Why Your Trip Reports Should Be Blogs

In December I started a conversion of both americasroof and highpointers to a blog format. I think you might also find the blog format is a spectacularly simple and elegant way for you to post your own highpoint adventures on the web.

The big advantages the blog format:
· It is template driven. Thus your entire website’s look and feel is tied to one file (and thus easily changed). You no longer have to fret over the look of each page. You can concentrate on content.
· It is database driven. A database can be cut in any number of ways and can be used to mix and match modules. Thus for instance I can simultaneously file newsletter interviews under a topic of “newsletter issue” or “interviews” or some other topic.
· It is very easy to edit. You can easily change the text from virtually any computer anywhere connected to the internet. Previously, I wrote the files on a computer, had to log in and ftp it. This involved files on different computers and could in files getting out of synch. Now I merely go to the page and change it. This has made updating pages much easier. The ease and lack of required structure (if they are not filed under categories they default to be filed chronologically) has made blogs a popular tool for adventurers sending back dispatches while climbing the 7 summits (e.g., Cops on Top uses them).
· Search engines almost instantly recognize the page. Blogs are the future of the internet. You can sit down and write a comment and then organize where you want to put it later. Blog software by default notifies search engines when you post something. Previously you had to hope a search engine wandered by
· The ability to have instant feedback on public comments on individual articles. I thought this was a great feature until I moved to moderated the comments to eliminating the feature altogether because the feature was attracting hundreds of posts a day of spam.

There are lots of free blogging services out there with blogger.com immediately coming to mind. Blogger was purchased a three years ago by Google and in essence started or at least legitimized the concept.

However, you should be careful if you choose a free service. Many have limitations on the number of posts you can have and put you in the uncomfortable position of having to choose to either pay for more space or lose old posts. You are a captive of your host service if you follow the free route because you don’t own and control your own posts – a painful lesson I’ve found on the americasroof forum which I am paying for now to preserve the legacy posts.

Since many highpointers are setting up their domains these days which is relatively easy, I will point some things to look for:

The easiest way to install the blog service is to pick a host that supports “Fantastico” This is a Control Panel program which automatically configures and installs the free software. You just answer a few questions and it does everything for you. In the case of americasroof and highpointers we are housed at Vizaweb.Com

There are seemingly countless blog programs out there. But among the hot buttons you should look for are simplicity and the ability to have “multiple categories” per post (e.g., posting your Elbert trip report on your highpoint list, your Colorado Fourteener list, your county highpointer list). In particular, our sites use WordPress which bloggers will tell you is the state of the art preferred blog software (Moveable Type used to have the title but they now charge for the software).

In any event I find the ease and power of blogging a lot of fun. I am now going back and updating pages that are sometimes nearly 10 years out of date! It’s certainly caused an eye opening assessment of what I did right and wrong. Once converted it will be much easier to maintain.

I do hope to see you in cyberspace.

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