In response to girrodocus’s question: #PersonalWebsite creators… what’s your rationale for deciding when to use a subdomain or a subdirectory?

I usually prefer to put sections in subdirectories. That makes it possible to make the entire site portable (depending on authoring tools, anyway). Ideally, I want something that could be zipped up and moved. Or sent to Archive Team. (One of the downsides of dynamic site generators is that you can’t do this.)

When I use subdomains, it’s typically because I want some sort of isolation between the content, or the server apps, etc. But in those cases I’m as likely to use another domain entirely.

I put my main blog in a subdirectory (/journal), but if I set up my own git repository or something like that, I’d probably put it in a subdomain.

That said, I’m currently trying to sort out what I want to keep at the domain I’ve had for the last 20 years and what to move to my IndieWeb identity site.

IndieWeb and Identity

It took 4 or 5 years from me discovering IndieWeb to actually building support into my website(s), because Hyperborea.org, named after a fictional place, felt like a digital home, but not an identity. So I set up KVibber.com as my digital identity instead.

I’ve been considering several approaches:

  • New stuff on KVibber, leave old stuff where it is.
  • Professional stuff on KVibber, fun stuff on Hyperborea.
  • Original work on KVibber, fandom stuff on Hyperborea.

I might move my scenic and nature photos over to KVibber but leave the funny and comic-con photos on Hyperborea, or move my tech articles over but leave the personal posts.

I’m also planning to put together a light microblog, probably on KVibber, to be the canonical location for short posts on Mastodon/Twitter/etc that I want to keep, but don’t feel big enough for a full blog entry. That’ll probably go on KVibber, even though it’ll blur the pro/fun and original/fan distinctions.

Originally on Wandering.shop (and a followup post).

Update September 2022: I guess I’ve tabled the whole question at this point. For now, I’m just using KVibber as a profile page and putting everything else on Hyperborea, like I was doing before.

WP Tavern summarizes the conversation around WordPress losing CMS marketshare for the first time in ages, and what various people have cited as likely causes.

Personally, I’m finding its increasing complexity to be a major frustration.

  • Writing on WordPress has gotten somewhat more complicated.
  • Maintaining a WordPress site has gotten more complicated.
  • Developing for WordPress has gotten more complicated.
  • The resulting page code (including CSS and Javascript) has gotten a lot more complicated. As I’ve noted before, there’s no good reason to require 450K of data to display a 500-word post. Or a single link with a one-sentence comment.

The move towards Gutenberg blocks and full-site editing complicates things on several levels, and feels like an attempt at lock-in as well.

Ironically, I’ve been moving toward Eleventy, which has also been very frustrating…but only in building the layout I want.

On one hand…

  • I have to develop a lot of the components I want from scratch. More than would have thought. Though I suspect there are enough pre-built layouts out there for most people’s use cases.
  • The documentation is sorely lacking. (Eventually I’ll get around to helping with that.)
  • Dynamic features like comments need to be handled by another program.

But on the other…

  • I can fine tune things a lot more easily than fine tuning a WordPress theme.
  • Once I’m done building the layout, adding a new post is almost as easy as it is on WordPress.
  • My actual post content is portable.
  • There’s essentially no attack surface, so if I have a site that’s “done” I can just build it one last time and leave it as-is — and not worry about spam, maintenance or security (beyond general webserver security).
  • I don’t have to send extra JavaScript libraries along with every page, so it can use a tenth of the bandwidth and load faster on slow connections.

With Eleventy, setting up the layout and features has been super complicated…but once it’s set up, it’s smooth, easy to deal with, and does the job well. It’s kind of like running Linux back in the 1990s.

But with WordPress, there’s complexity in every layer.

Sometimes it’s worth it.

Sometimes it’s not.

I’m not ready to give up on the flexibility of WordPress for my main blog yet, but holy crap are these pages heavy. Even with compression. There’s no reason it should take 450K (before compression) and 20 requests to display a 500-word post.

And I don’t even do ads, popups, social sharing buttons or anything else like that.

By contrast, my Les Mis blog, where I post about once a year, is currently generated by Eleventy using a custom minimal theme that only takes around 10K of HTML, 3K CSS, and a third request for the icon. And another 40K for the header font, which I recently set up locally so it no longer has to call out to Google Fonts.

One domain, just four requests, and only 50K for the first hit and 10K for each subsequent page.

Never mind the Gemini version of the blog which is around 2-5K per page and a single request per page!

Compression cuts down on those 500Kb WordPress pages — all the text and code compresses really well so only around 200K bandwidth is needed. But it’s still got multiple JavaScript and CSS requests going on.

I was able to cut it down significantly by switching to a lighter theme and turning on the minimize/combine feature in WP-Optimize so it’s making fewer script calls. But it’s still way bigger than the minimalist setup I have with 11ty.

Some of it is images, though. I still have my latest Flickr posts in the sidebar, and I’m using Jetpack’s related posts feature which includes thumbnails. I could cut out a big chunk by removing those, but I kind of still like the idea of having them in there.

I think I need to take a look at how much extra stuff I really want on this site and rip some of it out. Eventually I’d like to replace all the JetPack features because they just seem to keep adding more scripts. Plus I want an entirely local stats package instead of one that’s offloaded to a third party even if they’re less awful than, say, Google or Facebook.

On the other hand, I want to keep Gravatar on the comments sections (on the older posts where people actually commented) because that’s actually useful to readers as an aid for following a conversation better. But that’s all on top of the base page size.

Originally posted at Wandering.shop

Sometimes you choose which social app to open based on

  • who you want to talk to
  • who you want to hear
  • what you want to talk about

Sometimes you’re just shouting into the void. At those times, I figure I’ll choose the void that feels less exploitative.

That’s part of why I still have a blog. And why I post more on Mastodon, while Twitter is mostly auto-shares from my other networks, retweets, and occasional cross-posts.

(And politics, because I’d rather keep that on Twitter, where it’s sort of the main topic anyway, than on the network that’s still fun. Not that Mastodon is apolitical. Far from it! But it’s a lot more varied than the overwhelming focus on US partisan politics I see on Twitter. And the culture and structure make the discussions at least somewhat less train-wrecky. Most of the time.)

Update: If you’re interested in checking out Mastodon and the Fediverse, good places to start are JoinMastodon.org and JoinFediverse.wiki.

What’s the minimum viable blog feature set these days?

  • Rich text posts (output; the source can be anything)
  • Titles
  • Permalinks
  • Tags/categories
  • Navigation
  • RSS feed
  • Images hosted locally
  • Media embed (remote or local?)
  • Author info for multi-author blogs

I won’t back down on RSS/Atom, because there’s SO MUCH you and subscribers can do with it.

I also think images should to be built-in and not something you bolt on clumsily afterward.

Not sure if I’d consider comments part of the base level.

What else am I missing?

Candidate Software

Looking for something lighter weird than WordPress.

The last time I tried Plume and WriteFreely, they didn’t support images, though IIRC you could embed remote images in at least one.

Static site generators I’ve tried like Jekyll require you to bolt on separate commenting systems like Disqus, or jump through hoops to roll your own in a way that will re-generate the site when someone comments…and you still have to reinvent spam filtering.