Technology Weblogging

Self-hosting of weblogs

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

If you’re a Radio weblogger then you’re aware of the problems that Userland is having with its static server (see this brief mention). You’re probably pretty frustrated at this time because you can’t post, and even if you could post, your weblog isn’t accessible.

Those of us who have used Blogger can empathize with you because we faced daily frustrations with problems in Blogger and server problems with Blog*Spot.

Personally, I’m very glad I made my move to Movable Type, and I imagine that Jonathon is glad he’s moved, also. And now I’m hearing rumors that other folks will be making the move to self-hosted weblogs sooner rather than later.

Centralized weblogging. The concept sounds good — have others handle all the hosting details and all you have to worry about is writing something worthwhile or posting your recent “I’m a _____ quiz”. However, as we’re finding, what sounds good on paper isn’t necessarily effective in implementation, especially with the increasing numbers of people who are joining the weblogging ranks.

If you want control over your weblog you have to decentralize not only the postings, but the tool, itself; and this means hosting your weblog publication process. However, the problem with this is that it invalidates the principle behind weblogging — a personal publication system that enables the non-techie to publish content without having to fuss with the technical details.

What can a weblogger who just wants to have fun do?

Well, you can start by asking yourself if the centralized weblogging system downtime is a problem. In other words, how truly frustrating is the experience for you? If you find you can live with the system, the problem really isn’t that bad or doesn’t re-occur that often, then keep your weblog where it is, continue posting, and have fun. Here’s a hint for you: there is no such thing as problem-free technology.

(There’s a rule all technologists are required to follow stipulating that we can’t create perfect technology. If we do, everyone will think techies are inhuman and either start worshipping us or stone us to death.)

If you’re frustrated with the centralized systems, but it really doesn’t matter anyway because you’re finding you’re not having as much fun with weblogging as you thought you would, then consider stopping. Unlike a book, dear boys and girls, weblogging doesn’t have a final chapter other than the one that says “I’m sick of this shit. I quit”. And if you do quit, we’ll miss you but we understand.

(However, this doesn’t doesn’t apply to my Plutonians. If you quit, I’ll hunt you down and run you over with Golden Girl)

If you fit the third category of weblogger — you hate the frustrations associated with a centralized weblogging system such as Radio or Blogger, but you love to weblog — then you should consider moving to a self-hosted system such as Movable Type or Graymatter or other similar systems.

My choice was to move to Movable Type because I’ve found it provides exactly what I want and is intuitively easy to use. The kicker, though, is that Movable Type isn’t necessarily the easiest system to install. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with web site hosting.

So back to the question: What can a weblogger who just wants to have fun do?

You can ask for help. You can pay a small amount of money and get loads of help from Ben and Mena at Movable Type, a contribution that also helps to fund their continued efforts on behalf of MT. In addition, talk to the people who’ve made the move. If webloggers truly are the happy band of brothers and sisters we say we are, then we should be willing to help each other.

If you have a question about hosting companies, server types, weblogging tools, installation, whatever — ask. Ask at other weblogs, in comments, at your own weblog.

Send emails. Call a person on the phone. Chat in person. Ask about a person’s karma, and then, when they draw breath to answer, slide in a MT technical question. Remember that human axiom: there’s nothing we love more than to respond, successfully, to a question about how something works. It gives us a warm, cozy, smug glow.

Whatever you do, don’t sit there fuming in silence, getting more and more frustrated. If you do, eventually the pressure will build to the point that steam will come out of your ears, your eyes will bulge, your face will turn beet red, and the top of your head will blow off.

And that will scare your cat.

Update Discussion of Radio’s centralization — or not — is continued here

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