Is Blogger the worst free blogging service?

Filed as General on July 1, 2005 3:11 am

by Duncan

Repost This

Here’s a positive Friday post for everyone to mull over: Is Google’s Blogger the worst hosted blogging service out there? Following the post yesterday where I called for Google to act on spam blogs I’ve noticed both here at the Blog Herald and on other blogs that people are complaining loudly about other problems with Blogger as well: poor or no customer service, failure to respond to content theft and defamation, buggy script etc… Now I don’t currently use Blogger for any blogs so I can’t comment from experience, but is Blogger really bad? How does other hosted services, such at Spaces or even Six Apart’s TypePad compare? Are the problems isolated to Blogger or common amongst other providers? Thoughts…

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  1. By Longstreet posted on July 1, 2005 at 3:31 am
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    I have only been using Blogger since December of last year. The only complaint I have, so far, is that it tends to drag while loading. I’m on “dial-up” however, so that is to be expected.

    I will be interested in reading replies from others and comparisons of other services.

    Longstreet

  2. By John (SYNTAGMA) posted on July 1, 2005 at 4:59 am
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    I know a free service which gives you ad-free webspace, while letting you operate commercially if you choose, tons of bandwidth, 300Mb of image hosting, rich-text editing, a relatively fast web interface (I have 2Mb broadband), is pretty liberal in what you put up, legislates with a light touch, maintains great Help features, allows you to tinker with the template and ftp it to other sites, and will even provide pay-per-click advertising if that’s what you want. You can set up as many blogs as you wish and it’s used widely across the world where it’s regarded as a Godsend by many in Third-world countries. It was the first in the field and is being constantly updated and improved. It’s called Blogger.

  3. By Quick Online Tips posted on July 1, 2005 at 5:17 am
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    I am pretty happy with Blogger service and recommend using it. I support what John said above too.

    Spam blogs is a different issue.

  4. By Shamanic Shift Center posted on July 1, 2005 at 6:24 am
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    I recommend Blogger over and over, and so do several of our members. We use Blogger quite a bit. Members have individual and group weblogs at Blogger around diverse projects and themes.

    Anytime I have used the Contact form for a problem at Blogger, I first recieved an automated response, and then a personal one that shed light on the situation, after I indicated that the generic email response had not addressed my trouble. I am an IT novice, having just learned how to TURN ON a computer in June 2004, and I still find Bloggers wide open, totally customizable by hand (and easy to screw up yourself) templates easier to tweak than many of the supposedly easier “no code necessary/fill in the blanks models. I know that I have only scratched the surface of the possiblilities for Blogger template tweaking. Each of the Blogger template types does exhibit its own quirks and idiocyncracies, though, I admit. And I can now spot even a severly tweaked Blogger template at a glance. (But by now, I can identify everyone else’s too.)

    I have been amazed during these months, that all I have to do for Blogger is to leave the little “I Power Blogger” button somewhere on the weblog, and tolerate the suble Blogger toolbar accross the top of the pages. I like Blog-City, too, I found the banner ad on the free service too much of an eyesore to look past, even though it is small and non-descript, or maybe because it is small, non-descript, and WHITE, no matter what the rest of the color scheme is…Now, we are paying for the upgrades there, in order to link easy to update pages to our website for members who do not have access to the file manager at the hosting service.

    LiveJournal and JournalSpace have also been good for a few of our members, I hear tell – yet they are all paying for the upgrades in order to have more customizing leeway and features, and one has mentioned that he found the HOW TOs at those places harder to follow than those at Blogger, possibly (ironically) due to attempts to make it easier.

    So, for us, Blogger wins by a wide margin.

  5. By Chris Thilk posted on July 1, 2005 at 8:34 am
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    I like Blogger and use it for four blogs that I run. Are there areas for improvement? Sure. Categories is one thing they could add that I’d really like to see. Other than that it’s great and for the minor intrusions mentioned above it’s a remarkably flexible platform. I’ve had good experiences with customer service. They usually get back to me in 2-3 days, which isn’t bad turnaround considering none of the issues I’ve forwarded are life threatening.

    Spam blogs are a corporate issue and should be discussed in and of themselves. If we want to pressure Google to crack down on that that’s fine but I don’t think we should write off all Blogger blogs because of it just like we shouldn’t stop using email because we get spam.

  6. By Trudy W. Schuett posted on July 1, 2005 at 8:46 am
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    I never recommend Blogger in my workshops or articles. They are simply not a fully functioning service. There is no Trackback, which renders the blog crippled when it comes to participating in the blogosphere, and you can’t track your visitors. Knowing how many visitors you have and where they’re coming from is important, and if you can’t do that from within the blog, then you’ve got trouble.

    My students generally don’t have any experience building or maintaining a website, and needing to add anything at all to make their blog work and serve their needs makes a service useless to them.

    This is not even to mention the comments feature on Blogger makes visitors jump through too many hoops. You have to consider your visitors’ as well as your own needs when choosing a blog service.

  7. By Steve Cornelius posted on July 1, 2005 at 9:37 am
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    I have run two blogs on Blogger since October 2004 and have no real complaints or problems. I do wish Blogger supported Categories and Tags and I wish there were more choices in templates, but outside of those wishes, I have been very satisfied.

    I think the key thing to remember is that the service is FREE.

  8. By Bondi Tram posted on July 1, 2005 at 10:16 am
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    is it the worst? – who knows (and also probably who cares)- i use it and it hasn’t been bad enough for me to go elsewhere even though ive looked. all the previous posts have pointed out Bloggers trengths but it does have some weaknesses that c(sh)ould be resolved. Lack of trackback was mentioned by Trudy – i agree it should be built in. it isnt. but you can work around with haloscan.com who offer free trackback for Blogger blogs. Bigger problem for me is – like Steve C – lack of categories. That should be a major development priority – better archiving choices and tagging for archives. I sometimes feel like Blogger might not be a top Google priority at the mo as well. I think they could easily start offering additional services to their bloggers for $$$. Anyway i feel payment may be coming on Like I’m wondering what happens when i reach my new Blogger 300Mb photo limit. Do they just drop off from the back as i load new ones at the front?

  9. » Quick Links  InsideGoogle - part of the Blog News ChannelJuly 1, 2005 at 11:09 am
  10. By Dimitri Rotov posted on July 1, 2005 at 12:36 pm
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    I recommend it highly. It was buggy for a few weeks during the last upgrade, so I set up an emergency standby site for my blog on another service, but everything is fine now.

    Blogger supports third-party tracking by such as site meter – I don’t need track back. The internal searching is fast and robust – I am pushing 200,000 words on my site so that’s important for me to find my own stuff. The indexing of my posts and their migration to the general Google results is very fast – maybe hree days.

    I don’t miss category functionality – I can’t believe they serve anything other than the blogger’s own sense of tidiness.

    The bug situation is comical. You suffer from some general failure, lodge your complaint, and get a generic response after it has been fixed. I don’t do anything about bugs but wait – and it’s been months since I’ve suffered a bug.

    One unique and useful feature is Blogger’s “Recover post” control. Boy, has that saved me from my own mistakes…

  11. By Chris Thilk posted on July 1, 2005 at 2:12 pm
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    I agree that the “recover post” upgrade was huge. They also are slowly gearing up their other features. The native picture hosting was a nice addition. And if you use AudioBlogger.com you can do bare-bones podcasts. I wouldn’t be surprised if categories are added by the end of the fall or so. Since I’m someone who does like my things to be tidy that will quell my OCD instincts. When Google does a mindshift to RSS (leaving the Atom format) than RSS feeds will be incredibly easy and you won’t have to go through Feedburner like I do now.

    Trackbacks I accomplish by using HaloScan. It’s easy to get them added to the template and look very nice.

  12. By Bryan Price posted on July 1, 2005 at 3:00 pm
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    Worst? I doubt it.

    What I have issues with are changes that are unannounced and undocumented, first and foremost, and then they implement changes that have not been thoroughly.

    They need to implement the philosophy of Google, first do no evil. Instead, they make changes that automatically insert HTML code in your blog (they started wrapping email gateway posts with a for awhile, even though technically what I was emailing was NOT a mobile post!), change behavior, again without any announcement so that my plain text emails that contained HTML were now being encoded so I was looking at the raw HTML instead of the rendered HTML (Which would have been a quick fix if I hadn’t just lost the source code to the program that was generating the emails right before this change due to a hard disk crash. I managed to recover from a recent hard copy.)

    Then the whole insertion of the that was supposed to “fix” their image uploading. I understand that there might be issues with this, but those really need to be template adjustments, not just an insertion of code by Blogger that may fix the issues, but just as likely introduce other issues.

    But it’s not just the fact that they throw out changes without documenting them and without sufficient testing. They threw the problem into production on a Thursday night. I know, I reported the problem then, and couldn’t find anybody else suffering the problem before then. You would think that a few reports by Friday would have tipped them off that they had problems. But I got no response back from my report (and I still haven’t gotten a response back!), and nothing occured over the weekend. They finally put a status up on status.blogger.com at 4:30PM my time. And even that didn’t show up on my Bloglines RSS feed until Tuesday. I understand that they are on Pacific time, but this was well into the afternoon by their time. That repsonse was horrendous.

    They need to blog the changes that they are making to Blogger. The help and faq pages need RSS/Atom feeds so that we Blogger users can keep up with those changes as well. If I have a problem, do I really need to keep searching those pages just in case that they do post something about it, but don’t bother to tell me about it?

    I’m not currently planning on leaving Blogger right now. I am in the process of writing my own system for handling my linkblog using WAMP/LAMP, as my current host doesn’t support any kind of SQL. But I also want more control over the data so that I can run a monthly/weekly process that tells me which links have changed and which links are no longer good. I’m also thinking about just doing what I’m doing with del.icio.us, and really be done with it.

  13. By James posted on July 1, 2005 at 4:28 pm
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    Doesn’t Friendster blogs do all of the above, for free, plus have Photo Albums and TypeLists?

  14. By Abbie Mulvihill posted on July 1, 2005 at 9:57 pm
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    I’ve been using Blogger since my blog on Bloglines was destroyed in March. Early on, I had a lot of problems with Blogger, but now I have virtually none. I always create my posts in the HTML view not the WYSIWYG view and I think that makes a huge difference. You might want to read this post: http://abstracked.blogspot.com/2005/03/so-what-happened.html and this one: http://abstracked.blogspot.com/2005/03/its-not-easy-being-green.html to see some of the really bad things happened with my blog at Bloglines (hopefully they’ve fixed things). I was able to salvage all of my earlier posts through feed and import them into Blogger.

    I really like Bloglines as an aggregator (their customer service is getting better and better), but trust me, as a blogging service, they made Blogger seem like the greatest service that could ever exist (bugs and all).

    Bloglines has since been bought out (more than once, I think), so maybe it has changed, but I am far too afraid to find out!

  15. By Cassiopeia posted on July 2, 2005 at 3:17 am
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    I had used Blogger for 3 years, which means prior to Google purchasing. I recently ported myself over to WordPress, so I can’t report anything in the last 3 weeks.

    However, in my 3 years with Blogger, I have very few complaints to make. A couple of times I had problems publishing (I’ve always hosted my own content, and not used Blogspot), and twice I hit publish and lost the entire post. That’s about it.

    I’ve only emailed support twice, with complaints about SPAM blogs. They were taken down/suspended right away, and I had a kind and relatively fast (out-sourced) response.

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  18. By jim posted on July 2, 2005 at 6:57 pm
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    Novice bloggers will find that going with Blogger is the cheapest and fastest ways to get your thoughts on the web. But as your blogging matures, you’ll find that you will outgrow blogger – this is the case with many products out there. As you become more adept at blogging, you’ll migrate to excellent products such as Movable Type and, my personal favorite, WordPress. But, as a starter package, Blogger cannot be beaten.

    Through Blogger a total computer novice can start up a blog. You don’t hassle with web hosting, you don’t have a steep learning curve in learning the technology, and you don’t pay a dime.

    Anyway, Blogger can’t be worse because there’s MSN Spaces. :)

  19. By Mr. Hell's Kitchen posted on July 2, 2005 at 7:50 pm
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    I like Blogger myself.

    Cheers,
    Mr. H.K.
    Postcards from Hell’s Kitchen
    And I Quote Blog

  20. By Satish talim posted on July 2, 2005 at 9:01 pm
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    I am very much happy with Blogger. Ofcourse there are areas that I would like it to improve upon, but one can’t expect much from a free service, can you? I have learnt a lot about Blogging using this service and when I have the budget I will shift to my own domain and hosting service.

  21. By John (SYNTAGMA) posted on July 3, 2005 at 10:54 am
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    What does “maturing as a blogger” actually mean? Blogging is basically writing on a blog. Does it mean your writing matures? If so, how will changing blog packages enhance your experience? Does it mean your technical ability to twiddle a template matures? Well, you can do that with Blogger too. Does it mean becoming a “problogger”? Some may view an own-domain blog as superior to a blogspot one … but isn’t that just a bit snobbish? Or does maturity mean adding one gizmo after another? Does that actually improve the quality of your writing or research? No, of course not. As has been said a few times in this thread and elsewhere, you can do almost anything with Blogger that you can do in “superior” packages, with a little bit of ingenuity. So, it all comes down to snobbery in the end. But sometimes it’s cooler to be down with the riff-raff and spamming end of the market. More “legit” actually :-)

  22. By Skipper posted on July 3, 2005 at 1:05 pm
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    I started out using Blogger about six months ago, however I recently ported my blog over to Typepad as I wanted the ability to customize my site.

    I found Blogger to be a little too restraining in regards to the “look and feel” I was trying to achieve.

    IMO, I’m not there yet, but Typepad will get me there quicker.

    Regards,

  23. By Abhishek posted on July 5, 2005 at 3:50 pm
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    Blogger has got a wonderful service that no other free host provides. It has got everything that an average blogger hope for. Kudos to Pyra and Google for creating a sensation in the blogging arena.

  24. By Chris posted on July 6, 2005 at 12:30 am
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    Well put me in the disgusted with Blogger column!!

    Over the last two days, I’ve had posts corrupted, lost, and even combined with posts from other bloggers! Tonight their service is really messed up and as a result my template has been trashed. Can’t publish, can’t edit, and when I do, eventually Blogger screws them up.

    There’s gotta be a better way!

  25. By John (SYNTAGMA) posted on July 6, 2005 at 3:53 am
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    Chris, a few bits dropped off my template too, but they all came back on this morning. It’s always as well to save the template to Notepad in case of real emergency. But usually Google’s backup works well.

  26. By Chris posted on July 6, 2005 at 8:37 am
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    Hi John,

    Thanks for the tip! I should have thought to back up the template but didn’t, and it’s still gone this morning. I”ll have to reconstruct it :(

  27. By Bryan Price posted on July 6, 2005 at 11:31 am
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    I have never thought NOT to keep a copy of my template. Then again, I prefer to use my text editor (UltraEdit 32) instead of trying to work inside a text box. That way I keep a backup on my hard drive of the last known/good template. And since I use my own domain, I actually upload the template to my blog directory, just in case something happens to my hard drives (both have either given out totally, or come close to it in the past 6 months). Oh, and yeah, I back it up to my flash drive too.

  28. By Mark posted on July 9, 2005 at 9:44 am
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    I use blogger, and my only real complaint it lack of categories.
    A lot of people I know use motime, which is much worse. It doesn’t even support RSS.

  29. By Richard Upton posted on July 16, 2005 at 3:41 pm
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    Blogger best fits my needs, but your needs may vary. While Blogger does not have all of the features of aother blogs, third party services used in conjunction with Blogger make up the difference for me. For all of my blogs, I use StatCounter to get great tracking stats and Feedburner for RSS capabilities. Those who don’t know HTML may find it a challenge to customize the template and to use the third party services. Other services, such as MSN Spaces, offer a lot of features that Blogger doesn’t, but they are features that I don’t need and use, so their presence would just clutter up the screen if I used MSN Spaces for my blogs.

  30. By Emma posted on July 20, 2005 at 1:32 am
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    I’ve been using blogger for about a year now and I find that it suits me perfectly. I don’t really need trackbacks at the moment, but I’m sure if blogger gave me the option to, i would se the feature. At the moment I have Haloscan, but due to my inability to follow instructions it doesn’t work. But thats my problem, not theirs.
    Having categories would be nice, but I’m not really fussed about the issue.
    I have an MSN space which is just a complete waste of space. It’s slow, ugly and not very personal. On blogger i post with the HTML option rather than WYSIWYG, but on MSN Spaces i find it so frustrating using the HTML option.

    MSN Spaces have to take the cake for being the worst blogging service, sure it’s perfect for your super-novice blogger, but they give you almost no way of personalising your “Space”

  31. By Richard Upton posted on July 20, 2005 at 7:54 am
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    While some deride Blogger for not having trackback, trackback is available on Blogger via HaloScans’s trackback system. However, trackbacking doesn’t seem too appealing based on what Dave Taylor and “Improbulus” say on their blogs

  32. By Demiritsu Rotobuso posted on July 21, 2005 at 12:20 pm
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    People keep raising the issue of categories being missing from Blogger.

    I can’t imagine categories being helpful unless the blog is topically disconnected AND there are over 100,000 words on site.

    Have you ever consulted categories to hunt up posts? Me, never.

    My hunch is that categories is a sticky feature used to attract a certain kind of blogmaster.

  33. By John posted on July 22, 2005 at 11:25 am
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    In contrast to the previous commenter, I find categories v. useful, esp. in navigating my own blog to find that thing I write about that book last May (or whatever…). I have found a v. straightforward workaround to the missing categories in blogger that uses del.icio.us tags as a substitute. See my post at Freshblog. Tags bring traffic, & so there’s surely no harm in tagging posts & being listed in tag search results. Managing those tags with del.icio.us also gives you categories of a sort…

  34. By Cinemaker posted on July 23, 2005 at 2:32 pm
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    I’ve only been using Blogger since the beginning of July 2005 and the only complaint I have so far is the lack of templates. The ones they offer are rather bland and generic. However, there are a number of sites online that offer templates for free. Aside from that, Blogger is perfect for people who don’t have the time or inclination to mess around with lots of technical steps to get a page on the web. Yes, it’s true that there are other sites that offer the same features and publishing ease that Blogger offers, but I would ask you to consider this…

    With the rise and fall of so many websites in the last decade, I feel safe using a site that has clout in the computer world and on the web. That is why I use Hotmail for my email. It is owned by Microsoft, a company that I believe is not going away anytime soon. I use the same philosophy with Blogger. Google owned, it too is around for the long haul. Also consider the growth of Google and Google’s interest in blogging. They are constantly developing new products for their site and they clearly saw great potential in Blogger or they would not have purchased it. I am confident that Blogger will only improve and grow as Google does.

    I may be wrong, but I believe that Google will develop Blogger to a point where it will become a revolutionary product that will cause other blog sites to change the way they operate. The Google search engine and G-mail are perfect examples of how Google sets standards and changes the face of the internet.

  35. By Mike posted on January 16, 2006 at 4:26 am
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    I have a blog on Blogger & Tripod. Tripod is much easier to use.

  36. By fajar posted on January 19, 2006 at 12:47 am
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    i’am an blogger addicted so poor i just use the free one beside that i can learn a lot of things on blogger this’s free host but so many people start learning from blogspot

  37. By Amy posted on February 27, 2006 at 7:37 pm
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    Just started blogger — haven’t even set up the sites yet but it’s absolutely fabulous.

    Prior to blogger, I’d signed up for a couple of so called quickblogs on go-daddy, only $2.95 a month, each — but it had a completely useless control panel called website tonight. and the most ugly templates I have ever seen anywhere. Not worth two cents.

    Blogger seems pretty easy to me. And if you use blogger with the freeware version of post2blog you can work in wysiwyg offline. (and also code in html view) Also, there are wonderful extensions and “greasemonkey” scripts for using blogger with firefox. (I’m particularly fond of the scripts that enlarge the composing box for your posts and the template window. Also, the ‘performancing’ extension for blogger is amazing.

    as for categories, according to the blogger forum, blogger will have them in a month.

    I agree with the writer who said it was all about content — I know some are totally into graphics and gizmos, but personally just wanted a simple straightforward way of getting my own message out.

    Moveable type supposedly does everything, but it’s very hard to learn for some people including me. Yet I’m finding the tweaks and scripts recommended in blogspot groups startlingly simple.

    I’d recommend it to anybody.

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