This is an archive of chieftech.posterous.com

On 15th February, Posterous (which had earlier been acquired by Twitter) announced that it would close down on on April 30, 2013. Luckily, I had anticipated this and had already ported my blog archive to WordPress.com here.

BTW If you are looking for my current blog, visit http://chieftech.com.au (hosted by scriptogr.am). My old Blogger site can still be found at http://chieftech.blogspot.com.au (thanks, Google!), although this site also contains an archive of that content too.

This is what my old Posterous blog looked like:

Screenshot of the top of chieftech.posterous.com

I also captured a screenshot of the full-page.

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Markdown and Blogging

Cross-posted from scriptogr.am.

Late last year I started thinking about moving my blog on from Posterous. If I do, this will be my second move as I started on Google’s Blogger originally. Posterous attracted my attention because as much as I like WordPress, I wanted something simple where I could focus on content and not managing a Website. Posterous has worked reasonably well, but I don’t have confidence its a solution I can stay with.

With that focus on simplicity, I quite like the idea of writing my posts using markdown, rather than in html or a rich text editor. What is markdown?

Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML)…

…The overriding design goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. While Markdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTML filters, the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’s syntax is the format of plain text email.

Incidentally, Posterous does support markdown, but doesn’t appear to work in the Posterous bookmarklet. The other ongoing issue with Posterous is the difficulty of backing up or exporting your content.

Having a look around, there are actually a lot of people interested in blogging with markdown and some services designed to specifically support it. Right now I’m trying out scriptogr.am, which uses Dropbox as a content management system for your plain text posts. The benefit of using Dropbox is that regardless of what happens to scriptogr.am, I get to keep my content backed up in a format that can be easily re-published using another markdown-based blogging or WCMS system.

The main limitation at this stage – with scriptogr.am at least – is that you can’t easily post attachments, such as images. However, I’m happy to work around that for the moment. I also need to look at integrating a commenting system.

Another alternative is to host your own markdown-based blog, which is something I’m also looking at.

The problem of managing comments on popular sites

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The Engadget site is taking a break from comments for a while, which appears to have renewed the debate about the relationship between comments and blogs elsewhere – like on Mashable and WebWorkerDaily. It is of course somewhat ironic that this has stimulated so much discussion, in comments.

This is a contrast to other people in my personal blogosphere like Luis Suarez and Andrew McAfee who have both recently promised to renew their efforts to engage with the people that comment on their sites.

Now, this isn’t a new debate for me and I remain firmly committed to comments here on the Chieftech blog, even if I am a little tardy in replying sometimes.

But I think it is worth revisiting this issue in this case, in respect to the problem of comments on high volume sites. The basic argument appears to be that if you are really popular, then switching off comments is ok because it is too impractical to manage. I have some sympathy with this, however, I think this is really a symptom of a different problem:

  • Have you ever actually sat down and thought about what you want to achieve with allowing people to comment on your site and how you will engage with a community of that scale?
  • If you are suffering from trolling or too much bad behaviour, then perhaps its the community (or lack of) around you blog that’s the issue?
  • If you are literally overwhelmed by comments or spam comments, do you have the right comment management tools in place or alternative method for people to contribute without commenting?

I’ve said before that there are no rules for using social media. There is nothing wrong with using social technologies for publishing (rather than conversations). But a blog that doesn’t support conversation is just a Website, even if its written frequently and in a conversational style. I don’t have a problem with that.

Perhaps what is more important, if you are running a site for profit or some other outcome other than personal learning, does turning on or off comments support that goal?

Hat tip to Luis for starting the debate again for me… 🙂