Thursday, March 04, 2004

Blogging for free

That's what I do. My blog is hosted by Blogspot and I edit it online using Blogger. There are some limitations to Blogspot such as lack of support for images stored on their server, no filing in categories, and no robust spelling and grammar checker to name a few. However, Blogger gives you a fair amount of control over the look of your blog and access to the raw code of your blog site to change the look and feel at well. Blogger does provide Permalink (peramlink allows someone to make a link for the specific post in a blog that they are trying to reference) support, but many of the templates that Blogger provides for free use a weird symbol, like the # sign, to represent the permalink at the bottom of a post. My recommendation, if you feel comfortable doing it, is to go into the site template and add replace the symbol with "PERMALINK," as I have done in this blog.

Blogger does not support Trackback (trackback service provides a specific URL for a blog post that can then be pinged by another blogger's trackback service to show that they have linked to one of your blog posts and also provides information regarding how the other user has used the information in your post). I have figured out a work-around for this deficiency by using Remote Trackback. Remote Trackback provides you with the code that you need to insert into the Blogger site to allow people to trackback to your posts. There is a bit of a trick with manipulating the code to work correctly, but once you figure it out, it works without any management needed. Additionally, Remote Trackback provides you with the interface to be able to trackback to other people's blogs. Here's the process for performing an effective trackback with Remote Trackback (I'm sure this is a similar process for most other trackback tools):

1. Get the permalink URL for your post that you want to show up on the blog to which you are tracking back. This is the "URL" in Remote Trackback.

2. Copy the text of your post title. This is the "Entry Title" in Remote Trackback.

3. Copy all of the text of your post. This is the "Excerpt" in Remote Trackback. Depending on the settings of the blog your tracking back to, the blog may display only a few lines of your post or many paragraphs of your post.

4. Copy the Trackback URL from the specific post in the blog you are tracking back to. Note: This is not the URL of the blog (i.e.,, nor is it the URL of the permalink (i.e., This has to be the specifically designated "trackback URL" (i.e., Trackback URL: In general, the URL for the trackback will normally have the word "trackback" somewhere within the URL. This is the "target" in Remote Trackback.

Blogger also does not support the Comments feature that allows people reading your blog to comment on your posts. For this function, I went to Comment This. Comment This provides a free comment service hosted on the creator's server. I haven't used the service for that long, but as I find people leaving comments and the service works, I'll probably send the creator a donation (all he asks for is $2 to keep the service running). I like the Comment This service because it's so easy to set up and the instructions for implementing it on a site are extremely straight-forward, even for a novice user.

Sound confusing? It probably looks a little confusing. Bear in mind that this is a workaround to be able to add this kind of functionality for free. Paid services like Typepad offer these features in a more user-friendly manner and allow much more customization in a What You See Is What You Get interface.

Quite frankly, free blogging is working for me at this point, especially because the blogger advertising is fairly inane and not very obnoxious. I am happy to help you set up your own blog with all these features on Blogger, just drop me an e-mail and I'll be happy to share my advice, learnings, etc.

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