Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why are webhosts so ill-mannered?

The internet and books have opposite vices and virtues. Books are highly permanent (we have some copies from a couple of thousand years ago) but are not readily accessible. You generally have to take a trip to a library if you want to access one. The net on the other hand is instantly and very conveniently accessible but it is also evanescent. A file of writings or a picture on the net can disappear in an instant and maybe never be found again. And the vanishing act is often the fault of the webhost rather than anything that the writer or photographer concerned has done. Many newspaper sites, for instance, seem to have a policy of deleting their own articles after quite short periods of time.

But I like to keep all the files of my writings publicly available regardless of what any individual webhoster or bloghoster might do. So I try to address the big weakness of the net by following the systems theory axiom that redundancy is the path to systems reliability. In other words, I keep multiple copies of my files up -- so that if one copy disappears, there will be others to be found. As a result, I have had a lot of dealings with the various webhosts where I place copies of my files/writings. And it is truly amazing how many webhosts I have gone through over time. Whether "free" or paid, there are at least a dozen (maybe 20) locations where my files were once found which no longer host my files. Some webhosts have simply gone bust and disappeared altogether and others have decided that my files are "incorrect" in some way and have deleted or blocked them.

And I am not complaining about that. It is precisely because I expect such impermanence that I keep multiple copies of my files online. What I DO object to, however, is that NOT ONCE have the webhosts concerned had the manners to email me in advance and warn me or consult me about what is going to happen. It is always a case of "shoot first; ask questions later".

It is actually a rather common event for webhosts to be "down" for various periods -- sometimes for a week or more. One would think that on such occasions, they would email their users and say something like: "We are having problems. Don't go away. We expect to be back up in a couple of days". But that never happens. The site eventually comes back online with no explanation or apology. Even sites that boast that they talk to their users are the same. And some sites of course NEVER come back up and you are left to figure that situation out. Even if you email them to ask if the cessation of service is temporary or permanent, you never get a reply.

And the Blogspot subsidiary of Google (which hosts this blog) is as bad as any of them. You would think that a big company like Google would be conscious of PR but it is not so. They too act first and ask questions later. I have lost track of how many times my blog sites have been blocked by them -- and never after any advance warning. Usually, I can fill out a form, the form gets acted on, and the site is unblocked but NEVER have I received an explanation as to why the block was put on. And sometimes the block lasts for over a week: At which point I tend to move to another bloghost, which is part of the reason why I now have two blogs hosted on Wordpress and two on That comes at some cost as I lose my old page ranking, so if anyone reading this has a site of their own it would help if they put up a link to my new POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH site.

And sometimes filling out the Google/Blogspot form does you no good at all. The obstruction is permanent and repeated requests for review of the block are ignored -- again without explanation. No manners or anything else much there.

I have become VERY wary about such shenanigans over the years, however. I don't blame anybody for thinking that I have gone overboard but at the moment I have my files spread over ELEVEN different webhosts. None have all my files but between them all there are usually three copies of any file available. I realize that I must sound slightly mad but I think that if you had had my experiences with webhosts you might be nearly as bad or mad. The way I have it set up, if one host goes down, I have to reload only a subset of my files, not the whole lot. Even that can be pretty pesky, though. And I have various pages -- including this one -- which have sufficent links to lead you to ALL my files (writings), regardless of where they are hosted.

So what is the answer to the question I ask in the heading above? I can only see the answer as lying with the general lack of civility these days. Under the influence of the prevailing Leftist gospel that "There is no such thing as right and wrong", people who can hide behind anonymity see no reason for civility. Maybe there is a Christian webhost somewhere who has higher standards than that but I have yet to find one.

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