Friday, 13 July 2012

Why I have returned to blogging in Blogger

OK, this is a bit embarrassing, but having announced that I would be continuing this blog on a different platform, WordPress, I have changed my mind and decided to continue it here. This requires some explanation.

The main reasons for the attempt to transfer to WordPress were the fact that some people seemed to have great difficult commenting on Blogspot posts (and indeed the blogger commenting system has been quite poor in the past), and that creation of long blogposts on Blogger containing lots of pictures and captions is a bit of a nightmare. The formatting can, in my experience, never be got exactly right, the input system is subject to erratic behaviour (which seems particularly the case in posts containing a lot of images), and it takes much time continually previewing pages to see what you will actually get, and then switching back to the input window to make changes, which are often a matter of guesswork, as the input window is not truly WYSIWYG. I am not an expert on HTML, and I don't wan't to have be one.

On the other hand I found that the process of importing a whole blog to WordPress was not without a lot of problems. Paragraphing went wrong, picture proportions went wrong, and a lot of problems had to be fixed. I went for the idea of hosting a blog on my own webspace, rather than using a free address, because there would be most control using this, and greatest security and reliability of backing-up. But I found this created many difficulties for which I was not prepared, and which I don't have the time or the inclination to solve. A self-hosted WordPress blog, I found, is not for those unfamiliar with coding and the technicalities of servers and Content Management Systems. Despite apparently "supporting" WordPress, I found my host was not in fact well set-up for it, and lots of features of the WordPress system could not be made to work, seemingly because of the type of server software they were using (Zeus, not Apache), or management decisions they had taken (blocking certain files critical to WordPress), and found I was spending all my time trying to understand the problems and research solutions and getting into technicalities in which I was simply not interested, as someone who just wants to write a blog.

I got WordPress to work to a large extent, and found that, as a CMS, it is indeed in some ways better than Blogger. However, another factor was that, with a long history of posts on the old blog having been linked to by other people and indexed in search engines, and people following the blog, I continued to get far more hits in the old location than the new one even after the change was announced. Though this would probably change in the long term, it seems a pity to abandon that advantage and "goodwill". I found it was possible to set up a redirect on the voleospeed.blogspot sub-domain name, so it directed to the WordPress site, but it only directed to the top level of that site, and old links to articles, for example from search engine listings, were then broken, not linked either to the article in the new or the old location. So basically this all meant that people would, in the short term, have much more difficulty finding the blog, and it would get fewer hits, in exchange for marginal usability advantages for me, and, in addition, I still could not make the full WordPress system work on my server.

And in some ways I just have found WordPress unnecessarily annoying: Like the way on the administration page it greets you with the word "Howdy" (which cannot be changed), and other pieces of inappropriate arch humour such as the fact that you get support from someone styling themselves a "Happiness Engineer", and you get a plug-in giving you lyrics from Hello, Dolly (why they heck??) when you set the system up. WordPress (the software rather than the .com site) is a crowd-sourced, public domain project, in a way admirable, but that also makes it seem like a big, messy, slightly amateurish bundle of different modules, plugins, and bits of code that have to be installed and taken away again and modified and delved into to make it work. It's not a contained, finished product, and you have to be interested in playing with it and tweaking it (or alternatively be paid for to do that), which I was not.

So I've decided to go back to good ole' Google Blogger on Blogspot, which at least is straightforward to use, fairly neat, easily customisable, and doesn't require delving into code and having to understand the significance of a lot of files with obscure names on a server. The experience gained of dealing with WordPress might well be useful in the future in improving my other websites on astronomy and music.

The domain name now redirects here, to, and both these addresses should continue to work for art least the next two years. Thanks for your forbearance.


  1. Thanks for the explanation, I had wondered what the reasons were for the change. Although not on the topic of cycling it was interesting to me as a blogger (and cyclist)


  2. FWIW Google Reader couldn't (or, conspiracy theory tinfoil hat on, wouldn't) even add the Wordpress address to the Subscriptions list so I'm glad you're back at Blogspot.

  3. Regarding comments, it is possible to ditch Blogger's native commenting system and add a third-party one. I recommend Disqus ( It is very easy to install and manage and is much more advanced than the standard comments.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Yuriy, I'll try it.