The Perils of Blogging on Free Sites

As if you needed another reason to leave Blogspot, here’s one for you: They can delete your site without notice and won’t even respond to your inquires.

Like most bloggers, I started out on Blogspot with a site at outsidethebeltway.bloggspot.com on January 31, 2003. I quickly outgrew the limitations of the service and moved to the current domain on April 4. Still, I maintained several sites at Blogspot, including the original OTB (as “OTB Backup Site”), a Dallas Cowboys blog with Steven Taylor that we started nearly three years ago, a 2008 campaign blog, and some pop culture sites.

When I logged in on November 11 to post something to the Cowboys blog, I was shocked to see that all of my sites (save a very outdated login to the first variant of the Command Post) were gone from the Dashboard login page. I checked the FAQs and the announcements to see if any explanation had been posted to no avail.

So, I sent a message to Blogger Support. I got an automated response saying,

Thanks for contacting Blogger Support. Since we cannot always respond personally to every message we get, we encourage you to check Blogger Help, where you can find answers to many common questions. Here are some of the top articles which could help you out. . . .

None of them helped me out in the least.

If your question or problem is not addressed anywhere in our documentation, please simply reply to this message and let us know. We will help you out as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience.

Sincerely,
Blogger Support

So I did. Finally, a week later, I received this message:

Thanks for your note. This is an automated update from Blogger Support. Due to the tremendous amount of help requests from users, we’re currently unable to offer timely, personal assistance to everyone.

Now, my user account has been deleted entirely and at least two of the sites’ URLs have been taken over by squatters.

Let this serve as a cautionary tale. Get your own domain name and host your own blog. Unless you’re offering up videos or other large files, it’s quite inexpensive even if you get a substantial amount of traffic. If someone else has your blog and shuts it down, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Update (3/17/06): Still no resolution on this. It turns out that several other bloggers are getting hit with this problem with similar lack of responsiveness from Blogger.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere, General, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. aaron :: says:

    Go look at what YOUR favorite blogs used to look like. Michelle has reported on Google’s bias before: GOOGLE NEWS: NOT SO FAIR AND BALANCED GOOGLE BOWS TO CHINA GOOGLE’S DEMOCRATS See also: Blogspot Sites Disappearing – Outside the BeltwayThe Perils of Blogging on Free Sites – Outside the Beltway The Incredible Suckitude Of Blogger – Ex-Donkey Blog

  2. bithead says:

    That’s odd…. Knock wood, I’ve not been having the problems you guys have.

    Frankly, at this stage, I dunno as I’d be able to afford the software and the web space, too.
    Still, the prices are coming down…

  3. James Joyner says:

    Most of the software, including WordPress, is free. Reliable hosting is available for well under $10 a month.

  4. […] As if you needed another reason to leave Blogspot, here’s one for you: They can delete your site without notice and won’t even respond to your inquires. ***more***   […]

  5. McGehee says:

    Wow. I guess I rescued the archives of my “lost” pre-blogoSFERICS weblog in the nick of time.

  6. We started on Blogspot on 9/10/04 and I quickly realized the danger. Not be anything they did, just that “trapped in a blind canyon with no way out” feeling. By October we had moved from americandaughter.blogspot.com to americandaughter.com. Still, just to be safe, I bought an external hard drive and kept duplicates of everything that I uploaded. Then this past spring we had problems with the new host, and I had to rehost yet again. Have not reloaded all the archives, but they are still in my possession, awaiting a slow day.

    The good news, am now at POWWEB, with bonus for 2 year signup comes to about 6.29/mo and they have WordPress available for one-click install on their servers. I’m loving it.

    I’m also enjoying your articles on topics about blogging.

  7. avi says:

    Happened to me with eBloggy, about a year ago.
    Today I am paying some $20/year to IsraBlog, and backup my blog every 10 posts or so.

  8. cyndi says:

    I have 2 blogs with blogger, both hosted with my site’s hosting company — verio. I checked to see if my blogs were still up and my account and blogs are fine — probably because I host them elsewhere.

    But it makes me scared that they can delete my account. However, I have no clue on how to move to a new blog service or software because I don’t want to loose my posts and archives. Is there an easy way to move my posts to WordPress?

  9. James Joyner says:

    “Easy” is a relative term, I guess, but all the major blogging software (certainly, Movable Type and WordPress) allow pretty easy migration of old posts.