Passing Memorial Day meant the unofficial start of summer and with the changing of seasons, rumors again are starting up that Google is discontinuing Google Friend Connect. Last go-round of such gossip is really only the company’s decision to disallow its use for bloggers who don’t use Blogger. The chatter I am hearing this time is quite the opposite. Now with Google taking away its Blogger reader, this is actually a credible “rumor” that is about to be implemented.
Funny as this may sound, there is a lot to consider prior to starting a blog. First, an author has to decide which platform to use – the two most common being Blogger and WordPress. Secondly, you have to be able to devote time to a blog. No you don’t need to be shackled to it 24/7, but it does entail part of your week depending on how involved – and what kind of feedback, you want from the experience. But enough about that, that’s for another blog post. (And what I’ve learned from blogging is a work-in-progress post.)
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Since I didn’t use Reader, I won’t miss that however I know many of you will and are in fact disappointed that it’s an option Google is taking away from loyal users. Instead I used my dashboard and did open a Bloglovin account about a year ago. Again this is a feed many people aren’t too fond of. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of alternatives right now.
Some bloggers made the switch to WordPress long ago because of this very thing. Google and Gmail accounts “forcing” their users into the Internet apps wants of their users to use. After a Twitter conversation and using WordPress as a blog location to archive the book reviews or post older reviews that I don’t share on my “main” blog here, I decided to import this space to WordPress. Right now, that blog is sitting in limbo. I’ve played around with it a bit and am working on formatting all the reviews into the WordPress CSS coding which is, of course different than Blogger. Also, the tedious process of linking all the reviews and changing the links within posts will have to happen at some point. But, I’m happy that I figured out how to transfer any incoming comments to the “new” blog in case I ever decide to make the switch. So, since I’ve been using both platforms for a fair amount of time, I’m sharing some of their differences.
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Create a New Blog Post: This page is easy as pie. All that’s required is a post title, enter your text (since I use Microsoft Word almost exclusively, I copy and paste), add labels, and hit publish – or “schedule” the post for whenever you want it to go live for the world to see. See? Easy as 1, 2, 3!
The steps are simple and the drop-down/toggle menus on the right-hand side keep the page clean while the author is writing or preparing the post.
Dashboard: Since Blogger switches to its new “look,” I am especially fond of its appearance and the ease of its use. It’s a “clean” look with a user-friendly interface.
Google+: This is Google’s new “reader” in a sense. I don’t like it. It’s too trendy and reminiscent of Facebook. I have a profile over
there, though rarely use it. I haven’t even hit the “switch to Google+” button because I prefer the Blogger profile page. It gives the reader more a sense of who the person is and is far more personal that a page full of +1 posts.
Spam Comments: Since I personally switched out to the embedded comment option, I really like it! It lends itself to more of a
conversational platform and is easier for me to use. But, I’m not impressed with Blogger’s spam counteract measures. I took away the word verification because it was growing harder to use (sometimes I have to type in a word multiple times before the comment will publish) and as for “comment moderation,” I didn’t wish to add one more thing to my “updating” of all my social media profiles. Blogger is supposed to prevent a lot of spam and so far, I haven’t been all that impressed.
Comments: So far (*knock on wood*), WordPress has caught every spam comment left on my book blog. It’s very careful to hold back comments that aren’t a “verified” commenter and that makes me happy! As a writer who doesn’t want inappropriate or “fake” self-promotion on her blog, it’s a big thing.
Also, up in the right-hand corner, you can see all the comments your recently made on others (WordPress) blogs by hovering over the little star and can reply to them right there. It’s not ideal because I like actually answering comments on the blog (which you can do on WordPress, same as Blogger) but it is nice to have all the comments right there and to see if you received a reply.
Add New Post: Writing/pasting in your post. I don’t like this page particularly either. It’s not all that different than Blogger (admittedly) but still… I cannot quite warm to it.
Dashboard: Clutter is the word I would us, to say the least. To its credit, you can remove/add things (by clicking the “toggle” pop-up). For example, when you log into your dashboard, you’ll see a category showing you all the comments you recently made; that I don’t want to see on my “home page,” that’s what a “comment” page is for. Fortunately with a simple click, you can minimize it. Still, overall the dashboard on WordPress isn’t a design I like; where Blogger features the blogs you follow (which is where my interest lies), WordPress shoves them into a corner.
For ease of reading your blog feeds, you are better off reading your “reader” directly from the wordpress.com page as opposed to the dashboard.
Design: Like Blogger, you can chose from a select number of “free” templates but that’s where the ease ends. In order to customize your design at all (change of colors, working in CSS code), you have to pay a yearly fee and “upgrade.” Or this is what I understand. The fee is not overmuch, but isn’t worth it to me. Basically all that can be done is adding links (which is easy) and in select templates, you can add a custom header or background. Putting it to paper does make it seem like there is plenty of design creativity, however, small as it may be, it’s not fun not being able to change a simple thing like the color of links or tweak a width in the coding of the design. Ultimately, I have to confess, Blogger wins my vote for the better of the two competing forms. Tumblr doesn’t even come close to either one – where it’s fun for photo sets and such, it isn’t “writer friendly.”
Which platform do you prefer? Do you have any alternatives to Reader or Bloglovin? How is Google removing the Google Friend Connect widget going to affect your blogging – or will it? I want to hear your thoughts, share below!