WordPress sucks

This is a WordPress.com blog. You may not be able to see this because we have purchased the domain chimprefuge.com and set that up to point to bushwells.wordpress.com because it looks cooler.

Make no mistake: WordPress sucks. When we first left scienceblogs.com, which uses Movable Type, I decided that WordPress would be a good option because at the time it was the only free blog platform that allowed for the importing of posts from a Movable Type blog. So we went forward, and since then I’ve been gratified to learn how many shortcomings WordPress has. For one thing, you can’t use javascript-based visitor trackers like those in Sitemeter, which means that you can’t tell directly when someone sends a slew of visitors here by linking to us (not vital but interesting information). More problematic is not being able to customize the style sheet of a given theme without paying $15 a year, which means we’re stuck with these column widths and font sizes and so on. Then there’s the inability to use plug-ins, which only WordPress dot org users can do, and that WordPress option is not free. I’d like to put a rolling RSS feed in the sidebar here that aggregates posts from our favorite blogs, but evidently there’s no easy way to do this. If there is, it’s not among the preset “Widgets” WordPress provides.

I realize that I am complaining, at root, about the limitations of something I am not paying for. The thing is, Blogger (owned by Google and the site of all of those blogspot.com blogs) is also free does offer these options and more in some form. And, although the fuckers at WordPress obfuscate this, it is possible to import WordPress posts into Blogger. So, with the chimprefuge.com domain name up for its annual renewal soon, I am going to consult with my colleagues about going back to the same host Doc Bushwell used way back in the day when she conceived this mosh pit of thrumming discontent and ribaldry.

ADDENDUM: Having published this post, I see that I can’t even type “WordPress” with a lowercase “p” without the software converting it into corporate-logo style. Assholes.

  1. #1 by Warren on April 25, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    Perhaps I’m using different terms (for instance, there is a distinction between plugins and widgets in WP; the former extend backend functionality, while the latter apply to the interface on the site), but this post has surprised me. For instance, I’ve got SiteMeter on my blog, and it works, and it’s a WP blog I installed onto my own domain.

    I also have plugins running (look to the left on the WP dashboard, under the header “Plugins” – if that’s not what you’re looking for, what plugins are you referring to?), and can customize any stylesheet with the editor on the back end of my WP install. I’ve done it quite a few times over the years.

    As far as feed aggregators go, there are several, as near as I can tell:

    http://affiliateplex.com/2008/01/22/comprehensive-list-of-syndication-and-feed-aggregators-plugins-for-wordpress/

    FeedWordPress seems to be one of the more popular ones. Also look at tip #7 here:

    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/12/02/10-useful-rss-hacks-for-wordpress/

    That technique requires changing the site templates a bit, but the built-in editor is up to the challenge. The only problem I have with altering my site template is that if I install a different theme, or update the one I’m running, my changes go away. So what I’ll do (sometimes) instead is add the custom code as a custom text widget, which theoretically can then remain present across different WP theme updates.

    You might be able to wrap the requisite code into a text widget and get your RSS aggregator that way, without having to install or configure a plugin.

    The editor is also under the “Plugins” header on the left sidebar of your WP dashboard. Or at least it ought to be; that’s where mine is, anyway.

    I’m reasonably sure these tools are free. They came with my original install, and have persisted through updates. So far, no one’s dunned me for money at all.

    Of course, my WP install is actually on my own site. Maybe the way to go is to get a host and set up your blog there, rather than pointing to a wordpress.com site.

  2. #2 by kemibe on April 25, 2011 - 6:15 pm

    Thank you, kind sir. I believe that your last sentence explains everything — if we were to actually host this blog ourselves, then the features I need would be free:

    http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

    I know enough about the tech aspects of this (not that they’re daunting) to make it work. We’re supposed to renew the domain name in about a month anyway, so I’ll see what kind of hosting possibilities might be coupled to this.

  3. #3 by Warren on April 25, 2011 - 7:00 pm

    There y’go. I’ve been using aplus.net forever, and have had no bad experiences with them or their tech support, FWIW. Just make sure to tell whomever you go with that you want to be doing your own backend work on WordPress, or they might put systems in place intended to keep you from doing just that (and hence messing it up).

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