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    It’s a mistake to make a website because you think that you need to. Fuck that.

    I used to worry about people reading my posts. Spending a lot of time on building clean URLs and redirecting them if they would change. Building a good theme. Submit the articles to HN at the right time. Reply to comments.

    All of the above is paralyzing and it’s yet another job that I am not paid to do.

    Nowadays my website is just a bunch of markdown thrown together. Writing stuff is cool because it helps me structure my ideas. So I write something when I feel like it. If people read it, then great. But regardless, I am enjoyed the process.

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      You don’t have to put that much effort into it. If people have problems, you can reply to them that you’re a busy person without much time to mess with the website. You just toss stuff on it in case people enjoy it or it helps them. If they push further, send them an invoice for whatever work they want you to do. Most go away at that point.

      If this sounds familiar, I got it from the more practical maintainers of F/OSS software. Glad you got to a point where you can enjoy yours.

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        Yeah it’s a good advice. I do that on GitHub for the few projects I maintain. Not send invoice but make it clear what I am willing or unwilling to do. It’s better for everyone to be clear than leave the uncertainty open.

        My website is a github repo so if they really want to comment they can open an issue or send a PR with fixes (which happened once already). I like that there is an added barrier for entry to avoid the lazy comments.

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          You don’t have to put that much effort into it. If people have problems, you can reply to them that you’re a busy person without much time to mess with the website. You just toss stuff on it in case people enjoy it or it helps them. If they push further, send them an invoice for whatever work they want you to do. Most go away at that point.

          I don’t want to be That Guy Who Plays Devil’s Advocate When You’re Trying to be Helpful, but just gotta say - what if I don’t want to put even the minimal effort that’s required to maintain such a thing? What if I feel like my time and effort are better spent doing things I actually care about, and feel like putting that class of “Need to run a website” into a black box that somebody else manages?

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            Then, you get a website with a shared hosting plan with a website builder or a WordPress site. Use some existing theme. Do it with one of those companies that’s been around a long time specializing in web hosting (eg DreamHost). The cloud things I’ve seen don’t look much easier to setup or use than that. Most cloud services require programming skills.

            In any case, the website is hosted with a 3rd party whose financial interests align better with the site owners’ at least in the sense that they are the provider’s customers and business model. Much better than Facebook, Medium, etc.

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              Just curious what’s the advantage of something like that over a fully managed service like wordpress.com?

              I have neither time nor interest in maintaining any of the knobs and whistles, to say nothing of security updates, for a WP installation. I want that in a black box that someone else manages. I own my own data, free and clear, but someone else handles the heavy infrastructure lift (and as someone who ran his own WP for years and got owned pretty hard it’s gonna take a lot to change my mind on this).

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                “I own my own data, free and clear”

                That’s not clear with many of the managed services. They might sell your data, delete it, paywall it, etc.. The prime advantage of the kinds of services I’m talking about is such scenarios are eliminated if it’s a stable, hosting company.

                EDIT: Forgot to add a reminders that:

                (a) that I don’t expect everyone to do what I suggested. I think many could, though.

                (b) I regularly mention need for non-profits or public-benefit corps that provide similar services with user protections in their charters and financial incentives. People in your group can use those. I often mention Ghost as exemplar model in their niche.

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                  Check out wordpress.com’s terms of service - they’re written in English and also available under Creative Commons on Github.

                  Basically, my data is mine, if I delete it, they’ll make a reasonable effort to delete it from their infrastructure. I own it.

                  If I make it public, they’ll aggregate it as part of their “Firehose” product that funnels the universe of Wordpress feeds into an aggregator and a few other places they specifically cite.

                  Feels like “I own my own data” to me.

                  YMMV of course, and if you see something in there that contradicts this statement I’d love to hear about it.

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                    “Automattic raised US$317.3 million in five funding rounds. In the last round, on May 2014, the company was valued at US$1.16 billion.” (Wikipedia)

                    I don’t believe their claims if they owe investors $1.16 billion in value. They might still sell your data somehow, restrict access to it, or go bankrupt blowing cash startup-style. That is more protection than a lot of companies give you, though. Looking at it, a few things jump out.

                    “ we will use reasonable efforts to remove it from public view”

                    They didn’t say they’d delete it. Just remove it from public view. That’s what Facebook does so they can keep, analyze, and sell the content as long as they want. They can only do it if you give them a license involving third parties…

                    “ By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt, and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing, and promoting your website. This license also allows Automattic to make any publicly-posted Content available to third parties selected by Automattic (through Firehose, for example) so that these third parties can analyze and distribute

                    Oh OK. That’s covered. And finally, the big one, Indemnification:

                    “You agree to indemnify and hold harmless Automattic, its contractors, and its licensors, and their respective directors, officers, employees, and agents from and against any and all losses, liabilities, demands, damages, costs, claims, and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising out of or related to your use of our Services, including but not limited to your violation of the Agreement, Content that you post, and any ecommerce activities conducted through your or another user’s website.”

                    What’s the point of a contractual protection if you simultaneously can’t get the losses they cause back from them? I mean, there might be something you can do. I’m not expecting too much, though. Compare Wordpress to Ghost’s TOS and privacy policy that it includes. Much simpler. They have the limitation of liability and indemnification clause but with legal and financial incentives that make me worry less about them.

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                      Sounds like Ghost is a better choice. I’ll bear that in mind should I ever be forced to start over :)

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                        I knew you’d like them. They’re $29/mo, though. That makes them inaccessible to lots of folks. The code is open. So, I think there’s two opportunities here:

                        1. Someone offer a cheaper plan on shared machines. I’m talking a few bucks a month with basic support. Kind of like web hosts. Might even have free tier.

                        2. Software that automates deployments to VM’s in user’s control. Think like virtual appliances for VMware you can download but for services like Prgmr and Vultr. Maybe also a service that does it for them if they want that. I think there’s potential for these that approach convenience of app-maker hosting it but with control in owners’ or security/privacy-focused party’s hands.

                        What you think?

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                          Holy crap that Ghost pricing is just crazy for anyone who isn’t running a business on the platform.

                          I pay $60 a year for my Wordpress.com account, and use their API to mirror all my posts into a github repo so I could switch back to Pelican should I ever so choose.

                          As to your opportunity, I mean, it’s a niche. Is it a big enough niche to run a profitable business on? I have no idea, but the target demographic is certainly not me :)

                          Like I said, I want a black box, and for me - these are blog posts, not the family jewels, they’re out on the public intertubes to be searched and scraped and used and abused anyway, so why precisely should I care?

                          I know this stance is looked upon very unfavorably by the current techno-freedom elite, but I’m too old and grizzled to care how my strongly held feelings are reacted to by any group, however much I might respect them in other ways.

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                            Re Pricing. Yeah, it’s targeted at journalists and other professionals. They currently make $135k / mo. from over 4,000 customers. Maybe it’s a good price. I was thinking $5-6 / mo. for general audience like with Wordpress.

                            Re Your preferences. Sure, the stuff might not fit you. I’m not one who looks down on any of it either. I’ve just watched enough folks lose important data to evil businesses…. folks who originally said what you did… that I advise mitigating it as a general principle whenever it comes up. That’s all.

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          Reminds me of https://www.motherfuckingwebsite.com/ . Or maybe http://bettermotherfuckingwebsite.com/ , and whatever other derivative you choose.

          …the fact that there ARE multiple derivatives is probably a demonstration of why this is stressful, I admit… :D There is no solution so perfect that humans cannot turn it into another problem.

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            My personal website is basically the second site lol:


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            Hell yes this. I’m not actually interested in becoming a front end master. I am laser focused on advancing my problem solving and core coding skills.

            Anything else is just a distraction.

            This is why my blog runs Wordpress also.

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            To have a way for others to find you

            If you google either my real name or my nickname you’ll find my github or twitter profile ranking a lot higher than all the personal websites I ever had. I was too busy playing around and coding over doing SEO.

            Also I don’t want to be found in meatspace.

            To build your personal brand

            Nobody wants to engage with a brand except shouting at company’s twitter accounts if they fail to do proper customer service. I am not a brand, I am not popular or famous. I’m just a normal person on the internet. Also employers don’t care about your personal website except for one of 50 datapoints. Shout out to the guy whose CV I had to check for hiring a position. I didn’t want to see you and your girlfriend in underwear before we even met. Not that it changed my mind or made me prejudiced, but it’s still a weird story.

            For the email

            Come on, that’s a domain name, not a website.

            To make some money

            Does this really work out unless your traffic is exploding? Anything below 100EUR isn’t worth the hassle in filing taxes for that. You are filing taxes for your ad income, right?

            Also looking at my output apparently I got pretty tired of blogging after 18ish years and feel I have nothing original to say and prefer to write snarky comments.

            But in general I absolutely approve of people having a website, so don’t mind me criticizing this post :)

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              Also looking at my output apparently I got pretty tired of blogging after 18ish years and feel I have nothing original to say and prefer to write snarky comments.

              I like Matt Might’s take on this:

              • Writing a detailed email reply? “Reply to public” with a blog post.
              • Answering the same question a second time? Put it in a blog post.
              • Writing interesting code? Comment a snippet into a post.
              • Doing something geeky at home? Blog about what you learned.
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                Yep, good points and I know them. :)

                Look at my profile, I don’t think I write a lot of detailed replies, and less so emails.

                But for the last few things I made I just think I (we as a team) either didn’t do things that were cool and that could be made public at the same time. Yeah. maybe the scale has to be readjusted and the barrier for “blogworthy” should be lower and the output flows again.

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                Criticizing a blog post that’s encouraging people to get off the main platforms, be creative and build their own space on the internet doesn’t seem very productive.

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                  @wink’s comment isn’t criticizing the idea of

                  getting off the main platforms, being creative and building one’s own space on the internet

                  it’s merely criticizing the reasons given in this article, which is productive enough for me.

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                    See my last point. Also I think these are partly just false promises, but they shouldn’t discourage people from doing it.

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                    While I agree with not wanting to be a brand, a web developer without a personal website feels a lot like a Ford dealership with an employee parking lot full of Toyotas and Hondas. While other engineers completely understand this situation, if you have to appeal to less web focused people(e.g. for a high level position in a smaller company) it’s a small step that can help a lot.

                    update: I’ve recently gotten back into photography and most photographers looking for freelance work have a curated portfolio under their own domain name. But this might count more as a small business than an individual looking for recognition. I find it interesting that with all of the photo-centric social media out there the way to stand out as professional is to have a site under your own domain name. This amount of personal image is similar to carrying a big black DSLR “because I know what I’m doing” when you could easily do the shoot on a cell phone.

                    But this is a very focused point, I otherwise agree with your comments.

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                      If you reference the quote “I’m not a web developer, so I don’t need a website” I think it’s not about web developers having websites, but exactly other people.

                      Hell, I’ve been a web developer for a good part of my working life and I never had a (one, or more) personal website because of that - always for other reasons, most of all to sum it up because I thought it was cool and at times - very handy.

                      Maybe I’m too much of a big proponent of “give me back the old weird web on geocities and subdomains hosted on friends’ servers” because I never saw this to push my portfolio or brand or whatever. I think I never posted a CV on my website because why would I?

                      Also the author is conflating “having a website” and “having your own domain”. Both are awesome and useful, but I see other reasons.

                      NB: If anyone wants to push their own website to be a freelancer or be hired or whatever, go ahead! I’m not arguing there. I just don’t like this “do this or you’re not being smart” angle.

                      Maybe I do sound so negative because the author wildly mixes points I agree and disagree so much :)

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                      I think you might be confusing the “personal brand” point somewhat. The idea is not to try to become a Faceless Professional Entity, or really anything other than who you already are. The idea is to become more easily recognised for who you are – which is, likely, an authority in your specialisation. By using consistent visual language and other tricks available only to people with their own web sites, the audience will more quickly associate content with your persona.

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                        I haven’t done any SEO and my website ranks higher in searches for my real name and nickname. This data is just as anecdotal as yours of course.

                        There are a few pages that are in the top 10 for their search terms, just because they happened to be what people needed.

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                        My problem is, if I was to maintain a blog, I would likely want to write more about Free Jazz and ethnomusicology than programming, and some employer would see it and think I don’t have a “passion” for coding.

                        I like coding, I do it in my free time, but I’m not interested in becoming a brand and a machine trying to portray a perfect capitalist notion of the ideal employee. I have personal interests and they bring more joy and meaning to my life than learning a new trendy way to do the same things I’ve been doing for 10 years, this doesn’t mean I don’t like what I do and like engaging with the work I do, I even feel excitement from learning the new trendy tools, but if I was to keep pretending this is an all-encompassing passion for me, I would go crazy.

                        That said: I want my personal brand to be very non personal. And a blog don’t help on that.

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                          I don’t see why that would be a problem. As long as you structure your site well, and make it clear to your audience that there is a music part of you and a developer part of you, the audience should be able to quickly and easily find what they are looking for.

                          Unless you are thorougly uninterested in discussing free jazz with potential future coworkers, I also don’t see the harm in including that part of you in your brand. As far as I’m concerned, being multifaceted is a good sign and something you do want to be apparent.

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                          You can get around it using GMail’s plus/dot notation, but that is only specific to GMail.

                          Worth noting other things support that. I use it on sdf.org which is definitely not rolling its own e-mail code. Postfix example.

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                            Yeah, plus addressing is A Thing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Email_address#Sub-addressing.

                            I’ve never seen Gmail’s dot notation thingy before though. I still find it weird that you can add as many single periods anywhere before the @ sign as you like. I can’t figure out how that would be useful - is it just an effort to avoid typos?

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                              I imagine it’s most useful for limiting impersonation. You’re not going to get phished if you fail to notice the difference between trusted.friend@gmail.com and trustedfriend@gmail.com.

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                                Dovecot supports it under the name “address extensions”. It works great together with Postfix.

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                                  It works for me flawlessly in Dovecot. I regret not switching to Dovecot and not starting to use address extensions early (an outrageous and likely still unfixed Cyrus IMAP bug that caused mailbox data corruption forced me to switch and I’m glad I did). Many (most?) hosted services don’t support it though.

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                                I’ve documented most of what I’ve learned in a blog since I started seriously doing web development, and it was probably the most helpful thing for my learning process.

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                                  A hundred times this, if you get something out of it, that’s a wonderful reason to write down stuff, and if it’s public, all the better.

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                                  I have a site but I use it as a list of things I find useful.

                                  It’s password protected and I’m the only user.

                                  Currently it’s plain text org files, if I need a hyperlink I just copy and paste it.

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                                    honestly own your data is the totally opposite that it is for every one. only a very small proportion of the population is skilled enough to setup it’s own website.

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                                      About building a brand: I don’t know the effects of having a good website for employment. But, for freelancers and other independent workers, I suspect that it’s not that important. Much of the action takes place in real life anyway. Maybe it makes perfect sense to have a great website if you sell Web design/front end services, though.

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                                        I have a single page that has some basic info on me, just so that there’s something out there that I control if people search for my name.

                                        I used to blog quite a lot. Most of it was, in hindsight, just me organising my thinking. Writing is good for that, but I’m not convinced that there’s really any benefit in having it publicly available. I still write, but now it’s private.