Salon launches blog service.
July 23, 2002 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Salon launches blog service. Free for 30 days, then it's $39.95 for the first year of software updates and web hosting. Let the debate begin!
posted by sassone (26 comments total)
I am not very familiar with Radio, but isn't it a good feature for a blog service to be accessible from the web? Downloading software might be easier to maintain the service, but CMS accessibility takes a huge hit. I'd rather spend money on something that resides on a server (the companies or mine, preferably mine) rather than have it work from the desktop.
posted by riffola at 8:24 PM on July 23, 2002

For Joe Bloguser I think a desktop app is good. Radio has some problems, but the paradigm behind it is good.
posted by owillis at 8:31 PM on July 23, 2002

The Radio Userland client lives on your desktop computer, but the weblog itself resides on a server. It's a rich client/poor server arrangement. Your weblog data lives on the client and publishes static pages to the server via XML-RPC or FTP. The server only does a couple of things: It receives pages, handles user comments, and tracks referrals and site visitors.
posted by rcade at 8:34 PM on July 23, 2002

I want to see a desktop version of Movable Type. I've used Radio, and while there's no doubt it's a powerful app, I think it's greatly lacking in the usability department. The first product to combine the on-the-desktop appeal of Radio with the ease of use and features of Movable Type will really blow the doors off, IMO.
posted by scottandrew at 8:44 PM on July 23, 2002

I suppose $39.95 isn't too bad for the sort of traffic influx could generate-- that is what the money's for, right?

Wonder how much it costs to just get a link off the main page to one's top-level domain.
posted by precocious at 8:46 PM on July 23, 2002

Wonder how much it costs to just get a link off the main page to one's top-level domain.

Couldn't you just put a meta-tag refresh in your $39.95 homepage?
posted by timeistight at 8:59 PM on July 23, 2002

Salon's getting pretty desperate ... but I like some of their stuff, so more power to 'em.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:00 PM on July 23, 2002

That's what I'm wondering. Hosting a blog at Salon would certainly bring more traffic than say but last thing I want on my site is an ad.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 9:01 PM on July 23, 2002

Since Salon is using Radio, and $40 is the same if you pay Salon or Userland directly, what's the benefit of going with Salon vs. using your free 40MB on Userland's servers?
posted by adamv at 10:32 PM on July 23, 2002

adamv: Branding, boy! It's not just any old prole blog. It's a Salon blog! It marks you out a member of the chattering classes, a sophisticate among philistines. It implies that you can trade bon mots with the best of them. In a world of franks and beans, the Salon blogger is caviar and Cristal.

After all, do you want to be part of Salon, or do you want to give money to a disreputable-looking guy named "Whiner?" I think the answer is clear.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to hop in the Volvo and zip up to the Hamptons.
posted by rusty at 11:01 PM on July 23, 2002

Kudos to Dave for the product placement. (Notably, Pyra's Trellix deal hasn't materialized anything similar.) It does seem expensive; that's been the Userland model forever, though (annual licensing fees, which always seem a little steep considering). I do wonder whether the Salon branding will be enough to overcome the cost barrier for new bloggers; people have gone with Blogger Pro, but generally only after having used the free version for a while and outlasted the experimental phase.

I think this is mainly going to be a feature that will revolve around the Salon Table Talk community; whether it succeeds in reaching out to the larger blogosphere will be interesting to see. The Fray certainly spawned a hefty bunch of political bloggers over the last year (e.g. Instapundit), and though there are still fault lines there are starting to be connections between that group and the larger blog world.

To answer riffola myself: I don't think that blogging as a web service is a necessity, and it certainly has its drawbacks: Blogger users, and especially Blogspot users, went through a spell in the first half of July where archive pages were munged all over the place. A bunch of heavy-duty folks went to MT because of it; others gave up updating their blogs until it was fixed. There wasn't much communication, although the PublicMind help-desk thing seemed to help some out. (I determined that my archive template needed -- despite zero changes -- resaving.) When thousands of people are dependent on the uptime of a centralized service, thousands of blogs can be affected by the same problem. Also, there are smaller nits like posts that disappear into the ether, or browser crashes that make you lose that trenchant six-paragraph piece you were just moments from posting. Desktop apps overcome these issues. In short, they're a legitimate choice.
posted by dhartung at 12:30 AM on July 24, 2002

a feature that will revolve around the Salon Table Talk community

Well, that's pretty sad then. Table Talk used to be the best discussion site on the Web, but since they started charging, it's just depressing to go in there and see all the old best discussions get posted to once a month. If Salon had only thought of this blogging idea before they started charging for Table Talk, they could have had a ready-made group of people who would be willing to pay for this and whose names regular TT readers would recognize (I could probably name 20 of my favorite Table Talkers and I didn't even post there more than a handful of times.)
posted by transona5 at 12:52 AM on July 24, 2002

I like how the first Salon blog is currently inaccessible. -- the new blogspot, indeed.
posted by dagny at 1:55 AM on July 24, 2002

Oh, and the URLs are useless. I mean: ""? For $40, I would expect my own subdomain (say or at LEAST my own custom subdirectory (

They're trying to "get it", sure, but they haven't quite "got it" yet.
posted by dagny at 1:58 AM on July 24, 2002

if salon wanted to raise money why haven't they used an open source weblog hosting software and charged the users directly?
posted by arf at 3:38 AM on July 24, 2002

Or even an installation of Livejournal? I'm not a fan myself but they've got a for pay infrastructure and some really, really cool conversation and friend tracking technology. It seems like something that would work for them. I'm glad they've done something though. It'd be pretty cool if blogging revenue 'saved' Salon. It Probably won't happen, their problems are too deep, but it'd be cool all the same.
posted by nedrichards at 3:59 AM on July 24, 2002

I think Salon's missing an opportunity here; as a content provider that offers a blog service, they could develop a client that allows users to easily extract text and photo excerpts from Salon content. Users could then add their own commentary, and when published, the extracted salon content would appear with a link to the original article. Not only would this get more people talking about salon content, it would also encourage readers to pony up for salon's premium membership so they could read the original articles that salon bloggers are talking about.
posted by astirling at 4:40 AM on July 24, 2002

I agree, Antville is awesome software, it's free and hell, they could have even donated just 30% of what they make off of it (although, realistically they would donate less I'm sure) back to the development team. The people who work on HELMA Object Publisher are doing a great job. I can't wait to use their software, and this would have been a great chance to support them.
posted by Jevon at 5:16 AM on July 24, 2002

Radio Userland is expensive compared to some weblog publishing software, but cheap compared to the $899 pricetag of Frontier. It contains most of the Frontier functionality, aside from the Manila weblog hosting feature.

I don't think Salon would have offered this service if it couldn't pay for it along the way. Most free services related to web hosting have disappeared or gone commercial over the last year.
posted by rcade at 6:02 AM on July 24, 2002

If this is all tied in with Table Talk (and I don't see anything on the site to indicate that directly), I've gotta agree with transona5: pretty sad then.

Does Table Talk still use Web Crossing/WebX? So many sites do but I absolutely cannot stand it. Back in the days of free Table Talk one or two discussions caught my eye and seemed when I peeked in to be progressing along in lively fashion, but the WebX format is well-nigh unusable for following a long, involved discussion, in my own opinion. Perhaps it would be better for more lightweight uses, akin to a blog commenting system, but I'd really have to be convinced.
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:33 AM on July 24, 2002

Clarification: I was simply making the assumption that the Table Talk subscribers were the only natural constituency for the blog feature. Its success probably depends on that being false.
posted by dhartung at 7:49 AM on July 24, 2002

i think its pretty crappy that Ev helped create this whole revolution and as soon as people start to get grumpy about his free service they jump ship to, now, of all people, a crappy online glorified Zine aimed at yuppies who click at their desks while their lattes cool.

BloggerPro is $35 and is the next logical step from Blogger. you know, the reason they call it a Blog in the first place.

loyalty is such a ancient value.
posted by tsarfan at 9:02 AM on July 24, 2002

The reason they call it a blog is from Jorn Barger's joining of "web" and "log."

Accuracy is a current value.
posted by NortonDC at 10:46 AM on July 24, 2002

i think its pretty crappy that Ev helped create this whole revolution and as soon as people start to get grumpy about his free service they jump ship to, now, of all people, a crappy online glorified Zine aimed at yuppies who click at their desks while their lattes cool.

That's not really accurate, they're called blogs because Peter Merholz re-divided the word after Jorn Barger coined it, and Brig Eaton decided to use only the second syllable. But I'll let it slide since you must clearly be trying to give Dave Winer an aneurysm.
posted by anildash at 12:54 PM on July 24, 2002

tsarfan: Even Blogger Pro users were complaining; so were Blogspot users who "bought" the ad off the top of their page. I don't see it as jumping ship; I see it as people using a free service for a free level of blogging, who have discovered that it may no longer suit their needs vis-a-vis accessibility or uptime. It's really a very small number of users -- 1% at most.

And what Norton said. In fact, Peter Merholz gets credit for chopping off the "we". And blog as a verb wasn't really well-accepted until Pyra pushed Blogger.

Ev's running a business. The free service is supposed to be a loss leader. If I get a coupon for a free McDonald's hamburger, I don't feel obligated to return the next day and buy a Big Mac at cost. And if McDonald's is to be credited with "helping create" the fast-food revolution, does that mean Burger King can't set up shop across the street?
posted by dhartung at 12:55 PM on July 24, 2002

Thanks for the explanations about why the desktop app is a good idea. I was looking at it from the Moveable Type point of view, of course if Salon is hosting the blogs on it's servers, I now see why desktop app approach would be a better option.
posted by riffola at 7:10 PM on July 24, 2002

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