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they say it has no memory

The title of this bloggo post is a line from one of the best movies ever made.

I've seen a lot of web sites come and go. A lot of 'em. This also includes pages and what is currently known as social media profiles. One day they're there and the next day *poof*, they're gone.

The top 4 reasons why any web site goes offline is:

  1. Cost
  2. Lack of interest
  3. Technical Crapola
  4. Drama

Cost

This only applies to paid domains.

A lot of people are fooled into thinking that having your own web site is cheap. But the fact is that it's never cheap. Never has been and never will be. No matter how you slice it, having your own site will cost you at least $70 a year (domain reg + hosting). And the only way to knock that down is if you don't host and use a free option.

Success can kill you

Every web site owner's dream is to have a place that gets gobs and gobs of web traffic. That would be great, right? Well maybe it's not a great as you would believe. Although most web host providers give you plenty of bandwidth per month, a surge in web traffic can spike your hosting costs sky high.

Success has been a reason some sites have gone dark. If you get slashdotted enough times you simply can't afford to keep the site running.

Geeky tech notes:

WordPress is by far the easiest way to get a site online for the cheapest possible price. All you do is pay the yearly domain reg fee and let them host it. It's stupidly easy to have the domain load your site. Granted, it's no-frills and the paid options suck, but it is the cheapest. If you want a zero-cost, you just use a subdomain like [you].wordpress.com. That's free.

Ways to avoid having success kill you:

Don't host anything other than text-based stuff and minimal graphics/files on your own domain. For photos and videos, ALWAYS host them elsewhere. Use Flickr, Picasa, YouTube, Metacafe or whatever - just don't host them yourself.

If you're running a blog, use a minimalist theme. The less load there is the easier the server can deliver, the less you spend on bandwidth.

Lack of interest

If you've been around the internet at all, chances are you know a handful or more of sites, pages and profiles that are figuratively collecting dust. They haven't been updated in weeks (or possibly months or even years) and just sit there. The ones that are domains eventually go offline. The freebie pages/profiles show a last login (for those that have the feature) of long-time-ago.

Many people start up pages or profiles with all the wizz and vinegar in the world but then soon realize that yeah, it takes actual effort to do this thing. After that they usually just let it sit and forget about it.

Most people who just give up updating their pages or profiles usually don't realize that people are in fact reading whatever it is they write. Site authors assume that just because people don't e-mail or comment that nobody must be reading it. Wrong. The internet by and large is full of lurkers. It's a very good guess that 1 out of every 1000 visitors you have will even bother to contact you or participate on your site.

The most (in)famous statement that someone can make on a site, blog, page or whatever is anything that indicates that something is "coming soon!" (always with the exclamation point). That "soon" thing never happens and the blog/page/site gets mothballed afterwards.

Technical Crapola

Many-a-site has gone dark because of technical crap.

Some examples:

As far as domain-reg stuff, you should take on the responsibility yourself. Always.

For technical stuff, the unfortunate truth is that most site owners are not technically savvy enough to recover from a major web site screw-up.

Using self-hosted WordPress as an example, I know that if I had to I could load up phpMyAdmin and perform a manual download of the MySQL database, then edit it "by hand" if necessary to save my site in the event of a super-major mess-up. And if the db was corrupted I just send a support ticket to recover last night's db backup.

But how many site owners know this stuff? Do they even know they're supposed to optimize their MySQL db from time to time to avoid situations like that from happening?

Probably not.

Drama

This is the biggest reason why sites, pages and profiles go dark.

For whatever reason, people are under the foolish belief that they can say whatever they want publicly on the internet and nobody will ever read it. It's just the internet so what could happen, right?

Guess what? The exact people you didn't want reading your rants read them. All of them. And now they're mad at you. Guess what else? They told their friends and friends of friends. Now you've got a whole bunch of people that are ticked off at you. Isn't life swell?

People will usually respond in 1 of 2 ways to this:

  1. Staunchly defend their point of view and let the drama fly where it will.
  2. Delete everything.

Usually most will perform the above in that order. They'll defend their point of view first (i.e. "It's my site and I'll do what I wanna!"), but then encounter the wrath of internet folk that absolutely will not let up. No way, no how. The hornet's nest has been stirred.

After enough grief, the site/page/blog author deletes everything. No profile, no page, no site.. nothing. It's all gone.

A classic example is how not to steal a sidekick. If you want any example of how not to be an idiot on the internet, read that.

At present the stuff that's most deleted are social media profiles and YouTube channels. Secondary to that are instant messaging screen names.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My intent is to keep my site online indefinitely. Over the years I've seen and experienced just about every type of whatever-it-is that would cause me make my site go dark. That experience teaches you lessons and it's up to you whether to learn from them or not.

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