This blog was hosted on wordpress.com in 2013-2023, and displayed at
koalie.blog since 2018. This setup expires –and will close– in July 2024.
These are my notes for future me and whoever may be curious.
I’ve been blogging offline since 2005 (I used a local instance of Blosxom as a diary which I kept for myself via a terminal on my laptop) and online since 2006 (on my friend Amy’s blog
Dullicious where I blogged as Barbie-dull for several years, and on
My Opera). My previous migration in 2013 moved my blog from My Opera (which Opera shut down four months after) to wordpress.com.
All this time my website
koalie.net was hosted for free on a shared server in one of the machine rooms at MIT and I could not easily get any blogging software installed, so my blog had to be separate from my website.
But last year’s infamous Gandi dick move was both a curse and a blessing. Ditto an internal decision at work that free hosting for personal websites was ending by year end as a result of W3C moving out of MIT in January 2023.
Domain name, email, Web hosting
In June 2023, Gandi announced that the free e-mail service included with domain name rental was becoming a paying subscription by year end, as well as a general increase of their prices the following month. For email, I was using 2 boxes (for me and my son), so that meant paying an extra € 115/year. So I resolved to get email elsewhere and set up a redirect on Gandi mail. For domain name rental, I had renewed it for 5 years in January 2022, so I’m all set until February 2027.
I chose to register in July a free email account at
Infomaniak (more than one in fact –for me, my son, my dad), and then the day after Christmas subscribed separately for € 82,80/year the Infomaniak Web Bundle hosting plan that offers 250 GB storage, for up to 20 sites, and the ability to install and manage over 100 web applications and CMS. I’m sharing that space with a colleague of mine. In February 2027, I’ll rent the
koalie.net domain name with them too.
ssh and was able in minutes via
rsync to move my website content from the external hard drive it lives on, onto the web hosting.
I figured I now could at last unite my blog and my website! My wordpress.com subscription for the Starter Plan costs € 42/year and the koalie.blog domain name rental costs € 22/year, so a total of € 64/year (since I signed up for it in 2018, it has cost me € 320+)
So I painlessly installed the WordPress web app on my Infomaniak space.
Exporting from wordpress.com
I was able to export a lot of my wordpress.com data (a 6.3 MB XML file once unzipped) and import it in the self-hosted WordPress app I installed on Infomaniak as a sub-domain of koalie.net: 495 blog posts and 150+ comments.
That’s not everything, though. I was dismayed that the media items aren’t part of the export. They remain hosted on wordpress.com and the blog posts that reference them continue to link to the files on wordpress.com. Similarly, themes settings and blog settings aren’t exported. Finally, all links in blog posts and pages are absolute. In my case, I had a mix of links to coraliemercier.wordpress.com (2005-2018) and koalie.blog (2018-2023).
Importing and fixing my blog
I exported my wordpress.com media items (3.06 GB for about 1300 files sorted by year and month). Then I spent many mind-numbing hours (over 80h) uploading them post by post.
In addition to adding back the media files, I wanted to write the alternative texts (wordpress.com is very bad at nudging bloggers to write any alt text and even if you think of it, the blogging workflow makes it difficult, I found), to check and fix the links (so now most if not all of my blog links start with / and don’t include the domain name), and remove all of the posts that included media from the Instagram account I deleted many years ago.
At the moment I’m using the same theme I was using in wordpress.com: Twenty Fifteen. For the theme settings and the blog settings, I put two windows side by side and compared the pages to click through the options and fiddle to replicate what I had. There are a few differences but nothing that bothers me.
It’s costly to leave wordpress.com
I used my Christmas vacation to make a dent in the massive undertaking of re-uploading my media files and then checking each post for quality assurance. That’s the first intangible cost: time.
The second cost is intangible as well: the loss of the wordpress.com network effect (ability to find new blogs from fellow wordpress.com users, and for them to find and “follow” min), and of wordpress.com’s SEO (which only can explain that my blog had consistent hits every day.)
On wordpress.com that blog had 156 subscribers, and received 46,112 views (4.6K/month on average) from 28,123 visitors. Its most popular day was April 29, 2020 with 772 views. The visits picked up near the end of 2019, so in the past 5 years, the average views were 5.3K/month.
I don’t care that much but I’m pretty sure that after 10 years of being used to these figures (however artificial they are), I will feel the difference!
The third cost, which I chose not to incur, is the tangible cost of redirection of a wordpress.com blog elsewhere on the Web. It costs € 13/year.
What I did instead was to trash all of my posts on the wordpress.com end and replace that blog with just one static page as homepage, and a blog post, announcing that the setup was going to expire and close in July 2024.