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To the best of my recollection, I have been blogging in some form or another since some time in 1999. When I started, I was manually updating a site using a very old version of Dreamweaver. Later, I burned through a series of “platforms,” if you could call them that at the time. I started by rolling my own using some rudimentary ASP knowledge. I built one by harvesting posts and replies from an installation of Snitz Forums. I used LiveJournal for a while. I played with WordPress in its original release and then decided to go Movable Type instead—then ended up going back to WordPress when MT changed their licensing.

I’ve been on WordPress ever since, except for a three-month stint with Drupal that is best left in the past.

In that time, I’ve blogged, made themes, blogged some more, learned how to make basic plugins, and watched WordPress grow into what it is today. Thought I’ve had a WordPress.com account since back in the golden ticket days of the service, I was always primarily a user of self-hosted WordPress until a little less than a year ago.

Not long after I began working at Automattic and on WordPress.com full-time as a Happiness Engineer, I was looking at my personal sites and trying to determine the best thing to do with them. Shared hosting can be slow, and I was running more than one site off it. I had a very custom theme that I was pretty unhappy with because I’d rushed it and didn’t have the time to fix what I didn’t like about it.

I eventually made the decision to move both of my personal sites to WordPress.com, for a few reasons:

  • It’s better and more reliable hosting than any host within my cost reach.
  • I wanted to work with the same tools and within the same restrictions as the rest of our users.
  • It allowed me to test new features using my own content and site so I can relate them more easily in support.

When thinking about topics to write on for the Post a Day challenge, the experience of having my sites on WordPress.com kept popping into my head. It’s a great place to host a site, but there are things you sometimes need to work around because of our code or embed restrictions, and sometimes I miss certain aspects of self-hosting my sites.

On the other hand, there are plenty of advantages to hosting at WordPress.com. There are features here that are unique and either can’t be found (yet) or can’t be done easily on a self-hosted site without some serious systems mojo. I don’t have to worry about making sure everything is updated. I don’t have to worry about my host’s security track record (or lack thereof). I’ve had only a fraction of the downtime I experienced when I was self-hosting on a shared host.

So as part of my Post a Day ramblings, I want to talk about the experience of blogging on WordPress.com. What’s awesome about it? What’s frustrating about it or needs some working around? I think I’ve got some neat tricks up my sleeve for working with WordPress.com, and I’m willing to bet you do, too. You can find this post and my others regarding WordPress.com by clicking on the link in my navigation menu at the top of this page.

I encourage you to write about this as part of your trek through posting once per day this year! Let’s get the discussion going by rocking some comments! What is:

  • One thing you love about WordPress.com, or maybe the one feature that sold you on moving or starting your site here?
  • One thing that you don’t like so much about WordPress.com, and maybe wish was a bit different?
  1. Since it’s my topic, I’ll go ahead and start by listing mine.

    What won me over to WordPress.com was a single feature that I couldn’t get on self-hosted WordPress: our awesome Post by Email feature. It is unlike anything else I’ve used and I actually use it as the default method for moblogging pictures from my iPhone.

    One thing that I’ve struggled with recently that I personally would like to see improved is the method for editing and working with CSS. I made a lot of changes to my site earlier today while sprucing it up a bit, and occasionally I would be frustrated with it. It took more trial and error than I like.

  2. Hey Ryan,

    I’ve been flirting with the idea of putting my personal site on WordPress.com instead of self hosting, but the thing I don’t like about WP.com is the inability to use third party systems like Disqus, move the WP feed to FeedBurner and the inability to use premium themes (as I’m a die hard Elegant Themes user).

    There are a few other reasons, but those are the big three thus far. My host is very secure (Fire Host via Pagely) so I don’t have to worry about hackers too much.

    However if I do tire of the self hosted game, I’ll probably give WP a second look (that or Blogetery).

  3. What won me over was the fact that I know everyone here by name. I mean, where else are you going to find that?

    Of course, I also love the fact that I no longer have to update plugins or find replacements for abandoned plugins.

    Basically, being on WordPress.com allows me to focus more on blogging and less on managing the blog itself.

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