Whenever you write something, save it. If it’s worth writing, it’s worth keeping.
I’d been thinking of this as of late, so I created a page called My Comments. What do I put there? My comments, whenever I comment on a blog outside thripp.com. Why? Because I can’t trust I’ll ever see them again.
Don’t count on other people to preserve your work. This is all about independence. You may think you’ve just responded to some article with the greatest comment ever, but if the blog owner disagrees or just loves censorship, it’s one click of the delete button and your contribution is gone. Don’t you want to have what you write to refer to later? Then you can’t trust other people to hold the keys.
If you think this’ll never happen to you, or that it’s so rare that it doesn’t matter, then read The Profit Police and How They Kill Everyone. Even big and seemingly fair-minded communities will pull this on you, if you’ve violated one of their “policies.” It doesn’t matter if you’re adding a lot to the discussion. Good luck retrieving what you wrote (I was lucky my mini-articles were in Google’s cache).
I can promise that at thripp.com I don’t do this, but the same goes for any blogging community (WordPress.com, LiveJournal, whatever). Or social network, or email service, or anything you don’t control. Even my web host (Netfirms) says they can remove your site if it has “adult or illegal content.” But at least by being on my own domain, I can wrest control back from them, rather than building pagerank for deviantART, and then having to start all over when I feel limited by their services or am banned on a whim. I do backup my SQL database often, just in case.
If you trust the Google empire to your email, at least download Thunderbird and synchronize a copy on your hard drive through IMAP. I know I do. Gmail has lost email before. Who knows what could happen to yours?
This is just one step to claiming ownership of your life. When you give up your power, you give up your freedom, even if it’s in the name of convenience or safety. If you’re stuck renting an apartment, save up for a down payment on a house, even if you have to give up cable TV or air-conditioning or phone service. Don’t let the cycle continue. Be independent, take back your power.