Self-Hosted Blogging: More Control, Less Community
by kishner Thursday, April 14, 2016

Running a self-hosted blog is a pain. I've tried WordPress, static HTML, and various Dave Winer products such as Fargo.io, myWordEditor, and 1999.io. I've had to learn about the LAMP stack and the command line. It would be so much easier to just let some company do all the heavy lifting. I could just post to a subdomain of wordpress.com or tumblr.com, or just write on Facebook. The only problem is that any of these companies can (theoretically) at any time just wipe out my entire profile and all my data. Or they can just go out of business. 

For example, I feel unsettled thinking about Tumblr. Tumblr is owned by Yahoo, and we all know that Yahoo is in poor shape. What if Tumblr just up and disappeared one day? It's unlikely. But think of all the people whose entire networks (or even lifelines) are on Tumblr. Because Tumblr is not just a blogging site, it's a community. So (a) Tumblr could delete your tumblr; (b) whatever company buys Yahoo could delete Tumblr.

One downside of self-hosted blogging is that this type of blog is not easily tied in to a community. Yes, there are efforts in the indie web movement, but they're beyond me (i.e., my skill level). The CMS I'm using right now -- 1999.io -- hooks into Twitter, and allows one to respond to a post and "like" it. And yet this feature depends on Twitter, which can delete your profile (although Twitter is less likely than Tumblr to disappear).

To be honest, I like the geeky part of self-hosted blogging and running my own server. It's frustrating at times, but it's worth the cost.

  • Jeffrey, I agree with your thoughts. It is more work to host your own words, but then you are not dependent on some other service. The community issue is a real one. I have attended some Homebrew WebSite Club meetings (https://indiewebcamp.com/next-hwc) in Portland, Oregon, and I think that is an attempt to create community (in-person).  I am trying to help with creating a community of 1999 bloggers with my river site for their RSS feeds (http://1999bloggers.andysylvester.com/). Of course, I have to watch the 1999 mailing list, add names to my river feed list, upload it....sounds like work, doesn't it? I would be interested in your thoughts.

    • I want to do easy ways of hooking blogs together into communities. Still have to get the basic stuff debugged. We'll get there soon.

    • @andy it does sound like work but i've done it myself. I used to publish an aggregator for a niche blogging community so that one could see all the posts in one place (this was before I knew about River, and back then it was probably River 2). 

  • Jeffrey, I've had my own experience with platforms dying out from under me. I did my earliest Thailand blogging on Posterous, then I had to scramble to get them all moved to Posthaven. I built my first Dylan bibliography in 1995-99 with a simple text editor, html files uploaded to Netcom with a shell account. It's still there, well not at Netcom, had to move it to Dreamhost. But then I found a really slick web platform that I used to expand my bibliography from 500 books to nearly 1,000.  Many hours working on that. This platform (I don't even remember its name) made it really easy to add links to Amazon, Library Thing, Good Reads, and WorldCat. Then they went belly up and all that data got exported onto my PC hard drive, where it remains, but totally useless to me and the rest of the world. On Facebook I was very active in the biggest Dylan public group there. One lady in the UK started many interesting threads, which I participated in, posting lots of comments and reading many other great comments from folks around the world. Then one day she decided she was done with all that and closed her FB account, with the result that all those threads, including my comments and those of everyone else disappeared into the ether. Back in the mid 90's I thought we were building a vast storehouse of information, the digital Whole Earth Catalog, but now I know pieces disappear from it all the time.

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