As time passes, it gets progressively easier to do things yourself with computers. Even better, it’s getting easier to do things well. This is in large part due to a general advancement of technology, of course. More specifically, it’s mostly a result of two things: open source software development and the Web. Both of these processes (and yes, the Web is essentially a process, not a “thing”) create distribution, inclusion, and accessibility to the technologies they target. In a sense, it’s trickle-up economics — by leveraging the power of the masses, advancing technological accessibility to create a profitable market niche.
As this happens, the excuses against the “do it yourself” approach wear increasingly thin. Meanwhile, the problems with having others do things for you become more and more painful to experience. For instance, fellow weblogger Sterling recently had an outage because of a moment of incompetence from a service provider. Unfortunately, while all the resources for running your own weblog software are at our fingertips, it’s not so easy for us to run our own webservers with any sort of reliable, reasonable-performance capabilities. It’s getting better all the time, though.
The only excuses for using a feature-strong, functionality-weak blogging service like Blogspot or Livejournal these days are A) complete lack of technical skills and B) trying to leverage the internal communities to build up readership and Google attention prior to moving to a self-run solution so that you’ll have some quick PageRank building potential once you get off those dead-end services. There will come a day when using bargain-basement webhost services for hosting your weblog is almost inexcusable too: when that day comes, I’ll be self-hosting my websites already, telling you that you should follow suit. In the meantime, here I am choosing and modifying my own weblog software, telling any of you on Blogspot and Livejournal who have the ability to do what I’ve done that this is where it’s at.
You want the ability to choose your own antispam measures, add your own functionality, and (perhaps most importantly) move your weblog to another webhost if need be, even if you don’t know yet that you want these things. LiveJournal doesn’t support trackbacks and pingbacks. Blogspot’s antispam measures effectively block legitimate traffic. When you use Someone Else’s Service, they will always make it difficult to move your data somewhere else if you decide you need to because, of course, they want to lock you in. They’re not just locking you into one part of the entire stack of technologies, either: they’re locking you into an integrated Leaning Tower of Tech. In that sort of situation, when one little thing fails you, the whole integrated mess needs to be replaced.
Moral of the story: get the heck off Blogspot or Livejournal if you’re at all serious about your weblog. Do it yourself if you want it done right.