Saturday, September 16, 2017

Opinions on web hosting sites, forums and blogs can mislead you!

I did a good amount of research while preparing for the present blog on web hosting. Though I had fairly good knowledge of web hosting and related technology, scouring the web for knowledge and updates was very important part of the research.

And during that, I visited a few hundred websites, including blogs, forums, Twitter accounts and chats, FB groups and G+ communities.What I have found is a lot of deliberate or inadvertent bias in opinions about web hosting providers. I share here my key observations:

In most social media spaces, there is a perceptible bias towards some particular host or service. It is no exaggeration.

In many communities there is no moderation regarding members posting their own services. In fact, that seems to be the main motivation for becoming a group member. Many such members seldom participate in discussion. When this type of posting is allowed, there is a big chance that many members are proxies of sellers of web hosting services, isn't it?

There also appears to be good deal of sincere opinions about web hosts, domain registrars, resellers etc based on one's own experience in blogs and social networks, but that may only be indicative about the service of a particular service provider. One's location, plan purchased, basic knowledge, attitude and so many factors matter when one makes his or her opinion about a service. Even the service and plans provided by the same web host may improve or deteriorate over time.So, even when the opinion is genuine, it may not be universal and it may be outdated.

One also comes across a casual rant from a frustrated user, not on a webhosting blog or forum but on that individual's own site or social account. That is likely to be more genuine, but highly biased too.

The web is full of websites comparing products and services. They are among the most visited websites. But, they are full of bias - often deliberate. Mind it, these 'professional' websites make their living out of comparisons and so must subtly guide the potential purchaser to what they want. Coming specifically to web hosting comparison sites or blog, they have one or two articles guiding about what to care for when choosing the right host. In that article, they would sometimes make you believe that you must go for a paid and expensive plan, sometimes they'd give link of only the host they prefer, or link the preferred host with a better anchor text, sometimes they'd provide free tutorial on how to use that host's services, sometimes a discount, ... There are numerous ways you are shown the path laid with gold.

Be very suspicious about endorsements on host websites about their plans and services. Don't be swayed by the carefully crafted words or the claims made by the endorsers or their celebrity status. Even if their opinions are fully genuine, you cannot compare your likely experience with theirs as they are getting a special service due to their size, long association or other reasons.

So, opinions on the web about web hosts don't matter, is it?

I didn't say so. Opinion matters but you need to be careful. Even if you find some comparing site or forum or a helpful guy in a forum highly dependable, do further research because a bad host takes all the joy out of blogging and all the earning potential from any website. It becomes worse when you buy domain name, hosting services, themes and tools from the same host.

Individual opinions matter even more than 'expert' opinions because if nothing else they tell us what types of problems users face and one should prepare oneself against these. Moreover, localized opinions can be very useful.

If you are unable to make up your mind and are in a hurry to host the website, go for a big host and buy a small hosting plan with no frills. Don't yet use the emails and exclusive tools offered by them. Keep a back up. Keenly observe the quality of service for about six months and then analyze the suitability of the host and plan vis-a-vis your needs and take a final decision.