Should I self-host?

The general theme of this blog / site is “Indie Web,” so you might assume my answer to “should I self host my website?” (or whatever – website, blog, forum, etc.) would be an unfailing “yes.” But it isn’t.

When picking a platform, I prefer to choose things that are open and that I can DIY if I have to. For example, I use WordPress and pay Automattic for hosting on for one of my domains. (Not this one, though — at least not as of this writing.)

Once upon a time, many years ago, I hosted my own mail server using Postfix. I learned a lot that way. Most of all, I learned I didn’t enjoy doing it and it was far better to pay to host it for me. In between, I tried using Google’s services for my own domain, but after one too many arbitrary GMail redesigns, I moved to Fastmail even though it was more expensive.

I could, in theory, do it myself again though if Fastmail ever turns evil. Or move to another provider. I really hope that day doesn’t come.

Generally, I don’t recommend people put a ton of effort into platforms that they can’t self-host. If you can’t pull up stakes and go elsewhere without completely redoing everything, I think it’s dicey to build value into that platform. (See all the people who’ve been screwed over by “The Algorithm” now on Facebook and Instagram when trying to reach their audiences.)

Something like WordPress? If you’ve never done it, it’s worth trying. If nothing else, you’ll learn why it’s valuable to pay someone else to manage it for you. Don’t let lack of skills scare you – it’s almost certain people that are less technical than you have done it successfully on their own. You can too. It’s really only a question of whether you want to invest in learning how or not.

I'm Joe Brockmeier. Some of my friends call me Zonker, some call me jzb, but Joe is fine too if you don't dig nicknames. I've been tinkering with websites almost as long as I've had a computer of my own, which would be mid-1995. Linux came soon after that, though it took a while for me to become competent with it. Over the years I've done a lot of writing, some work with open source communities, and a fair bit of communications and marketing work. Life at the intersection of computers, communications, community, and the web makes me happy. I also have a deep love of music, cats, books, my family, art, Scotch, beer, and a good St. Louis-style pizza. Not in that order. My pronouns are "he / him / his," and I'll respect yours if you care to share them with me. My perpetual New Year's Resolution is to be more like Mr. Rogers. Doubt I'll ever get there, but it's worth trying.

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