On Blogging

State of the Blogroll

Around every three months I run a link checker on Blogroll.org to see who’s fallen by the wayside or whatever changes there might be via URLs shifting ’n all. It’s how I keep the blogroll fresh and clean just for you!

My observations from these scans:

  • An average of one or two blogs disappear completely during each cycle (i.e. their domain no longer works or the blog has been deleted).
  • While it’s fortunate to only lose a couple every few months, it’s always sad to see them go and they leave a hole in the blogverse. Like losing friends.
  • A large portion of redirect errors come from blogs changing their URLs (i.e. moving to new locations or changing the way they do links, etc.) and forgetting to also redirect their RSS feed. So don’t forget your RSS feed when you change things up, folks!
  • Regular RSS readers do not pick up these errors (they usually show an empty feed instead) so the only way I know is via my robot that checks to make sure yer still alive.
  • Still see a couple blogs moving to Substack… One continues to cross post to her blog and I told her I was glad she still shows up in my RSS reader. She had no idea they existed (and that some of us prefer to read via RSS reader rather than email). She was grateful to know and plans to continue cross posting because of that.
  • I bring this up so that you might want to let your favorite blogs know that you “see” them via your RSS reader. Otherwise they usually have no idea. I’m sure they would appreciate knowing they have some readers out there!
  • BTW, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t do a newsletter and post it to your blog at the same time. Own your platform!
  • A few blogs dramatically slowed their posting cadence; they’ve been put on hold for now because one of the criteria of being listed in Blogroll.org is to post at least every couple months so things don’t go stale. My hard cut off is no new posts for 3-4 months.
  • One blog shut off his RSS feed but he continues to blog minus RSS. If your blog supports RSS feeds, I highly encourage you leave them on and please don’t cut your readers of mid-stream like this guy did.

Other notes:

  • I have a bit over 200 blogs in my queue to work through and add to the blogroll (in addition to a handful submitted by others).
  • Because of this I’d say blogging is most definitely not dead.
  • I will say they’re a lot harder to find through traditional means (ala Google, etc.) because there’s so much commercial cruft in ‘em and people usually don’t go past the first few pages of results.
  • I’ve found 99% of these blogs outside traditional means. I’ll have to do a write up of how I come across them so that others can and spread the word.
  • Quite a few bloggers have said the level of comments they get have gone down. I do see that and attribute it mostly to social media sucking ‘em up due to the nature of their chatty medium and the way they set it so all discussion stays inside their silos unfortunately.
  • But we ourselves are not blameless and should make more effort to jump in on blog comment sections even if just to say hi.
  • I have wished quite some time for developers to code their RSS readers to support built in commenting on articles/posts within their readers. It would greatly reduce friction and increase participation and would be a killer feature IMO.
  • There’s ways to hook your blog into other ecosystems to get more comments – I plan on doing a write-up on that.
  • I originally started this post in Ulysses on a laptop, polished it off some more on a tablet in WordPress app and the next day (today) made some minor corrections on the phone WP app and hit publish while at a coffee shop. Have to give props to WordPress for its versatility and ease of use publishing posts across a variety of apps and platforms.

I very much enjoy and appreciate sharing your worlds with us so thank you for that.

That’s all for now, folks. Blog on my friends!

Have you “Moved to Substack”?

Lately I’ve been coming across quite a few abandoned blogs with a note along the lines of “Moved to Substack.”

That’s all well and good but when you do that you no longer own your platform (and IMO lose a bit of character that makes you different).

There’s nothing wrong with utilizing Substack (I certainly see the appeal) but why not keep your blog alive as your central home at the same time?

It’s your unique calling card on the web — a more permanent record of who (and why, how, etc.) you are.

Set up a way for your blog to slurp your new Substack posts (i.e. on WordPress you can use an RSS aggregator plugin to pull in your Substack RSS feed) so they’re automatically archived on your own domain.

Use your blog for other things too — a bio page, now page, etc. and of course a blogroll of your favorite blogs. Make it a Central Square of You with signposts to your other presences on Substack and social media.

That way you’re covered if Substack ever changes or goes out of business or you get tired of it. Your Home Sweet Home is still there because it’s truly and only yours.

On a related note, when I browse from someone’s blog over to their Substack it feels like going from a sweet little neighborhood into a staid corporate park. A little piece of joy dies in me when that happens because it’s another reminder of the corporatization of the web.

Blogs just have a different, personal vibe to ’em and it’s a reminder of why they’re so cool.

Substack: Visiting someone’s office. Blogs: Hanging out on a friend’s porch.

Keeping it simple

When I first built Blogroll.org I went big with a fancy home page, several explainer pages, boxes of links, a message board in lieu of comments and so forth.

Fun and exciting times!

But then…

I noticed over the past few months I was slowly backing off posting new links, posts, etc.

After taking some time off to meditate on why, I realized Blogroll.org became a psychic burden weighting on my shoulders with so many things to update. Ugh.

It was no longer fun.

So recently I simplified things by dumping extraneous pages, shutting off the message board and wiped out the front page by swapping it with the actual blogroll (where it should have been all along).

Blogroll.org went back to the roots of a blogroll without the extra junk.

Ahhhh… I can breathe easier and I don’t feel pressure anymore to keep so many things updated.

It’s easy and fun again.

This can very much apply to your own blogs and such. If you’re struggling to write, try to simplify the mission and bend your blog to where you are in the moment.

(Ways to trim things down: Knock down the number of pages needing to be updated. Change up your posting cadence. Turn it into a micro blog or newsletter. Post your photos instead. Make it an informal journal, etc. Whatever makes it easy for you to share something.)

Most of all, drop whatever preconceived notions you may have of the “right way” to blog. There is only one way — yours.

Enjoy. That’s the key!

A couple things

Quick notes on things at the Blogroll.org HQ:

– I got hungry and added Food/Drink as a new category for personal blogs focusing on those topics. If you have any favorites, feel free to let me know by commenting (or replying to the newsletter).

– In the Blogroll Scroll weekly newsletter I’ve added a little space to share extra thoughts on certain blogs/links I’m sharing. You’ll see those in italics.

– Those newsletters will go out on Sundays rather than Saturdays (when there is stuff to share).

Enjoy, fellow net-wanderers.

Ray

“A Gentle Intro to RSS”

I talk about RSS feeds quite a bit — they’ve been around for decades and are one of the easiest (and best) ways to keep up with your favorite blogs. 

However, in the zeal of my love for it, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows what RSS feeds are, much less how to use them in the first place. 

Derek Kedziora (an Ukrainian blogger, no less!) beat me to the punch with his “gentle” missive on RSS and its purpose:

RSS stands for really simple syndication, and that’s precisely what it does. RSS turns content into a feed. An RSS reader then checks feeds to see if there is new content.

Let’s say I subscribe to 100 RSS feeds: a mix of blogs, newspapers, YouTube channels and forums. Each day I open up my RSS reader to see all of the new content from each of these feeds in one place. It’s a morning newspaper for the internet.

He brings up a great point how RSS feeds are a very patient (and quiet) form of keeping up:

There’s no FOMO. If I take a week off from my RSS reader, I don’t get any notifications begging me to come back. All of the content is sitting there waiting.

The solitude of an RSS reader is a fresh relief from the unrelenting firehoses of social media.

And you are free from the yoke of algorithms because *you* get to decide what to read.

For more, including Derek’s recommended RSS readers and such, mosey on over to: A gentle intro to RSS