Well, this is a day late (okay, okay, a day and a week late), but I had good reason: last week, my website got hacked hard. Not going into details, but it was enough to make Google wince at the site for a few days.
To me, this is rather important, as it highlights two of my biggest issues: comic creators are not techs, and an over-reliance on WordPress in general. I’ll address both after the jump.
The first, is tech. Now, I’m well known here at Fan to Pro as The Guy Who Hates WordPress (the fact that this site runs on WP brings me no small amount of pain), and with good reason: it’s a blogging tool, not a content delivery system. However, many people out there are trying to make it one, but trying to make wheat into a chicken does not mean that’s going to succeed; at most you’ll end up with a vegetarian product, or in this case, a half-baked solution. WP is filled with a Swiss cheese cornucopia of holes, exploits and other problems – and Auttomatic (creators of WP) don’t do much to stave the problems off either.
Now, there are probably plenty of you out there that don’t have a problem with WP or can discern its thaumaturgical mysteries; to you, that’s fine. But the average user doesn’t have that technical capability, and programmers usually tend to assume they do – nope, not the case. And in the case of the modifications done by the comic software plugins (Comic Press and Webcomic are the big ones), most people just know to stick in webcomic, add some text, fine. They’re not going to know how to solve injections in the database (which, in fairness, isn’t just a WP problem – and in many cases, isn’t a WP problem at all) or how to scrub infected PHP pages. They’ll just give up and move their stuff to one of the comic hosting sites, and that’s a shame, because I’m a big believer in DIY.
How can this be solved? Easy – the codemonkeys need to keep better tabs on their software and not just update it when they get around to it (I’m talking to you,
ComicBinder), but it’s just as important that comic creators have some ability to work code beyond that of HTML. HTML is nice, but we’ve moved well beyond that and unless you pride yourself on making your page look like a mid-90s Geocities Special, you need to take advantage of what’s out there.
Which brings me to the second point: too much over-reliance on WP. Yes, most of the software for comics is written for WP (again, Comic Press and Webcomic are the big two.) But you need to look at the other options out there – assuming there are any. Fortunately, there are. Unfortunately, not many of them are as polished as CP and WC.
First off is Walrus. Walrus works for those who want to pretty much write their website from scratch. The thing is, you need to know how to write your own website from scratch.
ComiCMS is a full-fledged CMS built for one thing and one thing only: webcomics. It’s fast and efficient, but it’s also very threadbare. You get what it says and pretty much nothing else.
The Drupal webcomic extension is nice and works with Drupal, a proven CMS (well, proven to some, anyway). You need to know how to work Drupal to get this going, and as of last check, the extension was out of date, so caveat emptor there.
Sadly, of my favorite CMS, Joomla, there’s nothing out there, despite years and years of requests from people. Fortunately, two projects are in the works, that will change that. The first is Comic Man, which is technically available now, but for the obsolete Joomla 1.5x, however, from speaking with the creator, he’s working on a new version for Joomla 2.5x. The other, well, I’ve been told to keep hush-hush on it. ^_^;;;
There are others out there; these are just the big ones. Ultimately, you need to find what’s right for you…that includes, of course, the hosting services. But one way or another, you’ve got to keep going and don’t let the malware stop you.
EDIT: just as I finished writing this, I found out that ComicBinder is now history. Well, one less bad piece of software spares us, I guess.