Last Updated on February 25, 2023
‘Patrick’s Place’ in its current form, as its own web domain rather than an account on a blogging platform, launched on this date in 2007.
I know I just recently wrapped up a five-part series on this blog’s 15th anniversary. So I was a little hesitant to immediately talk about another one. But for a dozen years now, I’ve been blogging on my own web domain, patrickkphillips.com.
I think it’s an important thing to remember.
The twelfth anniversary isn’t what I’d call a “milestone” anniversary like the 10th, 15th or 20th. No, I think what’s important about the occasion is the chance to discuss whether you should blog on your own domain or on someone else’s.
This blog started in February 2004 as an AOL Journal. (AOL called its blogs “journals” back then.) The web address started with something along the lines of “journals.aol.com/username” as I recall. There were no custom domain options. The most control you had as a blogger was the username you selected for yourself on AOL.
Sometime between 2005 and 2006, I moved the blog to Blogger. Blogger, at that time, still didn’t offer a custom URL option.
The reason I left AOL was simple: I was on their platform. That meant if I wrote something they didn’t like, they could delete it without letting me know. A fellow blogger on AOL posted simple comic strip panels he created himself. There was one panel that received a complaint over decency — we never did know what the complaint actually was — and AOL’s editors took action.
It was the manner in which they took action that was the problem. As we all understood it, instead of reaching out to the blogger, they immediately deleted the graphic — along with all of the other graphics in the blogger’s profile. In one maneuver, every image he’d posted was gone.
Owning your web domain is important for bloggers.
I mentioned a moment ago that Blogger didn’t allow custom URLs at that time. They do now, as far as I know. That means you can go to a registrar like GoDaddy.com, buy a domain, and then within the settings of Blogger, specify that when someone enters that domain, it goes to the Blogger site.
That’s a nice option.
But you’re still putting your content in someone else’s hands. And if a user complains about something you’ve said, you have to trust the editors of that platform to handle it differently than the editors of AOL’s now-defunct blogging platform did.
And just to be clear: I’m not trying to pick on Blogger here. If you blog anywhere other than your own web domain, regardless of the platform, you’re running the same risk.
Maybe what happened back then on AOL would never, ever happen again with any other platform. But unfortunately, we were relying on the human element to make no mistakes, which is an impossibility.
I moved to my own web domain in 2007 not because I wanted to post potentially offensive content. I made the switch because I wanted to know that a third-party wasn’t going to step in and respond to a complaint I might never see by taking action I couldn’t control.
There’s a big difference.
Yes, you should have your own web domain.
If you’re blogging at a site other than on your own domain, I’d seriously ask you to consider that it’s a goal you should ponder. It doesn’t have to be right this minute.
But your site looks more professional when you can point people to a custom URL rather than one that’s an offshoot of some other website.
And when it comes to editorial control, having control of your content and the site itself is invaluable. If someone complains, you want the complaints to come to you so that you can take appropriate action. You don’t want to leave that in the hands of an editor you’ve never met that could be anywhere on earth.
Seeing concerns as they come not only gives you the option to handle any issues yourself immediately, it also allows you to better gauge what your audience sees as “offensive” or “questionable.” You then have the option to decide for yourself what the appropriate action will be.
The alternatives for bloggers can be very unattractive.
So I wish my little domain a happy 12th birthday. And I wish my readers a great day as well!
Thanks, as always, for reading.