Why migrating blogs can be problematic (or not)

While choosing WordPress, it was a familiar territory (since I have been blogging since the dawn of the Internet!) and earlier covered a niche/obscure territory around “telecom”. Someone helped me with the domain, set up a WordPress install, and all I did was log in and start writing. The arrangement is not working now because of academic commitments, until personal circumstances changed and I switched to reading and writing as my pursuits.

There are myriad options now; Ghost/Substack/Static site generators (using markdown) and others. I explored all of them; not just the cosmetic aspect, but the plumbing. My requirements were clear – have something which is supported, easy to work with, and allows automation.

Substack was out because of a sub-par CMS (where you type) and white-label email provider. They might switch their own infrastructure later, but I am not holding my breath. I am not even sure if they will survive beyond a VC’s fad or when the steam runs out and becomes a rent seeking monopoly. It is a pathetic endeavour to pursue a shiny object and hold on to your decisions till they have a long-term horizon to scale. I “might” change my decision later, but as of now, I am not considering them. Ghost has similar issues. They are stuck with Zapier joined at the hip, and the “zaps” are incredibly expensive. I don’t use Zapier because of the absence of a decent bot on Telegram (though it is supported as a service), and IFTTT is elegant in its simplicity.

I have no experience with static site generators.

I am linking, however, for the purposes of archival content, if anyone is interested in moving away from WordPress to Markdown.

The motivation:

From Ugly to Beautiful: The Transformation of Martinkysel.com – Martin Kysel – Coding Challenges and More

When it comes to martinkysel.com, I can confidently say that it boasts two significant advantages over other blogs out there. Firstly, the vast majority of its content follows a similar pattern and covers similar topics. This consistency makes it easier to script a migration without having to deal with a lot of edge cases.

Secondly, all of the comments on the blog are saved in Disqus. This means that they can be easily transferred and integrated into a new platform, without the risk of losing valuable feedback and engagement from readers.

The process:

Firstly, it didn’t have the ability to deal with  blocks, which seemed to be a non-standard feature of my old WordPress site. This was a bit of a headache, but as is often the case with internet problems, I was able to find someone who had already struggled with and solved the issue in the past. In this case, it was a user called mxro, who had written some incredibly simple Typescript code to handle the preprocessing.

Still, these are complex challenges, and I am happy to stick to WordPress. It's reliable and gets the work done. If I migrate to my own domain, I'd shift to WordPress alone.

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