Aestival Thoughts on Blog Housekeeping

The beginning of July! It is hard to believe, my gentle snowflakes, that we are already halfway through 2010; I am dismayed to contemplate just how long it has been since I have written anything of substance for your reading pleasure. But, as they say, time flies when you’re having fun; and when other, perhaps less congenial factors are added to the mix, its speed is known to reach levels that make the travel of light pale in comparison. And indeed, travel, illness, work, and study have defiantly joined themselves to the more pleasant business of life, thereby turning days into weeks and weeks into months at an astonishing pace. So it was that I woke up this morning to find that we are in the first weekend of July, and I decided that it would be expedient to write something today as a necessary first step towards a return to frequent posting. 

Of course, as I remarked in my last post, silence in these quarters has certainly not meant inactivity: for one thing, research and paper writing have kept me quite busy of late, and I have also finally had the opportunity to turn my attention to a not inconsiderable backlog of projects that slumbered in various stages of completion. In particular, I employed some of the otherwise idle downtime brought about by ill health in the rather mechanical but necessary work of cleaning up some of the aftermath of the switch to WordPress: a great many (but by no means all) of the older posts were reformatted; internal links to other posts, which up till now had pointed back to the old blog, have been fixed; and broken image links have been replaced. While surely some deficiencies remain to be corrected, I think it safe to say that, a year later, the switch to WordPress is now substantially complete. 

(It was for this reason, incidentally, that some of you regrettably had your feed aggregators flooded with older posts from The Voice of Stefan for a period of about two weeks. I apologize for this inconvenience, but I note that many of these posts were evidently read all the same: indeed, my blog traffic, which appears to have remained rather steady even in spite of total inactivity, doubled and even tripled when these posts hit the aggregators. Some of them were even linked!) 

Working on matters of housekeeping has also given me an opportunity to evaluate my decision to switch to WordPress (at the instigation, you will recall, of such notorious online scourges as Nick Norelli and David Ker). On the whole, I am reasonably satisfied with my experience thus far, and yet there are some issues that make me uncomfortable enough to provoke a small crisis of faith in spite of my previous deuteronomistic experiences. Chief of all is the shocking discovery that WordPress automatically places ads between individual posts and their comments that can be seen by anyone who isn’t logged in. For those of us who dislike the idea, they offer a “No Ads” upgrade that runs $29.97 per year (and which they have the audacity to advertise with the line, “Because your message is yours”). Frankly, I am less than thrilled about the idea of having to spend my heard-earned cash to prevent automated ads from appearing on my blog, especially when such an amount could buy a book or two instead. 

Other complaints are minor by comparison: for instance, the inability to make CSS customizations without purchasing an upgrade becomes frustrating from time to time, and the restriction on JavaScript-based widgets makes it impossible to use either of my preferred counter and tracking services, SiteMeter and StatCounter. (As an aside, if you happen to be aware of any such service that, without using JavaScript, registers both keywords and visitor locations, I would greatly appreciate the information.) Still, their combined strength has brought me to the verge of WordPress apostasy more than onceafter all, none of these things was ever a problem in Blogger. Among the things that drew me to WordPress at the time of the switch, I found especially compelling its powerful comment management features, the ability to create static pages, and the convenience of uploading files directly to my blog without having to use another host. Since then, however, Blogger has introduced static pages; and while its comment system is still dolefully primitve, one may put in place an alternative system such as DISQUS with relative ease. So one can upload files directly into WordPressbut is that enough? On the other hand, there appears to be no easy way to export posts from WordPress to Blogger, so if I decided to revert I would probably have to transfer 40 or so posts manuallybut is it worth it?

Such are my summer cogitations, my gentle snowflakes, and your comments on any and all of them would be gladly welcome.

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15 responses to “Aestival Thoughts on Blog Housekeeping

  1. Yes, but you can only use a non-JavaScript version that doesn’t track visitor locations or search keywords (and other referrals), which is really all I use them for. WordPress stats offer some of the information, but they’re weak by comparison.

    (And this reminds me, I have yet to add your blog to my blogroll — time to update the blogroll, I guess!)

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  2. I’m afraid I can offer nothing on the WordPress issue (I couldn’t figure out how to use it when I was invited to contribute to another blog), but I did want to welcome you back. We must talk again soon!

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  3. Oh, by the way, I had noticed the static pages option on Blogger, and I’ve been trying to think of something I could put up, but I just can’t think of anything.

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  4. Aaron> Thanks, my friend! And yes, we must talk again soon. It’s really been too long.

    As for the new static pages on Blogger, you could perhaps use them to index your hagiographical posts!

    Jeff> Thanks! I look forward to new posts, as well. ;-)

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  5. To start, my many apologies for taking so long to respond. Two, I had no idea that there were ads on WP blogs when you aren’t logged in. I’m always logged in on my PC and when I use someone else’s I’ve never seen these alleged ads. Perhaps a screen shot is on order. C. stats and whatnot are simply not important in the grand scheme of things. Just be happy that us, your gentle snowflakes, are still hanging on your every word (mainly because they come so infrequently so when they do come we expect them to be filled with the utmost wisdom). And in closing, Blogger sucks and you know it, so why even contemplate the remote possibility of reverting. You might as well tell us that you’re leaving Orthodoxy for the Dutch Reformed tradition! ;-)

    Other than that I’m glad to have you back!

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  6. Nick> Well, it was about time you showed up! ;-) Here’s a screen shot of the “alleged ads” for you. You’re welcome.

    As for stats, well, I really enjoyed looking at them — especially the referrals. Plus, I got a kick from giving “Sleepless in Seattle”-like names to people in my “How They Get Here” posts. This, alas, will be no more, since I can’t track locations in WordPress.

    Blogger does not suck, and I was quite happy with it, but I freely admit that WordPress is a superior blogging platform. The question is: how much do you get for free? I think Blogger has WP beat on that one.

    Meanwhile, the Dutch Reformed have a third sacrament, coffee and banket, of which I freely partake even now. There’s no need to revert! ;-)

    Glad to be back, my friend.

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  7. You have created quite the joyous flurry amongst your gentle snowflakes…to hear your voice once more, whether via WP or Blogger …*: ) And, Nick I noticed the ads and thought you had blatantly sold out for cash clicks…

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  8. Ah Stefan, your “problem” is that you are on wordpress.com and not wordpress.org. The ad issue fades away with the .org version.

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  9. Esteban: Well that is alarming! At least I’m advertising online theology degrees. It could have been worse. ;-) And can I assume that you used IE for the sole purpose of perusing my blog without being signed in? After all, you were one of the leading voices in my conversion to Firefox, so I can’t imagine that you use IE regularly.

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  10. Nancy> You are so very kind. Why, you might just be the gentlest of my snowflakes!

    Michael> Well, yes, but I don’t want a self-hosted blog. I want a free blog! But sadly, when it comes to these issues, “free” in WordPress appears to get you less than in Blogger. Anyway, I’m still thinking this whole thing over.

    Nick> Yes, and one of these days I’ll see some really outrageous ad on your blog, and I will of course capture a screen shot and use it to my advantage. ;-)

    And actually, I’m using a borrowed computer this week, which account for my use IE. I do not otherwise use it at all, as is meet.

    (Oh, and per Nancy’s comment, it looks like I just saved your reputation. You’re welcome!)

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  11. WordPress is best when you’ve got your own domain. You might consider that. For about $50 every couple of years for the domain, and then some monthly hosting plan’s cost (I’d recommend one of the Laughing Squid plans), you could then load your free and gymnastically flexible WordPress and monkey with it to thine own heart’s content.

    And WELCOME BACK.

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  12. But Kevin, I don’t want to PAY for things I could otherwise do for free! I mean, $25/yr. for the domain and $72/yr. for Laughing Squid’s cheapest plan — why, that $97/yr.! Think of the books that could buy.

    And THANK YOU. :-)

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  13. Yes Kevin, you must have missed his earlier response to me. :-) Nice to see two of my favorite bloggers hanging out in the same cyberspace.

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