Chad Perrin: SOB

5 September 2006

another point in favor of “do it yourself”

Filed under: Geek,Metalog — apotheon @ 06:00

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.


  1. Yeah, this whole debacle had me seriously considering completely self-hosting on my own static IP. But my ISP is planning to move some servers in-house, and I know those guys well (the CEO used to be my neighbor) so I’ll probably stick with them.

    They may even let me use Ruby on Rails.

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 5 September 2006 @ 06:04

  2. Good luck with that! It sounds like it will probably turn into a (relatively) good situation for you.

    I think the next step in self-hosting from our bargain-basement webhosting plans (shared hosting) will be vitual server accounts. When that becomes easier, cheaper, and more available, I’ll be there. The “easier and cheaper” bit is here — but the “more available” is still a problem. It’ll come.

    If I had the startup capital, I might even make it happen myself. For now, however, I’m a little short on cash for something like that.

    Comment by apotheon — 5 September 2006 @ 06:21

  3. […] Recent Comments apotheon on Thanks, I needed that splash of Google juiceapotheon on ChaCha: dance card full?SOB: Scion Of Backronymics » another point in favor of “do it yourself” on Sorry for the outagesterling on links for 2006-09-01Kiltak on links for 2006-09-01 Post Stats […]

    Pingback by links for 2006-09-06 -- Chip’s Quips — 5 September 2006 @ 07:18

  4. I find it highly ironic that this entry’s bookmark links broke LJ’s RSS aggregator (because of the embedded double quotes). ;-)

    On the one hand, I agree with you. I think many bloggers do lack the technical skills to host and maintain their own blog, but if you have the chops (and the time, which is usually my excuse), there’s no reason not to get your hands dirty and run the thing yourself.

    OTOH, LJ is what it is. There are other reasons for using it, namely the social networking aspect, which self-hosted blogging solutions tend to lack. The filters are useful if you’re not interested in running a public blog. Not everyone on LJ is trying to put their name in lights, so to speak. If you just want attention whoring, there’s always MySpace.

    I’m not sure I follow your self-hosting argument, however. Static IPs are hard to come by these days (harder still to find ISPs which will allow you to run your own server), and unless you plan on pulling redundant pipes into your house, installing racks and climate control and anti-static flooring in your basement, and building your own clusters, you will invariably have to rely on someone else’s hosting service. And this is one of those cases where we capitalist types can say “the free market will take care of it.” Reasonably reliable web hosting is already pretty cheap, and there may come a day when you can hook up with a 99.99% uptime colo with off-site backups and 24/7 help desk support for the same amount you’d pay at GoDaddy. And they’ll all be running Linux.

    Comment by Brian Martinez — 5 September 2006 @ 08:10

  5. “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.”

    You missed another possibility: C) the motto of your blog is “for some people, the bare minimum is enough.”

    Comment by Meredith — 5 September 2006 @ 08:37

  6. Brian:

    Static IPs are hard to come by these days (harder still to find ISPs which will allow you to run your own server)
    See “accessibility” comments, above.

    As for the rest of the complaints, that’s why I said it isn’t here yet. It’s not — we have to go through some intermediate steps (such as, for instance, virtual server hosting as opposed to shared hosting solutions like I’m using right now). Between virtual server hosting and self-hosting will probably be colocation hosting, possibly with intermediate steps before, after, or both.

    And this is one of those cases where we capitalist types can say “the free market will take care of it.”

    It already is taking care of it: we’re gradually creeping toward increased ease, affordability, and accessibility of an ever-increasing do-it-yourself approach to solving such problems.


    It’s not really a matter of minimums, so much as of choosing a crippled technology. The bare minimum can be had in any number of ways — and you’ll get better results from some than from others, without even really putting more work into it. At least, that’s my take. Perhaps you’re measuring a “minimum” of something different from what I’m measuring.

    Comment by apotheon — 5 September 2006 @ 11:06

  7. D) My blog is so flagrantly lacking in any seriousness that using serious tools would be an insult to them. (livejournal > listofdating_pages > myspace)

    Still, some time ago some people on lj quit lj to move to blogspot or something, because it was “more serious”. I think I was actually too shocked to get around to laugh. :-D

    Comment by h3st — 6 September 2006 @ 12:36

  8. I’m kinda targetting the blogspotters with this, most of all. There’s more of a self-conscious sense of “we’re serious about this blogging stuff” there and, really, if that’s your attitude, you need to be running your own blog software on your own webhosting account with your own domain. Seriously. Anything less is LiveJournal at most (or, potentially, MySpace, though I wouldn’t insult LJers by actually comparing the two).

    Comment by apotheon — 6 September 2006 @ 12:58

  9. i’ve started a new web site and it’s one of those shared hosting things. i looked in the config files and it looks like there are about 500 sites there :-) a few days after it was set up, i found my vhost had disappeared from the config. just… not there. the support person who fixed it didn’t give any explanation. sigh makes me wonder if i should pull out now, while i’m still in the 30 day grace period… and glad i own the domain name independently (you get a “free” one with your hosting, but i’m thinking it’d be hard to take with you).

    what’s the price of renting a dedicated, colocated server, though? five or ten times as much. that’s actually not too bad, though more than i want to pay just now. one of my friends tried the virtual machine solution (a xen guest) and liked that alright. that’s probably the next step. very few personal sites would really benefit from a dedicated server.

    btw, the benefit of LJ is really the “friends” page and the natural setup of permissions for your friends. it’s a social site, the “journal” in the name is a bit of a misnomer, though it’s also not bad as a journal.

    it’s important to have control where you need it, but often you don’t need it and you don’t want the responsibility.

    Comment by sosiouxme — 6 September 2006 @ 07:21

  10. Thanks to some prior experiences with webhosts, I always register any domain name about which I give a damn independently of my webhosting account. Usually when I mention that to people, they look at me funny, then sign up with GoDaddy for hosting and domain registration. It seems likely I probably couldn’t pay people to make smart decisions about these things.

    edit: You’re right, of course — LJ is more like a social community website than a series of separate weblogs. People tend to think of it as though it’s weblogs, and the totality of LJ is almost viewed as though it were all the weblogs on the Internet. It is, if anything, even more insular than Blogspot in that way.

    Comment by apotheon — 6 September 2006 @ 07:39

  11. Remember how I told you yesterday that pingbacks take time with WordPress? I just now got the pingback from this post.

    Comment by SterlingCamden — 12 September 2006 @ 09:15

  12. Holy wow. Yeah, that’s not exactly “timely”.

    Comment by apotheon — 12 September 2006 @ 10:16

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License