Battlepanda: Taiwan's BSP nightmare


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Taiwan's BSP nightmare

I decided to start a blog in Chinese now that a good proportion of my friends and contacts now read Chinese better than they read English. As soon as I started telling people this, it began.

"Yeah! Starting a blog sounds like a great idea. Come get one at Yahoo!" "Everybody have their blog at Yahoo. Consider it." "Yahoo! Get Yahoo! Join us!"

"If you choose an unpopular platform, you might be left admiring your posts yourself," warned one.

Umm. No thanks. Taking a quick look at some Yahoo blogs revealed some butt-ugly templates and really long URLs. "You can change the picture that becomes your blog's background," advocated one friend. But why would you ever want to do that. It inevitably makes your blog look hidious.

The stepfordian championing of Yahoo became explicable when I tried to leave a comment on somebody's Yahoo blog. Ah. I see. Can't leave a comment unless you're an Yahoo user. That's annoying but OK. It took me five minutes to get an account. The serious part is, once I get a blog with blogspot or any other service none of those who have Yahoo blogs will be able to link me on their blogroll. They will be able to link me in their posts like any other website, but nowhere permanent on their blog.

Imagine if all wordpress blogs only linked to wordpress or all blogger blogs only linked to blogger and they only allowed comments from members. Their functionality will be so compromised that it's hard to imagine anybody choosing them over a comparable service, nevermind the other gewgaws. But now that Yahoo managed to somehow gather an initial critical mass of users of their system her in Taiwan, it has become a self-perpetuating machine. If I have a yahoo blog, the usefulness of my blog goes down if my social peers are not all useing Yahoo. So I become Yahoo's biggest fan, telling friends about how great it is that I can choose a picture background to my blog. I might even play the emotional blackmail card -- you're my friend and I want to link to your blog, but I can't do it unless you're on Yahoo!

If all I cared about was social networking, I might grin and bear it. Most people I know who blog in Taiwan have chosen (or have been strongarmed into) Yahoo. But to me blogging is so much more than that. It's a platform to get your thoughts out there and meet interesting new people as well as keeping in touch with old friends. I can't have that in a closed system.

As for how Yahoo was able to get a toehold that enable the pernicious cycle of friends pressuring friends into joining an inferior service, one has to consider the chaotic state of BSPs in Taiwan in recent years. Things I've never heard of before happened here -- losing whole blogs because the BSP was sold or because the user was not updating enough, one BSP attacking another's server. It's ugly and stupid and I'm wondering if Yahoo got its opening because of the bad service provided by some of its main competitors (and it must be said it seems to be really good at pushing traffic to blogs in its network).

It positively makes blogspot look like a shining paragon, and I feel very cutting edge and kamakazi-ish for using it.