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283 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 111418 2-Nov-2012 16:39 Send private message

I am thinking of creating a new ‘community blog’ on Recreational Kayaking in New Zealand.

Who can recommend a good platform and host (pref. local)?

I researched what is out there, but I am still undecided.

(1) Platform:
I want something simple and intuitive that is Facebook / Youtube / Picasa / Map friendly that ‘just works’ and interactive.

I first considered piggying back on to Geekzone with my own domain - but it was not a good fit given the  site will need to have multiple contributors / bloggers and its own forum etc.

I was tempted with a Google's Blogsport / Blogger option as it is practically free – but my previous experience with them has not been that nice given its restrictions.

I am warming more and more towards Wordpress. I've never heard of it till this morning, and I dont know PHP - but willing to learn if Wprdpress is the best fit. Has anyone got much experience with it?


(2) Hosting:
I am also looking for a good hosting company? If I chose Blogger, I would have used the free Google hosting.

With Wordpress anyone got good experience with any local hosts? Or am I better off with the one of the big ones that Wordpress recommends with oneclick install (e.g. Hostgator /DreamHost / Bluehost) - they charge about $5US/month including domain hosting on a shared hosting environment.

(3) Getting the traffic:
I am just planning the launch and trying to figure out how to get traffic to the site (which will hopefully be non-profit making and ad free). Every community site starts with no members / contributors - and I am guessing that will be the hardest struggle.


Any advice / suggestions will be gratefully appreciated on the above three.

Thanks.






Tim M, Auckland
Blog: http://paddler.co.nz





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1064 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 711181 2-Nov-2012 22:42 Send private message

Word press doesnt actually require any php experience. This is beneficial only if you want to hack the source to change it up. The absolute easiest option for you to get up and running would be to buy a wordpress host site from one of the many 1-click installers.

If you want more freedom and to learn along the way get a LAMP host (there are lots, have a look at the hosting threads on this forum) and install it yourself. As far as the forum goes you are probably better looking at a stand alone system that can plug into your wordpress site.

Good luck

691 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 711201 3-Nov-2012 00:06 Send private message

If you are based in Wellington, you could use the free hosting service at Wellington Community Net



283 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 711490 3-Nov-2012 19:21 Send private message

allan: If you are based in Wellington, you could use the free hosting service at Wellington Community Net


Nice .... Spent some time reading through what they offer. While I think they do a fantastic job for not for profit and community organisations, I am scared of their restrictive eligibility criteria (locality / not allowing .co.nz etc....) 



283 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 711492 3-Nov-2012 19:25 Send private message

itxtme: The absolute easiest option for you to get up and running would be to buy a wordpress host site from one of the many 1-click installers.


OK - Will do.


itxtme: 
As far as the forum goes you are probably better looking at a stand alone system that can plug into your wordpress site. 


Why do you say that?  I would have thought a seamlessly integrated site will have better flow between posts / forum's and social networking? Not disagreeing here - just trying to understand any potential issues.

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  Reply # 711498 3-Nov-2012 19:50 Send private message

BlueToothKiwi:
itxtme: The absolute easiest option for you to get up and running would be to buy a wordpress host site from one of the many 1-click installers.


OK - Will do.


itxtme: 
As far as the forum goes you are probably better looking at a stand alone system that can plug into your wordpress site. 


Why do you say that?  I would have thought a seamlessly integrated site will have better flow between posts / forum's and social networking? Not disagreeing here - just trying to understand any potential issues.


I would say that wordpresses forums aren't as good.
Hosting is so cheap that it would be less hassle just to pay for it.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 711549 3-Nov-2012 22:57 Send private message

mattwnz:
BlueToothKiwi:
itxtme: The absolute easiest option for you to get up and running would be to buy a wordpress host site from one of the many 1-click installers.


OK - Will do.


itxtme: 
As far as the forum goes you are probably better looking at a stand alone system that can plug into your wordpress site. 


Why do you say that?  I would have thought a seamlessly integrated site will have better flow between posts / forum's and social networking? Not disagreeing here - just trying to understand any potential issues.


I would say that wordpresses forums aren't as good.
Hosting is so cheap that it would be less hassle just to pay for it.


Exactly what Matt said.  While I do not disagree that it would be easier to use an integrated system, the biggest problem I can see is you outgrowing the capabilities of the forum system.  Wordpress as a site is great, but as a community system I would say there are better options.  My suggestion is to find a Linux based host with Fantastico (or similar) installed and have a play with Wordpress.  You can get hosting from a US server (which means higher pings by hundredths of a second- not a big deal) for under $7 a month.

When I first started out with having my own host I used a budget reseller account with resellerzoom.com.  If you just need a single account you could use there sister site hostingzoom.com

A good forum system that is open source is phpBB, that also comes on Fantastico so give it a go.  All you will need is to register your domain name.  $18-24 for a .co.nz from the likes of domains4less.co.nz or for a .com head over to namecheap.com for around $10 nz.

And finally if you just want to have a play on your local machine have a go with WAMP, it is everything you need to test Wordpress and/or phpBB locally for free on your own computer, it install PHP, Apache web server and MYSQL.  Steeper learning curve than using an auto installer but still good fun, at no cost.

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  Reply # 711595 4-Nov-2012 00:32 Send private message

itxtme:
mattwnz:
BlueToothKiwi:
itxtme: The absolute easiest option for you to get up and running would be to buy a wordpress host site from one of the many 1-click installers.


OK - Will do.


itxtme: 
As far as the forum goes you are probably better looking at a stand alone system that can plug into your wordpress site. 


Why do you say that?  I would have thought a seamlessly integrated site will have better flow between posts / forum's and social networking? Not disagreeing here - just trying to understand any potential issues.


I would say that wordpresses forums aren't as good.
Hosting is so cheap that it would be less hassle just to pay for it.


Exactly what Matt said.  While I do not disagree that it would be easier to use an integrated system, the biggest problem I can see is you outgrowing the capabilities of the forum system.  Wordpress as a site is great, but as a community system I would say there are better options.  My suggestion is to find a Linux based host with Fantastico (or similar) installed and have a play with Wordpress.  


I wouldn't recommend Fantasico, simply because it will often install an old version of wordpress, depending on how good the host is at updating it. I would use a host that uses Softalicious Pro, is I find it far better and it seems to have the latest versions, and lets you install a lot more software options. You do still need to know how to install it manually because at some stage the website will break, a plugin install will go wrong etc. I had a plugin break just last week after a plugin update went bad, and had to get into ftp to manually update one of the files. So you need to know how to make full backups and manually restore it, should you need to, especially if it gets hacked. Updating wordpress websites with the latest software versions is a major thing, as if you don't keep them up to date, they will get hacked.
All these things are helped by having a good web host that provides good support, especially if they do lots of backups which is very helpful if you get hacked or the database becomes corrupted, and you don't have a more recent backup stored locally.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 711641 4-Nov-2012 10:07 Send private message

mattwnz:

I wouldn't recommend Fantasico, simply because it will often install an old version of wordpress, depending on how good the host is at updating it. I would use a host that uses Softalicious Pro, is I find it far better and it seems to have the latest versions, and lets you install a lot more software options. You do still need to know how to install it manually because at some stage the website will break, a plugin install will go wrong etc. I had a plugin break just last week after a plugin update went bad, and had to get into ftp to manually update one of the files. So you need to know how to make full backups and manually restore it, should you need to, especially if it gets hacked. Updating wordpress websites with the latest software versions is a major thing, as if you don't keep them up to date, they will get hacked.
All these things are helped by having a good web host that provides good support, especially if they do lots of backups which is very helpful if you get hacked or the database becomes corrupted, and you don't have a more recent backup stored locally.


I am somewhat out of the auto installer game now days so if you say Softalicious is better I believe you.  In the first instance I think the OP would be best to play on WAMP nad go from there.

BDFL
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  Reply # 711650 4-Nov-2012 10:19 Send private message

Whatever you, you will have to make sure you have the following in place:

- Functioning Backup to external server or storage
- Tested Restore from external server or storage
- Wordpress continous update
- Theme continuous update and testing

Don't trust ANY hosting provider to make backups. Make your own backup and store somewhere else, very far from this hosting provider. Make sure you test test the restore procedure to make sure the backup is readable and the restored system works.

I've read about/known of many people who lost their blogs because they never done a backup and thought the hosting service was doing one. Don't rely on that.

Keep your WP install (and forums) updated. Because as soon as someone finds a vulnerability it will be exploited. For example you may not see anything but a script in your WP blog might only show malicious codes and links to people that arrive from a Google search - you as the owner will most of the times go directly to the site and never notice anything wrong...

Don't install a WP theme just because it's pretty or cool. There are lots of vulnerabilities in WP themes, and people do exploit this.

Exploits are automatic. Even here on Geekzone, which runs something completely different, we see log entries showing our site being scanned for WP vulnerabilities. That's because it's all automated, the tools used find a website and start trying - not very smart but the bad guys own hundred of thousand of bot computers around the world, so who cares, they just keep trying.







283 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 711852 4-Nov-2012 18:08 Send private message

freitasm: Don't trust ANY hosting provider to make backups. Make your own backup and store somewhere else, very far from this hosting provider. Make sure you test test the restore procedure to make sure the backup is readable and the restored system works.

Good advice. I will pay the $14 extra for daily backup with the host BUT do weekly manual backup myself (with another host).

freitasm: Keep your WP install (and forums) updated. Because as soon as someone finds a vulnerability it will be exploited....

The big hosts guarantee to keep the WordPress up to date. 
However, thanks for the advice about keeping the themes up to date - I thought they are simple HTML/CSS presentation layer stuff!

itxtme: 
Wordpress as a site is great, but as a community system I would say there are better options.

I was going to use bbPress,

itxtme: 
$18-24 for a .co.nz from the likes of domains4less.co.nz or for a .com head over to namecheap.com for around $10 nz

I did a trial signup with the top 3 WP hosts and getting to know how good their support is. None of them support .co.nz domain hosting so I have to use alternate registrar's - which is fine. (might use Crazydomains - they are dirt cheap).

mattwnz:  You do still need to know how to install it manually because at some stage the website will break, a plugin install will go wrong etc..... Updating wordpress websites with the latest software versions is a major thing, as if you don't keep them up to date, they will get hacked.

I don't want to 'own / manage / maintain' my own hosting environment - I am happy to pay someone money to manage the patches and keep the WP and themes up to date. The top ones claim to do that as part of the $4.95/month fee!





Tim M, Auckland
Blog: http://paddler.co.nz





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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 711871 4-Nov-2012 19:20 Send private message


I wasn't referring to the hosting environment, I was referring to updating the wordpress environment. The host will never update your wordpress website for you unless you are using the hosted version wordpress.com, or you are using a special wordpress provider. This is because updates could cause plugins and features on your website to break. You have to apply the wordpress update yourself. Some hosts may say that they use the latest versions of wordpress but they aren't going to install the latest version on your website, unless you install the update yourself. Infact all web hosts should have the latest version of wordpress on their auto installers, so that isn't likely to be an advantage of that host over another. You still need to know how to use FTP for things such as applying folder and file permissions, so I don't really see an advantage in using an autoinstaller for wordpress, as it is so easy to setup manually. You will find your average host will provide zero help for wordpress, and they will refer you to the wordpress forums for support. $4.95 will not cover wordpress support I very much doubt. It will probably be very basic support for the hosting too.

Daily backups from the host aren't very helpful, because by the time you find out your website is hacked, it will likely already by overwritten. You need a host that does multiple levels of backups and they also keep an archive of those backups. However that is just a backstop to having your own backup schedule.

If you don't want to be bothered with maintaining wordpress and updates, you could try wordpress.com, which is the hosted version, and they will apply updates for you. Or use a fully hosted site builder system like squarespace.



283 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 712024 5-Nov-2012 08:50 Send private message

itxtme:  All you will need is to register your domain name.  $18-24 for a .co.nz from the likes of domains4less.co.nz ... .


Just did! Painless transfer (took 2 mins from entering the site / create an account and transfer the domain) - the best (and simplest) automated interface I have tried for co.nz domains - Way better than Domaniz and Crazydomains

I don't get it - they did not charge me for the service. How do they make money? I guess the new registrations subsidise for the transfers?




Tim M, Auckland
Blog: http://paddler.co.nz





1064 posts

Uber Geek
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  Reply # 712068 5-Nov-2012 09:43 Send private message

Exactly that. Its industry standard, to not charge for transfers with the knowledge the customer will eventually pay them.



283 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 712100 5-Nov-2012 10:34 Send private message

mattwnz: I wouldn't recommend Fantasico, simply because it will often install an old version of wordpress, depending on how good the host is at updating it.


I just found that too !!!!!  Hostgator I got the trial account with is using Fantastico Dulux.... But it will only let me install an ancient version of WP (3.3) from a year ago. There have been three stable versions since.

I think it is manual install time!!!







Tim M, Auckland
Blog: http://paddler.co.nz





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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 712109 5-Nov-2012 10:54 Send private message


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