Another player has joined the crowd of the free blog providers - Opera Blogs.
The Other Players
Blogger is the granddaddy of them all, and MSN Spaces is a pretty strong contender as well. Opera Blogs look cool and with the history of standards support, built in the browser, the blogs should be standard-compliant and readable in all browsers. You get free photo galleries and support for both RSS and Atom.
Opera Blogs are supported by the Opera Browser - the fastest browser on Earth (really) and were launched last week to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the company. The blog creator tool is as easy as Blogger but less customizable. You cannot change the template of the Opera blogs.
The Long URL
The only drawback is the long URL address. I want my blog to be called myblog.com, not msn.spaces.com/members/myblog, or my.opera.com/community/myblog. On Blogger, I can get the simple URL myblog.blogspot.com and be happy with it.
MSN Spaces URLs Change. Digital Inspiration.
How To Use a Blog for Research
You can limit the access to a specific post to a group of collaborators, or keep the posts private altogether - a feature not offered by Blogger. With the added privacy feature, 300 MB of free space and good looks, Opera Blogs seem well-suited for scientific collaboration of a small group of people working on a project - a research study, for example.
Just as Mike Torres writes: "You can blog on MSN Spaces, but MSN Spaces is not just a blogging service."
Yahoo 360*Blogs are so limited in features that are almost useless unless you "live" in the Yahoo "walled garden".
Other Players in the Free Blogging Field
Wordpress.com-hosted blogs are great but you still need an invitation to join. Unless you download the newly-released Flock browser.
Bloggoing.com also offers free Wordpress 2.0.
This Google video shows it takes about 2 minutes to start a blog on Blogger.com. Creating a web site has never been easier.
There is no need for an invitation to start a Wordpress.com-hosted blog.
Wordpress server installation (not the free Wordpress.com version) can be used as a content management system (CMS) rivaling Drupal.
Weblog - Wikipedia
A List of Blog Publishers on dmoz.org
Feel Free - Opera, the Fastest Browser On Earth is Now Free
Time to check: Are you using the right blogging tool? - USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review
Get Productive with Windows Live Writer - Guide for Power Bloggers. Digital Inspiration, 2007.
Feature: 5 Reasons to Use WordPress as CMS. BloggingPro, 2007.
Image source: Opera.com
8 steps to a more professional Blogspot blog. Download Squad, 03/2008.