Serendipity PHP Blog Script: The Tire Kicking Review

I have a couple of new blog projects and a couple of eventual blog migrations coming up in 2019 and I thought I should investigate what else is out there besides Wordpress.  Therefore, I’ve spent way too much time reading the documentation of about 6 - 8 blog and CMS systems to the point where they were all starting to blur together.  The devil in in the details on these systems and you kind of have to dig to find answers.

I limited my quest to open source scripts that are available on most c-panel installers.

One of the scripts that caught my eye was Serendipity which is a mature, actively supported blog platform so I decided to install it on a subdomain and try it out.

One click installation from c-panel was fast and easy.

Serendipity admin area has a nice clean look.  Like Wordpress, Serendipity has their own repository of plugins and themes so you can install these with ease.

I started poking around trying different plugins.  Plugin descriptions are rather minimal so you don’t always know exactly what they do.


Spam Control - via several plugins you can have a pretty fine grained anti-spam control of your blog.  You have the option of several different anti-spam plugins plus you can activate Akismet if you want.

One thing I liked is they have some nice spam controls for Trackbacks which are important on a blog that does not do webmentions or Indieweb stuff.

Plugins: While you won’t find as many as Wordpress, there are close to 150 plugins available, some are widgets, some add features.  I found a plugin for a forum add on which is a nice option to have.  And all the basics are there, most bloggers would be happy.

Like any blog, there are a lot of settings and details to attend to but if you have ever blogged before you can find your way around the Admin Panel fairly easily.  Good interface.


This is where weird things started happening.  The default blog install had no sample posts or comments.  There was a markup/HTML text type editor installed but I wanted to change that.  There is a plugin for a WYSIWYG editor so I installed that.  But the WYSIWYG editor never appeared even with page refreshes and logging in and out.  I deleted the text editor which got rid of the text toolbar and left me with a blank form.  Gah!  I then deleted the WYSIWYG editor plugin. And some time thereafter the WYSIWYG toolbar auto-magically showed up even though the plugin had been deleted!

I posted a test post.  That went well.  I then posted a comment to that post.  But when I click to read comments I get a Password login box.  I’m the author, I’m also the Root Admin with god-like powers but I can’t read my own comment without a separate login even on the public side.  What gives?  I checked the settings and as far as I can tell anyone should be able to read the post and the comments. Dunno.  I did not try and look this up in the documentation because I wanted to simulate real life learning by poking around.  It must be a setting but I’m not sure which.


I moved on to try and change the default template.  There seems to be quite a few templates in the repository.  The one I wanted had not been updated since 2004.  I tried it.  Nowhere near rendering properly so I removed it and went back to default.  The installations went well, but by far most of the templates are last updated in 2013 or older so I don’t know if they will work with the newest version of the script.


Importing data from an old blog is by XML feed.  Most feeds are limited to 15 posts.  There are ways around this if you know how, but information is kinds scant on details on how to do this for specific platforms.  I’m a bit stumped how this works.


The weirdness of the WYSIWYG toolbar appearing like the Flying Dutchman out of the fog, plus the template thing is just sort of spooky.  I want a script that is predictable - you do this and that happens.  That and the vagueness of a working migration route made me decide to uninstall Serendipity and not use it.  If I didn’t have these problems there would be a lot to like.

Perhaps if I was more PHP savvy or starting out without wanting to migrate from another blog I would feel different.  Maybe if I combed through the documentation I would solve the mysteries, but for me it’s just not right as I’m seeing it.  YMMV.

See also my review of B2evolution.


This was also posted to /en/blogging.

Brad Enslen @bradenslen



An IndieWeb Webring 🕸💍

<-  Hotline Webring  ->

Member of the Blogs Linear Ring