"I felt a great disturbance in the force, as if about 3000 weblogs suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."
By now you've probably heard about the sudden death of weblogs.com and the roughly 3000 blogs that had been hosted there. I'll admit my initial reaction was to think it was a pretty slimy move--not that anyone had the right to expect free service forever, but in how abruptly it was done. After listening to Dave Winer's audio blog entry explaining the situation, I don't know whether it could have been handled better or not, but I can see that it wasn't going to be easy on anyone however it happened.
Perhaps a good approach to understanding would be to think of it as a hard drive crash--the hard drive on the server died (just to be clear, it didn't really, I'm just saying what would you expect if this is what had happened?), and there was no backup (it's a free service, after all). Of course all of the sites went silent suddenly. It sounds like the truth of the matter is that, while it wasn't the hard drive, the server was not able to continue hosting the sites, and there was no backup system to go to--so the result is the same.
The good news (going back to our hard drive crash fantasy) is that while the hard drive will never serve the sites up again, the platters didn't self-destruct or anything, so data recovery is possible. But data recovery work isn't cheap, so not all of the blogs will be salvaged automatically--only those that request it. And that service will be provided free of charge.
Is Dave handling this in the best possible way? I have no idea. Is it easy for me to talk about this, since my blog isn't on weblogs.com? Yeah, so maybe I should shut my mouth. But I won't. I'll offer up my opinion, for what its worth. I for one am willing to cut Dave some slack and believe that he's doing the best he can.
Rest in peace, weblogs.com.