I have never made it a secret that I’m not a big fan of the free blog sites like Blogger and WordPress.com. My main gripe has been how comments are handled; less freedom for those of us who want to comment on those platforms, which I really hate. WordPress.com fools you into thinking you have freedom, but if you ever want to see a response to your comment you either have to subscribe to the blog (each one individually, not to wordpress.com one time) or keep visiting the post to see if someone responded to you or not.
There’s also another reason I’ve never been a fan of sites like that. At a moment’s notice they can decide to censor you, freeze or delete your blog, and there you are, lost, without any real access to your content. I put it that way because you can always get your content by going to a search engine and looking up each individual post (I had to do that back in 2006 for one of my blogs, which I lost for a different reason, so I know it can be done).
Often you won’t know what it is you did that made them take away your blog or censor it. In this particular instance, Google is now telling people up front that for certain countries they will censor your blog if those countries have laws that restrict what people are allowed to say. This follows two previous changes, those being one, to start censoring search results in countries that have censorship laws, and two, the new Google Search+ Your World thing.
Now, there’s nothing you can do about the one in the middle, and the last one is interesting as to whether most people will fight it or not, but that first one is intriguing. Think of it this way; if you’re in a country that restricts freedom of speech and you have a blog in that country, do you really think you’re going to keep your blog if the powers that be decide you’re to be censored? If you’re outside that country and writing bad things about that country continually, do you really believe Google (oh yeah, Google owns Blogpost, or Blogger, whichever you prefer) won’t eventually just shut down that blog for being a nuisance?
That’s always been a problem with free blogs, although it’s not just restricted to them. Many of these blog promotion services that I also don’t trust all that much get people to help them out by saying that sharing their content through those sites helps you more than it helps them, but in a moment’s notice they can drop you like a bad habit and not ever tell you why. That recently happened to David Leonhardt, a commenter on this blog, and one of the reasons I never signed up with Digg was because I remembered the story of them dropping a very popular blogger, who had promoted them a lot, for whatever reason without giving him at least a warning that maybe something else he was doing violated their terms of service.
This is why I try to promote the concept that people pay the little bit of money and get their own blog space. Think about it; for possibly less than $50 a year (for hosting) you can add as many blogs and websites as you probably want (unless you’re a power creator; then it’ll cost you a little bit more) with little restriction, because of course there’s going to be some restriction. With shared hosting there might be issues of bandwidth (but if that happens it means you have so many visitors that if you haven’t figured out monetization at that point you need to go to internet school) and certain types of scripts (no hosting company wants someone popping malware and scripts within their servers, like it seems these people are doing. But censor what you have to say… none of them do, because online, if you pay for it, you can say it, no matter if it’s stupid or brilliant.
Just something to think about on a Monday morning in February.