Thanks all for the interest. And, yes, I was aware of the irony of hosting the thing on Tumblr, but weighing that up against starting yet another self-hosted WordPress or Movable Type website, I took the easy route. Which I guess is the root if the problem - self-hosting might be the best way to ensure things stay online for decades, but it’s a lot more work. Maybe not for one site, but if you keep starting the bloody things…
Anyway, although I started the site as a criticism of these acqui-hires, I’m not sure what the answer to the problem (of people’s content being deleted by shuttering startups) is. It’s super easy to start a new website to try out an idea, and that’s fantastic - it’s what keeps new ideas and experiments coming. But it feels like that technological ease of starting up is in some kind of imbalance with the long term responsibility (social? moral?) of asking thousands or millions of strangers to contribute content and build relationships on your platform.
I have no solution. No startup is going to put a big notice on their new site saying “WARNING! We might take this site offline in two years’ time if we get bought!” because, obviously, it’s going to somewhat hamper their sign-up rate. And I wouldn’t want people to stop creating new sites because of this responsibility. (Although I think starting a long-running site a decade ago has put me off starting anything since that features people contributing in any meaningful way.)
So I guess the least bad improvement is for individuals to be a lot more wary of taking part in any site that shows no sign of having a revenue stream or, at least, a way of transferring your stuff to an alternative, similar site. But I don’t see that happening either.
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