Blogger vs Wordpress for blogging: a definitive answer

WORDPRESS VS BLOGGER: THE ETERNAL QUESTION - WHICH ONE IS BETTER?


Wordpress is the daddy of website/ blog creation: more than 25 percent of the world wide web is supposed to consist of websites and blogs created using this great software, and it is totally free. But if you are new to blogging, wait. This is NOT the Wordpress blogging platform but a content management system or CMS. You can create beautiful blogs or websites with this software but you have to separately buy domain name for the site and host it on the web. The free blogging platform from the same organization is Wordpress.com, which is in competition with Blogger (=blogspot) platrom. 

So, let's compare similar products: Wordpress and Blogger FREE BLOGGING PLATFORMS. They are the biggest such platforms and there are other smaller ones such as Tumblr, LiveJournal and Medium. In addition, there are many blogging platforms and website platforms that are not free.  

If you want to have a modern blog or website with many functionalities and earning strems, you can look to Wordpress CMS, and compare that with alternatives like Joomla, Wix and Google Sites. Once you have created the blog/ website, you will need to buy a domain name and host the on a web host. Both will need to be renewed year after year on payment of domain/ hosting charges.

Let's come back to the free blogging platforms. Both these blogging platforms suit personal or hobby blogging well. On both, you can create a blog with a few clicks. You can give your blog a name that you like and post as per your will (with some limitations, of course). You don't have to pay a penny to create and run the blog. As you will see below, Blogger allows you to customise the blog's looks and make money from the blog, free of cost.

Let us see how they compare and which one you should go for: 


WORDPRESS VS BLOGGER BLOGGING PLATFORMS COMPARED 


Advantages of Wordpress (free blogging platform) 

  • Is simple to learn. Needs no technical knowledge.
  • A user can open many free blogs. 
  • Gives clean and modern looks to the blog.
  • Is secure.
  • Has enough space for normal blogging. 
  • Allows HTML tags in posts.
  • You can upgrade free plan to have more features.
  • Migration to Wordpress CMS is easy and smooth.
  • Since free Wordpress platform does not allow advertising, blogs are clean and more content-oriented.

Advantages of Blogger 

  • Is simple to learn. Needs no technical knowledge.
  • A user can open many free blogs. Has many free themes - some new ones are comparable to Wordpress, while some old ones are very simple.
  • Is secure.
  • Has enormous space available.
  • Mapping to independent domain is free.
  • Allows the blogger to tweak with the help of HTML/ CSS coding of posts as well as the core of the blog.
  • Integrates well with other Google utilities.

Limitations of Wordpress free blogging platform

  • You cannot play with the code of the blog except some HTML in posts.
  • Space in free plan is limited.
  • Free plan does not allow posting of videos.
  • Free or lower-end plans cannot have advertisements.
  • Though there are many plugins available (some are free) for additional functions and there are many more themes available on the web (many are free), these cannot be applied in the free or low-end plans.
  • Mapping to independent domain is not free and one has to pay fee annually to keep the mapping going.
  • It is not possible to create very high-end blog even with premium plans.
  • The free blog has a subordinate identity as its URL comes with .wordpress.com suffix. (However, you can go for an independent name, with paid plan/ paid mapping.)
  • Blog needs to follow the content, privacy and other policies of the platform.

Limitations of Blogger

  • Old themes look plain vanilla, which is not liked by many bloggers.
  • It is not possible to create very high-end blog (e.g. with ecommerce facilities).
  • The free blog has a subordinate identity as its URL comes with .blogspot.com suffix. (However, you can map it to an independent name, for free.)
  • Blog needs to follow the content, privacy and other policies of the platform.

WHICH BLOGGING PLATFORM SHOULD I CHOOSE FOR MY PERSONAL BLOG? 



Both the platforms are equally good if you are OK with posting content, and don't bother about other frills. Both also allow you to display others' content through widgets. You also have widgets for presenting your own content in categories etc. 

Blogger allows much more flexibility than Wordpress, and you can customize the blog to a great extent if you know a bit of HTML and CSS - very simple web languages. You can post videos and even give your blog an independent domain name at no cost! There is another great advantage of Blogger over Wordpress is that you can put ads on the blog and make money through it. Personally I like blogger over Wordpress.


wordpress or blogger

However many bloggers go for Wordpress as they fall in love with its subdued but pleasing basic themes. There is not much on offer in the free plan, but once a blogger is at ease with the free blog and later wants to go for an independent blog built on Wordpress CMS, he finds it easy to migrate. That is one big reason why people using Wordpress CMS recommend Wordpress as a blogging platform.

To be fair to Wordpress.com, it gives you a lot more features if you are prepared to shell out some money, because then you are allowed to use third-party themes and plugins. Plugins are bits of additional code and can bring in a range of functionalities to the blog.

Parents, feel relieved that Tumblr is banning explicit material on its blogs.

Tumblr is one of the biggest free blogging platforms, only after Blogger and Wordpress. It is especially popular among the teens - and one reason for that is supposed to be its liberal attitude towards pornography.

Tumblr has now decided to NOT host explicit content, and make use of artificial intelligence to scan accounts for such content. In its announcement, Tumblr has said that it would not allow adult content after December 17: 
Starting Dec 17, adult content will not be allowed on Tumblr, regardless of how old you are...Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts...Examples of exceptions that are still permitted are exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery. Written content such as erotica, nudity related to political or newsworthy speech, and nudity found in art, such as sculptures and illustrations, are also stuff that can be freely posted on Tumblr.
There could be triggers like the two given below why this platform has woken to the harm it had been doing to the society:
  • In November '18, Apple removed Tumblr's app from its App Store when it observed child abuse images on the app.
  • Earlier, in March,  Indonesian government banned Tumblr in the country after Verizon, Tumblr's parent company, refused to remove pornographic content.
This news should ring pleasantly in the ears of patents of minor children!

WILL TUMBLR SUFFER DUE TO PORN BAN?


This ban leads to interesing possibilities. It may result in a more acceptable platform and may become popular among bloggers. But there is a bigger possibility of the platform collapsing as its regular users (bloggers and visitors) who were hooked to explicit content would leave it en masse. There also are many users who are on Tumblr because its liberal approach towards sex and nudity allowed free adult socialization and expression of some art forms that were not allowed on other platforms.

I feel that the ban, though with good intentions and though it would be welcome by media observers, parents and society at large, might adversely impact the platform. Let's see how it unfolds.

Though Tumblr has clarified that content that is meant for health and such other purposes would not be taken as 'adult' content, its reliance on artificial intelligence creates doubts whether it would be able to distinguish between educational/ informational content and pornography.

tumblr blocks adult content

Tumblr says, it would filter out all adult content but allow present account holders to either take down the content or make the blog/ posts private. With exceptions for genuine use of visuals of human body in non-pornographic ways, the platform seems to feel that it would not lose much of its clientele.

Link: Tumblr's explanation about what type of content is being banned.

PS. I had flagged this lax policy of Tumblr towards adult content, in the 2018 edition of The Manual of Blogging. I will be glad to modify that in the next edition. 

Crop: the easiest picture editing action that you might be doing wrongly!

Cropping= cutting a picture from sides. It is like using a scissors to cut a photo print from one or more sides.

This tool is available on all photo/ image editors and image apps. It is there even in the basic 'gallery' or 'photo' apps on mobile phones. Most users of images use this tool, but the irony is that not many understand how this tool impacts the image.

If you are interested in going into details of how different image editing tools work, I would refer you to Better Digital Images, my ebook on digital image editing and digital photography. I give here some basics of cropping:


How cropping affects image properties


  • Cropping affects the image in many ways, unlike cutting the sides of a physical copy of image:
  • Cropping removes some objects from the image. Because of this, cropping is usually carried out to frame the pictures better. 
  • It reduces the size of the image in terms of pixels. So, if an image is of 5  MP (megapixel) size and you cut it from the middle, the resultant pics would be 2.5 MP each. 
  • It can change the aspect ratio of the picture. Aspect ratio is nothing but the ratio between the width and height of the picture. If you have a wide image of 5 inch x 3 inch size and remove 2 inch from one side, the resultant image would now by a square image of 3 inch on each side. 
  • It reduces the quality of picture if you crop the image and then pull the image to the original size. For example, suppose you have a picture of 10 inch x 6 inch size and you cropped it into 5 inch x 3 inch to remove some peripheral objects. Now if you want to make this pic again of 10 inch x 6 inch, it will pull the pixels and add new pixels into the image and the resultant picture would have a quality loss. 
  • It can distort the picture if you crop the image not in the original aspect ratio and then try to fit it into the original aspect ratio or an altogether different size. For example, you cropped a 10 inch x 6 inch pic and the resultant pic is of 5 inch x 4 inch size. If you try to fit it into any size in 10x6 ratio, it will get distorted. 


How to use cropping tool to best effect


With the above understanding let us use cropping wisely, as follows:
  • Crop image for better framing and removing unwanted objects. When you shoot a photograph, you sometimes do not see a disturbing object in the frame and you would like to remove it from the photograph. Or you have a group photograph out of which you want to cull out a part in which only you and your best friend standing next to you are seen. Or you took a photograph of your child in which the background is too overbearing and the child's pic is lost in it - you would like to remove most of the background so that the child comes out prominent. 
  • Think of the final size beforehand. If by cropping the photo too much, the remaining part would remain like a small stamp, it would not look clear. On mobiles and computers/ laptops, the image viewers often expand small pics to the size of the app/ device: if so, the small picture would look too bad in clarity and contrast. So, do nut crop too much unless required.
  • Think of the final aspect ratio beforehand. If you cut out a side of the photo, the original aspect ratio would change. Therefore, if you need to cut from width, cut from the height also in the original ratio. Most apps show the crop tool with brackets in the corners of the picture (please see the image here). If you slide these corner brackets, the cropping will preserve aspect ratio. 
  • Use the crop tool before resizing the picture. If you have to reduce the size of the picture, one way is to squeeze it to the new size. But any reduction (or enlargement) of picture leads to decline in quality. So, when you need to reduce the size of the picture, think of cropping it before resizing so that you will need less squeezing of the picture. However, you should do this only if removing object from the original picture will not harm the picture.
Look at the collage of 4 images given here.  Let's see the original one: it has two hills, a tree and something at the right bottom, which is spoiling the image. 


image editing- cropping

Now look at A. We wanted to remove the disturbing object and cropped the right portion of the image. Now the earlier wide image has become less wide. We must crop some height too so if we want to retain the original aspect ratio, as shown in C.

But if we want to create an image out of the original, which is of less width like A and we would like to retain the object. One way is to resize the image with the new width. When we do that, the image gets distorted like B.

In C, we see the corner brackets that can be pulled to crop the image in the original proportion. If we click on the corner where C is written and pull the cursor inward, a new area can be seen that has less height and width in the same aspect ratio as the original image. 

Hope it helped.

An established blogger's practical advice to fellow bloggers

Saru Singhal is a known name in Indian blogging circles. She has been active for seven years now and her blog, Words, can be seen on top Indian blogs' lists.

Her blog shows her love for blogging. She does all that a normal blogger does: she posts her musings on all types of subjects, shares her literary creations, participates in challenges and competitions, puts badges given by other bloggers on her blog, engages through commenting. 

Saru is not a blogger who runs her blog for making money. So, she does not seem to earn much directly from the blog but she has won many accolades and awards, assignments and offers thanks to sticking to writing good posts without a pause. 

She has recently come out with a post sharing her blogging journey and - the reason why she finds a mention here - she has given some very practical and simple tips on blogging. 




Her tips in brief are given below, but to get the essense of these, you should go to that post linked here:

  • Read good blogs or follow good artists.
  • Interact with your audience. 
  • It's great to have a niche but expand it over time. 
  • Be a part of groups, communities, and organizations.
  • The most important lesson moneywise is to always ask for your worth. 
  • Lastly, be honest.

Mauritanian blogger in prison for blasphemy; authorites do not release him even after jail term

There are numerous stories of bloggers facing the wrath of religious ultras and intolerant administrative/ social/ legal systems. The hacking of a number of liberal bloggers in Bangladesh in the last few years and reports now and then appearing about illegal detention of many bloggers in African countries - do they sound familiar?  

This is a report on a blogger who spoke against social evils in Mauritania four years back and is still paying the price for that. Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, a Mauritanian blogger imprisoned since 2014 on blasphemy charges is not yet being released by authorities. 32 NGOs have petitioned the Mauritanian President for release of the illegally detained blogger.


Mauritanian blogger jailed
In 2014, the blogger wrote an article, 'Religion, Religiosity and Craftsman', in which he criticized the country’s caste system. He had condemned the discrimination being faced by black Mauritanians in the name of religion and had spoken about certain choices made by Prophet Mohamed. 

The conservative segments of the society wanted his execution, he was tried and was sentenced to death in 2014 for apostasy. The blogger is reported to have first argued that he did not intend to insult the Prophet and then repented before an appellate court. The court, in 2017, commuted the death sentence to two year’s imprisonment that ended on 9th November 2019. 

Cheikh is held in an undisclosed location and his family has limited access to him. He is not allowed to meet his lawyers and his health is said to be in bad shape. Yet the authorities have not released him.  

If you are keen to know how bloggers have been suffering over the year in the hands of authorities, courts and goons, you can visit chapters on bloggers' safety and blogs as mass media chapters  in The Manual of Blogging.