreciation for awkward cake photos or whatever people who have real jobs think is funny these days by coming back. WordPress is pretty great for this, annoying backend hiccups or no. Plus they have a lot of great layouts available if you look around.
What my fantastical counterpart has failed to realize is that 13% of the 1,000,000 biggest websites use WordPress; that’s 130,000 for the mathematically challenged. That cannot be a coincidence. Now allow me a run-on sentence if you will, for I feel grammar and punctuation to be archaic and Dickensian in nature. Why would I do such a thing, you ask? Why not, I reply.
With that in mind, what makes WordPress so great is its ease of use and function while simultaneously providing the tools necessary for starting and sustaining a personal and limitlessly simple blog with a seemingly endless amount of basic features that anyone who wants to start an easy blog with complex aspirations can strive for.
“Make it simple, and they will use it,” said the Voice in Field of Dreams (the scene was deleted but can be seen in the outtakes). It’s right after the outtake where Kevin Costner tries to emote. Surely I jest, the man can act, it’s just that after The Postman I feel like he just stopped trying. Well Mr. Brooks wasn’t bad. But Waterworld and Swing Vote? I mean c’mon. Give the movie going public some intellectual credit. What about The Bodyguard? Who saw that, was that any good? Speaking of The Bodyguard, what is the deal with Whitney Houston? Boy did she go off the deep end.
Wait, what is the assignment again?
Right, the blogs. So let’s take WordPress and examine its functionality. We in this class, all use WordPress when we edit the class blog. Now granted, I assume ½ of you will have stopped reading by now (myself included -Evan), but think about the ease with which we can all edit the blog. Perhaps the misfortune is that Evan and I also have the power to perform said activity, but nevertheless it is practical. No one is asking a blog to be the Brooklyn Decker of websites. Snookie will suffice. Long story short and all the negatives aside, WordPress is practical, simple to use, easy to maintain and will make for a solid blog.
What Evan mentions, which I must agree with, is that if desired, WordPress can be used to make websites pretty complex. But for our analysis, I’m looking at it strictly from a blogging perspective.
Blogger is like WordPress, but after WordPress got left at the alter and saved the wedding cake in its living room for 30 some-odd years as it fell into a state of emotional rot and unrelenting hatred. It’s just not as good now that you have other options, but it’s fine for beginners or people that don’t want to turn into Steve Wozniak so that they can post LOLcat photos.
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT… Blogger is plain. It’s the weblog equivalent of watching (vanilla-colored) paint dry.
Blogger doesn’t have the metric crap-ton of layout options and templates that WordPress has, meaning that it sticks to its clean and simple layouts and reduces everything you do to the level of aesthetic appeal usually reserved for shopping lists and cocktail napkin love notes. It also lacks the sheer number of plugins that WordPress has, although plugins come with their own headaches and ulcer-inducing shortcomings on any platform.
Urban legends abound around the water coolers of the world with regard to Blogger blowing away blogs they “didn’t like” and whatnot, although that may just be an aspect of an aggressive spam removal policy. Regardless, you can consider that as par for the course when you’re blogging on a conglomerate’s platform. Conglomerate, you say? Yep, Blogger is owned by Google, so perhaps you can have your personal information amalgamated by the Borg and sold to WATSON or whatever at any given time while you write up your thoughts on Glee.
(Nice tin foil hat you have there, Evan. – Kabir)
Kabir, for one, welcomes our computer overlords. But remember: if somebody hacks your gmail, they hack your blogger account as well if you linked them.
I’ll keep this one short. A blog should be about the content and not the bells and whistles. Evan says vanilla colored paint, but I say vanilla flavored ice cream. And who doesn’t love vanilla ice cream? So look, perhaps it doesn’t have all the functionality that WordPress has. WordPress can be very complex if so desired. Blogger can be too (to a lesser extent). You can still have your pictures and backgrounds and various fonts. But let’s be honest; if you’re using Blogger, you’re using it to create a personal blog. It’s something that friends will read, and perhaps if you’re good at what you do, some strangers. On a side note, I think if Evan and I were to create a blog together it would garner the interest of the APA. So I suppose we could get a few strangers too. Look people, it’s not that basic. You can adjust where your writing is, where the sidebars are, where the pictures are and even the colors of your font. What more do you want? Simplicity people, simplicity. It’s a 7.5, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who’d turn down a 7.5.
PART TWO: CMSesses.
Drupal Cons (fun fact: this is a coder joke! To the google with ye!)
Drupal is a php-based CMS that was built with the tears of children. Here’s a list of things I would rather do than work with Drupal again:
1. Perform self-surgery without the benefit of copious amounts of alcohol.
2. Cover myself in chum and participate in a reality show about sharks.
3. Challenge Evander Hollyfield to a round or two after waving a fake ear at him.
4. Watch an Ashton Kutcher movie marathon. While sitting on an ant pile. Naked. Covered in honey.
Drupal is a finicky, annoying, brain-melting train wreck of a CMS that requires more coaching, finessing, and coddling than any sane human being in the world can muster. It’s routinely suggested as a one-size-fits-all option. Want a lackluster, boring, ugly, plain-yet-functional site? Go for a standard Drupal setup. Want to get that setup to a point where it, you know, looks nice and does cool stuff? Rob a bank and hire a slew of developers, theme specialists, and UX designers, all of whom will disagree endlessly and kill both your budget and each other to set up and maintain something that’s barely worth an ounce of monkey spit.
THIS THING REQUIRES MORE MODS THAN THE BACKGROUND SCENES IN QUADROPHENIA. No problem, you say? Well, try upgrading the site to a new version of Drupal and then watch the upgrade break Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Oh, and awesome content search results are part of the equation too, that is if your definition of “awesome” is equivalent to “absolutely godawful.”
So yeah, sure, great Drupal. Go ahead and store everything in the database. Go ahead and use the most ridiculously strange and archaic syntax possible. Classes and language goofs? Pshaw! Nerdy people learn those kinds of things… which is why you’ll be having to pay 10 of them 80 thousand dollars a year for your website, which is mind-numbingly slow thanks to your DB being over-loaded and is always being worked on so content folks can figure out where to put things on their end.
Step up to the 1990s and use Rails to build your own CMS for blogging, content delivery, et al. Or just write out everything you want people to see in longhand and mail them copies. It will be easier than Drupal, either way.
A good debate is located here, by the way: http://robozen.com/technology/drupal-sucks/
Now here’s Kabir to defend the indefensible.
Wow Evan, tell us how you really feel. LOLcats! If you’re reading this after Evan’s entry, then: objection, your honor. His testimony is prejudicial and is intended solely to sway the jury. I mean how can you take Drupal at face value after what he said? Hell, I hate Drupal now and I’m supposed to find its pros.
Feelings of hatred aside, Drupal can offer complexities that will make even a poorly written blog look worthwhile. Evan, I understand the functionality may not be great. But with Drupal you can make your blog a hell of a lot more unique than you can with Blogger, and perhaps WordPress. It may provide some backend issues, but if sites like WhiteHouse.gov use it, then perhaps there is some hope after all.
If you were to go on the forums you will find a plethora of haters. But you can do the same for WordPress and Blogger too. My main argument for the CMS is this: It may have backend issues and is perhaps not as practical for a small-time blogger. But at least if you can’t write, damn it your blog can look cool. Granted, you may have to pay someone to make it for you. And pay them again when the site stops working.
Bonus CMS round: Joomla Cons and Pros!
See above Cons entry, but with (somehow) more suck in the mix.
Or better yet: throw away your computer, burn all of your possessions, and move into a cave and stop speaking to people. This thing is a travesty. An angry venomous snake pit is more welcoming than the backend on this horror show.
Oh look, it’s 10:43. I have a date with a projector and a region-free DVD player. Here’s Kabir!
Drupal? Joomla? Who the hell names these things? Look, Joomla is a bit more shaky that the others. It perhaps lacks in functionality. But Joomla has a bevy of plug-ins and apps that can distance your site from the hoards of others like it.
Innate cynicism aside, WordPress or Blogger is the way to go. Simplicity is where it’s at. If you’re blogging you want your blog to be about the content and not the peripherals. Unless you can’t write. Then stop blogging and use Facebook status as your catharsis. And don’t be so damn narcissistic, you aren’t actually as interesting as you think you are. Okay, forget the cynical aside; it’s all here.