Hello! ☞ This is an archived version of Al Shaw's personal website. The current site is http://shaw.al.


On The Merits of Running One's Own Blogging Software

09/ 9/09
blogging, software

Gruber links to a post by John August who likens setting up and running blogging software on a private server to baking your own bread. Why go through the trouble when you can just pick up a premade loaf at Wordpress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, etc? Even after the outbreak of this particularly virulent WordPress worm, I’m not sure I agree here—for a few reasons.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to pull a Jason Scott and say ‘fuck the cloud,’ there is a certain uneasiness I have with entrusting something as core as one’s personal journal to a free service, regardless of the backup options they provide. Google has been known to delete Blogger posts that stray from their policies. Tumblr still doesn’t have a monetization plan yet. Even with Twitter, it’s kind of murky on how to retrieve one’s earliest tweets. When you host and install it yourself, you are in control of your data. You decide what goes up and what comes down and when.

When I first heard about this WordPress worm, I gloated about having migrated to Movable Type just in the nick of time. Though the more I think about it, and the more posts like August’s that show up, the more I realize it is a Bad Thing that people are losing trust in WP. And not just for those who have been infected. WordPress’ famous 5-minute installation was instrumental in demystifying self-hosted software, and paving the way for stuff like Fever. I imagine we’ll see a lot of these kind of PHP/MySQL apps in the future because of this sea change, and a lot of even slightly tech-oriented people taking control of their own data, and maybe even pressing on to learn how some of the code works. If being vigilant about watching for upgrades and using security best practices is the price to pay, I think that’s a pretty good deal.