March 31, 2009

WordPress and TypePad compared

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Both services are versatile, but WP has pulled ahead

Matt Mullenweg, CC photo by Robert Scoble

Matt Mullenweg, CC photo by Robert Scoble

JD LasicaPeople still ask us all the time which blogging platform they should use. (Micro-answer: It depends on what’s important to you.) During the first few months of 2009, we decided to launch two new ventures — Socialmedia.biz and Socialbrite.org — on WordPress.org platform. Let me explain why.

I’ve been blogging since May 2001, first at Dave Winer’s Manila platform and since 2003 on Six Apart’s TypePad. I was content for a long while, but over the past couple of years a revolution was brewing at WordPress — and finally reached the point where I could no longer ignore its pull. In WordPress.org, Matt Mullenweg (pictured above) offered a free, open source platform that thousands of developers were coding for. (We opted for self-hosting rather than the hosted wordpress.com version.) Somewhere between 2007 and 2008, WP became not only comparable to TypePad, but better. Not because of Matt’s coding prowess, but because of the power of crowdsourced development. I now find myself attending WordPress Camps, alongside BarCamps, Social Media Camps and other open media efforts born of my involvement with Ourmedia.org.

Comparison: TypePad vs. WordPress

Where development had seemingly largely stopped at TypePad until recently, WordPress was regularly rolling out new versions — and version 2.7 is now the muscle car of its class.

Where TypePad’s users were dependent on the hosting service to roll out new improvements, WordPress opened the door to thousands of useful, inventive plug-ins that would overwhelm any topdown roadmap. Plug-ins (more than 4,200) have sprung up that give blog operators an amazing array of programming choices: add a poll, enable users to get comment notifications by email, show off news briefs, build out your own blog community and thousands of other options.

Where TypePad’s comments system was a daily ordeal — bogged down by spammers and a kludgy captcha system — WordPress’s community-powered Akismet brought the Neighborhood Watch hammer down on those knuckleheads. Akismet is the most sleek and beautiful plug-in ever devised.

Where TypePad made you hunt and peck to search for an entry when you wanted to update it, WordPress has a super-useful “Edit this” link attached to each post when the author is logged in. (Manila, my first blog service, had this a decade ago, which makes its absence on TypePad all the stranger.)

Where TypePad was still chiefly focused on type, WordPress enabled a raft of multimedia-rich themes, like the ElegantThemes theme we’re using here. At Socialmedia.biz, we want to create a blog you can use, not just read.

Where TypePad has had some odd twists — some of my category pages ran hundreds of items on a single page, replaced by a category system that made the older items largely invisible); when reposting material from the Web, TypePad inserts tons of extraneous html characters; and TypePad briefly had a screwy system of generating urls that included the entire first sentence of a post in the url — WordPress lets you slice and dice your content every which way, cleanly. (Disclosure: I remain grateful to the folks at Six Apart, who no doubt subsidized the bandwidth costs of my blog and its 10,500 entries over the years, even as I paid the annual premium subscription fee.)

And now, with a small team of social media experts joining the fold here, WordPress just feels right for a collaborative effort of this kind — and for nonprofit solutions. TypePad remains a strong choice for individuals starting their first blog.

If there’s a downside to WordPress, it can be this: Given all the cool things you can do — all the gleaming eye candy — you may be tempted to do too much. We’re fighting that impulse, as we want to take advantage of some of those thousands of other cool plug-ins out there while keeping a watchful eye on site performance.JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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  • http://robinbarrbuzz.blogspot.com Robin Barr

    I'm relatively new to blogging,only since Dec 09, and because I'm easily overwhelmed, chose Blogger. Now that I'm familiar with it and have bumped up against its limitations, I looking to switch to something more robust that I can still handle. This comparison has helped immensely, and will be sharing it with others who may have the same question, Thank you,

  • http://www.11me.de Gila (11m2)

    Thank you for that comparison! I've been using Typepad for three years now, and really like it… but WordPress is definitely pulling me in. Just seems more versatile, really loving the templates and widgets. I am now running a shadow WP blog and am busy adjusting that – if I like the result, I will switch one blog after the other… and save some $140 a year.

    Kind regards
    Gila

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  • http://krzewy-ozdobne-i-pnacza-wieloletnie.limanowa.pl Maureen Girellini

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any methods to help reduce content from being ripped off? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    • jdlasica

      We see the same thing, though many of our articles are published under Creative Commons licenses of one form or another.

      If you find a site that looks like it's making money off purloined content, including yours, find a good attorney. Short of that, there are no other methods other than a warning letter.

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