I’ve blogged, both as an indie site owner and for freelance accounts, many times over the years. In the early days, there were bugs in software and there were challenges. Still, you could draw traffic with good posts and I stayed in the game. Then approximately six or seven years ago things changed, and not for the better.
At one site with a different host, I saw traffic go from thousands of views to hundreds. A major search titan had changed the algorithm. It didn’t matter if you broke news, if you didn’t fabricate, and if you had credentials. Unless you were writing for the sites backed by big bucks, you weren’t going to see a lot of referrals. That wasn’t the case with my freelance work, only with my indie site. At that same indie site devoted to politics and government, I noticed federal agencies liked to hang out on my pages. I did snip that data, just for fun.
So yesterday when I was attempting to publish a new column here at my arts site, a message flashed on my screen that my site would be unavailable due to maintenance. I didn’t snip the screen. I figured the site would be back up and running quickly.
The issues lasted all day, into the evening. Some of my readers could see the site, but my new column wasn’t accessible. Others, like me, simply saw a blank page when they clicked on the URL.
So I sent a Tweet to my site host, thinking maybe this wasn’t just affecting me. The host told me to contact them by private message.
I decided to revert to old school tech. I picked up the phone and called my host company. I’d been on the phone with the tech for more than 24 minutes (he reminded me of that) when it became apparent he had no idea what was going on. He then told me maybe I needed to hire a developer. I’m still laughing at that one.
I finally told him no problem. I’d just try to find another host. He got a little defensive. I thanked him and hung up the phone. There was a silver lining in this nonproductive convo—I had the option to turn off the music while I was on hold. Everyone should offer that option because I have yet to find music worth listening to when I’m on hold with anyone.
I went back to Twitter and emailed my host’s support people.
Later that evening I found a message in my direct mail at Twitter. Among other things, it seemed there was an issue with the server and they were working to resolve it.
This morning, I opened my regular email. My host informed me I now have “a new version of Managed Word Press.” They’d updated my site.
Apparently, that update took all day. Who knew? Not the tech guy on the phone, and apparently, not the tech people on the Twitter help line.
I’ve had glitches with this site and another site hosted by the same company, but nothing on this level. The problems are similar to a site hosted by another company with an older blog I maintained. I ended up leaving that blog up, but I no longer update it. I will probably delete it soon because I don’t write politics anymore. I chalked up problems with politics blogs to politics among their own staff. I can’t prove that. I do know that over the years, it became far more difficult to maintain an indie blog.
Currently I am researching hosts to see if there’s a company who values small clients. I know I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a site, but I do pay for these services and I don’t understand the constant annoyances that cost me time and patience.
Before the Web became so tightly controlled, indie blogging was actually fun. Now, it’s a royal pain and searches aren’t going to favor anyone not tapped into status quo media. Now that I’ve returned to writing about the arts, I’d think what I write here isn’t controversial enough to draw attention from some techie who might throw a monkey wrench at me. I’d also think the feds aren’t interested in me anymore.
Either way, I plan to continue writing. I don’t have to work now as I did when my children were young. But I do have things to write about, artists I think deserve a broader audience, and, for now anyway, the right to free expression.
What can you do? Support indie bloggers of all types, as long as you’re able to verify their credentials. A truly free press should welcome diverse voices, and to shut down those diverse voices is to embrace authoritarianism that will in the end bite you on the backside. That’s just how the world works.
I apologize to any readers who weren’t able to access my site yesterday. I’ve done everything I know to do to keep this site free of third party ads, invasions of privacy, and inaccurate information. It’s just too bad those Web titans, tech kings, and their pals in legacy media don’t do the same.
(Kay B. Day/July 6, 2018)