Tag: wordpress-com

Blogging for social sustainability – the why’s and how’s

WordPress.com blog's Add New Post Screen

In my first post on Social Sustainability, where I talked about the importance of sharing, I mentioned that I had been thinking of writing a post about blogging – well, here it is!

I know this will be the proverbial “teaching granny to suck eggs” posting but seeing as blogs are such a fundamental tool in your social media armoury, I couldn’t leave them unaddressed. In fact, there are so many things to write about blogs and blogging that I can see many more posts on the topic in my future. This brings me to a question – what aspect of blogging would you like me to write about next?

I’m going to start off though with a quick ‘why blog’ and then a discussion of whether to go for a hosted or a self-hosted blog (and the differences between the two).

I won’t spend too much time on the ‘why blog’ question – I’m assuming if you are reading this it is because you are interested in Social Sustainability – if that is the case, then you probably already know that the primary tool of social media is a blog. I wrote a bunch of posts a few years ago on the advantages of blogging for a business – here’s one to have a firkle through if you are still not convinced (read down through the comments as well to get full value).

On the question of whether to go for a hosted or self-hosted blog, I’m not going to make a recommendation either way – rather, I’ll list their relative advantages and let you decide which is more appropriate for you:

Hosted blogs (like WordPress.com which this blog runs on, and Blogger.com) advantages:

  • Speed – a hosted blog can be setup in a matter of seconds
  • Reliability – hosted blogs are very rarely offline (the last time WordPress.com had an outage was in June 2010)
  • Simplicity – hosted blog providers generally look after hosting, updating, security, spam and malware protection
  • Branding – hosted blogs now allow you to brand your blog with your own domain name (e.g. no longer tomraftery.wordpress.com, now simply tomraftery.com) and
  • Price – most hosted blog platforms are free

On the other hand Self-hosted blogs (such as GreenMonk.net)have these advantages:

  • Flexibility – With your self-hosted blog you can extend the functionality of the blog with themes and plug-ins
  • Ad free – most hosted blogs will display ads in your blog – with self-hosted, you can go Ad-free, or roll out Ads and benefit from the revenue yourself!
  • Cheap – although you have to pay for the hosting – there are free blog platforms (such as WordPress.org) you can download to run your blog and
  • Security – if you can control the country and hoster your blog is hosted with, you run far less risk of falling foul of spurious (or otherwise) take-down notices

One possible suggestion, if you are still undecided, is to start off with a hosted blog. If, after a while, you find the limitations of your hosted blog too frustrating, you can always export all your blog posts and comments and import them into a self-hosted one and go from there.

Either way, happy blogging.

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Photo credit Tom Raftery

Media buttons not displaying in WordPress.com Add New Post screen in Safari

I’m new to WordPress.com (though been a WordPress.org user since 2004) so forgive me if this is old news but the WordPress.com New Post dialog box doesn’t display properly in Safari (version 5.03 on OS X 10.6.6, at least).

If you look at the image below you can see that the Media buttons normally to the right of Upload/Insert are missing – in fact the only button displaying there is the Add Poll button.

WordPress.com Add New Post in Safari
WordPress.com Add New Post in Safari

Viewing the same screen in Firefox (version 3.6.13 on OS X 10.6.6) does display the buttons. Note also that under the Media menu item on the left, the Library and Add New items are correctly aligned in Firefox, but they are not in Safari.

WordPress.com Add New Post in Firefox
WordPress.com Add New Post in Firefox

One thing that the Safari screen does get right however is that it displays the Alt text for the buttons on rollover, whereas Firefox doesn’t.

One other thing I did notice (which is non-obvious, but helped by the appearance of the Alt text) is that while the media buttons don’t appear in Safari, if you rollover the space between the Upload/Insert and the Poll button, the functionality of the buttons is there, it is simply that they don’t display!!! How bizarre.

As I said at the outset, I’m new to WordPress.com, so if this is a well worn topic, forgive me – it is just new to me.

Microsoft Belgium gigs

The presentations I gave to Microsoft Belgium this morning went really well and I received tremendously positive feedback. I have been asked not to talk about the content of the talks so I can’t say anymore about those.

I met some cool people there. Dave and Tom organised the event, and ran it really smoothly, despite Aer Lingus’ attempts to sabotage it by getting me there late!

I also caught up with Dirk (thanks for the ride from the airport) and Hans, both of whom I met originally in Burgenstock in September. And I met and had a great chat with Chris today at lunchtime. Chris uses WordPress.com so he can’t be all bad!!!

Can Google Reader scale the Great Firewall of China?

Jeremiah Owyang is on a trip to China at the moment. He put up a post on his blog the other day saying he couldn’t access Robert Scoble’s blog from inside China – it seems to be blocked by the Great Firewall of China for some reason. I don’t know if this applies to all WordPress.com accounts or just Robert’s.

In any case, it occurred to me this morning that if I Shared all of Robert’s posts from within my Google Reader account and sent Jeremiah the links to my Google Reader Shared items, he should be able to read Robert’s posts within China.

Of course if Google Reader had a way to allow you to select multiple posts to share (or even allowed you to share a full feed) then this would make it easier for me to keep Jeremiah up to date!

Until China starts blocking Google Reader!

WordPress.com "major drive failure"

I mentioned in a post earlier this morning that I was having problems accessing wordpress.com blogs – wordpress.com is a hosted multi-user version of the blog software I use, WordPress. The site is now available again but suffered a “major disk failure” according to a message on the wordpress.com Dashboard.

data loss message on WordPress.com

The data loss is presumably because the drive which failed was not in a RAID array and the last backup of the site was a couple of days ago!

This is unforgivable. No matter how small a hosting organisation you are (and WordPress.com couldn’t be considered small), your users data is sacrosanct. Users will tolerate occasional downtime but not loss of data.

Matt and the rest of the WordPress.com team, you need to try to resurrect as much of your users data as possible (if you haven’t already done this), put the site on a RAID array, put a disaster recovery plan in place which ensures no data can ever be lost again and then try very hard to rebuild your now shattered reputation.

MacManX alerted me, in the comments of this post, to the fact that Matt has put up a post about this issue. In the post, Matt explains what happened, how the WordPress.com team responded and that fact that no data was lost:

Donncha was on the ball and switched all the traffic to a recent backup so most things would work while we investigated the hardware failure. This means that an old version of your site was shown for a few hours.

A few minutes ago we restored the up-to-date database and we’re currently syncing it to the backup to get back any posts you might have made during the semi-downtime. Even though we were able to recover everything, we’re looking at ways to make things even more redundant, so if this ever happens again the problems will be measure in seconds or minutes

It is lucky for the WordPress.com team that no data was lost, this will help people’s confidence in the platform. However, they need to get a RAID solution in place for the database (preferably with multiple RAID containers – 1 for OS, 1 for db and 1 for transaction logs) and a live backup db server in case of a logic board failure on the db server. Only at this level of redundancy will they be able to sleep at night and hand on heart be able to promise data integrity to WordPress.com users.

WordPress.com offline

I have been trying to browse sites on wordpress.com for the last few minutes but I am getting a 503 error message.

Anyone know what’s going on there?

503 error message on WordPress.com

D’oh! Somehow this post was posted twice – I have deleted the duplicate.

It looks like the wordpress.com site is back up but on Scoble’s site, at least, the last one or two days posts are missing. This certainly dents any confidence you would have in a hosted service. Occasional downtime is acceptable (barely – but you can understand it if a site is a victim of its own success) but loss of data is unacceptable – I can only hope that this too is temporary.