The Blog Unsubscribing

There are two ways blogs die.  The most common is for the blogger to simply stop posting.  Sure, the activity seemed fun for the first five or so times, but then it felt like work.  There is another way.  A darker way.  It’s when the blogger has decided something important.  Something that changes things.  Suddenly the articles and stories the readers were used to become overshadowed by the other thing. 

In our little arena, if a blogger merely switches games people will unsubscribe but the blog is not dying.  One good example is when Syncaine at Hardcore Casual became a Darkfall crusader.  Post after post was filled with Darkfall ambushes, tactics, and alliances.  I did not unsub from the RSS feed because I love stories coming from sandbox-style MMOs and it is an excellent blog, but I am sure some people (read: WoW tourists, wink, wink) did.  He has since come back around to providing healthy, acidic commentary on other games, but will those that unsub’d come back?  That is the biggest determination I have to make when I unsubscribe from a blog.  Do I ever want to come back?

The one I just unsubscribed from changed in a different way.  It was dying.  It expanded to talk about those other things (and I don’t just mean merely switching MMOs), and then it became preachy, and friendly.  I felt the blogger was plunging in to some dark abyss from whence she or he could never return.  There seemed to be no hope that the blog would return to an even keel on the subject it was originally created about.  Still, I unsubscribed with a heavy heart.  I liked the blog a lot, prior to the change.  Unsubscribing feels like a acute severance rather than a quiet disappearance.

The blogs that begin with a purview and an aim to acquire an audience become disingenuous, possibly even disloyal, when all of the sudden the blogger decides that the blog article topics were really up to the whim of the blogger in the first place. 

What makes you unsubscribe from an active blog?

–Ravious
just another brick in the wall

35 thoughts on “The Blog Unsubscribing

  1. Tobold

    Why do you think that blogs have “an aim to acquire an audience”? Isn’t the origin of the word “blog” a “web log”, that is an online diary, a log of what the author did and thought while doing it?

    I think that if one of your friends tells you “I played game X for 3 years, but now I’m burned out, and going to play game Y instead”, you would totally understand. Why would that be different if that wasn’t a friend, but a blogger, who now starts writing about game Y instead of about game X?

    And to answwer your question, while I did unsubscribe from Syncaine’s blog, it was not because he talked so much about Darkfall, and not even because he praised Darkfall while at the same time selling it on his site. It was simply that Syncaine for some reason I could never figure out hates my guts, and his blog is full of posts that are just immature personal attacks against me. I’m pretty sure that you too would stop reading a blog full of “Ravious is an asshole” posts.

    1. Ravious Post author

      “Why do you think that blogs have “an aim to acquire an audience”?”

      To be read? I know you are just being difficult because you know that blogs have long transcended being a mere diary, Mr. Donations. ;)

      1. Stabs

        I’m with Tobold.

        I don’t usually aim at an audience. Sometimes I do. More often I use my blog to think things out or plan out things. It’s a useful process to figure things out, it’s a great soapbox for my own views, and it’s a useful archive of my game ideas.

        Richard Bartle’s blog is another example of someone who I don’t think is particularly writing for other people. It’s a stream of conscious and an archive.

        1. Bhagpuss

          My blog remains unstarted for exactly the reason Tobold gives. It’s supposed to be a web diary and I can’t quite get my head around writing a diary that is open for literally anyone to read.

          If I was going to write articles, which I might well like to do, I don’t think I’d call that a “Blog”. Didn’t we used to call them “Homepages”? Whatever happened to those?

          Anyway, at the moment I am writing the diaries of my ratonga bruiser in EQ2′s wonderful in-game player-written books. That’s giving me all the outlet I need, for a readership of two.

  2. Jason

    People posting about unsubscribing from blogs. /unsubscribe

    :)

    Usually there are two things:
    1) If I find myself just scanning and marking read rather than reading for too long.
    2) A blogger attacking their readers.

    In the first case, I unsub, but I add them to a folder in my bookmarks of sites I only check every few weeks/monthly, and I’ll resub if they get interesting again.

    In the second, I’ll only come back if someone sends me a link to the blog and I’ve forgotten that they are someone I dropped for being a douche.

  3. Arkenor

    I’m not sure what you mean by the blog becoming friendly.

    Anyhows, people change, and their interests change. Sometimes people change to the extent you don’t want to hang out with them any more. Equally you might not want to read their blog any more. I don’t think you ought to feel bad for that.

    Did you give any feedback that you didn’t like how the blog had changed? That’s a double-edged sword, as I’m sure you wouldn’t want to upset someone or tell them how to blog, but they’re not going to know what’s up unless someone says something.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Maybe “personal” is a better word. Like a video game blogger talking about a dog dying over two weeks and the effect on the family.

      I did not give any feedback. The blog in question felt way too crusade-like in the change.

      1. spinks

        I do find it offputting when a blogger decides to switch a hobby blog to a personal blog and makes me feel as though I’m their therapist. Especially when it’s obvious that they aren’t interested in taking suggestions or advice via comments, they just want to write about themselves all the time. I’m not actually that interested in knowing all the details of someone’s mental illnesses or relationship problems, it’s too much information.

        1. Arkenor

          That makes me squirm too. Maybe it’s because we’re British!

          But a lot of gaming blogs did start off as personal blogs. Mine still is, really. It’s just that I mostly think about games. Over time, the balance shifts. That might annoy regular readers, but on the other hand you can’t expect someone to blog about things they don’t care about at that moment.

  4. Professor Beej

    There’s no clear criteria for me. Sometimes, I get tired of what the blogger has to say. Othertimes, I have moved on from that game/topic and no longer need the commentary. And yet others, I think the blogger has lost sight of what made me like the site in the first place.

    One time I can think of in particular is when I started reading a blog for commentary. The blog was full of funny stories and entertaining ideas. Then everything I read on there was a guide to this or how-to that. And it was all stuff that I knew, had known for years, and I thought to myself: “I don’t want to read their SEO posts as they raise their Google pagerank,” so I unsubbed my RSS.

    I /almost/ did it for Tobold a while back. I mean, Tobold is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place, but during his diatribe against harassing comments, I felt as though he didn’t appreciate his readerbase, even those of us who didn’t call him names in his comments. So I almost unsubbed then and there. But I figured I would stick it out; he had earned my respect long enough before that incident. Unfortunately, since then, I’ve barely skimmed his posts in my RSS reader and only visited the site a handful of times. I think that attitude got to me. And while I still keep my name in the hat, so to speak, I feel that blog lost something that it had before, that feeling of the author talking “with” us rather than “at” us. Maybe it was something intangible and I’m just being silly, but it was something, nonetheless.

    1. Katherine

      Yeah, I unbookmarked Tobold’s blog when there was a big “blogosphere drama” and then he went on hiatus. I have a wide range of blogs I read for various reasons, and I usually read everything whether it’s “on topic” or not. But if I feel like I have to click over to some blog(s) I never read just to get the background for most of the posts, I unsub. I don’t care who was in the right or the wrong when I only read one side of the “argument” regularly.

  5. Suicidal Zebra

    Do you think a blog can change its’ output in a gradual enough way such that readers aren’t turned off in the way you describe? Or would it be better for the blogger to simply draw a line under that blog and start up a fresh one, with a new outlook from the outset?

    1. Ravious Post author

      I guess it depends on what originally drew the readership. Going from MMOs to wine reviews, there is simply no way. Going from MMOs to general video games in general, sure thing. That’s what Ten Ton Hammer seems to be doing right now. I know that TTH is bigger than a blog, but it’s a good example.

  6. Larísa

    I don’t subscribe for blogs through a feedreader – I use my blogroll and apart from that I visit a few other blogs as well – through my own bookmarks or links. Anyway. I have a two month limit. Blogs that haven’t been updated for 2 months will be taken away from the roll and I’m not likely to remember to visit them again. I don’t link to non-MMO or non-wow related blogs, so when people stop playing and turning their blog into a personal blog I’m off. My primary interest is WoW, but I’m also up for general MMO/gaming ponderings as long as it doesn’t plunge into a constant ranting about a game I know nothing about and have no interest whatsoever to play. That will put me off in the long run. It’s OK if bloggers are away from WoW on a hiatus as long as they’ve got some generally interesting thoughts.
    I’m also a sucker for good stylists. I don’t mind personal/theurapetic blog posts, as long as they’re well written and have a certain spark in them, something that somehow touches me.

    I think I’m a bit too slow to remove blogs that have moved direction from my blogroll. It has happened that blogs I liked for a few certain posts have turned into something that I barely read the headlines in. Somehow I don’t give up hope that they’ll go back to what I liked from the beginning. But I keep getting disappointed. I know removing someone from your roll not necessarily is a slap in the face but I can’t help feeling that way anyway. Sigh. I’m really a blogger carebear.

  7. Andrew

    I unsubscribe from a blog after I realize that I’m not reading their posts any more, and instead just skimming the titles and thinking “who cares”.

    On the other side of the coin, I am a blogger who has shifted focus over the past few years. I went from a WoW blog with a few thousand readers a day, to a general gaming blog with a few hundred readers a day, and finally now to a more general purpose blog where I discuss everything from gaming to military history to science. Through this time I have maintained a pace of roughly one post per day.

    The more I broaden my discussions the more readers I lose; but the net result is that I’m happier in having a place to write about what I want when I want.

  8. Brian 'Psychochild' Green

    For me, it comes down to if I’m look forward to reading the posts or not. As soon as I get that feeling of, “Gah, 5 unread posts and I really don’t care to read them!” then it’s time to step away from the blog for a while. I’ll usually re-sub if I see enough people linking posts from other blogs and those posts keep my attention.

    Tobold’s point above is interesting: how does the author perceive the blog? Many blogs did start as “I ate breakfast today and here are cute pictures of my cat.” Just because you start writing about a game and get a following doesn’t necessarily mean that all “personal stuff” needs to go away, though. I’ve posted some personal stuff on my blog (the passing of my cats, for example), but I think that our experiences affect design, so it’s still moderately on-topic. I do try to keep the personal stuff to a minimum, though.

  9. Bhagpuss

    Subscribe to a blog? What does that mean? Now that I come to think of it, although it’s a term I have heard hundreds of times in the context of Blogging, I really don’t have a clear idea what “subscribing” to a blog either requires or offers.

    First thing I do every morning or evening when I power up the PC is open the browser and go to Bookmarks. I open MMORPG.com first and read whatever interests me there. Then I open VirginWorlds and browse through their “recent news” and “recent blog entries” lists.

    I can generally guess from the article titles which belongs to which blog but anyway the name pops up when I mouseover them. I read the ones that interest me and click through any links to other blogs. When I find a blog that I like which doesn’t feature on VW’s lists (West karana, for example) I just Bookmark it.

    Since I don’t Subscribe, I obviously don’t Unsubscribe. I do drift away from reading blogs on occasion, but really I can’t find anythign like as many MMO blogs to read as I’d like, so it generally takes a complete cessation of output for me to stop reading any blogger I already decided was worth reading.

    Certainly a change of game, or even a change of subject area, wouldn’t stop me reading someone who I thought was a decent wordsmith. I read all Beau’s pieces on his dogs and life in Texas etc over at Spouse Agro even though I’m not particularly interested in the topics, for example.

    1. Ravious Post author

      Yeah VirginWorlds provides such a great service. Before I used an RSS reader, they were my go to as well. Nice to see they are updating things too.

  10. Saylah

    I don’t fret so much about unsubscribing from a blog if the subjects being discussed no longer interest me. As a blogger, I do feel a certain responsibility to keep the integrity and focus of the blog after it’s gained a certain amount of readers. I wouldn’t go from blogging about MMOs to blogging about knitting on the same blog. I’d start another one but that’s a personal sense of what’s appropriate.

    My blog went dead when I became short on time and even shorter in patience with the MMOs I was playing. Having people unsubscribe was expected. I think a more interesting question is, when do you remove a blog from your blogroll?? Now that’s a hairy question! :-) You no longer subscribing will go unseen by the blogger. You removing them from your blogroll is very visible in most cases.

  11. Tesh

    I maintain links to blogs that have retired on my blogroll, I just append them with a tag to show their changed status. There are often still good articles in the archives, and they might fire up again someday.

    If a blog changes tone to something I don’t like, I just quietly delete the link. Then again, I don’t subscribe to anything, I just prowl through my roll and bookmarks.

  12. mbp

    I really think you should give Tobold another chance Ravious. Just because he has finally given in and started playing EVE doesn’t really mean “he has plunged into a dark abyss”.

  13. Khai Mann

    I’ve did the blogging thing for some time and it was fun… Made money and all… Doesn’t bother me if you ask for donations or have Adsense plastered all over your site, it’s your decision.

    I wish I could keep up a personal blog. I’ve tried so many times with very little success. After the first few posts I just can’t be bothered to keep up the process.

  14. We Fly Spitfires

    It’s a very interesting question. I haven’t unsubscribed from many blogs but when I do it’s usually because I’ve realised that I haven’t read any of their posts for months and am just skipping straight past them in my RSS reader.

    Aside from whiny posts, I really don’t like straight up news articles published 5 times a day from a site. That’s not why I read blogs. I read them for interesting stories, new perspectives and/or a bit of humour. Dull announcements with no personality about ‘news’ are a real turn off for me.

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  16. Klepsacovic

    I unsubscribe when I find no benefit in reading it anymore. In one particular case the blogger seemed to have lost his mind for a few months and was incapable of writing anything which was not pat of a tangled web of self-contradiction and lashing out at anyone in reach. Honestly he never quite got better, but he did seem to stop deleting all dissenters. Another I stopped reading because the tone annoyed me; it always seemed a bit preachy and defensive.

  17. Cozmo D

    Lack of updates and lost focus are the big two for me. I read a ton of blogs (I blog roll very few)and those that have drastically changed focus tend to be the first to go. I hang on to those who are inactive a bit longer, hoping they will post.

  18. Jeremy S.

    What? Hey, what? I still write about the same thing. You just have to go to a different place to read it.

    I did consolidate all my writings into one location, but it’s still mainly about MMOs.

    Oh wait…I only have web bots subscribed to my blog…you’re not talking about me. Never mind.

    …Although I do get preachy.

  19. Syrana

    The main thing that will make me unsubscribe is no posts for 2 months. Sometimes I still find it hard, especially when I have no idea why they stopped posting and keep hoping they might return. If I find out they have resumed, I’ll resubscribe.

    And that reason is why I tried to keep something going up on our blog during my full-time hiatus (now I’m just part-time hiatus :P) so it wasn’t completely dead and abandoned.

    Another thing that will make me unsubscribe is constant whining and lashing out at others. I know we all need to rant here ‘n there, but if I feel angered/miffed or otherwise put off on a daily basis, I don’t want to read that. And even when there is a string of those posts, I usually hang on for a bit to see if things simmer before givin’ them the axe.

    Shifting focus doesn’t bother me too much nor does personal information. If I like someone’s style, it becomes more about reading them than reading “it” for me.

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  21. HP

    I start unsubscribing if they don’t post for a really long time (like 6 months – 1 year). If they wrote a post that really disgusted me, then I would unsubscribe but that hasn’t really happened. I have to get my blog fix! =D

  22. Professer

    I usually unsub from a blog when the blogger continually puts out content that I am not interested in.

    Also, the frequency of their posts is a minor factor. Too much posting can annoy me.

    *glares at KTR for being too active*
    (I can’t keep up with you guys)

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