The Joys of Website Ownership

Kill me now.

No, not seriously. Though I am feeling fed up at life right now.

That Guy is Certified

If you know anything about me, you know I take great pride in maintaining my own website with my own domain. I have the advantage of being both a writer and a software engineer, so creating a personal space in the world wide web for my blog seems like the perfect niche for me.

But boy oh boy is there ever some fine print in that deal. Operating a web site is supposed to be only marginally more difficult than maintaining other kinds of web presences, such as social media accounts. Blogging software such as WordPress makes the process all the more streamlined.

But to conduct a website in a professional manner, certain other niceties need to be observed. For my own purposes, I consider my website incomplete unless it can operate within a secure HTTPS session. And to do that, it needs a security certificate.

These certificates aren’t necessarily expensive (I pay about $10/year for mine), but they are a hassle to renew, mostly because you have to prove ownership of the website you’re trying to secure.

This Weekend’s Headache

The certificate authority I’m using took a day and a half just to issue the request for proof of ownership. And the first one they sent didn’t work.

By the time I finally proved myself, my old certificate had been expired for a day. And here’s the kicker: the new one isn’t valid until tomorrow. By the time you read this, the issue will be resolved. In the meantime, my site does not have a valid certificate.

In Plain English, Please

Basically, for the past day, and up until tomorrow, if you try to view any of the posts on my site, your web browser will warn you that my site is “dangerous” and try to steer you away from it.

The irony is that if I made no effort to protect my site at all, then you would not get that warning. It only happens if I try to protect my site and then fail to do it perfectly.

Yes. Like that.

This is one of the things you should consider before starting up an encapsulated web site of your own.

But What about the Upside?

A lot of people question the utility of personal websites in the current age. Once upon a time, they were quite popular as the dominant form of social media. But now that other forms of social media exists, the appeal of personal websites has waned.

For the most part, this has been a bad thing. Personal web sites are the most autonomous form of social media left in the world. The more popular platforms—your Twitter, you Instagram, your YouTube—have a profit model that involves stealing your personal information and selling it to the highest bidder.

Censorship is also rampant on these platforms, and while personal web sites can be blocked by governments, it generally requires a much bigger infraction than, say, the kinds of crimes that can land you in Twitter prison.

“Now just the murderers.”

They do require just a bit more technical knowhow than the popular social media platforms. Some of that can be mitigated by a good hosting service that does all the heavy lifting for you. But at the end of the day, you still have to know what you are doing.

As opposed to the big platforms, where it is quite obvious that no one knows what they are doing.

Why do I Bother?

I’m hardly the only person to make these observations. Yet I have to admit: the world isn’t going to change just because I know and confess that a better way exists. Each person is going to have to discover for himself the joys and benefits of personal website ownership.

As I type this right now, my own web browser keeps trying to redirect me away from my own website. Every five minutes, I lose the ability to save my progress in this post, and have to reassure my browser that everything is still alright.

It’s maddening.

Still, I am undeterred. I am proud of what I have built here. And the discerning reader will leave this site with secrets they can find nowhere else.

Stick around a while. There are quite a few miracles left to be seen.

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