Sudden Closure of Weblogs.com Strands Bloggers

Numerous bloggers hosted by Weblogs.com are offline and scrambling to find new hosting after blogging pioneer Dave Winer abruptly closed the free service last weekend.

Winer, a driving force in the emergence of blogging and RSS, started the service as a founder of Userland software, but left the company several years ago. When the blogs needed to be moved off Userland's servers, Winer said he tried to transfer them to a server he owned, which was unable to handle the load. Winer said cost issues and personal health concerns limited his ability to resolve the difficulties, so he decided to close the service.

"I can't afford to host these sites," Winer wrote. "I don't want to start a site hosting business. These are firm, non-negotiable statements."

But some users protested that they had no warning of the shutdown, and thus were unable to download copies of their sites, including user comments. Winer said he will export a site's content if its owner makes a specific request, but would not do so before July 1.

Weblogs.com blogs were created with Userland's Manila software, and require hosting that supports Manila. Winer referred users to a directory of providers who support Manila.

One Weblogs.com blogger whose site is still operating is Doc Searls, a senior editor of Linux Journal and widely read blogger. "Thousands of us got a free ride from Dave, and Userland, over the past five years," wrote Searls. "What we got was far more than we didn't pay for. For many of us (certainly for me), the benefits have been incalculable. Let's keep that in mind as those of us involved try to make this transition over the next few weeks."

Other bloggers noted that such magnanimity was more difficult for bloggers who, unlike Searls, were offline and without access to their content.

"It's not okay for 3,000 weblogs to revert to a post by the software vendor one day without warning," wrote Jeneane Sessum.