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Notes from underground

22 September 2012

I recently moved my blog Notes from underground from Blogger to WordPress.

I started this blog on WordPress at a time when Google were messing with the Blogger interface, and many dissatisfied Blogger users were moving their blogs. But at that time I still kept the old blog, and posted to both.

When the Blogger platform stabilised (after about 6 months were lots of things didn’t work) I posted stuff to both blogs, depending on which platform was most convenient. Each had its advantages and disadvantages.

WordPress was much better for graphics. It gave much more control over where and how pictures were posted, and allowed one to insert captions. Blogger did not allow captions, and now the graphics functionality has been still further reduced by not allowing you to chose the size or position of the picture.

WordPress is also much better in using simple HTML. If you chose Bold from the menu, WordPress simply surrounded the bold text with the normal HTML commands <STRONG>and </strong>, whereas Blogger would fill it up with a lot of incomprehensible stuff like <DIV> and <SPAN> and whatnot. So WordPress was simplet to use.

But Blogger did have advantages.

One was that it allowed Javascript. That made it useful for social blogrolling widgets like the now defunct MyBlogLog and the almost defunct BlogCatalog. It made possible a live blogroll in the sidebar, which showed the latest posts in the blogs in one’s blogroll. The WordPress static blogroll isn’t nearly as good. You can go to a blog and see it hasn’t been updated for a year, and eventually you ignore it, so that by the time you do go there, the new post that you haven’t seen is several weeks old. With the Blogger blogroll, a new post on one of the linked blogs puts it at the top of the list.

Blogger was also good for quick ‘n dirty blog posts — it’s “Blog This” gadget let you copy text from a news item or another web site and comment on it — and that, after all, was the original purpose of blogs – a web log, a record of web sites you had visited and what you found interesting about them.

I found, however, that this blog, Khanya soon attracted more readers than Notes from underground. The difference was quite significant — something like 2-3 times as many readers. I don’t know whether this was because readers preferred the WordPress platform, or that something  about WordPress made it easier to find.

The recent changes to the Blogger interface seemed to remove many of the things it had that were easier to use than WordPress. The editor has a much smaller typeface, which makes it harder for old fogeys like me to read. Menu items are hidden under cryptic symbols, so by the time you have found what you were looking for, you have forgotten what you were going to say anyway. It got in the way of writing. So I moved thre blog to WordPress.

I still left the old one there, though. I just won’t be adding to it.

I find it very annoying when people not only abandon a blog, but delete it. It breaks all kinds of links to articles they wrote. And there are lots of links to articles in Notes from underground from other blogs and web sites, not least from this one. So I’ll leave it there, I just won’t add to it.

So it’s moved to a new address, and all the old posts and comments have moved with it (I hope).

The problem is, how do I decide where to post stuff now?

With the blogging platform exactly the same, there are no longer any advantages to make me choose one in preference to the other.

One possibility would be to distinguish between them by posting different kinds of material on each.

In some ways I’ve tended to do that already. The old Blogger interface made it easier for the quick ‘n dirty blog post, so I would tend to post more ephemeral stuff on Notes from underground, more serious stuff on Khanya. If it was a book review, I tended to put trashy novel reviews on Notes from underground and reviews of more serious books on Khanya — not just because of the user interface, but because Khanya had more readers. But, especially in the early days, there was a lot of serious stuff on Notes from underground too.

So I’m asking for help from readers (and if you’ve managed to read this far, you must be a serious reader) to let me know what kind of material you like to read on blogs in general, and this blog in particular, and what you would most like to see in future articles on this blog. Please vote in the poll, and elaborate in comments if necessary. And if you read the Notes from undertground blog, please go and vote in the poll over there too. You can choose up to four.

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