Own your data (or why did I move away from Blogger and WordPress?)

This blog used to be two separate blogs, hosted at Blogger and WordPress.com, respectively. I've gone through some trouble to migrate their content, hopefully without breaking urls to this Blogofile based setup. In the process, I have lost a considerable number of features and conveniences - so why did I do this?

Owning my data and platform

As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch (or put more bluntly, if you are not paying for it, you are the product being sold). A prime example is WordPress.com, which reserves the right to display ads on your freely hosted blog, while Blogger probably enhances their advertisement profile of you - I don't know.

Even if these platforms don't do anything bad at the moment, they can pretty much change the features available to you, or any other aspects of their terms of service - remember that story about the Instagram ToS change regarding commercial use of your photos? Sure, it turned out to be a misunderstanding and/or they backed down, but theoretically they can do it.

Of course, this wasn't a concern when I started out with blogging, but certainly is something to consider now that I am nearing post #42.

These considerations are of course applicable for other service providers beyond blogging, e.g.:

  • (sports) tracking applications - while I have not yet gotten around to building up a website like Suzi & Ralf, but I know eventually I will want to create something with the trails of all the places I've been to, whether for fun or for an anniversary gift or similar - and most sites make it rather hard to export your data conveniently (endomondo is particularly annoying, so I'm real grateful for the easy zip-export of runkeeper!)
  • social networks - does LinkedIn, Facebook, Xing, etc. allow you to easily export your contacts and their contact details? I would be pretty upset to find myself without a personal copy of that data

Of course, I keep using services hosted by others, but I try to make sure I use one with a friendly data liberation policy!

Other considerations

  • backup - sure, it's almost a repeat of the prior point, but worth noting. It doesn't happen as often as before, but there is always the possibility of data loss or service outage
  • version control - being a software developer, this is almost second nature to me - it's incredibly liberating to be able to throw all my changes away and go back to a previous, known good version of a post draft.
  • offline authoring - I do a lot of my writing and hobby coding during my train commute, with spotty internet connection at best. Working locally on my laptop with my favorite text editor beats any online editor widget.
  • full customizations - sure, probably there is a WordPress plugin for anything I would want to do, but for a lot of the small checks, it takes longer to find, learn, and configure the one I need than to implement it in python - e.g.: checking the site for broken links, custom reports, etc. I should probably mention the html template customizations here too, though you might be able to tell that is not yet the highest priority for me :)

What do you think? I would love if you would leave a comment - drop me an email at hello@zsoldosp.eu, tell me on Twitter!

Posted on in python, blog, ownership, outdoors, data, software by

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