I’ve been thinking about what it means to self-host a service, and that there are degrees even within that.

I have a self-hosted WordPress blog in the sense that I manage an installation of WordPress, but I run it on a VPS at a web host. It’s not as self-hosted as someone running a server on a Lollipop Cloud or FreedomBox, but it’s more self-hosted than someone using WordPress.com. It’s also more self-hosted than someone using the managed WordPress hosting at the same web host.

The key advantages of self-hosting are privacy and control. Unless a service uses end-to-end encryption, the admins at each level can probably read your stuff – you have to trust that they won’t do it unless they have to.

And of course when you run your own service, you don’t have to fear losing control when Google Plus shuts down, or Flickr changes their pricing structure, or Tumblr changes their TOS, or MySpace botches a server migration.

The obvious disadvantage of self-hosting, of course, is that you’re on the hook for all the maintenance. Spam filtering, moderation, security updates, server migrations – those are all on you.

And unless you’re using your own software, even on your own box there’s still the risk that a project is going to shut down & leave you without security fixes, or pivot to a new direction that no longer fits what you want. (So glad WP’s block editor is still optional!)

I’ve settled on a balance where I manage the top-level web apps, but my webhost handles the hardware, the virtualization and the LAMP stack. (And email. Ugh, I’d forgotten how much of a pain a mailserver can be to handle until I tried to set one up on a Raspberry Pi a couple of months ago.)

I guess I’m kind of splitting the difference. 🤷

Purism’s explanations for removing various safety features from Librem One’s social network sound like someone explaining why they removed the mirrors, brakes, horns, seat belts, airbags and signals from the cars they’re reselling, because they know those cars are only ever going to be driven on a track where they’ll never have to change lanes or negotiate with other drivers.

Even though there’s a bunch of driveways on that track, connecting to the public road system.

If a collision does happen, we can call in the tow trucks and ambulances. But giving drivers tools to avoid collisions or reduce injuries? That would be interfering with their freedom!

Wow, that shoe dropped sooner than I expected. Verizon is already shopping around to sell Tumblr. I figured it would be toward the end of the year, not the middle.

After Tumblr’s ham-handed ban on adult content last fall purged a bunch of accounts, sparked a lack of confidence, and triggered an wave of users leaving in digust, it became clear that Verizon had no idea what to do with Tumblr (not that Yahoo! had much more). If they hadn’t already started the death spiral, they’d at least knocked it out of orbit.

I’ve never been super-active on Tumblr, but I interact with a few people, and I used to occasionally post things there that weren’t reposts from my blog, or Flickr, or Instagram, or wherever. So, just in case, I backed up a full archive, imported some of the original posts, and pared down all the old duplicates and outdated signal boosts so that when Verizon inevitably gave up monetizing the site, it would be easier to find the pieces I wanted to keep.

Honestly, I’d rather Verizon sell it than shutter it and sell off the data (you think Verizon wouldn’t?). But it depends on who buys it. If anyone wants it.

Here’s hoping Tumblr finds a suitable buyer who understands what they’re getting and is willing to invest in the community, not someone who just wants to squeeze out the last few drops of cash before sending it to join GeoCities in the great Internet Archive in the Sky.

wWooden balcony with patio furniture and plants.I’ve been going through old scenic photos that either never made it online or I only posted low-res versions on my blog and uploading the ones I still think are decent (or at least interesting) to Flickr. Which has got me wondering: When did I start using it?

Other social networks are easy. I signed up and wrote a Hello World post of some sort.

But the oldest photos I have on Flickr are some test posts I made from my RAZR flip-phone (remember those?) using the post-by-email gateway, in mid-2008. Before I’d even joined Twitter. I was looking for some way I could upload photos directly from my phone instead of waiting until I got home. I don’t remember how many other test posts I made and deleted, or whether there were any older ones. But that’s not important either, because…

I have several blog posts where I linked to or embedded someone else’s photo on Flickr going back even further. The oldest I could find was on the batch of Hawaii photos I posted here in 2005, and just posted on Flickr a few days ago! I was looking for the name of a small valley I’d photographed on the side of the road, and found someone else’s photo from the same spot. I asked him if he remembered where it was, and he was able to look it up and give me the name.

I’m not 100% sure, but I think I may have signed up on Flickr to ask that question.

And then three years went by before I started seriously posting my own photos to the site!

“Your Page was flagged because your post(s) linked to domain_placeholder.com.” — an email I got last night.

Um…yeah. Sure. That’s not a valid domain name.

The message showed up less than an hour after I logged into Facebook for the first time in weeks, and it does appear to actually be from Facebook and not a phish.

But I don’t see any indication in Facebook’s website that the page in question has been flagged for anything, much less “sharing, distributing or promoting content inauthentically.” (In other words, selling links. Which I don’t do anyway.) I haven’t clicked on the tracked links just in case it is a phish, but there’s a link to submit an appeal that goes to a non-tracked Facebook Help page…which is a 404.

Searching for domain_placeholder.com on Facebook and Twitter turned up other people reacting to similar messages they got last night…and nothing older.

I’m confident it’s bogus, and I suspect it was sent out accidentally. Maybe someone at Facebook is testing a new email template, and accidentally sent it to a real subset of users on a real mail server.

Update (4/18): The Facebook Help page linked in the message now contains the following statement:

No action required

You may have received an email that we sent out in error, and your Page may not have violated the Pages Policy on restrictions around sharing, distributing or promoting content inauthentically. Please ignore the email you received on 04/15/2019.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

So it looks like it was what I expected: a test message sent out by mistake.

Update (4/19): Four days later, Facebook finally sent me a follow-up email saying, “We sent you an email by mistake.”