So, I had a shared blog on tumblr called learningtocomic, where me and a couple of friends would occasionally post things about our comicking shenanigans, and oftentimes use it as a platform for thinking through various aspects of the comicking process. It had a respectable 200+ followers.
And then it got deleted due to tumblr stupidity. (Someone reported one of the other mod's sideblog, and ALL of their blogs got deleted, even ones where they're just a mod of.)
That's.... that's a lot of content that has now disappeared into thin air. I only reblogged a few posts onto my potofsoup, so parts of it just really isn't recoverable. I'm still waiting for a response from tumblr support before I go around salvaging what I can, but in the meantime, I'm thinking a lot about the content that we create here, for free, and put up on this here website.
Server space isn't free. Designing and maintaining a web platform isn't free. Tumblr is "free" in that they are hoping to make money off of us through advertisements. LJ is "free" in that they post ads on the pages that people visit. DW doesn't post ads, but they need to be sustained through paid accounts, and because they don't have as much money, they don't have a lot of development muscle.
Right now, what with the LJ servers moving to Russia, and some predictions that the Russian company wants to gradually phase out the American (money-losing) side of LJ, I hear that many people are decamping to DW. With Yahoo basically in freefall, I think tumblr will die in a few years. Already, various fandoms are going in different directions: imzy, discourse, etc.
Further fracturing of fandom aside, that doesn't solve the problem that we keep expecting hosting and web platforms to be free. Fandom, which generates a lot of free content (and accompanying wank), requires hosting and web platforms that aren't free. It requires not just server space, but also developers and support personnel and good management who actually considers our needs. When a service is "free", it means that at least one of those things is missing. Tumblr doesn't consider our needs. LJ is poorly managed. DW could probably use some more personnel, and has very little server space.
So we are faced with two options:
(1) migrate from site to site like digital vagrants, losing content and communities along the way, or
I'm not saying that *everyone* has to pay. Half of fandom are still in school, and another quarter are working 2 jobs and barely making ends meet. But my experiences in fandom has also really shown me its generosity. I recently was putting together a fan anthology, and had a payment process that was "pay what you can if you have financial trouble" coupled with "chip in $5 or $10 if you can help", and the donations not only covered the people who couldn't afford full price, but also covered incidental printing and shipping costs.
Which is to say -- it's doable, if we don't take web platforms for granted. If, when we migrate to the next place, we say "let us pay what we can" instead of diving straight into creating beautiful works of art (and then scrolling past the flame wars.)
And by "doable" -- well, here is my plan of action:
1) buy a DW paid account
, even though I don't have any use for its current paid features. Because its developers need money if I want them to improve the site.
2) make some suggestions
to DW for features that would make the site better. (Top on my list: option to buy image hosting, ease of posting to different accounts, ability to reblog)
3) start consolidating my creative content on DW, and crossposting there. (Maybe other people might slowly move there, as well, especially if the site is given the financial strength to improve.)
4) pay for fanart, fanfics, original writing, original art, etc. Because the work we create is also worth something.