18 February 2007

Misconceptions about Blogger #

Going through 9rules, I bumped into this discussion (note?), with one fella' asking which one of Wordpress and Blogger (for goodness sakes it's not Blogspot!) is better. The replies to this seemingly innocent question over there are absolutely crazy. But worst of all, it shows us the ugly side of how Blogger is looked at from Wordpress using bloggers, which (gulp) might get conveyed over to first time bloggers.

I will not take the immature route and shout 'Wordpress fanboys' and turn this into a rant post, but I sure am glad teeming cleared the things up, leaving no one to come back with rebuttals. It sure was painful to see people's ignorance.

Ignorance and a bad past

Blogger hasn't had a very illustrious past. We are all very aware of that. The update came in 'very' late, and with not too much fanfare (except for within Blogger). Hence, the outsideI really do sometimes feel Blogger users are cocooned in their own little niche. Maximum people who visit Blogspot blogs, are Blogger users themselves. I've yet to hear of a large number of other platform users coming to Blogspot blogs, or the other way around. world doesn't really know what these updates are, what they add and how much better it has made Blogger. And when Google tries to promote their product, we try to bash it down as Google going back down on it's own principles. How does one get out of such a rut? We as long time users of Blogger can help out, but alas, our words stand for only so much.

It's not like after the upgrade, Blogger is being all whiz-bang about it, with server issues still plaguing the platform. But at least it is not as bad as the old Blogger, which would go down for days.

Anadgouda's comment shows how people have a rather incomplete knowledge of the new features. OniTony takes the initial cake though, thinking Blogger doesn't allow non-members to comment. Alvinz says Wordpress is just easier to use. I don't see how from any point of view this can be correct. Blogger sold themselves with the 'Push-button blogging' line. It'll take the skill level of a hamster to not be able to set up a blog on Blogger and get blogging. I have a blog on Wordpress, and personally, though it does offer a lot of features out of the box, it is not any simpler than Blogger.

These are just three people. There are more on that page, and I am sure there are millions of people walking around reading these kind of comments, and carrying away a very wrong notion of Blogger blogs. This is something similar to the case of Windows or Macintosh. There is no winner or loser in the debate, or better or worse. It completely depends on use and need.

It has also been reported that Blogger hosts the most number of spam blogs on the Internet today. Ofcourse they would, since the sign-up is so simple. Apparently their initial captcha isn't working like it's supposed to. Wordpress can't get so many spam blogs because of the amazing Akismet, and just the fact that their main population and user base comes from self hosted blogs using their platform. It's the best strategy if you see.

9rules network doesn't like to add Blogger blogs too much, and this it the reason they give:

In all honesty I don’t like adding sites that are hosted by blogger or blogspot since there are so many other parts of the design of those sites which don’t really distinguish them from the rest, but if your site is worth it we will add it.
I don't know exactly what they mean by that, but if it's a preconceived notion about Blogger that keeps them away, then it's wrong anyway. I am guessing it's not 'just' the design, but the 'assumed' fact that Blogger blogs lack quality because they're free and anyone can have one. There are so many aspects to a prejudice, it's hard to figure out which reason triggers what.

Blogger vs. Wordpress for power

Wordpress has a solid backing of PHP. There is not a single person on Earth who will deny that Wordpress is the way to go if you want 'real' power. I have played around with Wordpressμ a little, and have been toying with the idea of having a blog on a standalone hosting with Wordpress 2.1. It truly is the stuff power platforms are made of. But that really doesn't mean you can't do any of that with Blogger. The best thing being you don't need your own hosting for Blogger, while getting the same customizability of a self-hosted Wordpress blog. Sure, Blogger doesn't give you everything Wordpress does, but you don't get everything with Wordpress that you get with Blogger.

Wordpress' brilliant usability and functioning comes from it being open source. Someone who knows what he's doing, can change the little aspects of the platform's coding to suit his own needs. This offers a lot of potential, and it the easiest way to come up with a custom platform to blog on, one suited to your needs and wants. Blogger doesn't allow this, even on self-hosted blogs, and I think this is solely where it loses out. There are so many things you wish you could change in Blogger, but you can't because the code is closed to you. You have to wait for the update to come from Blogger, and all you can do is suggest, suggest, and then suggest some more.

But all is not bad, because you have the bleet here trying to bridge the gap, and plug the holes that Blogger leaves open. We came up with categories when Blogger had none. An effective searching technique to show you search results without leaving the page. We still continue to innovate new hacks on the new Blogger, and we shall continue to do so. The same happens on Wordpress. That just proves that no platform is perfect, and they're both made popular only by their respective communities. We make do with what we can, and we've done quite a bit considering we don't have so much to work withI really don't mean to get all defensive, but we sure are reeling as the minority here. We don't have too many solid arguments to back our beloved Blogger, for the simple fact that we ourselves don't know what's happening behind the scenes, and what the future is..

The common user

Power users make for a rather small fraction of the total number of bloggers. The average user doesn't care for fancy script, killer hacks or any of that moolah. All they care about is getting their content out to the people in the best way possible, with a decent way of getting reader's comment back to them, and a good way to manage everything. A good look is always popular, but scripts and hacks? Not that much I'm guessing. People think only Wordpress blogs can look good. We can prove them wrong now, can't we? ;)

Here's a survey result from a ProBlogger poll:

Wordpress leads Blogger

The poll shows Wordpress with the tallest skyscraper. That is pretty expected, considering how people view the platform. But not very far away is Blogger. Considering it is a relatively 'closed' community, we have quite a lot of users! So, short of going 'Hah!', this is a good sign. And this poll is from January of last year, when Blogger wasn't even that good. Blogging really caught on by storm, and the number of bloggers would have shot up. What would be interesting to see is figures, and to know how many went which way (if you have any credible numbers, send them my way).

As a few closing words, I'd like to say that there is no need to try and rank platforms. They're both different, and for different people. Yes, given a proper opportunity I'd love to try my hand at Wordpress. I've heard a lot about it, and my brief stint with it was rather exciting. But I never have and never will undermine the power of Blogger, and what can be accomplished with it. That said, nothing should stop us from getting word out for Blogger to others, and let them know that it's not as bad as they think. I think every one deserves a Blogger blog! :)

Alright! Thanks to Avatar's comment, I went looking for the latest numbers and reviews/ratings of Blogging platforms, and guess what I found! :D PC World had done a review and rating of the blogging platforms existing today a few weeks back, and Blogger is right on top! It's followed by Wordpress (down 3 points) and TypePad (-7 points). This is fantastic news! You can see their review for Blogger here.


Avatar said...

heh, this was like a post i could have written, minus the part were i turn their expectations down with actual numbers..

and that is what is about, you can´t compare a almost private blog suite like wordpress is with a public one... but even then it all comes to history...

without blogger, there would not be a wordpress to begin with...simple as that..

so fuck them, i already know what can and cannot be done in both platforms, but do i care about what wordpress common users misconceptons are?, no i don´t, and no one in blogger in their right mind would care because you really are not gonna slam somone for being naive, they are rokies, of course they don´t know what the diferences are.

about the profile of power bloggers oming mostly from wordpress that is about that most of them didn´t mde their blogs and they paid for the design... so. woo hoo.. what a surprise..and even then there 30 blogger blogs in the top 100 blogs (no,not the one measured by technorati),so, i think we are good too.

and sorry for the long comments, i just woke up...i am cranky.

Aditya said...

Alright, as you can see the post, I went looking and found info aplenty! :)

The new ratings are very satisfying, especially coming from PC World! The world is good again! :)

Efendi said...

weeee ^^ loved the new comment ! i've been thinkin' to do so, but with the posts :P

anyway, yeah blogger is the way, if you wanna good design, bleh, wordpress is standard, you can't do much with it (well i tried to do so, once)

but then again, too complicated :P

we just wanna blog, and do some javascripting, ajax, and css right ? ;)

this will be a very great reference, when someone asked, "Why dont you use WP ?"

nice ^^

Deepak said...

Gr8 to read the updated part. ;)

Singpolyma said...

Definitely have experienced this before. The big problem is people confuse wordpress.org with wordpress.com a lot... :P

zo said...

I spent a rather nightmarish six weeks on WordPress - all those pretty templates, hundreds and hundreds of them ... took me a while to see the "catch." I got spoiled by Blogger. Unless you know PHP and who really does, one cannot touch The Code AT all, there is a plugin for everything ... for changing your name in the copyright notice at the bottom of the page for god's sake. Hundreds and hundreds of plugins, too. What does that do for learners like me who need to get their hands dirty? (Okay, and have a phydeaux of their own to bail 'em out) ... but PHP is completely unforgiving, it sure ain't intuitive, and one thing I now really appreciate about blogger is being able to create my own look. I'm not stupid--and I'm not a geek, which probably describes most bloggers. The single big flaw of Blogger is: Lack of Documentation. Meanwhile, guys, keep on hackin'!

Aditya said...

"Unless you know PHP and who really does, one cannot touch The Code AT all"

Well, thats what I mean by 'power bloggers', ones who know what they're doing. And to be very honest, PHP is a very powerful language. No one can lay claim to knowing any language completely, and PHP is no exception.

Blogger only let's you touch the code because the back-end is hidden from you, and Javascript really can't mess anything up. Wordpress pages 'are' the backend, so they can't let you in there, 'cuz you might mess something up.

"but PHP is completely unforgiving, it sure ain't intuitive"

As you said you're a learner, which is why you find the language unintuitive. For someone like me, with a background in C++ and Java, PHP seems quite familiar, with the odd syntax or function that I might not know of. So it mainly depends on what you want from your platform, and how much of a coder you are.

PHP is the best way to go if you have a self hosted blog, so I don't take anything away from it. But as far as down talking Blogger goes, Wordpress users should think twice, which is the only point I try to make here! :)

Sumesh said...

go adithya, deepak, avatar-guys you rock.

Adithya, you have the post I have been looking for.
I am cross-roads, having proven I can blog, so when all those million WP supporters say Blogger is good initially, I had in my mind that most don't know Blogger Beta, and its potential.

And thanks to the Hacking Elites, I can apply hacks Wordpress users can only envy!

Ajith said...

I'm really impressed by the kind of professional looks that wordpress provides..But in the long run , I feel blogger would win the race because of the google APIs and functionalities that get released every now and then..

Aditya said...

@Ajith: I'll clear a little misconception here. The designs look professional because that's what they are. They are made by people who do it for a living, who have a flair for it and who sell these templates to others. If you've been around Wordpress enough, you'll see a design repeated somewhere or the other.

I have to tried to bridge the 'appearance' gap between the two platforms with my designs to a certain level, and I keep trying :)

There isn't really a race, so much so as the wrong information in the open. So our focus should not be to put down Wordpress, but let people know the truth about Blogger :)