Ever since this blog started picking up momentum, I get a lot of email from companies launching new products or features. Most of them aren’t very interesting to me (like iPhone apps when I don’t have an iPhone), solve problems I don’t have or are simply hoping to be the next Twitter. I discard most of them. But sometimes one of these projects actually looks like it’s going to fix an important issue, like with HostMonk.
HostMonk is new website that aims to impartially compare hosting packages. This might be something you’d expect to already exist. There are tons of sites out there comparing other sorts of products. But with web hosting, there’s a catch. Many hosting companies have adopted a marketing strategy where they pay out very large referral fees. If you refer someone to Amazon and they buy the book, you get a few bucks. Tops. Web hosting providers will gladly pay upwards from $50. This has spawned a whole genre of so-called review websites, most of which simply rank the companies based on the payout.
This is where our little Zen friend comes in. HostMonk bases its advice on raw numbers, like the amount of storage you get, how much bandwidth you’re allowed to use and how much a certain package costs. They make money from referrals, but they make it very clear that this does not affect the rankings.
The path to enlightenment
My main concern is that HostMonk does not (yet) factor in the most important factor in web hosting. Quality. I’ve, on average, switched hosting provider every two years since I started running my own websites. And in many cases I left before the end of my contract. Not because I wanted to, but because I needed to get the hell out of there. My current host on the other hand has relatively modest specs and certainly isn’t very cheap, but they’ve consistently provided top notch service and support. On HostMonk however, they’d probably compare poorly to other cheaper hosts.
If HostMonk would add a good rating system, which is simple to use yet tough to abuse, it might just be the website we’ve been waiting for. The site is still in early development, and they’ve assured me that they plan to add a lot more features, including customer satisfaction and things like uptime.