Thursday, December 2, 2010

Disillusioned {Bicycle} Bloggers

Recently, it seems I have come across many blogs which illustrate the fact that there are many disillusioned bloggers, and more specifically, bike bloggers, who are giving up on the blog scene. These bloggers may still be reading, but they have, for one reason or another, decided to stop writing. This drop off has caused me to stop and ponder (as I have in the past as well) why people blog.
*Image uncredited, from kerou.net
Not knowing these bloggers in real life can leave the mind wandering and filling in blanks with whatever information seems reasonable. Sometimes the bloggers let the readers know how they feel before they abandon ship, such as Over the Handlebars in Milwaukee in which the author of the blog expresses some discontent, as well as his belief that he is at odds with his professional career and the topics on his blog. He also states some frustration in knowing that there are several hundred hits on his site each day, but nowhere near the comments he would expect to see from that number of visitors. While looking through the posts at his blog, there are often no comments at all, and on a good day, there are under 10 comments recorded. In his final post, there are 54 comments (at the point of this writing) stating that they, the readers, wish he'd reconsider and that they hope he'll continue the blog. It's funny how it can take giving up on something in order to bring out your audience.
*Image from visual.merriam-webster.com
Another bike blogger, Jon Grinder, of Two Wheels, has recently indicated his despair with not having a lot of comments on his blog after spending a great deal of time trying to put together posts that are interesting and/or informative for readers. I don't think he has plans to give up the blog, but the sense of disappointment becomes obvious when reading his post describing the lack of comments or feedback he would hope to receive.
*Image from raisindesign.co.uk/prints
I was also a fond follower of the blog The Freckled Diaries, in which the blogger wrote about her every day experiences of riding through D.C. to her job, and about whatever was happening in her life. Her last post was in mid-July of this year. Without explanation, posts just stopped happening. Most often, this seems to be the case with bloggers: they just stop writing. Was it because there weren't a lot of comments? I have no way of knowing. Did something happen in her personal life which prevented continuing the blog? Again, I really couldn't say, but it has been sad not to see the semi-regular posts on her blog.
*Image from www.bakfiets-en-meer.nl/
There are others, but these are just a few that, over the course of the last several months, seem to either be feeling down about blogging, or are disappearing entirely from the face of the web.

I should say in all of this, despite the title of my blog, I don't consider myself a "bicycle blogger." I love bicycles, I love riding bicycles whenever possible, I love reading about, learning, and advocating for bicycles, and yes, a lot of my posts have something to do with my two wheeled friends, but the reality is, this blog has always been about whatever is on my mind at any given moment on any given day. Some days that means I'm writing about my attempts at art, some days I just rant, while other days I may just talk about how much I love my dogs, or what a pain they can be.
In fact, the blog was started with the intention of it never being read by anyone other than family and close friends. I (usually) write better than I speak, so I saw blogging as a way to keep in touch with people I know, and to help keep them up to date on life in general. I go through periods of time in which I write nothing at all... and I'm okay with that reality. Of course, I don't have the following, nor would I expect that I would have the following of larger, more specific or specialized bloggers. I also don't look at this as a job, but rather as an outlet for things that would otherwise take up space in my always-churning brain. That is not the case for most bloggers, I am aware, as often they would prefer feedback and comments, or an interesting dialog amongst the readers. While I am completely happy to receive comments, and welcome them even if, or when a reader disagrees with me, I don't write for the sole purpose of expecting people to leave his/her thoughts. It's great when someone does, but lack of commentary certainly doesn't dissuade me from writing (as is painfully obvious to anyone who does in fact read this mess of a blog).

*Image from http://ethicalstyle.com
Which brings me to the question of the hour:  Should bloggers expect commentary on his/her posts? In an age when most people are quickly scanning for what interests him/her, reading quickly for information, should a blogger think that his/her blog isn't "good" because no one is commenting on the writing? Should value come from what others think, or rather actually write about a blog? What motivates a blogger to continue writing post after post, even if readers have nothing to say? I honestly don't have answers to any of these questions, but am truly curious. Blogging is absolutely time consuming, so I don't begrudge anyone a break from writing, photo editing, or screening comments, but it is sad to me to slowly watch so many bloggers disappear, and I hope that it's not a trend of things to come in the future.

6 comments:

  1. I think commenting on blogs, as we know it, is dead. Now that we can (and do) push so much of our content out to other sources (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, etc.), the conversations happen there rather than at the source.

    I've been blogging in some form or fashion for well over 10 years no, and commenting has waxed and waned in that decade. It's on the decline now, and I'm OK with that. If you're blogging for an audience, then people need to try to hustle more to build that audience, that community. If you're blogging to amuse yourself, then the act of writing and publishing your ideas is its own reward.

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  2. That's a great point, Cecily. It's so easy to have many (and quicker) ways to get information out these days, so it could be that blogs will go by the way side, or, perhaps it's a temporary decline. With ten years under your belt, I'm sure you've become used to the ebb and flow of the cycle (and, I do love reading your blog, by the way... so please don't stop). :o) I've only been doing this for about 5-6 years now, but even in that time I find it interesting that several have dropped off the radar.

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  3. Wow - you must be psychic and reading my thoughts! :) I've wondered about many of the same things you wrote about - such as my motivations for blogging, as well as why others blog, if I care or not about comments, and most importantly, are my posts simply boring???!! I haven't been blogging long at all (thought about it for years, but did nothing!), but in less than a year, I've strongly considered whether I even wanted to continue. I began basically because I liked having a record of activities that I do and I like hearing from people all over the world. I don't focus too much on comments although really enjoy getting them. This probably seems odd, but I didn't even begin the blog thinking family and friends would read it and have told almost no one about it! Practically none of my family is even online, and I just feel strange about telling friends that I blog - is that really weird??

    I've recently been toying with the idea of a professional blog since I think it would be a really good idea. Most in my field (Occupational Therapy) really don't blog, and I'm in an even less common subset of OTs working in a research capacity, so I think it would be a useful blog to get the word out about non-traditional areas in the field, etc. However, like you said, blogging is time consuming (and I'm often really lazy about it!), so not sure I'll keep up with more than one blog.

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  4. Traci, I still go back to the collective/communal consciousness, because I think that often a lot of us have the same things rolling through our minds (as a little side note, I often find replies from Cecily above on other blogs when I am/was literally thinking the EXACT same thing... it always makes me laugh). I believe that we are all connected in some way, and I think that it's part of how and why we can identify with others who are feeling or thinking similar thoughts.

    For what it's worth, I certainly enjoy your blog, and wouldn't want to see it go (even if I don't always comment). Like you, I enjoy hearing from people all over and it's nice when they have something to add as well. Though I started mine for family and friends to keep up, admittedly almost none of them read the blog anyway (some refuse to use a computer at all, others only very infrequently), so it's almost become pointless, except that I feel better when I get to put out into the universe whatever is haunting my mind at the moment. I suppose that is the problem... I look at it as an online journal/diary really, and I like to use it to look back at whatever was happening at the time. Perhaps that's a bad thing. :o)

    I think doing an OT blog could be great! Sounds like it would be a good way for others to keep on top of things and to communicate with each other. It would be time consuming though, and I suppose that is the point every blogger reaches at some point and then they ask themselves, "Is it worth it?" I think with most things in life, balance is key. Of course, if you're able to get paid for your time doing a blog, then I say go for it!

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  5. I've noticed the same thing and read the very blog post you are referring to. I don't get a lot of comments but I do get comments on most of my post. I've been blogging for about 3 years now. I started blogging because I needed a creative outlet and wanted to find someway of remaining professionally fresh. I relocated to Flagstaff, Arizona with my husband for his career, leaving behind a wonderful job as a city councilman's legislative aide, where I primarily did public affairs communication and community relations. These days, I am an administrative assistant; not really work I can wrap my arms around and call my own.

    Like a lot of people, I'm not working in my career and I have to do something to feel like I'm learning and growing as a person. Maybe I'll never be able to get back into PR work again but at least I worked on promoting two very successful Tweed rides this summer. The network of bloggers I've connected with has really been an inspiration.

    Receiving comments to my posts is very flattering. I try to leave comments as much as possible myself because it's so easy to stop reaching out and making connections, especially when you have multiple areas of frustration in your life. Luckily, my husband is strong and he encourages me to continue blogging and staying in touch with other bloggers.

    I was very pleased when earlier this fall as a result of a post I did about my new Dahon folding bike, the Dahon communications guy Eric invited me to submit a piece for the Dahon Dispatch Blog. What a thrill to be asked and of course I accepted. I just submitted a profile to Bike Commuters, as well. It's not my name in lights but it is a chance to write and be published about a topic that I feel very strongly about.

    I'm sad that other bloggers that I really enjoy seem to be loosing energy for blogging. Their words and images really did challenge me to do something (bike commuting) that I imagined was just beyond my ability and not at all in line with how I saw myself. I've written about my and my husband's motivation to bike commute was purely economical - we just couldn't afford to be a two-car couple in a very expensive southwest mountain town. I didn't think I could do it but blogger like Dottie and Trisha, Mikael, and Miss Sarah showed me how. I'm eternally grateful. I hope I've managed to inspire as well.

    Keep posting.

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  6. Well, hello there! And thanks for your reply. It is amusing how we find so much in common often times with people we've never met in "real life." I actually worked for a time in Public Relations/Community Relations/Communications myself. Small world, huh? I worked in southern California for a college district and absolutely loved my job. I always say that if I had to go back to any job in life, that would be the one. It was insanely busy, long, LONG hours, but I was never so fulfilled (at least work-wise).

    How exciting that you were able to organize some Tweed Rides locally! That sounds like so much fun.

    I've actually read your blog at some point in the past. I cannot recall exactly how or why I ended up there, but I recall there was something I was seeking and found some great information (it may have been during one of my many fanciful daydreams when I imagine just up and moving somewhere else). Now, we've somehow crossed again, so I think I'll have to make it a more regular read. I'm sure I've missed out on much since that initial read (which was probably a year and a half ago or so), so I'm excited that you found me, so that I can once again read up on life in Arizona.

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Word verification is on, but I've turned off the moderation portion in an attempt to make it easier for you to know that your comment has indeed made it through. We'll see how this goes, but I'm hopeful that this will help out and I'll try my best to weed through and remove spammers comments. Additionally, I recommend copying comments before hitting publish as the "blogger comment eater" seems to continue his snacking.