Back to WordPress

Last August I outlined some new rules for myself when it comes to blogging and they have worked well. The only thing outlined which I haven’t adhered to is “no categories” — there’s just too much differently themed content on this site to make it sane to navigate without them.

The “no categories” rule fell into the “get out of your own way” bucket. I’ve reached a point where I need add a sister rule, the “get out of my way” rule, the contents of which would read something like: “If you think about writing a post then remember some pain-point in the process which makes you reluctant to do so, get rid of the pain-point”. For me, that pain-point has become Jekyll.

Just so we’re on the same page, Jekyll is good at what it does, was groundbreaking back in it’s day and is utterly worthy of the love it receives. It’s just that for me, in this particular case, it’s no longer the right tool.

The setup

I have been tinkering with my own static site generator on and off for a while. There are some ideas in it that I believe to be good, but with more pressing work projects, a summer that’s set to be non-stop, and plenty of good-enough solutions already out there, it’s not worth dedicating the time needed to finish it right now so I’ve gone back to the most popular good-enough for my needs solution out there: WordPress.

I’ve set it up on a cheap and cheerful Linode box. It’s being served with NGINX, and I’ve installed WP Super Cache in an attempt to make the performance reasonable. It’s still using the HTTP2 protocol and I’m using the outstanding Let’s Encrypt for SSL.

I have served my time as a WordPress theme developer and have no desire to go back, so I’m using WP’s default — but pretty nice — twenty-seventeen theme with one or two very minor tweaks.

The main thing I’d like to do next is set up Varnish in a further attempt to minimise the performance hit that comes with dynamic sites.

Jekyll’s downsides

I’ve yet to mention why Jekyll was a pain-point for me so here goes:

  1. Everything has to go through git. This is both a blessing and a curse, but ultimately it limits where, when and on what device you can easily write or edit drafts and publish content.
  2. Jekyll is slow to compile all my posts these days. The lag between git push and an updated site is more than I’d like. Local development doesn’t even bear thinking about.
  3. Timestamps. It’s a little thing but manually editing timestamps is plain unpleasant.
  4. There’s no non-javascripty (Disqus) way to have comments on a statically generated site with the spam filtering required in 2017. Which leads me nicely to…

Now with commenting

One of my favourite ways to procrastinate for a few minutes is to visit the old blogs of those I admire on

Almost invariably, those blogs had comments enabled and the contents of those comments were almost invariably positive and/or informative.

Of all the blogs I read regularly, the only one I can think of that still has comments enabled is CSS Tricks. There again, I’ll more often than not learn something interesting if I dig into the comments.

As for my own recent experiences with comments, I somewhat recently started posting screencasts to YouTube, and though probably only because they have a few hundred views between them, the comments I’ve received there have once again been positive.

Other than the occasional post on r/rust, this blog is the only place I write publicly on the internet these days. A downside of not partaking in the usual social media services is the loss of conversation around a link posted to something I’ve written. The addition of comments is my attempt at providing an opportunity for those discussions to take place once again.

Time will tell if this is a good move or pure naivety.


If you’re reading this in your RSS reader, I’d recommend updating the feed URL to I’ve setup a redirect so the old feed URL will still work, but PubSubHubbub no longer gets pinged for it so posts will take a while to show up.