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Best of Both Worlds – The Story

First steps

When I started blogging a few years back, the easiest name to remember was www.blogger.com (AKA: blogspot). The article where I read about blogs did mention WordPress as well as some other name. But I chose to try my luck on www.blogger.com. Few years and a hundred odd posts later, I decided that blogger was not challenging enough and I decided to dip my toes in www.wordpress.com. But as soon as I tried it out, I realized that it was much more restrictive than blogspot. I continued posting on blogspot until my earlier attempt at webdesign paid off.

The Reward

When I tried my hand at having my own website, the hottest name was Geocities (RIP). When they shut down their services and took off all the websites that were hosted offline, Dream Host offered me 2 years of free hosting along with a free domain name. And that is how I ended up with this domain name. www.suniljoseph.net

The Adventure

With a domain name, unlimited bandwidth & webspace, it took me just one day to take the plunge into wordpress, but this time it was not wordpress.com, but wordpress.org. I did spend a lot of time trying different themes, configuring the settings, adding additional codes to various parts of the default template to make this as it is today. The truth is the time I spend designing my blog was much more than the time I spend writing it. I don’t consider myself to be vain, but as the biker in me would say, the journey is much more fun than the destination and it truly was as far as playing with the wordpress installation was concerned.

Solitude

I am not much of a social animal, my friends are few, but those I have are the best. Unlike the stereotype Geek who is the most popular guy online, I am pretty much the same in my real life as I appear to you now. So I went through most of my blogging period without anyone knowing that I had a blog. I am inclined to think that most of my visitors ended up on my blog because of some unknown bug in TCP/IP which dropped their packets on my blog. I didn’t mind that there were hardly any visitors since what I had written was mostly for myself. But that was until I came across postaday2011 and postaweek2011.

The Awakening

The reason I posted so few was not because I did not want to write, but mostly because I never could hold on to a thought. I would think of something all day long and when I finally sat in front of the computer, I would be thinking of something else and forget what I wanted to write about. Postaday2011 and postaday2011 was actually the kind of push I was looking for, some reminding me to write something, anything, every day. With that came the need to be read. Unlike my earlier posts, which were an outlet to my thoughts, these posts were suggested by someone else and I wanted others to read it. In the beginning it was fun to wait for the topic of the day and then publish as early as possible. It was a race, it was fun.

Realization

A self-hosted wordpress installation will always beat wordpress.com blog when it comes to features, but there is one area where wordpress.com beats a self-hosted wordpress with hardly effort, because that feature is not available for self-hosted wordpress, and that is Global Tags. All blogs have tags, but the tags on my blog will show other posts on my blog with the same tags. But in wordpress.com the tags are global. If you click on a tag in wordpress.com blog, it will show you all posts with the same tag across wordpress.com, no matter who wrote it. The likelihood of people with similar taste meeting each other are so high when they are searching for tags they are interested in. I did spend some time trying to figure out if there was anyway to get my tags included in Global Tags. After a few hours I had to face the truth; even with all its restrictions, wordpress.com had a trump card up its sleeve.

The fix

I don’t give up that easily when there is an opportunity to hack the system, and after trying a few things, I found something that allowed my posts to appear in the Global Tags. I am not going to claim that I invented this because I haven’t done anything on my own, I just used something that was already there. But I know there are quite a few people who are trying to find this hack.

The Hack

It is not really a hack, but just a plugin called XPost, which uses XML-RPC to push any posts on your self-hosted WordPress to wordpress.com so that it will appear as a post there.

Path of Enlightenment

I am pretty sure that most of the people who have self-hosted wordpress like some adventure and so I am not going to rob you of the chance of discovering this on your own. You could try to figure out how I did it without losing my traffic to wordpress.com blog by looking up my blog at the tag wordpress hack in Global Tags. Do let me know if you do figure it out, because you would be the kind of person I would like to know better.

Update: Automattic has introduced Jetpack which bridges the gap between wp.com and self-hosted wordpress installations. Read more about it here. And read this post to know why JetPack is important for WordPress.

About Sunil J

I write ideas that strike me, sometimes just to remember them later, and just once in a while, you might find something useful. :-)

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4 comments

  1. I found your post extremely interesting.
    I was advised to stay away from wordpress.com and to use wordpress.org if I am serious about my blog. I did consider .org but being technically challenged, I decided to stick with .com (mostly because it’s free, and user friendly).
    However, I find that I am still itching to set up my own site at wordpress.org; perhaps one day I will take the plunge and just do it!

    • It is true that having a self hosted wordpress would mean spending some cash, but there are few hosts which provide with very cheap hosting, and others which provide free hosting but with some limitations.
      But both self-hosted and .com are almost the same when it comes to user friendliness. It has the same interface, same features; but with self-hosted you can do much more. It is entirely up to you.
      If you are planning to move to self-hosted, then I would recommend doing it as early as possible because the more readers you get, more difficult it will become to move.

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