Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

What we can learn from the abrupt closure of Weblogs.com

While it may be true that “some” of the best things in life are free, it appears (once again) that “some” does not include free hosting. Case in point, the thousands of individuals who woke up to find their sites hosted at Weblogs.com shut down with no prior warning. Worse, stranded users cannot obtain their data unless they request it … after July 1.

We’ve talked more than once about the hazards of hosting for free, and more recently, we’ve talked about how it is unreasonable to expect an online endowment. So I while on one hand I’m not surprised that this happened, I am surprised by the number of people who are now resorting some ingenious but difficult means of ‘scraping’ their data back. I’m also a bit surprised that David Winer didn’t use the popularity of Scripting.com to throw down some warnings and how-to’s.

Lessons Learned:Cool black light, or dim bulb? You decide with your plan of attack

The above also goes for “for-pay” hosts as well. Two months ago, I had a hosting provider shut down RedlandBaptist.org due to a false spam complaint. Unable to reason with the provider … or even get him to look at his own logs … I ‘negotiated‘ to have him leave the site up for a week and proceeded to move the entire site to another server that evening. The only thing that took time was the propagation of the domain name.

Personally, I wonder the people at WordPress, MovableType and pMachine recognize this opportunity to expand their user base and by offering applications to migrate data from Weblogs to their respective systems?

I also wonder if David Winer realizes that he may be doing the Atom syndication format a favor by compelling some to go to Blogger?

Regardless of the potential fallout, the bottom line is that those of you running church web sites and blogs need to attain a certain level of self-sufficiency in the area of backups, contingencies and hosting. Depending on the kindness of strangers to buy you lunch on a permanent basis is a sure fire recipe for offline indigestion.

Additional Links on the Topic:

Update 20-Jun-04 4:51 AM:

WorkBench’s Rogers Cadenhead has decided to adopt 3,018 webloggers this week – a very generous move that I applaud. None the less, such John 11 acts of kindness do not negate your need to back-up your work … so get busy.


  1. Youch, you wish David could have at least given two weeks (or days) notice to everyone. Dean’s lessons are good ones to remember.

    BTW, in regard to Atom, I use blogger


    but you will notice that I have an xml image on my site. I use FeedBurner to convert my Atom to RSS.

  2. >Personally, I wonder the people at WordPress,
    >MovableType and pMachine recognize this opportunity
    >to expand their user base and by offering
    >applications to migrate data from Weblogs to their
    >respective systems?

    Word Press has a lot of tools for migrating from other blogging tools (http://wiki.wordpress.org/ImportBlog) and good instructions for backing up (http://wiki.wordpress.org/Database%20Backup). I was able to successfully move from MT to it (http://geekgirl4god.com/girl/index.php?p=75)

  3. pMachine does have some migration tools, if these were Radio blogs then they’re out of luck, as far as pMachine is concerned (and they’re currently swamped, having just gotten the Expression Engine 1.0 out the door).

    Hey Dean – how come I can’t use email addresses like HYCWS 6182004 @boyink.com here. You know – like you use on my site? ;)

  4. I recently abandoned an old blog at BlogStudio (with which I was never completely happy) for a new Blogger blog hosted with my site at 1&1 under my new domain name.

    The new blog has a different name and a broader emphasis. I had intended to leave the old blog up for a while, if for no other reason than to serve as a pointer to the new blog.

    But then I decided to switch the old blog back from BlogStudio Pro to the basic free BlogStudio service so that I wouldn’t be charged in August when my initial year of service ran out. Unfortunately, the process of changing from Pro to basic wiped out my archives.

    Luckily, I had downloaded a copy of the archives to my hard drive a month or two earlier, and so I still have the lion’s share of my earlier posts tucked away. I’ve re-posted a few old posts to the new site, with apologies to my longtime readers, because I think I get more traffic now than I did when some of those old posts went up originally.

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  6. Before I forget, I have a new URL

    I will soon be switching from Typepad — which has been excellent but a tad slow — to textdrive/textpattern because I could simply not pass up the incredible limited offer for life time hosting at 200 US; there may be some spots left for anyone who wants to get in on the 200 spaces going fast between now and June 24.

    As for free services, and how some people can be so ungrateful (just consider the recent MT discussions) I agree with Doc Searls who you liked above, when he wrote, “Thousands of us got a free ride from Dave, and Userland, over the past five years. What we got was far more than we didn’t pay for. For many of us (certainly for me), the benefits have been incalculable.”


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