The problem with yet another blog platform

Recently Dustin Curtis announced Codename: Svbtle, which is both a new blog network and new blogging software.

Svbtle is intriguing for a couple reasons, and may indeed be a better blogging experience for a certain kind of blogger than other popular blogging software.

I’m not sure if it’s a great idea to attempt to join the network and blog with Svbtle. I don’t have anything against it or against Dustin, but I am wary of new blogging platforms because I once tried to start a new blogging platform.

My co-founder and I called it Blogic. Like Svbtle, we had a gimmick we thought was worth something. Svbtle’s draws include the blog author interface (which includes a kind of scratchpad for ideas that may eventually become blog post), the exclusive nature and high quality of the initial blog network members, the minimalist design, and the Kudos widget (if you like it – many don’t). The big advantage of blogging with Blogic was that we could create a blog theme based on your existing website in a matter of minutes (if not even quicker). It worked, but most people were hesitant to jump on board.

Essentially, there are real benefits to using an existing blog platform like

  • A large, tested feature set that’s proven to work.
  • With a plugin ecosystem, the feature set becomes nearly infinite.
  • If you have guest or paid bloggers, they may already have experience with it.
  • Not only have nearly all of the things you want to do with your blog been done already, but someone probably posted a guide to it. (Think of: Automatically tweeting your entries; adding a contact form; various organization/tagging systems; differentiating posts by author or category; etc.)
  • Usually, there are native first and/or third-party blogging apps for your computer and phone.
  • Defined migration paths for getting your content into and out of the platform. (What happens when you decide to switch to another blogging platform? Is it possible? Is it easy?)
  • Unlike closed-source hosted blog platforms, you can extend the software yourself.

After hearing enough potential customers cite reasons like the above, we stopped thinking of Blogic like a blog platform, and started thinking of it more like a theme generation technology that could be applied to e.g. Wordpress.

Svbtle has essentially the same weaknesses that the Blogic platform did. (And one more: Currently, it doesn’t seem that Svbtle-network blogs can be significantly themed – not beyond the choice of an accent color, logo, and typeface.)

Now, you might not care much, if all you want is a minimal piece of software. But the moment you want to add a single unsupported feature, you will curse your decision to be an early adopter of a new blog platform.

Update, one day later (March 29, 2012): Ricardo Rauch has announced that he ported the Svbtle interface over to Wordpress. (You can get it here.) Talk about parallels between Svbtle and my experience with Blogic — in both cases the best-of-both-worlds solution was “make it work with Wordpress.”

Now, there is another recent development I must mention, in the spirit of fairness and completeness. Dustin has added another big perk to his Svbtle network: Free copyediting and fact-checking. Obviously, this is expensive, and only possible thanks to the extremely exclusive nature of his blogging network. It’ll be an interesting experiment; I really respect Dustin a lot for his intrepidity.

March 28th, 2012. (Updated: March 29, 2012 at 3:26pm.)
Alan Hogan (@alanhogan_com).  Contact · About