The Evils of the Free Webpage Provider...
It's not for the song,
It's not for the love
It's just for the gold
And there's never enough...
The carnival bark begins: "Laaadiiiiees aaaand gentlemen! Come one, come all, step right up! Free webspace, Get'cher free web space here! 10 Megabytes, no censorship, fast servers, completely ad-free! Why? We're really nice people, and we're doing this out of the kindness of our hearts. No obligation, cancel anytime."
Just click "Accept" on this long boring legal document--mumbojumbojumbo--and we're all set. (Suuuuucker....)
What you've just signed is an intricate legal document carefully constructed by lawyers--their lawyers--to fuck you over as hard, fast and transparently as possible. It starts with the copyright clause: "By uploading any material to our servers you grant WebScrooge Inc. the perpetual, irrevocable yada-yada-copyright-yada foreverandeveramen." Depending on the agreement you just signed, you might have just given them permission to use and display your site for commercial purposes while you're there...or you may have just given them full copyright ownership of your site! Sometimes folks don't realise what full copyright ownership means. FULL means that they OWN your site now, and can do whatever they want to it--and if it becomes insanely popular, they can turn it into their multigazillion-dollar cash cow behind your back (or more precisely, in your face!) and there's not a damned thing you can do about it. And if you try to leave and put the site up elsewhere, they can sue you! Yahoo-GeoCities was recently
on a TOS-change that reportedly gave it perpetual, irrevocable etc.
copyright ownership to all member content, and had to change it after many
boycotts and public-opinion beatings (even *their* lawyers can't take on
Which brings up the second universal clause, which goes something like "We reserve the right to change the terms of this agreement at any time without notice, behind your back, without telling you, and by your still having your site here when we press 'Upload' on the new TOS you have automagically agreed to it". Essentially, another "we can do whatever we want" clause that gives them the power to put in ads all over the place, sneak the copyright clause in, add new things to censor on free pages (even more than what's covered by the "We reserve the right to delete anything at all, screw loyalty, ant any time for any reason or no reason at all" clause) or whatever else their twisted little minds can come up with.
To an FWP, outright deception is the key to getting people to give them free web content. Sadly, trusting and gullible children are the most often targeted by these too-good-to-be-true FWP come-ons. (Between you and me, any corporation that makes its money by exploiting children does not deserve my sympathy.) Take the old XOOM.COM line of BS: "We will not put ads on member pages. Ever." Sounds simple enough, no? All water-tight and promise-like. But go to any XOOM member site now, and it's loaded with a frame of advertising crapola that sits on top of it. Guess what, Xoom has decided that locking member pages into an advertising frame does not constitute the ads being "on" member pages. A specific example, to be sure, but standard fare for a manipulative free webpage provider.
Once they've suckered in enough members with the bullshit and want to start harvesting, and all the buttons, flashing banners and popups start coming up all over your page like mushrooms in shit, you decide it would be a good idea to leave and set up your site somewhere else. But uh-oh, you're stuck! Assuming for a moment they didn't get you with the copyright clause, all your loyal visitors have still bookmarked your URL on their server. And what about all the people who have linked to your site on their own pages? And all the search engines that have you listed? Moving your site is pretty much like starting all over from scratch. You'll lose all your traffic, every visitor you ever had, all the time and effort (and money?) spent promoting and publicizing your site...Some of you webmasters out there, any of you try to get other webmasters to update their frappin' links?
So, you've been misled, you're pissed, and you want to blow the whistle on some of this bullshit. Whoa! Not so fast bucko. As soon as the magic words cross your lips/fingers ("Boycott!" et al) their legal departments could be on you like stink on a turd. Yes, that old bugaboo of public opinion. A simple argumentless, profanity-riddled "sucks page" won't garner much attention from either passers-by or the company themselves--who's going to take it seriously?--but raise some serious issues about their business, and you could find yourself (and your ISP!) having a big FWP dick waved at them...
Naturally, some Web folk
have taken a few steps back and seen the big picture. In the quest for
dollars, the FWP populace has gotten sloppy about concealing the true nature
of their operations, leaving it ever more obvious what is happening, and
who is using who. Just as naturally, some have come out and discussed the
matter publicly. Some have made it their goal to outsmart these dollar-driven
souls, turning the tables and using them the way they use others. Some
have even gone so far as to advocate the complete and total destruction
of a number of these companies, and put an end to the big FWP lie.
The FWP, in response, has made its goal to keep a stern thumb on its servants, eradicating any that show indications of resistance, or are not providing "enough" to the FWP to suit its fancy, or call any question to the lot they have been given. Their most important task has become maintaining the upper hand--the "slaves" must be watched over and prevented from overstepping their bounds, or engaging in any activities that serve to benefit themselves more than the FWP.
FWPs, paranoid that somehow, somewhere, a user is not making them money, have set up systems to guard against everything--scripts to scan for "naughty" words on member pages, scripts to search for files over a certain size, scripts to screen incoming webpages for attempts to foil the FWPs' gratuitous advertising...even computerized scripts to analyze the fleshtone content of your images in the hopes they'll find something pornographic to delete. This doesn't mean, necessarily, that their existing users must become more subservient--only that they become more creative. The attempts of Free Webspace Providers to prevent their own counterexploitation have singlehandedly created a new breed of cyber-elite--a group of power users, bright enough to see the manipulators in their true light, and bright enough to take active steps to guard against their own exploitation.
The fact remains, any FWP
can be systematically outsmarted by the very people they hope to exploit.
This site is the spearhead of a silent, passive opposition to the greedy and profiteering business model of many Free Web Hosting corporations. Their use of deception and extravagent promises to prey upon and take unfair advantage of members, particualarly children, is unacceptable in the eyes of many, and to allow them free reign in this endeavour is simply unconscionable.
Many of these companies have come to the mistaken conclusion that their Webmasters are disposable--much like the story of The Grapes of Wrath, they feel no shame in dumping an established member for a newer replacement who is willing to work for less compensation under less admirable conditions.
You can imagine what would happen if a well-established business's website was for some reason forced to change its Internet address and email, as well as those of any members it has. This means losing ALL their traffic, hard-won links, and search engine listings...the significant time, money and other resources expended in promoting the site would be lost forever and wholly unrecoverable. Business cards and other materials would have to be revamped at a significant cost, any many printed and other materials containing the Web address would be wholly unfixable... it would completely wreck their business. The mercenary Free Web Hosting companies have been abusing the "stuckness" of their established members to exploit them and their Web content, dramatically changing the details of their service (to the benefit of the host, naturally) once a significant number of members have established a reliance on their hosting with these companies.
It is hoped that knowing today's Webmaster is ready and willing to take an active stance to guard him or herself against this exploitation, combined with the widespread availability of information to assist Webmasters in this goal, may encourage these companies to treat their members in a more responsible manner.
That FWP Needs to be Beat with the Cluestick!
What many greedy FWPs don't realise is, they're fucking up the Internet! All the moneymaking trash they litter about like cigarette butts only serves to make the Internet less enjoyable and less useful. Cybermarketers have somehow come to the mistaken conclusion that "more persuasive" equates to "more intrusive". The Internet's signal-to-noise is dropping--fast--and if this disease is allowed to spread, soon there will be no signal to complain of. The FWP has brought upon us a plague--a plague of spam, popup ads, siezure-inducing animated banners and flicker ads, floating brand-logos and watermarks, persistent cookies, sponsored links, advertorials, and vast mountains of informationless junk data. The Free Webspace cabal, and 'Net marketers in general, need desperately to be whopped over the noggin with a clue-by-four. With their methods comes the imminent destruction of the Internet as we know it.