Why Have a Personal Site Instead of Social Media?

30 Jun 2024 | ~3 minute read

I was posting my usual waffle over on Fosstodon yesterday, and someone asked a question about having a personal site vs just using social media. So I naturally decided to write a post on my personal site about it. 🙃

The Fosstodon post was about the new homepage on this site (check it out if you haven't seen it already), and someone replied asking a question:

I am always a little curious as to the point of a personal webpage when you can rely on social media for a presence. What is your primary motivator for investing the time and effort?
Jason Brewster

I quickly replied to Jason, but figured I'd need more than the 500 characters that Mastodon offers, so decided to write a post here about it.

So why have a personal site instead of social media?

For me it's all about one thing - ownership. If I post something here, it's mine, I own in it in perpetuity. On social media that's not the case. Terms of services can change, platforms can disappear, or things can just go wrong. If I had all my content on a platform I have no control over, and they went poof, I'd be fucked.

Now for me it's a little different as I co-own Fosstodon, so technically speaking I have some control over that platform. But I don't have total control like I do here. Mike is the 50/50 owner with me, and Fosstodon is kept alive by the generosity of our members and their donations.

If those donations went away, Mike and I couldn't afford to run Fosstodon. So you see, although I have more control when it comes to Fosstodon, I'm far from having total control.

Having a playground

The other part of this is having a playground for me to explore stuff in a safe space. I'm not going to start messing about with the CSS on Fosstodon, as that would affect tens of thousands of people. Stability is key there.

Here on the other hand, I can piss around to my hearts content. If I want to change the way something looks, or add a new feature, like my watch wearing log, or my notes page, I can. Equally, if I decide I want to remove them in the future, again, I can. That's not so easy when lots of people rely on a service, and it's impossible if you're the user of a service.

Final thoughts

There's lots of advantages of owning a personal site that social media can't contend with. Especially when one's personal site can become their social media space too, which is what I've kinda done here. My notes are automatically syndicated to my social profiles, as is my watch wearing log, thanks to EchoFeed. That's some pretty powerful shit right there.

Here I get to share my thoughts in a place I control. I get to piss around and add/remove new features & eye candy as I see fit. And on top of all that, I get to have a place on the web that's 100% mine that (hopefully) expresses a bit of my personality too. All of that is extremely difficult on a cookie cutter social media profile.

If you're on the fence about starting your own site, jump down, buy a domain and get started. It's totally worth it.

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