Web publishing platform WordPress is attempting to provide users of its VIP service with Twitter-like instant blogging functionality through its new Liveblog Add-on. The add-on enables users to post updates from the front end of their site, without using the WordPress admin dashboard.

In addition, Liveblog viewers will see the new updates automatically, without having to refresh their browsers. Liveblog authors can drag and drop photos into the Liveblog area without needing to navigate to separate browser tabs or windows, and all posts (including existing ones) can be turned into Liveblog posts. Users can preview posts before making them live.


That Familiar Tweety Feeling

In a short promotional video on the WordPress VIP site, the narrator states, “When liveblogging an event you need to report news as quickly as it happens.” A screenshot of a sample Liveblog post reads “We’re entering the building now. The atmosphere is electric!”  And although WordPress does not specify whether there is a character limit or if so how many characters are allowed, the video describes the add-on as enabling “short-form posts” and a screenshot shows a reminder to keep the post short.

Clearly, the add-on is designed to make WordPress competitive with Twitter as a means of providing quick, real-time commentary and updates. This is not necessarily a bad idea, but Twitter has become the second-most-popular social networking platform in a short time period, so WordPress has its work cut out for it if it intends to seriously challenge Twitter for marketshare.

Twitter also has the advantage of the numerous third-party apps that have been developed via the Twitter API that make it easier to manage and use as a promotional tool. However, Twitter recently tightened its API rules to the consternation of many industry participants and observers.

There are also many live blogging third-party plug-ins available for WordPress, and it will be interesting to see how WordPress attempts to either take advantage of or minimize their popularity in spreading the use of the new add-on.

WordPress Acknowledges Bug Issue

One issue which WordPress needs to quickly resolve is a bug in the Liveblog Add-on identified by VentureBeat. According to a VentureBeat article, saving a featured image can eliminate saved liveblog posts without warning or error message. A WordPress spokesperson told VentureBeat a fix will be available shortly. VentureBeat also reports another bug which can make liveblog postings invisible to readers.

WordPress VIP clients GigaOM and Local TV provided feedback and contributions during the beta testing phase for the Liveblog Add-on and the code has been completely open-sourced for self-hosted WordPress. Open source code is available at the WordPress.org plugin repository and on github.