Cheerio Posterous – a timely move and a how to

The announcement yesterday that Posterous has been sold to Twitter reminded me that I’ve been meaning to move my blog for sometime (apparently since last March, so my bookmarks tell me).

We’ve been fans of Posterous for while at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research. It’s been a good tool for teaching, as we can create shared blogs for classes with ease. It’s also been handy for project partners, allowing us to build quick and dirty solutions for them so that they can see our ideas play out quickly.

We were strong advocates for the software, and experimental users of it (way back when, I pointed out to Posterous that they’d actually accidentally built a great podcasting tool and Simon worked with them as a private beta user of themes, amongst other bits of play we did with the platform).

As I say, I’ve been meaning to move for a while because I was starting to lose faith in the software (it had stopped being simple, had started to bloat) and because I was becoming worried that it locked users in too much. By this I mean that when Posterous went hard on a drive to recruit bloggers from other platforms it produced a suite of blog importation tools, but never provided a way out. There’s no back up in Posterous and no easy way to leave. When you’re working with a company that is funded through VC investment and has no clear business plan, these things should always be a worry –  that’s why during the revalidation of the BA (Hons) Media & Communication programme at BCU I’ve introduced the idea that students across our degree specialisms (journalism, PR, new media, photography, TV, radio, music industries and events) should build their personal web presence using web 2.0 tools, but that they should take a considered approach to this, interrogating the institutions in which they are trusting their professional presences.

So I’ve had my escape route planned for some time. Funnily enough one of today’s tasks is “work on blog” – I’ve promised my PhD supervisors that I’ll start writing publicly about my PhD, and as I’ve a PhD tutorial tomorrow I thought I’d better get things in hand (ever the student, eh?).

I’ve just done a dry run transfer of Posterous to self-hosted wordpress. Back last year I’d planned to use the Posterous to WordPress importer plugin, but it hasn’t been updated yet (I bet that’s in progress after yesterday) and doesn’t work with the latest version of WordPress.

This blog post is useful in outlining one way to get content migrated quickly, using as a bridge to a self hosted wordpress site. The import took less than five minutes to clear into, and same again on the transfer to self hosted.

Some things to look out for:

  • The first transfer to keeps private posts private, but I lost them on the transfer to self-hosted [edit: that was the dry run, on the real attempt it all worked fine]
  • If a Posterous user has marked your post as a “favourite” this shows up as an empty comment, attributed to them.
  • You’ll need to update the permalink structure of your WordPress blog if you want to retain inbound links and search engine relationships. Longer post titles are problematic as Posterous seems to truncate them at 44 chars
  • Your RSS feed address will be wrong and so you’ll need to sort that – there is some WordPress Codex guidance which seems a bit convoluted – just do a 301 redirect for rss.xml
I was always going to move, so this isn’t a knee jerk reaction, just a perfect storm of circumstances. I need something more flexible because of the things I now need to do with the blog, but most of all I need something that I can control. No third party software is going to give me ultimate control and security, so there will always be a trade off. WordPress isn’t going to be perfect but it has a clearer future than Posterous. In terms of other things I do at work, I won’t be recommending Posterous to anyone as the announcement seems to suggest a sunset could happen sooner rather than later.

So I’m now waiting for my domain to switch over to my hosting, and this will be my last posterous post. It’s been a fun ride.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: