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Blogs are dying, and I'm not sure it can be prevented

Blogs are failing for a couple of reasons:

  • They no longer serve as a person's online identity.
  • They are unsuitable for polyglots: blogs tend to attract a particular niche audience; anything that mixes topics is not a good fit for a blog.
  • People don't comment on blogs.
  • There's no easy way to follow blogs.

I'll explain these below, and propose some solutions.

Blogs no longer serve as a person's online identity

That is, they no longer represent "you" on the web. When blogs started taking off in the late 1990s, a blog was where you represented yourself on the web. Anything and everything about you was your blog. That's how you got yourself, your identity, on the web.

Example: this very blog you're reading, the Kineti blog, was not called "Kineti" originally, it was just JudahGabriel. Hence the URL. My first and middle name. It's because this blog was to represent me; my identity online. But that's changed; blogs aren't about people, now, they're about topics, so it forced me to take this blog into another direction. More on that in a moment.

Today, Facebook is your identity on the web. Or if you're a tin-foil-cap holdout, email is your identity on the web.

The great thing about the web is that everyone on the web is a producer. You produce things. You produce pictures of your family. You produce status updates, you produce information about yourself. You produce thoughts on theology, or technology, or photography, or whatever interests you. You are the producer. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the web is that it made everyone a producer.

And when you produce your stuff, where do you put it? On your blog? Nope. You go straight to the social networks. You'll post pictures of your Thanksgiving holiday on Facebook. You might tweet your pictures. If you're old fashioned, you might email them out. Almost no one uses their blogs for this stuff.

So blogs aren't the place to go for Anything About You. This space used to be owned by blogs. Now it's owned by Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Blogs are unsuitable for polyglots

You came to Kineti hoping to read about all things Messianic, and all you got was this stupid post about blogging! Argggg!

When I started this blog nearly a decade ago, my tagline was "Tech, life, family, and faith." Initially, that's exactly what I posted about: technology thoughts. Stuff about my life and my family. And occasionally, thoughts about faith in God.

This resulted in a scatter-brained smattering of posts; today, CSS gradient techniques, tomorrow, Torah theology!

Worse, there was no audience for this. Who wants to read a blog where half the posts are [thing I care about] and the other half is [things I don't care about]?

Nobody, that's who.

And that's how the Kineti blog was born. I realized that to get a consistent audience for this blog, I needed to blog about a particular topic. A blog is Place for Topic X, not Person X's Place. is about the Messianic movement, and is no longer Judah's place for tech, life, family, and faith.

This problem has exacerbated since then. You see, a major part of my life is technology. It's what I do for a living. I give talks on technology. I have insight into the future of technology. If I posted all those technology posts here on Kineti, we'd be back to square one: a smattering of posts on unrelated topics, with no audience caring to read them. It's for that reason I started a second blog: Debugger.Break(), where I post all things on my technologically-inclined mind.

But this is all part of the problem: blogs no longer serve as [Your Place]. They serve as [Place for topic X]. Topic Y goes elsewhere: another blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, whatever, but not on Your Place. This has resulted in a decline in blog relevance.

People don't comment on blogs

Most people with blogs these days will write a post, then immediately spam it on Facebook via a status update like this:

New blog: What's this crap Leman just posted?

But here's the amusing phenomenon: instead of commenting on the blog, Facebook friends comment on the Facebook status update! I've seen this now with several of my latest posts: my Facebook status about the blog gets more comments than the blog itself. Likewise, for other bloggers, I've seen this same phenomenon.

Yes, the status updates get more comments than the blog itself.

Why? I see at three reasons:

  • Ease of commenting: people are already signed into Facebook; it's easy to comment there. But to comment on the blog, you might have to authenticate with WordPress or Blogger or Disqus, or some other less trusted authority, maybe enter a hard-to-read CAPTCHA, hit preview, then submit. Yikes.
  • Visibility: everyone checks Facebook a few times a day, maybe more. How often do they fire up their web browser, type in your web address, and hit enter? Rarely. Your Facebook status update is more visible than your actual blog post. Heck, even direct email is more visible than blog posts.
  • Casual conduciveness: Blogs aren't conducive to casual answers. People are afraid to comment on blogs. "Oh no, I'm going to get sucked into a big debate thread!", or, "Oh no, my 'nice post, I enjoyed the bit about X' comment will look foolish compared to all these multi-paragraph responses!"

These things result in blogs with few or no comments.

There's no easy way to follow blogs

When you log onto your computer in the morning, what's the first thing you do? Check your email. Maybe check Facebook. Maybe you've got some email notifications from Facebook or Twitter. Oh, who sent me funny har har emails? Oh, who wrote on my Facebook wall? Who retweeted my wisdom-filled, perfectly-numbered twoosh?

Where does that leave blogs? Well, some dedicated fellow will eventually load up his web browser, type in the address to your lonesome blog, and hit enter. If you're extra lucky, he might just leave a comment.

On Facebook, you automatically see your friend's stuff: his pictures, status updates, all of it.

On Twitter, the Tweeple you follow show up in the flow of updates automatically.

For email, you automatically get all the stuff your friends send to you.

For blogs, there's no "automatically." It's all manual. There's no easy way to follow blogs.

Truth be told, there is something: RSS. Subscribe to this blog's RSS feed, and you'll automatically be notified of new posts. But most people don't know about RSS, let alone what to do with it. First, you need an RSS reader, like Google Reader. Go sign up for that. Ok. Now come back to my blog, search the page for the little RSS syndication icon, and copy the feed URL. Then go back to Google Reader and hit subscribe. Paste in my link. Hit OK.

Congratulations, with only 17 easy steps, you've subscribed to my blog!


There's no easy way for people to follow blogs. And for that, blogs suffer.

In the next post, I'll talk about some things we can do to make blogs relevant again. I’ll also make some predictions about future directions for blog publishers like WordPress and Blogger; they are ultimately in control of blogging relevance; it’s important for publishers to evolve, lest they, and us content-producing bloggers, face death-by-irrelevance.


  1. Here is a casual comment: Very interesting. Looking forward for where this is leading.

    Wait, maybe I should go type this on your Facebook link to this post! :)

  2. Hahah. Thanks for the casual comment. :-)

    Ironically, I almost didn't post this blog post here, because it's not specifically related to Messianic matters, and figured almost no one would care. I'll almost certain cross-post it to my tech blog. Gah.

  3. Well I am one of those weirdos that actually use RSS/Google Reader.

  4. Me too! I try to encourage friends to use it, but for them, it's too much friction. They're just not motivated to sign up for a 3rd party service to manage the blogs they read.

  5. I follow all the blogs I'm interested in using Blogger's dashboard. I just leave it open and refresh the page every so often. People can subscribe get email notices of new blog posts just by clicking the "Sign me up!" button on my WordPress blog. Doesn't seem too difficult.

    I agree that blogging is an aging technology but I don't see it going away anytime soon. Just about any source of information I care about has a blogging aspect. I personally maintain five or six blogs (some I use more than others) based on topic, so I can compartmentalize my interests and spare followers from (for them) irrelevant content.

    Although Facebook does allow you to create "notes" (somewhere), it's not really ideal for writing small essays that you want others to find and read. I see twitter, Facebook/Google+, and blogging as following a communications continuum. I use twitter for very short bursts on a wide variety of topics, Facebook (and to a lesser degree, Google+) for slightly longer missives on a variety of topics, including spamming my blogs), and blogging when I want to write much longer (some say, too long) essays on specific topics, most commonly "morning meditations".

    While blogging has evolved over time as you have outlined so well, it has only changed its purpose, not lost it.

  6. You follow blogs in Blogger's own "follow this blog publicly" feature -- except that only works for blogs hosted on Your own morning meditations blog doesn't work through that, right? Of course, I can "Wordpress-follow this blog", but now I'm following some blogs here, other blogs there, and nothing's united.

    Blogs have changed their purpose, yes, but to their own decline.

    Isn't it problematic that our blog posts often get more comments on the Facebook status update, than on the post itself, for example?

    It seems to me this is a problem with the nature of blogs: how they're designed, how commenting works, how subscription works.

    I mean, everyone has their own way of "subscribing" to blogs, be that keeping them opened in browser tabs, clicking the "notify me of new posts via email" checkbox, "follow this blog on Blogger", subscribing via RSS, or whatever.

    But the lack of a clear, primary way to subscribe sucks, though, and contributes to blog decline.

    Facebook has a "Like" button. Twitter has a "Follow" button. There's no such universal option for blogs.

    Blog hosters like WordPress and Blogger need to fix this. In the meantime, there are some things bloggers can do to alleviate this. More on that in the next post.

  7. *edit* I misunderstood. You're actually using the blogger dashboard, rather than the Blogger "Follow this blog" feature.

    Essentially, that is RSS. (Essentially, it's Google Reader on your blogger page.)

    RSS is the right option. But it needs to be more visible and accessible to non-tech folks. I can't put an "Subscribe to this blog" button on my blog, and point it to the RSS feed, because most people don't know what to do with an RSS feed.

  8. OK, I follow you (pun unintended). I can't wait for your next blog post to see how you're going to fix all of this, you clever programmer, you. :-D

  9. If you are trying to get me to sign up with facebook, don't hold your breath...LOL!

  10. Ah, Dan, everyone's on Facebook! Time to join up. Or, at least, join GooglePlus.

  11. Ironically, though you say, "No one comments on blogs," you already have 11 comments on this blog post as of just this moment.

    Zach S.

  12. Oh, some posts provoke comments, to be sure. But generally, blogs don't get as many comments as they ought to. A tiny minority of readers actually comment. And I think part of the problem is that blogs make it painful to comment:

    1. Authenticate with 3rd party provider (WordPress, Blogger, Disqus, or other).
    2. Sign up with one of those services if you haven't already.
    3. Type in CAPTCHA. Get lucky on the first try, or give a go 2 or 3 more times to get it right.
    4. Preview your comment.
    5. Hit submit.

    Contrast with, say, the ease of adding a comment on Facebook (no authentication; you're already signed in), no CAPTCHA, no 3rd party services, no preview. no submit. Just type it and hit enter.

    The friction involved in adding a comment to a blog is exceeding a certain threshold many are willing to tolerate.

  13. Blogs started out relatively OK. Now, with the death of a great deal of printed media, too many blogs have begun to take on the personality of supermarket tabloids. Stories have to be invented in order to maintain an attention level of readers.

  14. I think the main problem with blogs is the combination of not being notified about new posts and the difficulty of commenting on them.

    You are right that blogs no longer are the place for a person, but for a topic. That is not a bad thing. It is good to have a place for a more in-depth discussion. The technology will evolve to accommodate that use but it probably will be in a different form

    To some extent, Facebook Pages are starting to fill that gap. I see longer posts there these days.

    Keep on blogging!

  15. Blog can be prevented from dying with the help of writing a new and fresh content in our blog. We should use SEO tool such as Google +1, RSS feed etc so that more user can see our blog and post comment on it.
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