An overlong post about blog providers

I read a post recently by Joe Wickert in which he wrote that Typepad is rubbish (he has a Typepad blog), that Typepad would never improve, and advised everyone not to have a Typepad blog. (His post is called Typepad Sucks!)

Inevitably, Typepad immediately made some improvements – the dashboard is much more nicely designed and usable now. A few minor improvements have been made: ironically I cannot tell you what because "Everything Typepad" is down.

Not only has Typepad slightly enhanced the blogging experience, but so has its baby sister Vox. I say "baby sister" because Vox is a girly version of a blog provider– you can choose lots of themes, but you can’t customise your blogroll (the blogs you link to). You can only link within your "neighbourhood" (in other words, other people who have Vox blogs who choose you as a contact and whom you "choose back").  I do like some Vox features, eg the automatic ability to include book covers with Amazon links and, if I were up to speed on "blogging 2007" I’d like the multimedia features, too — Vox has just "partnered" with Nokia and is upgrading its video features.

I concluded that Vox must be going for the "young" market — free (unlike Typepad), easy to use, high-level modules that don’t allow much personal variation on a basic theme, and don’t let the blogger remotely near the html code (total contrast with Blogger’s "let it all hang out" approach). This impression is to some extent confirmed by the latest upgrades: you can now customise your banner design, and, with a complete straight face, Vox provides a question of the day for those inconvenient occasions when "you don’t know what to blog about".  (The awful thing is, the Vox target bloggership probably does find this useful.) All the recent additions are for people who are more into what their blog looks like than into adding their own links, functionality and even widgets into their blogs– these don’t (yet?) seem to be supported.

So if you are thinking of starting a blog, or another blog, what are the advantages and disadvantages of the various providers?

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