The Free and Easy Forever Status Report for Your Blog (and other Media)!

I think it was Billy Connolly who once joked in an interview that the only weather forecast you’ll ever need was this: “It will rain and after the rain, there will be sunshine until it rains again”. I have to paraphrase a bit because the clip is gone from youtube but anyway, it made me laugh as his dry sense of stating the obvious always has done.

A friend of mine who shall not be named is currently contemplating to shut down his blog; as you might have guessed, I am decidedly against it. I’ve witnessed the rare occasion over the years, and it’s been six years of MMO blogging for me now, that a fellow blogger actually quit his or her blog for good (I miss you – Tam, Chas and Larisa!) and am still grumpy they deleted it. More often than not however, blogging and/or gaming malady is a temporary thing, fickle and multi-causal. More importantly, there is simply no rational reason for chucking your blog, podcast or whatever just because you’re feeling out of steam for a while, heck even a long while. Blogging is not a pact with the almighty that terminates the contract as soon as you’re not a good girl. Even better, your blog is just a bit of code on the internet (ya rly), it takes no space in the apartment and you won’t have to dust it off! So what is this obsession with constant status reports? This is LIFE, yo!

On quitting blogs

Okay, I get it – sometimes we just need an excuse to talk about ourselves and what’s going on in our lives. That’s cool. As far as audiences go however imagined or otherwise (I imagine mine is fairly well-dressed, wearing top hats and monocles), you don’t owe anyone regular or final-ish status updates and there is certainly no requirement for grand quitting gestures. In fact, most people don’t really care much if you take three weeks off or three months and whether you’re on time every Monday morning or not. That said, it’s completely nice to announce a longer AFK but do yourself a favor and stop the quitting business! It will save you from “oh guess what, am back…again!”-followups and potential content losses (because you didn’t backup, did ya?) when that writing, ranting and rambling mood strikes again. And for most writers and oversharers on the internet, it always does!

Don’t do it, okay? I hate broken links to deleted articles!

….

Since it’s Friday and I’m in a good mood, I’ve decided to provide my neurotic friend with a “forever status report” for his blog. I don’t know if he’ll actually use it but it’s a pretty great substitute for whatever he was coming up with instead:

“Dear readers, blogging friends and commenters,
I will be blogging a little less, until I blog more again! This is going to happen forever.
Thanks for taking note, you’re all great and should totally like me on twitter! XOXO”

THE END. You’re welcome, “Bob”! Happy Friday quitters and welcome back forever!

20 comments

  1. That all sounds very familiar to me. My blog is basically on life support. Sometimes I don’t post for 8 months. Sometimes I try to write more often, post once a week for a month, and actually get more than a few comments (which feels good). It’s always good to keep a space available when you need a thought dump (which will happen, the urge to write may be lessened, but it’s still there). Even if it’s irregular, keep doing it. Someone out there will be happy about it, even if you might not always know it.

    1. Definitely, it’s nice to come back to a blog that has a backlog – and its significance for others gets underestimated sometimes. Once you put posts out there and people comment on them, they may have an attachment to something you wrote that you don’t realize.

  2. “In fact, most people don’t really care much if you take three weeks off or three months and whether you’re on time every Monday morning or not.”

    Actually, that’s not true in my experience. I mean, your fellow blog friends might not care, but in general the way to get readers is consistency. I’ve certainly noticed that when I stop posting for a while — like the 3 month break I took while moving to the US in 2014 — my readership drops and never fully recovers. Granted, finding a wide audience isn’t the only reason people blog, but that’s certainly part of it.

    1. Oh yes hits……not what I was going for here! Naturally visits go down if you don’t blog but when I say people don’t care, what I meant was there’s no condemnation or particular negative concern. :) I personally haven’t made the experience that you can’t recover from longer absences or well, I never lost subscribers as far as I could see (other then when google reader quit). I think subscribers are a bit different than just checking your blog stats though, people don’t actively unsub blogs so much just because they’re quiet, unless this is what you meant.

  3. How did you know I’m wearing a top hat?? :O

    On point, I can agree with this sentiment, even if metrics aren’t always lined up. As a tiny blogger, pauses in content have a bit less impact. I imagine for much larger blogs like your own, who probably broadcast from a luxury zeppelin over the Swiss Alps, it’s maybe a little more challenging.

    I could be wrong, though.

    …about the schedule thing, not the zeppelin thing. I totally know you live in one.

    1. I know because you’re awesome. I’ll think about the zeppelin thing. ;)

      I sure experience drops if I write irregularly but that’s never been a major concern since I make no money with this blog. Also, if I write more, more will read me, if I write less, less will read me. Hits and visits are invisible things that I don’t check on much and subs increase over time. Also, I am pretty sure my blog has peaked a while ago traffic-wise, as far as hobbyist MMO blogger solo blogs go. Maybe I could do more but who has time for that? :P

      What I do notice and care about however is the vocal community that cares to interact with me and those have been the same people for a while now. They’re also why I keep blogging, together with my selfish urge to write and interact with others. Luckily, you can always come back to that. :)

  4. I also disagree about people not caring about status updates, though for a different reason: I’ve come to care about the people behind the blogs enough that I worry if someone suddenly goes silent for months! Not everyone is endlessly chatting away on Twitter or other social media.

    I’m completely with you in regards to deleting blogs though, partially because I have a bit of a fetish for “preserving history” and such. But seriously, even if you never write another thing again, there are likely posts on there that some people will find useful or enjoy re-reading later on, don’t take that away from them! Larisa’s blog actually never fully went away (I think people just got confused because the custom URL expired so it reverted to the default Blogspot one), but I’ve actually had to go to Archive.org to re-read some old posts from Righteous Orbs – what different times those were…

    1. I think RO is fully gone tho, or I can’t find them anyway. :( I agree completely that posts mean more to others than one might think! Authors are a bit selfish to remove what they wrote once it’s out there – although I can understand the psychology behind it. Still….it ain’t just “theirs” anymore once it’s become an interaction. Mostly, it just makes me sad. :(

      And I agree that when you have an established readership, it’s nice to let them know when you’re gone longer. For me twitter has taken over that role a lot, but it’s true that not everyone is on there or catches your tweets! I guess….I just don’t expect it for myself that people care either way how long am gone. :)

    1. Yesss and so many others, I could’ve made the list much longer. >_> I like what the blogosphere is today but there’s a few people I really miss a lot.

      1. Agreed.

        I just had a moment of panic a week or so ago when Kurn’s blog disappeared from the internet, but it’s back and nary an issue now.

  5. I appreciate the light hearted nature of your post but the whole “quitting” thing can be more complex than it first seems.

    It depends a lot on why a person writes or creates content and how they perceive the value and relative success of their work. If your blog is just a hobby that can be picked up or put down whenever, then taking breaks is not a real problem. You can leave your blog fallow, so to speak, for a while. If have differing aspirations with regard to your work or consider it to be part of a wider online portfolio then such an outlook may not be appropriate.

    Liore is spot on about writing to a regular schedule and how taking breaks impacts upon it. In 2014 Contains Moderate Peril was an established site and a known quantity. The audience was not huge but it was a lot more than people would imagine. Various breaks caused by real world stuff did have an impact upon those numbers. When the site moved to a different host in August last year, again the change to the status quo resulted in a loss of readers.

    Sometimes people quit and remove their sites because that is the only way they can stop. If the site remains there is the temptation to go back, even when the urge is patently unsustainable. Also depending on your hosting arrangements, just leaving a site online without posting new content can still incur operating costs.

    With regard to my own site, I took it down in February and stopped the Burton & Scrooge podcast a little later, due to some major changes in my life. When I made that decision, the immediate future was not conducive to writing or producing a weekly show. Two month on, I find that things have settled down and I now have the time to commit to a podcast intermittently. I also received several emails and tweets from listeners stating how they really missed the show. So Brian and I reviewed the situation and have made an adjustment (for the mean time).

    So as you can see, quitting isn’t always a black and white issue. Like most things in life it’s all relative and about context.

    1. I tend to agree with Roger. The problem is that the word “blog” is far too undefined to have much meaning in the context of whether it is or isn’t viable to start and stop “blogging” at will. Tobold is prone to advising his readers that no-one should expect to get rich or famous by blogging but that’s counter to what I hear and see every day in the U.K.

      Most days I hear someone introduced on national media as “X who blogs about Y” or “X, best known for her blog on Y”. I work in a bookshop and in the run-up to Christmas last year several of the best-selling titles nationally were books by people best known as “bloggers”. They were mostly (not all) actually Vloggers, but no-one ever calls anyone that, probably because it’s impossible to pronounce.

      If you are a blogger of that kind then blogging is most likely your main source of income. That really isn’t as rare as people imagine. If that’s the case you can’t just up and quit posting whenever the mood takes you, or rather doesn’t. Similarly many people have blogs that, while not their sole or even main source of support, are directly connected to their businesses. It’s normal for small businesses to rely quite significantly on blogging to gain and retain customers.

      People like us, who blog first and foremost for our entertainment and amusement should, in theory, be able to post only as and when we feel like it. We shouldn’t feel an obligation to post any more often than we want to. Life, and psychology, isn’t quite that simple though. People very often do feel obligations that an objective observer would see as inappropriate or unjustified but the subjective experience is just as obligating for all that.

      It isn’t even necessarily inaccurate. You say that you are “still grumpy” after six years about someone deleting their blog. I’m not quite sure why it would be fine for someone to stop posting on a blog, without notice or explanation, for an extended period and yet inappropriate for them to delete it. After all, if you want to keep a record of blogs you’ve read or commented on it’s very easy to download and store them. It seems a bit arbitrary to expect the creator also to act as a curator in perpetuity.

      That said, I do agree that there’s no need to do a whole James Brown routine about not posting for a while. A simple “this blog will be taking a break” would probably cover most social obligations for a hobbyist. My blog roll and Feedly currently have more dormant blogs than live ones, some of which haven’t seen a post for over three years. I do live in hope that one day I’ll log in to something new from We Fly Spitfires or The Egg Baron. That, though, is entirely up to them.

    2. @Roger
      Oh I agree completely it matters what your aim is for the blog. And activity too has impact – but then quitting entirely isn’t usually making that particular situation better. Having to start over from scratch is something many regret after they deleted their blogs and come back. That’s my experience, it’s often a knee-jerk thing and I wanna say there’s no pressure other than the one you may create for yourself. The community the way I know it, is still going to be there for those who look for that particular thing. :)

      It’s a shame too to lose potentially valuable writing, either to yourself or to others. That last part is something I need to stress; I personally think my posts become somewhat of a public property once I shared them. And if I had a podcast with regular guests, I would feel like taking something away from them too. It made me sad I had no backup of our MP episodes. Naturally, I understand the hosting costs, so that’s that. Just don’t underestimate your audience’s attachment to your work, if that’s part of anything.

      And obviously, sometimes you delete a blog for emotional or simply real-life reasons, to make sure you can stay away. If that’s what you need, that’s what you need and the above can’t be helped. Some people just like trying out new things too or like to test their audiences reaction when they leave or come back, etc. :)

      1. @Bhag
        Yus…altho I honestly don’t see why I need to cover ‘professional bloggers’ here in my post. My audience and the small MMO-sphere I inhabit is not a realm of pro bloggers that make a living out of it, as far as I know. I am obviously not talking to that demographic.

        As for the distinction between going awol and deleting; two very different things to me, explained further above in my reply to Roger. It’s a completely arbitrary, personal and selfish thing just the way deleting blogs and posts is, too. But for many bloggers who feel like they aren’t read, it’s a good thing to hear their work actually matters that much to others – so that’s what I’m doing.

  6. I guess if you are so out of control that you can’t stop yourself posting unless you delete your blog, something that drastic may be needed. But the bad news there is that it’s so easy to start another blog that deleting your old blog may not really be that much of a barrier, and you in fact need even stronger measures to get your life under control.

    I think we have seen a few people for whom some form of internet or gaming cold turkey was probably appropriate.

    For the most part though I entirely agree with you: Stop quitting! If you’re just having a lull, feeling too busy to post, or got jaded with it all, there is no reason to delete your blog entirely.

    I would go so far as to say that deleting your blog is somewhat of an anti-social thing to do. It’s not only your work really. People put effort into writing comments. They had conversations with each other there that didn’t even involve you. People linked your posts from their own blogs, debated with you, quoted you etc. Your blog was part of a conversation that involved other people and which mattered to them.

    One thing I would recommend to people – when you’re starting out blogging do seriously think about the benefits of sticking to free platforms. In the first flush of enthusiasm you may feel you want a self-hosted blog with all the bells and whistles, but later on the weather will change. And then you won’t want to pay ongoing costs to just leave a blog up and running that you are no longer so interested in yourself.

    However, also bear in mind your lack of interest may not last forever. Even if you never want to post again, some years down the line you might want to revisit those memories and friendships, like looking at old photo albums.

    Just this week, the topic of fanfic came up, and I was reminded that I used to be on Livejournal about 10 years ago. I stopped writing there long ago, and as far as I can tell all the old crowd has left. But it was still very nice to go back after all these years and take a look at those old stories and conversations. My LJ was still there, and so were my friends’ ones – mostly. Two of my best friends there had deleted their journals. Maybe they had their own compelling reasons for doing that, but it left a sad hole. It even feels a little like Alzheimer’s… gaps in my memories that I’ll never be able to fill. People that meant so much to me, but the recollections of who they were and what we did together and the things we used to laugh about have gotten all hazy.

    So remember Billy Connolly’s weather forecast. It rains a lot in Scotland. But then it’s sunny, until it rains again.

    1. Yeah indeed, I’m not convinced deleting a blog keeps you from opening a new one but then, I did mention my friend was a little ‘neurotic’ at this point.

      We come from the exact place when it comes to this topic it seems, I am always rather vexed when someone deletes their blog when I spent considerable time reading and commenting there. It’s as you say, somewhat anti-social and self-centered; it fails to realize that your blog isn’t just about you.

  7. I’m going to back Syl up here. As someone with a relatively popular blog and decidedly sporadic blogging schedule for most of the last few years, the traffic to my blog has seemingly little correlation to how often I post. According to the a WordPress plugin that measures traffic, by busiest months in the past year were December and January, when my blogging was at a nadir; I only had one blog post for those two months. I’m down from that peak, even after I started blogging again fairly regularly over the past month or so.

    So, while people say they like regular posts, I think most blog readers don’t rely on bloggers having a regular posting schedule. Or, perhaps people like going back and reading old posts on my blog. :)

    As for the topic at hand and people deleting blogs… YES! Please stop deleting blogs when you’re done. I like to reference other blog posts, and broken links make me a sad developer. Your words are meaningful, and if someone links to you then you should do them the courtesy of leaving the posts up for others to read. Although, when I read an old post of mine and find a broken link, I often go to http://archive.org/ and use the Wayback Machine to try to find a cached link to the blog in question. That helps a bit.

    1. If you ever deleted your blog, I’d be looking at a hundred broken links on mmogypsy!
      Interesting points about your traffic. I definitely don’t believe absences are something one cannot recover from, because thats not my personal experience. Daily traffic does calm down however but there’s still overall ‘life’ to the backlog for sure. I wager your blog gets used as reference for all sorts of stuff though that might not be the case for every blogger, so that may explain why it’s overall more stable in your case.

      1. To be fair, while I am usually not all that interested in the fact that someone is going to be taking a break or likely to be posting less for a while, I am often quite interested in the reason for the change.

        Normally it’s either some kind of life event (moving countries, got into relationship, new job etc) or it’s a change in gaming habits and tastes (don’t play game X any more, nowadays I prefer genre Y, I’m not playing games much at all and instead have taken up hobby Z etc).

        Those are interesting things to read about in themselves, not because I need a heads up about how much you’ll be posting.

        Also if you are planning complete radio silence, it’s good to let your friends know the usual “I Aten’t Dead”.

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