Blogging in Plain Text with Mataroa

by: Scott Nesbitt | 03 November 2021

Blogging should be simple. Well, it is. Or, at least, it can be.

Most of us who blog, especially those of us who have personal blogs, can get away with a minimalist blog. Personal bloggers, unless they want to embrace their inner geeks, shouldn’t have to worry about confusing interfaces, about tweaking themes or messing with plugins, about twiddling and twerning the settings of a static site generator. They just need to type or drop post into an editor and click Publish.

A while back, I talked about a blogging platform called Write.as (which I use extensively, in case you’re wondering) that does this very well. Believe it or not, you can make your blogging experience even simpler and more minimal with Mataroa

Getting Started

Mataroa is a hosted service. Like any hosted service, you need to sign up to use it. It’s free, although you can later pay $9 (USD) a year which enables you to hook a custom domain into your blog and get automatic exports via email.

So you’ve signed up. Now what? Set up your blog. Do that by entering this information:

You can also enable comments on your blog and whether or not readers can receive your latest post via email. In case you’re wondering, the commenting system simple and baked into Mataroa. You get an email every time someone posts a comment.

Here’s an example of the settings for a blog that I cobbled together:

Sample settings for a Mataroa blog

How Mataroa Structures Your Blog

Unlike some blogging platforms which display posts when you land on them, the front page of a blog on Mataroa displays links to your posts on the landing page.

The front page of a Mataroa blog

The latest post appears at the top of the list. There’s no way to change the format of the front page.

Writing and Publishing

After you’ve logged into Mataroa, click the New post link at the top of the screen. The Create a new post screen displays.

Getting ready to write a post in Mataroa

Enter a title for your post.

The Publication date field contains the current date. Keep that to publish the post today. If you want to schedule the post to publish in the future, enter a date in the Publication date field. Or leave it empty to save the post as a draft as you work on it.

Start typing in the Content field. Mataroa supports Markdown for formatting. You can also drag and drop images into the Content field to include then with a post.

Here’s an example of a post in Mataroa:

Editing a post in Mataroa

When you’re ready, click Save to publish the post. A link to the post is added to the front page of your blog.

Importing Posts

If you have one or more files formatted with Markdown, you can upload them by going to the Dashboard and clicking Import posts. Browse for the files that you want to import and then click Upload.

After you import the posts, Mataroa saves them as drafts.

Imported posts in Mataroa

Before publishing, you can edit the posts and add a publication date to them.

Adding Pages

By that, I mean an About page, a /now page, a /uses page, a contact page. Anything that supplements your blog or, if that’s your purpose, turns your Mataroa blog into a simple website.

To add a page, go to the Dashboard and click Pages. Then, click Create a new page.

Creating a page in Mataroa

Add a title and some text. When you save the page, Mataroa adds a link to the page in the footer of your blog’s main page and on every post.

A footer in Mataroa showing links to pages

An Annoyance

For me, this is the main one. That annoyance involves the footer on pages. the one I mentioned above, which contains links to the pages on you blog or site.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to change the position of that footer. You might want it centred on the page. You might want ti right aligned. Me? I’d prefer that the links to the pages be at the top of a blog, below the blog’s title. Sadly, you can’t move it.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Mataroa makes even something as stripped down as Write.as look bulky. It’s definitely the apotheosis of minimalist blogging.

Mataroa packs no frills. There are corners of the internet that would say the lack of frills is a weakness of Mataroa, that it makes the platform all but useless for serious blogging.

I disagree. That lack of frills is a strength. Using Mataroa, you can you can quickly and easily set up a simple blog or even a web site. Because it’s powered by plain text, Mataroa enables you to focus on your words and ideas. Its support for Markdown is a bonus.