Where to host a blog?

One of the questions I faced when starting this blog is where should I host it? There are lots of options from several commercial blogging services or from the many free blogging services such as Blogger, SquareSpace, ExpressionEgine, or WordPress.com. Because of my employment there is also the option to use the Texas Digital Library’s blogging service based upon WordPress. Then lastly because I have the technical skills and available hosting, I can self publish my blog. I ultimately decided to self publish this blog using my own means instead of using a blogging service, here are the factors that effected my decision:

Identity: The URL a blog is hosted at is extremely important. First, it is one of the first things new readers will notice about your blog, and second it must persist. I have chosen to go with the relatively new top-level domain: “.name“. I find the domain interesting. It is a new breed of domains where registrars are able to sell 3rd level domains, i.e. I own scott.phillips.name, but I do not own phillips.name as the generic surnames are reserved. The URL is a clean representation of what the site is, this is the blog of Scott Phillips – a person. As for the second property, persistence, because I own the domain it will persist for as long as this blog is relevant. I will have the option to migrate the blog between technologies and across services. Most of the free or near free blogging services support independently owned domains along with self hosting, however TDL’s service does not support these types of URLs.

Customization: Writing a blog is a significant investment of time that should not be wasted on a poorly built site. I want to be able to have a unique look-and-feel that represents my blog, and have control over the version availability of plugins. This level of customization is impossible for most blogging services to provide because the many support issues which can be created. I want the ability to do custom programming, or more likely tweaking code to my taste. The only option that supports this is self publishing a blog, really no shared service can provide this.

Credibility: The TDL blogging service hosted at the blogs.tdl.org domain, along with all the other services offered by TDL, gives a blog the instant credibility that the blog is scholarly in purpose and raises it above the numerous blogs. For others this may be a more important factor, but I feel this is not enough of an incentive to overcome the other two factors.

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