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November 8th, 2007

11:28 AM

A Comparison of Free Blog Services Out There

Blogging woman


Generally, the best blog will be the one you set up on your own website, which means you get complete control over its appearance. But I am too lazy to go through the hassle of customizing a content management system on my website since I hail from the obsolete pure HTML generation and I think I'm too old a dog to learn new tricks when it comes to PHP and stuff. Besides, I need all the space on my web host for all those pictures of hot guys.

In case it comes useful to anyone out here, here are my opinions on some of the free blog services out there.

Blogger
http://www.blogger.com

Pros:
  1. No annoying ads, just a thin strip of navigational bar.
  2. Easy to use visual content management system.
  3. Full customization options, if you know how to do this kind of thing.

Cons:
  1. Unless you are willing to pay someone to do it or you know how to, it is not easy to customize the blog. Fortunately, there are sites out there with free Blogger templates from which you can copy and paste the source code over your current Blogger source code.
  2. Limited bland and uninteresting ready-made templates.
  3. This may be just me since I'm in Malaysia, but Blogger blogs and the Blogger website take forever to load for me.

Wordpress
http://www.wordpress.com

Pros:
  1. Neat and clean appearance. This is the closest you will have to a Wordpress blog without going through the hassle of setting up one on your website.
  2. Easy to use visual content management system, although I find it easier to just update using the code  section instead of their WYSIWYG tool because line spacing is bugged when I am using the Firefox browser.
  3. You can have multiple blogs that are linked through a common admin area.
  4. A sizable number of ready-made templates.

Cons:
  1. Unless you are willing to pay to access complete customization, you have no choice but to use their ready-made templates. This makes your blog look similar to other blogs on Wordpress.com.
  2. Ads are present, but only to your visitors and these ads are Google adlinks so they aren't too intrusive. If you want to see the ads, get rid of your Wordpress.com cookie and visit your blog. Wordpress.com does not mention any of this on their website, by the way.
  3. Many of the widgets offered for your blog range from unworkable to useless.

Bravenet
http://www.bravenet.com

Pros:
Er... it comes with guestbooks, cartoons, polls, and other stuff that you can add to your blog, I suppose. Unlike the Wordpress widgets, these are actually useful for a change.

Cons:
Where do I start?

  1. Very bugged WYSIWYG control panel. You may find yourself refreshing the browser often due to how things don't always load correctly in the correct places. It is common to find that instead of your blog entry in the "edit content" box, a banner ad ends up loading in the box instead. This is not some shady advertising practice, mind you, since you can't click on that banner. Must be some problems in the overall coding.
  2. Limited and childish-looking ready-made templates. Still, you have more customization options than you will have at Wordpress.com.
  3. Limited links on the sidebars (25 if you don't want to pay).
  4. Ads galore, from banners to pop-ups. You have to pay for the "Pro" package (which removes ads) to get rid of them.
  5. Custom Pro package is pricey but rarely worth the money ($6.95 a month or $54.95 a year). All it offers is ad removal (which is good, but you don't want ads in the first place, you shouldn't come here), more links to be added to the site (up to 250), and password protection options that are offered for free in other free blog services. I'd expect more for that amount of money, like a less bugged control panel, oodles of ready-made template, full access to CSS customization, and an option to categorize my entries.
  6. No way to categorize your entries.
  7. The title of your blog entries are always the title of your blog. This is horrible if you want search engines to be able to index and add your blog entries to their database. 
  8. No search engine for your blog.
  9. No spam/filter system to get rid of unwanted spams.
  10. You can only have one blog per account.

In conclusion

But I end up going with the worst option out of the three. I know, it's odd. However, it is not that I have some kind of quirk where I love Bravenet, it's because ultimately I find Blogger hard to customize on my part and Wordpress too limited in its customization option. I already have one Wordpress.com blog for Big Brother live feed recaps and if I have another one, it will end up looking just like that blog and I don't like that. For me, Bravenet ends up being my choice because I personally don't like the Blogger control panel and the lack of customization option at Wordpress.com.

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