Bloggers: I Replaced Thesis, Disqus and Filament in Favor of Wordpressand Shareaholic



This post is a bit different from most of my DIY posts,  but in a way it follows the "Do it Yourselfer" mentality. This post is about building your blog yourself and some modifications that I made that hopefully that will help my fellow bloggers so they don't make the same mistakes I did.

My blog needed some organization, a fresh look and some TLC - just like many of my other projects.  In the last month I've made the following changes:

  1. Removed Thesis in favor of Wordpress responsive theme

  2. Removed  Disqus in favor of Wordpress comments

  3. Removed  Filament widget AND Wordpress Related Posts in favor of Shareaholic (that's 2 plugins for 1!)

Why I Removed Thesis in Favor of Wordpress Based Themes

The reason why I blog is to write, share ideas and stuff that is just plain-old-fun! And frankly, the Thesis platform based theme was making it such a pain.  I really did try to give it a fair shake - I used the platform and theme for over a year! Let me break it down from my perspective why I'm just not a fan of Thesis:

    1. Thesis theme costs a pretty penny.  Let's face it bloggers, we don't make a lot of money doing this. PR and companies generally do not respect the time and effort it takes to write and portray ideas.  (Which is ironic because we have read and shared among our closed groups some of the really poorly written emails from some of the PR reps...there is a reason they need us, they can't write....but I digress.)  The point, Thesis costs and most of what we do comes from our pockets.

    2. Thesis theme effectively adds another layer of code.  So you have to consider additional code when modifying a theme that is layered on top of Thesis.  Thesis portrays that it is drag and drop boxes, which is true, but after a year I have yet to figure out how to add a box without costing me money - which takes me back to the first point.

    3. After you purchase Thesis platform then you more than likely need to purchase a theme that works on Thesis.  Thesis themes are generally not free, especially any of the nice, responsive themes.  This will likely change, but with Google's change to promote mobile friendly sites, if you want responsive Thesis theme be prepared to pay - again...

    4. Support...Thesis, well, I didn't get support from them.  Thesis has forums and those are just helpful {sarcasm}.  I did, however, get a lot of support from the makers of the theme that I purchased.  But if you have been watching my website for the past 3 months I've stopped asking for comments on posts but instead look for engagement on social media which I watch several times a day.  Because of my behavioral change the Thesis theme broke! I've had a error message in coding language appear on my site for months!!!  The developers have been "working" on this.  Being a former Professional IT Professional myself, I know how this works:  This minor defect in the code probably didn't even make their radar for modifications - it's what we'd called an "aesthetic defect with a workaround" (i.e., the user could fix it if they just turned on the comments).  So, what this means, I was at the mercy of other coders to correct their errors....I'm not good with that.  This is my site that I do for fun and for those who actually want to read it. :) So, for my sake and others I choose to change it.

    5. Thesis does not play well with all widgets and plugins.  Most of the Wordpress plugins and widgets are designed for Wordpress, not this additional layer of code.  What this means, expect widgets/plugins not to work, expect to try and find "boxes" to make them work, expect to dig into the code. Then expect to uninstall the plugin that you really want.  :)
Fortunately, I will say that it was really easy to change off of Thesis thanks to my hosting provider, MediaTemple.net.   MediaTemple has a very nice feature where you can duplicate your site to play with the theme and widgets in a Staging environment.  Once I found a Wordpress recommended, responsive, free theme (called Bloggr) and played with it in a staging environment all I had to do was click a button that said push to production and within seconds the theme, new widgets and settings were moved to production - AWESOME!.  Bye-bye headache, hello easy to use Wordpress site with really cool widgets I didn't know existed!!!!

Why I Removed  Disqus in Favor of Wordpress Inherent Comments

I had been using Disqus since almost the inception of my website because it came highly recommended by another blogger.  At the time I was bombarded by 1500 spam comments in a day and Disqus helped keep the trolls and spammers out.  I must say, Disqus was extremely effective at preventing spammers.  I kept it for years and then the Thesis theme that I purchased was updated by the developer to include the Disqus widget and 'box', so I felt pretty well stuck with the widget.  But thanks to my decision to remove Thesis I was FINALLY able to remove Disqus because:
  1. Disqus made it difficult for people to leave comments.  I know I get super annoyed and discouraged whenever I have to login or create an account of some sort to post a comment on other people's blogs - its a barrier to communication.

  2. Disqus started throwing in Ads at the bottom of the post above the comment box - what the heck is that about!!! Video ads that slowed down the site.

  3. Disqus, Thesis and Wordpress did not play well together.  As I mentioned above, whenever I decided to not request comments on a post there was coding language on my webpage and there was nothing I could do about it....not cool....

  4. Wordpress had made improvements on spam prevention.  It goes back to, let's just keep it simple.  I'm here to write, share and interact with real-live-people and thankfully the Wordpress inherent functionality has improved. 
Once I removed Disqus and started using the Wordpress recommended theme and Wordpress inherent comments, my site runs faster, it looks cleaner and it is soooo much easier for people to leave comments!!! And no annoying coding!

Why I Removed  Filament AND Wordpress Related Posts in Favor of Shareaholic

Filament: When I first started with Filament I was looking for something for people to share my content really easy. Filament definitely did the job but it didn't quite hit the mark  because:
  1. Filament was a bit awkward to configure.  To be more specific, you login to a separate site, configure it and test it on that site, then publish the code, copy the code to the space provided into the widget that you installed on your Wordpress site.  Awkward....

  2. Filament had a limited amount of shareable options.  Filament hit the top share sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Stumble, but it didn't cover some of the other more niche or diverse areas like Digg, Reddit, Delicious etc.
WordPress Related Posts:  When I started the grinninglikeanidiot.com I used nRelate Widget to show related posts that others may like, but in 2014 nRelated decided to no longer offer it's services and removed the widget for all bloggers.  That left us scrambling to find a replacement.  I went with Wordpress Related Posts because it was Wordpress related and I thought - oh simple!  And as a matter of fact, it was truly simple and had it not been for Shareaholic's additional functionality I probably would still use Wordpress Related Posts - no complaints.

Shareaholic Widget Replaced both Filament and WordPress Related Posts I was able to:
  1. Install and configure the widget within Wordpress

  2. Shareaholic has a TON more share sites so now you'll see Digg, Reddit and Delicious AND if the options I selected to show doesn't meet the needs of readers, they can select the "more" option and pick what they want to share it on!  LOVE OPTIONS!!!

  3. Control, by post, whether to have share buttons or not (sharing is caring :) )

  4. Control, by post, whether to hide related content, and/or exclude this post from Related Content
One Widget that can cover 2 major functions.  Keeping it simple for me.  LOVE IT!

Again, I know this post doesn't hit home for a large number of my audience of Do it Yourselfers, but I do hope that it helps and prevents others from going through some of the pain that I'd gone through.  The blogging community is very much a community of fellow supporters and I LOVE my community.  With that in mind:

Fellow bloggers, what is one of your lessons learned?

Stephanie Weaver

Grinning Like An Idiot: Create your Happiness. I'm a stay-at-home mom who doesn't 'stay' very well. I like to provide everyone with resources and ideas for crafts, painting and DIY!