Colleen McHugh who runs the OMcHodoy blog has started a discussion about an interesting dilemma at the GeneaBloggers Group on Facebook. She has a blog which has not been updated in quite a long time and it is one which she feels never really garnered much of a following. Colleen thinks it might be a good idea to delete the blog.
To Delete or Not Delete, That Is the Question
The question of whether or not to delete a blog that you’ve started is one which will confront all bloggers eventually including those who blog about genealogy. I’ve had to wrestle with the issue concerning a blog at my personal website Thomas 2.0.
I love writing about technology, especially if I find free web applications that other genealogists might find interesting. But after a few months of starting my blog, I realized that I already had a similar blog with Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers. Granted, Bootcamp started out with a focus for Facebook users, I soon realized there was a need for assistance with Blogger and WordPress platforms: how to add gadgets, how to tweak templates, how to backup blog posts. So what had been Facebook Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers would soon re-branded as Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers.
In addition, I picked up a gig writing technology and genealogy blog posts for Examiner.com and I knew it would be difficult to not only write posts for three technology blogs but also to try and not duplicate the content.
Do You Really Know What You Might Be Deleting?
While platforms like Blogger and WordPress make it fairly easy to delete a blog, and the do caution you to “think it over” before pressing that Delete button, you should go through and review all your posts, pages and especially comments on the blog you want to delete. Some considerations:
- What if you had posts where there was some great dialog between you and commenters? Do you realize that you are not only deleting your contributions but also the contributions of your readers who may comments?
- What about other bloggers and websites which may have linked to your posts? What will their readers encounter (and think) when they click on those links?
Also, search engines like Google and Bing will still pick up your blog and post links to it. Your blog will still have a “web presence” but anyone accessing those links won’t find your content.
Yes there is the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine and even Google’s caching feature but anyone using those services still may not see entire posts. The Wayback Machine will not archive posts in their entirety if you use a “after the jump” or “read more” link on your blog.
The Darker Side of Blog Deletion
Did you realize that when you delete your blog or even give up a domain name, it could be an opportunity for spammers to use that name for their own purposes? Such cases have occurred and once another user, nice or not-so-nice, takes over that blog name the blogging platform is under no obligation to give it back to you.
Think about what it would say about you if your former readers were redirected to a site selling items or worse yet a blog filled with adult content or with content you just plain disagree with?
The Economic Consideration of Maintaining a Stale Blog
Most genealogy bloggers are using Blogger or WordPress with free hosting so there is no real cost of maintaining these blogs. However, several bloggers pay yearly fees for domain name hosting which can really add up. This would be a legitimate reason to shut down a blog but consider these steps before flipping the switch:
- Would the posts on the blog being deleted be relevant on one of your other blogs? Or on a newly created free blog? Consider exporting the content and then importing it to another blog. You may not be able to keep everything, especially comments, but it will allow you to make your content available to others.
- Could you still maintain the domain name only (without hosting) and forward it to another blog or website you maintain? Usually the domain name registration costs is a fraction of the yearly hosting charges. If you forward the old domain name you could redirect readers to your new site and perhaps retain them as readers or subscribers.
Redirect Readers from Your Outdated Blog
In my situation, instead of deleting my blog, I opted for this solution: I created a “redirect post” entitled My Content Has Moved which included details as to why I was no longer posting and where they could go to read my latest technology posts.
Not only does this post inform my readers, it also reminds them to update their RSS feeds if they are reading my posts using Google Reader or another aggregator (or to update their favorites/bookmarks in their web browser if that’s how they access blogs).
Also consider removing commenting if you decide to redirect users to your new blog. Doing so will further communicate the blog’s inactive status to your readers and it will also cut down on the spam comments at the old site.
Before You Press the Delete Key
As bloggers we continually evaluate what our content means to us and to others. It is only natural to have self-doubts or to say “no one reads my blog” or “it doesn’t matter if I delete my blog” or “someone else has similar posts and they do a better job at it.” Didn’t you have similar thoughts when you decided to start blogging? I know I did – my main concern was why anyone would want to read what I’ve written.
Realize that your blog and posts may not only have had a bigger impact that you realize, but the content may help researchers in the future. Have you ever found a link on Google only to realize that the site or blog doesn’t exist anymore – and wondered what bit of information might have been available to help you with your genealogy?
This is the problem with deleting any information that we don’t feel is relevant. While it is truly your content which you created, removing it may have much more of an impact than you realize especially for future researchers. If there are no real costs to maintaining the blog, why not let others be the judge as to the value of the information and the content you worked so hard to create?
© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee