For whatever reason you began blogging, be it personal or otherwise, one aspect of blogging transcends blog type: comments and commenting. Whether you’re blogging about your most recent holiday or about the latest piece of technology, it’s always a nice feeling to receive a comment on your post. A large part of receiving comments on blog posts is, I believe, community related. If there is a community around your blog of regular like-minded visitors who share an interest in your writing, there will surely be more frequent commenting on your blog’s posts.
This brings me to the main topic of this post: do self-hosted WordPress users miss out on natural community interaction?
The WordPress.com community has many natural integrated ways of sharing the scope of their blog network- a page of “freshly pressed” blog posts from across the network, surfing to related posts throughout the network similar to the post you are currently reading, the ability to subscribe to and add to your blogroll any blog on the network that you find interesting and would like to share, with a single click. All of these factors lead to strengthening the community around the blog network.
Self-hosted WordPress.org users, however, have more of a task on their hands, I’d say. With no real integrated community of blogs across a network (given that they blogs are all self-hosted) the blogger, should they wish to build a community, has to somehow create said community manually or naturally through the power of their awesome writing ( note: not all bloggers are professional copywriters 😉 ). This also leads to bloggers needing to be more creative in the ways the promote their blogs, making more conscious use of social networking and social media platforms (WordPress.com has automated tweeting of new blog posts, FYI), taking potential time away from the blogging itself.
As you can see by visiting my blog, I’m a self-hosted WordPress.org user. The ability to fully control and customise my entire blog, along with any themes or plugins, is a necessity for me. I’m also familiar with web hosting, domain registration, etc, so it’s not a necessity for me that all of that gets taken care of by WordPress. For many users, WordPress.com is the way to go, as they can dive straight into their blog’s content. The lack of out-of-the-box allowance for custom themes and plugins on WordPress.com is completely understandable, which they in turn make up for, in my opinion, with the addition of strong community-driving elements (ultimately more beneficial to WordPress.com users, in my opinion), as mentioned above.
To answer the question posed above, no, I don’t think WordPress.org users are missing out. It’s simply a case of looking at it from a slightly different angle. There’s a lot that can be said about both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. My solution: have both. The more the merrier. 😉