Is blogging dying?

The Thinker by Rodin

When I started this blog in late 2002, blogging was an up and coming thing. Fourteen years later, there is plenty of evidence that while blogging is not quite dead it is dying. I can look at my own web statistics to see the trend. While I strongly suspect my web statistics were overstated in the early years due to incorrectly counting robots and search engines, according to the most accurate gauge that I have (Google Analytics), I am getting 18% of the page views in 2015 that the blog got in 2010.

I am not helped because my blog is both very personal and largely themeless. Those blogs that succeed today tend to be rooted around a much more popular website, like a blogger posting on Huffington Post. A successful blog is often extremely specialized (narrowcasting is the term I have heard used). Over the last decade or so, web marketers have learned all sorts of tricks on how to catch eyeballs. Just ask Facebook, Gawker (RIP), Twitter and Tumblr, to name a few. Mobile devices with smaller sized screens just further the trend. People want content in small and succinct bites, which bodes ill for long form blogs like mine.

My monthly foray into the Craigslist Casual Encounters section was due largely to people continually coming to my site for these postings. Making a monthly review of local postings is not so much for my own amusement as it is for yours. My hope is that having satisfied your prurient interest, you might stick around and read my other stuff too. It works somewhat and may explain that while my statistics like most blog sites are declining, I suspect I am doing better than most. You know things are bad when bloggers like Andrew Sullivan give up their blog.

I don’t feel particularly inclined to throw in the towel. This blog has been more about keeping me engaged mentally than anything else. Not that I haven’t considered giving it up. I did once drop out for a couple of weeks after Google mysteriously delisted me. Blogging may not bring in the traffic it used to, but as part of a site it’s definitely useful. If you run a small business on the web, one of the best ways to increase traffic (after convincing other sites to list your site) is to maintain a blog and regularly post relevant content on it. This helps establish that you are serious about your site by demonstrating that are willing to spend time to keep it fresh and topical, as well as offer nuggets useful to the public at large. In my case, this blog is the website. It serves no higher purpose and has not proven a way to make me independently rich.

I have noticed that web traffic is just one piece of my total traffic. A lot of people read me through the site’s feed. This week Feedcat (my blog aggregator) tells me I have 295 readers. If these readers are regular readers, that’s a whole lot more valuable to me than webpage hits. How many singers would be happy if the same 295 people came to hear them sing once a week? So while I don’t fill stadiums, I do fill a small virtual auditorium with generally the same people. I don’t know how much of my post they read, or if they read it at all. Judging from the dearth of comments I receive, most of them probably scan my content or are looking for that one special post, like the monthly Craigslist casual encounters post.

The general trend though is clear. Blogging is not dead, but it is less interesting to people on the web and it is becoming more specialized. Right now it works best as a narrowcast channel for mostly textual content. If your content is video, you are probably better off with a YouTube channel instead. It’s also quite useful for small communities where there are handfuls of content creators. The popular blogging software WordPress serves 26 percent of the content on the web, more than any other software solution. Most of that content is coming from hosted web servers. The beauty of WordPress is that it is both elegant blogging software and an elegant content management system. Obviously I like it as I have been using WordPress for at least eight years. Most likely WordPress is being used for your church’s website, but also to post the minister’s blog on it too. Small businesses find WordPress a no-brainer as well as the entry fee is small (just hosting) but the features available in WordPress and its thousands of plugins make pretty much anything possible and not too hard to do.

So perhaps it’s better to say that blogging is changing. It’s becoming a feature of a site rather than its reason for being. Blogging is probably not a way to riches, unless it is of the non-monetary kind. It does make it simple to get your content on the web and simple for you to control it. It allows you to personalize the content and make it easily available on lots of devices and media. It offers you a level of control that can’t be matched with a Facebook page, or a Tumblr or Twitter account. A blog is not easy to market. It depends mostly on friends or colleagues promoting it for you.

Blogging is still useful but it’s not a way to get lots of page views, at least not without a lot of really popular and unique content. Keep your expectations modest if you are going to blog; make the blog at least interesting to you so you will want to keep at it. This has to be enough or there’s no point in starting.

I’ll keep hanging in there.

Your blog deserves a great Content Delivery Network

The Thinker by Rodin

While I do a lot of blogging, I suck at marketing my blog. Oh, I do look at who’s viewing my blog and check my statistics daily, and often more than once a day. Google Analytics provides a wealth of data on my web hits, and StatCounter is useful to see what was recently read. Aside from dressing up my blog’s sidebars with marketing stuff and making sure my content is easily accessible as a newsfeed, I can’t seem to be bothered to do much else.

Part of the problem is that my blog serves principally to keep me amused and to stave off boredom. If readers find an occasional post worthy of a Facebook Like or a Share, that’s nice, but I don’t lose sleep when they don’t. You would think that as a software engineer and someone who spent ten years directing the management of the largest web site in the U.S. Department of the Interior, I might find this web marketing business pretty easy. But one thing I learned early on is if you have great content, the marketing kind of takes care of itself.

In that job I simply worked to make the content more readily accessible and to make sure that the data was easily consumed. I spent much of my ten years there leading an effort to make the site’s data accessible as a set of web services. In this sense I do know marketing. When I left these new web services constituted the third most accessed site for my agency, in spite of not having existed just a few years earlier.

On this blog though my traffic is pretty anemic, particularly during the summer. There are things I could do to get more hits: shorter posts, more topical posts, turn it into more of a stream of consciousness blog and link ruthlessly to posts in other blogs, which seems to be the way blog aggregators like Tumblr work. Doing this though would ruin blogging for me. It might be successful, but I wouldn’t care. I’d be bored with my own blog.

During one of the recent Net Neutrality debates I mentioned that the Internet was already not net neutral. If you can afford little, you may (shudder) use an Earthlink dial-up account and watch web pages slowly draw themselves like they did in 1995. If you can afford $100 a month or more for Internet, or live in a place like Kansas City where you can get Google Fiber, you can cruise the Internet at 100MB per second or more. Some people have 1GB/sec connections.

If you have your own web site you also have some factors that limit the speed of your website. That’s the case with this blog. I host the site on hostgator.com, which is a really good shared web host. What’s not optimal about Hostgator is that while it can reliably serve most content at $5 or so a month, getting the data between its servers and your computer can be like going through every traffic light in town to get home from work as opposed to taking the expressway. It typically took eight or more “hops” to get my blog posts to my computer. A “hop” in this case means a router, which is effectively a traffic light as it routes parts of web pages from one place to another. According to Google Analytics that it took about ten seconds to load one of my web pages. Most of that was due to all those routers that had to be traversed.

So it finally dawned on me that this was probably a significant reason my traffic is declining. Google is looking at the hassle factor at getting content from my site, and is probably lowering my search rankings because of it. Aware of the problem for several years I have used CloudFlare to try to speed up the serving of my content. CloudFlare is a content delivery network or CDN. It specializes in reducing the number of traffic lights and making sure that my content goes through crazily fast connections, usually one physically close to where you are. Hostgator (and a lot of web hosts) offer CloudFlare for free to its customers. CloudFlare like every CDN sells a more expansive service for those with deeper pockets.

I had outsourced my CDN to CloudFlare, but I never really went back to look to see if it was doing a good job. There are probably things I could do to cache more of my content on CloudFlare’s servers (probably for money) but mostly I stuck with its defaults and ignored it. However, when I looked at Google Analytics, my average page load time was still stuck at around ten seconds.

Ten seconds is a long time to wait for content these days. So I figured I was probably losing a lot of readers because they lose patience and go elsewhere, particularly mobile users. We want every web page to load like a Google web page: fully dress itself for our eyes in a couple of seconds or less.

But not my blog. It was like a horse-drawn milk wagon compared with a racing car. Actually, this describes a lot of sites on the web, particularly Mom and Pop affairs where the owners know little or nothing about web architecture.

I decided to put on my software engineering hat, and started researching CDNs some more. There’s a lot of competition in the market, mostly aimed at well moneyed corporations. I’m just a little blog, however. And this blog runs on WordPress. What options do I have for a swift CDN that won’t cost me an arm and a leg? CloudFlare was free but it clearly wasn’t doing the job.

After some research I settled on MaxCND.com. For about $9 a month it will serve my pages quick. Of course if traffic increases a whole lot it could get a lot more expensive. But if I am content to use principally their servers in Europe and the USA (which is most of my readers) and I expect a terabyte or less of bandwidth a month then $9 a month should be fine. I can afford that. My pages seem to load in about 3 seconds now. A lot of the sidebar stuff comes from elsewhere, so that slows things down a bit. But the main content, if it is cached, takes about a second to load. That’s pretty impressive for $9 a month. And this fast speed might draw in new readers.

So far it’s looking good. Today’s traffic is roughly double what it was two days ago. Over time Google may take notice and rank my posts higher in their search engine. Here’s hoping.

Does your blog or website need a CDN too? It can’t hurt if you can afford it, and it can’t hurt to do your research and see which CDN is best optimized for your kind of content. MaxCDN has a plug in that works with WordPress to facilitate sharing. It was a little tedious to get it configured but the instructions were clear enough. Some of it is kind of wonky (how many people know what minifying is anyhow?) but the more technical you are the more you can fine tune things.

Please note you don’t need a CDN if you are using a blogging platform like Tumblr, BlogSpot or WordPress.com. They are already effectively CDN platforms as well as blogging sites. But if you host your own site and you want to increase traffic, integrating your site with the right CDN may be the most cost effective way to go.

I’ll be watching my metrics and perhaps reporting success or failure in the months ahead. So far the signs look good.

An updated look

The Thinker by Rodin

The blog’s theme has been updated! This won’t be obvious to those of you who subscribe to the blog via email or view it in most newsreaders, but if you visit the site you will notice the newer look.

I hate to call it a “new” look because I have been using variants of this same look since the blog began in 2002 as a MoveableType blog. I like sidebars and I plead guilty to filling them with self-promoting crap. It’s okay; I pay for the hosting space. In general I prefer darker pages and I prefer shades of grey to whites and colors. When I go with a theme I tend to stick with it. I like my little Rodan’s “The Thinker” image attached by my posts and pages, although I changed it slightly for the new look.

Still, any WordPress theme can get moribund over time. This one needed updating because it was designed for version 2 of WordPress, and WordPress has been on version 3 for years. This meant occasionally jury-rigging the themes to match version 3 features. This blog finally moved to WordPress in October 2007, which is how long I’ve had the same theme. Five and a half years later it is now using a MidnightBluePlus theme. Naturally it did not look out of the box quite the way I preferred. So I used the power of my editor and Firebug to tweak things in a preview mode until I had it all looking perfect.

Delving into the deep corners of WordPress gives me renewed appreciation for this elegant blogging platform. The best software is software that does what you need it to do, but no more, yet is easily extensible when you need it to be. WordPress is “just good enough” for blogging and any lightweight content management solution. If you need a small site it’s a perfect solution. If you need to host hundreds or thousands of pages, WordPress is not for you. You need an industrial strength content management system, like Joomla or Alfresco. WordPress is also elegant in the sense that it is easy and fun to tweak. You can get a plug in to do just about anything. It is also incredibly popular. Wikipedia says that 22% of new web sites are in WordPress.

With this upgrade I was able to put a few dynamic applications I wrote wholly inside of WordPress. The movies, comments and post list tools that I wrote can now fit inside a WordPress page, thanks to the Allow PHP in Posts and Pages plug in. This makes the whole presentation so much more seamless.

So hopefully the new theme gives the site a little pizazz and seems a little more professional. Enjoy.

WordPress: a content management system for the masses

The Thinker by Rodin

This blog runs on WordPress. It wasn’t always this way. It started out on MoveableType, which in 2002 was the hot software for a phenomenon that barely existed: blogging. Five years ago I ditched MoveableType and moved to WordPress. MoveableType became too commercialized. While ostensibly open source, the licensing was hard to use freely. The hassle factor eventually became too much to deal with, so I moved to WordPress, but not without a lot of head scratching. Utilities for moving the content out of MoveableType to WordPress were rudimentary. Fortunately, I’m enough of a hacker where I rolled my own.

Moving to WordPress turned out to be a smart move for the blog. There are no more hassles about licensing. And WordPress is huge, with thousands of themes and plugins. If there is something that WordPress will not do out of the box, it has likely been done not just once, but with a dozen variants via free plugins. Unlike, say, phpBB forum software, which can be modified but is a hassle, installing, activating and deactivating a plugin with WordPress could not be simpler. You can search for a plug in inside your control panel, install it with a couple of clicks and you are on your way. Deactivating is just as simple. In short, WordPress is super-slick, has no licensing hassles and is completely free.

The more I use WordPress, the more I understand that it is really something like a Swiss army knife for managing basic content on the web. Yes, it does blogging very smoothly and elegantly, but it also does so much more. I find myself using WordPress for pretty much all my web projects, including recently this neighborhood web site. It makes expensive software like Dreamweaver and FrontPage unneeded in most cases. You can manage all of your site’s content with a web browser. Need a basic web site but lack design skills? WordPress is what you need. Find a cute theme and if you want to make it stand out upload a site logo too. Need a simple content management system? WordPress can elegantly do the job. In fact, I am using WordPress not just for my own web sites, but also for sites I put up for friends, neighbors and to earn some spare cash. Regardless of use, you essentially have a content management system for free with a look-ahead search control and easy categorization and tagging features. All you need on the web server is PHP and MySQL, which are usually provided free.

Web hosts are also making it easy to use WordPress. It used to be you had to download the software, then upload it to your web server, create a database to hold the data, and maybe adjust some file permissions first with FTP. Now web hosts largely come with script installers, where WordPress is one of the prominent options. With a couple of clicks, it will install WordPress for you.

What may be keeping WordPress from being used more for other than blogs is some basic knowledge. There are lots of online video tutorials out there, but it helps to know a few key concepts:

  • Posts are used for blogging. Think of a blog as a public diary and a post as a diary entry. Posts are normally shown by date from the most recent, but can also be easily categorized or tagged so they can be readily found in logical ways.
  • Pages are for static content. This is key, because if you want to create a web site for say a church or social club and don’t need posts then just create pages.
  • Sidebars allow easy navigation and they are modified through the use of widgets (Appearance > Widgets). The theme determines how many sidebars you can have. Default content will appear on a sidebar, but it is so easy to move sidebar content around just by dragging and dropping. It won’t take you long before the default sidebar content probably won’t be enough. That’s when you go hunting for plugins, which can be done inside your control panel. Most plugins also have widgets. So after you install, enable and maybe configure the plugin, look for the new widget then drag and drop it into where you want content to appear.

A few tips:

  • Spend some time picking an appropriate theme. There are so many of them out there, but they are easy to try on in the control panel and switch as necessary. All your content should move smoothly as you change themes.
  • Be careful allowing open commenting without moderation, as you are likely to attract spam otherwise. In most cases you should install the WP-reCAPTCHA plugin, get a public and private key from Google, and configure the plug in to use it. This gives you high confidence that spam won’t leak through, but it’s usually a good idea to force a comment to go through moderation if it contains embedded links.
  • If your site is personal, you can have the Akismet plugin filter comments for spam for free. Otherwise you may want to consider buying a package from Akismet to limit the amount of spam you will have to deal with.
  • Want to serve ads? It’s pretty easy. First, set up a Google AdSense account. For sidebars, you will usually want to set up skyscraper ads. Then download and configure the plugin with your publisher ID. Of course, there is a WordPress plugin for Adsense with a widget that allows you to easily place the ad. You can also insert a text widget with the ad code from Google. Google allows up to two ads per page.
  • Need to move existing content? In most cases, simply copy and paste each page one at a time from the old site using your browser. In some cases you may need to fix anchors because absolute URLs will tend to copy over. This is easy to do by pressing the HTML button when you are editing a post or page.
  • Want to track site your site usage? Get a free Google Analytics account then install the WordPress plug in.
  • There are so many smartphones out there that it makes sense to optimize your site for them. I suggest installing a mobile friendly plugin.
  • Sharing site content with social media is all the rage. An AddThis account with the WordPress AddThis plug in makes it easy to share posts and pages on your site, plus you can track social media usage on the AddThis site.

WordPress takes the hassle out of presenting and organizing web sites, and it’s free after you pay for hosting. Happy web publishing!

Making the new look

The Thinker by Rodin

Before I resume general blogging, here are some notes and observations from moving my blog from Movable Type 3.3 to WordPress. If you are considering WordPress for your blog, you may find this interesting.

Printer-friendly versions. For those of you wondering what happened to printer-friendly versions of my blog posts, they have not gone away, just changed. Simply print whatever page you want. Ads, comments and text in the right two columns will not be printed. To see what I mean do a Print Preview. As part of upgrading, I decided that using @print Cascading Style Sheet commands was a more intuitive and better way to implement this feature.

Redirection. I felt it was crucial that links that used to work on MovableType still work in WordPress. I documented some of how I solved this in this post. In some cases, changing WordPress’s permalink structure did not solve my problem. I had to dig into the details of an Apache mod called mod_rewrite. Like many things about Apache, the syntax was a bit cryptic but I struggled through it. I discovered an undocumented “feature” that WordPress will periodically rewrite part of your .htaccess file between the “# BEGIN WordPress” and the “# END WordPress” lines. Once I put my mod_rewrite redirection commands before the “#BEGIN WordPress” line, my redirection commands were no longer overwritten. I had to redirect both my category and newsfeed links using mod_rewrite. I also had to edit a number of blog posts to correct URLs to my tag libraries.

Widgets vs. Plug-Ins. Widgets are objects that show some form of content which you can drag and drop into your sidebars. Plugins are programming extensions that add to or change the behavior of WordPress. Widgets require no programming, but plugins generally require a certain amount of programming skill to integrate them into existing templates. While I am a competent programmer, I found that if I looked long enough I could do it faster and easier with a widget. Go with widgets if you possibly can.

Things I like about WordPress

  • Administrator Interface. It is much easier to navigate its administrator interface. The tab and sub-tab metaphor is so much more natural than Movable Type’s combinations of menus and tabs.
  • Themes. The number of ready themes for WordPress is staggering and they look good. There are clearly many first class artists out there anxious to show off their talent. Even better, they are all free! I had a hard time choosing between them, but eventually settled on the Andreas-04 theme by Tara Aukerman. I chose it primarily because it would look familiar, but was classier than what I had (which in itself is quite a complement).
  • Plugins and Widgets. Like with WordPress themes, there seem to be an almost unlimited number of these gizmos that will extend and customize WordPress. The hard part is finding the one you need. Some only work on earlier versions. Some are a bit flaky. With a couple of exceptions, I was able to find a plugin or widget for each of my complex needs.
  • Pages that are not posts. I like the fact that I can use the editor to create pages that are not posts. The “About” page in the top right corner is an example. This gives me a way to put up relevant information like “I am going on vacation for a week” without it being treated as a blog post. If Movable Type had such a feature, I missed it.
  • Blog post editor. Finally, a WYSIWYG blog editor. I may have to stop using MS Word to compose my blog posts. In addition, adding objects like images is done by simply pressing a button. Sweet.
  • Blog post protection. You can password protect a post so only those who know the password can read it. I also understand you can create communities of users who are privileged to read certain categories of posts. I do not need this feature but it is nice to know it is available.
  • Emails to all subscribers. MT 3.3 could not do this.
  • Search. Text search is built-in and very fast, unlike MT 3.3, which was unnaturally slow. Moreover, there is nothing to program. Just drop the search widget in on one of your sidebars and you are done.
  • User accounts. I like that users can create accounts and see versions of the blog. Users can also be granted special privileges.
  • Dynamic text generation. Finally, the end of static pages. Blog content (except for specially designated permanent pages) are rendered on the fly. Static pages simply add overhead and reduce flexibility.
  • Blog hiding. With one button, you can hide your blog from search engines.
  • PHP based. PHP is much easier for the layman to program. So if you need to tweak or extend WordPress you do not necessarily have to be a rocket scientist to do it.

Things I liked better in Movable Type

  • Archive and category management. In MT, archives and categories by default will show all entries. In WordPress, the number you get in an archive or category is the number that you allow displayed on your index page, which are typically 10 or 15 posts. I hope WordPress eventually fixes this limitation. Meanwhile, you can use the Different Posts per Page plug in that will give you equivalent functionality. However, WordPress does allow archives and categories to be placed on sidebars by dragging the widget to the spot you want.
  • Tags. WordPress seems to have a bug in that it cannot distinguish between a tag and a category when they are named the same. MT does not have this problem. In general, tags are better thought out in MT, perhaps because they are brand new to WordPress. MT will suggest tags to use if you type part of it on the command line. This is more intuitive.

Useful Widgets

  • Daiko’s Text Widget. This is very useful because you can embed PHP code inside it yet drop the widget into a sidebar. It became my solution for showing “The Best of Occam’s Razor” posts in my sidebar.
  • AdSense Manager. This widget made adding Google Adsense code very straightforward. Its only limitation is that there appears to be no way to tell it to display ads only on certain pages. I would prefer to hide ads on my index page.
  • Creative Commons License Widget. This widget made it easy for me to add my licensing information without hard-coding HTML.
  • Get Recent Comments. In MT, I found I had to code some template tags to show my recent comments on my blog pages. With WordPress, I just used this widget and I could place recent comments on all my pages.
  • Subscribe2. Handles advanced email notifications. With the Subscribe2 widget, you drop the control on your page. With it, your readers have much more flexibility. You can unsubscribe (a feature not available in MT 3.3) as well as select to get emails only for certain categories.

Useful Plugins

  • Akismet. The Akismet plug in is a godsend. It redirects comments and trackbacks through the Akismet spam engine, which seems to be a foolproof way to ensure spam does not affect your blog. Akismet is so essential that it is built into WordPress. However, it must be enabled. To enable it, you first need to get an Akismet key by creating an account on the WordPress site and then enable Akismet spam filtering on your blog. If you do not bother you will soon wish you had.

WordPressing

The Thinker by Rodin

I hope to change my blogging software to WordPress within the next month. Currently I am using Movable Type to host this blog. I would like to say I am a loyal Movable Type customer, since I have used it for the nearly five years I have been hosting this blog. However, since its license allows me to use it for free for personal use, I never actually bought the software. That is not to say I have not given its owners, SixApart, some money. I needed to buy support when I re-hosted this year in order to make the dynamic publishing feature work. That cost me $50 and made me start wondering if I wanted to convert to WordPress, which serves all its content dynamically.

No, I stayed with Movable Type not necessarily out of loyalty, but mostly out of convenience. Just as after a certain point it is hard to move from Quicken to Microsoft Money because of the hassle of retraining, so it seemed easier to stay with Movable Type than work my way through the myriad issues associated with moving from one blogging solution to another.

Nonetheless, I am taking the plunge. I recently received an announcement from SixApart informing me that Movable Type 4.0 was ready. It extolled all its wonderful and latest features. Did I really want to upgrade and spend the considerable time learning how to use all these new features, particularly when I would not use most of them? Should I stay with Movable Type 3.3 until it gradually deteriorated into irrelevance? On the other hand, should I bite the bullet and move to what most of us non-commercial bloggers use today, which is WordPress?

Since yesterday was a holiday for me and being geeky looked more appealing than weeding the garden, I took the plunge. Installing WordPress, an open source blogging solution, turned out to be painless. I had to create a new MySQL database instance (easy enough to do in phpMyAdmin), copy the files over to my web server, edit a few settings in a configuration file, and then run the installation program. Installation time: about 15 minutes.

Next step: move 700 plus blog entries and 400 plus comments from Movable Type to WordPress. After digging through the WordPress documentation, I discovered I had to export my entries in Movable Type then import them into WordPress. It was relatively straightforward. Total time: another 15 minutes.

Unfortunately, by default all my WordPress posts will have URLs that are completely different from the URLs generated by Movable Type. All those search engine links would become obsolete meaning that Google might unlist my blog again. This would not do, so I went hunting through the documentation to find out how to solve the problem. Blessedly, WordPress has a way so that you can create a customized path and post names for your entries. I could make the resulting URLs look just like on Movable Type. Problem solved?

Not quite. There was a significant number of impedance issues resulting from blogging for five years with Movable Type. For one thing, until mid 2005, Movable Type limited entry name URLs to 15 characters. (Before that, entry names were numbers, like 000001.html.) Therefore, if your entry was titled “This is a long entry name” the resulting URL was “this_is_a_long.html”. If you wrote another entry with a similar name Movable Type would make sure you didn’t reuse the same name, so the next one was “this_is_a_long_1.html”. During one Movable Type upgrade, this limitation went away so I allowed entry name URLs to be up to 50 characters long, but this still left hundreds of entries where the entry name URL was truncated at 15 characters. In addition, WordPress puts dashes where blank spaces would be in your URLs. Movable Type substitutes underscores. I followed the helpful online advice but still had hundreds of mismatched URLs. Eventually, in frustration I wrote a little PHP script that identified the mismatched URLs. I also came up with a strategy for fixing discrepancies in the 15-character entry name URLs. Many of these entries had underscores in the last character that had to be fixed. Most of these could be fixed with one SQL statement.

When I make the switch to WordPress, my individual entry and monthly archives should now match correctly. Category archives though are not so simple. Had they been stored under /category/archive_name it would be straightforward but I have them under /archive_name. I am still pondering how to solve this one. The most expeditious way seems to be to create symbolic links.

In addition, currently there is no way to move over my Movable Type entry tags. This is an issue that must be solved before I can migrate the blog. The good news is that by examining how tags are stored in Movable Type and WordPress, I think I have found a way to do it using SQL and PHP. I will be testing it when I have some spare time. Moving over the tags was not possible until I first had addressed the inconsistent URLs.

I know there are all sorts of other embedded URLs that will break that will need to be addressed. These include tag archive URLs, feed URLs and differences in the search interface. Then there is the look of the blog itself. There is no utility to move over Movable Type templates, so once rehosted in WordPress, this site will have to look a bit different. Fortunately, WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose from, and they are much easier to edit than Movable Type templates. My WordPress blog is a work progress and can be viewed here. If you have any feedback on the look and feel let me know.

Overall, WordPress is slick. The user interface is much more straightforward and feels more powerful than Movable Type. It is also wholly written in PHP. Movable Type started out as a Perl application, and in my current incarnation, it is a mixture of Perl and PHP. However, I understand PHP and loathe Perl, and I know that PHP is highly scalable. WordPress will be very fast and easier for me to customize with my own programs than Movable Type. WordPress, being open source, is unlikely to disappear. Both Movable Type and WordPress have plug in architectures, but WordPress has a huge user community. Consequently the selection of templates, plug ins and widgets is much greater. Moreover, it is likely that upgrading WordPress will be much more straightforward and less of a hassle than Movable Type. Therefore, I am confident this project will pay off in the end.

I thought there would be more users who had moved over their blogs from Movable Type to WordPress. While there are clearly some, the online documentation was inadequate. Therefore, I have been contributing to improving the documentation by adding my experience in the WordPress Wiki. While wikis have been around for a while, I am still taken aback that I can make changes instantly to their official online documentation and no one bothers to review these changes.

So I expect things to look a bit different around here within a month. One thing will not change: I will continue to set high standards for myself for all the entries I place here.