I just took a brief look at my.opera.com‘s features yesterday and it is a very good contender when compare to WordPress.com‘s blog hosting service. I actually looked at other free blogging hosting providers too and none seems to match my basic criteria, which are free, search, and tags. Both blogging service providers met my basic criteria. There are probably many more. Let me know if you know more good ones. After taking a closer look, I identified a few strengths and weakness on both and shared them with you below.
Let’s start with my.opera.com. It’s actually not just a blog hosting site. Rather, its focus is to be a social networking site that happen to have blogging and photo hosting. Since my focus is on blog features, I won’t spend much words on social networking or photo hosting features. Given its broader focus, my.opera.com still have impressive features. It also allows you to define access rights and passwords to let user to control who to expose the content to. This is a nice touch that I don’t remember seeing on WordPress. To me, this is a nice to have feature. Users can also add widgets such as polls and countdowns, which are interesting nice to have features too. The available designs that my.opera.com has also looks pretty nice. WordPress has equivalent feature here and even took a step further by allow custom CSS for paid users. Since I only look at free features, custom CSS doesn’t count. 😉 Responsiveness of my.opera.com web site is also very good for the short duration that I evaluated. This is where WordPress.com might be a bit behind on. The jury is still out on this responsiveness comparison.
I was impressed that my.opera.com takes a RDF and exposes a FOAF (Friend of a Friend) link on the bottom of user’s public about page. my.opera.com also allows an user to display a widget that lists which my.opera.com users visited his/her blog. This is also a nice touch. These are certainly social networking features that doesn’t have to be in a blog.
On the other hand, WordPress still provides many features that I appreciate. I really like the stats showing past 3mo traffic trend not just on the blog, also on each individual blog entry. Also, information on top posts and best day ever also informative. The export/import feature allows me to re-host my blog on a different instance of WordPress software if I choose to. This is one of the best feature of WordPress.com. I have the freedom to move my content, even if it is moving from other sources to WordPress.com. This is a very cool feature that my.opera.com can learn from.
I find browsing other people’s blogs easier with WordPress than my.opera.com. my.opera.com’s language preference seems to be broken. I saw so many Vietnamese blogs on my.opera.com, or at least I think they are Vietnamese ;), I started to think there aren’t that many English blogs. It’s great that my.opera.com is a global service provider and good to see people of different countries participate on this global community. I just find it harder to find peop “local” community with my.opera.com. WordPress.com allows tags surfing, while I don’t see that in my.opera.com. Considering my.opera.com’s focus is more on social networking, I have higher expectations on these features.
Hope my commentary helps both WordPress and my.opera.com developer communities to improve future releases of blogging applications. Keep up the good work.