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    Don’t build your platform around others. Get on Facebook to sync posts, but never pay them for boosts. Post all your content on a PeerTube instance you pay for so when Google takes down your video, it’s still available. Use platforms that make you the product cattle, and use them minimally for promotion. Have a Patreon, but also host a payment/subscription site that’s independent so people have options for support.

    The trouble is the big players make too much off platforms to do this. The top 1000 YouToobers would lose a lot of revenue. But if you’re just doing it for fun and know how to host yourself, do it (or pay for a managed provider that lets you download full backups).

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      This is absolutely what I’m trying to do with chargen.one. Once it’s ready, it’ll have:

      • Minimal tracking (authors can see a per-post view count. That’s it.)
      • The ability to export everything easily to migrate to your own instance.
      • WOSE (Write-Once, Syndicate Everywhere) - to other chargen instances for account portability, RSS, the Fediverse, Epub, Amazon, Gopher, anything open.
      • Community-driven governance

      My goal is to make a *BSD/self-hosting/tech-focused instance on C1, but make it easy to set up instances for people wanting to forge communities to write about the things that matter to them.

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        I am always impressed by the enormous effort it takes to properly self-host email, dns, and other serious sysadmin services.

        Having run my own pages etc for a long time, it’s become pretty clear that the difference between “this service will stay up when I remember to wave the rubber duckie properly” and “this service will stay up.” is a profound amount of work. Backups, paging (I have not found a paging service that is aimed at a one-person player or is priced for a one person player), configuration management, etc are all deeply specialized.

        operational costs (time more than anything) are so bloody non-trivial for reasonable levels of availability that it’s not useful to make this manifesto for any hobbyists who don’t have decent amounts of time or knowledge… or money to trade to others for it.

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          This. I have a hard time not getting snarky when people get all high and mighty about my choice not to host my own blog or mail on my hobby domain or whatever.

          They seem to not grok the fact that I run big infra for a living for a company that people use as a verb meaning “crazy scale”.

          The author makes a good point though when it comes to running a business. If you choose to run a business based on delivering content, you’d either better own your platform or be DAMN sure of the terms you’re existing under and ensure that they’re iron clad and can’t change, or that if they do you have an iron clad backup plan.

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            The author makes a good point though when it comes to running a business. If you choose to run a business based on delivering content, you’d either better own your platform or be DAMN sure of the terms you’re existing under and ensure that they’re iron clad and can’t change, or that if they do you have an iron clad backup plan.


            There’s a substantial argument for having an independent content source for anybody that also has Medium, Squarespace, FB, Insta, etc. But one has to be clear-eyed about the costs - its not just an investment, it’s also a hedge.

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              Absolutely! if you’re running a business I’d think a multi-medium approach makes good sense. Communities like Medium and Facebook tend to have captive audiences, plus it can act as a backup in case your home grown self hosted infra has an issue.

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            I pay Fastmail for my email and am extremely happy to not have to think about these problems as well.

            But, I think a distinction exists between paying Fastmail or a web host to host my site and putting my content on Medium or relying on a data mining company to hold my email. The former monetized me already, so they’re essentially the plumbing of the internet - things are still on my terms.

            Is this just a little naive or hopelessly naive? ;)

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              The YunoHost project tries to democratize server administration to make personal servers a common thing easy to install and maintain with little technical knowledge ;). We think there’s no fundamental reason that server administration should be so hard, and are kinda trying to be the “Ubuntu of self-hosting” (as in “Ubuntu was pretty much the first Linux distribution trying to make Linux accessible to non-tech people”)

              It includes a simple web administration interface, a fully-working mail stack out of the box, and you can even have a free automatically configured domain if you don’t have one. Then you can install various self-hostables applications in just a few clicks. And of course many other things such that it “just works”.

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                I’ve built and been bit by a wide variety of “it just works” tools. I wish you best of luck, honestly. It’s the debug, maintenance, configuration management, backups, etc that kills productivity. The knowledge base to do that is substantially higher than one would hope. As you’ve found and are working through.

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                I keep on seeing reactions like this mentioning the enormous effort it is supposed to take to host mail and such and wonder whether I’m just the odd one out who thinks ~8 hours of work per year is not that much to maintain the mail system (Debian-Exim-Spamassasin-Dovecot-greylistd plus letsencrypt), another 8 or so for the web server (Debian-nginx-uwsgi plus letsencrypt) etc. Elsewhere in this thread someone mentions hav[ing] a hard time not getting snarky when people get all high and mighty…. What is it in hosting one’s own services which makes people react in this way, both the supposedly high and mighty proponents as well as the snarky detractors? Do what you want shall be the whole of the law, if you don’t want to run your own stuff that’s fine with me. If you want to, fine as well. I want to have my data on my hardware so I can handle everything my way so I have a stack of hardware buzzing along underneath the stairs.

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                  I don’t mind if my blog is down because I forgot something; it’s not a service that needs a high SLA.

                  I pay someone else to deal with mail, since I do care about that working all of the time.

                  [edit] misunderstood your comment, disregard this.

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                    I like uptimerobot for paging: it’s $0 for one service I look after and $5 for the other, so very reasonably priced for just me.

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                      hey, thanks - I’ll take a look. I’m a month or so out from having a angry nerd moment and writing a very awful paging service for myself - love to not do that.

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                    I’m not sure how much of this is applicable to the average person. Does anyone have any suggestions for self-hosting tools or services for normal people?

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                      Squarespace, Wix, WP Engine, things like that? Edit to say: Yes, these are hosted services, but if it’s on your domain and you own the data, you can move it anywhere.

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                        Kudos @jnoxon for a breath of fresh pragmatism in this moment when the hipster elitist virtue signaling around self hosting seems to predominate.

                        I’ve done it all before, and for “the average person” it does NOT make sense to self host. Can you spin up a blogging platform and run it on a Digital Ocean instance? Sure you can. Can you keep it running and free of spam, secure against script kiddies and other intruders, and be confident that you can handle it when said fluffy chunk of cloud (or fluffy hard disk on your own colo server if you are truly Of the Faithful and don’t want to use anybody else’s hardware) goes away?

                        These things are all very well understood and are possible to accomplish, but they take a non trivial amount of both discipline and time to implement properly to say nothing of technical know how (which to be fair is less of an issue these days).

                        I mean, if you want to undertake the Great Quest to become well versed enough in all of this to do it yourself and do it right - I salute you. I have the knowledge, I’ve done it before, and I don’t choose to do it now. Why? Because I can’t learn anything more from it and the time required is more than I have.

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                          Can’t agree more.

                          The important thing isn’t the fluff around hosting your own (virtual) hardware, it’s having ownership of your content and being able to migrate it somewhere else. The linked article doesn’t really delve into these nuances.

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                      There’s just too many layers of complexity that prevent the “average” user from disentangling completely. These platforms are purposely woven into our lives to an umteenth degree.

                      “Interactive TV – it’s the wave of the future!”, they used to say.

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                        I’ve been a huge proponent of this (I think my oldest domains are turning 20 this year) but what’s missing is to run your own platform anonymously or at least “good enough anonymously”, and also cheap.

                        Even in the position to run my own stuff on my own servers I recently had this problem with someone asking me for advice for wanting to blog about a controversial topic (nothing illegal or immoral) and not wanting to associate that with their real name. So a) getting your own domain, needs whois privacy, how much do you trust this to never leak and so on) and then b) where to put the stuff? Sure, github pages or netlify would work for static content, but hosting at wordpress.com isn’t soo cheap. So yes, either anonymous (sans log files at $provider, but this could be remedied by VPN/Tor/booting into Tails) or free (even just asking a friend with resources to host).

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                          I think the requirement for good enough anonymity is a bit orthogonal to the stated goal of owning your platform. Presumably if a service to which you contribute anonymously goes away, taking your data with it, it’s actually good for your anonymity.