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There had been rumors around the web, but now it's official, Posterous is shutting down. For those who don't know, Posterous is a Tumblr competitor, a place people used to blog, and a few years back there was no saying which of the two would emerge as the leading platform. Ever since Twitter bought them however, it became obvious that Posterous was losing, and today they confirmed that the whole service is shutting down very soon.
This is particularly ironic since in its early years, Posterous billed itself as the place to move to from other dieing services, and now they are the ones biting the bullet. So what this means for millions of blogs is that they will have to transfer their data to a new service, but most likely more critical, that their space on the web will need to change. This means changing links, losing any previous SEO, and starting anew.
This is a great reminder of why owning your online presence is so important. Just a year ago few would have been able to predict Posterous would not last, just like now people post on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and so on, without any concept of how long their content is going to be around.
* Own your domain name. If you want to post content, anything more substantial than cat pictures, things you may want to come back to in the future, you should own your domain name. It's cheap and ensures that your links won't have to change even if you need to move to a new platform. Then, once posted on your own space, you can share links to Twitter & co.
* Use services that have open APIs. If you post content on a host that has no content export policy, then you are basically throwing that effort into a black hole. The instant that they shut down, you might lose it all.
* Use these concepts for anything of importance that you do online. There are rumors that Google might one day shut Google Reader down, do you have your feeds exported as an OPML file? Do you periodically download your email using IMAP from your web mail service? Do you have your calendar and contacts synced to a local machine?
I feel for Posterous users, but for now this is also a reminder for the rest of us.