This page introduces others about how to put things on the internet without having to master the relatively modest skills of creating your own HTML, ftp'ing to a hosting server, having a server account and URL, etc. These pages complement my pages about how to create and post your own HTML to the internet, which entails those activities.
I am going to tell you about...
You may find existing instances of the above meet your needs, or you may want to start a new one. How to do that is covered in what follows.
At a forum, people with a common interest meet and post questions answers, and other material in threads, which are groups of related blocks of text, built up almost like emails. The difference is that the "email exchanges" are open to everyone's view. Also, you don't have to "fetch" the "emails"... they are online for anyone to see as soon as they are posted. Threads are also similar to a public chat session.
Forums are the modern manifestation of newsgroups/ usergroups, which were important from the dawn of the web. Comparable mechanisms existed before the web. Yahoo and Google call the forums they allow you to use or set up "groups".
A quick word of warning: You want to avoid having your email address appear in a forum which can be viewed by the public. Take care to fully understand the issues. You may want to set up a special email account for forum matters. Yahoo's guide to, and options for the details of your eddress's risk in their system is good. (I presume Google offers similar help, but didn't look.) It is okay for the administrators of trustworthy forums to know your email address.
That, I hope, gives you the idea? I have also created a page with more about forums, including how to set them up.
I trust you have heard of Wikipedia? This is a seriously useful source of the sort of information that we used to go to encyclopedias for.
Did you know that you can add information to Wikipedia? It isn't hard, and all is explained for you at the site.
But the page you are reading is not merely about adding to other people's online efforts, it is about setting up your own pages, and how you can start "the next" Wikipedia. We'll come to that in a moment. For those who are interested, I've created a page with further information on wikis.
A quick aside: Speaking of wikis, please take a look at my personal "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) page.... It is my instance of something that many people might want to create. The next 9/11 could involve you, or your loved ones, and an ICE page gives you a great way to quickly, easily tell everyone "I'm okay", or "Help needed. I'm at...". I've already used mine to reassure and inform friends when I was stranded within the air transport system by a blizzard.
The word "blog" derives from "web log"... "log" as in "ship's log", e.g. a document like a diary.
Blogs have become popular because they are an easy way to post bits and pieces on the web. They are particularly suited to a need to publish things like diary entries, updates on the progress of a project, publicity press releases for an organization.
If what I have written leaves you with questions, the Wikipedia article says it all very well. It includes nuances you may have failed to consider.
Blog entries tend to be quite short. Various ways of indexing and tagging them exist, so that a visitor to a blog can find past blog entries relevant to the visitor's interests.
Readers can append comments to blog entries.
Blogs usually offer readers the option of setting up an RSS feed. With this, Aunt Mabel doesn't have to check Niece Debbie's blog every time Mabel logs on. When Mabel logs on to her web browser, if Debbie has posted something new, Mabel gets a notification, and can go read the new blog entry if she wishes to.
For my own blog, I use Blogger.com, which is part of Google. I am buy no means an expert on blogs, nor a well informed blog service customer. But for my limited needs, and with my considerable general experience of computers, I am happy with that.
There is some overlap between the topic of this section, and some things put in the next section, the "Etc" section. If you just want to put photos online, to share with friends only, or with a wider audience, skip to the "Etc" section.
Before you can find The Right File Sharing Solution for you, you need to think carefully about what you want to accomplish. There are many services out there in every category, and the overlap between the markets those services address is subtle.
I hope to expand this section in due course, apologies if it is sketchy and not at this time "fair" to the various service providers out there.
There are several reasons to put files online. Some services "tick" more than one "box", and you may be looking to solve more than one requirement, so finding the best service for you may require careful research.
Your hard disk will fail. Do you have backups of your data? There are services to which you can send files "by hand", and there are services which, at the "cost" of letting them "invade" your machine more extensively will automatically keep your online backups in sync with your local copies. (By the way, I usually eschew "automatic" backups, because I want to know what is backed up, and when. It is a lot more work, but I sleep better. But I also fail to keep everything backed up all the time.)
Before you send your first file to off site storage, ask yourself "What difference could it make if the wrong person sees what is in this file?". (With simple online storage options, there's a simple precaution you can take: You can always encrypt a file before you send it.)
Nothing is free... fact of life... but there are services which you can use without paying cash. They may entail having advertising on the pages you use to access the service. They will often have clauses in their terms about deleting your files... which is only reasonable, but be sure you know what the terms are.
Several services use the model I like: They let anyone set up a free account, and find out about some aspects of the service... and they will also take your money, if you wish, and give you a service with more features... no deletion of your files as long as you remain a paying customer, for instance. For my needs, the services which add reports about how often my files are downloaded are attractive, for instance.
Then there's the whole world of letting other people see you files. Can anyone see them, or only people you nominate? Is password access provided? To all your files, specific folders, specific files? There are even sites where you can give other users permission to alter files you've posted.
How do other people (or you, for that matter!) access the things that are stored online? Can you give them a simple link to initiate a download? Can you embed the file in a webpage or blog? These features are all available somewhere, but not necessarily all available at "one where". (How do you upload?)
Wonderful Google, as ever, has an answer...docs.google.com. That allows you to upload any sort of file, and share it. Don't be put off by recollections of the days when only certain file types were allowed.
The rest of this section is really "rough", and "first draft". Jump down to the "Etc" section, if you wish to skip the "rough" stuff. The "Etc" section talks about some photo sharing services and some other things.
Humyo.com is one option. Longtime well regarded by a computing magazine I trust. They offer a free account which would do for our needs. For $82/ year (after free trails, etc, of course) they offer a nice package that includes online backup of your important files. You hard disk WILL fail one day... is your data safe?
www.mediafire.com is another option. Again, you could make adequate use of this for free. For $7 per month you can add download tracking and easier access to your files for your users. (The free account's file access isn't "hard".)
www.4shared.com has been around since 2006. Lots of good features. If you go for the free account, note that you have to log on at least once every 30 days to keep it alive. For $78 per year, this goes away, and you get stats on file downloads.)
I haven't looked into the following too closely... but they do offer free accounts with file sharing possible. They may be more geared to backing up your work, and not offer the very simple "upload the file you want to share" model as found in, say, Flickr. They are: SugarSync.com and Box.net
There's also www.godaddy.com which isn't free... but $20 for a year (10gig) doesn't seem a lot to pay to give it a try, if you like their features. Around since at least 2006.
rapidshare.com This too has been around since 2006. I liked the "no non-sense" flavor at their pages, but the company's first language is German, (they are based in Switzerland), and sometimes this shows, as in this quote from a FAQ answer to how often a file can be downloaded...
"For Files stored in collector's or premium accounts there is no limitation. Files uploaded by free users can be downloaded 10 times, but can be easily transferred to a free collector's or a premium account and can then be downloaded an unlimited number times as long as the file is available."
... so, if this is the well engineered product that I guess it might be, you will have to be prepared to do a little work to master its use.
There is a table comparing various online storage services on the TopTenReviews.com site
There's a more recent review article, from an established source, titled "Share big files online" on the Cnet site. Services discussed: Box.net, Dropbox, YouSendIt
In this section, I will discuss some websites dedicated to special user contributed content projects.
I would guess that you know anything you need to about YouTube?
For still photos, there are at least two sites:
In general, I like Flickr best... it has more features, more momentum, lots of good things going for it.
Panoramio, however, has two great things going for it:
Another to me interesting user contributed content site is Wikimapia. It allows users to mark things which can be seen on Google's maps! If enough people do their bit, we need never wonder "What's THAT???" again. It is also useful if you want to show people how to find something: Mark it on Wikimapia, and refer your friend to the right Wikimapia view.
Google's Google Docs represents another way to work with others across the web. You can have wordprocessor or spreadsheet documents stored on the web which others can access, either merely to view, or, with your permission, to edit. This is a less cumbersome way to collaborate, don't you think?
This page was about alternatives to full blown, self managed publishing of pages on the web. You can visit my page about how to do that if none of the above seemed to meet your needs.
Good luck! Enjoy!
If you found this useful, please visit my shareware "store" Sheepdog Software's Freeware & Shareware... and maybe even tell others of it?
Looking for email, domain registration, or web site hosting? If you visit 1&1's site from here, it helps me. They host my website, and I wouldn't put this link up for them if I wasn't happy with their service. They offer things for the beginner and the corporation.
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