Updated: with an additional point* I was going to add yesterday, but forgot.
I got caught up a little in the hysteria last week (what hysteria? this) after reading about what was going on, when I logged into Feedburner, as I do, on occasion, to see my subscriber count at zero.
I CAN HAZ NO FOLLOWERS. Ergo: no authority. Ergo: no power. etc.
Yes, those thoughts went through my head for several minutes.
And then, the smoke cleared, as the saying goes. I re-read a lot of what the ‘to do’ ‘what happens next’ posts around and settled on two possible routes of action.
1) I do absolutely nothing. It seems that Feedburner will continue distributing our feeds, and I daresay will to do so until deemed that is no longer feasible (and – IMO – the writing is on the wall there) and all this means in the interim is that our statistics might be lost down the rabbit hole. Unless the glitch is fixed, on the strength of community uproar (not holding my breath, either). And in all honesty the loss of Feedburner worries me less than thought of losing Google Reader. (Will we lose it? Who knows! I’m trying not to get into an existential jam about it all.)
So, nothing! And the thought of doing nothing is … well … attractive.
2) Okay, I get proactive. I swap over to Feedblitz or some similar operation. I pay my money for the services they provide, including sending email updates (what you pay for) and management of RSS feeds (the free cherry on top). This way I can get reliable data when I want, and all the bloggers of the world with their media kits and sponsorship proposals, who want those numbers, or at the very least require them in a perfunctory way, can breathe a sigh of relief.
That’s the situation – highly contextualised, I know, but there’s truth in it. And yes, for every blogger who’s got their panties in a knot I’m sure there’s another who’s shrugging their shoulders saying ‘meh, whatever’. But I feel like there’s more to it than that. For instance, I can’t help but think “Is it just me or have a lot of the ‘big’ bloggers have been quite silent on this issue, perhaps debating behind the scenes as to what’s in store for them and their choices?”
Two big subjects there: choice and money. Very, very often intertwined.
More than anything else this situation has demonstrated to me that as blog(ging) consumers we have up until now become accustomed to a lot of services that have been free. True, imperfect, at times, but hey. Remember: FREE
Although anyone who’s on a self-hosted platform, owns a URL (or many), has large email newsletters they’re already paying for upkeep, and other things besides, will be able to tell you that this game adds up. What others need to decide – and now is as good a time as any, or at least it is for me – is all of this outlay worth it? i.e Is the benefit – monetary or plain good vibes – adequate? Or are you coming off second best?
‘Getting off the blog’ for a moment, there’s other add-ons and apps that are in the mix these days, particularly through competitions run on Facebook, for example. My head spins a little at the thought.
A secondary issue is the question – is RSS consigned to the days of the dinosaur, anyway? Remember when Google took over and we had to put that little ’2′ behind the ‘feeds2′ at the start of your feed to distinguish it from the old feed – the same, yet not? (Us ‘oldie” bloggers will!) And we were like “UGH” but did it anyway.
These days, so much traffic is garnered – dare I even suggest solicited – via social media channels that is RSS even as essential as it used to be? Download a pie graph of this blog and I can see a lot of “search engine referral/ facebook/twitter/blog links”. Is the timestamp and durability of a blog not so much that you can have access to it 24/7 but that you know it’s there, like a touchstone, being updated, taken care of, cultivated…
Reminding me again of that word: accustomed. As readers, we have our selfish quirks. So then as publishers we must too. Statistics … data … drama … community. We many of us feed off one or all these things. Although there’s time coming where we need to decide at what price.
And maybe for some that price will be too high.
*I’m thinking about this more than I otherwise might because I’ve managed to register the URL www.karenandrews.com.au. This was available years and years ago, but I failed to secure it and have been kicking myself ever since because it was snapped up in the meantime. But by lucky happenstance I was looking up another URL the other week and thought ‘What the hell, I’ll look again’. And there it was. The ‘.com’ version is for sale at the time of my writing this for $495 (and has been for quite a while) – but that’s a bit beyond my means.
Blah blah, anyway, once I got it, I sat there for a moment and thought ‘Okay … now what?’ And that’s just the thing. There’s even more options now. Do I start blogging afresh, over there? Although my ‘brand’ is things ‘Miscellaneous’ I’ve long been open about how the ‘Mum’ part of my title is starting to feel constricting. As ‘Karen’ I’d be ‘Karen’. I’m that here too, of course.
It’s a muddy, muddled up, confusing issue. One I need to think about a lot. Part of my way of doing that is writing posts like this which I hope make sense!