On content ownership

posted | about 3 minutes to read

tags: self-hosting walled gardens content sharing

A quick one today. I wanted to touch on why I chose to redevelop the site as opposed to, say, just moving over into Medium or Blogger or something where I could just write and not worry about maintaining the website1.

I did give serious thought to scrapping the content and just setting up redirects to Medium for a while. It’s a very tempting platform - being able to log in and write and have my posts automatically put out there certainly appealed. The problem, though, is that once I did that, I felt like I would be giving up control of my content.

Here, it’s very clear: everything I publish here is something I did, and I retain all the rights to it. On some externally owned platform, it’s a little different: tomorrow, I might get an ad slapped on top of my pages, or start getting prompted to add a paywall to my posts, or have some algorithm start recommending some other random person’s posts to my readers. Even scarier, presentation restrictions could change or tighten in the future, and I’d have no recourse to those changes except leaving the platform.

Remember, these content platforms are businesses. The money has to come from somewhere, and that means monetizing your posts. No thanks - for me, I’ll stick to hosting my own (and linking to it, not republishing it, on other platforms2). Even if I don’t have the might of a platform’s SEO and social media machine behind me, at least I have the final say over how my content’s used, no matter what. If I write something interesting enough for people to want to read, I’m a strong believer that they’ll find it on their own.

  1. I mean, aside from me being an unrepentant nerd and enjoying playing with technology for some reason, I suppose. ↩︎

  2. I am making the conscious decision not to get into this too much, but this is actually a super hardline stance for me. As soon as I put a full post on like a Facebook note or something, it’s an opt-in to the same business model that a blogging platform uses where I’m giving them my personal writing and letting them generate profit with it. With Facebook it’s more about ad data, but here’s my favorite “we can do whatever we want with your content” clause, taken straight out of Discord’s terms of service: By uploading, distributing, transmitting or otherwise using Your Content with the Service, you grant to us a perpetual, nonexclusive, transferable, royalty-free, sublicensable, and worldwide license to use, host, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, and display Your Content in connection with operating and providing the Service. So, you know, be careful with what you’re putting where. ↩︎