The Aardvark Speaks : essence, effervescence, obscurity. Established 2002. A weblog by Horst Prillinger. ISSN 1726-5320

May 03, 2005

How to lose blog readers - 2 more ways

<meta name="blog-content" content="mostly harmless" />
<meta name="blog-reader-response" content="no-comment, no-trackback" />

As far as I see it from my own experience, there are a couple of reasons why blogs lose readers. For example, I stopped reading some blogs because

  • some blog authors underwent some kind of personality change and began writing about totally different things
  • some blog authors got caught in an endless groove and kept going on and on about the same thing
  • I underwent some kind of personality change and stopped being interested in some things

Now there are a few others (like confusing or barely readable layouts), but I think I can add two more substantial reasons to the list today:

  • the blog split
  • the no-comment, no-trackback area

As Anthony Bourdain writes in his book Kitchen Confidential, the recipe for disaster with restaurants is when they're so successful that they think they have to open new branches. Recently, a blog that I used to read regularly (for the sake of simplicity, let's call it Blog AB) decided it was too big and split into two parts, A and B, only to prove that the whole really is more than the sum of its parts. Blog A now resembles about a hundred other websites on the same topic and doesn't particularly stand out from the competition, whereas the remaining stuff on Blog B is, well, the remaining stuff, and suddenly seems remarkably insubstantial. At first I thought I'd simply stop reading Blog A and stick with Blog B, but now it seems that I'll really stop reading both of them.

Another blog I liked is still pretty good, but also frustrating. Many of its entries invite comment or response, but due to spam attacks and the (partly understandable) unwillingness to maintain anti-spam measures, the author simply shut down both comments and trackbacks, thus ignoring the three basic principles of weblogs:

  • interactivity
  • community
  • connectivity

Basically, by turning off comments and trackbacks, the author turned the weblog into a website. He is denying the community of his readers the possibility to respond, reducing his weblog to a mere broadcast. This seems fairly careless considering that he, as opposed to myself, actually had a community of readers on his weblog.

Posted by Horst on May 3, 2005 05:20 PM to metablogging | Tell-a-friend

We received this ping from Rakeman on May 5, 2005 03:01 PM:

Blacklist at work: I've not installed two Movabletype plugins, MT-Blacklist and MT-Moderate to manage the floods of incoming spam. Although there's a master blacklist, there's still plenty of hard work in weeding out the spam. But to me, simply disabling comments and... [more]

46halbe said on May 4, 2005 02:02 AM:

Well, in fact the vast majority of your readers never post anything. And I claim they wouldn't miss the comment functionality. (But I would although I mainly visit your blog for reading your stories, not for participating.) Do you really believe that interactivity is the most important thing about a blog?

Speaking of trackbacks, didn't you say some days ago, it is dead anyway?

laura said on May 4, 2005 04:44 AM:

Wow. I guess you have well-developed theories about blogs, and run yours under professional standards. Community of readers should follow.

Horst said on May 4, 2005 09:19 AM:

It's true that most readers don't comment, but I believe very seriously that offering the option to respond is important, whether readers use it or not. A weblog is not just a website made with weblog software. I'm not sure whether interactivity is the most important thing about a weblog, but I believe it's a fundamental, defining quality that should be there.

Yes, sadly trackbacks are now more or less dead technology, but I really love them and think they are very useful (though not for what they were used most of the time — see article here). So it's really that I wish they weren't dead.

Yes, I have well-developed theories, but no, I don't run my weblog under professional standards. I've been fairly sloppy lately, which is why I lost a significant amount of readers. But I can accept that because it's really my own fault.

arved said on May 4, 2005 11:02 PM:

How do you define community for a specific blog?

This blog has several that comment frequently, and sometimes on comments, so i would have said this blog has a community too.

Horst said on May 6, 2005 07:30 PM:

arved: Hmmm... hard to define really. Plus, I admit that I was faking modesty when I said "as opposed to myself".

I'm aware this weblog has something of a community, but not a large one... like there's 5-10 people who regularly post comments. Those other sites have something like 30-50.

No really, I'm grateful for everyone who's stopping by, I just wish they'd drop a line now and then...

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