Site Building

Multi-user Blogs, Revisited

As far as you know, it’s been a month. More specifically, this will mark four weeks worth of blog posts. Granted, all that means is that this is the eighth post, but I feel I’ve used WordPress enough to address it for the needs of a play-by-post game.

Things I love…

WordPress has the corner on Accessibility. Sure, you have to make a new identity, something I’ve already whined about on Day 1. But after that, you only have to make one, unlike livejournal which is one-to-one when it comes to blogs. If I only wanted a multi-user blog and not have to maintain this weekly analysis, I could have done that. Or, I can make a billion*.  There’s something enticing about that**.

Scheduled Publishing. My friend and one of my players posts a blog posts daily. Not five days a week. Not four days in the case of Labor Day. A new post. Every day. She does this daily. I think about it and get a headache. And hers is themed. She writes about a new movie every day. And they are of length. I can’t do that. I barely have the attention span to write this. I know what happens when you slip. It gets bad. You start covering posts. You shorten a schedule. Next thing you know a year has passed and you couldn’t care less. I have bursts, like a lot of people do. I’ll have several thoughts in a day, then none again for a week. If I muscle through now, I can get a couple decent length posts done in a day. Then I can give myself a break. Now if I do that, I can space it around so that my bunch-of-times-a-day blog turns into bunch-of-times-a-week and things sound so much better!

And my favorite, built in socializing. This is something blogger either does not do, or not do easily enough for me to figure out before I got bored with it. Automatic Twitter and Facebook updates. Either automatically or per post. that’s great! So I can literally update my Facebook with these lovely gems or Twitter with some game announcements and I can be sure I hit my players one some avenue they already hit frequently. It shocked me that Blogger doesn’t let you do this as easily. And between the two, it’s like I’m posting all the time!***

Things I wish WordPress had…

Aliasing is so very important when dealing with a game. You have multiple people posting as Multiple characters and generally you don’t want to use the same name you use for whatever important tech blog you chime in on. Blogger uses GoogleAuth (or Google ID, depending on what you feel like calling it). It also has the ability to assign personas per blog you follow, so you can have a seperate avatar and username all tied to the same account and no one has to be the wiser. Grumbly Cube Jockey by day, swashbuckling gnome by night. I suppose the difference is only superficial. WordPress has the same username posted to all of your blogs. I’m not entirely pleased with this but if this is the worst thing I have to deal with, I can roll with it.

Also, Custom Access Control Lists, or User Roles. My specific case is that I want the blog to be public. I want most pages to be editable by a certain class of user. I want a specific page to be viewable only by another certain class of user. Essentially, I want players to be able to see a list of sensetive information, namely contact info, but no one else. I also want the info pages to be public, but editabl only by administrators. If I’m misunderstanding the way their user roles are laid out, I’ll be glad to be corrected.

This is really the best bang for the Multi-User Buck. Not only is posting made easy, but communicating that to your friends, followers, and readers without having to inject stuff is brilliant!

*Probably not a billion.
** I won’t make a billion.
*** I’m not.

On Multi-User Blogs or Why I’m Not Using Livejournal

Did you know Multi-User Blog was a thing? I didn’t.

I’ve been roleplaying for a very long time. If I said how long, I would date myself. I’ve done it on paper, on what used to be known as a ‘chat room.’ Forums. E-mail. A variety of other ways which will take too long to get into and make me sound senile. Granted, while my preferred method would always be freeform chat, it is pretty dependent on having someone who has enough free time to talk to you and go with you on the journey. For every person in the group, the scheduling issues goes up exponentially. This is especially true if two of your old group are both masters students now.

When discussing my experiment with one of my regular roleplaying partners, the best I could describe my future needs was, “something livejournal-esque but not lj.” I am articulate like crap, I am. Joking aside, that’s all I could think of. Livejournal was the best place for easy blogging with the ability to publish to communities a good, long time ago. However, I did remember quite a bit about my usage of Livejournal, namely that it was ‘pre-open source.’ Oh sure, it said it was open source. And you could take the source and install it elsewhere. Everything else about it? Magic. Not even the fun kind of magic with sparkles and unicorns. More like the kind with runes and one false motion gets you eaten by an octopus with acid reflux. Granted, if I felt like drowning in php script to do basic things, I could have, but it otherwise did nothing. Post and comment, but all of these new fangled features like file attachments and social integrations I don’t believe were implemented yet.

No. I needed to find a replacement. I wasn’t even going to look.

Of course, what could have these features? (If you say wordpress, you’re skipping ahead and cheaters never prosper.) Googling ‘community blog’ also doesn’t really get you anywhere. Speaking of dating yourself, do you remember what a webring is? That’s what Googling ‘community blog’ will return, listings of blogs linked to eachother. It’s not exactly helpful.

Eventually I sighed, whimpered a bit. I was going to go back to Blogger. Don’t get me wrong, I love Blogger. Love it. It’s easy and modular. However, a popular blog I read had its writer have a near nervous breakdown trying to transition to WordPress. You can leave Blogger, but the comments will not follow without a panic attack. The game will need to be run in threads. Threads require comments. Not moving Comments without a panick attack kind of makes me feel like I’m having a panic attack. I always have panic attacks. The last thing I need is more.

Then, through various searches, I finally found the words I was looking for: Multi-User Blogs. I didn’t know this was a thing. Now if you made it down here from the beginning, you can see why I was so shocked. I do social programming and get paid for it! I should know that word! Alas…

When you finally start searching the correct string, you will always be surprised at the relevancy of the results you get. Always.

That leaves the following possibilities:

  • WordPress (Again, stop cheating!)
  • Blogger
  • 21press

Obviously, I didn’t choose Blogger due to the reasons whined about above. As for 21Press, it looks awesome. It does. It has every form of collaboration you can think of for free and easy to use. However, it’s all collaboration. I need something more accessible. I’m not an early adopter or an enterprise user. And there are just too many success stories with WordPress. But what really did it for me? I want to build me some widgets. No. Just one. I want to build a dice-roller that prints as a comment. How hard is that? Probably very. What can I say? I’m excited!