Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

03 Feb 2009, 1:23 a.m.

The Blog Host Market

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2009 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I'm thinking of starting another blog for a little writing project of mine. I'd rather it have a more professional look-n-feel than the NewsBruiser blogs' built-in templates allow, and possibly an automatic audience if I can manage it easily.

So I thought about using Open Salon, which would be free and associated with an institution I'm nostalgically fond of. But every Open Salon blogger gets the same page template, including ads, and I wouldn't control my domain name, and the Terms of Service has some clauses I don't like:

By submitting or posting User Content using the Service or the Site, you grant to Salon an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to: (1) use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute the User Content in or through any medium now known or hereafter invented, for any purpose; (2) to prepare derivative works using the User Content, or to incorporate it into other works, for any purpose; and (3) to grant and authorize sublicenses of any or all of the foregoing rights.

You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the User Content will no longer appear on the Site. However, you acknowledge that Salon may retain archived copies of your User Content, and that Salon will retain the rights to the content granted by these TOS.

So, I'm not technically giving up my rights to my words, but they get to use them as grist for any mill they ever conceive of. And I'm not sure how I'd export my work to back it up and have a local archive.

I also considered Six Apart's TypePad, which has a much more flexible template system. I'd be able to use a custom domain name. The price (about $10/month for what I want) seems reasonable. And the license (Section 10) for them to use my work is not perpetual, yay. But it's a paid service with no warranty, which raises my eyebrows. And I've seen complaints about the completeness of TypePad export. has fantastic export, of course, and amazing customizability, and some built-in audience, and for a small price I could use a custom domain name. Let's check the ToS... Oh goody, mandatory arbitration in the case of a conflict (instead of getting a fair hearing in a court of law). And nothing in this contract, as far as I can tell, specifies that my words belong to me, although IP folks can tell me what assumption I should make.

At this point I'm thinking I should just coerce a web designer into making a nice NewsBruiser template for me and use a blog, because I know I can nag the sysadmin of that particular virtual box at will. Thoughts?


Sumana Harihareswara
03 Feb 2009, 7:45 a.m.

At least one friend recommends Squarespace for tech innovation, price, great tech support, & configurability.<br/>

steve minutillo
03 Feb 2009, 10:47 a.m.

If you're concerned about who will have a claim on your work, and ability to export the data, you can't beat just hosting it yourself. It's super easy to install WordPress, for example, and there's a huge community that has produced tons of free templates and plugins. Maybe Leonard would let you use a small corner of whatever is hosting, and set up a virtual server with (or whatever) pointed to it?

If not, you can get full featured web hosting for $10 a month, maybe even lower (one place to try is Dreamhost - that's what I use). Then you can host this site, and whatever other sites / services you might think of in the future, all for One Low Monthly Payment.

Sumana Harihareswara
03 Feb 2009, 13:05 p.m.

Steve, I wouldn't administer a WordPress install for free; I'd rather pay someone else to worry about upgrading and patching vulnerabilities. What's the best self-hosted CMS that's not WordPress?

Stuart Sierra
03 Feb 2009, 13:34 p.m.

I second the recommendation for self-hosted WordPress. It's pretty painless to maintain, needs updates about twice a year. The Mandigo theme is nice.

steve minutillo
03 Feb 2009, 13:59 p.m.

Dreamhost (and some other hosts listed here) has reduced installation, and even updates, of WordPress to a single click. Seriously.

I don't have experience with any other blog engines so I can't say which is the runner up.

05 Feb 2009, 7:55 a.m.

You can use a custom domain with a blogspot account. Just a few clicks. You can backup and move date at anytime as an XML file too. Besides it's 100% free.

Lloyd Budd
10 Feb 2009, 17:32 p.m.

What blog hosting company has better ToS? Possibly we can improve to address yours and others concerns.

11 Feb 2009, 17:08 p.m.

Pocahontas and I have a new secret blog we haven't told anyone about yet. I opted to install my own MovableType instance on

It means I do pretty much all the work, but, then again, it's cheap, I control everything, and there's not much in the way of restrictions. No cron jobs; CGI scripts are slow (at least when they're MovableType) and they don't offer mod_perl; it would be pretty hard for our content to violate their service terms, as they're dedicated libertarians and make it a point of pride to host anything legal.

...and having typed all that, I just read all the comments and saw that you don't want to administer your own. Oops. Never mind.