Blogs - how?

edited August 2008 in Directed Promotion
I'm considering starting up a gaming blog, but I'm a bit bewildered by the options. What's a good choice, and why? What to stear clear of, and why?

I'm willing to use a little html if necessary, but I don't want to mess about with css. I am willing to host it on my website, but I've only dabbled with php so nothing too complicated in that regard, please? I'd prefer a hosted solution, though, if they are tweakable. What thare the shortcomings?

Thanks.

Comments

  • Wordpress is great: you just install it on to your website and, pretty much, start writing.

    An even lower tech solution is to start a dedicated Livejournal or similar.

    Graham
  • Wordpress.
  • I like wordpress. You can get it hosted, too, at wordpress.com, or you can download it and run it on your own hosting. Their free blog option has fewer options for theming and plugins and so on, but it's pretty damn good.

  • If you're too dumb to figure out wordpress (like me), blogger is a good way to go too. I've been enjoying blogger. It's a lot more elegant and useful than livejournal
  • I have a self-hosted Wordpress blog and several Blogger blogs. I found I didn't like the wordpress.com option, it feels to me simultaneously too complex and too limited. (The interface is more complex than Blogger because Wordpress has more features, but a lot of them are disabled on wordpress.com for security.)

    If you're going to self-host, Wordpress is the way to go, and you don't need to be madly technical to do it - the installation instructions (on wordpress.org, which is where you get it from) are pretty straightforward. If you've got the usual PHP + MySQL setup on your site you should be sweet.

    If you're not going to self-host or if you want to start out with something simple but functional, go Blogger.

    I think you can import Blogger blogs into Wordpress if you start out on Blogger and later switch to Wordpress, as well.
  • Oh, and to steer clear of? B2Evolution. I had a B2E blog for a while. The interface is as complex as Wordpress but the plugins are not nearly as developed and you often find yourself messing with PHP. And they have a really odd way of doing their PHP, as well (or odd to me), so I often couldn't figure out where to start.

    Wordpress or Blogger. Consider no others.
  • I'll mostly echo previous statements

    If you want the simplest darn thing imaginable, try tumblr.

    If you don't have a host and don't want to spend money, then go with blogger.

    If you have a host, then install wordpress. You can do it manually, but if you have a commercial host, they probably have tools to help.

    If you don't have a host, but want to just buy an all in one package, Squarespace is reasonably new on the scene, but can do pretty stuff very easily. However, it's a littl emore expensive than going with a straight hosting service like Bluehost.

    -Rob D.
  • Wow, that's a lot more unanimous than I was expecting. I'll check out Wordpress, and failing that there's Anna's Plan B.
  • Wordpress is very easy and quite powerful for blogging, but I use myself Drupal, because I want to have a forum, too, and I can do what I want to do with Drupal.
  • edited August 2008
    Actually, all my (four?) blogs are hosted at wordpress.com, though Bleeding Play is also attached to its own domain name. I don't know what crazy features other folks want that are disabled in the hosted version, but it does everything I need with just a little hacking of the CSS. And the benefits of not feeling the need to upgrade when new versions of wordpress come out (upgrading a self-hosted version is still a royal pain in the ass, IMO, since I had to do that for work) is worth its weight in gold.
  • LiveJournal is a simple, easy to use choice. But LiveJournal is more of a social networking tool than a blog.
  • Also, the advanced features of LiveJournal are not free.
  • wordpress is easy (not that I tried anything else...)
  • I have a metric ton of webspace available, and I'll gladly host and set up a turnkey blog for anyone on SG, as long as you intend to post regularly. If you don't have your own domain, you'll have to pick between myblog.elseworld.org or ludolab.org - but other than that, if anyone's interested, e-mail me - brian.hollenbeck@gmail.com.
  • Any WP plugins considered essential? (I guess that is just for the self-hosting route, which isn't as popular...)
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonI don't know what crazy features other folks want that are disabled in the hosted version, but it does everything I need with just a little hacking of the CSS.
    Ah, well, there's the difference in perspective between us. You're a graphic-designery guy, right? I'm a somewhat techy guy. So I've never touched the CSS (I hate, despise and abominate CSS), but I've installed all kinds of plugins, which you mostly can't do on wordpress.com. Because it's all about the functionality.

    Ones I consider highly useful:

    - Akismet: do not be without this plugin, it will accurately and effectively filter comment spam for you.

    - Organize Series: a nice way to link together a series of posts other than with tags/categories. I used to use In Series, but Organize Series has a couple of good features that In Series lacks, like tables of contents and sidebar widget support.

    - Photo Dropper: this one rocks. Right from the page where you're creating or editing a post, you can search Flickr for Creative Commons-licensed photos to use in your blog posts and insert them straight into the posts. It creates a link back with a photo credit automatically. A huge timesaver if you like to illustrate your posts to break up the words, which I do.

    - Popularity Contest: if you care about people knowing which are your most popular posts, and/or want to feature them in a widget.

    - Subscribe to Comments: allows your readers to subscribe to the comments after they make a comment, so they will be emailed if someone responds.

    - WassUp: this is now the only report I regularly use to track my traffic - shows you hits from search (with the search terms), referrals and direct hits, and can filter out spam and spider traffic fairly well.
  • Well, Akismet at least is included in the hosted wordpress.com

    Also... don't despise CSS: css is the best thing that came to the web since... well, since forever :)
    (and I'm a sysadmin, not an artsy fartsy guy :-P )
  • I don't despise what CSS does, I just always struggle to get it to do it.
  • Ah, struggle... fighting the impulse to punch your keyboard... that numb sensation of having tried anything and still somehow failing...

    ...ah, the joys of programming and information technology.


    (yeah, I kid :) )
  • I have a couple of questions myself.

    I want to start my Blog. Possibly a couple of unrelated ones (one with personal stuff, another one with my gaming stuff). In a few months form now I'll get some hosting on my own.

    How easy would it be to export my stuff from the free blog stuff to my hosted version?

    From what I have heard, WordPress would do the trick, but I want to be sure of that beforehands.

    The second question is pretty easy. I am a Graphical Designer, so I do want to get my share on messing around with the design and stuff. Would the CSS stuff fill my share? What else would I need to know/download/understand?
  • edited August 2008
    I *think* most of the blogging engines support "leeching" the old content directly from the feed. If you do more stuff (extra pages, and such) you might end up copying them by hand... unless it is possible do perform a backup on the hosted and a restore on your personal server (probably possible, if we're talking about the same platform... which will likely mean wordpress).

    As for CSS... that, and some basic HTML (CSS lives inside it). Stay away from old books, they tend to teach awful, awful techniques. Instead, take a look at

    A List Apart and its articles to learn directly the modern stuff without having to relearn everything from scratch two times :)

    Generally speaking, if the layout you start with is done well you can alter it vastly with just clever use of CSS. Take a look at the CSSZen Garden: choose the various styles, and see how many different (utterly different) pages you get. That's always the SAME page, just the CSS is changing. Amazing, uh?

    Software wise... a GOOD programmer's editor (don't settle for notepad... even notepad2 would work I guess... I'm a linux guy, I dunno), a couple of graphic tools (Gimp and Inkscape), and maybe a clever color picker, and you are good to go.


    ...and, generally speaking... just ask :)
    I'm always happy to help, and I'm a dabbler in many different areas :-D
  • Cool. Thanks for the links.

    Software wise I'm not too concerned. :P

    I usually use Dreamweaver for translating stuff to codes. (I copy paste them. I do not use the stuff directly from the program, unless I completely obliterate all that junk code it adds.) And colors and graphics do not concern me, as I am a photomancer myself.
  • edited August 2008
    Heh... Dreamweaver is not considered "real" web design, Damian :)

    Jokes aside, DW *could* (maybe) correctly handle modern CSS semantic design, but it's never been my experience: I can normally tell a site has been designed with DW by its static layout. :)

    Modifying a wordpress template with DW... I dunno, maybe for prototyping, but when you have to interact with generated output (everything that's not a static html page) nothing beats writing code (sometimes nothing else is actually *possible*). That's why I was suggesting using a programmer editor (for coloring, templates, indenting, folding, code suggestions, syntax checking, and a slew of other stuff).

    But I'm digressing... :-D
    (yeah, I do that a lot about stuff I care about :) )

    Anyway, you'll see when you get there: wordpress' documentation about hacking the graphics of the generated sites is very good, IIRC. The easiest way in is choosing a wordpress template that you kinda like (layout wise, at the "boxes" level) and then tinkering with the CSS to tweak the measures, colors and stuff.
    Also, it's not that difficult, I think, to install a working wordpress on your local machine and try watever you want (even perform experimental migrations from your hosted blogs).

    --EDIT--
    There you are: http://www.tamba2.org.uk/wordpress/xampp/
    or
    http://urbangiraffe.com/2005/05/22/installing-wordpress-on-your-own-windows-computer/

    It's not like having a click-through installer, but yeah, almost.
  • OFF

    I think that actually CSS is easier than HTML. I always hated to edit the code itself for visual purposes.
  • Thanks to everyone who suggested Wordpress. I now have it installed (almost exactly 48 hours after I started...)

    Are there any must-have or merely useful plug-ins I should use? (Spending some time on that should help postpone the arduous task of actually creating content.)
    I have the Akimset, the spam one.
  • Technical matters aside, what you should probably do is post your first article. Right now, I'd suggest a title like "I won't play your games". Then post a link to it in Story Games and voilà, you'll have an active community commenting on your blog already.
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