Which companies help bloggers the most?

Image representing WordPress as depicted in Cr...

Which companies provide the best support to bloggers when everything goes wrong?

I have been pondering this the last three months as I have worked on this blog. In that time I have educated myself from being someone who was a complete technophobe who could not even upload a picture onto Facebook into someone who spends hours struggling, and sometimes succeeding, to cut and paste the most extraordinary variety of downloadable, web-hosted widgets and stuff onto my blog. I still remain, however, very much less skilled than a web designer or programmer.

So which companies, over that period, have really helped bloggers like me? And who gets you seduced and then cuts you loose? Here is my list of the best and the worst. What are yours?

The best

  • WordPress must come at the very top of my list. The blogging software is supplied with a simple enough template but it is the email response that is extraordinary. Anthony, among others at WordPress, respond almost immediately when you have made some silly mistake that takes one click to resolve.
  • Next must come Zemanta. I only downloaded it 48 hours ago but, as soon as I hit problems, I had Marko, the operations manager, using Skype’s IM to resolve my problems. And he has been back. Perhaps that is the benefit of downloading something from a relatively new and small (?) start-up.

Those who try their best

  • Flickr did respond to emails about problems when my photostream would not update on my blog – but I got the feeling that the person who emailed me had not read my original plea for help or simply did not understand it. The problem resolved itself.
  • MyBlogLog did its best to try and help me when I could not cut-and-paste a panel that shows who has visited my site. Unfortunately it was a problem with WordPress (not JavaScript compatible) but at least they responded – if slowly.

Those who I am still awaiting a reply

  • OK, so now I am getting a little bit ratty. But I am still waiting for some help from ustream.tv about how to embed my TV channel on my blog – I’ve sorted it out myself by the way. But the company merely sent me charming emails saying that people would come back to me when they didn’t.
  • Designer YongFook’s Sweetcron is too difficult for a non-programmer like me. The only solution is to join a Google Group. YongFook works on his own so he has a good excuse.

Those that do not help you at all

  • One company that has no excuse is Google’ Feedburner. I mucked up when I signed up and started four email/RSS feed subscriptions by mistake. Can I find out how to combine four into one and turn three off? No. My question has joined another Google Group only to be descend down the list, irgnored and unloved.

So who would you add to the list? Which company do you think helps bloggers the most?

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3 Responses to Which companies help bloggers the most?

  1. Yongfook says:

    John, I’ve noticed you make negative comments about Sweetcron a couple of times on this blog and I thought it’s time I comment.

    SC is an open source project run by one guy. I’m flattered that you’re excited enough about it to want to try it out, but I didn’t promise it would be everything to all people. Right now it’s great fun to play with if you’re capable of tweaking CSS and a little php. Obviously you’re not at a level where you can make use of it at this stage, but that’s no reason to go spreading negativity about the project. Beyond the active discussion forum I’m not sure what else I can offer you for help, bar tutorial sessions in php and css…

    It’s run by one guy, it’s my pet project – cut me a little slack, please. Trashing my pet project and benchmarking me against companies with dozens of full-time employees is not cool.


  2. John Welsh says:

    Thanks for the comment, YF.
    Let me respond!
    1 First and foremost, I think Sweetcron is the most amazing bit of kit that I have seen lately. It really turns the concept of a Lifestream into something that the mainstream can understand. So, congratulations!
    2 Indeed I have been so excited by Sweetcron that I have illustrated and added links to both your own Lifestream and Vuthy’s several times. Only recently I showed Vuthy’s lastest design – which I thought was great.
    3 I guess my disappointment – and this is meant to be constructive not negative criticism – is that I cannot do it. Your original launch site made it look easy and friendly – kind of like the 1/2/3 of Google’s blogspot. But, as you point out, it needs more skills than someone like me. Perhaps it needed to have stated somewhere the level of skills needed to get it going – as Kieran Delaney does on his blog – http://kierandelaney.net/blog/projects/simplelife/ for his lifestream.
    4 Why is such a warning necessary? Well, look at it from my point of view. I have/had no background in programming or even the web until a few months ago. And yet downloadable, web-hosted widgets, blogging software, even Homestead’s build-your-own, is now so easy that the expectation is that everything is possible.
    5 You are right that it is not fair to benchmark you against vast corporations. I did not think that I had – my posting above explicityly states that you are one-man band.

    But, let me repeat. Sweetcron looks and feels like the future. When you make it simple enough for me, you will make it simple enough to be a mainstream product. What you see as negative is more about my disappointment that I cannot be a part of it. A qualification as to such on your Sweetcron homepage would have made that clearer.

  3. Re your blog debate: I’m currently running a blog on Blogger (www.kbb.co.uk/blog) and so far it has run without problems. Prior to this blog however, by blogging activity was on TypePad – paid for I admit – but the service I received was exceptional! Emails were always answered promptly and the advice given was spot on every time. It would be my first choice for a paid for service every time.

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