Closing a service

In Romania, I recently saw a blog platform closing; a big multinational company has built a blogging platform; not very successful (in part due to the technical issues, in part due to the community, in part due to promotion of the platform); now what does the company do? Closes the service and tells the bloggers to go somewhere else with their blogs; no export function, no data liberation, no help in moving.

The scenario is not unique – big names launch products, then shut them down; my problem with this approach is the responsibility issue – you owe things to your clients; if you offer a platform in which others should express, you have no right to kill their works; OK, don’t provide the service to new users, but don’t let the old users down; YouTube is just a platform; sure, it’s better than DailyMotion and Vimeo (more complex, more advanced), but most of the value of YouTube is not the technology, but the videos users and companies have posted.

Have a look at the cost of running a blogging service – OK, you may shut it down, but how much does it cost to keep a web server up & running (just hosting the old blogs, without allowing new content to be added)? Or, at least offer an option to export all the blog posts in a format that can be imported to another blogging platform (WordPress, Blogger). And don’t warn me – „if you don’t save your data, we’ll delete it”; don’t do this; send it to me via email in a format which I can use (zipped HTML with all the blog posts and photos); I trusted you with my data, don’t tell me now you don’t need me anymore and I should take care of my own stuff;

And you should apologize; in a lot of cases the message is „We will lose clients; we won’t make any money out of this; we decided we’ll close the service” (sure, they won’t say it like this, but this is the message – never about you, it’s the money of the company); what about the user? „Take your things, we’re closing”.

There are plenty of companies who close a service; Yahoo! shut their blogging platform and they offered an option to export the blog, which allowed me to take my blog somewhere else; Google closed Notes and only told me to take my notes somewhere else; but they did allow accessing old notes.

The bottom line? A service which allows its users to add content is more than a service offered, it’s a responsibility to the customer. It’s not only about you.

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