Had a call this afternoon from Valerie Biendara, who runs the Val’s Bien blog up in Fayetteville, and who tells me she’s been blocked from posting new stuff because someone flagged her blog for having “objectionable content.”
Valerie’s blog has been running for probably four or five years now, and what she offers up is political commentary with a decidedly conservative slant and musings on life in Fayetteville (along with copious photos of her dogs and cats, all of which are adorable). Now, you may not like what she has to say, but you won’t find anything “objectionable” on her blog.
But Blogger, a truly, truly terrible service (and owned by Google), makes it easy for anyone to click a button and flag your blog as objectionable, at which point Blogger shuts down your access to the blog until they’ve reviewed it. So essentially, you’re guilty until proven innocent.
Of course, if you’re working on a Blogger account and you have a “blogspot” subdomain, you’re on their property and have to play by their rules. OK, fine.
That’s why I tell anyone who asks my advice on blogging, Do NOT set your account up through Blogger. I always recommend WordPress or TypePad, and it’s best to host it on your own server and to own your own domain name. (I own the Arkansas Project domain name and pay to have this site hosted on a private server. It costs me, but I also know that no one can shut me down easily.)
There’s also a big lesson in this for all of you Twitter and Facebook fanatics out there. If you’re using these third-party services as your web platform, recognize that you’re always going to be vulnerable to changes in service terms, capricious “objectionable content” complaints or the possibility that the service might just disappear.
If you’re serious about having a web presence, and you should be, you need to own your own real estate on the web. If you don’t know how to do that, ask around, or just contact me and I’ll put you in touch with someone who can help you.
Valerie’s planning on posting some info related to the Fayetteville Tea Party protest on Wednesday, and I told her that I’d be happy to publish anything for her here on The Arkansas Project until she gets her situation resolved with Blogger. So you may see some guest posts from her here in the next day or so if she remains locked out of her account.
For the time being at least, Austin San Antonio’s blog appears to be safe.
UPDATE: As of Wednesday morning, Valerie reports that she’s cleared for take-off and back online. Problem resolved, but that doesn’t change my advice for new bloggers above. Blogger still sucks.