A passionate programmer’s findings in the world of internet.

Archive for the 'Make a better blog' Category

Own Domain Blog Vs Blogger (Free Blogging Services)

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

I have been attending Toastmaster meetings since June last year, partly forced by my boss to improve my communication skills. Recently, our club just instated a new group of enthusiastic committee members. They planned to start a blog.

You can guess what the debate topic is. Should we use free services like Blogger or WordPress.com? Or should we get our own domain and host the blog somewhere? Before I go further, let me make my preference first. I prefer to use own domain for blog much more than using free blogging services like Blogger. However, I have blogs at both sides. (This blog vs my personal blog)

Advantages of Own Domain

  1. Full control
    You can change everything you wish, especially in theme and functionality.
  2. Strong identity and image
    It's definitely more cool to have own domain. You could also use the domain for email.
  3. Better SEO
    Besides you can choose the better domain name for better SEO, you also can configure settings in the blog for better SEO.

Disadvantages of Own Domain

  1. Security
    You need to monitor your own blog script. You could easily got hacked if you are not up to date.
  2. Backup
    Most of the time, you need to do backup on your own.
  3. Harder to maintain
    You need to know the technical details for web hosting (though it's not hard).
  4. Pay more
    You need to pay some money for web hosting and domain name (though it's damn cheap nowadays). You might need to get a webmaster as well.

Advantages of Blogger (or free blogging services)

  1. Well maintained
    Most of these services are maintained by big companies. Do you know that Blogger is maintained by Google? So, they are properly maintained to keep their good name.
  2. Better security
    When there are lots of people using it, they can detect security flaws faster and fix it as soon as possible, without you worrying about it.
  3. Stay longer
    I suppose a big company like Google will last longer than a person. So, when someday you are gone, your stories will still remain alive.

Disadvantages of Blogger

  1. Hard to customize
    There will be a limited number of themes (usually ugly). If you want a new feature, all you can do is to request and wait for years. They have no obligation to enhance it just for you.
  2. Out of control
    If one day, you find your blog is missing. You can't do anything to get your blog back.
  3. Cannot backup
    Not every free blogging services provide backup facilities. Or probably they can't provide the backup format that you want.

Finally, if you want to have something in between, you can opt for Blogger for own domain. So, all in all, it depends on your technical skill level and what you want ultimately.

A Simple Guideline

If you are going for a commercial site to make money or a corporate site where image is important, get your own domain. Paying a little does not cost much to a company. But if you just plan to get a simple personal blog to scold your boss, get a free blogging account.

Check If Your Blog Has Been XSS Hacked

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Matt Cutts mentioned about an easy check to know if your blog or website has been hacked using cross site-scripting (XSS). Since this blog got hacked not long ago, I did the check.

All you have to do is to google for: "<your domain> <spam keyword>"

Alternatively, you could try: "site:<your domain> <spam keyword>"

I guess everybody knows what keywords that most spammers would use. A very obvious example would be "porn". So, I search in Google for "enrii.com porn". In the search result, I found one of my page links to a porn site. As I opened the page, I can't see the word.

Using Ctrl-F on Firefox, it seems to be able to find the word, though it is not visible. Then, I looked in the source file (right-click > View Page Source), and I found a long list of links after blog content. The spammer hide the links with the following CSS:


Obviously, it is done for the search engines, not for my visitors. I have removed it. You should do the same for your blog. You should also try on different keywords.

Though it's interesting that this trick actually helps you to removed unwanted spam on your blog, I wonder why it would work as the page could have been removed from Google's search results if it contains spams.

Using FeedBurner for WordPress

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Reasons to Install FeedBurner

Sometimes, I am really curious whether there is anyone reading my blog. From Google Analytics, over 80% of the traffic came from search engines, mostly from Google. Am I really write for search engines only?

Since I share my full feed, there is no point for the readers (i.e. you) who read at RSS readers come to visit my site.

I think the best motivation for a blogger to continue writing is for him to know that he has followers. And, I don't get much comments on my blog.

Setting Up FeedBurner

Simple. Create an account at FeedBurner. Add in your current blog feed, then get a new feed link from FeedBurner. E.g. http://feeds.feedburner.com/enriiblog


I have been promoting the default WordPress RSS link all the while and I think I could have a few readers subscribed to my feed. I think it is not appropriate to ask everyone to switch to the new feed link provided by FeedBurner.

Moreover, if I ask you to use this new feed link so that I can track you, would you like use it? Nobody likes to be tracked.

The WordPress Plugin

To solve the problem, I installed the FeedBurner FeedSmith WordPress plugin (gbyeow suggested me to install this years ago, but I didn't do it until now). The plugin will automatically redirects your original feed link which looks like http://blog.enrii.com/rss/ to http://feeds.feedburner.com/enriiblog.

So, you will need to enter the FeedBurner feed link into: WordPress admin page > Settings > FeedBurner.

There are users reported some .htaccess issues in the older version. It seems like we no longer need to do anything with .htaccess with the latest version of FeedSmith.

OK, It's working now!

Now I know how many people subscribed to my feed.

What else could you achieve with FeedBurner?

  • Link to AdSense account - If you already have an AdSense account, adding ads into your feed can be done in a few clicks.
  • Email subscription - If you have readers who do not use any RSS readers, they could subscribe to my post via email.
  • Put subscriber's tag (FeedCount) - A small tag that you could put on your blog to show everyone that you have many subscribers.

Do you use it?

Just a note, if you are not aware, FeedBurner is now part of Google.

Disable Self Pings (WordPress)

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Linking to own blog is something that every blogger does. Normally, after I finish writing a blog, I shall receive email notifying that I'm receiving ping(s) from the blog post I have just written. Then, I had to delete the mail (it's polluting my pure inbox), then delete the ping manually. I can accept ping from other blogs, I just don't like to see my own ping showing up in my own blog.

Just days ago, when I was browsing in WordPress support forum, I saw somebody asked how to disable self pings. I never thought somebody actually created a WordPress plugin to do this.

Go here to get it for yourself: No Self Pings

(This is also a test post to know whether it really works)

No Short (RSS) Feed!

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

I really don't understand why a blog like the adCenter would want to use show short rss feed, when their main purpose is to spread the news. Are they afraid of spammers took their blog contents and post it to somewhere else? I thought that would help them further spread their products to more audience?

A second reason I could guess would be that they want their readers to check out their website? Or, they want their readers to click on the advertisements on their website? As far as I know, subscribers, whether they read on RSS reader or at the website, they don't click much on ads. If they are so worried about this, make some RSS ads.

I'm not sure about you, most of the time I really won't click on the "read more" link, unless they really are giving out money.

After thinking a while, I think maybe I should go to the site and have a look. Maybe their website is really so cool that everyone has to check it out. Guess what I see?

Maybe we should create a campaign to boycott websites with short feeds. We want full text feed! We want full text feed! We want full text feed!

Are you with me?