What if Blot.im Is Dead?

I recently visited Blot.im to get an update about the service improvements over the last few months. Much to my surprise, while reading questions posted on the website forum, I discovered that people are wondering about the whereabouts of the developer behind the service, David Merfield. According to this question, people are waiting for answers from David. Looking more closely, I could see many questions touching on various topics are left unanswered. Another person asks if Blot has been abandoned. Personally, I emailed him to ask if everything was fine and suggest posting an update on the website blog. At the time of publication, I’m still without any response. The last update to the news section on Blot.im website goes back to April 1, 2022. There is a real danger of depending on a one-person shop web service. Another such example, to my knowledge, is Buttondown, which is run by a single guy (you can read my review here). How do content creators prepare for a possible abandonment of a service they depend on?

Questions, questions, questions

This brings me to this worrisome yet straightforward question: what if Blot.im is no longer maintained? While Blot.im status page shows a high level of service availability in recent months, I should always be prepared to introduce changes to my blogger workflow. So, how difficult would it be to migrate my content somewhere else? If I decided to move elsewhere, where would I go?

The Numeric Citizen I/O website is hosted on Blot.im. It currently contains 37 articles, only one page and 36 images. That’s not a lot of content; migrating these articles somewhere else shouldn’t be a big undertaking. As I explained in this article, I’m using Blot.im with a GIT repo stored on a local folder sitting in iCloud Drive. All articles are stored locally as Markdown files, easily editable in Ulysses or imported into Craft. So again, migration shouldn’t be a problem. Now, where should I go? What should I do?

Blot.im alternatives

The way I see it, considering my experience, my choices for hosting content are WordPress, Micro.blog and Ghost. First, let’s clear WordPress out: the publishing experience is too heavy, and the service isn’t cheap. Micro.blog is excellent, but it lacks visual theme choices. Then, there is Ghost. I like it a lot for hosting my newsletters, but it isn’t cheap either when hosted on Ghost.org. For example, I could try to get it running somewhere else on DigitalOcean. According to this comparison table, I may skip hosting it manually; I don’t have time to manage a virtual machine in the cloud.

Comparing Ghost editions - SaaS or Self-Hosted
Comparing Ghost editions – SaaS or Self-Hosted

Is Ghost the only remaining viable option? What if I consider Craft instead? In case you didn’t know, Craft is my go-to writing tool and is very powerful at building nice-looking websites, as you can see and experience yourself with My Numeric Citizen Digital Garden. Each document in Craft can be shared on the web with the click of a button. The only missing thing is the possibility to hide the website behind a custom domain name; something Craft doesn’t yet support (is this tweet a hint about an upcoming addition related to website support? We’ll find out this week.) Services like Quill or JelyCraft can do that (between the two, I would probably go with the latter), but I would rather not pay for another service. Moving to a Craft-made website would also require the inclusion of Google search engine and indexation support; otherwise, it could eventually become a problem regarding website discoverability.

But let’s say Craft adds custom domains in the future. Some work needs to be done when importing my markdown files. The steps involve tweaking footnotes if there are any, formatting the article header with the proper metadata, reinserting images and finally updating URLs pointing to other articles within the website. It’s manageable.

Getting ready to face fatality with Craft

Blot.im isn’t dead (yet). I’m willing to be patient here and wait and see. I’ll continue to use the service, but I’ll start preemptively to recreate the website with Craft in a different Craft space. When Craft introduces support for custom domains, then I’ll be able to switch in a snap. It wouldn’t be the end of the world after all because Craft offers more flexibility for building an interactive website, and the process of updating the website is frictionless. The things that my website would lose are, search within the website, Plausible analytics integration, posts tagging and support for RSS feed. But commenting on the website would be a boost because Craft websites support adding comments on any block on a page.

You can experience Numeric Citizen I/O built on Craft right here. Please keep coming back as I’m migrating content from Blot.im.

Two lessons to remember

There are two lessons that any content creator should learn from my experience. The first lesson is to have your original content readily available at all times in a portable format like Markdown text files for a possible migration. The second lesson is to not depend on a single-person operation service or application anywhere in your workflow. Service sustainability was mentioned in my article Things to Look for Before Buying a New Application.

[Update #1 – 2022-05-17: I received a response from the developer. He’s alive and well. He took some (probably much needed) time off. Work on Blot.im should resume soon presumably.]

32 thoughts on “What if Blot.im Is Dead?

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  1. That is the main side effect of sharing everything to the public: can be reassuring to see the product “alive” and worrisome to see it “frozen,” even if it works perfectly.

    I have these thoughts too, and for me it is now more or less a choice between heart and reason when it comes to staying with Blot against migrating to something like Micro.blog; when the next hiatus happens, these questions will come back even sooner, the main ones being: will this new hiatus actually end? Should I anticipate a closure of the service? Why change if it work? How long should I wait? How much time will I have to migrate if indeed the service is dead?

  2. @pimoore No problem and thanks for the kind words! One thing I’ll throw in the mix is that customizing colors and fonts might not be too distracting. Wait, don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to me!!

  3. @bjhess I probably won’t go through with it in that case. Customization of this magnitude needs to take a distant second to writing instead, for me. I think the novelty of doing something like this is greater than the work it would no doubt involve. 😂

    Thanks for the great write up, I love geeking out about this stuff even if I remain status quo with my blog.

  4. @bjhess @numericumericcitizen Funny you mention art directed posts., as that’s something I’ve considered doing. Like you mention it’s definitely a hindrance to pushing out regular content, and I’m already suffering from that problem. 🙂

  5. @bjhess you can wrangle static sites to handle comments without a widget, although I think you’d be better off using WordPress or similar 🙂 Another option is a flat-file CMS, like Kirby.

  6. @numericcitizen @jack Commento does look interesting. I hadn’t heard of it. I do kind of want comments on my blog, and being a static site the only option is a widget. But then I think of the time I’ll spend designing Commento (or whatever) to fit the look and feel of my blog and I get tired.

  7. @numericcitizen @pimoore I wrote about this in two blog posts. bjhess.com/blog/2022… & bjhess.com/blog/2022…

    The latter mentions some of my inspirations toward the end. I think for me it feels good to eliminated as many in-between / setup steps as possible. At least it feels good for now. 🙂 I am currently trying to keep the design consistent across the history of posts, but I’m not sure if that’s a great idea. Some folks will include the full CSS file in each blog post’s folder, basically locking each post to the design that existed when it was posted. I kind of wonder if this is the way to go long term as it lets you release from the troubleshooting of keeping the design up-to-date, especially when you have to do a global find and replace of markup to make sure it works. It also seems kind of fun to have the blog posts themselves indicate the site’s design evolution.

    If you really like playing with the visual, tweaking the design for every post intentionally could also be fun. You want to be conscious of that choice, though, because it will slow down writing progress. For some that design activity might be motivating to create, for others it would get in the way.

  8. First, what a coincidence, as just yesterday I was rediscovering a blog I like and noticed for the first time it’s on Blot.im. I started looking at Blot b/c of the recent WordPress plan changes. I’ve looked at many CMS alts and Ghost is one of my top contenders. I plan to leave WP (not just b/c of the plan changes, but its overall direction and UI seem to have become much less simple and blog friendly).

    Glad you wrote this and shared info I’ll be looking into, like about Craft.

    Also, a good wakeup call…I got out of the habit of storing local copies of my articles. To avoid losing my work in case a blog host goes down or a CMS has data corruption, I need my own backed up copies.

    I remember using markdown in Ulysses and took to it well enough…I might get back into that…my current blog drafts are just in Apple Notes (not markdown).

    Thanks again for sharing.

  9. @numericcitizen. Oh thats funny I literally moved over my main site to blot today decladtwo. I guess you are right and there is a risk with a one man shop but I had to leave WordPress it’s a great website builder but for a simple clean blogging tool it had grown a bit cumbersome for me. Ghost I was looking at seriously but I am an avid Obsidian user so the temptation of using a vault to manage my website was too great! Also now my posts/notes are in markdown so I feel in control of them again.

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