May 31, 2004

What Does it Mean When A Blog Stops Updating?

So what is dead, what is not updated, what is abandoned? Well, I think, reasonably, dead is a 404, as in, the information is no longer available. I think the archives of blogs, and their linking histories are actually very interesting, so the fact that Technorati keeps them in the index to me is important and useful. I mean, Google doesn't delete webpages when they haven't been updated after three months. In fact, when a page goes 404, they still keep the cache. So what's up with the dismissiveness of the NYT article?

I would say that not updated means that it's not recent, and for me, abandoned might mean after six months? Maybe? It depends on the blog, how it's used, what the readers feel about it, what the writer considers is the status, whether it keeps getting links, even if the dates on the posts at the top grow old. It depends on what the information is used for, what the blog is about, whether people still discuss and leave comments, why it is not longer updated. There are many factors as complicated and non-standard as people are, because blogs reflect the highly complex and unpredictable lives people lead. After all, most blogs are not paying gigs, but rather complements to, expressions of, or reactions to something, and with that in mind, it's no wonder that people come and go, or abandon all together. Especially if they don't find an online community to talk with. It's not so much about having a big audience for the great majority, but it is nice to have a few folks that matter, conversing with you. Writing is a lot of work, and so those online relationships are sustaining for some people. In a series of interviews with bloggers I did this spring, I asked whether they liked writing their blogs. One third like writing very much, and the rest hated it, but did it because the rewards, and they were varied, were worth it.

I know a number of bloggers who are only travel bloggers, so they post when traveling, say over three months through South America, and they email us when they start up. And then when they return home, the blogging stops for a while, until their next trip. Or the ones who do it for knowledge management, and so, blog over the school year, but take the winter break and summer off. Or for research projects of limited duration. Or the ones that blog for a specific event, leading up to it, through it and just after, and then not posting again for a while, until the next big event.

Blogs are flexible, and people use them for as many different reasons as blogs exist generally. It's stupid to characterize the genre as being just one thing. I think the NYT piece was simplistic in a way, stating that because a blog hasn't been updated or is used for a purpose that is not about daily postings.

That's not to say that I am in that category. I will be back regularly, but I'm still figuring out things, getting things back in order.

Posted by Mary Hodder at May 31, 2004 09:39 PM | TrackBack