What Are You Doing Still Using Movable Type 2.6?

My technical post follows, but I’d like to comment briefly on the Iraqi elections. Eight million voters, or a 60% turnout surpasses my requirement for labelling the elections a success, assuming that this number is true throughout the country and doesn’t dip below 50% in major parts of it. Violence has been kept to a relative minimum and people who have called for an active boycott of the election have themselves been, well, boycotted.

It’s still too early to tell, but I think it’s not too early to cross one’s fingers.

Chris Albritton, whose in Bagdhad and whose eyes aren’t covered with Fox News-supplied rose-coloured glasses, has called the election for the Iraqi people:

My friend Mitch and I were discussing this and regardless of who wins in the polls, the Iraqis won here and proved themselves — for a day, at least — stronger than the insurgency. And that’s a very big symbolic victory. A huge one, in fact, and Iraqis should take great pride in themselves. When they had the opportunity, they stood up and were counted.

One major caveat, however, are his reports that the Sunnis didn’t participate. Big red flag:

The real losers were the Sunnis who didn’t participate. They missed a golden opportunity to take part in a process that, while flawed, were the only game in town. I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and a civil war may still erupt, but if it does, the elected government — one elected by Shi’a and Kurds, for the most part — will have the moral high ground in it.

On the Trenchcoat front, I’m moving through the packing and posting phase. Fourteen copies have been delivered or put in the post so far. Just another forty-four to go…

Now, on with the show…

Walking through the blogosphere, I am astounded at the number of blogs out there which are still using version 2.6 of Movable Type. A lot of big blogs haven’t made the switch, including 2004 Canadian Blog Awards nominees Tilting at Windmills and POGGE. The current stable version is now 3.15.

Now, I’m not one to advocate leaping to the latest version because of the new car smell (although I admit that I do geek out over the latest version of something — witness my disasterous attempt to use Mozilla 1.85 beta). If you find that version 2.6 of Movable Type suits your purposes, then by all means stick with it. It is a very stable and effective version. However, a number of these same blogs are starting to complain about comment spam. Which means that your version of MT is not suiting your purposes and it is time to upgrade. Or switch to WordPress.

There are a few reasons I can think of why some people haven’t made the switch, and I’d like to address some of them. Perhaps this will give you incentive to upgrade. Perhaps not. But here they are anyway:

1. Doesn’t Movable Type 3.0 cost money to own?

It’s true that Movable Type started version 3.0 under a cloud when it announced an unpopular license scheme. It looked like non-profit users with multiple blogs were going to be gouged $60, $80, $100 or more. But Six Apart listened to the firestorm of protest (not like they had much choice, frankly) and they responded.

There is absolutely a free version of Movable Type 3.15 out there. The only limitation is that you are stuck with one blog author and three separate web logs. As far as I know, this is enforced on the honour system rather than anything else, though people seem loathe to test this (or, at least, don’t publically announce they are doing so). If you are running a single weblog and you are the only person posting to it, you’re scott free.

Next up are personal editions and unlimited personal editions, for $69.95 and $99.95 respectively. The first limits you five authors and an unlimited number of weblogs. The latter gives you absolutely free reign. From there, you have commercial licenses, education licenses, and not-for-profit licenses. Again, most of these seem to be policed by the honour system, although there is a registration process for people trying to buy licenses.

Although $99.95 is a hefty price to pay for certain types of software, I still own an unlimited personal license. I managed to lower my initial costs by feeding in registration keys I’d earned beforehand when I donated $20 or more to the folks at Six Apart. These keys each give you a $20 discount, and there doesn’t appear to be a limit. The promise is also that it will be some time before it costs extra to upgrade. I bought on when the development edition (3.0D) came out. I’ve had free upgrades to versions 3.01D, 3.11, 3.12, 3.14 and finally 3.15.

This is the reason the whole licensing controversy has died down. After much shouting, Six Apart and its remaining users appear to have come to an equitable agreement. There may be some lingering resentment over the price changes, however; if there is, let me assure most of you that it’s over now. You can download MT 3.15 for free and use it legally, and the time has come for you to do so.

2. Isn’t Upgrading to 3.0 Difficult?

Upgrading Movable Type from anything to anything is a nerve wracking experience. Over on the Pronet forum, there is some discussion about a program that automates the upgrade process, but that’s some time in the future. Because upgrading files on a server is one level up in complexity than upgrading files on your home computer, all upgrades to Movable Type are a risk, but a manageable risk and one well worth taking.

Just be sure, before you start uploading files, that you export your blogs onto text files. If all else fails, you can wipe your old installation, reset your database, install from scratch and re-import your old files. Really the trickiest parts, I’ve found, have come in upgrading the database. But Movable Type has a good set of instructions which, if followed carefully, should serve you well.

Look, I’ve upgraded two blogs (other than my own) from MT 2.6 to MT 3.15, and while some parts of the process were hairy, the job got done. These guys are still online, and they’re both reporting improvements in dealing with comment spam.

3. Are There Any Advantages in Upgrading?

Yes, there are advantages other than the new car smell. The interface has been improved, making it easier to access certain features. Formatting buttons now work in both IE and Mozilla. You can now display comments as easily as old entries. And there are a number of new bells and whistles.

But if you fear comment spam, you should upgrade to the latest release. MT Blacklist 2.04 is proving to be exceptionally effective in fighting back comment spam. Recent vulnerabilities, including a waste of server resources when comment spams are blocked, have been dealt with in the upgrades to MT 3.15 and MTBlacklist 2.04. Simply put, the comment spam is more soundly dealt with here.

The fight against comment spam is not about to end, and the good folks at Six Apart as well as Jay Allen know this, but recent upgrades show that all parties are taking comment spam seriously and are constantly improving their products to deal with it.

This fight is going on in version 3.0. If you’re still stuck on 2.6, you’re missing out.

4. I don’t like the fact that MT is not Open Source

This is a fair complaint, and if this is a big stumbling block for you, you should be ditching MT 2.6 and moving over to Wordpress, for all of the reasons I’ve stated above, especially reason #3. These guys are open source, have a strong support community, and are also interested in fighting comment spam. Also, as they’re not MT, they’re not affected by a fair amount of comment spam (sort of like Apple and PC computer viruses)

I’m sticking with Movable Type because I’ve invested a fair amount of time and a small amount of money into it, and I don’t wish to learn a new publishing platform (Also Wordpress doesn’t do all that I want it to do). Upgrade to MT 3.15 or migrate to WordPress, you should do what you want to do. But my hunch is that MT 2.6 is now increasingly antiquated and vulnerable to such things as comment spam. Please consider changing.

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