Choosing my blogging platform

One choice bloggers need to make early on is their blogging platform. This post simply discusses the choices I considered, and the reasons for my decision. Yes, I’m still blogging about blogging. I’ll get to the good stuff real soon, I promise!

Wordpress and Blogger

Today, Wordpress and Blogger are the two most common choices. Both of them have been around for a really long time now, which means their platform is quite stable and mature. I actually had a Wordpress blog before, and while I don’t have much to say about it, I didn’t encounter any issues with it either. These two are probably the best choices to make for someone who wants to start blogging right away. However, I don’t just want a blog, I want a personal website.

The problem with these platforms is they aren’t very customizable. Well, actually Wordpress is very customizable, but that isn’t cheap. And honestly, after hearing lots of Wordpress horror stories, I don’t think I’d like it anyways. Since I really wanted this website to be my own, (please excuse my vanity) I couldn’t settle for these.

Medium

Like the previous two, Medium provides an easy way to get started. It isn’t so different from them, but given its popularity lately, I felt like it deserves some special attention.

The best thing about Medium is that your posts are discoverable on their platform. This makes it much easier to build up an audience, something I oh so desparately want but don’t have just yet. I don’t have much nice things else to say, but I do have many complaints.

Like many blogging platforms, Medium isn’t very customizable. Although their design looks nice and clean, it can be quite annoying reading posts on their site due to the header, footer, and many unnecessary buttons following you around. The push to get its mobile app, and more recently, to create an account via an annoying pop-up really really really irritates me. I really wish that websites would stop being so aggressive in asking people to sign up or download their app.

A downside of being on the shared platform is that people will associate your content with other content on the platform. Honestly speaking, I kinda have this bad impression of Medium articles. I find many of them to be clickbait, full of irrelevant images, and contain way too much self-promotion.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are lots of good stuff on Medium, but the amount of noise is significantly higher. I wouldn’t say Medium is to blame for this. It’s just easier to make something of poor quality.

There’s also this “clap” thing that I worry about. I mean I get it, of course you want to know if people appreciate your work, and it also helps signal posts worth sharing. But popularity is a very flawed way of measuring quality.

Posts can be popular simply because the author is popular, or it got more exposure, or perhaps because the target market is larger, like beginner level material. Nothing wrong with catering to beginners (everyone’s a beginner in everything at some point in time), but there’s already a lot of those and they tend to be shallow. Also, it’s harder for a beginner to tell if something really is good or bad.

By incentivizing popularity, you end up focusing on the wrong things. Unfortunately, I can’t come up with a better alternative for measuring quality, but I’d rather we not try to measure it than measure something misleading.

Static site generators

Yeah, surprise surprise. Yet another programmer decided to use a static site generator for their blog.

People often tout the speed and safety benefits of SSGs, but for me, having a much more flexible control is the best part. Aside from that, they are also very affordable to host thanks to services like GitHub Pages, Netlify, and Neocities.

There are a lot of different SSGs out there, each with their own perks and quirks. After doing a little research and testing, I ended up choosing Hexo.

Setting things up took a lot more time and effort. It’s a good thing I like tinkering and customizing stuff, but I’m slowly getting tired of it. More and more I just want things to work out of the box, stay that way, and get things done with minimal hassle instead of continuously messing around trying to get something to “perfectly” fit my taste. Sigh, I’m getting old.

It would’ve been much easier if I had stayed with the defaults. But as I said earlier, I wanted to make this site my own. By that I mostly meant being in control of the design. Since this site is meant to be personal, I think it’s worth the trouble. Thankfully not much work is required after the initial set-up. A fancy UI for managing the content would be nice though.

Truth be told, there’s still a lot of thing I’m not satisfied with. The current theme I made is just temporary until I find time to code the original design I had in mind. There are some things I don’t like about Hexo too, which is why I plan to make my own static site generator! Eventually. And then there’s the Disqus comments. Maybe I should just quit my day job and work on this full time. Haha. I wish. If I wait until everything is perfect, then I won’t be able to get enough writing done, so this will have to do for now.

Anyways, that’s it. Yes, I did write this post as a futile attempt to justify the amount of effort I have spent setting things up instead of writing, and also as a veiled rant about things I do not like about the currently trendy blogging platform called Medium. I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

Tags: #comparison #blogging