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 2:13 pm on Dec 14, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've been reading a bit about blogging. Not nearly enough to understand it yet. I'm interested to know if any of you are using blogging for your website content and if so how it works, any ideas, suggestions.


Robert Charlton

 5:46 am on Dec 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

Josh - Thanks for link to good article.

idiotgirl - But how do you really feel? ;)

Content aside, some of these are reasonably attractive pages. From comments above, it seems that this software would work well as an updating tool (for current company news or whatever) for literate site owners or clients with no Shakespearean aspirations who don't know any HTML.

I'm still trying to get a grasp of it too. What's involved in setting it up?


 6:48 am on Dec 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

Robert - there are four different models that I have noticed in blogs - 1. the perl/python/ blog that lives on your server as a cgi (Greymatter, Movable Type), 2. As an account on someone's site (Blogger) 3. As a desktop application with built in web server/ftp to upload to location of your choice (Radio Userland, Frontier, Manila) or 4. As a program that runs on the server, with more options/complications (Zope)

So a variety of choice, I chose #3, because I liked their news aggregator, but other programs have their points too. It was quite easy to set up.

Robert Charlton

 7:39 am on Dec 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

>>3. As a desktop application with built in web server/ftp to upload to location of your choice (Radio Userland, Frontier, Manila)<<

SmallTime - If I follow you correctly, #3 is what I'd choose too. #2 doesn't seem to be applicable to what I'd want the blogger to do. #1 would require me to be better with CGI than I am.

#3 seems to be the solution that would require the least amount of individual setup for a wide variety of clients, some of whom have pretty rudimentary hosting.

Which software package of those you list did you use?


 9:47 am on Dec 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

I went with Radio Userland, which is free, good place to start - but a new improved version seems to be in final testing, probably avail after the 1st sometime, for about $100. Manila uses XML-RPC, rather than rss, seems more multi site orientated, older. Frontier more content management features, multi site,users, includes radio, more money. I plan on getting the new radio when it comes out, and take it from there. (my needs rather modest, more just wanted to learn something about the subject)


 6:33 pm on Dec 29, 2001 (gmt 0)


Just for the record, I know next to nothing about perl/cgi, but I set up GreyMatter without trouble. As a matter of fact, it was the second cgi script I've ever used.


 7:25 pm on Dec 29, 2001 (gmt 0)

Accentuating the positive..

Two "blogs" which seem to be using the medium well... though they are not necessarilly the personal diary type models.. More like flexible timely databases that unlike most database sites, are OK for Search engine Opt.

The Morning News: [themorningnews.org...]
Simmer Stock: [simmerstock.com...]

Both are Movable Type driven.. not an advert, im sure same things can be done with Grey matter etc. just that i was browsing the MT stuff, as we are experimenting with it..


 1:50 am on Dec 30, 2001 (gmt 0)


Good links. Morningnews was a nice concept, too. I've found some nice blogs that allow users to dynamically change font sizes through css and cookies. I think it's a wonderful way to go. I used to be a big fan of tiny type. Then I realized all my friends wore glasses. Nice there's been some pretty slick alternatives implemented at some of the blog sites. That's what got me started on my whole 'blog crawl' in the first place.

Simmerstock was a wonderful resting spot on the web and another welcome attraction on the blogging highway. Nice use of... everything.

I must go to the kitchen now. For some reason I'm particularly hungry.

Robert Charlton

 3:21 am on Dec 30, 2001 (gmt 0)

Great links and information, all. Many thanks. I'm gradually getting the hang of it...

>>...includes radio...<<

What's radio?


 8:21 am on Dec 31, 2001 (gmt 0)

Well, not sure I understand it well enough to explain - but will try briefly.
Radio.Userland, Manilla, and Frontier are all products of Userland software.
The rss or rpc are "dialects" of XML that can be passed through http in POST form - In radio.userland these are posted to a 'cloud' which keeps track of changes to your site, and can notify others of the change, and you of their changes. - you can subscribe or not to other sites, including news sources. You can then post these headlines on your site, with pointers to the originator. That is the "radio" feature, as implemented in radio.userland
But other sites can and do participate, by posting rss feeds (basically a current page in xml) and subscribing.
take a look at www.weblogs.com
Other programs are more orientated to the journaling or content management side of it - Frontier a fancy version of radio. - greymatter, movable type offer more comment or site search features. I am still trying to figure out how it works, which is not necessary, to use it.


 8:39 am on Dec 31, 2001 (gmt 0)

Somewhat related to Blogging is another experiment I'm running.

Although not directly a blogger type system, it certainly could be used as one. It blurs the lines between a forum, blogger, guestbook, and email.

Not sure what I'm going to do with it. There are other systems out there like it I think that you could use in a similar way.

Robert Charlton

 6:19 am on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Smalltime - Thanks for further explanation.

Am I correct, combining info from several of the above posts, that if I just wanted to use the software for content updating, Greymatter and Movable Type would be sufficient? Looking at the sites with the Radio features, you can set up some extremely complex navigation systems... In fact, looking at Simmerstock, I couldn't easily describe what they have done.

Brett - The test page looks great... clearly a descendant of the forums here in terms of look and feel. Conceivably, you could use it to get responses to articles elsewhere on the site, though the forums here already work well for that, and having two systems going could just get messy. Maybe you could license it....


 10:58 am on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

For content updates I can see some advantages for the cgi based programs - multi-users, authority levels (letting them change content, not templates, etc.) And one could set everything up, and just give them a url, and password when it was all working.


 2:07 pm on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Although I was kind of aware of blogs, I never thought they would have any applicability to sites other than personal ones. Now, though, I wonder if a blog might be a poor-man's content manager, more or less.

I'm working with a site that has an "ask the expert" feature that lets users fill in a form and e-mail a question to a resident expert in that topic. The user gets an e-mail reply, and the best Q&A items (i.e., those that might interest others) get posted on a web page.

Currently, as the person responsible for maintaining that site, I must do the editing to add a new content page, add appropriate links to it from an index of questions page, etc. Not overly difficult, but one more thing on a crowded "to do" list.

If I could create an easy web interface, the "expert" answering the questions would be able to post the good Q&A items, and have them added to an index of some sort. Would a blog program like movable type be good for this purpose, or is there some other free or inexpensive content tool I should look at?

The purpose of the content is twofold: to help visitors to the site find answers to their questions, and to create spiderable content on a variety of topics related to the site's theme. Any thoughts? Thanks!


 2:36 pm on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

>easy web interface, the "expert" answering the questions
This topic is particularly interesting to me right now, and rogerd really rang a bell.

I've been asked to set up a community site for a non-profit family support group of about 500 that's independent but connected with a department at a large local university medical center.

It'll be simple in design, but will need interactivity features, which is the whole idea behind the project in the first place.

They don't think chat is applicable at the beginning, but with a couple years of chat hosting background I know it's actually very do-able on a scheduled, moderated basis.

Message boards will be member-access only and need to be protected from spider access, but there's a very applicable concept here. Since the doctors are involved, it could well be that a question and answer feature for the medical questions and issues, would best be publicly available for the benefit of those not in the group as well as those in it who will be "members". So content added in this way seems like it could be just the ticket, since medical people could add applicable content on their own time and at their own convenience without needing any webmaster type of assistance.

It's just in the very beginning of the planning stages, and being an independent project there's no red tape involved. So the concepts here could be a very innovative model for this type of site.

Anyone have any ideas or thoughts?

(edited by: Marcia at 2:41 pm (gmt) on Jan. 2, 2002)


 2:41 pm on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Sounds like we are on the same wavelength, Marcia, other than spiderability. If any spiders show up, just send 'em over to me... ;)


 2:47 pm on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

>If any spiders show up, just send 'em over to me...

LOL...that's what I LOVE about promoters, their radar is always "on"!

rog, I dont cloak, but I could always start. How much $ are we talking about?



 7:46 pm on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I was just going to take the nasty arachnids off your hands and keep them from bogging down your server, Marcia... Now you want $$$, too? ;)


 10:45 pm on Jan 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Oh, yeah... one other thing... Ideally, I don't want to do the Date-Index thing that most blog software seems to do out of the box. I'd prefer to create a title for each posting that would then be linked to by that title. I suspect that Marcia would feel the same way.


 12:59 am on Jan 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

blogdex from MIT is a kind of search engine for blogs.


Also you may like [feedreader.com...] software that read RSS feeds.
Many bloggers rely on this kind of tools to find stories that they can talk about in their blogs.

Frédéric Roland


 1:20 am on Jan 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Now, though, I wonder if a blog might be
>a poor-man's content manager, more or less.

That's exactly what they are Roger! Understated and misuderstood. There is an opportunity for the promoter who can figure out the right sales pitch. The product is there - it's just a question of getting the right message across.


 1:37 pm on Jan 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

The blog at [simmerstock.com...] is a very good example of a blog used for content management - thanks, chiyo. Articles are linked by title, not date, and the page title is the article title, not the typical standard "Jane's Random Thoughts". The Description Meta is unique to each page, too. I probably wouldn't have spotted this as a blog had I not been sensitized by the discussion here. Very cool.


 1:50 am on Jan 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

I just installed greymatter on my personal website, to automate my self-serving essays section... FYI, though I took forever tinkering with the templates, it was basically a breeze to set up, and is more configurable than almost anyone would ever need.

For anyone who wanted to have a weekly update to the front page of their site, or some kind of manual-entry news section, etc., I can see how this sort of set-up would make the actual website maintenance a much less daunting prospect.


 5:58 am on Jan 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

great observations Mivox

inspired me to extend a bit...

my personal take on the advantages of having a GM/Movable Type type system.

1. As you said, makes it easy to have new regular content on front page.
2. Archives are automatic - by category, Month, week, author - whatever. No more manual archiving. Just keep on adding new content!
3. Automatic RSS generation. No more separate manual creation of RSS
4. Automatic Weblogs.com ping.
5. Comments system makes your news pages more dynamic, with hopefully people visiting more often to see responses to their comments
6. You can have an automated dynamic listing of last entries anywhere on your site.
7. Standardisation of style and structure elements and a discipline for keeping content separate from formatting. Makes for less mistakes! great for compliance without thinking - freeing you to concentrate on quality of content rather than having to worry about formatting and style.
8. Allows for multiple authors with different "rights". No more worries about different people overwriting files, changing formatting unknowingly, giving them FTP access. They dont even have to know anything about HTML, empowering (Oops! bad word) non techies to contribute.
9. Incredible flexibility on layout and style - unlike PHP Nuke/Nuke derivative sites, which tend to all look the same, the average reader need not ever know that this is a GM site, this is a MovableType site etc.
10. Search engine friendly, no auto numbers and characters in URL's can choose own URL's. unlike database driven news sites.


You have to do this all online while connected. To people on expensive pay per minute telecom AND ISP charges it is more expensive to have to create news while online, rather than write offline and then connect for a few minutes to upload by FTP.

We are testing out this on a new directory of our site. -one of our columns.. But for new websites its design mechanism that should be considered seriously. Wish it was around 7 years ago!


 7:18 pm on Jan 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

more expensive to have to create news while online

Write offline in plain text (BBEdit, Notepad, Wordpad, or even *gasp* MSWord with no fancy formatting), then connect to your online admin area, and cut and paste the text into the "add a post" form in the blog script. (This also allows you to spell check your entries before posting, if your text program of choice includes that feature.)

Shouldn't be noticeably slower than using FTP.


 7:24 pm on Jan 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

You're right mivox, but I think the point was being made in comparison to BBS's and email. You can set yourself up with specific software to connect, download all the new messages/threads, upload all your own comments and be off within seconds. You can so that with copy and pasting but it is far less elegant and less enticing to the user.


 10:29 am on Jan 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

Weblog Madness [larkfarm.com] looks to be a good blogging resource page for novitiates and elearningpost [elearningpost.com] offers a broad introduction to the phenomenon in an excellent article run early last year, Grassroots KM through blogging [elearningpost.com].

There is, however, no better place to go than to the blogs themselves. There are some 100,000 of them.

Start, for example, at Doc Searls Weblog [doc.weblogs.com] and follow the "Blogrolodex" links from there... Doc lists many of the most brilliant minds currently writing on the Web.

Some, e.g. RageBoy [rageboy.com], are taking it all the way. Mind you, RageBoy doesn't merely take it all the way - he hangs his mind way out over the edge and sprays all and sundry with a large and ugly meme gun. Chris Locke, RageBoy's alter ego, has just published The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy [gonzomarkets.com], and the Harvard Business Review adjudged Locke's recently published Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices [gonzomarkets.com] one of 2001's ten best business books.

The value of blogs as media and marketing tools has been the subject of much navel gazing and introspection. If you thought the Web as a marketing tool was dead, you've now got good reason to believe the opposite. Locke and countless others like him (well, similar, anyway) are proof positive of the power emanating from the myriad micromarkets making up our cyberverse.

Blogging and related Web activities hold enormous hope for the Web as a mature medium. They offer a damning counter to the notion of Web Entropy discussed here [webmasterworld.com].

The future is out there - it's already changing our lives :).


 3:11 pm on Jan 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

In part because of this thread, I had a CMS system installed on a site I am developing.

I am personally not a very good page designer, I have always had to hire that part out. Frankly I'm stunned at just how much freedom this will offer me. Now I am free to focus on content. :)

Do the SE's spider these things well?


 3:20 pm on Jan 23, 2002 (gmt 0)

Depends on the CMS you are using. Not an expert, but if the URL's have numbers and characters in the URL it is not good!

Basically you want a system that builds on the server side, and doesn't create pages, say, via a database, "on the fly". Most of the CMS or blog software are template based, so you have freedom to develop most of your underlying mark up. So, from there you are in your own using good SEO principles.

Also make sure each page is not entitled the same,or with some useless crud, the TITLE is important as you know.

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