Tech Market WatchBy Perry Wu
Bloggers in China complaining recently about their inability to access weblog tools and websites like BlogSpot, Blogger, WordPress, and FeedBurner should shut up or put up.

Please don't confuse my admonition so much with blaming the victim. It is too bad that bloggers in China often can't use services hosted overseas. But I do blame China-based bloggers, especially foreigners blogging in China, a tad for not taking the bull by the horns and changing the situation. But enough with cliches: let's talk about solutions.

For many foreign bloggers operating in China, they blog for business-based needs. For example, as part of the sector within which they work, they might blog about law, technology, media, medicine, environment, or logistics to lend credence to the occupations they hold in China. Like great salespeople, writing profusely on a subject in China often lionizes that writer as a "China Expert", regardless of their true expertise on their written subject. But too many of these expert China bloggers often use services like Typepad, WordPress, or Blogspot, which intermittently provide no visibility in China. Likewise, hosting services overseas like GoDaddy.com often have problems in China–many GoDaddy.com websites and emails can't make it to China-based users.

But these same business-based bloggers complain when their free accounts on Typepad, WordPress, or Blogspot become blocked in China. Why complain when they can do something about it? For as little as US$40 a year, a blogger can buy a domain name and receive web hosting overseas. For the price of one Starbucks latte a month, a China-based blogger can be independent. If a blogger is serious about getting his/her word out among the world's netizens, then a good brand such as MyChinaBizBlog.com is much better than MyChinaBizBlog.BlogSpot.com.

What's the difference? For me, it shows a deep commitment to blogging when a business-based blogger buys a domain name and gets web hosting. I can't take a guy seriously if he says he is running a business and then gives me his email address as [email protected] or [email protected] And especially since many of these same bloggers, regardless of their area of expertise, also wax poetic about the machinations of technology regulations in China, it shows a bit of intelligence when a blogger runs an independent blog. Why trust a vegan who critiques a steak restaurant?

It also shows a lack of permanence when someone uses a freebie service for an otherwise money-earning venture. So goes blogging: a blogger who seriously blogs for business-related reasons should spend an hour buying a domain name, renting server space, and then starting a blog. Create your own identity, rather than have others create one for you!

Another area of recent complaints by China-based foreign bloggers has been the supposed lack of access to RSS storage and aggregation services like FeedBurner. Again, why use FeedBurner and why worry about it?

Bloggers use FeedBurner because they want to know who is using their syndication feeds. But if they own their own domain name and host their own blog, they can use their own free log file statistical reports to gain similar data. Bloggers also use FeedBurner, and like-minded services, to provide easy access to users to store and subscribe to those feeds. Yet with good browsers like Firefox and the latest Internet Explorer 7.0, this is not necessary anymore. Other bloggers use FeedBurner to ping aggregation services when they post new information on their blogs. Again, this is unnecessary because great weblog software like MovableType and WordPress already have fields that allow serious bloggers to automatically ping an unlimited number of aggregation services. Finally, FeedBurner is used by people who want a perceived eternal/permanent XML feed. Again, with the simple use of htaccess files on their own hosted blogs, bloggers can point people to anywhere on the web. It's your identity; it's your blog!

The only good reason I see for someone using FeedBurner is to divert bandwidth away from their blog and to the FeedBurner service. But as many China-based bloggers have less than a few thousand RSS subscribers (if even more than a few dozen), this is far from a problem. Or if their server is eating CPU, then they can install a simple cache script on their blog to decrease load. There is no argument for using FeedBurner, and no reason to complain if and when the service is inaccessible in China.

If you are a serious blogger and what I've described so far seems very technical, it's not. And you should understand all these things (and more) if you plan to blog and use the Internet for the next few decades. Kids in elementary school today are going to be stealing your job in a few years because they understand how the informations on the Internets move around the world. It's time you too climb that wall and create your own identity!

About the author:
Perry Wu is a writer and correspondent for ChinaTechNews.com and can be reached here at the site. Perry Wu does not hold any positions, long or short, on any of the Chinese or American company securities mentioned in this article.

14 COMMENTS

  1. You're saying that internet censorship is fine as long as some people can afford to get their way around it? I think you're full of ****.

  2. Perry, you are correct that these are fine ways around problems encountered in China but these are far too technical and beyond the reach of the common blogger. These free blogging sites do serve a valuable purpose to assist non-technical users to get online and get their blogs available. It would have also been very nice had you linked to or provided examples of these so-called blogs you discuss. Why no examples? Do these sites even exist? haha

  3. Probably the fact that you're based in China is disallowing you to write what is the real problem – ridiculous censorship. It might be 'fine' to censor stuff on T-bet and T-aiwn because that's the countries' right – but there so much other benign knowledge that is being blocked. 99.99% of Wikipedia is harmless. I cannot get to solutions to so many problems because they were blogged in Blogspot. Heck I can't even search for news because it is blocked in news.google.

    So I agree – you're just bootlicking establishment s**t to come up with a piece of dirt story like that.

  4. Please, come and live in China and try to do normal web things. It sucks and you end up pulling your hair out.

    The difference between setting up your own domain and blogging from there, or going straight into wordpress.com or blogger.com with all their social systems and instant traffic, is immeasurable.

    So to Perry: Research Up or Shut up!

  5. Objection, your honor!

    As someone who blogs in part for business reasons (but would never claim to be a "China Expert"), I use TypePad – and I pay for it. I figure coughing up around $100 per year and parting with time I could otherwise sell quite dear in order to blog is more than enough to make me "serious" about what I do.

    Your suggestion that I need to make the further investment of time and effort to set up my own hosting and move onto Moveable Type in order to be "serious" about blogging is so much techno-elitist crap.

    On the other hand, I, unlike you, at least put my name and reputation (such as it is) behind everything I write. Most of us have never felt the need to hide behind the anonymizing fig-leaf of a pseudonym.

    En garde.

  6. nice, Perry lives in China and he echo's recommendations made by Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei.org about setting up business related blogs to a fine Amcham conference on the subject last month. I agree though that the techinical side often appears daunting to new bloggers. And yes, the GFW is extremely Mafan, but something we have to learn to live with.

  7. I believe it to be too simple to ask people to upgrade their knowledge since so many people these days expect fastfood service on the internet and web-sites. What I mean is that why should people change if they are not the problem since the real problem assumes to be the blocking. since it is out of their control, they should not need to do extra things. I understand your meaning and truly agree with most ideas about having own brand name to build traffic but reality of doing this seems much too difficult for average business man who is blogging and also doing lots of working things.

  8. The first paragraph was quite combative, but the general sentiment I agree with. If you have a China related blog or website, beating the Great Firewall at it's own game is not hard. In fact I wrote some instructions here

    Censorship in general, though, I don't like.

  9. Since these get blocked so often why wouldn't a serious blogger already switch?

    Do you have a list of Chinese blog providers handy? I'd like to see what sort of services they provide.

  10. The blogging issues with feedburner are not just happening in China because many websites outside of China also use this feedburner and they then find problems with users in China trying to use those feeds.

    So don't just blame Chinese bloggers and the laowai in China but also all the other websites and blogs outside of China that rely on feeburner because too make it difficult to get the news and information from their own websites.

  11. Are you a serious blogger Perry? Any response to the previous comments?

    Most of the complaints that I hear are not focused on the fact that these semi-serious bloggers have been inconvenienced – but rather that people in China are denied the privilege of a free blogging platform.

    It would definitely be nice for non-techie Chinese bloggers to be able to write freely without having to face the same old error when they click publish:
    "ERROR, YOUR CONTENT VIOLATES CHINA SOCIAL HARMONY STANDARDS. PLEASE REVISE AND TRY AGAIN LATER."

    Any thoughts Perry?

  12. I have incident with Air ticket from Cebu Pacific Shanghai.We ask for a recieve and the guy give to my wife invoice and my company dont accept invoice.So I phone to Mr Feng and he said you have to pay 3% to get recieve.So now I ask you,is the whole china corrupt like this.Is this the reason why China cannot be international?Please can somebody give me a answer

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