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Take Control Of Your Blog Web Space

Posted by on Feb 6, 2012
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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.


via Flickr

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.
 

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34 Comments »

The not being able to subscribe to comments is a big annoyance because I can never remember all the ones I wanted to see the followups too.

I just moved to a self-hosted WP site. I wanted the ability to really customize my site which is not possible on the freebies.

However, free site are certainly a good way to start out and test the waters.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Exactly Southpaw, and that’s a recommendation I always make for people who say they’re not sure they can write a blog long term.

February 6th, 2012 | 11:51 AM
mimi torchia boothby Watercolors:

I agree with you. I use WordPress software on my website, but the wordpress “system” drives me nuts. The downside of blogging “on my own” is that blogspot makes it very difficult for me to comment on other people’s blogs. The choices make me feel like an invisible minority “comment as: google account, livejournal, typepad, openid, wordpress” well, i went through the trouble to set up an openid account. it defaults to a wordpress account which i have to log in to before I can comment!! it’s crazy.
and then to boot, almost every blogspot blog I have tried to comment on this week has deleted my post after I leave the first window. That’s pretty frustrating. I almost always remember to copy what I just typed because I KNOW I will have to reenter it on the next page.
ok, now I’m not sure YOU got my comment…

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

I got it Mimi; not sure why they ended up in spam. Anyway, that’s kind of my gripe as well. You get that moderation thing that pops up but you’re never sure if it gets approved, let alone not getting notifications that someone might have commented in it, unless you use a Google sign in.

February 6th, 2012 | 2:08 PM

Hey Mitch! As you know, the free blogs drive me nuts! I understand if someone just wants a little place to play around, but other than that…

I have 2 sites that I have looked and looked for places to leave comments and most of the blogs in those niches are all Blogger/Blogspot. Most times I can’t even leave a comment i I want to because you have to be a blogspot member or something like that.

I have also noticed that some business are now thinking they will use Google Plus as their blog just like they have Facebook. I figure, good for them! I’d never do that, but I don’t care if they do. In fact if they are my competition…maybe they will get deleted and I will really have them beat. LOL
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Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Sheryl, I think it would be a bad idea to use G+ as a blog as well, and the audience gets limited also. You’re right though, there are lots of Blogspot blogs with nice content but I don’t want to use my business account to respond to them; just doesn’t seem appropriate.

February 6th, 2012 | 4:38 PM
Olawale Daniel:

This is great news and guide for everyone on free hosting services to consider. I have also heard of an event whereby someone’s blog was deleted by Google for violating its law – that person at that time was getting around $5,000 per month with Google ads alone. After begging them to restore his blog, he got bad replies, that was how everything stopped.

Thanks for this advice.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Olawale, there are always stories like that going around, but when you know someone who’s lost their blog and has no clue why, it gives you pause to make sure you don’t allow it to happen to you.

February 6th, 2012 | 8:57 PM

You are right, Mitch investment is minimal compared to what you can get from own hosting and domain domain name. For sure there is no freedom on hosted blogs and especially on WordPress.com, blogger offers more options, but still for serious blogging it is not a solution, however many companies have external blogs and in this case this may be the only solution and more than enough.
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Mitch Mitchell Reply:

It might be Carl, but with so many of these companies starting to clamp down on stuff, even though we just dodged SOPA but because of the Megaupload thing, it just feels safer having one’s own website for more control.

Carl Reply:

Actually I have seen blogs on Blogger deleted, because too many spam comments which I think is unfair, just a notice may help the blog owner to clean or even lock the commenting system. On WordPress I haven’t seen closed blogs if the line is not crossed. Other than that the security features of hosted blogs is very strong and it is more likely personal blog to get hacked than blogger blog. Being realistic SOPA will never do anything to any blog or website with normal content and even if they do, it is easy to dodge them, hosting website outside USA or even in USA under new IP address.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Carl, we the people killed SOPA so there’s no worries with them. It was kind of a scary thing to think about. I’ve seen people talk about losing their WordPress.com blog here and there, but I don’t know anyone personally that it’s happened to.

Carl Reply:

I think the main reason for killing SOPA was big non-commercial communities – Wikipedia, WordPress, Joomla, etc the list is very long, but actually SOPA had very good effect on sharing websites, all big file sharing website are closed or have disable uploads which is really good as usually electronic products and ebooks were shared there and individual authors were hit badly because of that, people like you and me that are selling products on Clickbank.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Carl, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with things such as BitTorrent, which I’ve never used but always thought about using. I do have one upload/download account that I used from time to time and now it’s changed its rules and basically it’s become useless to me now. I think the scare has taken place after the US government went after Megaupload.

Val Reply:

As far as I know, Mitch, SOPA has not been killed, it’s just been shelved. There is also ACTA now for some people to worry about. Do a google search for it – Forbes dot com has a few good articles on it.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Actually Val, it is “unofficially” dead because all the co-sponsors backed away from it and the guy who created it said he’s going to let it die in its current form; that’s just how things work over here. The subject isn’t closed though, as there will be some kind of anti-piracy bill coming, and there probably needs to be to be truthful, whether we all like it or not.

What’s interesting is that I hadn’t realized that other countries around the world were trying to pass their own versions of the bill, and it seems without success so far. This truly becomes an international thing doesn’t it?

February 6th, 2012 | 10:02 PM

My primary blog is a self hosted registered domain. My second one which I have just started is for a limited audience and purpose and I have used WordPress.com. Commenting is no big deal as the comments can be forwarded by mail and you always know that there is something waiting there to be responded to. There are other limitations like not being able to use plugins like commentluv etc, but for my purpose, it suffices.
Rummuser recently posted…My Second Blog.My Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Rummuser, I’ve read where you started the new blog; trying to remember if I went to take a look, but I’m thinking not because I think I also read where you weren’t happy with your first attempt at it. As you said, your purpose for the second one precludes your worrying all that much about it but I’m betting you feel pretty good about your main blog.

Rummuser Reply:

You win.
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February 7th, 2012 | 9:41 AM

I have both. Mostly because I didn’t want to give up the momentum I built on my blogger blog. I have my own site and use a wordpress template, which makes it easy for me to change without hollering at my web dude every other day.
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Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Mary, at least that means you have one blog that you’ll never have to worry about. lol

February 7th, 2012 | 12:49 PM

Hi Mitch,
thanks for this share. A lot of my friends are using wordpress, but they are always complaining on it, and saying that they dont like it…though, they never give up from it :)
EleonoraEOF recently posted…Coffee for weight loss: Friend or Foe?My Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

No problem Eleonora. I just put it out there and people are allowed to do what they will. I just like having more control over my stuff.

February 7th, 2012 | 9:53 PM

People are talking about self hosted sites. This is what I set up through wordpress, which I understand you don’t like. Can they still censor me even if I have a self hosted site and use their open source platform?
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Mitch Mitchell Reply:

No, if you’re using the free software but you’re paying for hosting, it’s yours free and clear.

February 8th, 2012 | 12:27 AM
Linda@Facebook Script:

thanks for the first share Mitch ..I am new to this blogging filed and here i find many interesting stuff and useful informations ..Thanks for that ..this would really help me in my future projects

February 8th, 2012 | 6:11 AM

Coincidentally, just a couple of weeks ago a girl who had a university stage in my company came over to say hi and she was talking about starting a blog of her own on wordpress.com. Of course I advised against it also for the reasons you mention (with stress on the ownership).
It really doesn’t make any sense anymore to pass on the chance to become the real owner of your hard work.
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Mitch Mitchell Reply:

I’m with you Gabriele. I can understand that talking about $100 a year, even $50 a year, sounds somewhat expensive in the context of things, but it’s much cheaper than losing all your content because of a misunderstanding.

February 8th, 2012 | 6:19 AM

That’s the disadvantage of free blogs, i totally agree with you Mitch, it’s better spending your money and be sure it’s save then checking content availability every morning. If someone is not serious about blogging, he can always run free one

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Michael, I think it’s cool if people want to try their hand at blogging and go the free route. Actually, overall I don’t care. But folks need to know that anything they put on those platforms can be snatched from them without warning or explanation.

February 9th, 2012 | 5:26 AM
Catherine:

With blogger you just need to create and post your content, you do not need to upload anything using FTP and it is very user friendly.
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Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Catherine, it might be user friendly (actually, I was just reading something where a guy said he didn’t find it user friendly at all & moved to WP.com) but it’s not necessarily commenter friendly.

February 9th, 2012 | 7:53 AM

WordPress.com and other free blog sites make sense in two circumstances: if you’ve no idea what you’re doing and can’t handle the amount of responsibility that comes with self-hosting, and/or if you’re skint (that is a Brit word for ‘having no money’. I come into both categories. However, I’m pretty tired of WordPress but don’t know what the alternative is because, while you frequently wax lyrical about self-hosting, Mitch, you are still using WordPress software – and what we get to ‘test’ (as guinea pigs because anyone who’s been blogging on WP.com for any length of time knows that’s all its users actually are) you free-hosters on WordPress.org end up with in a new version sooner or later.

So, would you like to know what’s on the cards for you next? Ah… but that would be telling! ;)

Suffice to say, I’m really fed up with it all, but I need some way of getting people to see my work and to ‘talk’ to them while I’m doing it.

Maybe I’m just getting too old for the ‘net and its stupid changes.

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Val, I love the pictures you create and share and I’m glad you’re showing them. I also understand that not everyone wants to pay for the luxury of owning one’s own blog; goodness, I have lots of free stuff on my computer that I use because I didn’t want to pay for anything fancy. I still find that there are lots of folks on these platforms that don’t know that sometimes people lose access to these things for whatever discretion they’ve been accused of. It’s much less likely to happen if you own it unless you’re doing something illegal, like stealing someone else’s content and get his with a DMCA notice, and those people know they’re doing something illegal so they get what they deserve.

As far as other blogging software, sure there’s other stuff, but WordPress turns out to be the easiest to use, and hear that from people using other platforms. I guess it’s like people who use IE because it came with the computer rather than using a different browser that might perform better.

February 9th, 2012 | 9:39 AM