How Open Source Led the Blogging Revolution

Open Source Friday Focus looks at WordPress

When I first started blogging about 5 years ago I asked my blogging mentor, Brad Feld what to use for blogging software. Brad told me there were only three real choices, Blogger, Moveable Type and WordPress. All these years later, WordPress, the open source blogging platform has clearly established itself as the leader of the blogging revolution.

Back then for my personal Ashimmy, after all these years blog I choose Typepad, the hosted version of Moveable Type. It was really easy for me, much more flexible than Google's Blogger. Word Press looked hard to me, so I never really gave it a try. Over the years as more and more of my blogging friends switched over to WordPress, I began to appreciate what it offered. When the company behind WordPress.com, Automattic bought Intense Debate, the commenting system I use on Ashimmy.com, I really started to take notice of WordPress.

I am the manager of the Security Bloggers Network with almost 300 hundred blogs on security and we run that site and aggregated feed on Word Press. The SBN is more of a feed then a blog, so I didn't have to do too much, plus my friends from Lijit help me with that one.

When I started The CISO Group and our blog, Security.exe, my partner Josh Karp choose Word Press for the blog. I write pretty regularly on security.exe and began to really like it.

But it was not until I took over as the webmaster of my 10 year old son's travel baseball team's website that I actually started to really work in Word Press. My son plays for the West Boca Panthers. They have teams in every age division between 8 and 14. My son is on the 10 and under team. Each team has their own Word Press site, as well as the main Panther site. I keep the main site and the 10U site. When I took over as webmaster the site had not been updated in a year. I had to upgrade the Word Press version, the plug ins, understand the directory structure, etc. BTW, it is important to make sure you update to the latest Word Press version, as there are often vulnerabilities found and patched that drives the updates.

The Panthers site is hosted on a Linux system, so it took me a little while to remember all of my Linux/Unix stuff, but within a day or two I was cruising. I updated the Word Press install and installed the automatic update plug in for future updates. I also installed a bunch of other plug ins that bring all kinds of functionality to your blog. There are literally 100's if not thousands of plug ins that let Word Press do virtually whatever you want. 

I love the dashboard and control panel for Word Press. Many of the plug ins have their own configuration screens that you can access and you can use the widget page to arrange your side bars.

One of the most important decisions you will make with Word Press is the theme you will use. With the Panther site, I decided to keep the theme that was already in place. It is an old one, Redoable by Dean Robinson. But it serves the purpose.

Here are some screen shots from the control panel:

The real power of Word Press are the plug ins. Even if you don't think you need any more functionality, you should browse the plug in directory. I am sure you will find something you will use in your blog. It is the real power of open source in action, making for near infinite variations leading to better functionality. 

Word Press is available for a free download with their famous 5 minute install (yes that is all it takes), you can also host a blog for free on wordpress.com.  There are tons of hosting companies that offer paid word press hosting as well.  I don't know if paying extra to host word press is worth it though, as just about any hosting account should support it.

At the end of the day, the GPL licensed WordPress is the engine that is powering the blogging revolution. With so many choices, some not even costing any money, there is no excuse for not adding your voice to the blogosphere. Go ahead, give it a try and be heard.

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