Friday, September 12, 2003

Out with the SquawkBox, in with the BlogSpeak

So my comments provider, SquawkBox, suddenly decided to charge money for my account. My original terms of service specified a 12-month introductory period during which no payment would be required, and I only signed on last April. But it seems they changed the terms of service about a month ago, with no notice except a single message on a support forum – which I’d never bothered to visit because I hadn’t had any problems. Now they require you to pay for the service if you have a high volume of comments; “high volume” appears to be anything more than a few comments a day.

“Ah well,” I said to myself, “the service is (or was) free, so I guess they can run it how they want.” I thought I might even grit my teeth and actually pay for the service, since I hadn’t had any prior problems. But first, I wanted to (a) make sure there wasn’t any mistake, and (b) find out if I could capture all the old comments, in case I wanted to switch comment services now or in future. Well, SquawkBox doesn’t have a single email address listed on its website; the only way you can ask questions or make complaints is by using one of their forums. And you can’t use their forums unless you’re a current customer in good standing – i.e., all paid up.

In short, I can’t get my comments back unless I cough up the money to keep my account active. Well, to hell with that. I don’t want to pay money to an organization that won’t let me get a parachute out. I’ve decided to shoot the hostage – well, abandon him anyway – by not buying access to all the old comments. (My apologies to any readers who had composed and saved their dissertations in my comments box.) I’m now running my comments via BlogSpeak, which turns out to have a simpler and more flexible system anyway.

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