The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 February 2005

With an eye toward the future

Fond as I am of Movable Type 2.64, it's not really a viable blog platform anymore: its spam repellents are inadequate without a phalanx of plug-ins, and as this database gets larger — it's over 10 mb now — it takes longer to accomplish anything that requires a rebuild (which is almost anything).

MT 3.15 permits dynamic pages with PHP, which would presumably require me to learn a smattering of PHP, but nothing I'd consider particularly heinous. This is probably the simplest upgrade path: I've done three MT upgrades before, so it's not something that scares me.

Still, I'm wondering about the competition. If you use something else, please tell me why you think it's better than MT. My major considerations are ease of importation, since I have almost 4000 entries to move, and spam resistance. (Price is really not a consideration; I'm willing to spend what I need to, though the cheapest is likely WordPress, which my host already offers as a freebie.)

Posted at 12:04 AM to Blogorrhea


Darn good question. This is something I have been doing a lot of research on and have found it to be very frustrating. I am working on launching a personal privacy site that will have a blog and forum as the centerpiece. I find that one blogging platform has something I really like, but lacks something else that is a must. The system that has the "must" seems to be a slow rendering platform. One looks nice, but is overly technical to maintain, an easy to maintain platform renders a "cheap" look but with neat features. If it's not one thing it's another. And on and on it goes.......

I have ventured out beyond traditionally blog-oriented platforms and have been looking at some full-blown Content Management software. Some of them have really come a long way in the last few years and are valid alternatives to the more commonly seen platforms that primarily bloggers are using.

When I find the perfect system - I'll let you know. Plan on hearing from me in 2007 or so.

Good luck!

Posted by: Mike Sw... at 8:05 PM on 15 February 2005

I'm WordPressing it. The main appeal of it was the touted zero rebuild time, since it creates dynamic pages instead of static ones. Since I output a lot (and have a load of archives I'll eventually import), that was a major concern.

I've found that the speedy updates don't always materialize, especially when you opt to pingback (it attempts to ping *every* hyperlink in a post, which causes a several-minute lag). And the lack of a preview-post mode is irking. Finally, the open-source support and help resources are kinda spotty -- if you don't know what you're doing (which is me, mostly), it can be frustrating.

But despite all that, WP works. From what I can tell, the interface is close to MT. It's mondo customizable, which is the chief selling point for most people.

I know it's not for everyone. I can think of a handful of experienced bloggers/designers who opted for Expression Engine after taking WP for a testdrive. EE costs money, of course. Another free option is

Posted by: CT at 8:36 PM on 15 February 2005

A few large blogs I frequent have gone from MT to EE. Worth looking into. I'm very happy though with MT 3.15 with Blacklist 2.04b. I conducted a lot of research prior to picking and am happy with the result.

Posted by: Don at 11:24 PM on 15 February 2005

I've been very pleased with Nucleus.

I moved to it because of MT's "grinding" during rebuilds and comments, their licensing policy, and because I wanted a dynamic solution. You can see it in action on my personal site ( and on a group Houston blog ( The blogHOUSTON site makes use of a nifty plugin that integrates comments with a true message board (useful for our purposes).

If you ever used GreyMatter, you'll find the templating system similar. It's a little different than MT's, but once you understand how it hangs together conceptually, it's very powerful. Some time ago, I investigated WP and found it harder to build a website the way I wanted to.

With the recent comment/trackback spam plugin (based on MT blacklist), Nucleus has a fairly robust set of features. A "captcha" plugin is in development for the next release of Nucleus that will add more protection from comment spam for those who need it.

Drawbacks to Nucleus: 1) at one time, import tools were spotty, but a script for MT does seem to be available (

2) default skins look like crap (but, they're easy enough to change as you can see from my sites)

3) administration interface isn't as "pretty" as WP or MT in my view

4) as with many open-source projects, plugin and other support can be spotty, although the message board is active and helpful on most problems

Geez, it sounds like I'm advising you AGAINST this software, but I really am a fan! Email me if you have any specific questions. :)

Posted by: kevin whited at 9:49 AM on 16 February 2005

I managed to get in on a free offer of EE, and you probably already know how much I love it. It's dynamic by default, and has inbuilt blacklist/whitelist features along with a variety of ways to head off comment spam (I've recently switched from Captchas, for example, to mandatory previewing, which is also a WordPress option).

EE does have its disadvantages, but on balance I am much happier than I would have expected. And if support matters to you, check out how active the support forums are -- and how often you see users lauding the support team for its responsiveness.

Posted by: McGehee at 2:02 PM on 16 February 2005

I switched to Word Press, and I like it. I like the fact that it's all php, giving me a chance to play with it and learn php scripting and dynamic content.

And, almost no comment spam so far, even without using any type of blacklist or other plugins.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at 2:10 PM on 16 February 2005

Charles, I made the switch to WP a few months ago, and I couldn't be happier. NO REBUILDING. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: David at 7:07 AM on 17 February 2005

I forgot to mention, WP has an import script you can run to import your export MT file, worked like a champ for me. See the wordpress site, I think under the FAQ section.

And ditto on what David said above. Faster is good.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at 11:06 AM on 17 February 2005

Charles, as you know we are on ExpressionEngine at OC. We are almost free of MT now.

I had very little desire to move everything to a new system. We have around a dozen blog/news sites and we're growing constantly. It was MT's extremely expensive and limiting education licensing for 3.0 that caused us to move away from it. Sure, $1,000 is no big deal for server software, but I couldn't justify that expense for functionality that is much cheaper or even free elsewhere. Anyway - that is neither here nor there.

So we bought EE for $149, which was the cost then for a competive upgrade. We have been absolutely thrilled with it. Other than not beign able to accept MT trackbacks, which I've discovered is a configuration problem, we've had few problems.

The first challenge is getting your head around the templating, which is different from MT. Templates sets are distinct from blogs and single templates can be used on multiple blogs. (For example, the comments form on most OC blogs is a single generic EE template)

For the few problems or "how do I" questions we've been through, the pMachine folks have been the very best support staff I've ever encountered. They've even logged in to my server to fix a problem. The biggest problem I have with EE is a lack of time to play with it. That's why our TBs still aren't working.

I'd be glad to answer any questions, but I don't want to bore you with details. I think you'll find EE users are pretty fanatical in their appreciation for it. It is a superb platform.

Posted by: Dan at 11:36 PM on 17 February 2005