How WordPress bought back the love

November 5, 2004

A corny tagline I know, and I promised myself to be nice to Mena at SixApart some time ago, so there will be no anti-MT tirades either here or at the Blog Herald but I have to say publicly what a wonderful time I’m having blogging using WordPress.

The most refreshing change is not having to spend 30 minutes every evening deleting and trying to block blog/ comment spam. I can’t say enough how annoying and what a sour taste this left in my mouth every night, particularly as I did this prior to blogging. After crossing my figures with reloads, refreshes and other such things, I wouldn’t feel like blogging. It had become a chore, a chore that I wanted over with as quickly as possible.

And then there was the posting issues. Once upon a time I could blog on the fly: I ran into something of interest and I blogged it. Then it became impossible, I’d been hitting back space a dozen times to try to get the post up, sometimes the posts would even disappear into thin air. It was a disincentive to blog. I can even remember Xian at one stage asking for an intern just to deal with the technical issues from the spam and the posting.

And then I changed to WordPress. First it was here at, when I finally decided it was time to put a personal blog back up again after I’d abandoned and deleted it 6 months prior due to the pressure the spam was causing me.

I’m not a CSS expert and I’m the first to admit I struggle with it. But if I could teach myself html in 1995 I could pick up some CSS in 2004. The provided WP template was nothing special, but there a quite a few freebie options out there and I finally settled on one, which then gave me the opportunity to tinker.

The Blog Herald on the other hand was a far bigger task.

Firstly the design.

I’d gone for a four column portal look about 12 months ago (version 3) when blogging wasn’t as legitimate as it is now and I wanted to persuade Google that I was more that just a basic blog. A wrong attitude in reflection, I know, but I’d been pissed at being rejected for an Adsense account and became quiet obsessive about obtaining one. The template did the trick. However as pointed out by others at the time it wasn’t standard compliant and the like… I won’t repeat all the observations, although I do remember Vicki not longer after the change saying that it was a bit cramped and not easy to read. I was just happy to have Google ads in some sort of bizarre validation of maturity at a time Google was not accepting blogs at all.

The template served well during a period of unprecedented growth. But during this time blogs as serious news sources became more popular and a blogging layout more acceptable. The father of blogging for dollars (and a great bloke) Nick Denton, and a blogger I have come to like more over time Jason McCabe Calacanis popularised (through Gawker Media and WeblogsInc.) the 3 column content left blog. Its still a format almost exclusively limited to their sites, but I liked the fact that it provided a look that provided a clear visual path to the site content without being surround by the periphery items often found in blogs.

The issue then became how to replicate the look in CSS. The WeblogsInc sites use tables, which I wanted to move away from, and the Gawker blogs use CSS, but it wasn’t something easily replicated.

After 4 days of sheer will power (well constant experimentation) it was complete, sans bottom bar (I’ll get to that at a later date).

The look is both modern, caters to advertising which is needed to keep up with the bandwidth demands, and goes back to a more tradition blog style.

I?ɬ¢?¢‚Äö¬¨?¢‚Äû¬¢ve also noticed what although The Blog Herald’s traffic has increase probably 50% since the changes, the bandwidth has decrease by 50%. Nothing like some standards compliant CSS to help things along.

WordPress has, all-in-all, been a dream.

The setup was a breeze (once you’ve got the right password for your mysql database!) and posting is quick and easy. There?ɬ¢?¢‚Äö¬¨?¢‚Äû¬¢s a great variety of plugins, and I?ɬ¢?¢‚Äö¬¨?¢‚Äû¬¢m using a few for the Blog Herald;

Comment Authorisation by Scott Merrill provides a great way to limit blog spam by forcing validation of comments by email. What it essentially means that instead of the MT Blacklist method of a list of banned sites, all comments are not posted and are forced to be moderated by me, which WordPress users will now is a standard feature, but legitimate comments can be validated from an automated email sent to their (hopefully) legitimate email address. Those which are left can either be bulk deleted from within WordPress or approved.

Faked Folders from Stephen O’Connor is a god send and should be shipped standard with WordPress. It allows the creation of static pages from within WordPress, for example on the Blog Herald, the about page is a static page. It creates modrewrites (fancy urls for those unfamiliar with the term) as well to your specifications. What it does is extend WordPress from blogging tool to page creator (CMS).

I’ll play with some more plugins shortly but these two alone complete the package for me.

WordPress has really bought back my love of blogging. For the first time in months I’m reading Daypop, Blogdex and Popdex again and getting a feel for what’s going in the Blogosphere. I’m enjoying posting and the traffic on the Blog Herald is reflecting both the quality and quantity of the posts.

I’m back! :-)