Avoid rash decisions to quit online platforms

Beware the knee-jerk: Why it’s a bad idea to swear off Instagram, Feedburner, and other services because of a bump in the virtual road.


Are you a quitter? I don’t mean the kind of quitter who gives up because something is too hard, but the kind who quits an online service in a huff over a perceived piece of bad news or policy.

It seems a lot of people, including several friends, have made rash decisions to quit services lately, and I’m not certain these were the right calls. They weren’t for me, anyway. For example:

Feedburner

Feedburner is a common tool for setting up RSS feeds for blogs and other websites. The basic tool is simple, though there have always been possibilities for more, especially in terms of analytics. (Let’s not get started on the failure of Google, which bought Feedburner a few years back, to integrate these analytics with the Google Analytics tool, but that does play in to the general frustration.)

Late in 2012, things started to happen—or, rather, they stopped happening. The @Feedburner Twitter feed was turned off, and the separate Feedburner blog was put to rest. Surely signs of the apocalypse, no?

No. The core tool continues to work. There was a brief outage of the Feedburner user dashboard that gave many of us agita, but the feeds, by and large, worked well.

Still, there was justified concern. A number of friends moved their feeds to other services, such as Feedblitz, which happily charges for extras like analytics (and likely worth the cost, too), but Feedburner hasn’t stopped working. The care it takes to move a blog’s feed without losing subscribers, or having to rebuild a subscriber base (granted, only part of the audience for many blogs) from scratch is a lot to consider; it’s even more to consider when you have clients using Feedburner.

I haven’t moved this blog as of this writing. It has been months, and there has been no issue, no interruption. If Feedburner were to go down, the pain in switching would probably be little or no more than if I did it now. I heard some rumblings of service issues with the alternatives, though they weren’t necessarily permanent or fatal. So there is no point in panicking and making a premature move.

Instagram

Instagram is a different story—one of trust, privacy, and ownership. When Instagram announced a change to its terms of service, it was widely read to mean that Instagram reserved the right to (implication: intended to) use your images to sell advertising without compensating the owners. That caused an uproar, which included many people threatening to and even going ahead and eliminating their Instagram accounts. I didn’t, for two reasons:

  1. If I were worried about intellectual property, privacy, and photo quality to such a degree I wouldn’t care about Instagram in the first place. And I don’t care; for me it’s a place to put colorful filters on otherwise crappy phone-camera photos, and share them with people who want to see them (there and on Facebook). There was never any rights management, such as the Creative Commons licensing features on Flickr, and they don’t seem to be fixing to start that now.
  2. I just don’t go for the knee-jerk bans. I was willing to wait and see (Instagram did appear to back off in a later statement, but it’s hard to say for sure what it all really means) before cutting myself off from a service—a free service—from which I got some enjoyment.

I’m not a knee-jerk person when it comes to these services. The worrying about their intentions or futures may or may not be valid, but if I ran to another service or platform every time the wind shifted, you wouldn’t know where to find me online (no, I’m not on Tumblr), let alone come across a somewhat cohesive set of content. Sit tight, and don’t do anything rash.

Doug Haslam works with the PN Connect team at Voce Communications. A version of this article first appeared on v3im.com.

(Image via)

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