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Hosting Service Closes 3000 Blogs Without Notice 617

Posted by timothy
from the and-such-small-portions dept.
marmoset writes "Citing the high costs of running the free service, performance concerns, and health problems, Dave Winer closed down the weblogs.com hosting service without any prior notice. As many as 3000 sites are now inacessible, and the users who want to transfer their data elsewhere have to ask (politely) for it to be exported. As might be expected, reactions range from understanding to enraged. Netcraft has a report, too."
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Hosting Service Closes 3000 Blogs Without Notice

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  • by imadork (226897) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:36PM (#9437894) Homepage
    So, netcraft confirmed that *weblogs are dying?
  • TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BodyCount07 (260070) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:36PM (#9437898) Homepage
    The real question is whether or not this is allowed in the TOS. If it is, well than, that's how the cookie crumbles, users should have been making backups.

    If it is not allowed by the TOS than users have a right to be outraged.
    • Re:TOS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by saihung (19097)
      Only in such a sick culture could the terms of a contract take precedence over common courtesy. It would've cost him so much to give people a couple of days to get their shit in order?
      • Re:TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EvanED (569694) <evaned AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:45PM (#9437978)
        "It would've cost him so much to give people a couple of days to get their shit in order?"

        Actually, maybe. I don't know his hosting situation, but if even a quarter of the people had gone to back up their posts, that's a significant amount of extra traffic. Notice would have probably been have to be given out at least a week in advance to avoid a massive rush.
        • Re:TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JPriest (547211) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:07PM (#9438149) Homepage
          Yes, but that cost would likely be offset when people read that only the free accounts were nuked. Non-free accounts were not nuked, so many of the free users probably would have been willing to pay to upgrade their service in order to keep it.
          • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:39AM (#9438708) Homepage
            Dave Winer says "I don't want to start a site hosting business." As far as I can tell, there is no way to "upgrade" to keep a weblogs.com site; the best you could do is move to a different provider.
          • Re:TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

            by _KiTA_ (241027) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:58AM (#9438830) Homepage
            Obviously you're new to this whole intra-web thing.

            People don't pay for stuff they get for free. If he had announced that he was closing free accounts, they would have slammed him HARD while they backed up their stuff, then ran off and found a new free host to mooch off of and left him high and dry with an outrageous bandiwdth bill.

            You think he wasn't pushing them to try and get them to sign up for pay accounts already? The number one rule of the internet -- users are absolute resourch leeching mooches.
            • Re:TOS (Score:4, Interesting)

              by sql*kitten (1359) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:58AM (#9439619)
              If he had announced that he was closing free accounts, they would have slammed him HARD while they backed up their stuff, then ran off

              It depends on how much effort was involved, not just to export the data and import it somewhere (performing whatever conversion is required) but to communicate the new URL to everyone.

              A modest fee would most likely have been paid, especially if new functionality came with pay accounts. Look at Livejournal - you can sign up for free, but paying users get more features. In fact Slashdot could learn a lot from Livejournal.
              • Re:TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

                by Havokmon (89874) <rick@nOspam.havokmon.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @08:40AM (#9440631) Homepage Journal
                It depends on how much effort was involved, not just to export the data and import it somewhere (performing whatever conversion is required) but to communicate the new URL to everyone.

                A modest fee would most likely have been paid, especially if new functionality came with pay accounts. Look at Livejournal - you can sign up for free, but paying users get more features. In fact Slashdot could learn a lot from Livejournal.

                I run a free/paid email service - vfemail.net. You're welcome to monitor the main page and watch the number of free subscribers vs paid subscribers, but the paid users are pretty steady at 28 - while the number of free signups has just crossed the 10,000 mark :/.

                People are cheap. If it wasn't for Google ads, I'd be dead in the water.

            • by reallocate (142797) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @08:29AM (#9440562)
              As he's said (just in case, you know, a few Slashdotter's don't actually know what they're talkng about because they don't read anything beyond /.'s well-spun lede), the blogs were hosted on servers belonging to Userland, the California corporation Winer founded but left two years ago after heart bypass surgery. Userland apparently recently cleaned its corporate house, letting go of several activities and interests that they were supporting but which do not, and will not, bring in any revenue. That included the blogs.

              Winer seems to have wanted to migrate the blogs to Cambridge, Mass, where he is now a visiting fellow at Harvard. However, when he loaded up a server with the blogs, it turned to molasses. (If memeory serves, they run on a Windows server.)

              The obvious solution was to buy more hardware and spread the blogs among several servers. I can't really blame Winer for not doing that: He'd become a defacto freebie hosting service (there are no ads on these free sites, so no chance for any revenue); he'd need to hire staff to perform the migrations and manage the servers (his comments clearly indicated that the doctors have told him to stay away from the stress of programming and admin'ing); and he's about to leave Harvard and move elsewhere.

              As far as the TOS goes, I once briefly used another free Userland/Winer blogging facility and, I believe, those TOS clearly indicated that there the sites were hosted, in effect, at the pleasure of Userland. They made no claims about support, uptime, or lifetime.

              That said, the notice to the users was very abrupt. We don't know if this had been in the works for weeks or for hours. If the decision to take down the sites was made weeks ago, then the notice to users should have been given weeks ago. If the decision was made abruptly, everyone was left holding the bag.

              Perhaps a better solution would have been for Userland to send out the shutdown notices and for no one to make any attempt to keep the sites alive.
        • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:30AM (#9439524) Journal
          So, as far as I can tell from the discussion, he tried running stuff on his own server for a bit instead of Userland. I'm going to guess that his bandwidth usage for this month exceeded whatever he purchased for the month -- this would explain why he's refusing to provide any access until the first of next month, when he's sending people's blogs back to them.

          Of course, that doesn't explain why he'd use an audio message to get the word out.
        • Re:TOS (Score:5, Informative)

          by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:59AM (#9440222) Homepage Journal
          well, the guy certainly has no problems linking to an AUDIO POST hosted on HARVARDS EXPENSE.

          he just created something he doesn't want to a) take care of b) give to somebody else.

          -

      • Re:TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TeraCo (410407) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:46PM (#9437983) Homepage
        Well, it's easy to talk about costs when they aren't YOUR costs to be paying, isn't it.
        • Re:TOS (Score:5, Insightful)

          by squidinkcalligraphy (558677) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:41PM (#9438382)
          And it's even easier to talk about costs when you are part of the force that is increasing them as we speak: I refer to the slashdot effect.
        • Re:TOS (Score:5, Interesting)

          by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:46AM (#9438750)
          Well, it's easy to talk about costs when they aren't YOUR costs to be paying, isn't it.

          The company I work for used to be an ISP (as well as many other things). We decided the ISP (dialup and DSL) wasn't making money so we sold it.

          But we had the common courtesy to set up forwards for all 30k of our subscriber's email, and keep their personal websites up and home directories for over a year.

          Even to this day, we still host local non profits' websites for free (we don't accept new ones, but we'll continue to host the ones we did accept back in our ISP days)
      • by otisg (92803) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @04:01AM (#9439632) Homepage Journal
        "Only in such a sick culture could the terms of a contract take precedence over common courtesy. It would've cost him so much to give people a couple of days to get their shit in order?"

        You can also look at TOS vs. common courtesy the other way around:
        No matter what the TOS said, if you are/were getting free service, and this service is provided by an individual whose circumstances have changed and are outside his control, use your common courtesy and accept that your blog is now gone.

        Like other have said:
        1. if your blog is so important, why didn't you back it up?
        2. why trust an individual (or a company) with your precious data and trust them with the only copy of your data
      • Re:TOS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by transops.net (752062) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @06:44AM (#9440175) Homepage Journal
        Let me begin by saying I understand the emotion behind your comment. This is a really sad turn of events for anyone who hosted an active blog on Dave's network. That said, let's look at this from a capitalist (take the emotion out of that word, just focus on its abstract definition) perspective.

        Dave Winer has provided a portion of his network resources to the Internet community at large for several years, manifested by our (now terminated) ability to host a blog for free on his systems. Note that I'm not attempting to portray Dave as an altruistic fellow, although I do in fact think he's a great guy. We can't escape the fact that he achieved a significant amount of promotion for Manilla in trade for our no-cost use of his system. I guarantee you that over the term of the arrangement, he gained far more from the deal in mindshare than he spent in bandwidth.

        Unfortunately, nothing in this world is static. People are still getting older, stocks go up and down, and Dave's life (both personal and business, however little separation there may be between the two) isn't exempt from this rule. Before we rush to cry foul at his decision, let's look at some background information:

        (1) Dave Winer is widely recognized as an Internet communication pioneer, having been an early designer of a useful system for letting people people manage online content. Depending on your current needs and budget, there may be better products out there, but his company's work remains relevant.

        (2) The whole Manilla concept borrowed from earlier ideas, and became a model that others would follow in turn when they developed other CMS environments. This indicates a protracted period of skilled effort on Dave's part. Which leads us to the conclusion that...

        (3) Dave Winer is most likely an intelligent man who shows every sign of continuing to live in a fair manner. His recent statements on the issue at hand seem well thought out and polite, which leads me to believe the health problems he references aren't related to mental disease. If his mind is still intact, he probably had very good reasons for forgoing public notification. We should remind ourselves that...

        (4) Although the TOS for this hosting most likely hold the responsible parties harmless in the event of service discontinuance, there is always the possibility of some squirrely blogger getting notions of litigation in a moment of emotional weakness. Unspecified damages for emotional pain and suffering due to inability to dredge up the past by perusing their blog, or some other such title. It's unlikely. but possible for America's rather litigious populace. Remember the Fast Food Makes Us Obese lawsuits.

        Remember, attorneys always give the same opening advice to their clients: Never admit culpability, and try not to say anything at all without first passing it through Big_Law_Firm.pl for content filtering. Even then, it's usually best to use Pricey_PR_Group.php to speak publically about your actions. Reference the Santa Cruz Operation for mastery of this art.

        To sum it all up, let the inner Libertarian (no emotion, just the concept) in you shine by Making Daily Backups of anything important. A few lines of bash or perl scripting with a dash of UNIX utils can prevent years of therapy and rehab. As an added bonus, you get the ability to feel good about yourself by contributing your techniques to the community while you deposit checks from your clients who just *love* your new online backup service.

        Thus, personal responsibility helps us keep smart people out of the field of dentisty by preventing excessive gnashing of teeth. Less demand in that field equals more folks to give us free hosting services, right? More personally, since everyone wants to feel special in their own way, I feel special knowing my dentist doesn't feel inspired to name his next luxury car after me. It ain't much, but anything that helps me sleep better is well worth the effort.

    • Re:TOS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by big tex (15917)
      If it is not allowed by the TOS than users have a right to be outraged.

      No.

      IANAL, but for any sort of agreement to be binding, there has to be some 'consideration'. What does the host get for hosting your blog? Nothing? Then the response - the only one that should be expected- is 'sucks to be you.'

  • Backups (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:37PM (#9437902)
    Why would you trust any hosting company to keep the only copy of your data, if it were all that important to you?
    • Re:Backups (Score:3, Insightful)

      In this case, suppose I don't actually own my own computer?

      In general, suppose I'm renting storage space? Suppose I've got terabytes of data that I won't need for very long, but I need somewhere to store it NOW? Obviously I can't afford backups, and I have to trust someone else with my data.
    • Re:Backups (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stilwebm (129567) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:15PM (#9438208)
      The users have varying level of backups, but the biggest issue is that no one can find the new blog now. The weblogs.com domain was integral to these blogs, much like blogger.com, typepad.com, etc. The weblogs were found at hostnames like booknotes.hammock.com, rex.weblogs.com, delphi.weblogs.com, etc. Users very much could have used an opportunity to say what their new URL was. Dave Winer decided that was too much work [harvard.edu] [MP3 audio post he made].
      • Re:Backups (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ameoba (173803)
        From the sound of things, I doubt that the guy who was hosting everything would have much of a problem handing over the domain to somebody who'd be willing to put the server back up or at least provide redirection to the new homes of the sites.
    • Re:Backups (Score:5, Funny)

      by ziggy_zero (462010) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:30AM (#9438665)
      The real question is, where are bloggers going to go to whine about this????
  • Newsflash... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:37PM (#9437908) Journal
    When your data is on someone else's servers, and you don't have any of that data properly backed up, then you are completely at their mercy when it comes to being able to use it or losing it entirely. This is especially true when the service that they are supplying is being provided for free.
    • Re:Newsflash... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pongo000 (97357) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:49PM (#9438015)
      Now imagine this was SourceForge...
    • Re:Newsflash... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pipingguy (566974)

      When your data is on someone else's servers, and you don't have any of that data properly backed up, then you are completely at their mercy when it comes to being able to use it or losing it entirely. This is especially true when the service that they are supplying is being provided for free.

      What part of the above is so difficult to comprehend? Surely someone that has important writings or content also has it on their local hard drive, no? If it's been crawled, Google cache or the Wayback Machine might
    • Re:Newsflash... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Huogo (544272) <adam@thepeaco[ ]net ['ck.' in gap]> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:42PM (#9438388) Homepage
      I pay for hosting, and I still do backups at least once/week (mainly for the database backups). Anyone who keeps anything on the 'net should know that its an unstable place, and thing can dissapear at a moment's notice. I don't trust anything to be kept securely to the web, and no one else should either.
      • Re:Newsflash... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:20AM (#9438595)
        Anything on a web server is most likely on a hard disk... And hard disks are considered stable because their data doesn't disappear when the computer is powered down or reboots, but they don't last forever. All HDs have moving parts, and eventually some part of that drive will fail physically making your data nearly inaccessable. It's not a question of if but when. It will happen. Expect it to happen about 4-5 years after the drive first put into service. You should see this coming, not be caught unexpectedly by it.
  • Umm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dotslashconfig (784719) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:38PM (#9437912)
    So let me get this straight... He didn't know even 1 day in advance that rising costs and other technical/logistical difficulties were going to force him to shut down service? That seems rather ridiculous and is a huge oversight on his part. To not even warn people that he was having difficulties... it's mind boggling. I'm sure someone would have come to his aid, or at least tried to organize a fund to assist in maintaining service.

    Honestly, though... to not see this coming even a few days in advance? That's very disappointing.
    • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvanED (569694) <evaned AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:39PM (#9437934)
      If he was having problems already I'm not sure a mad rush of 3000 people trying to back up their data would have exactly helped...
      • Re:Umm... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dotslashconfig (784719) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:47PM (#9437991)
        What I mean is... if he'd given people a little more time to examine the situation - even a week would have been sufficient - people who liked his service might have tried to set up a fund-raising activity of some variety. I'm sure his users wouldn't have minded contributing a dollar or two in order to continue service.

        People just needed a small amount of time to prepare, even if they wouldn't have the chance to back up their data.

        In my experience, people tend to react more favorably towards disappointing situations if they have fair warning. People are a little more understanding if they have the chance to react to this news, as opposed to suddenly just seeing their information disappear.

        That's why "trading curbs" were implemented on the New York Stock Exchange. People needed time to react to news that could potentially cost them money/time. It's a lot easier to deal with losses if you either see them coming, or are given a fair chance to recover from drastic swings. (A little off-topic, but I think this relates).
        • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Informative)

          by sakusha (441986) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:50PM (#9438419)
          Fundraising isn't the issue. Winer's a millionaire, he just sold his house in CA. According to the Wired Magazine biography of Winer, he paid $2 million for a house in an exclusive neighborhood, next to Joan Baez's house. Winer is sitting on millions of bucks, it's not like he couldn't afford to pay for hosting. He just decided he no longer wanted to, so he killed the blogs of everyone who wasn't his buddy (i.e. Searls). So if you haven't sucked up to Winer sufficiently, your blog is toast. Such are the tribulations of dealing with millionaire dilletantes.

          Winer is freaking out. His "fellowship" at Berkman is over, he's got no job and nobody wants him around anymore, even his sycophants are no longer willing to help him find his next gig.
      • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by rimu guy (665008) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:50PM (#9438020) Homepage

        He has 3000 people using the service. It would have taken them some time to sign up. He would have had ample info about the cost of running the service and providing support for it.

        I can only deduce that Mr. Winer's personal circumstances have changed dramatically, and that is what is causing the problem.

        And I agree with the grandfather post. There should have been warning about the service change. He should have let people know they had a week or a month to move things off the server. There would have been an increase in server load. But it would have been manageable.

        ---
        Yep, we host blogs [rimuhosting.com]

      • Re:Umm... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuperDuperMan (257229)
        Ultimately the service was free. People who bitch about the quality of free service should ask themselves why anyone who offers them a free service should be obligated to provide them with a level of service they could expect from a pay service.

      • by cbreaker (561297) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:57PM (#9438086) Journal
        Considering that the majority of the data is displayed on users' browsers, they could have shut down the sites but allowed the owners of the blogs to grab the data. It would probably have been less traffic in the few days before shutdown then normal traffic.
    • Re:Umm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:54PM (#9438054)
      Well, let's suppose you're Dave Winer. Stay with me here.

      You know that no matter what you do to close down the site, you will be flamed and people will hate you. This is true for anybody, not just Dave Winer. Imagine if slashdot closed up one day. I bet the non-paying slashdotters would complain the loudest.

      And you know the traffic will go UP immediately.

      You just don't want the hassle.

      Also, remember you're Dave Winer and you have Dave Winer's.. let's say "unique" personality.

      The only logical thing to do is close it up, wait a few days for the dust to settle, and then deal with the sycophants, leaving the rest to rot.
  • Wired article (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tekmage (17375) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:38PM (#9437919) Homepage
    Wired has an article [wired.com] up as well, with a bit more detail.
    • by skaffen42 (579313) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:52PM (#9438035)
      From the Wired article: "I just have my fingers crossed that my girlfriend gets her blog back," said software programmer Tom Gortell. "She feels like someone just sucked out her brains. I don't get it, it's just an online journal, right? But she feels like her entire life has been stolen."

      The guy works as a programmer and he never told her to make backups? And then he tells Wired that he doesn't get why she is upset. Somebody better e-mail him the number of a good florist.

      But seriously, he should have told her to make backups. Free service. You get what you pay for. What more can you say?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:39PM (#9437926)
    I can forsee quite a few people complaining about this in their weblogs.

    Oh...wait...
  • Audio recordings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AirLace (86148) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:39PM (#9437927)
    The most interesting thing is that Winer announced the withdrawal of service through a poorly recorded audio file. Could it be that he's been struck down with RSI?

    Whatever the case, I think he could have shut down the service gracefully, perhaps handing it over to a friend or a third party rather than abruptly pulling the plug. But at the end of the day, he's only damaged his own reputation -- it's not the end of the world for anyone.
  • by jm92956n (758515) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:39PM (#9437929) Journal
    I just saw this over at Halley's place and went to Tom's blog and read Dave's post on Tom's private weblog. Tom is traveling back from Mexico, not sure if he's landed yet, but I doubt that the first thing on his mind is how hard Dave Winer wants his old Manilla users to blow him in this special "one-time" offer.

    Good riddance! I don't understand how one could possibly read such crap.

    I scratched my nose a little and then depressed the 'W' key, knowing full well the corresponding character would henceforth be displayed in its full glory!
  • Ironic (Score:5, Funny)

    by shadowmatter (734276) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:40PM (#9437940)
    Having your blogging service totally shut you out without notice finally seems like the perfect thing to blog about.

    - sm
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:43PM (#9437961)
    I remember when Winer started the site. It was Userland released their blogging software a while back, before blogging was really popular. I thought it was mostly to show off the software and let people "get started". It was not meant to host high-traffic public sites.

    Winer says that he will export the sites after July 1. I don't know why he insists "after July 1", or why he didn't say "I am closing them down in X days" but he's pretty stubborn sometimes.

    So, I'm not really surprised. I personally wouldn't depend on a third party storing my site for free, without even a local backup.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:45PM (#9437973)
    Jesus saves and backs up nightly!
  • by hayden (9724) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:46PM (#9437981)
    It's as though a couple of thousand babbling idiots were suddenly silenced.
  • hatelife.org (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zugok (17194) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:54PM (#9438055)
    This happened to hatelife.org a few weeks ago as well, and there were a lot of people hating life a lot more than they ordinariuly would have been to. Basically Steve, the maintainer said his time with hatelife was done. People pissed and moaned about his canning hatelife and before I knew it, hatelife was taken off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @10:55PM (#9438066)
    At least LiveJournal didn't shut down without notice. Otherwise we'd all be up tonight digging mass graves for disfranchised teenagers all over the world.
  • by sewagemaster (466124) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [retsamegawes]> on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:01PM (#9438114) Homepage
    As might be expected, reactions range from understanding to enraged.

    and we shall show our "understanding" by having their site posted and slashdotting their site...
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Slipped_Disk (532132) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:02PM (#9438118) Homepage Journal
    And THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is why I host MY little blog-like thing on MY OWN site, using MY OWN crappy software. That way I KNOW backups are getting done, and I KNOW when the machine will be down, and if something goes wrong I can fix it MY OWN DAMN SELF.

    Sorry if I seem a little callous, but really how hard is it to write a few hundred lines of PHP for a simple online journal with comments? NOT VERY! And it runs on the same machine I use for all my other stuff (DNS, Mail, CVS) so it's not like I'm spending untold thousands extra each month, it really helps make the cost-benefit ratio of my server more tolerable.

    Think about it.
  • by katsushiro (513378) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:04PM (#9438130) Homepage
    Honestly, the amount of snarky comments along the lines of 'Oh, blogs suck anyway, who cares.', and 'It's all idiotic blabbing anyway.' are getting on my nerves. Really, no one thinks you're one of the cool kids now just because you think blogs are passe. Stop trying to be a post-ironic hipster type who's oh-so-tired of it all. Posting on Slashdot won't get you laid. Neither will having a blog, of course, but that's my point.

    I don't understand the level of hostility against blogs. No one's putting a gun to your head and making you read them. I actually support efforts by Google and other search engines to separate blog results from regular webpage results. Sometimes I don't want to have my search results skewed by blogs, and sometimes I really want to know how the 'blogosphere' feels about a particular issue. But while that happens, just ignore them. If you hate them so much, don't read them. But, really, infantile attacks don't make you superior in any way to the bloggers.

    I know most blogs are, indeed, just self-centered rambling, or 15 year old girls talking about their latest dream with N'Sync and a pony, but on the other hand, they're valid outlets for a lot of people to just vent, express themselves, and give their opinions on issues. If you don't want to hear those opinions, then just don't visit their blogs. It's that simple.

    And yes, I do have a blog of my own, no, I'm not giving out the address here, since it's basically just a self-centered little website that's read by me and maybe 2 friends, and that's fine by me.
    • by Dun Malg (230075) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:43PM (#9438392) Homepage
      talking about their latest dream with N'Sync and a pony

      I have the n'sync-with-a-pony dream all the time. I should start a blog about it.

    • wrong (Score:5, Funny)

      by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:15AM (#9438567)
      I don't understand the level of hostility against blogs. No one's putting a gun to your head and making you read them.

      Apparantly you haven't tried to use Google lately.
    • Why we hate blogs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:46AM (#9438747) Journal
      The web is a wonderfull things in wich countless bits of information are there to be found. Except it is getting harder and harder to find them. I can easily mentally filter out the fake link sites from google results. Porn is easy too. Shopping sites I learned to regonize and avoid as well. But blogs are harder because there are so many of them and the sentences shown by google actually seem to relate to the subject I am searching for.

      Personal pages with no content of intrest to anyone have been around since the early days of the web. However they existed in their own little corner and were rarely found by search engines. Blogs because of the incestious linking to each other are found and are just another chunk of noise getting in the way.

      Not that I hate blogs. It is just, ugh. I thought I found the information I wanted and instead I am on some whiners site. What a waste of time and bandwidth.

      Now if only google could filter out blogs. Then all the personal sites would go back to their own little corner of the net and I wouldn't know anything about them. Of course if this is done then a lot of bloggers would whine because they would miss the accidental visits and see that in reality nobody wants to read about their thoughts. You gotta be intrestting to have something intrestting to say and most people simply are not.

    • by Zhe Mappel (607548) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:49AM (#9438773)
      I know most blogs are, indeed, just self-centered rambling, or 15 year old girls talking about their latest dream with N'Sync and a pony

      That's an unnecessary "or."

  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:08PM (#9438152)
    From: http://www.wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,63856,00. htm
    In an audio message posted late Monday explaining his reasons for the shutdown, Winer cited the financial costs of hosting the sites, technical difficulties in moving the blogs to a new server, stress and personal health issues as the reasons for the sudden shutdown.

    Winer, who has offered free hosting to bloggers for the past four years, has promised to make exportable copies of blog contents available to the blogs' owners at their request. He says it will take at least two weeks to provide copies of the blogs' contents.

    "I just did the best I could," said Winer, in his audio message. "This is not a company here ... this is a person. To expect company-type service ... that's just not going to happen."

    The first reaction on reading the news is to assume the guy was being a dick in not giving notice when he saw this coming.

    Reading the quotes from the article it may not be that cut and dried.

    A single person doesn't donate his work to running a service for 4 years then just drop people for the hell of it.

    The quotes above sound like he had other intense stuff going on in his life ......things with a higher priority....that forced him to put off dealing with this in a better manner.

    Maybe people wouldn't be angry at him if he mentioned the details of these extenuating circumstances, but then again why should he publish the personal details of his life? I'm sure anyone here can imagine several situations to make a hobby project you run the last thing on your list of priorities: a significant death, loss of a job, being forced to move, 1 or more of other things called "life" etc.

    BTW, I only heard the term "blog" within the last 2 years, yet one of the quotes from the article said this guy ran weblog for 4 years.

    Is the term "blog" newer then this guy's service?

    I used to "blog" before the term and the software. I just updated a personal website I had rather frequently.

    Steve

  • Health problems... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ReptileQc (679542) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:13PM (#9438192)
    If you read the Netcraft article, you would have seen that he had problems other than just technical problems. He seems to have health problems too. Maybe that's the real reason why he needed to shut it down. Maybe someone nice with a few gigs to spare would make a nice offer to host the whole thing?
  • by tlambert (566799) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:13PM (#9438193)
    To all saying users should backup their blogs...

    Exactly how are they supposed to do this?

    A fundamental weakness in the blog paradigm is that there is CGI software between you and your raw data, in order to impose a style on it. This is particularly true of third party hosting, which provides cookie-cuter blogs through common software, where the only thing that differes from user to user is a few settings and their URL.

    Backups usually only make sense if (1) you can get at the raw, preformatted data, and (2) that getting at that data will do you any good -- e.g. you will be able to externalize it the same way somewhere else.

    At this point, blog-hosting service providers really don't have standards for their variable data, so even if you had a backup, it really wouldn't get your blog back up on the net, without a lot of work.

    -- Terry
    • How 'bout after each post, go to the blog, then go to file->save as...

      It will be HTML, but it could be restored fairly easily by opening the html file in a web browser and copying and pasting into a new blog's post page in another browser window.

      It would be inconvenient, but not as hard as you make it out to be.

      Anyway, visit my blog. There is a link in the sig. I try to write about interesting things like life on other planets and token-ring adapters rather than just posting the typical masturbatory grousing you find in most other blogs.

    • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:33AM (#9438676) Homepage
      Manila (the software used on weblogs.com) has an export feature [userland.com] for exactly this purpose. (I just backed up my site right now. Luckily it wasn't on weblogs.com.)

      Dave Winer has written in the past about why it's import for Web apps to export data [scripting.com]: "So since we're going to have competition, I believe we must take extra steps to guarantee that there's no customer lock-in. It's even more important in the age of the Web when the user might not even have a copy of their own data. One of the cardinal requirements of this market, even before we try to get the UIs compatible, is an export function that leaves un-rendered text and data on the user's hard disk in a format readable by software that's available at a reasonable or no cost."
  • by wuice (71668) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:16PM (#9438216) Homepage
    I remember the day when my Livejournal had been totally wiped. Emptied. Back to square one. I sat there dumbfounded, what had happened to my months of entries? I'm not the only one I've seen this happen to.. I guess all you can really do is move on. Losing data sucks.. Be more rigorous in backing up next time and hopefully it won't happen again.

    I've lost unreplacable data a few times now (sometimes on my machine, sometimes on someone else's servers). I should have learned my lesson sooner. Even if it *shouldn't* happen, it does happen. Sucks facing hard immovable reality sometimes.
  • Money (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:21PM (#9438247)
    If money and stress were really the problem, why not sell the service to a company and then offer backups. If only a fraction of the people paid up ($15 for a year?) it would have been worth it and fewer people would have gotten pissed.

    This guy can do what he wants, but he handled things badly.
  • by coene (554338) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:21PM (#9438251)
    ... which in this case is... nothing :P

    Seriously, why would you leave data on a free hosting service's servers? You can't count on them. If I use a Hotmail or Yahoo email account, I have to understand it could drop off the planet tomorrow.

    It takes big ones to complain about a free service.
  • Blog backup service. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Greg@RageNet (39860) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:30PM (#9438319) Homepage
    Coincidentally we are launching a blog backup service shortly. We'll back up blogs so that users won't have to worry about their content if their service goes down or *gasp* goes out of business!

    Blog Backup Program [rage.net]

    -- Greg

  • Dave Winer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redtail1 (603986) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:38PM (#9438360)
    For those of you with better things to do than follow weblog community matters, Dave Winer is a narcissistic asshole who will do almost anything to get attention including revising history, throwing temper tantrums, slamming other people (but later denying he did it) and taking his ball and going home. He jealously guards technologies he helped create and hinders any efforts to help them grow from pet projects into community standards because he doesn't want to lose the spotlight. Most people who know him have learned to ignore him because complaining about his petulant behavior is pointless.


    There. Now you're up to speed.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @03:22AM (#9439489)
      That seems to be a pretty common opinion of Dave. yet countless people decided it was a good idea to host their blog on a site operated by what would seem to be, by accounts like this, a madman!! Why on earth would you not expect your blog to just vanish someday, or have your words of wisdom turned into latin or something? Why would you host a blog there at all?

      If the answer starts with "well, it was free..." then you get everything you deserve. I have plenty of my own "Well, it was {free,cheap}" experiences and although I grumbled about it a little in the end I could only blame my own human nature for trying to get something for nothing.
  • Health issues?! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Tuesday June 15, 2004 @11:55PM (#9438455)
    I'm concerned to hear that Dave Winer is suffering from health problems. Whatever you think of him and his various endeavors, Dave has been incredibly influential in the Macintosh software and Internet development communities for about as long as I can remember. Incredibly productive, too. I won't try to list all the stuff he's done [editthispage.com], but we've all used the fruits of his labor. And he hasn't filed a single patent for any of it.

    So screw the blogs and give Dave a break. If there's anyone out there who has earned a bit of understanding, Dave's the guy.

    Speedy recovery to you, Dave.
  • by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:04AM (#9438511)
    It's much more informative than the web page. The guy basically says he is too sick to maintain the server and will export the blogs on request. For me, it sounds like people should either a) say thanks for a freeby they had for a while, export their stuff and move on or b) offer to host all or a portion of the sites and provide a legal privacy guarantee for moving the accounts.

    Something that slashdot owners should consider, huh?
  • by jerkychew (80913) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:13AM (#9438559) Homepage
    If it's still in the same rack as it was 6 months ago, that is. I used to work for a web hosting company that had some co-lo space in a hosting facility. We set up 2 of the servers for weblogs.com as well as another server for another site. I never met Dave, but did everything through his partner. His partner was a super-nice guy, Linux afficianado, and slashdot reader. Kinda sad that they ran out of money.

    (I have to be a bit vague on the details due to NDAs and such... Sorry for not including any specifics)
  • by sakusha (441986) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:37AM (#9438694)
    Winer argued that it would have been impossible to perform backups, it would have overwhelmed the system if he'd preannounced the closure, it would have killed his system from overload.

    I call Bullshit.

    Notice this handy feature on the Harvard weblog host site created by Winer:

    http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/weblogBackup

    You just submit the request, and your backup runs overnight, presumably it's a cron job to tar all your files (or the Windoze equivalent, since Winer seems stuck on Windoze platform).

    So Winer was lying when he said it would have been impossible to offer backups without shutting down the whole system like he did. Software was already written to perform backups. He could have just made the blog webspaces read-only, so blog authors could no longer post new content, but the blogs could still be available to the public, until they got backed up. This transition was handled extremely poorly, it must have been a deliberate decision to do it this way. Dave apparently WANTED to piss everyone off.
  • by Complicity (30481) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @12:44AM (#9438731)
    From the 'enraged' link:
    Last night was a 9/11 of sorts for the weblogs.com bloggers.

    Or entirely not like that at all.
  • by sirReal.83. (671912) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:11AM (#9438885) Homepage
    Hosting Service Closes 3000 Blogs Without Notice
    You're damn right no one noticed...

    ... Zing!

    Yes, blogs do have their uses - say, group collaboration. FLOSS. But there are a fascinating number of them that are just self-important rant-books with no real direction.
  • Archive old entries (Score:5, Informative)

    by SKPhoton (683703) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @01:53AM (#9439111) Homepage
    If you use LiveJournal [livejournal.com], there is a command-line based client called Charm [sourceforge.net] and one of its features is the ability to archive old posts.

    If you're worried about losing all your old posts, go ahead and back them up yourself. You never know..
  • New URLs Suck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@NOspam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:09AM (#9439186) Homepage Journal
    So say someone has backed up everything and moves it somewhere else, how do their readers find them? More to the point, how do they find their readers??

    March 1997, one of my little weekly columns (didn't call them "blogs" back then) gets a mention in Us. Unfortunately I'd been hosting it in donated /~username space, and right after the magazine puts the blurb to bed, the owners of the bookstore hosting my site decide they don't want to run a server anymore.

    No warning, no forwarding, no nothing. I have everything backed up, so I register a domain, get hosting, and my site's back online within a few days... only at another address. I'm running around trying to update my entries at all the major search engines, posting to appropriate newsgroups, just trying to get the word out that my columns had moved.

    Then Us comes out, glowing little blurb recommending my column... and the *old* URL. My first major national press and no one can find me.

    That is the most insidious part of what Winer has done. He has separated all those bloggers from their readers, leaving them no way to leave a forwarding address. Anyone who doesn't backup their content takes their chances, but how do you backup your audience?

    - Greg

  • by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @02:42AM (#9439322) Homepage
    Winer offered to host this stuff for free. He OFFERED (and to be fair, actually did it.)

    People took him up on it (braindead though that might be since it should have been obvious to him and them it couldn't go on forever.)

    Then he shuts it down WITH NO PRIOR NOTICE.

    At best, that makes him an asshole (unless it was literally an emergency that prevented him from notifying anyone at all. Was that the case? Doesn't say so.) At worst, it makes him a major asshole.

    Now the morons on /. can self-righteously complain that the people pissed off are "just whiners" - which makes the morons on /. "just whiners" by the same logic - they're whining about someone else's perfectly justified behavior.

    Bottom line: You get what you pay for (sometimes) - and you never get what you don't pay for (usually).

    Which doesn't justify being an asshole - always.

    Being right justifies being an asshole - as I demonstrate here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @09:18AM (#9440986)
    First, I notice that many of these posts say that "3000 bloggers" have lost their sites. This is just not true. I know that at least three of these sites were mine. I created them for various purposes, they ran their course, and when I was through with them I let them go to seed. I'm sure that I'm not the only one to do so. I lost nothing when they were shut down. In fact, my contact information was not current, so Winer would not have been able to contact me if he had tried. I'll bet that I'm not alone in THAT respect, either.

    Second, as many people pointed out, these accounts didn't cost me a dime, and they didn't make Winer a dime. There were no ads on the sites. Winer didn't harvest my email to sell to spammers, and he didn't spam me myself. I got a hell of a lot more than Winer did. I got the use of his site for four years. I got the opportunity to experiment with weblogs. I got the use of a first-class weblogging system. Winer's software is far and away the best system that I've tried. The themes were professional and well-designed, the software was intuitive and a pleasure to use, and the response time was usually exceptional. Going from Userland to another system -- Blogger, for example -- was like going from OS X to Windows 3.1. (Brrrr.)

    It was a free service that went on long after the Internet bubble burst and other free services disappeared. It was fun while it lasted. Could Winer have done a better job of weaning people off the system? Maybe. I don't know, and neither do you.

    Oddly enough, I don't recall any /. posts from people saying that they lost their own sites when Winer pulled the plug. (Although I have to say that the posts here are downright sedate compared to the people at http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/002739.h tml, who seriously need to go back on their meds.)

  • by eggboard (315140) * on Wednesday June 16, 2004 @10:42AM (#9441772) Homepage
    If you don't want to interact with the fellow who shut the blogs down (I've promised to never say his name in print again for the same reason the Indo-European root of "bear" is actually "brown"), I've written a short and sweet way [glennf.com] to extract all of your blog posts in somewhat ugly but complete form using Google.

    Essentially, enter a Google query in the form

    site:YOURDOMAIN.weblogs.com UNIQUE_WORD

    Unique word should be something that appears on every page. Now get one of those slurping programs that downloads Web pages. Point it to the Google URL and set it to one level deep. It'll retrieve all the pages via Google's Cached link. repeat for each page of Google results. Now you have your content, and if you've clever, you can write a shell script to extract the unique text and eventually recreate your blog without any "bear" involved.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"

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