11 Dec 2007

Maybe blogs need to have an end as well as a beginning

filed under: journal  :: blogging

I've been doing a sort of year-end clearout of my computer stuff. One of the things I've been clearing out is my RSS feed list. Some feeds are simply dead, and others I've lost interest in just because I've moved on. There are a few whose topic I still care about, but which has just deteriorated to the point where they are no longer useful.

I'm not talking about the sites which have withered away due to lack of updates. These sites are still busily updated, but the quality has gone down so much that they aren't worth reading anymore.

They aren't personal sites either. An individual can evolve in their interests, and the nature of the posts may change. But their thoughts and writings can still be compelling enough to follow. One great example of this is Scott Andrew LePira. He used to write about DOM and web development stuff, back in the day when that was all exciting and new (with browsers that properly supported it finally out there). That is how I found him. For the last couple of years he's totally switched up, to talk only about adventures as an indie musician. I'm not totally sure if I love his music (sorry Scott!) but I do like his writing still because it's fresh and honest. If anything I feel somewhat compelled to buy one of his CDs one day because of the writing. (But, I have deleted a lot of personal site feeds where the person has simply stopped saying anything useful or interesting too.)

But back to the subject of busily updated sites that deteriorate. This has happened to two sites I used to follow, Lifehack and Slowfood. (yes I know, not linking.) Lifehack used to be very useful when it was primarily Gina Trapani posting, with a few good helpers. Now the bulk of the posts seem to be posts for the sake of posting. It makes me wonder if they are paying by the post.

Which leads to Slowfood. I am fairly sure, from past discussions on Food Blog Scool, that they do indeed pay by the post. A hired blogger is of course going to post as frequently as possible under that model, leading to the worsening of the quality : noise ratio.

I can understand a very popular site hiring helpers, but it doesn't really seem to be the best way to go all the time. On the other hand, killing a site that has built up an audience is a hard thing to do, because of the way search engines work. It would be great if web sites could be like books, with a definite end. Maybe a better analogy would be to TV series, which do end when their lifespan is over, even if they have been very popular.

[Edit a bit later:] A friend pointed out that Your Daily Awesome is a site that closed when the owner thought it should end. Perfect example. I shall miss it but it ended on a high.

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