Thursday, 15 January 2009

The Dead Blog Amnesty :: An Open Letter to Blogger

Dear People of Blogger

A few years ago, I decided to start a blog. I had a novel that I wanted to write and I figured that if I had a blog, I’d be able to pin myself down to a chapter every two or three days and within six months, I’d have my first novel in the bag.

My book was going to be about an ugly man who – somehow – woke up one morning to find that he was irresistible to women. The blog on which it was to be based would simply be called Irresistible. It was perfect.

So I switched on the internet and went to the Blogger sign-up page. Unfortunately, Irresistible had already been taken.

Of course, I could have then turned to Wordpress or LiveJournal or one of the many other free blogging platforms, but I didn’t. Rather, I cursed the owner of the title I wanted and I ditched the whole idea. Which in retrospect is a shame, because if I’d kept up with it, I might now be lounging, tan and strong, poolside in Malibu, sipping margaritas with Charlie Kaufman and Audrey Tautou.

And you know it wouldn’t have been so bad if the person who’d stolen my career had actually done something with Irresistible. But instead, they just let the weeds have it.

The tragedy of course, is that this kind of thing happens all the time. And it can be very frustrating.

As I’m sure you’re aware, finding the right name for your blog is very important, and very likely something every blogger agonises over. If you’ve ever named a child before, you’ll maybe understand just how important it is to get it right. I personally have never named a child – not officially at least – but I have named a couple of cats and let me tell you, it’s a tough old job.

Young bands also, at that tentative christening period, must feel something similar. Of course, with a band, as with a blog (not so much with a child), you can always ditch it if it doesn’t work out and start again… but to get it right for first time. That’s when you’re golden.

And when it happens, when you hit upon the name that’s right for you, and right for the thing you’re naming, you know. You feel it. It’s like falling in love. It chimes with your core. You roll it around your gums and imagine your enemies jealous, kicking themselves that their blog is such a self-regarding bag of bumbling and mumbleweeds; and you imagine your pals smiling and saying, ‘Oh, that’s good’, or ‘That’s so Sam'.

Let us imagine a typical example. Maybe you’re an annoyingly over-zealous Withnail fan and you’re also a budding poet. A chilling combination. The blog you ache to start, populated with your poems and occasional love letters to Bruce Robinson can only have one possible title.

It’s from the scene in which Monty and Marwood meet for the first time, and Monty asks Marwood if he writes poetry.

‘Oh, no,’ says Marwood, ‘I wish I could. It’s just thoughts really.’

There it is. Your blog name. There can be no other.

Unfortunately, Just Thoughts Really has gone. And it’s not a pretty site.

Sadly, examples of such blog atrocities are seemingly infinite. Think of almost any potential title for any kind of blog and check to see if the blogspot domain is free. The chances are it won’t be. Furthermore, the chances are, the domain will be an unweeded garden, grown to seed.

Let’s say for example, you want to start a Shakespeare fan blog. Where shall we start? Um, what about To Be Or Not To Be? Nope, that’s taken I’m afraid, and tarnished. OK, what about To Blog Or Not To Blog? Nope, nor that one neither. Nor that one neither. So, let’s try just Hamlet? Nope, sorry, taken by the aptly-named Procrastinator. I Am Not Prince Hamlet? Nope. Alas, Poor Yorick? Nope. OK, what about just Shakespeare? Taken and, frankly, violated. Shakespeare Blog? Nope. I Love Shakespeare? Nope.

OK, balls to Shakespeare. What if your tastes are in the cultural gutter? Well, sadly, both Sex and the City and Mamma Mia have been snapped up and abandoned.

But hold on a minute. These aren’t the kind of names that people generally hit upon for their blogs. Let’s try and think of some more likely blog names.

OK here’s a list, off the top of my head, and - surprise, surprise - they’ve all of them gone, and they're all of them dead.

My So-Called Life. Me and My Life. Days of My Life. My Big Fat Geek Life. The New Me. Man of Many Hats. Excess Baggage. The Sound of My Own Voice. Where the Wild Things Are. Time Please. All You Need Is Love. Love Is All You Need. Love and Death. Making A Killing. English Psycho. Lol. Port In A Storm. Sex. Drugs. Rock and Roll. Sex and Drugs. Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll.

Pfffffffft.

I’m beginning to wonder, of all the blogs that have ever been activated, how many are actually or have ever been used?

If the internet was the real world, you wouldn't be able to move for dead blogs. All life on the planet would be snuffed out, suffocated by the tiny corpses of aborted Blogger foetuses.

It's a bit depressing, frankly.

Setting up a blog should come with some sense of responsibility, and if the blogger is not prepared to take that responsibility, then it must be left to the service provider.

Therefore, in my most humble opinion, you, the people of Blogger, should do something up about it. Firstly, you should send an email to all Blogger clients who have posted on no more than three occasions and who have not touched their blogs for over a year, and you should ask them if they wish to continue using their blog. If they don’t reply, you should write again, just to make sure. Then if they still have not replied, their blogs should be deleted and their domains once more made available for public use.

Then, maybe on a specially designated day, you could make a big deal about how from this moment on, another 500,000 Blogger domains are available, waiting to be snapped up.

Not only could you make a huge amount of positive PR out of it – ‘We’re Tidying Up The Internet!’ - but also, by freeing up your dormant domain names at once, it would greatly improve the experience of using your product, especially from the point of view of the beginner blogger.

Also, you could even say it was good for the environment. You’d be recycling all the dead domains. Hey, maybe it is!

So could you do that, please?

Oh, and please check on this chap. I’m worried about him.

Thank you.


Stan



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23 comments:

Gordon said...

Twitter does this, if you see a username that is 'dead' (not used for over 6mths I think?) you can email them and say, hey, I'd like that!!

Took 3 days to get me /gordon.

Simple.

Autolycus said...

Wizard wheeze. And can they do something about those odd "ghost" commercial ones that I occasionally find?

La Bête said...

Hi Gordon. Well if Twitter can do it, Blogger have got no excuse.

Autolycus, yes they can! If they give a damn. Which I'm guessing they probably don't. Or they would have done it a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

Great post and great idea. I'm always amazed just how many good blog names/URLs have been taken by people that don't use them, and then the 'good' bloggers are forced to adulterate their chosen domain names with unsightly hyphens and other abortionial flagrations.

For instance, I wanted to register the name 'Prawn Cocktail' the other day. Quite simple, you'd think. But there were already a score or so of other Prawn Cocktail sites - most long left to seed - everything from an eight-year-old girl's 'friend-hub' to an extremely hardcore S&M site.

Also, I think people should only be allowed to use names that at least have some relevance to their blogging topic. I mean who the hell posts pictures like THAT on an innocent-sounding site named Prawn Cocktail? And, for that matter, who the hell gets sexual gratification from doing THAT sort of thing with unpeeled seafood?

Dave2 said...

"of all the blogs that have ever been activated, how many are actually or have ever been used?"

FIVE! The answer is five.

I'm kind of at the opposite end. When I first started, I Googled "Blogography" and got zero results. Last I checked, there were over 2,000,000.

Luka said...

On the other hand, having to go down the less trodden path of blog names does test the creative writing capabilities of the would-be blogger. Though that does lead to a plethora of "quirky" random blog names that are actually much duller to read than their zany title would suggest.

Wisewebwoman said...

Amen to that, brother! And that blog with the one entry from 2001, very, very strange. I hope it wasn't a goodbye message...
XO
WWW

The Drinker said...

I agree, there should be some way of rescuing old names.

I wrote for ages and ages as The Oxford Seamstress (I loved that name - I like sex and sewing - oh the genius pun...) and then managed to get myself in a fair whack of trouble over something I wrote. Scared, I deleted the blog, and now can't get it back - neither could anyone else be The Oxford Seamstress, should they so desire.

I started a new blog with the name Cupcakes & Gin after a long deliberation over titles, and I'm now rather attached to it. No pun, but I do also like cupcakes and gin, so there you go. I do however slightly regret the fact that I come up as 'The Drinker' in all my comments - not very ladylike. Rather that, though, than 'The Eater', eh?

xx

Alex B said...

Very apt, as some total BELL-END took http://getconfidentstupid.blogspot.com and did the EXACT SAME THING as you're talking about.

We should track these people down and END THEM! It is too late for being nice.

Fat Roland said...

My blog died two years ago. What you see now is a hologram on loop.

Misssy M said...

I am shit at thinking up slogans, titles, names (apart from my excellently named children- but I had nine months sitting on a couch, eating crisps to think of them.

My blogname just came out of my nickname...not very inventive and slightly like own brand Orange Juice in a yellow carton, but I've taken it this far, so it stays- and it's still better than Norwich Union's new name, "Saliva".

But you have an excellent idea. Blogger should auction them off for charity.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'm pretty sure Livejournal does this - it periodically has big username purges.

Tim Footman said...

http://bloggerupthearse.blogspot.com is still free.

Annie said...

I snapped up "littlepinch.wordpress.com" with full intentions to migrate, because apparently life is better over on wordpress, but then I never bothered sorting it all out. I will do one day though, I swear.

La Bête said...

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. (Except Tim.) It's good to know that it's not just me.

How easy is it to migrate? Do you just fix your blog to forward to a new address? I guess you do. I'm thinking about it. Blogger tease my epiglottis sometimes, figuratively speaking. They're horribly unapproachable. Wordpress seem much nicer.

gullybogan said...

You know, you could just call your blog "frz98233.blogspot.com" - it doesn't have to have vanity plates. We use this thing called "hyperlinking" nowadays, so users don't have to type in the name of your novel to get to your blogsite.

Plus, there are plenty of so-called "dead" blogs that are *complete*, rather than "dead". Let's say you write that Great Webnovel called "irresistible", and you publish it, and then you leave (i.e. abandon) it to so that it can continue to spread happiness to all, what happens when someone comes along with a great idea for a webcookbook that they want to call "irresistible", and they look at your blog (which they find bizarre and completely uncookbookish, and thus, therefore, completely disposable) and ask for your vanity plates?

Huh?

81vaginas.blogspot.com hasn't been touched in three years, but i wouldn't want it to be deleted, just because someone wanted to publish a webnovel or webcookbook called "81 vaginas".

http://81vaginas.blogspot.com/

I rest my case.

iLL Man said...

Wordpress is horribly unusable though. I'd sooner set fire to my armpits than have to deal with that bundle of cack.

I don't look for friendliness in a blog provider, just something that works 99% of the time. That's Blogger I'm afraid. As for the millions upon millions of dead blogs, I agree wholeheartedly that Blogger should cull the fuckers and free up some space. I wouldn't even get in touch with the blog owners, I'd just put up a reminder when the blog is created that states that if the site is not updated in over two months, it gets binned.

La Bête said...

Bullybogan, the thing you're missing though, is the 'three posts or less' clause, which I think covers your 'complete' rather than 'dead' point. This would ensure that no one could lay so much as a finger on any one of your 81 vaginas.

La Bête said...

Gullybogan, rather. Sorry.

Cat said...

I'm with Misssy, my blog name came from my nickname, and is not very inventive. It also means I get a lot of emails from people asking me to advertise stuff about cats on my site.

notkeith said...

There seems to be a dearth of vaginas on 81vaginas.

I'm feeling a bit short changed.

Sam said...

Do you think that guy's dead?

I tried Wordpress, it wasn't that great - Victoria Beckham has stretchmarks, life can be disappointing sometimes.

A blog isn't just for Christmas, though - these things should come with a certain sense of responsibility. It's this sort of behaviour that is at the root of all decay in society.

Innocent Loverboy said...

LJ does that if you e-mail them about a specific blogger who you KNOW is actually dead or has left blogging. It also keeps names for a few weeks after deletion in case you want to restore. It's odd like that.

Really can't see Blogger doing the same things.