Comic Non-Sans — Take nothing for granted.

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I often wonder why people come to me for advice and opinions on webcomicking.  You’re looking at the girl who’s still trying to retrieve four books’ worth of work from one of two burned-out hard drives because I don’t know how to back files up properly.  You’re also looking at the girl who doesn’t understand the concept of domain registration vs. hosting.

And here’s a major problem with that whole thing of doing all your own work: assuming everything’s just gonna work, then having to figure out what you’re going to do when it doesn’t.

On the day I was wondering what the hell I was going to write about while I collected my thoughts from Anime Mid-Atlantic, I got an excellent lesson in just the above.  Short version: I registered my domain name for five years so I wouldn’t have to think about it — then, in the process of not thinking about it, I blithely let it expire without checking to see if my contact information had been changed such that I could address any issues.  In the end, I ended up playing phone tag and having to drive to a family member’s house to get my site back.

It’s times like this when, theoretically, fan sites and social networking are boons.  Site issues?  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Tumblr (though I still haven’t really grokked the whole Tumblr thing and have the feeling I’m meant to do something more with mine than I have).  But if you’re one with a silent and/or passive fandom, how many followers do you have?  And will they know where to go if the site is down?

But there’s a bigger issue at hand than that, and I got reminders of it as I worked.  There’s that whole domain registration thing.  And it brings up a few things to keep in mind:

Anyone can see your stuff. Some friends were helping me with my site look-up when my computer wasn’t behaving, and not only did they find which e-mail address my site was still listed as belonging to, they found out a lot of personal information on me.  If you have an older domain you haven’t had to renew in about five years, look into this.  It’s easy to forget, but it’s also easy to pay a few bucks extra to have your info made private.

Always remember who gave you your name. If you switch hosts in a hurry (as I did), and you’re not particularly well-versed in what goes on with a switch-over, you may have left your domain name with your former company unless you reserved it via a third party.  It’s very easy to make the change, provided you have all your login info.  Just request a code, and they’ll e-mail you one that you can input into your control panel via your new host.  It takes a few days to complete the switch, but there’s no interruption of service.

Use WhoIs to your advantage. They now link to a publicly-editable Wiki called AboutUs.org that automatically builds an entry on your domain based on site info via WhoIs.  If someone looks up your entry, they get a link to you on AboutUs right at the top.  Click over to it and take a few minutes to spruce it up.  (This is also another good place to look to make sure only the contact info you want out there is out there.)  You can also get a quick link to some bare-bones Alexa information that way, though they’ll want about $150 from you for anything helpful.

Unlike a lot of site issues, if you get lost or behind on any of this, it’s going to take a lot of hoop-jumping to fix.  Getting passed from department to department, waiting on calls back, and hitting brick walls is an integral part of resolving this sort of issue.  Spare yourself the trouble, remember stuff, and … well, also make sure that your registrar hasn’t gone out of business and sent all their customers to another company in the interim.  Because that’s annoying, too.

Posted on June 21, 2011 at 01:00 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, The Written Word, Webcomics, Webcomics · Tagged with: , , , ,