I recently asked why people haven’t switched over to WordPress.com for their blogging service, and their answers all seem to be the same. The lack of customization, using a WordPress.com sub-domain, and the expense of features.
I guess this really goes to show for me how much work Automattic still needs to do on marketing the service.
Your Own Domain
WordPress.com allows you to use your own domain. They have no problem with that and the fee is fairly reasonable. If you don’t like bloggername.wordpress.com as your URL, you can change it.
There is a great article on WordPress.com about mapping a domain for WordPress.com. The cost if you bring your own domain is $10 a year, or if you want to have Automattic register the domain for you, the price is $15 a year. Which when you really consider it, you are getting unlimited bandwidth to your site as part of that price, and they provide a fair bit of flexibility on what can be done.
Here is a sample from the article to answer a previous visitor’s question:
Q: I own domain.com, and want to map a subdomain of that to my WordPress.com blog. Is that possible?
A: Yes. You will need to add a DNS CNAME at your DNS provider before the domain mapping will work. You should not change your nameserver information if you just want to map a subdomain. The CNAME should look something like the following:subdomain.domain.com. IN CNAME [your-blog].wordpress.com.Once that DNS entry has been added login to your WordPress.com Dashboard, click on Settings > Domains and enter subdomain.domain.com into the box. If everything is setup correctly, it will allow you to map the subdomain to your blog. If things are not quite right the system will let you know and provide suggestions on what you need to do to remedy the problem. Note: You cannot map only the â€œwwwâ€ subdomain since we remove the www from all the URLs at wordpress.com.
Limited Design Customizations
Another misconception seemed to be that you would be stuck with one of the WordPress themes that Automattic has applied to the service, but with the Sandbox theme, and the CSS editing upgrade, that point becomes moot.
Custom CSS access is $15 a year, and while I feel that might be a little steep, it is an expense that not everyone really needs to do as many themes come with a variety of built-in customization options.
But if you do pay the money, I don’t think the themes will be the limiting factor anymore. Find a CSS expert that knows the basics of the Sandbox theme, and pretty much anything is possible.
I agree with everyone that not having our favourite plugins can be a huge hinderance, but as with everything WordPress related, Automattic is staying on the ball when it comes to user related requests and has said that things like the popular related posts feature as well as a better post and page search is coming very soon.
This is no doubt the tip of the iceberg as Automattic is continually developing the service, and really, how many plugins do you currently run that are essential to your blog and are you sure most of the results can’t be replicated by the many widgets that WordPress.com includes?
This is and always has been the deal breaker for me when it comes to using WordPress.com, but it makes a fair bit of sense, especially if you’ve seen the amount of spam that I have seen in browsing through Blogger’s many blogs.
Limiting advertising to nothing reduces the changes that WordPress will become a spam haven. I don’t think their approach has been all that great, but hopefully sometime in the future this will change.
So the fact is that you can map your domain to your WordPress.com account, you can customize the look and feel of the site, and add in a variety of features. The system is always been developed with new features, themes, and advantages rolling out all the time, but like you, I agree that until there is an advertising system either built-in or allowed to be used on their service, WordPress.com remains mainly a no-go for me.
If you aren’t worried about advertising, give the service a try, as you might be surprised by both the features and the quality of service. Though, if you are looking for total control, well WordPress will never have that, and that’s not really their target market anyways.
I love the Weblog Tools Collection blog as much as any other person, but I always thought that others deserved a more equal billing on the site, especially since WTC updates so often.
Today, when I checked my dashboard, twelve of the twenty items were from one blog. Half of the remaining were from Matt Mullenweg, and the rest from four others in the community. With WordPress being installed as the go-to software for WordPress, shouldn’t there be better representation of the community in its dashboard?
I propose that the default dashboard feed should be set up in such a way that it doesn’t show more than the two latest items from each site. This would mean that other articles from other sites would be shown in the dashboard longer rather than being pushed out by the Weblog Tools Collection constant and consistent addition of new items.
As a community, what do you think? Is the limitation I am wanting to impose unfair in some way? What blogs would you like to see more of in the main dashboard feed? For all of you WordPress 2.5 users, have you changed your dashboard?
I deleted my Facebook account about a month ago now, having gotten frustrated with how much crud was all over the site. Advertising, information that was useless to me, and the myriad of silly applications that every has added to their profiles drove me away after realizing that doing anything reasonably approximating something productive was too time consuming on the site.
Now, Six Apart has added a new application called Blog It, that will allow you to blog to your Typepad, LiveJournal, Vox, WordPress.org or .com, Moveable Type or Tumblr blog from within Facebook.
Named Blog It, the application looks fairly simple from what I have seen of it so far, but my main question is, do people feel so attached to Facebook that they want to do everything from inside the site? The only reason I could see to use this is if you couldn’t access the software’s actual administration panel for whatever reason.
I like that it allows for cross posting on multiple blogs, but that seems to be something mostly spammers would use. I like how you can update your Pownce and Twitter status from one location, but there are other ways to do that, without being inside Facebook.
I am probably not the target market for this Facebook application, especially since I am no longer a Facebook member, but I doubt that this is something the blogging community really needs.
Check out the video from Six Apart for more details:
As WordPress.com continues to grab more attention and adds more features, I continually wonder why most bloggers would want to deal with installing their own version of WordPress?
The only thing that stops me from using WordPress.com is their policy on advertisements. I have, in person, begged Matt to add an advertising system. I even told him that he could keep a small cut of the proceeds, as offloading all the server issues, WordPress upgrades, security concerns and more would be a nice weight lifted from my shoulders, but they’d need to let me monetize my content.
I also think that an advertising system that was controlled by Automattic could be huge in that they could bargain with bigger companies based on the traffic of all participating blogs, rather than single blogs.
It started to make me wonder what is holding back other people. With WordPress.com you get plenty of space to upload videos, images and whatever else, and other than the costs to customize you theme, and get your domain mapped, the service is relatively cheap, especially if your intention is to create a blog with huge traffic levels. And really, isn’t that all of our intentions?
As for customization, as that’s almost always been the biggest response, with Sandbox, you can pretty much customize the theme as much as you want. And that doesn’t even include the myriad of themes installed by default on WordPress.com. The other argument I get is plugins, but that also seems to be an issue that WordPress.com is quickly rectifying as they add related posts and a better search to everything.
So, what is stopping you from using WordPress.com?
I was just looking at the updated look of WordPress.com and for the most part it is the spitting image of the stock WordPress 2.5 installation. Sure it has some of the normal WordPress.com dashboard enhancements and the removal of the plugins link, but what really drew in my attention was a tab not on my installations of WordPress.
A small tab labelled support just below the normal help and forums links in the header of the administration panel.
It is always nice to see new advancements and improvements on WordPress.com, but I hope there is a plan in place to bring this to WordPress.org users. Not like any of myself or any of the readers here ever need any support, right?
Nicknamed the Bug Exorcist on the Automattic website, Joseph Scott has put up a post on his blog about his experiences with WordPress, and his first year of working full time for Automattic.
The people at Automattic are amazing. At one point I had met everyone in the company, which is saying something since we are scattered all across the globe. Since then more people have come aboard, and I look forward to meeting them face to face latter this year.
Before joining Automattic full time in April 2007, I had been doing contract work starting back in January 2007. The result of that work was the new wp.* XML-RPC methods. For the most part I really enjoy working on XML-RPC, though some of the specific APIs that are built on top of it are a bit quirky.
Working on WordPress.com has been absolutely fascinating. The scale and growth are pretty impressive.
It is always great to see members of the team talk about the company, and the software they devote so much time to. I’ve been lucky enough to have met Lloyd Budd more than once, and he’s never had anything but positive things to say about Automattic.
If you want to get a sense of what it is like to be on the inside of the WordPress development team, check out Joseph’s post about his first year at Automattic.
Raj Dash has put up a post on Performancing.com about his recent experiences with WordPress 2.5 and he is not happy. He goes so far as to list every major issue he has had with the software so far, and sums it all up with this:
Automattic, you seriously dropped the ball on this. WordPress 2.5 is an enormous disappointment in the simplest of features. As an experienced (but retired) programmer, I can say with confidence that you don’t release significant interface changes in mid-version software. People that are expecting minor fixes might be shocked. V2.5 should have been renumbered to V3.0. If it had, more people might think twice before making a “big jump” from 2.x to 3.0. I’m so glad that I didn’t install WP 2.5 on a production site, but I do have to use it on several client sites – something I don’t relish.
You’ve now lost one of your most active WordPress evangelists…
Then in the comments, he notes that it is only power-users that will hate the WordPress 2.5 experience, as many newer bloggers have chimed in to let him know how wrong he is about the latest version of WordPress.
It looks like it is Joost de Valk day for me as he updates another one of his popular plugins Sociable, but this one strikes even closer to home with the addition of the Blogosphere News, a blogging related social media site run by Splashpress Media, the company that owns this blog.
I just updated Sociable to include Blogosphere News, and fixed some the issues causing the plugin to spew out invalid HTML.
I really think Blogosphere News could become a cool resource, so I ask of you to have a look at it :).
Definitely a plugin that I recommend bloggers install, and one I hope to be adding to all of my blogs later today.
It’s always interesting to see Matt in a video interview, and the Best Damn Tech Show Period is very different from the more professional toned shows that he has been on. The language isn’t for those that are sensitive as they do throw around some strong words.
Matt (of WordPress) Drops by the studio and we discuss Microsoft, Open Source, Yahoo, and the future.
Matt was serving up some very professional dialogue while the others in the show were a little bit silly. Enjoyable, interesting, but not the best video he has ever been on.
I have talked about the Blog Metrics plugin before (Previous Post), but that was long before its now version 1.0 release, and I wanted to highlight it again as I see it as a must-have plugin for multi-author blogs as well as single author blogs that are looking for some new stats on their own work.
A very cool plugin by Joost de Valk.
I finally found the time (while I should be doing other things) to upgrade my Blog Metrics plugin and release it for all of you to enjoy. It now shows the standard deviation on most metrics and comes with a widget!
It also now includes a widget to display your stats publicly which I think is interesting, but not something I’d do.
A great way to keep track of how many posts are being made, how many comments on average are being generated, and how many words each author has contributed.