Black man with a hat at a laptop

Blog status update (February 2022): The newsletter’s back; I still dislike WordPress’ block editor

It’s time once again for another status update on the blog’s current state.

Giving a blog newsletter another try

Email, map of world
Image by Muhammad Ribkhan (Pixabay)

A few years ago, I tried having a newsletter for the blog. While it went well enough, it wasn’t cheap to run. Thanks to dated and probably-ineffective US anti-spam laws, newsletters are required to have a physical address listed. Since most people don’t want to use their home address (for obvious reasons), this means another address of some sort, such as an office or a rented post office box. I did the latter, which added a recurring monthly blog expense. Between that and getting few subscribers, I eventually shut the newsletter (and post office box) down.

Recently, I decided to give newsletters another try. The current newsletter boom is happening for good reason. Email is one of the few open internet platforms left that’s still commonly used (GMail’s and Outlook’s dominance in email aside). There’s also no algorithms deciding what users see, unless spam filters count. Email is also text-friendly, and caters to writers; most social media platforms and apps heavily emphasize audio/video (probably because it’s harder for users to avoid ads), ignoring that not everyone’s telegenic or has a “radio voice.”

I’ve decided to use Buttondown for a newsletter service. It’s fairly barebones, but works well so far. Buttondown also has the option of using Markdown (like Ghost). One advantage of Buttowndown is it offers users a virtual physical address as an option, thus complying with anti-spam laws.

So far, I’m just sending new blog posts to subscribers. If there’s an interest in expanding beyond this (to original newsletter-based material), please let me know.

You can sign up for the newsletter here.

Yet another theme change, and why I still dislike WordPress’ block-based editor

WordPress blog screen
Image by Werner Moser from Pixabay

Once again, I’ve given the blog another theme change. This time, I’ve switched to Ariele Lite. The reason this time? I wanted to keep everything on the blog as classic WordPress editor-friendly as possible, in case I decide to finally switch things to ClassicPress again.

Unfortunately, I’m still not a fan of WordPress’ Gutenberg editor or block-based system. Automattic (WordPress’ owners) clearly are targeting website designers who only occasionally need to edit text, with heavy writing (i.e. blogging) treated as an afterthought. Competing with Squarespace and the like might be good for Automattic, but given WordPress’ dominance (and the lack of user-friendly alternatives), that leaves those who dislike the block-based editor stuck. None of WordPress’ changes feel like they cater to writers, and that clearly isn’t changing in the future.

Thus, I thought I’d prepare things for a possible switch to ClassicPress, a WordPress fork that uses the old pre-block editor. I also made some plugin changes on the backend; I relied somewhat on Jetpack. As of this writing, it doesn’t seem like ClassicPress’ migration plugin works on WordPress version 5.9 installations; trying to downgrade WordPress gave me, well, mixed results. Also, I wanted to keep Neve (the previous theme), but it’s not compatible with ClassicPress.

Thus, for now, I can use the Classic Editor plugin (to get the old pre-block WordPress editor back), avoid updating WordPress to version 6.x, and see if ClassicPress issues an update to the migration plugin.

If you have any questions or comments on any of the above, please let me know in the comments below.

Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

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