Mistakes made when using Drupal as personal blog

Submitted by dag on Sat, 2007/10/06 - 20:57

Being fallible (not being the pope) I learned some things from my Drupal installation. Dries asked me to keep a list of things, and this is a record of what I still remember.

Beware though that this list is focused on using Drupal for a personal blog.

You do not need the Blog module !
If you just want a personal blog, you really don't. I consider this vital advise, especially because not using Blog seems counter-intuitive and because it is described as:

Blog: Enables keeping easily and regularly updated user web pages or blogs.

You can simply use the Story content type for writing your blog articles and it makes your Drupal structure much more simple. The Blog module is really meant to allow individual users to have their own Blog, which is definitely not what I wanted. If you however made the same mistake as I did, here is the medicine:

mysql> UPDATE node SET type = 'story' WHERE type = 'blog';

Don't create Vocabularies or Terms individually
Don't do like I did and create your "tags" in advance, you really do not have to. And definitely do not start to put them in different categories and all that. Just create one Vocabulary called "Tags", enable free-tagging and be done with it. Every article you can simply add your tags in a comma seperated list.

The whole Taxonomy idea is a nice and abstract idea that covers all possible uses that far outreach the goals you have for a personal blog, so don't bother. You can always start using it if you are ready for it and if there is a *real* use.

Get used to and remember the Administer menu
I had a hard time finding exactly where some things resided in the menu and literally searched for more than 30 minutes to find where I could re-enable the Menu block for Anonymous users. This was not a pleasant experience, especially since I disabled it myself and couldn't remember where or how.

Maybe I have to add that late night hours are not the best times to contemplate something like this :)

Play with it and then start over
This is something I should have done, but time-constraints (a night only has 8 hours!) and other responsibilities of course get in the way. It is so easy to set op a second Drupal instance once you want to do it properly that you shouldn't care of breaking things.

Select a good set of modules
Some of the shortcomings I felt after I finished my setup actually were taken care of by powerful modules, only I didn't know of them. Of course I browsed the list by module name, but if you're not looking for something in particular you won't notice the interesting ones.

I ended up with the following list of additional modules, but I appreciate if you fill in some you use for a personal Drupal blog:

  • Captcha: prevent spam, but don't set it too difficult !
  • Event: nice if you want to tell visitors where they can meet you
  • Pathauto: important if you want a link that contains keywords (your title)
  • Recent Blocks: by default Drupal only has a Recent Comments block, which I didn't find that useful for my bog
  • Update status: this one is a *must-have* module, it can mail you a report when Drupal or modules get outdated (or have security related fixes)

I played with much more modules, but none of them survived the test of time :) Let me remind you that this article is about using Drupal for a personal blog. There are many many more modules that are useful, but less so if you only want a personal blog.

Disable what you don't need
I noticed that there was a lot included that I didn't need and I probably enabled stuff that I thought was useful. However I ended up with the following short list of non-core modules:

Comment, Menu, Path, Search, Statistics, Taxonomy, Tracker

Do you still remember your mistakes with Drupal ? Let us hear them !

What about blog api

Thanks for the tips! I've been playing around with drupal and messed up my site.
If you disable the blog module, what about blog api? Can you still use blog client like Blogdesk?

Personlised Menu navigation for Personal blog

How could we define a personlised Menu navigation containing posts for a particular blog? Something in the tunes of wordpress and blogger blogs, it should be auto-updating. It shouldn't be like latest posts module. The blog menu should be native to its' blog owner. Any idea? I am using Drupal 4.7.

Thanks for suggestions,but...

I have a question.After reading your post,i think,for the same set of requirements that you gave,wordpress would be a much better option.I find drupal much complicated for being a personal site.Please suggest.

No experience with Wordpress

I cannot compare Drupal against Wordpress, but I have to say that I am very pleased with Drupal. I am using it for our family community site as well and that is much more than just a blog.

The modular design of Drupal makes it possible to use it for much more than a personal blog, and the acquired knowledge and experience can be shared for various projects. That was one of the reasons I chose Drupal over any of the other projects.

In total since november 2007 I have set up (or helped set up) 7 different websites.

Wordpress for blogging, Drupal for anything more

I switched from Wordpress to Drupal, and my opinion is that, for a site that is strictly a blog with perhaps a few static pages, go with Wordpress. It's optimized for blogging, and handles pretty much everything you might want to do with a blog right out of the box.

If you want more than that, go with Drupal. It will do much more, but the default installation is much less convenient for blogging than Wordpress. To really get the most out of Drupal, you have to go find (or write) modules to do what you want.

I think both are excellent options for website building, but targeted at different types of sites.

Thanks for the tips

I was planning on giving Drupal a try so your post comes very handy. Bookmarked! Thanks

You're right, Wordpress is

You're right, Wordpress is much easier to use but it's no real CMS. There's no workflow for example.

I can relate

I also started my own blog with the blog module and ended up starting over.
Things I can share:

  • FCKEditor worked much better with my theme (GlossyBlue) than TinyMCE
  • FCKEditor has a nicely integrated file and picture upload
  • There is a "Read More Tweak" module that allows you to place the "Read More" text at the end of the teaser text and also to adjust the text itself.
  • You have to hack the theme to get rid of the "(not verified)" message in comments
  • The Fuzzy Search module allows for substrings to be found
  • The Views module allows nice archive and tags grouping (including count)
  • It wasn't a good idea to deploy Drupal in the root HTML directory - it makes upgrades much harder.

Funny, I guess we all make

Funny, I guess we all make pretty much the same mistakes, when trying to set Drupal up for blogging the first time. I'm currently working on a Drupal blog howto in the hopes, that it'll help some people.

I'd suggest the Mollom module

I'd suggest the Mollom module instead of the CAPTCHA one. You have to sign up for their service, but there is a free option with a 100 comment per day limit (rejected spam isn't counted towards the limit). The difference with Mollom is that it only displays a CAPTCHA if their service determines that the comment might be spam. It's outright rejected if it's obviously spam. This means that for any normal user posting a comment, they don't see any difference (no CAPTCHA etc).

I am using Mollom as can be

I am using Mollom as can be seen by the mollom_stats (molstats) plugin in the menu :-)

Works great !

Yep. Just thought I'd mention

Yep. Just thought I'd mention it in case someone came across this article and didn't realise there were more options than simply "always display a CAPTCHA".

318 submissions a day... I wonder if blocked spam could be considered as a ranking of how well known your site is. I get a mere 3.5 per day so far.

ditto

I have been using drupal for some time to create a website for my wife to blog on, and I have made the same mistake. I have been debating going through the trouble of turning the module off and running the sql queries to get everything in story content. Is it really worth it to do so?

My opinion

I started out with a blog on WordPress, and recently switched to Drupal (using CMS2CMS, with no coding as I didn't know much about it). Now as I am learning Drupal, I believe that it is an overkill for a blog (WordPress was more than enough for this), but running a blog on Drupal may be a good way to learn it well before expanding.

My opinion

I started out with WordPress blog and recently moved to Drupal (using CMS2CMS, as it needs no coding, which I don't know well yet).

Working with Drupal, I am starting to believe that it can be an overkill for a blog (WordPress was more than enough for me). On the other hand, however, running a blog on Drupal can be a good way to learn it well before expanding.

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