Over the past decade or so I have become increasingly astounded and thankful at the availability and quality of free stuff for web work. WordPress – not just the core, but also awesome themes and plugins; ClouldFlare; IrfanView and GIMP for graphics work; FileZilla; Google Analytics; Notepad++ for coding – the list goes on and on. No longer do I have to risk falling behind on my rent to dabble in the web. As an experiment, I decided to see how far I could push the envelope. Could I launch a website without ads (or with only my ads) completely for free? This would include free domain name, free hosting, free CMS and other tools, free everything.
It turns out, no. Not for me anyway, though I came kinda close.
The domain name was easy. FreeNom offers free domain names, most notably dot tk. FreeNom domains come with strings attached – mine has already been temporarily revoked twice in just a year and a half – but for a free experiment I can live with that. I needed a domain name that sounds catchy with the dot tk extension. Again, no worries: Traditional-Knowledge.tk. I didn’t want the hyphen, but FreeNom insisted on it. Thanks to a hobby of my Dad – documenting “Older, simpler ways of life” – I had plenty of inherited content just waiting to be posted.
As mentioned above, WordPress and other astonishingly great web tools are also free.
On to hosting. This was my downfall. It had to be free with no ads (other than mine). A colleague let me know about a cost-free, ad-free host that his son uses, but it turned out that host does not allow dot tk. With the help of Google I found a host promising free hosting with no ads. I signed up, launched the site, and … immediately the lying host put up ads. With more help from Google I found a hack to block the ads. And … I got booted, really quickly, kicked right out of there. Permanently banned I think. To be honest, completely free no-ads hosting would be a difficult-to-sustain business model, so no big surprise it didn’t work out.
Traditional-Knowledge.tk lives on, squatting in my reseller account, where it costs me nothing more than I would otherwise pay – but not really the completely free experience that I was going for. Free-dom has its limits, at least for me.
Update | 2019-01-10: My free-dom experiment has ended. My dot tk domain was about to expire, so I logged into Freenom to renew it. It was gone – missing from my domains folder. No worries, I’ll just let it expire then re-register it. It expired. I tried to re-register it … Freenom had reclassified it as ‘premium’. It was no longer free but rather $10/year. No thanks.
The content will likely be moving to olderwaysof.life.
Update 2019-03-19: Traditional-Knowledge.tk lives! Moving the domain to ‘premium’ was seemingly a bluff by Freenom. When I declined to pay, and a few weeks went by, the domain again became free and I simply re-registered.
WPPOV supports freedom from Net Neutrality and the GDPR. The Internet of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.