Thursday, March 30, 2006

Alternatives to Blogger: MSN Spaces

Over at the Alliance HQ, we've been covering a series of blogging platforms as alternatives to Blogger. While Blogger is a popular program for beginners and experienced bloggers alike, some people don't like the platform and either avoid it altogether, or move from it to another service or platform.

Today, we're looking at another free alternative: MSN Spaces.

Like Blogger, MSN Spaces is owned by a huge company; Blogger is owned by Google while MSN Spaces is owned by Microsoft. So, if Blogger's big owner turns you off, you'll likely be turned off by MSN Spaces. Conversely, if you're not bothered by the big company owner of Blogger, you likely won't be bothered by the big company owner of MSN Spaces.

Enough Of That, How Does It Stack Up?

MSN Spaces overcomes some of the real or perceived shortcomings of Google.

  • You don't have to republish the entire blog for small edits. Even large changes to appearance are handled by .NET server technology. That is, much of the formatting information appears to be stored in ASP variables, so changes are written to the database and don't need to be written to one or more files.

  • MSN Spaces supporting categories. In addition to the default categories provided, you can add your own, up to 25.

  • TrackBack support is built-in. While Blogger's Backlinks leverage Google's search to automatically (thought not immediately) display sites that link to your Blogger blog, MSN Spaces doesn't do any such thing. Rather, the traditional, more widely-supported TrackBack technology of SixApart is used. And preferred by many.

  • The ability to scroll through lists of posts overcomes the 300-post limit on the edit page that Google/Blogger has

  • Beginners don't have the same difficulty in editing the Templates. It's fairly easy to make changes, but not as many changes can be make. In Blogger, you can literally make lots of changes, limited only by your HTML/CSS knowledge.

  • Service disruptions aren't perceived to be an issue with MSN Spaces. Whether or not that's an accurate perception, MSN Spaces doesn't have the reputation for being down nearly as often as Blogger.

  • There is a window-esque, drop-and-drag interface to use when creating a blog. After all, it's a Microsoft product, as is Windows.

Although those Blogger issues are addressed with MSN Spaces, other issues remain:

  • Not offering extended entry functionality ("More..." or "Click to continue...")

  • Lack of variety in Templates or Template selection is limited. In fact, more so than Blogger.

  • Unhappy with the general appearance of Templates. In MSN Spaces, they do have a professional look, but it's a cookie-cutter professional look.

  • Fixed width Templates are the norm for MSN Spaces.

  • No ability to moderate (as opposed to delete) comments. And once you delete a comments, it's gone.

  • Inability to schedule posts for future publishing.

  • "Second class blog" stigma / must have a "" URL, similar to Blogger's "" URL

Problems or Limitations of MSN Spaces

There are some things about MSN Spaces that you'll encounter that you don't encounter with Blogger.

For example, anyone can access your Blogger blog. However, Microsoft requires people sign in to Passport to view your site. Because of that, it's more of a "community" than a public blogging platform.

The upside is that if someone trolls your blog, at least you've forced them to log in and can attempt to use that information when reporting such activity to Microsoft.

Finally, the biggie: I can't find a way to add Alliance information to your site. Which means that, despite its overcoming of many of Blogger's real or perceived limitations, you can't meet all the requirements for joining the Alliance. And, without that, there's no way I can recommend MSN Spaces.


  1. I'm a member of blog explosion like a lot of folks, and I have had to report more MSN Spaces blogs because they required me to "sign in" to MSN. Not everyone has a hotmail account!! I tried it at first when I was looking for a platform, and it has improved greatly since then, just look at Amy Proctor's site for an example. But there has to be a better, cheaper option. Oh, did you hear about who got Merri Musings URL after she moved? EEK!

  2. Yeah, I saw what happened to Merri.

    I understand TypePad making URLs available when someone leaves and quits paying for the service. However, I thought they didn't allow certain "adult" content.

    Of course, it's probably not adults hitting that site, but horny teens.

  3. I just switched from a MSN Spaces blog format to Wordpress (, and I've been very pleased with the change. Wordpress is free, much easier to use (for me and readers), and looks much more professional. The only drawback is that Wordpress has not yet developed an import program that would enable me to transfer my old posts (There are import programs available to go from Bloggger to Wordpress). It's definitely worth checking out if you're contemplating a switch.


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