Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Open Salon Closes, Idle Thoughts About Blogging

When I first started blogging in 2010, I read about cross-posting as a means of making a name for yourself and drawing traffic to your web site. I was using Google’s Blogger service as my main blog, but started copying my postings onto Open Salon and Zimbio. After a while, I realised these posting were not generating any traffic to my main site. Who said cross-posting was a good idea?

I dropped Zimbio and continued Open Salon off and on. Oddly enough, Open Salon proved to be a closed, but very active community. My postings there generally had more views than the same postings on my own blog. Go figure.

I stopped posting due to some technical difficulty in early 2013, but went back in the fall of 2013 when I discovered that whatever problem was plaguing me before, had been rectified. Once again, the views on these postings were greater than my own blog.

Somewhere around December 2013, something happened to Open Salon. I believe the parent company Salon, was considering dropping the platform, and all but abandoned it. No more editorial oversight was done. The main page with its editor’s picks remained frozen at November 2013 while individual bloggers continued to pump out original content. FYI: I've read elsewhere that Open Salon, running on supposedly old software, became a target for spambots which overloaded the system.

Wikipedia: Open Salon
Open Salon is a hybrid blogging platform and social network site started by the Salon Media Group, Inc. ... Open Salon articles were frequently featured on the front page of Salon.com in the first two years of Open Salon's operation, but eventually disappeared. In December of 2012, the Open Salon site appears to have fallen into disrepair as a result of spam accounts overloading the system and many Open Salon bloggers moved on to the website Our Salon.

Today, Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 1:49pm EST, the ax fell. I received this email:

Thank you so much for being a part of Open Salon for the past 6 years. We have appreciated every personal story, every joke, every anecdote and every conversation within the community. However, due to the changing landscape of blogging, we have made the difficult decision to close this site. Starting today you will no longer be able to log into and, consequently, to upload, update or edit information within your Open Salon account. For the next 14 days you will still be able to view your profile page and all the content stored therein. Please refer to our attached FAQs for more information pertaining to Open Salon and the closing of services.

We remain dedicated to facilitating discussion around the issues and events you care about on Salon.com, and to deliver thought provoking, passionate, content.

Thank you again for being a part of our journey.

Regards,
Open Salon Staff

A postscript gives some details of what is going to happen.

As of March 10, 2015, Open Salon will be closing its doors so that we can focus on the growing and active community at salon.com. After this date, logging in won't be possible.

After March 10, 2015, you'll still be able to view your posts at your profile url for no less than 14 days, but you will not be able to access them for editing on Open Salon. Please be advised that your profile and all content will be taken down from public view and cease to exist by March 24, 2015. Please make alternative arrangements for copying and storing your Open Salon content, as it won’t be available after the aforementioned date.

I can only speculate the amount of time I have spent copying and reformatting content from my blog to Open Salon. There are hundreds of postings.

It’s odd sitting here realising all that work will be gone. What was the point? Did I get anything out of it? Did I get anything lasting out of it?

When it seemed Salon was going to abandon Open Salon in December 2013, a number of people started up Our Salon, a blogging community like Open Salon, hosted on Ning.Com, an online platform for creating custom social networks. Good? Bad? I note that Alexa gives it a rating of 3,400,000 as of March 10, 2015.

In looking back at all this, cross-posting has not, for me at least, done anything to drive traffic to my web site despite what the experts advised. Of course, while others have put together blogs which follow the rules (consistent content, regular posting), my blog remains faithful to the tagline I gave it: “Just on a whim”: inconsistent, irregular, and eclectic. If I’ve never developed an audience, there could be a number of reasons which explain why not. I’m not in it for the fortune and fame, and so far, I haven’t attracted any groupies. A female blogger going through the emotional roller coaster of a divorce commented that her blog was therapeutic. It gave her an outlet to vent and was cheaper than a psychiatrist. Are my literary meanderings my way of coming to grips with the vagaries of my existence? I could have drank, but decided to write. I leave it to the reader to decide what’s better: me sober or me inebriated. I kant tipe wwhenn I’vvve ben imbiibiingg.

At the moment, there is a small sigh of relief. The loss of Open Salon is one less thing I’ll be doing which, arguably, was wasting time. I made a resolution for 2015 to re-examine what I’ve been doing to focus on what could be more productive. For instance, I stopped Facebook. I may have posted a couple of things since the beginning of the year, but for the most part, I’ve stopped visiting it altogether. Although, I’ve been still stupidly tweeting stuff which gets lost and forgotten within 5 minutes.

my blog: Christmas 2014: What’s next? - Dec 24/2014
2014 hasn’t turned out to be all that productive... I have found myself addictively spending my time doing non-productive s**t. While social media may supposedly be good for self-promotion, it is also a big time suck. Instead of doing something worthwhile, I seem to be seeking approval through Likes and Favorites along with Shares and Retweets by reposting all sorts of pretty much meaningless stuff. Oooo, I have X number of Friends and Followers, 99% of whom I don’t know, will never know, and probably don’t care to know, but that X is still important to me. Geesh, who gives a crap? On my deathbed, I’m going to be saying, “Wait. One more tweet.”

A Recap
The following lists the top postings from my blog on Open Salon comparing the number of views on Open Salon with my own Blogger blog.

my blog: Jack Daniel's: a nice whiskey, a nice company – Jul 29/2012
Open Salon: 30,689 views
my blog: 205 views

my blog: Shaved pussies, pubescent girls, and creepy guys – Jan 14/2014
Open Salon: 13,580 views
my blog: 1,300 views

my blog: Sex: Are men lousy lovers? – Aug 29/2013
Open Salon: 7,865 views
my blog: 346 views

my blog: Ingrid Michaelson: Girls Chase Boys – Mar 1/2014
Open Salon: 4,679 views
my blog: 202 views

my blog: Rob Ford: Alcoholic Thinking and a Gullible Public – Dec 9/2013
Open Salon: 3,600 views
my blog: 3,835 views

Holy cow. When I said the Open Salon community was active, I wasn’t exaggerating. Except for the fifth post listed above, a popular topic at the height of Ford’s crack scandal, my blog is chickenfeed in comparison with Open Salon. Heck, I should have skipped my own blog and gone strictly with Open Salon.

Final Word
No more cross-posting. Time to move on to other endeavours. I’m not going to do anything on Salon. I’m not going to start on Our Salon. I’m going to stick strictly with my own blog. Twitter if anything, but not any cross-posting. FYI: If I tweet, I can raise my daily pageviews so I know Twitter actually does something for me.

However, after the latest kerfuffle with Google when they announced a change in policy which would have gone after any blog with sexually explicit materials, then almost immediately rescinded the change (my blog: Google Blogger Reverses its Ban on Sexually Explicit Materials - Feb 28/2015), I now wonder if I should go the route of transferring my blog to an independent platform where the risk of censorship is greatly diminished. I don’t post porn, but I have written about sex in an opinion piece slash research manner and posted some photos which you could term as erotic, so there is a chance somebody somewhere may object to something I’ve done. Do I want to live under the threat of the ax falling on me?

Then again, there is the question of why do a blog at all. I am the lone wolf howling in the night. I suppose I could start seeing a therapist, but at what point does one have to get up off the couch and get on with the rest of their life? The divorce blogger Pauline Gaines ran a series on blogger spaces, where various bloggers spent their time writing. My comedic entry (Jul 31/2011), showed my laptop sitting on the toilet seat. (Okay, it made sense at the time.)

In the grand scheme of things, I know that I am merely a single grain of sand on the beach of life and my contribution to the background cacophony of seven billion voices is just a blip meriting an allusion to the posterior of a rodent: Who gives a rat's ass? At the heart of the writing process is some sort of (psychotic) urge to put it down on paper. I think of this quote which so far I haven't been able to attribute to anyone:

"A writer is an egomaniac with low self-esteem".

Hmmm, I guess that means I still need therapy so I'll keep writing. Maybe not as frequently, maybe not in the same manner as before, but I'll keep going if for no other reason than to amuse myself. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good reason to do anything.

2015-03-11

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

2 comments:

Pamela Madsen said...

Enjoyed this blog, William. Yeah. I read it. :)

Katy Anders said...

I get concerned about the future of blogging in general. I mean, I suspect I am going to keep doing it because I HAVE to, but I have definitely seen diminishing returns over the years.