March 7, 2020

BTBGuide: Choosing a Platform (and Why I Use Blogger)

There are a lot of different blogging platforms out there. There are traditional platforms like Google Blogger and WordPress, along with variations like Medium or Tumblr, and some people still refer to platforms like Twitter as microblogging.

Among educators, WordPress is a very popular choice, especially with support from the Edublogs project.

Every platform has its own advantages and disadvantages, and in this post I'll explain why Blogger is the platform that I use. Some of these reasons may apply to your situation, some may not.

1. I'm a Blogger veteran. I was using Blogger back when it was Pyra Labs, before it was acquired by Google in 2003. I've grown with Blogger over all that time, and my expectations for what blogging can be have taken shape within the Blogger space. It's comfortable, and it's familiar... it's very familiar. That means I can work really efficiently in Blogger, and I can also provide excellent technical support to my students who choose to use Blogger for their blogs.

2. Blogger is simple. Blogger is not just simple; Blogger is very simple. It offers only a tiny (TINY) fraction of the options of WordPress. For me, that's a good thing. My goal is to build content, and lots of it. With Blogger, I just sit down and get to work, spending basically no time at all on blog design and configuration.

3. Blogger is easy for beginners. Because Blogger is simple, it is also easy for beginners. All my students create blogs, and they choose their blogging platform. If they are new to blogging, I recommend Blogger; here are the instructions they use to get started. Presto! Anyone can get up and running with Blogger in literally a few minutes.

4. Blogger is ad-free. Blogger is, and always has been, ad-free, while blogs have advertising. My school now offers a "Domain of One's Own" option from Reclaim Hosting so students, faculty, and staff can host their own WordPress blog ad-free in their own space; that's been a wonderful new development because it means amy of my students who do want to create WordPress blogs can do so in their own space. (Yay DoOO and Reclaim Hosting!)

5. Blogger is javascript-friendly. This is similar to the advertising situation: free blogs do not allow javascripts (I'm not sure how Edublogs handles javascripts; they may restrict them also). Blogger, on the other hand, is, and always has been, javascript-friendly. The randomizers I use in the sidebars of my blogs are javascripts, and I sometimes include javascripts in my blog posts too, so Blogger is a good option for me (I love javascript randomizers!).

Those are the main reasons that come to mind, but I will update this post if I think of any others. Meanwhile, the other posts in this series will be applicable to any blogging platform, even though I will be using examples from my own Blogger blogs.

And yes, someday Blogger will come to an end, but that's another nice thing about blogging:  you can export blogs in XML format to back up your content, and also to migrate your content to another platform. I'll have more to say about back-ups and other blog maintenance in a later post. :-)

Blogger back in the day: who else remembers this look?