I was replying to Webby’s comment but it was getting too long and involved for a comment so I’ve moved it here.
Disclaimer: these are first impressions – I’ve been using WordPress for less than a week – more experienced wordpressers are very welcome to chip in with opinions (do, please!) and when I find errors later I’ll come back and update this.
Both hosted services
– Both the Blogsome and WordPress.com interfaces are very similar to the self install wp. You have the dashboard where you write/edit posts, manage comments and so on.
– You can write additional pages (About me, etc.) quickly and easily.
– You have a small range of useful plugins but for security reasons these are limited.
– Allows file upload of jpg, jpeg, gif, png files (300 KB per file limit).
– The dashboard is again familiar but with a different (and much improved) colour scheme.
– Uploading pictures is very easy, I like that it’s part of the writing a post dashboard rather than separate (as with blogsome).
– No adverts (yet).
– No mention of plug-ins but they might be added when it’s out of beta.
One thing to note with wordpress.com is that I can’t see any way to edit the theme (a dealbreaker for me). Hang on, Robert Scoble has edited the banner so it must be possible. Hmmm. Perhaps he has special privileges or has used a different theme that allows theme edits? I’ll know more when I have a chance to fiddle with my father’s wordpress.com blog (I’m still at the “but yes you DO want a blog papa!” stage) And of course, it’s still in beta.
Aside: another interesting wordpress.com blog – Lorelle on WordPress.
Can I edit my templates?
We are definitely mindful of making everything more customizable for our users, but at the same time we don’t want people to have to look at HTML and CSS code, which is antithetical to the purpose of WordPress.com. If you want complete control over your enviroment, you’re probably better off running WordPress on a great web host of your own, but if you really don’t want to worry about that sort of thing just stick around and we’ll be adding more customizability as time goes on.
The thing that impresses me most about this self-install is the speed. Blogsome hosted sites can (but not always) be a little slow in page load and TypePad certainly has speed issues so it’s a revelation to see how quickly these pages load – even though all of the graphics are still linked to the Typepad servers (but I’m working on that).
– You can set up any plugin that takes your fancy.
– You can sign up for your own google ads and whatnot.
– You can upload files to your heart’s content (.mov, .mp3, .wav, etc.). If you’re interested in podcasting then self install would be the way to go I think. But of course that could change as podcasting gets more mainstream.
You know, I have all three dashboards open (WordPress, Blogsome, WordPress.com) side by side right now and I’m once again impressed by how much both free hosted sites have to offer and would definitely recommend either of them to anyone starting up their own blog/wanting to have a look at WordPress before committing.
Of the two, I prefer
wordpress.com (assuming that there is or will be a way to make presentational changes to themes as you can with blogsome.com). blogsome.com because everyone wants to make changes, however small. And if they’re limiting it to just 7 or 8 themes then it’s going to get very boring very quickly.
Many people would find that WordPress.com/Blogsome meets all of their blogging needs and they’d not have to even think about paying for hosting and intalling wordpress “proper”. You can even have your own domain name and use redirect. I was going to suggest that you could buy one of the “webby” domain names and use a hosted wp service but the .net/.com/.fr/.de etc. are all taken [webby.be is taken too… wat een mooie hondje ;-)].
There are quite a few WordPress users on the (soon to be transferred) blogroll so if anyone feels like chipping in with advice for webby, feel free!