UserLand Software is discontinuing free Manila hosting, as I discovered last week when one of their users sought refuge on Buzzword.Com. Edit This Page shut free service on Dec. 1 and ManilaSites will do the same Dec. 31.
I can offer free hosting on Buzzword, but webloggers who are committed to publishing with Manila should be advised that I'm migrating the server to new software by May 1, 2006. A better long-term option for those folks is to subscribe to Weblogger.Com or UserLand.
(As an aside, if you're a fan of a long-running blog on one of those servers, this would be the ideal time to donate a year's hosting. Moving a weblog in a hurry is a huge pain in the ass.)
I've found in 18 months of running Manila that I'm genuinely bad at it. Server uptime has been lousy, because you have to know enough to counter the enormous amount of abuse that comment and referral spammers dish out on a weblog server hosting 3,000 users. Every month or so, I get another "it's not you, it's me" letter from a Buzzword user who wants to break up but is afraid to sound ingracious. The most recent were David Golding and Julian on Software, and I'm pretty sure that Craig Jensen wants to start seeing other people.
I have a fighting chance against net abuse on a Linux box running Apache, MySQL and PHP, because I've been hacking away on one for more than five years. I knew I had reached a significant milestone in my quest for m4d sk1llz last spring when Workbench survived 500,000 hits in two days.
Next year, Buzzword will become an ad-supported free weblog host running entirely on Linux and other open source software. WordPress has a new multi-user version that's currently being beta tested. I suspect it will be the publishing tool that I choose.
Sites that are still on Buzzword at the time of the upgrade next year will be automatically migrated, so publishers can see whether they should stick around. I moved a Manila weblog to WordPress this weekend for a work project and it was easy -- the software supports RSS 2.0 as an import format.
In the meantime, Buzzword users may experience outages of unexplained origin for indeterminate length.