WWW FAQs: How do I create a blog?

2006-06-30: there are several ways to launch your own blog, also known as a weblog. First, there are several sites that offer free blog hosting. As of this writing, these sites work quite well and do not run obnoxiously instrusive advertisements or, in some cases, any advertisements at all on your pages. The largest free service describing itself as a free blog host is blogger, a subsidiary of Google. Another solid option is LiveJournal, which employs a different, more user-friendly vocabulary but offers essentially similar capabilities. LiveJournal is more popular with those who don't wish to learn about web publishing, those who expect their journal to be read by a relatively small audience, and with young people, especially teenagers. LiveJournal provides good tools for "locking" journal entries so that only particular people can read them, while those who self-identify as "bloggers" are usually seeking to reach the largest audience possible.

Second, you can of course launch your blog yourself as part of your existing website. One perfectly valid approach is to simply create an HTML page by hand with each blog entry, as in the following example:

<html>
<head>
<title>Bob's Blog</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1 align="center">Bob's Blog</h1>

<h4>Punters Escape Puntersville Prison</h4>
<a href="http://www.example.com/example-news-story.html">
Sixteen punters have escaped from Puntersville Prison</a>,
according to <a href="http://www.example.com/">example.com</a>.
Even now, they may be in your pantry.
This is just another example of the mainstream press
covering up the real story: their prison uniforms
were made by nonunion labor!

<h4>Exploding Golf Balls Cruel to Groundhogs</h4>
<a href="http://www.example.com/example-news-story-2.html">
Exploding golf balls</a> recently brought to market by
<a href="http://www.example.com/">example.com</a> may be
good for a laugh, but won't somebody <b>please</b> think
of the groundhogs?

</body>
</html>

While this produces a perfectly acceptable blog, and it isn't terribly difficult to add new entries at the top and remove old entries from the bottom, there are reasons to use more advanced tools. First, you will probably want prettier formatting; copy and paste can save some time there, but it is still awkward to change the formatting later. Even server side include directives involve some repeated effort. Second, you may wish to offer your blog entries for syndication by creating an RSS feed. It is possible to maintain both an RSS feed and a web page by hand, but why go to so much trouble when there are simple, free, open-source tools to do it for you?

blosxom is a remarkably simple yet powerful tool for creating blogs automatically. Just write a text file for each blog entry, with the title on the first line and the content on the remaining lines, and toss those files in the blosxom "entries" folder. blosxom does the rest. If you don't like the layout, you can change it in a single place instead of editing every entry. And blosxom automatically generates an RSS feed as well. blosxom is compatible with any web hosting account that allows the use of Perl CGI programs; a Unix shell account is particularly handy but not mandatory.

blosxom is far from the only useful blogging tool available. WordPress is a high-quality, free blogging package, which grew enormously in popularity after the highly professional "commercial grade" blogging software Movable Type tightened its pricing scheme. However, there is still a free single-user version of Movable Type (follow that link and look for "Movable Type Free Edition").

See also how do I promote my blog?

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Legal Note: yes, you may use sample HTML, Javascript, PHP and other code presented above in your own projects. You may not reproduce large portions of the text of the article without our express permission.

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