Terapad Review | Overview and Bugs

A new blogging platform has recently launched called Terapad, so I thought I would take a look.

It is designed to be a complete all in one solution, with not only blogging but also more advanced features such as forums and Paypal support.

I thought I would give it a try.

Account Creation

It appears quite simple, fill in the usual details.

One major thing of note, it allows you to enter a company name, thus it is designed for business. That might seem obvious, with the Paypal support.

Hmm, the first bug was found… I tried to enter an email address with a “.eu” domain and it was rejected. That is certainly oversight and easily corrected, but strange for a UK company to overlook.

Second problem is in the terms of use

15 – User Conduct

The user shall not:
6. Use the Service as a forwarding service, gateway or advertisement to another website.

I understand the reason they implemented this clause (to fight splogs), but it makes the service effectively useless for any kind of business blogging. One of the core reasons to blog for a business is to send traffic to your core business pages.

  • If you have an existing business site, you are going to link to it.
  • If you are a pro-blogger of some kind, you are going to use affiliate links

It is good they have Terms on launch, but they may need to clarify them.

First Glance

Clunky URLS need to be fixed such as

http://plugins.terapad.com/index.cfm?fa=contentNews.newsDetails&newsID=3284&from=list

Legal Terms

I love the fact that legal terms are included for every blog by default. I wonder if you can adjust them and who owns the copyright on the finished version.

Terapad Legal Terms

I have suggested in the past on the wp-hackers mailing list that some boiler plate legal documents be drawn up and shipped with WordPress. The developers couldn’t see a need, but having some legal documents is better than none at all, especially when blogging software collects email addresses etc.

Multiple Accounts

There doesn’t seem to be any restrictions on registering multiple accounts, although each blog is accessed by a separate interface. I would much prefer something that allowed you a single login for multiple blogs. Maybe it exists but I didn’t find it.

Thus I have created

http://andybeard.terapad.com (brand identity – I might move Web 2.0 discussion there)
http://plugins.terapad.com (for discussing plugins of various types)
http://keedz.terapad.com (my registered company in the UK – more brand identity)

Integration

Terapad seems to have plenty of integration options.

Google Analytics, Feedburner, Sonific, IndieKarma, Flickr, Meebo, Digg, Del.icio.us & Paypal

Widgets

Something similar to WordPress Widgets is promised. Currently you are provided with 3 entry boxes to place things on your sidebar, and one for entering things like analytics code.
I need to test those out to see what is allowed, such as advertising and MyBlogLog.

permission

Permissions

Ok this part is actually quite impressive at first glance. It is obvious that this blogging platform has been setup with large projects in mind. Whilst the blog owner has access to everything, permissions can be set on an individual basis for every other major aspect of the site. Have a new site designer? Give him permission to change your CSS. Give volunteers the chance to moderate your forum.
Unfortunately there is no precise control of access to content, maybe for some kind of premium content. It looks fancy, but at the end of a day the features you might want are not there.

Transfer & Quota

It might seem like a massive amount, but it isn’t really. 2GB of storage is probably far enough, but 10GB of transfer isn’t a hell of a lot, especially when it is broken down into 330MB chunks per day. That doubles when you pay for a professional version but there isn’t a lot of information if you want or need a lot more transfer. Remember this is for businesses – you can’t risk your site going down.

Categories and Tagging

Categories are supported, tagging isn’t or at least not completely. They describe categories as part of blog tagging. You can enter additional tags for your content, but I can’t see anywhere that those additional tags are being used. Maybe they are meant to be used in the meta keywords at some stage, but currently they are not. I would like real tagging support.
Categories seem to be limited – no nesting and only one category per post.

Feeds

Yes, Terapad supports Feedburner. +1

I was going to point out no auto-discovery. That seems to have been fixed while I was writing this review.

The feeds are only for the blog, not for the forum or other parts of the site. I don’t think there is a feed for comments either, although there is a subscribe by email option.

Pages

There is support for pages as well as posts. Again really ugly URLS. There doesn’t seem to be the possibility to restrict access to individual pages, integrated with the shop module.

Shop Module

Frankly I am disappointed. It seems to have been setup for selling hard goods. It would have been much better to set it up for selling e-goods, premium content and membership sites via subscription.
I didn’t activate the shop, which requires a public certificate ID to be submitted to Paypal.

Forum

You guessed it… ugly URLs again and as mentioned previously, no RSS feed.
Fairly basic but one major saving grace, at least in my opinion. The forum offers threaded discussion.
It doesn’t offer profile pages, just raw URLs, and this are followable. No default sig is possible, which in some ways prevents spam. There doesn’t seem to be captcha support.

Conclusion

I am not ready to move away from using WordPress yet. It provides far more functionality, is SEO friendly, and I own the domains I host it on.
If you are in business, whilst there are technical obstacles you might have to overcome, WordPress on your own domain is a much better long-term strategy.
Maybe my opinion will change in a few months, and I will continue to monitor Terapad closely.

But then I am a technical user, and many people aren’t interested in the technical aspects of setting up a blog.
Pay someone to setup WordPress on Elance, or join a service like WordPress Tutorials for some professional help.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Andy! First of all, thank you for giving Terapad a try and taking the time to write such a detailed review.

    I’m disappointed though, that you feature the word ‘bug’ prominently as the title your article. The only bug you found was your .eu email address not being validated properly. That’s *extremely* unfair in my view. You didn’t even attempt to contact our technical support team, which could have helped you with this.

    “but 10GB of transfer isn’t a hell of a lot… Remember this is for businesses – you can’t risk your site going down.” – that’s also terribly unfair and borderline FUD. I’ve managed and deployed hundreds of business sites in my careers and 10GB/month IS a lot for most of the SMBs out there. Not to mention individuals. And we give it out free! Come on you could do better.

    You repeatedly mention ‘ugly URLs’. Look, I’m not being funny, but so far 99.999% of people who have tried Terapad have said things like ‘hey, I can open a website in seconds with all the options and it’s free!’ – not ‘Holy crap, turn this horror off, I think I just saw a question mark!’. I’m the first one to love rails and REST-ful URLs, but come on, again, writing us off because of the URLs (which work perfectly well with search engines by the way), that’s unfair, again.

    WordPress providing more functionality? FUD. Show me their shop module. Their recruitment module. Their forum modules. Oh wait.. they don’t come build-in! Surely you realize you are comparing apples and oranges.

    So – from techie to techie – I see what’s your standpoint – everything can and should be handcoded etc – forums can be done with PHPBB or whatever, the shop could be OS commerce, the gallery on Flickr, the blog on wordpress etc – then everything deployed, configured and hosted on a server that has to be rented – taking weeks to set up and $$$… well that’s exactly why I created Terapad. So individuals and companies don’t have to go through all this technical, expensive obstacle course.

    I could go on… but it’s 1:30 and I need to get a few hours sleep. Again, thank you for taking the time to check us out.

  2. says

    Hi Stephan

    Thanks for stopping by

    First of all you have to understand that a large number of my readers would be looking to use Terapad for creation of Niche Websites of various kinds.

    I haven’t written off Terapad, it has got potential and it should be pointed out I also strongly recommend people don’t use WordPress.com for business blogs and niche sites either.

    Things that are bugs from my review

    The URLs – it is something you can and should fix at a high priority. Not only from an SEO perspective, but they are just plain ugly and unprofessional looking.
    They would look like affiliate links in SERPs – who would click them?

    The ToS are totally unworkable with that current clause. I gave you credit for including them, which WordPress.com at launch didn’t have.

    I didn’t find a way to change the legal documents on each of the blogs I created. It is nice to have them, but they have to be modified to suit.

    Multiple Accounts – not so much a bug, but access from a single login would have been nice as pointed out.

    Permissions – I noted that you don’t have control over content – considering you have so much work invested in permissions, this seems to be a major oversight.

    Traffic and Quota – the free account has Google Adsense on it – there really shouldn’t be a need to have any limits – WordPress.com doesn’t have any limits, and they have very few adverts.
    330 MB in one day, if for instance you are offering a free to download ebook, or a short podcast really isn’t a lot of transfer.

    Categories and Tagging – I noted a lot of bugs or missing features. The keywords weren’t even being used for the meta keywords.

    I spotted 2 bugs in the feeds, comments and forums

    The shop module was useless to me for things like ebooks or membership sites. There is a high possibility my readers would want that possibility.

    Forum – yep I wasn’t happy with it, though I gave it a plus for being threaded. I didn’t even point out every bug I found in it, for instance the fact that the preferences are used at the time you make a post. If you decide you don’t want to publish your email, tough luck – changing prefs does not remove the email from display.

    I didn’t go deeply into every feature, such as the jobs module.

    I honestly don’t think any of my points were FUD and including bugs in the title was justified and half the content was bugs or features that were not implemented in a useful fashion.

    I wasn’t comparing Terapad to WordPress.com, but Terapad to WordPress.org, from a business perspective.

    There are over 1000 plugins for WordPress.org self hosted WordPress, most of them free, which allow you to do the things I highlighted with very little effort, and don’t require massive technical knowledge.
    Occasionally you might have to pay for a plugin, but it would provide far more functionality.

  3. says

    Hello Andy, thank you for your reply.

    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that. :-D

    Reading your detailed response I appreciate that your readers will understand that what you call ‘bugs’ are actually features that you don’t think were implemented in a useful way, like the shop designed to sell hard goods instead of automated subscriptions.

    You didn’t experience any 500 server errors, browser close or layouts breaking. I maintain that this is confusing, but hey, it’s your blog after all, fair enough.

    Please also understand this was version 1. If we’re getting compared to the market leader at version 1, imagine what we gonna do with version 2. I hope we can impress you in the future and that your next review will be more favorable.

    In the meantime happy blogging :-D

  4. says

    I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree and leave it at that.

    I think one of the major flaws is that on the front page of Terapad you compare yourself to WordPress.org

    Unfortunately if I was to compile an unbiased list of 100 points, and including the free plugins available for WordPress.org installations, Terapad would seem extremely lacking.

    I did find positive things to say, and I am sure I could have found more, but at the same time I could have found a lot more negative things as well.

  5. says

    Ironically I found this review link on Digg – it’s funny how an older post can be so dang helpful. :)

    I really love the concept, implementation and functionality of Terapad – and I agree with nearly all of your reservations about the site as well (especially the SEO limitations).

    Also, what I’m really looking for is something as easy as this to set up, but self-hosted. The closest I have found is Joomla, but I frankly don’t have the time to learn it. Have you come across anything like this by any chance?

    • says

      It really is a shame – this is almost 5 months old content now, and they haven’t really taken on board most of what I said.

      Whenever Jason Calacanis attacks SEOs, the owner of Terapad Stephen Tual is almost always among the supporters and didn’t understand as you can see in the comments above why I would find these problems with Terapad a major flaw.

      Alternatives – well there are all kinds of ways WordPress can be set up to provide a sales channel if that is the feature you are looking for.
      For Jobs, there are a number of services that allow you to set up a jobs board, and even sell job listings and may of them have affiliate programs of some kind as well.

      I think it really comes down to what specific features you are looking for, because there are lots of scripts, and for WordPress lots of plugins, and those can often be bent to do things that weren’t their original intention.

      Feel free to drop me an email about it and I can put to on the right path.

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