If you know somebody who blogs on Tabulas, and he has been away from the computer for a few months, you might want to send him a message, because a nasty surprise is waiting for him. The story shared on the company homepage seems a little confused. The "current owner" of Tabulas is spoken of in the third person, but who else would be posting to the homepage of what the person posting there speaks of as being a "one man show"? What is not in doubt is that all of the blogs hosted there vanished, quite suddenly, and there is reason to doubt that they will be back.
One can hope, and the man who I believe is the founder of Tabulas will encourage some measure of hope. He has indicated that all material posted since December is beyond recovery, the aforementioned "current owner" having allegedly purged the site before the founder could do a needed backup. He says that he thinks that he'll be able to get the older material restored, but the data loss is said to have happened on March 17 and here we are, on the first day of May. I find myself reminded of the Ma.gnolia data loss incident, with one important difference. Larry Halff, as almost everybody will agree, meant well and tried very hard, but he made a layman's mistake and his data was corrupted. If we are to take the story we are give on the Tabulas homepage at face value, somebody deleted user data because he got tired of running Tabulas, and gave the founder only a few hours notice before he did so. I don't know the people involved, and can't vouch for anything that is being said, from two thousand miles away and sitting at my computer, but the story being told on the company homepage, at present, is not a story of people who tried hard and meant well. This, if anything, leaves me even more pessimistic than I was when I correctly guessed that Ma.gnolia's data would not be recovered. No technical expertise of my own comes into play on this one, just an instinctual sense of things going irretrievably wrong.
"It can't hurt to be optimistic, can it?", somebody will ask. Actually, it can. Some of the content misplaced on Tabulas is still recoverable from Google caches of the pages that were hosted there, but this is over a month, now, and caches are refreshed, eventually. If you or one of your friends had content over there, there is no time to waste. If you see this post, drop everything and start recovering content now, or you might miss an opportunity that won't come back. If, for once, the optimists are right - and I hope they are - you or your friend will have a backup (or additional backup) of the content that was at risk, and that's a good thing, so either way, it's time well spent.
As for myself - I was in relatively good shape. This sort of thing is why I mirror my blogs, whenever I can, and this one was mirrored at the apparently far more stable Tumblr. This is a good practice in general, I think, and I did sort of have the feeling that Tabulas was the one man operation it is currently being claimed to be, from the very beginning. I didn't picture somebody just suddenly deciding to kill an entire host because he no longer felt personally fulfilled by running the company, but I didn't have any trouble picturing a one man company going away. There are so many ways that can happen, most of them fairly depressing to think about, but life, as we all know all too well, is uncertain. One should try to be prepared.
I'll think about where the new copy of the main blog will be some time over the next month or two, if I decide to create a new copy, at all. Maybe Tabulas will come back, in which case, there I am, so why move? Maybe it won't, but to be honest, if not blunt, I'm starting to run out of patience with the high level of flakery to be found in this industry. I get the serious impression that as a group, people working in IT don't feel that writing is real work, and don't respect their users or their efforts. Listen to the tone of the response heard from Support at so many companies, when a complaint is made about terrible service. "What are you complaining about? The service is free!" Really? The point being that we aren't paying for these services? But we are. We're paying for it with the loan of our content, on which the provider posts advertising, and without which the provider would have no business. In order to maintain that a free blogging host is a charity, one has to maintain that barter, which is what these working relationships are based on, isn't a real economic exchange, and that's nonsense.
No matter - that seems to be the standard IT attitude. What bloggers and other writers do isn't real work, and it doesn't deserve respect. It's just so much goofing around, as far as most of these companies seem to be concerned. Look at how lightly so many of them will delete years of work, in many cases, in order to recover a few pennies worth of diskspace. Does that show respect? Then there is the whole process of wading through user agreements that run for dozens of pages, in which unconscionable clauses are usually to be found, stretching out the process of finding a suitable replacement host into one that can take days or weeks. Going through that, each time, is work, work that eats into my day, gets in the way of other, more interesting efforts, or even just in the way of getting out and enjoying some nice weather, the whole process waiting to be repeated all over again, the next time somebody, in one way or another, flakes out.
I'm not sure I want to bother, any more. I've literally spent more time dealing with one absurdity or another, than I've been able to spend writing and doing that which I came online to do, and I resent that, as I should. At the moment, I've giving seriously thought to the possibility of just letting the process of attrition whittle down my presence online - saving what I write, of course, but either posting it to some of my other sites instead of going to the trouble of finding new homes for the sites of mine that vanish, or just taking the content offline altogether, and maybe permanently. Maybe the Internet, as unstable a working environment as it is, just isn't a good place to publish?
Or is it? I'll let events answer that question, but as for the days of my jumping through hoops just to keep everything going, those are pretty much over. There's something fundamentally crazy about a situation in which I find myself the only one taking on any of the responsibility for making a business relationship of sorts work, and I'm the only one who isn't being paid for his time, in any way. This doesn't make sense, and something has to change.