It’s hard to make a censorship-proof website. And few people need to do that anyway.
I’ve written extensively about alt-root domain names based on blockchain technology, including Ethereum Name Service, Handshake, and Unstoppable Domains.
One of the selling points of Cheerleaders is that sites built on these domains are effectively uncensorable. So if you find yourself in the 0.00001% of the population that might have trouble keeping your site online due to censorship, setting up a website on one of those domains might make sense.
However, creating your website will not be easy.
Dries Buytaert recently created a website (or rather, a web page) using IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) and its Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain dries.eth. Among the challenges and restrictions he faced:
- Websites should be static. No WordPress here.
- Have to pay multiple hosts rather than just one if you want your site to be truly resilient.
- You have to pay gas fees every time you update a website on IPFS if you connect it to your ENS domain.
- Website updates are not real-time.
- No mainstream browser has native access to these websites
While Buytaert sees a future for IPFS and ENS, he thinks the current use case for building websites on them is limited:
If you’re a developer, think of web3 as a growing collection of new “web services”.
IPFS and ENS are two such web services. Today, they mainly offer improved resiliency and censorship protection. If resilience and censorship protection are important to your website, use them. If they aren’t, you don’t have to use them. As the owner and developer of https://dri.es, I don’t care about censorship protection. For this reason, I am happy to continue using traditional hosting technologies. But I recognize that IPFS and ENS might become more interesting in the future.
The challenges of building sites on these domains is one of the reasons I’m pessimistic about their long-term use for websites. There is a chicken and egg problem. Previous alt-root attempts have failed despite how easy it is to create sites on domains (just forward them to a real web address). Adding complexity makes this even more difficult.
Where I see value in these areas is the wallet addresses. Notably, ENS allows you to connect any “real” second-level domain to ENS and use it as your wallet address. It seems like the best of both worlds.