Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shivering and blog-pruning

I am under the weather just now and extremely cold, given that it isn't yet cold enough to have the heating on. I am wearing my woolly hat indoors.

I've been thinking about pruning my archives. I know some bloggers regularly delete old posts which weren't particularly interesting or even delete everything before the last six months, but I never have. At one point I deleted one or two posts which were less discrete than I would like to be – things I wrote before I figured out that people might actually read this. You didn't miss much, I promise.

However, I have always felt it might be a little... inauthentic to delete stuff that I actually blogged. Like keeping a diary and cutting out certain events. Almost rewriting history. Not that this is that kind of diary, not really.

And now,I have got over seven hundred posts up here and I am beginning to feel some sense of responsibility for clogging up the internet. No, I know, I'm not, but there are lots and lots of posts in which I don't really say anything. And I don't blog in the way I used to and I suppose I am a little embarrassed about some of those little nothingnesses. I'm only talking about taking out the total crud, not deleting a whole year's worth or anything like that.

So what do you think? Given that I might go ahead anyway, I'd still be interested in your thoughts.


Mary said...

I think there's probably a case for taking out things like the posts saying "sorry I haven't posted in a while, I will blog soon" if that's what you want to do... and there's definitely a case for making a duplicate archive for the posts of which you are particularly proud... but to be honest, I wouldn't. It's all easily searchable, it's not like the internet is running out of space, and I don't know about you, but sometimes I quite like diving into my archive and thinking "oh yes, I remember that" and remembering the various unblogged things that went with it.

JackP said...

Personally, I wouldn't prune at all. I kind of like the idea that at some point I can record my entire website on to disk so that -- assuming they can still read HTML -- grandkids/great grandkids can find out what I was like long after I've gone. Assuming any of them would care...

But it's your site, so you do what you like with it.

diddums said...

I'm particularly interested in this question because it took me ages to move my old blog across to Wordpress. Because of the backwardness of my previous blog host, I couldn't just move them across the way you might expect --- I had to do it manually, one by one, putting in the times and dates myself.

When there are so many to do that way, you soon find that you don't want to bother with the more insignificant posts! And sometimes you've completely changed your mind about something you've written. Possibly it represents you as a person who has changed, but it no longer presents things in a way that you would find relevant.

Still, I didn't consign these rejected posts to eternal oblivion; I didn't destroy whole swathes of my thoughts and diary... even while I moved them, I copied them all into a Word file on my hard drive. (Several Word files, so they don't crash under their own weight!) So I still have all these posts in the correct order; I just removed them from the sight of the world. An author writing a book wouldn't allow all her scored-out passages to appear in the finished publication.

Though, the truth is...

...regular blog readers don't dip into the archives very much; they're not keen to go back and see what you wrote a few months ago, even if (you consider) you wrote some cracking posts that they've never seen. The only people who seem to find them now are the casual surfers.

When I read over posts I didn't like any more, I felt depressed, especially when they all said '0 comments'! It made me determined to write better, and to avoid those midnight gloomfests or pointless rambles. That said, some of my angriest, saddest posts turned out to be the hardest hitting, so you never quite know at the time. :-P

I felt a lot better after deleting the mediocre stuff... and it changed my current blogging style as well. At least a bit.

Good luck, whatever you decide to do. Don't let the dead wood bring you down, just move on.

Jess said...

You'll likely remember that I not only deleted, re-posted, and re-deleted my old posts several times, but shut down blog and moved to a new one. :D I don't see anything wrong with pruning, spring cleaning, or even starting entirely afresh. Though in this case I hope you'll keep the longer essays. It's that kind of writing that got you invited to blog for the BBC Ouch site, and it's to your benefit to keep them out there in the world. At least make sure you save backup copies for yourself if you must delete them.

Diddums is right, I think, that most readers don't spend much time going back through archives-- but some of them do, and they're more likely to do so, I think, if the posts are well written. I've gone back and read through old posts on several people's blogs including yours, and I've often had occasion to refer to those older posts on my own blog. My more recent site meter stats, too, seem to show the new readers I've picked up going back and reading everything-- so it does happen. It just sort of depends how compelling the material is, I think. Your writing is very compelling, and worth revisiting.

Abi said...

When I find a blog that I like, I go back and read every single post from the beginning. I always feel slightly cheated when I realise that there are posts missing. I mostly survive, though.

The posts which are not really worth reading (I don't recall noticing any in your archives) tend to be short, and do not inconvenience me.

Once I have read the archives I tend not to return there unless directed to specific posts.

I'm sure that was helpful to you...

Radio said...

I incline towards the view that it's "inauthentic" to delete stuff, but confess to being a total hypocrite as I've deleted two blogs in two years :)

I wouldn't make a decision on a day you feel under the weather though, in case you regret it later on.

Sage said...

I keep everything there because sometimes I like to look back at the crazy stuff I wrote that no longer feels like it could have ever come from me. It's an interesting lesson.

Katja said...

I'm against it - the archives are an authentic historic record, and they're not clogging up the internet.

Plus, you'll break links to your older works.

seahorse said...

Whatever you do, whilst you are doing it here's a suggestion for a slow project (the sort that materializes in an organic, slow build sort of way ;-) ): Gather together in a folder each all your Goldfish Guides and all your essays. See how they hang together and consider putting them on a disc in a publishable form. Send to publisher. At the very least perhaps do a lulu. I'd buy one of each most certainly!