For those of you who hadn’t spotted yet, this week I moved this site from a self-hosted WordPress installation to the Micro.blog account that I’ve had for a while. This was not a decision taken lightly, but something that I’ve been ruminating on for the last month.
To be fair, WordPress was working fine enough for me, but it’s a generalised site creation tool and while it can do blogs I get the impression that’s no longer the focus. There is a lot to do out-of-the-box to avoid getting overwhelmed by comment spam, of which there is a depressingly large amount, and several features like blogrolls require additional work to create. (Bizarrely, links management used to be a standard WordPress feature but has been turned off and hidden away in modern versions.) IndieWeb support requires the addition and setting up of several plugins, many of which are — to put it charitably — sporadically maintained, if at all. Since the default solution to the majority of WordPress issues is to install another plugin, this can lead to a lot of extra complexity, and potential for opening your site up to malicious attack if any plugins have vulnerabilities in them.
The other issue I’ve had with WordPress revolves around website design. There are free themes galore, but I’ve never found one that satisfied me, and the ability to customise can be severely limited. Creating child themes would be one solution, but I’ve had mixed results with that approach in the past. With the move to the new Gutenberg site-editing system in progress, things are in a state of flux; potentially easier to customise but still requiring coding work under-the-hood.
I toyed with the idea of using a static site generator like Hugo, but that would mean more manual work to update the site. Then it dawned on me that Micro.blog could do all that for me, while allowing me scope to adapt the site design to my liking. It supports import of WordPress content, and can export my data should I decide to move on, meaning it’s not a roach motel.
Moving to Micro.blog brings several other benefits for me:
- I can format my posts using Markdown, and use Markdown-supporting text editors like iA Writer (which I’m using now to type this) to prepare them in advance. Since I rarely need to add images or other things, this suits me to a tee!
- I can create draft posts directly from iA Writer, then check them over and hit ‘publish’ on the web.
- IndieWeb support is baked into Micro.blog, no need for extra work.
- The Micro.blog apps are simple to use and a delight compared to WordPress’s equivalents, which are geared more towards their own WordPress.com hosting service and have never worked for me in the past.
- Micro.blog is a community! A small one, but a diverse, friendly and knowledgable community.
One criticism that I’ve heard of Micro.blog is that it’s a small operation, what will I do if it folds or is bought? Fair point, but the same could be applied to Automattic, the owners of WordPress. Nothing is forever, as I know from experience. (Looking at you, Google!) As I mentioned earlier, I can export my data at any time should the need arise, and there are other things I can put in place to reduce my chances of data loss.
I will add that Micro.blog isn’t the only simple managed blogging service out that — I’ve heard good things about Write.as and Blot — and I recommend checking those out to see if they would better fit your needs. While you could create a blog using Blogger or WordPress.com, you’ll need to pay up in order to get any level of control over it, and even then that’s limited.
Here’s hoping that 2022 is the year I start not only blogging regularly again, but writing regularly again! With this new workflow in place, I no longer have any excuses! :)