Is The EVE Online blogosphere dying?

You may have noticed that we haven’t seen or heard that much from the EVE Online blogosphere recently. And it turns out that there may be a reason for that.

Some EVE bloggers are concerned that the blogosphere around the unique space game is dying – killed, amongst other things, by the best-known EVE player of all, The Mittani, and his new site TheMittani.com.

Rixx at Evoganda is one of those people, and he explains what he believes has happened

“Heck, do we even need bloggers anymore? The fact is that The Mittani site has added weight to a side of the coin that didn’t really exist three years ago. More and more bloggers are joining the ranks of that news service, add that to EveNews24 and others and you have a very powerful brain drain that has been sucking the need for bloggers away for months now.

The Mittani has killed Eve Blogging. Why read thru dozens of sites when you can just visit one? You get features, news, opinion, and the unquestionable loyalty of the largest single block of players in-game, fed daily thru forum support that rivals none other.”

Of course, other games have professionally-run blogging/news sites that don’t strangle their blogospheres – notably WoW, of course, with WoW Insider and MMO Champion prominent as TheMittani equivalents. But EVE is both smaller and very different to other MMOs – and WoW Insider isn’t run by a guild that claims a massive percentage of the game’s players.

But that still doesn’t mean EVE blogging is doomed – or so Stan at Freebooted says, in a rebuttal post that looks at the other reasons things might be a bit quiet in the EVESphere right now

“I think TheMittani.com is a magnificent thing. There is regular, high-quality content to be found there and, as Rixx says, several bloggers are focusing the lion’s share of their efforts on providing content there, Marc Scaurus amongst them. EVE News 24 continues to deliver and has even had a facelift to keep up with the Joneses.

But that doesn’t mean that all that there is to say has been said. Far from it. Not every blogger will be producing material that fits a commercial news site. As new bloggers hone their craft, they may not feel ready for the challenge but may aim to contribute in the future. It’s all part of the same grand ecosystem. Bloggers are a unique breed and I’m sure a community of independent blogs will continue to thrive in the EVE metasphere.”

Stan has a great point, of course. Whilst there’s even one blogger writing about EVE – and I can’t imagine that ever not being the case whilst the game’s still active – there’s still an EVE blogosphere.

But what will happen now? Will The Mittani continue to dominate the EVE universe? Or will bloggers rise from the ashes and find ways to adapt to their new world?

What do you think?

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WoW in Iran, TSW Marketing, Namechecked in WoW and more

Yep, just because a massive MMO launches, doesn’t mean the rest of the MMO world stops in its tracks!

So here’s a roundup of some really interesting posts that didn’t focus on either Guild Wars or WoW 5.04 over the last few days!

  • Ren Reynolds at Terra Nova asks why Blizzard won’t refund Iranian players who are no longer able to play“One thing I don’t get is how “prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran” and “this also prevents us from providing any refunds” work together. “
  • Tobold takes issue with the idea that The Secret World deserved more success than it got“I do not think that The Secret World “deserves” a larger following. It isn’t as if by some error of marketing the potential customers failed to notice the game.”
  • The Straw Fellow would like to see more honesty about the MMORPG lifecycle“I titled this post “Turning Lies into Marketing” because I felt that companies always lie about going F2P, due to the stigma it attaches to their game.”
  • Perculia discovered that she now has an in-game item named after her, and blogs about having this suddenly-permanent memorial to her in-game“The thought must pass through everyone’s mind how cool it would be to have a tangible reminder of their time spent in Azeroth, a place where so many things are transient yet wrapped up in memories. And well, that happened.”
  • And Eric Dekker issues a call for gold bloggers to get out of their niche and become more involved in the wider WoW blogging community“Something about gold blogging seems to have an effect of keeping our interactions within the gold making community while most of the other WoW Bloggers out there enjoy the the benefits of cross pollination”

So, who’s been playing an MMO other than Guild Wars or WoW lately, then? Still enjoying it?

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When The Goons Declare War On You

What do you do when the best-known Corporation in EVE, the Goonswarm, declares war on your tiny three-person corporation? Is it time to give up?

Apparently not. Mabrick, a self-described “carebear” player in EVE Online, was targeted by the Goons for all-out war. In a fascinating post, he describes the ways he managed to continue playing whilst literally thousands of players were gunning for him, before going on to discuss the motivations of the people who were doing so

“To wit, all habits take the from of a cue, a response and a reward. This is the habit cycle. For the Goons one could say the reward is a good fight. Or, you could say it is juicy tears. Or, you could say it is fame/infamy. Those would all be wrong. It has to be something everyone within Goons shares or the alliance wouldn’t exist at all. So what is it? Let’s analyze the cue and it’ll give us the answer we seek.

When does Homo Goonus act out? When are they the most Goon like? Others have mentioned this so it isn’t too hard to figure. When they get bored. The cue for the Homo Goonus habit cycle is plain boredom. They have to do something about it. Simple uh? Cues don’t have to be elaborate at all.

So, what is the reward? That’s right, the elimination of boredom! See, it really is simple. And what are the responses that get Homo Goonus from cue to reward? Right again! Burn Jita, Hulkageddon and declaring war on high-sec carebears are all responses to the cue of boredom intended to bring about the reward or, in this case, the end of boredom.”

Mabrick’s discussion of how to survive an all-out war is fascinating, in particular, and will probably be useful reading for many EVE players in the future.

Meanwhile, the Nozy Gamer discusses the fallout of the Goonswarm’s war on “high-sec” (high-security, aka safer, areas in EVE), and their declarations of war on specific bloggers like Mabrick

“I have to say that the target selection for the Ministry of Love has been, shall we say, questionable. Sure, in propaganda value going after morons like Krixtal Icefluxor not only looks good but does the entire Eve Online community a huge favor and probably deserves some sort of commendation. But the target selection needs some work.

The poster child for bad target selection is Mabrick, the blogger who writes Mabrick’s Mumblings. I’m still trying to figure out what The Mittani (and yes, I’m convinced The Mittani was involved in the target selection) was thinking when he chose Mabrick for retribution. Does he have so much contempt for high sec dwellers that he automatically assumes they all will wilt under his glaze and either bow down to him or slink away from the game? As you can read from Mabrick’s post today about the lessons he learned from the Goons’ war on his 3 man corporation, Mabrick didn’t fit the profile that the Ministry should look for, at least at this point in the Ministry’s development.

The war on Mabrick reminded me of President Obama’s war on Fox News back in 2009. When someone with that much power goes after someone whose business is using pixels to disseminate information, some of that power is distributed to the target. The decision to end the war against Mabrick was the correct decision in order to limit the damage the Ministry of Love did to itself. Given that The Mittani, unlike U.S. politicians, tends to learn from his mistakes, I don’t expect to see a repeat of that performance.”

As always, the politics of EVE are fascinating – and it’s interesting to see the Goons on the back foot twice in the recent past. Could it be that the tide’s turning in EVE? Or will the Goons stage a comeback?

What do you think of the Goons declaring war on bloggers?

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Great New Blogger Advice from the NBI

Amongst the many benefits that the Newbie Blogger Initiative is already having on the blogosphere (did I mention what a great idea this is?, I do wonder if the flood of advice posts will be one of the most lasting.

Unlike other subject blogospheres, the MMO community has tended to be a bit short on advice posts – partially, possibly, because there’s not so much real-world money at stake here. But with the NBI, some really great writers are coming out of the woodwork with great advice for their fellow bloggers:

  • Scary at Scary Worlds writes a fascinating story of how he came to blog, and some unique advice on blogging from a phone“Most of all, I do it because I love to. Over the years my phone has become the only way I can write. I write upwards of 1,000 words an hour on the sucker.”
  • Stropp has a short, sweet, and vital piece of advice for any venture – just do it“Don’t wait. Take action now. Just Do It.”
  • Starshadow offers some generally useful tips for anyone writing online“Read your posts back to yourself, make sure it flows. Ask someone to proof read for you if you’d like an opinion before you publish. “
  • And Chris at High Latency Life offers some advice on just how to find your blogging voice“For me it was an evolution, but it starts with a vision. My vision for this blog has always been to entertain. The world loves a fool, and I am that fool. “

What are your top tips for the new bloggers at the NBI?

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Linearity, Quality of Life and Advice for New Bloggers

Between the Newbie Blogger Initiative and Guild Wars 2, it’s suddenly a pretty vibrant time in the MMOSphere. Here’s some more great posts to round out your day –

  • Azuriel at In An Age is getting into the NBI spirit with some great advice for newbie MMO bloggers“Whatever articles/posts you have bouncing around in your head, write them, post them, get them out of your way. If you still feel like writing things after they’re posted, congratulations! You’re a blogger.”
  • The Grumpy Elf is pondering some no-brainer quality of life upgrades in WoW“Node tapping would be a great quality of life addition. If you started the gathering procedure and get interrupted the node is tapped to you for 30 seconds. That should be more then ample for beat any mob that interrupted you and it is more than ample on a PvP server to get your fight on.”
  • Hate hallways? You’re not alone. Klepsacovic of Troll Racials Are Overpowered is musing on just why he dislikes linearity so much“Linearity makes me feel sorry for the developers. I’ll see a really detailed, complex structure they designed and it will seem great. Then I realize that I’ll go there once. I’ll do the quest there and that’s it, never again. “
  • And Rohan at Blessing of Kings is considering whether the real money-purchasable PLEX are against the spirit of EVE Online“Ultimately, inconvenience is what makes a world a world, and not just a game. PLEX is convenient, but makes Eve less of a world, and more of a game.”

To get even more great MMO discussion, sign up for the MMO Melting Pot Weekly Digest

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Of Warchief Choices, MMO one-off events, and cliches in blogging

I’ve spent most of the day engaging in surgery on my main PC, which after a mighty battle with the dreaded Beeping Beast of Motherboard Fail now runs faster than the Roadrunner on competition-illegal performance enhancers. But no fear – as I mentioned yesterday, the weekend was overflowing with cool posts, and I’ve managed to grab half an hour to check out the latest on the blogosphere too:

  • Out Of Beta writes a scholarly piece pointing out meaningless terms that bloggers and forum posters use far too often“”I find the Death knight final tier of talents to be lackluster.” Well we clearly understand that the writer finds them uninteresting, but as a reader or developer you’ve really learned nothing aside from a person’s opinion.”
  • Ceraphus at Variant Avatar expresses concern with the Ji Firepaw changes, worried that it might have a chilling effect on the range of NPCs game developers create in future“I am concerned about the future of games where even the most minor of infraction towards a person’s color, sexual orientation or race could spark outrage from some members of the community, without them looking at what type of character the writers are trying to create and develop. “
  • Shintar at Going Commando and Spinks at Spinksville both recount their experiences and offer tips on the ongoing live event in SWTOR, the Rakghoul Plague.
  • And finally – are the only choices for Warchief Thrall or Garrosh? The Renaissance Man writes a really fascinating article analysing all the Horde’s Warchiefs, explaining why he feels Thrall is a bad choice to return, and offering some alternative suggestions“The only thing that separates Thrall from the multitude of failed despots that his race has produced is his upbringing among humans. What does that say about orcs? Is that really the message that Blizzard wants to send? “

Enjoyed those posts? Please consider sharing them!

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Dear Matty

This is a guest post whilst Hugh’s away on holiday.

Dear Matty,

Long time reader, first time writer, but hopefully not for long. I want to start a blog, but am really nervous about it. What if no one reads it, or worse, read it and troll me? I really love WoW, and think some of the other blogs out there are so cool. I am wondering how to get started, and if I should get started.

Signed,

Pixel-back Writer

Dear Pixel:

When I ask my cross-dressing rogue for the time, he will tell me the history of clocks. I will try not to do that in my response, but make no guarantees. I know you don’t have all day.

As we all know, the term ‘blog’ stands for web log, and it reminds me of a Captain’s Log (ah, Jean-Luc, steer my ship to safe harbor, sir…), a form of writing that is frequent, reflective, informative, and entertaining. Consider the ancient log of yore, used for charting courses, weather, navigating those rough seas that were so critical to survival for crew and cargo. When you have your own blog, first and foremost, you are the captain. It’s yours to steer as you wish.

There are three primary considerations when publishing a blog: Fear, Content, and Time.

Fear: First, get over it. Okay, I am sorry. Let me rephrase. Recognize that fear is a healthy thing, and now get over it. Our own inner dialogues are the most damning. And the thing is, you may hold the fear that if you start a blog no one will read it. You know what? You’re right. But you guarantee that no one will read it if you don’t write. And you may also be afraid that readers will think it’s awful. But I’ll address that in content.

Starting this one, I didn’t realize there were so many bloggers out there already firmly established as the rock stars of Azerothian fame and glory. And I am not being self-effacing when I say I will never be as charming and genuine as Tome, or out-spoken as O, creative as Vidyala or Cymre, rambunctious and sweet as Navi, or hysterically funny as Bear, as irreverent as I Like Bubbles, or as amazingly analytical and enriching as Cynwise or Ironyca, or the folks at Sacred Duty. And thank heavens for Psynister who saved a poor wretched noob like me with his guidelines. All one needs to do is look at blogrolls to have access to too many wonderful writers to list. But that is okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. I love their styles, and their voices. I hope, on occasion, they like mine. That’s what makes writing so powerful and damn cool. No one else has your perspective, insight, humor, or story. No one.

Content: Consider establishing a creed, philosophy or mission statement. Give yourself boundaries, and then permission to break them. To quote one of my mentors and dear friends, “Rule 10: Anything goes.” My own boundaries include not trashing others, not exposing too much personal information (you’ll just have to take me at my word that I’m awesome), and try not to be negative. Now, I have failed at this, a few times. When I joined my former-former-former guild, I was told not to tell this one player in particular that I had a blog because he would tease me for my “woman feelings.” I have called folks out on their shenanigans on my blog. That goes under breaking rules. But sometimes…I remind myself of Rule 10 and put the verbal smack down. Again, as captain of my ship—if it sinks, I go down, too.

And speaking of “woman feelings,” we have covered a lot of ground on that issue. (Ironyca’s post is the superlative analysis on this in my opinion.) From what I have ascertained, blogs seem to be very gender-free or sexist-free zones. The blog authors I read run 5050 male/female, with many having co-authorship of equal gender representation. It’s a big table, and we’re all invited.

So, as far as content goes, set your purpose. Do you want to focus on a particular aspect of the game, or a multi-layer approach? Like trying to classify genres of music, sticking to one main topic is nearly impossible. But those are what Pages and Blogrolls are for. Go-go widgets!

If you want to draw readers to your blog, I’ll tell you what my mom told me: to have a friend, you have to be a friend. Comment on other’s blogs, show them that they inspire you, and over time the traffic will build. And again, consider your purpose(s): if you want monetary gain or high traffic, you can definitely pander and use key words that will gain a lot of traffic. Just make sure it’s the kind you want. The old adage “sex sells” is not accurate: it should be “sell sex.” (Oh, key word searches, how you entertain me. And scare me.)

Now, there’s this, too:

There are hundreds of books on writing, and publishing, grammar, and more websites devoted to these topics. Consider your audience and how you want it to be a reflection of who you are. Typos happen, even to the best of us, but remember the impression you want to make is to not have bad grammar or too many misspellings get in the way of your story. I know I sound like a crabby old ‘get off my grammar lawn’ lady, but do try to give your words some polish.

Many great bloggers have written about their approaches to writing, and it is all great advice—and that is just it: advice. Use their intelligent insights as a framework for your own approach. Are you going to be one of those who never looks back, which hits publish and runs? Are you going to be a careful worrier (like me, occasionally) who goes back to posts and revises them? Is there one thing you may do that will make your blog unique? Those things usually can’t be answered up-front, but your style evolves over time, trial and error. Be patient with yourself.

Speaking of time:

Time: I am not sure this has happened to anyone else, but sometimes, I think about what I write before I think about anything else, including bodily functions and shaved legs. I mean really, I get so focused on writing I don’t want to do anything else. To me, it can be more addictive than, (dare I say it?) time in Azeroth. In fact, this morning I had this post so much on my mind I forgot to put on mascara before I left for work. Dude. Seriously. Ultimately, I am compelled to write. I’d like to think I look good doing so, but not always. You may find, as I have, that balance between work, playing, and writing is not easy. And you end up with hairy legs.

So, good luck, Pixel. I want to hear what you have to say.

Matty

Big Bear Butt

Manalicious

Tome of the Ancient

Psynister

Bubbles of Mischief

I Like Bubbles

The Daily Frostwolf

The Story of O

Ironyca Stood in the Fire

Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual

Sacred Duty

And of course you should also check out Matty’s own Sugar And Blood for more community-centered WoW blogging!

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On Honesty and Bravery In Blogging

We have an interesting pair of posts today, somewhat off the direct topic of MMOs, but focussing very strongly on the blogosphere around them. Two well-respected bloggers – Oestrus of Stories of O, and Windsoar of Jaded Alt – have posted two independent pieces on related topics today: the topics of bravery and honesty in blogging.

Firstly, Windsoar talks about honesty, openness, and what she does and doesn’t share on her blog, inspired partially by a friend describing her as “too honest”

“When my friend told me I was too honest, I really thought about what honesty meant, for me personally, and as it affected others around me. I came to recognize (and still struggle with coming to grips) that what I consider honest is sometimes wrong. Honesty is only really valid in a contextual sense, and depends on a multitude of factors. While this hasn’t fundamentally changed my desire to be an honest person, it has somewhat tempered what I consider to be a direct result of being honest: my bluntness.”

Windsoar covers a number of interesting points here, from how she deals with people asking her for help and suggestions to the extent to which she shares personal details on her blog. I found her discussion of how she writes particularly interesting – like several other well-known bloggers, she doesn’t edit her work for content, preferring to, in her words, “write, then publish”.

Meanwhile, spurred partially by her award for bravery at the 2012 Piggie Awards, Oestrus writes about bravery in her blogging, and how she feels the blogosphere could use more brave writing

“Nobody is brave anymore. I think the community could use a shot of bravery or two. People often times misunderstand me and think that I enjoy conflict. I don’t. What I do enjoy are people who are honest and who are unafraid to share their opinions. I feel that we learn more that way, when we don’t have anything in common, or when we are coming at things from different a perspective than we do if we all start off feeling exactly the same way about something.”

It’s interesting how Oestrus echoes another call to arms for bloggers in the recent past, from Gnomeageddon, who was also calling for more controversy and more debate. Oestrus has a particularly good take and argument here, arguing for bravery as clarity and as supporting the minority, saying things that need to be said. She’s writing partially in support of Effraeti’s post on feminism, which we covered yesterday – and in support of bloggers who weather storms of opinion in general.

Frankly, on that point in particular I couldn’t agree more.

Do you think the blogosphere needs more bravery? Or more tempered honesty? Or both?

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WPEngine review – after 1 month and 250k visitors, why exactly am I spending $249pm for WordPress hosting?

As you may know if you’re a regular reader, about a month ago we decided to switch our hosting from a dedicated server managed by yours truly to the WordPress hosting service WP Engine. Initially, I had expected to discover that it really wasn’t worth the money after the two-week free trial – but that time has well and truly passed, and I’m still with WPEngine. So, here’s a review – given they’re far from cheap, are they, in fact, the best WordPress hosting service ever?

This one’s off-topic for the Melting Pot, but as a lot of us are bloggers here, I figured it would be useful nonetheless. And I imagine you’ll be interested to know why I’ve voluntarily gone from paying $50pm for hosting to paying $249pm for what, at first glance, is the same service.

Quick note: the links to WPEngine here are affiliate links, meaning if you end up using WPEngine after clicking on one, I’ll get a small amount of money from that. However, I’m reviewing WPEngine because I’m impressed with their service, not for the monetary concern – their service has startled me by being well worth the fee, and I figured other bloggers would be interested to hear about it!

First Impressions

I first heard of WP Engine through a post on Kalsumeus, explaining why he made exactly the same move I subsequently would – from self-controlled dedicated server hosting to WP Engine’s managed service. I loved the idea right from the off – a host dedicated to nothing but WordPress, who could solve all the finicky little things that I couldn’t figure out (and with WordPress, there are a lot of finicky things that crop up over the months), and who knew exactly how to tune a site for speed and performance.

However, a quick look at WPEngine’s site made me think we couldn’t afford them. Reading through their prices, the Melting Pot would cost a minimum of $249 a month – and when we had a burst month and hit more than 400,000 visitors, as we do from time to time, it seemed we’d be moved up to the “if you have to ask you can’t afford it” top tier of hosting.

I said as much in the comments, because I can be kind of a dick sometimes. :)

A few days later, I wandered back to the same article, and lo and behold, there was a reply to my comment – from the CEO of WPEngine, Jason Cohen. And he made a hell of a lot of sense – and made the key point that unless we stayed above 400,000 visitors/month consistently, they’d charge us at the lower price.

About now, I realised they had a free trial (which has since been replaced by the rather better offer of a 60-day money back offer).

So I figured “what the hell”, and signed up for two weeks – fully expecting that I’d conclude their services were nice, but not worth the money.

Why even move in the first place?

The Melting Pot had started to suffer from a number of problems that lower-traffic WordPress sites don’t encounter.

Notably, WordPress is, to use the technical term, a right bastard to configure for speed under high load. I’m highly technically adept for someone who isn’t a full-time sysadmin, and I’d consulted with my hosts, Bytemark (whom I still highly recommend for non-WP services), who are very good indeed, but still, we couldn’t get load times stable and fast enough for my liking. Research shows that the amount of time a viewer will stay on your site, and the chances of them bookmarking or subscribing to your site, is/are highly affected by page load speed – and at peak times, despite my best efforts, the Pot moved like a hamster towing a truck.

WPEngine promised the fastest WordPress load times known to man. I liked the sound of that.

At the same time, my WordPress installation was starting to get a bit… clunky. We didn’t have automated upgrades installed, because it was a headache to do so, and so an increasing number of my plugins, not to mention my core WP install, were starting to get decidedly out of date. Out of date WordPress servers get hacked. And it was getting to the point where I was worrying about that fact every day, but still wasn’t willing to undergo the pain of a full manual upgrade.

Little things were starting to break, too. I couldn’t drag widgets around for some unfathomable reason, despite spending a day trying to bugfix that problem. I couldn’t Quick Edit posts. Scheduling would occasionally… not.

And I was getting increasingly sick of getting up at 4am to restart servers when my phone beeped to tell me the Pot had burned down, fallen over, and sunk into the swamp.

All of this pain would, in theory, be solved by moving to a managed WordPress solution like WP Engine – whilst still giving me the control of having my own self-installed WordPress.

Hence, the trial.

Migrating to WPEngine and the first few days

Migrating from the Melting Pot to WPEngine was a joy.

No, wait, not a joy. The other thing.

My initial migration was something of a nightmare. Despite having some instructions on the WPEngine site, nothing worked first time. I couldn’t even log in to the bloody site. Then I couldn’t log into the database. Then it wouldn’t import. Then it did import – and the Melting Pot appeared entirely in 64-point text with no images. Then my theme, the usually-excellent Thesis, decided it needed to be upgraded – and then upgraded again, and again, and so on.

I very nearly gave up on WPEngine as a bad job in the first three days.

However, their support was uniformly excellent. Alexander, one of their technicians, responded patiently to email after email after email, and did an excellent job of calming me down as I became increasingly shirty and irritable. It’s safe to say that without his support, I wouldn’t have even made it to Day 3.

And now we hit one of the major reasons I’m still with WPEngine. Their support is bloody marvellous. I’ve pinged them almost every day since I joined up with one problem or another, and in all cases, it’s either been sorted out or is still in the process of being sorted out. Technically, they don’t provide support for plugins, but in practise I’ve found that even with plugin problems they’re willing to pitch in and help out, and usually know more than I do.

(This post is being written with Markdown rather than Textile after I asked a support question about my textile plugin, and Jason, the WPEngine CEO, came back with a super-informed answer. Yes, their CEO often answers support queries.)

Eventually, the Melting Pot was online. And somewhat after eventually, DNS had actually changed, and we were settled in.

Running a Blog On WP-Engine Day To Day

Once you’re up and running, most of the time running a site through WPEngine is similar to running it on a self-hosted blog – although with decidedly less of the irritating niggles that WordPress tends to develop with age.

I log in – first time, now, since moving to WPEngine solved the irritating redirect loop my self-hosted solution had somehow gotten itself into. I edit posts – in an interface which not only works perfectly but also runs noticably faster than it used to. I manage comments – again, seamlessly, with no sudden hangs, slowdowns, or wierd errors.

What became noticable after a couple of weeks, though, and what convinced me to stay with WordPress, was what I wasn’t doing. Since I’ve moved, I’ve never had to

  • Delete a sudden onrush of spam. WPEngine run some kind of ninja anti-exploit software. I don’t know what it is or how it works, but spam has dropped to close to zero.
  • SSH into my server and run “top” to try and figure out why the Melting Pot is running like a dog. It’s always smooth and fast – and I know that if it isn’t, I can just email WPEngine and suddenly that’s their problem, not mine. (They guarantee 99.5% uptime for the server. If they go beyond that, they refund 5% of my monthly hosting PER HOUR.)
  • Restart the server because it’s crashed. See above.
  • Panic at an attempted hack on the server. Again, it’s their problem, and I know they’ve forgotten more about security than I know. ( Various reports from around the ‘net plus the CEO’s blog verify they’re the real deal.)
  • Spend a day trying to figure out why something bizarre isn’t working in WordPress. Again, I just email support and it’s their problem. Right now they’re tracking down the bugs the Melting Pot seems to have with trackbacks – something that I’ve previously and unsuccessfully spent large chunks of a day on.

Speed is definitely faster – not MUCH faster, but Pingdom reports a modest increase. More importantly, since we switched over our site speed has been a lot less spikey – previously, the Melting Pot was often fast but sometimes very, very slow – and that would always be at peak times when a lot of people were trying to access our site. Since the WPEngine shift, our load times don’t change with the number of people hitting us, and I’ve noticed we’re regularly serving 3 figures of simultaneous users. I’m looking forward to seeing how the site handles a real traffic spike.

So why DID I stay with WPEngine as a WordPress host?

It’s not the speed, at the end of the day. I thought it would be that if anything, but I was wrong.

I’ve decided to commit to staying with WPEngine, despite the steep rise in hosting fees, because it turns out to be a cheap way to buy myself a load more hours in the day. Essentially, I’ve outsourced all the WordPress and server maintainance tasks that were previously interrupting me or taking my time up – stuff that was slowing me down, but that I couldn’t have afforded to hire someone to deal with.

In addition, I also buy myself time because everything works. I don’t have to use arcane workarounds to deal with the fact various bits of WordPress aren’t working properly, because, well, they all are. I don’t have to log in 5 times because there’s something screwy with my self-hosted DNS. I estimate that the shift to WPEngine has saved me 10-20 minutes a day of messing around – and that adds up fast.

And I don’t have to spend time learning about stuff that doesn’t directly benefit the Pot. I don’t need to spend hours reading about the difference between Hypercache and WP Total Cache, or whether I should use Memcached, Varnish, a reverse proxied Nginx server, or all of the above. All that stuff’s interesting, but it’s not the best use of my time.

Basically, I’ve decided to stay with WPEngine not because they provide very expensive hosting – although it’s excellent – but because they provide a very cheap, very good, very agreeable full-time dedicated sysadmin for my blog.

Which means I can concentrate on, you know, writing it.

You can find out more about WP Engine here.

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Gnomeageddon issues a call to arms for the blogosphere

Six!

If you’ve been around the blogosphere recently, that number alone will probably make you twitch. Either because you’ve been tagged for the super-long-running “Six” meme (I’ll get to it, I promise!) or just because it has taken over your feed reader over the last month like nothing else in recent memory.

Well, Gnomeageddon, the gnome who started it all, has been thinking about what’s next. And rather than a meme, he’s issuing a manifesto – a call to the entire MMORPG blogosphere to do something new, interesting, and challenging

“Does some other blogger inspire you? Have you found a secret little blog only known to the author and their keyboard treading cats? Let us know, let us join in the mutual admiration of others writing. Let us inspire then to write one more post.

Let’s face it, all of you that joined into the Sixth conversation now feel like writing one more post… admit it. People came back from months of hiatus purely to post a screenshot… bullshit, they were looking for an excuse, for inspiration, for the touch of love that can only be felt through link love.

The hugging can go on long way after the linkage of course… I found myself dropping Larísa a line last night… some links are never broken.”

Actually, this post is more like a series of manifestos than a single manifesto, all linked around the idea of making people aware of other blogs, linking to them, and forming a community.

It probably goes without saying that we’re pretty enthusiastic about that idea.

Some of Gnomeageddon’s suggestions are going to be pretty controversial – he advocates blog wars and disagreements at one point – but even with them he’s got a very good point, and he’s speaking from a position of experience. Often people are too conflict-averse, and it’s true that a disagreement makes interesting reading. And his other suggestions – hug your fellow bloggers, link out to other blog posts as much as possible – are things that we can all get behind!

(And on that subject – thanks for all the links to the Melting Pot over the last few days, everyone! It’s great whenever new people discover us and suddenly realise there’s an entire MMO blogging world out there, not just a few sites!)

I’ll be interested to see what comes out of this post. Gnomeageddon’s got a track record of Starting Things in the blogosphere – I wonder what will get started this time?

Go! Link to something cool in the blogosphere!

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