I was recently asked to help someone set up a blog so I had to decide which tool to recommend to them. This helped crystallise a lot of my thinking on which tool I should be using myself as I have been conducting an ongoing road test by running this blog on both WordPress and Blogger. Neither of them is perfect and they have different positives and negatives. So to tilt this in my normal manner, the following review covers what makes me angry about each of these tools.
Obviously there are a hell of a lot more blogging options than just Blogger and WordPress but I don't have the time or energy to compare them all. I started on Blogger because I figured as Google owns it, this would be the easiest one to include Adsense ads on if I wanted to go that way (so far I don't want to do this but it is true, Blogger is the easiest one to put ads on). There are plenty of good comparisons out there, do a Google search on "blogging tool comparison" or try this one that I found to be really comprehensive. This particular review was the one that convinced me to try WordPress for comparison.
So what good things did I discover upon setting up a blog on Blogger? Well, it's damn easy to set up. You can do a nice profile with photo if you want. My girlfriend likes the fact it puts a date and timestamp at the top of each post. It has an auto-save function when you are drafting a post that usually work (although not always). That's about it. Blogger is a bastard to customise, you have to go right down to html. There are no diagnostic/site visit measuring tools provided. It's hard to find other active blogs you might have something in common with – in the early days of a blog when you're linkwhoring this is important. Broadly speaking, site management tools are shit compared to WordPress.
WordPress is slightly more involved to set up but still dead easy. You can't put Adsense ads on a WordPress blog (although they have pretty good reasons for this) and they don't have an easy profile with photo setup like Blogger. Beyond that, the customisation options provided by WordPress are awesome. Through the magic of "widgets" you can add all sorts of features in a few seconds (literally – it's drag and drop). You can be a clueless non-techie like me and still have heaps of customisation on your blog. Sadly, it's very easy to over-design and you don't have to go far to see a WordPress blog where the user has gone way over the top and added so many bells and whistles the site is unusable.
WordPress include very good site stats monitoring tools, it's way easier to track comments and they have excellent anti-spam protection. I had a doomsayer comment on Blogger a while back that said I needed to introduce word verification and/or comment moderation or I'd be overwhelmed with comment spam. I made a specific choice to make it as easy as possible for people to comment on my blog because that's what makes it worthwhile for me. I figured I'd manage comment spam manually for as long as I could. I haven't had a significant issue with spam on Blogger yet, I've had to delete maybe half a dozen altogether (although one dick posted 3 spam comments in one day last week). Recently on WordPress I have had about 20 spam comments and the spam protection has worked brilliantly.
WordPress only missed one spam that I had to delete manually and it only had one false positive. That was the right-wing dork I was arguing with a while back and it happened because he included a lot of links in a comment (classic sign of spam). Or maybe WordPress agreed with me and decided the fuckwit shouldn't be allowed to comment. Either way, it was a simple job to mark it "not spam" and have it appear.
You might have noticed by now I'm quite a cheerleader for WordPress over Blogger. And if you look at the site stats you'll see all the traffic is coming to my WordPress blog (around 6500 vs. 1500 on Blogger). This is largely because WordPress is way easier to promote, they provide lots of links to active and popular blogs – the bread and butter of shameless comment whores like myself. Oh, and it's way easier to add people to your blogroll on WordPress. I kept meaning to change the html on Blogger to add my friend to the blogroll but it is a pain. I'm pretty sure it's going to die soon so I'll add everyone to my WordPress blogroll instead. So if you happen to have a link to my Blogger blog, you'd make me very happy if you changed it to WordPress.
There is one flaw they have in common – they both have shit spell-checkers. It's churlish to pick on a free tool (you get what you pay for) but one aspect of their spell checkers actually makes me laugh more than it makes me angry. Neither of them recognise blog, blogger, blogging etc. as words. Nice attention to details guys.