6 Jan 2011

Where silence has pitch

Author: will | Filed under: blogger, bloggers, blogging, blogs, brand name, copyright theft, data retention, google, identity theft, network

I was glad to see Alannah re-started blogging, but to took me seconds to realise that it wasn’t her; she wouldn’t blog about premiership football. Now that the New Year is comfortable over, I have a resolution I’d like you to consider; update your blog at least once this year, even if its just to say “I’m closing this down”.

And now, the long-winded meat of this post.

I am subscribed to over 900 blogs in Google reader. That is a seriously silly amount of information flowing in to my brain. Or at least it would be if they were 900 actively updated blogs.The sad truth is that for a lot of reasons, blogs die. Sometimes its because life gets in the way of a keyboard. Sometimes its because a death stops typing. Sometimes its because the blog was tied to a company position and the blogger has moved to keyboards new.

A silent blog gathers no feed. Or rather, its feed sits in silence. Polls are ignored and it takes up very little attention.

But recently three things happened which makes me question that.

First was the apparent hacking of Tom Raftery’s blog feed. Or rather the feed in Google reader. It appeared as if his blog’s output was replaced by a very spammy list of products. A few hundred a day. I confirmed that he knew about it, but I didn’t want the firehose of, well, DVDs in stock so I un-subscribed while he was trying to figure out its source.

I’m not too sure if the problem was at his servers now, but let me go on.

The next feed to suddenly spring to life was the life of the knitter Alannah of “Over a Cup of Tea”. But her feed was full of the minutia of the UK Premiership Football League. This wasn’t a spam stream of products, it was a stream of valuable (to the fantasy football players I know) information. It was tied to a site called “Over a Cup of Tea”, but that wasn’t the girl I was following. So I unsubscribed.

Then, since many things happen in threes, a third blog sprung to life. This time the technology blog “Its a Feature, not a bug” was replaced by details of a Japanese dance school.Yet another dead blog sprung to life in someone else’s hands, or in this case, shoes.

So what happened.

I have two possible answers, and both lie in Google Reader feeds.

Sometimes Google creates a feed for the blog, this usually turns up if I try to share a link from my phone. The format is something like feedproxy.google.com/~r/nameofblogwithoutspaces followed by a id string for the page. However, some names occur more often than others. If you don’t blog for a while, I suspect that the name get re-cycled to another blog of the same name.

The other possibility is that, while I wasn’t looking, the blog shut down. The domain expired and was reassigned, and a new blog started up in its place. Google then saw “nameofblog.com” with a new feed and assumed that it was a continuation of the previous one, and reassigned it the old feeds it had in place.

Either of them is interesting. Just think, how often do blogs and domain expire? And if a once popular blog goes dark, and then off, if you get that old name or domain, would you suddenly find yourself with an automatic audience (and they aren’t interested).

Personally, I don’t clear out old silent feeds because, since they are silent, they don’t show up. It would take me quite a while before I noticed that someone was silent, unless their quarterly blog posts always began with “must blog more”.

Which is something I need to do more of.

take care… with the feeding of you blog,
Will

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One Response to “Where silence has pitch”

  1. David Quaid Says:

    You can see how dropped domains become even more important to some people if they come with ready made and unsuspecting subscribers.

    It also highlights how much extra work spammers create for people.

    Very good post

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