What’s the minimum viable blog feature set these days?
- Rich text posts (output; the source can be anything)
- 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?
Looking for something lighter weight 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.
In advance of Google shuttering their third(?) attempt at a social network, Google+, I’ve retrieved a full archive, and I’ve trawled through it looking for anything that I want to keep online after the shutdown. Most of them were cross-posts of one sort or another, or (early on, especially) the kind of random social media status that maybe has value in the moment, but not down the line. I found around 30-40 posts worth keeping. Some had their own merits, some fit in with other posts here on the blog.
Rather than just import them verbatim, I’ve decided to do some minimal cleanup. No major rewriting or anything, just the kind of things that I’d be willing to silently change on an old blog post that was already here:
- Fix up the formatting
- Fix typos
- Link to related posts
- Add a quote to linkblogging posts if they need more context
Yeah, it’s slower than copy-paste or direct import (I never did get around to writing the converter I wanted to), but there’s no rush for old news, and I’ve got copies to work from even if I’m not done by April 2.
Last month, Tumblr and Flickr both announced policy changes that will impact a lot of users, and upset even more. Flickr announced that they’d be shrinking the storage offered to free accounts while adding features to paid accounts. Tumblr announced that all adult content was going to be banned, and immediately set about flagging posts and accounts. In the clumsiest way possible. With a lot of errors.
I feel like Tumblr has been knocked out of orbit, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes the way of GeoCities (or at least LiveJournal). But I actually feel more confident about Flickr. Why?
- Flickr was bought by SmugMug, a company that’s all about photos. Tumblr was part of the Yahoo! package bought by Verizon, a giant telecom conglomerate that’s searching for a way to monetize users’s content.
- Flickr has had a freemium business model as long as I can remember.
- The new free tier at Flickr may be limited, but it’s still big (1000 photos), and it’s still more than they offered before the move to “Let’s get people to host ALL their pictures here!” a few years back (200 photos, IIRC).
- And that limit is both clear and non-judgmental, not a fuzzy, badly-implemented line that on other social media sites has frequently turned out to be the first step down a slippery slope (like the “Strikethrough” episode at LiveJournal that ultimately led to a lot of fanfic writers and fan artists leaving LJ in favor of, well, Tumblr.)
- Flickr’s customers are the paying Flickr Pro users. Tumblr’s customers are the advertisers.
In short: Flickr is focusing on their core. Tumblr just jettisoned a huge segment of their users and gave the rest a big red warning flag.
I’ve been a paying Flickr customer for years now, and I’m happy to renew. I still post galleries there, and and my better one-off photos.
Tumblr…I don’t have anything that violates the new rules, but it seems like they’ve taken a step towards self-destruction. Between this, Google+ closing, and the ongoing train wrecks of Twitter & Facebook, I’ve decided to pull back. I’ve downloaded an archive of my entire blog, and I’m in the process of clearing out all my share-posts, reblogs, mirrored posts, basically anything that’s not either original to that blog or an actual conversation. And I’m starting to import the original content here, where it’s under my own control.
It’s clear that Verizon has even less idea what to do with Tumblr than Yahoo! did. When they finally give up trying to monetize what’s left of the user base, they’ll have no incentive to keep it going. Or to respect all the user data they’ve amassed.
Now that Pixelfed federation and Pterotype are taking shape, I can hook up my photos and blogging directly into Mastodon and the Fediverse, but you know what would be even cooler?
Connecting them to each other.
A lot of my blog ideas grow out of photos or statuses that I’ve posted previously, as I find more to say or a better way to say it. And while it’s always possible to just post a comment or reply with a link, imagine posting them into the same federated thread.
Here’s a scenario we can do today:
- Photo of something interesting on Pixelfed, boosted to Mastodon. I believe we’re one update away from Mastodon replies and Pixelfed comments appearing together.
- Blog post on Plume or WordPress with Pterotype going into more detail about the photo. Comments and Mastodon/Pleroma replies can interleave right now. (Try it, if you want!)
- Another photo on Pixelfed as a follow-up. Again, comments and replies can interleave.
This is already pretty cool, but it still creates three separate discussions. The best I can do is add a “Hey, I wrote more on my blog over here: <link>” to the first discussion.
What if there were a way to publish the blog entry as a reply to the PixelFed photo? Or to publish the second photo as a reply to the blog?
And that opens up other possibilities where people can reply to other people’s photos and blog entries with their own. (Webmentions sort of do this, but they’re not going to create a single federated discussion.)
I’m not sure what form this interleaved discussion would take, or what the pitfalls might be. (Visibility might suffer, for instance.) Blogging and photo posting tend to be platforms for an original post that can have comments, rather than platforms where a top-level post can be an OP or a reply, and this would change that model.
For today’s daily blog, I was thinking about posting something about getting out there and voting in the midterm election tomorrow. Aside from the fact that I already posted about elections a few days ago, I realized another problem: who’s going to read it?
I mean, K-Squared Ramblings
doesn’t seem to have many regular readers as near as I can tell. And Key Smash! is for testing – I’m not really expecting
to pick up many regular readers there. So a call to action isn’t going to reach many people on either of these blogs.
Of course, that brings up the question of why am I blogging these days
? Who is my target audience?
- How-to and troubleshooting posts are intended for other people with similar problems. They don’t have to be blog entries, it’s just easier to write and edit that way.
- Recurring themes (like funny signs, or solar halos) are intended for anyone who lands on a related article or photo. It’s easier to tie things together on one site than across several.
- Some of it is soapbox material that I just feel like I need to get it out there. The kind of stuff you shout into the void on Twitter or Mastodon, but maybe it was too long for that, or maybe I did post it on one of those sites and decided that it was worth hanging onto. (Aside from lack of control and limited search functionality, sometimes social networks shut down.)
- Some of it is stuff that I find interesting and want to share. I usually end up sharing links over social media, and then if I have more that I want to say I’ll do it on a blog, because it’s much better-suited for that. I don’t have anyone specific in mind, just whoever might find the same stuff interesting.
- And some of it is for me. I don’t think many people read my convention reports (these days people just go for the photos), but I’ll go back myself and check, “Which year was that, again? Was that WonderCon or SDCC?”