Philosophy Group Blogs

by Brian on April 9, 2004

This is turning into a trend. In the past few weeks we’ve seen new group blogs started by philosophy graduate students at Syracuse (“Orange Philosophy”:, Rochester (“What is the Name of This Blog?”: and now Brown (“Fake Barn Country”:

They all look very interesting, though I’d rather that the Syracuse and Rochester blogs didn’t use Blogger. Last week I did a workshop on blogging at Wesleyan (wonderful people and place, by the way) so I was looking into the possibilities for blog programs. And I was very impressed by “Typepad”: Obviously many readers will know how nice Typepad is, but I hadn’t realised just how user-friendly it is. I was stunned by how easy it is to customise your blog. Admittedly all typepad blogs look kinda alike unless you really get involved with the underlying HTML code, but you can at least make your blog a little distinctive without having to learn any HTML at all. And having integrated comments is obviously a huge advantage over Blogger.

To be sure Typepad is not free. But given the size of these group blogs, the cost of even the most expensive Typepad package will only be a dollar or two per month per blogger. If these blogs are meant to be long-term options, I’d think this is a very worthwhile investment.



Matt Weiner 04.09.04 at 12:53 am

Brown wins for title, and also for disclaimer. You’ve got some work to do in bringing the Ithacans up to that standard.


Jonathan Ichikawa 04.09.04 at 2:12 am

We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

(I think…)


jholbo 04.09.04 at 2:44 am

TypePad really is handy-dandy. For my massive (500+) intro philosophy module I have four TypePad blogs. One main blog, which complements the module website and readings site. Three tutor blogs, each with two to three associated tutors who use them to organize discussion relative to individual discussion sections. Plenty of work, but no technical headache whatsoever. So simple the designer doesn’t need any HTML knowledge; and so simple for tutors who get signed up to participate that you don’t even need to explain anything to them. It’s all just little yellow buttons with self-evident icons for making links. That sort of thing.


Amardeep Singh 04.09.04 at 3:51 am

Are there any free blog engines that have integrated message boards? I am using an external one (Blogger), and I agree it sucks.

Not that I have so many messages that it really matters ;-)


Richard Chappell 04.09.04 at 4:55 am

Hmm… I use Blogger, and it only took me a moment to integrate (Haloscan) comments & trackback into my blog.

So are there any serious disadvantages to Blogger compared to other programs?


Matt Weiner 04.09.04 at 3:39 pm

At least at one time, Blogger permalinks were notoriously unreliable, so much so that “Permalinks bloggered; scroll down to [whatever]” was a standard way of linking. This was pre-Google takeover, though, and I haven’t seen it much lately. I’ve never blogged with Blogger so I can’t speak to user-friendliness.


Brian Weatherson 04.09.04 at 4:49 pm

I’ve heard very recent complaints about Blogger permalinks still being messy. So that’s one reason to switch. Here’s five others.

Integrated comments means you can do things like have a ‘recent comments’ box in the sidebar. This, like most things, can be added in Typepad through easy to use menus.

Integrated comments also means that it’s easier to save, search, etc the comments.

Typepad comes with Trackback built in.

Typepad (like the standard Movable Type platform) comes with a built-in RSS feed. For those of us who rarely read blogs through browsers, this is a huge advantage. I’ve never found a stable, reliable RSS feed for Blogger, but I’ve never had a problem with a Movable Type feed.

And as I mentioned in the text, it’s so easy to modify the Typepad template so your blog doesn’t look just like everyone else’s.


Deborama 04.09.04 at 7:06 pm

I have used Blogger for a year and a bit. Recently I added Haloscan and it now has automatic trackback as well as comments (all free). I also have a tagboard (free). Blogger now has a built in feed (xml, Atom) which works very well with the Bloglines aggregator. I have about 200 sites on my Bloglines feed and about a fourth of them are free Blogspot sites with the Atom feed. So, yes, things have improved. I have considered changing to Typepad but I just can’t be bothered to do all that work when it ain’t broke as it is.


Stentor 04.10.04 at 3:21 am

Permalink “bloggering” was an issue this summer, but it got pretty well straightened out when they implemented the upgraded interface.

As for easy modification of the look, I’ve seen a lot of MT/Typepad blogs that look awfully similar. I think there’s a sector of the blogging population that doesn’t really care what their site looks like as long as it’s readable, so making alterations easier isn’t going to change much (encouraging the use of RSS, which leads to people not actually seeing your site, will only encourage it). Those of us who care a lot about the layout of our blogs are probably disproportionately conversant with HTML, so we aren’t held back by the need to edit raw HTML to alter a Blogger layout.


Stentor 04.10.04 at 3:24 am

… though I should add in MT/Typepad’s favor that it creates a separate page for each entry, thus improving searchability (though this could be a disutility if you enjoy seeing bizarre search terms in your referrer logs). I just wish more people would include their column structure in their entry pages (a la CT), so that the text doesn’t suddenly run all the way across the screen when I click on “read more.”

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