Free weblog services? Opinions please. December 2, 2001 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Free weblog services? Opinions please.

I've had a pitas.com page for close to two years.

Unfortunately, pitas seems to be collapsing under it's own weight. Outages and "page not found" errors have become rampant. It's become too damn frustrating to use anymore. My requests for an explanation as to exactly what the problem is have been met with a deafening silence.

I'm not going to sit here and complain. It's a free service and you get what you pay for. Are there any weblog services out there that are reliable and relatively simple to use for those of us who are somewhat HTML impaired?

Thanks in advance!
posted by zeb vance to General Weblog-Related at 3:05 PM (38 comments total)

Pitas is being moved to a new server because the current one is overloaded, but in the meantime you should try Diaryland.com which is like Pitas, but with more features (and all the ones from Pitas, run by same people) and better reliability. Pitas help mail isn't getting answered super fast until the server change is finished.
posted by beefula at 3:18 PM on December 2, 2001


Are there any weblog services out there that are reliable and relatively simple to use for those of us who are somewhat HTML impaired?

Is there anything out there besides Blogger.com (with blogspot) or Pitas/Diaryland? Have you tried Blogger out?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:33 PM on December 2, 2001


Blogger/blogspot is surprisingly fast. If you use the blogger tool you can use any free webservice that supports FTP (which should be most if not all of them).
posted by skallas at 4:20 PM on December 2, 2001


I've incredibly pleased with Blogspot. Yes, the ad sucks, but I can get rid of them for a low price once I have money. Mmm, money.
posted by gleemax at 4:26 PM on December 2, 2001


Just as a point of info, LiveJournal, which several people I know use, has just about the same problems. It's accepted as a simple fact that it will be unavailable during peak hours. So you might as well just ignore that option for the time being.
posted by Su at 4:47 PM on December 2, 2001


HOW DARE YOU SLANDER LIVEJOURNAL!!!!!

(Thank you, thank you, my performance as Hopelessly Rabid Livejournal Cult Leader will be sure to garner awards in the near future.)
posted by solistrato at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2001


If you are so inclined, you can get free CGI/PHP enabled webspace at F2S, and then use Greymatter to set up a very customizable weblog.

That's what I did until I got a server.
posted by j.edwards at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2001


Just keep in mind that Greymatter(which I use and love) requires significantly more setup than the previously mentioned options. I've never used Blogger myself, but understand it falls somewhere a bit below GM in terms of setup.

Zeb: I guess this does bring up the question of how much work you're comfortable with. GM is pretty powerful for example, but involves bunches of templates that interact with each other and even more variables. Blogspot, LJ, etc pretty much work out of the box. If you tell us how familiar you are with HTML in general, it'll help with recommendations.
posted by Su at 7:22 PM on December 2, 2001


Scribble.nu is a site more for journalling than weblogging, but with not too much HTML know how, you can make it work as a blog, I think. They do seem to be having the same capacity problems as the others though.

And, since I have no vested interest, I might add that there are some bloggers that are offering fairly cheap hosting options for bloggers. Cornerhost, from Michael over at Linkwatcher.com comes to mind.
posted by jessamyn at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2001


Jed : FS2 is full. Bummer.

"Welcome to the Freedom2surf signup page!
Sorry - Our free webservers are currently full"

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:30 PM on December 2, 2001


Unless he's suckered some high school girls to pitch in (and I wouldn't be surprised if he did), it's still just Andrew running Pitas and Diaryland all by his lonesome. I have no idea how he keeps them running for free but we're probably all better off not knowing.
posted by jga at 11:45 PM on December 2, 2001


AND Sign My Guestbook, AND Zeepo, AND NotifyList.

posted by perplexed at 12:22 AM on December 3, 2001


Dan Chan, runs we::blog, a simple way to have a weblog for free.

I can't speak objectively as to it's ease of use but, it seems well documented, fast, and full of features you'd expect a weblogging service to offer. Comments, syndication, templating, ease of archiving, etc...

It was not a suitable solution for me but, some might find it just peachy. Worth a look, at any rate.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 1:53 AM on December 3, 2001


F2S is usually full for a couple of days a week at least. They mostly have it up again later.

And because nobody else has mentioned it yet there is the joy of movabletype. You need a server (like F2S) at present but I think that's going to change soon. It's similar to Greymatter in that I wouldn't really reccomend it for absolute beginners but if you follow the instructions (to the letter) then it works brilliantly.

I'm very, very happy with it.
posted by nedrichards at 4:45 AM on December 3, 2001


Movable Type requires less setup than GM, but is less powerful in some departments.

AFAIK, all free-use content managers apart from trellix require some HTML knowledge. Trellix works with blogger though, as I recall, so you should be OK. Not sure how customisable it is. They have a partnership with CNET to give you 15Mb free. Never tried it, so don't blame me ...
posted by walrus at 4:46 AM on December 3, 2001


Movable Type requires less setup than GM, but is less powerful in some departments.

in what ways? (just curious.. i currently use GM but am wondering if I'd ever use movable type for anything else.)
posted by lotsofno at 5:40 AM on December 3, 2001


I just went to f2s and couldn't find anything about free webspace. Can anybody point me in the right direction?
posted by jnthnjng at 7:09 AM on December 3, 2001


in what ways?

Firstly, I love both tools. I moved over not because of deficiencies in GM, but because MT seemed simpler to use and Noah appears to be no longer interested in maintaining GM.

On the pros, GM has a search engine built-in. On the cons, there are many more templates to set up in the initial instance and it seems harder to learn the "lingo" (to me). It doesn't have categories (which was important to me) , but I believe there's a modification available which does it. The interface is clunkier.

On the pros, MT was easier to get going with, has categories out of the box, and the interface is more beautiful (subjective) and more usable or navigable or whatever. On the cons, it doesn't have a search engine.

There's really not much in it. I'm grateful for both tools, but I think MT is a jump ahead, and I prefer using it, on the whole.
posted by walrus at 9:17 AM on December 3, 2001


ps there are plenty of search engines you could download for free. I'm going to give this one a go ... when I get around to it.

And I've got to stop having afterthoughts immediately after posting a comment ... somehow.
posted by walrus at 9:34 AM on December 3, 2001


Note that Openwire has recently put out a Movable Type search plug-in.
posted by drang at 10:14 AM on December 3, 2001


Nice one.
posted by walrus at 10:54 AM on December 3, 2001


jnthnjng -- they're closed right now, but when they're open again, you'll want to so to "services," then to "global website," and there will be a "free webspace" link near the bottom of the page.
posted by j.edwards at 11:12 AM on December 3, 2001


I would probably not recommend Movable Type to those who use some free servers -- F2S in particular.

The main problem with free server accounts is the limitation of disk space available for your account. With 10-15 megs, it is quite easy to go over the allotted space -- when this happens, your Movable Type (or Greymatter, for that matter -- most anything) database could become corrupted.

If you watch your disk space usage closely, you will probably be able to avoid these problems -- but make sure you regularly export your entries for backup.
posted by mgtrott at 11:24 AM on December 3, 2001


Movable Type requires less setup than GM, but is less powerful in some departments.

And vice-versa. Have multiple blogs? You need separate Greymatter installations (talk about wasted space). Need categorization? Got it. (Can't wait for multiple cat support) Signup for update notification for your users? Yep. Multiple index templates? Uh huh... Etc etc etc

But I think the most important thing in my mind is movement. MT is moving at light speed, compared to the static and unmaintained Greymatter.

Note that Openwire has recently put out a Movable Type search plug-in.

Man, you stop coming around for a little while and suddenly you're nothing but a domain name... ;-)
posted by fooljay at 12:26 PM on December 3, 2001


If you want to see your thread again, place £10,000 of unmarked notes into a rubbish sack and leave it by the bins at the end of my street at 11pm tonight.

Meanwhile, there's more stuff in the relevant dmoz directory. I don't know how much of it is any good.

Oh, and if anyone can think of a free webspace account with 20Mb+ and CGI functionality, MT is back on-topic ;)
posted by walrus at 1:01 PM on December 3, 2001


Pitas works well, except if you want images, it's hard to find a free webserver that lets you host.
f2s I've found is down even more than pitas.
Here's some tips from greymatter users.
posted by Charmian at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2001


For the record, new versions of Greymatter (currently in beta) *are* being developed now by a great team. I'm not directly involved with the effort (and am quite content with my retirement from programming), but at any rate GM is no longer a "static and unmaintained" product.
posted by Noah at 1:38 PM on December 3, 2001


Wow, really? Has this been a secret effort? I didn't hear anything about that before I moved over to MT. Not sure that it would have ultimately mattered, but it certainly would have factored into the decision.

By the way, Noah, thank you for all of your efforts. Greymatter served me well through my time with it. (Even if I rant about the obsfucation of the code from time to time)
posted by fooljay at 2:44 PM on December 3, 2001


Not secret, just not being actively publicised yet until it's done being tested and tinkered with. (And it's certainly not being done to "compete" with MT or anything else; it's being done by good friends of mine who want to keep GM going.)

I don't mind the criticism. Since I wrote GM *only* for myself (I never intended to compete with anything - I've never even *tried* Blogger or anything else), taught myself to program as I went along, and made it public only on a lark ... considering all that, I'm still simply honoured it's been appreciated at all.
posted by Noah at 4:42 PM on December 3, 2001


i've kept it "real" on the GM tip. us gray guys got to stick together, ya heard? - ahem.. ::straightens tie:: i don't know where that came from.

i too didn't know about GM being worked on, but i guess that would makes sense considering the down-low status. i can't wait to see what improvements we'll see. (hey, it's gotta be better than ginger, right?)
posted by lotsofno at 6:24 PM on December 3, 2001


If anyone's still in here...

I was wondering what happens if they pull the plug on Blogger. Is there a way I can back my blog up, or do I have to just copy all the text or something?

(shh....don't tell anyone I don't know diddlypoo about this crazy web stuff)
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:00 PM on December 3, 2001


Hey, did you guys hear that Kafkaeque doesn't know diddly-poo about...*snickers*.....oh, hi K! We were just, uh, you know. So, how 'bout this weather, huh?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:05 AM on December 4, 2001


Is there a way I can back my blog up, or do I have to just copy all the text or something?

You could download the archives from your FTP server and back them up that way.

Another method would be to use a specialised blogger template to export your entries into a format where they could be re-imported into another tool. MT allows import if you use this method to export them from blogger.

Really glad to hear GM is still being developed Noah. It's a great tool and it's been a big help to me. Thanks for sharing it.
posted by walrus at 2:27 AM on December 4, 2001


Well that does it! I now must go over to the archives on K's blog to see exactly what little nuggets there are so important they're worth keeping and how his atrocious technical incompetence has hampered its blooming and gaining the appreciation it deserves. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:20 AM on December 4, 2001


Doh! It's a blogspot site, so the method I linked to won't work as stated (Cheers for prompting me to look, Miguel). You could get a free webspace account and then change the config settings in blogger to ftp your stuff there. Then you could connect to it with an ftp client and get back whatever you output. Then you could change the settings back. If you change your template to do it, it would be worth c&p-ing it into notepad and saving it before you start.
posted by walrus at 8:35 AM on December 4, 2001


Thanks for the ideas, walrus! I have always depended on the kindness of pinnipeds.

Miguel, you just keep your hands off my nuggets, cowboy.
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:02 AM on December 4, 2001


diaryland or blogspot.
posted by kv at 9:56 AM on December 4, 2001


You could also install an FTP server, check your IP address (if you have to), and FTP the files directly to your computer. Not that I've ever done that.
posted by gleemax at 1:38 AM on December 6, 2001


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