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Why did people stop blogging?

October 10, 2018

Even as easy as hugo makes writing a new blog entry, I still find myself, for some reason, much more likely to make multiple threaded posts on Mastodon instead of writing here and posting a link to it. I try to avoid “tweet-storms” (or toot-storms.) I think it clutters the timeline, and I end up compromising the number of words I intend to write to fit it into one or two posts. I’d much rather write a blog entry and post (or not, if I just need to get something out of my system) but even the low barrier to entry feels too high in most cases.

Writing a post here is a 3-step process 1. Create a new document 2. Edit the document in nano, save 3. Upload new document and updated index page to website

This doesn’t seem like much, but there are a lot of hidden variables to think about. By creating a web page instead of a social media post, I suddenly have the option to add formatting. If I want to take advantage of it, it means looking up the flavor of markdown that Hugo uses, since I can never remember any of it. You would think I just wouldn’t worry about it, but one of the nice things social media does, paradoxically, is TAKE AWAY options - if you don’t have to worry about formatting, and have to fit everything into X characters, it eliminates some of the analysis paralysis. Working in this very specific set of constraints frees you to write without thinking about that stuff. It’s much easier to just blast out some posts on Masto or Facebook than spend the conscious effort to write a post and link to it. People are used to the limitations of the platform, so they won’t think less of you for ignoring these other considerations.

There’s also the barrier of getting people to read something. Even the very low effort of clicking a link and looking at words on a site is hard to get people to do. I try to make it as painless as possible by having a very minimal site with no javascript or extra fonts that downloads almost immediately, but people are used to a web where every website they click on runs the risk of popping up annoying lightboxes, nagging them for running adblock, slowing down their computer, and just being a nasty, unpleasant experience in general. People stick with their preferred social media platforms because it’s a known quantity. They’re used to the quirks and have often customized the experience to match their preferences. Clicking on a link runs the risk of disrupting the flow.

I think this is also why people often stick to blogging on platforms like Medium, even though they’re objectively worse than just creating an HTML document with some text on it. No one likes Medium, but they know what to expect. They’re going to be annoyed, but when they know exactly HOW they’re going to be annoyed, they can prepare for it. When you see a link to brabbin.org, you have no idea what it’s going to be. Even if the subject of the link sounds interesting to you, why take the risk?

I don’t know if there’s a solution to any of this, but I know that I want to start writing more longform posts and linking to it instead of threaded posts on social media, because if nothing else maybe it’ll help normalize it.


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