Netlify vs NearlyFreeSpeech.Net for Static Sites


I signed up with NearlyFreSpeech.Net (NFSN) in late July, motivated by philosophical reasons. I wanted to pay for a cheap host and have more freedom over what I wrote. After about three weeks, I switched back to Netlify, because the convenience of updating my website is worth something. With NFSN, it's not enough to push changes to your repository. You then have to sync your folder, which requires logging in with SSH. This is quite cumbersome, and the applications that make it easier are quite expensive. I chose Cyberduck to handle the SSH tasks, since it's free, but the interface is a little confusing, and it's difficult to login, since the server address and username aren't pre-filled.

Netlify lets you either sync with a repository, or upload your folder directly to their site. It saves so much time and pain to only focus on syncing the code, which lets me edit my site from my phone, my laptop, or at a friend's house, provided I can login to my Gitlab account. Furthermore, Netlify automatically uses a CDN, minifies code, and has other cool features. I've stopped using a contact form, because it's a pain to filter spam, but the only way to use a contact form with NFSN is to run a PHP site, setup email forwarding, or create a database. No thanks. Much easier to use Netlify's built-in solution.

I don't want to worry about bandwidth, though I don't anticipate any DDOS attacks against my site. If I did, I'd consider using Cloudflare, but they block Tor visitors, and so I stopped using them.

NFSN is cheap, so I've kept the Linfield Free Press hosted there, at only $.01 per day. If I find an easier way to sync my folders whenever I push changes, maybe I'll go back to NFSN for my personal site. I'm doing a lot of demo work, need to upload various demo websites under my own site, and I don't want to be hassled setting up SSH applications wherever I go.

After reviewing Netlify's terms, I believe there is more freedom than I originally assumed. More restrictions exist on Github, and I think Gitlab is a better company (for now). I'm keeping my Github account active, only for the purpose of starring popular repositories and rarely commenting on posts. I've deleted my repositories and don't plan on making new ones.

original post

I was using Netlify and Github to host this site, but at the end of the day, free products with restrictions aren't worth the tradeoffs. Hosting is super simple, and your site is synced with your repository, but you are limited in the types of ideas you can express on their servers.

NearlyFreSpeech.Net (NFSN) has a very permissive policy:

You may not upload, publish, or otherwise use the Services to make available any Content that:

    violates the laws of the United States of America; or
    you are contractually prohibited from distributing; or
    is tortious under the laws of the United States of America; or
    your distribution of which infringes upon the intellectual property rights of others; or
    you otherwise do not have the legal right to distribute.

Github, Gitlab, and Netlify come with restrictions or expectations that are no longer worth it. When getting started, it makes sense to try out free platforms. But now that I can setup my sites and don't need their framework to do it, I can pay for hosting and enjoy greater freedoms. There aren't clear definitions of what it means to "discriminate" or "harass" on Github, and they've begun sanctioning developers in other countries. This kind of punitive treatment disgusts me, so I'm voting with my wallet and choosing better. Gitlab also has vague restrictions, allowing them to decide what is offensive, harmful, or abusive. If you express an idea that is offensive, or if you do journalism, you might run afoul of their terms. For these reasons, I've also moved The Linfield Free Press onto NFSN.