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“Deleting Your Blog is Like Going Back on a Promise”

As I said, this plug-in culls out all the broken blog links and delivers them to me in a succinct list for me to do with as I please.  I can hit “ignore” and keep the person in place, knowing full well that the link goes nowhere.  Or I can unlink them, leaving the text in place, or unlink them and remove the text as well, erasing any sign that the person has been there.

For my regular blog posts, I opted to unlink the text but leave the blog name in place (for instance, in the Friday Blog Roundup).  On the blogroll, I opted to remove the link and the text, erasing the person’s existence.  I did this because I could see it becoming more annoying than helpful to have a bunch of random unlinked blog names on the list, even though erasing them felt wrong too, as if I was saying, “you were never here.”

Seeing the broken links and deleted blogs was like walking back through a ghost town.  It felt like the beginning of Oryx and Crake when Snowman is describing this empty world.  There were people I had forgotten about until I saw their blog name, and others that I thought about often and knew were gone.  It’s the natural progression of this disposable online world.  I used to take photographs carefully, making sure I used my film wisely.  Now I snap pictures with abandon; I can delete them if they don’t turn out well and it’s just random bytes disappearing.  I used to be careful in writing letters knowing that everything I sent required a stamp, a trip to the post office.  Now I send off hundreds of emails a day; some completely unnecessary, communication that would have never happened if it cost 45 cents and a car ride.

We create blogs on free blogging sites and we abandon or delete them when we no longer need them, maybe saving a copy on our hard drive, or maybe just tossing away the words like a used napkin.  I’m not applying any judgment to this; it’s just the way we operate now.

The ChickieNob saw me deleting blogs at one point, and at bedtime, she asked me what I had been doing.

“Oh, people write their blog for a while and ask me to link to it from the blogroll.  And then they delete their blog, and I have to go in and delete it on my end too when the link no longer works.”

“Deleting your blog is like going back on a promise,” the ChickieNob told me.

“How so?  No one made any promise when they asked me to add them,” I tell her.

“They made a promise to the people who read them,” she intoned, my know-it-all about social media.  “People read their story and thought they’d be around forever and then they’re gone.”*

The reality falls somewhere much more grey than the black-and-white proclamations of the ChickieNob.  Promises can’t be implied; they have too much weight for people to assume a promise.  But at the same time, there is a truth in the idea that we start relationships believing they will always be there.  If we knew at the start that the relationship would end in the future, would we enter into the friendship?  And if we knew a blog would be deleted once we were attached to it, would we start reading it in the first place?

I can’t agree with her, and for the record, I have no problem with people deleting their blog.  It’s your space to do with as you will, though I’m glad I now have this plug-in because what I think people don’t realize is that every time they delete their blog, they affect every site where they commented or where the person linked to them.

I did feel a strange tinge of sadness seeing all those blogs that once meant a lot to me disappear into the ether.  You can still feel sad even if you completely understand; even if you support the decision to leave a blog behind.

Would you start reading a blog if you knew definitively that at some point it would end and be deleted?**

* The ChickieNob is, indeed, smarter, faster, and smaller.  She will be able to survive on her wits alone when the zombies come.

** Of course all blogs, all relationships, all friendships end at some point.  But there is a difference between knowing that intellectually and having an expiration date in hand.


1 Jess { 08.16.12 at 9:38 am }

I moved my blog to new address after people in real life discovered my blog and started talking to me about it and I found I could no longer share myself completely in that space.

2 sharah { 08.16.12 at 9:51 am }

I follow Gwen Bell knowing that her work is impermanent by design. It’s fascinating knowing that what is up may be gone in 20 minutes — like a real time conversation with an author.

3 Elizabeth { 08.16.12 at 10:14 am }

Of course I would read it.

4 a { 08.16.12 at 10:22 am }

I assume that all things will be gone eventually…that’s no reason not to enjoy them in the moment.

5 Io { 08.16.12 at 10:58 am }

Working off of real life…I know a couple that have been deleted but I am still fb friends with the authors. So I would say yes.
I understand the why you disagree with The ChickieNob’s pronouncement, and you are probably right, but on a gut emotional level I am going with her.

6 deathstar { 08.16.12 at 11:22 am }

I suppose I would, but I doubt I’d read it that often or get that emotionally invested. There are a few that I wondered about – what happened to them and in the case that they died, I wished that the husband or somebody would have “finished” their story for them or written a goodbye.

7 Leslie { 08.16.12 at 11:42 am }

I know the feeling. It is like getting emotionally attached with someone or invested in a TV show then you realize the person is gone or the show got cancelled. I feel the same way when I follow certain blog sites only to find out one day that the blog has already been deleted. It bothers me thinking about what happened to the blog and the author. But I know that people have the right to leave. They have the right to post but they also have the right to take back what they have written and posted.

8 Esperanza { 08.16.12 at 11:57 am }

I have to admit, I smiled a big smile when I read the ChickieNob’s words because I do feel a promise forming as I spend time on a blog, reading and commenting. To me, I don’t feel like its a broken promise unless that person leaves without a trace or explanation. Of you tell us where you and going or just that you won’t be back there, or that you are shutting down a space, you are keeping your promise. But if you just disappear without an explanation, you are going back on a trust that you created when you shared your words and asked for ours in return. When you fade away without a reason, you leave us to assume the worst and that is a burden to those of us who really cared. We deserve better.

9 Jendeis { 08.16.12 at 12:19 pm }

Building off of Leslie’s comment – isn’t a blog essentially like The Sopranos? You join Tony’s life in midstream and leave Tony’s life in midstream. I would think written diaries (on paper) as opposed to blogs are the same way. You are with the person on their journey forsome uncertain amount of time.

10 Ana { 08.16.12 at 12:33 pm }

What Esperenza said, exactly. I’ve felt quite bewildered & betrayed when bloggers just…vanish….no update, no “i’m shutting this down”, no good bye.

Would I still read if I knew there was an expiration date? Sure. Same as I made friends with someone at summer camp or on vacation (pre-internet & cell phone days) knowing I’d probably never see them again…the connection & communication is there, and valuable, while it lasts.

11 Tiara { 08.16.12 at 12:56 pm }

I LOVE reading novels. I love being immersed in a story & it’s characters. But I hate when it ends…for days (months or years for really good books) I find myself wondering how things are going with so & so before reminding myself that so & so is just a fictional character. When I came upon the world of blogs, it felt like I’d hit a jackpot because here were thousands of stories, only better! They were REAL stories about real people that NEVER ENDED! It didn’t take me long to realize that they do indeed end.

What I don’t understand, if you’re not going to write your blog anymore, why not write a good bye post? I have come to a few blogs that have done this & even tho I’m sad they won’t be writing anymore, at least there’s closure. But there are blogs that the writer just stops writing…

What I found recently is that a couple of the blogs I’d regularly followed & commented (& they on my blog) have now gone private. I fight with myself not to take this personally but can’t help but wonder why I wasn’t invited in? Had I done something hurtful or offended them? I’m sure their decision had nothing to do with me but I’ll never know…

So I really like the ChickieNob’s perspective about it being a promise.

12 Emily @ablanket2keep { 08.16.12 at 1:34 pm }

I would definitely start reading it. There have been a bunch of blogs I read that have either been deleted or the writer has dropped off the face of the earth. There were still posts that I loved and that helped me and some I will never forget. I like what ChickieNob said. I know it technically isn’t a promise, but sometimes it does feel that way to me between my blog and readers.

13 Lori Lavender Luz { 08.16.12 at 2:02 pm }

Time Warp Tuesdays has me looking through my archives each month for a post to riff on. I get very wistful about some of the banter I had in posts and commenters who have engaged with me, especially the ones who have gone away.

The blogroll link checking must have been just like walking through a still-vibrant ghost town. The “still here” and the “oh-yeah!-where-did-she-go?”

I would still read, especially if the writing resonated.

14 loribeth { 08.16.12 at 2:37 pm }

It would depend on the blog/blogger, but yes, I would probably still read. As Ana said above, the connection is valuable while it lasts.

I too often wonder what happened to some bloggers who disappeared without explanation — and even those who did explain they wouldn’t be blogging anymore. It would be nice to know they are doing well.

I was guilty of privatizing my blog for a few days earlier this year, when it was inadvertently “outed” on Facebook (!). I felt bad because I knew people would be wondering what happened. I decided to sit tight for a week or so & then resurrect my blog after things had blown over, and in the meantime, I tried to spread the word as best I could (through e-mails, comments on other people’s blogs, a post on LFCA, etc.). It was a strange sort of limbo to be in!

This reminds me of the iVillage Childless Living message board where I first found refuge after making the decision to stop infertility treatments in the summer of 2001. It doesn’t exist anymore. It started going downhill when iVillage changed its format & it became technically difficult for many of the posters (myself included) to access it… but even though there weren’t many of us who still posted there, I knew we had a lot of lurkers and I felt it was important to be there as encouragement. iVillage felt differently, archived the board in 2008, and it was gone when I went back for a visit last year. What REALLY ticked me off was that they suggested we should hang out at the childfree by choice board instead. While we do have a lot in common with them (& they generally gave us a warm & sympathetic welcome), there are some very important differences that I felt weren’t being respected. I don’t visit iVillage at all these days. :p I feel so sad knowing that all that collective wisdom, all that history, simply vanished into thin air. 🙁 I do have a paper copy of my very first post to the group, though. And I am still in touch with several of my friends from there, through another private board we created and through Facebook.

15 Trisha { 08.16.12 at 3:46 pm }

I must say I am impressed with ChickieNobs wisdom. I always feel sad when I stumble on a blog that is no longer being updated. Especially when there has been no resolution. Sometimes people stop updating in the middle of treatments and I always wonder what has happened in the mean time and if they have moved on to a happier life. Of course I still read and but it is a little frustrating to know that you will never get an end to a story. What if all stories stopped in the middle?

16 Queenie { 08.16.12 at 5:07 pm }

I think the Chickienob is brilliant! I really do think she has something, there. The relationship between blog writer and blog reader is a sort of social contract. We write because others read and others read because we write. Is a promise not implied in that transaction? That we will be here tomorrow, that we will appear again, someday? Very few people tie up their blogs neatly; they simply go away. And to me, that does feel like a betrayal, albeit a tiny one. I do wonder why I’ve been left behind, forgotten–like a promise has been broken.

The question of friendship is an interesting one that we’ve been living and talking about a lot in our house. When we first moved here, we would tell people that we were only here for two years. We were astonished at how many people were utterly disinterested in befriending us when they learned we would be moving away in the near future. It’s happened over and over again in our time here. Of course, the end result is that we have friends that are fun and quirky and live interesting lives, so it’s all worked out in the end. But it seems a lot of people don’t want to invest in transient relationships. And with six weeks until we move, and need new friends again, it makes me a little sad to think we have to go through this process again soon.

17 Jackie { 08.16.12 at 5:38 pm }

I would, because a blog is just a medium. You can still make a connection with the person writing the blog, which can potentially be a lasting friendship. And really, knowing that the blog would eventually be deleted would force me to decide what parts of it are important in my life, and maybe do some copy/pasting. Just because the original source no longer exists doesn’t mean the words have disappeared.
On that note, I agree with other commenters, however, who have said that they feel a bit taken aback when people just delete their blog without warning or stop updating. Especially in the ALI world, there is a lot of emotion and empathy that goes into reading the blogs. It does feel like a slap in the face sometimes.

18 Wolfers { 08.16.12 at 6:03 pm }

It depends on the blog/blogger… for me, I have two, thro one is active and the other isn’t. With that other, I had posted that I’m on a “journey leave”, (due to infertilty/childless not by choice), to focus on my current blog, and that when I’m ready, I’ll return to the original blog to resume my blogging. To my surprise, a lot of folks still read that blog even that I hadn’t been back for a bit more than six months! That tells me that there are readers that still check in with the old blog, and in an odd way, gives me affirmation that even that I’m not there, they ‘misses’ me.

19 Stinky { 08.16.12 at 8:18 pm }

Yes, definitely. The question is like the curse of a crystal ball – if you knew the future, would it change how you approached today? Of course sometimes it would just be nice to know the future to save on heartbreak, but c’est la vie. We don’t.
So yes, I would read a blog that was to end, but I’d maybe prioritise my time spent on it reading and commenting (ha! conditional!). On another forum I visit, there is a member who frequently deletes her threads, and I have felt less inclined to post responses to her, knowing that its only a matter of time before it all disappears anyway. If something really resonates, yes, I will post, but not anything I intend to ‘generate discussion’ or elaboration, because I know it will be gone, and my question unanswered.

I’m guessing from your question that we wouldn’t know a definite end-date for the hypothetical blog-in-question?

20 Lis { 08.16.12 at 9:10 pm }


I have not deleted my blog but I have closed it for some time. Yes, I have the wordpress blog and I linked to it here. As it says it is, and has always been a kind of ‘directors cut.’ I go through periods of wanting to share everything online and craving anonymity. When I created my WP blog, it was in a whirlwind of emotions after realizing how many times I had used my girls’ names in posts. It felt natural to do when it was happening, but years later I don’t want people who know me to have access to how I was feeling then, or how my babies smelled, or how it felt when I knew I was losing them. After losing B & T, (who in stark contrast to their sisters have always, save the day after they were born, been known by their initials) I felt an even greater sense of urgency to close those entries up, to keep their names just for me and mine. I felt those who knew their story knew their names. They knew everything. I went to WP & password protected every post I could find where I used my girls beautiful names. After losing so much, I felt in that moment that I needed to ensure that I could hold onto what little I did have. I didn’t want to be the girl with the dead baby stories anymore. What I thought would be a happy ending turned sour and it turned my feelings about that (blogspot) place. It had always been a place I was proud of, wanted to share with the world, felt great sense of accomplishment and community through and then it grew to be something that mocked me, and the person I was before I lost my B and my T. I wanted to write but I couldn’t so I guilted myself. I went back and forth, even closing it a few timed before I made the decision that it just wasn’t in the best interest of my my emotional health to feel so guilty about not being able to emote or to share and connect. I have wounds and regrets, but I can’t see how I could have done it differently. It didn’t feel like B&T’s place and I didn’t want to turn it into a graveyard. The only thing I could do was say so long…for now, and maybe I’ll be back. It goes deeper than this, because I have become avoiding of reading blogs, some days just too delicate to take in any news, happy or sad, or give out anything of myself, really. I require all of my emotional energy to get out of bed in the morning, to get through work, to be able to vacuum my rug.

All said, I think the ChickieNob, with wisdom beyond her years, is right on. And I feel like I broke my promise to so many.

21 Kristin { 08.17.12 at 12:13 am }

I absolutely would read the blogs even knowing the relationship had a finite length to it. I have gained too much from all those I’ve read (including GetupGrrl) to regret entering those relationships.

22 St. Elsewhere { 08.17.12 at 12:24 am }

I think the expiry date of a blog is not what I look at when I read, or continue to read a blog. The expiry date is not a deal breaker.

One of my old favourites, moved to a new place (started a new post-baby blog), and then stopped updating it entirely, but for all the while that she wrote, she gave voice to my own angst. I am in touch with her in another way, but I now never get to peek at her in as much length as I could when she was writing.

It was good while it lasted.

Chickienob’s contention is beautiful though. I keep telling Figlia that I love her, and I will always be there for her. What if I die before she enters her youth? Or before she marries and has kids? Or whenever my death may occur. Would I be going back on my promise to be by her side always? So much food for thought.

23 Justine { 08.17.12 at 12:58 am }

Deleted blogs feel like a black hole in the blogging universe to me.

And yet, I don’t feel like we promise our readers anything. Like any friendship, we’re there, and then circumstances often beyond our control require us to leave or to cut our ties. Sometimes it’s a sad leave-taking, sometimes less so. I wonder why we expect more permanence from the internet, which seems, in so many ways, LESS permanent than RL anyway?

24 Bea { 08.17.12 at 1:29 am }

Well, on the one hand, I read books knowing they’ll end in X number pages, and that doesn’t seem to bother me, even when I know I won’t be reading them again. Blogs… well, a lot of them are more like friends (especially nowadays) but some of them are more like books – the relationship isn’t always very two-way.

I guess I am disappointed when a blog goes without even a goodbye, but I think I also just accept it as the way of the world. Expected, not in a specific sense, connected to dates or individual blogs, but in general at least. The Chickienob will get used to it over time. It is more prevalent with digital media than with flesh-and-blood interactions but it’s not entirely new with the internet age.

And of course, many people read blogs where the authors have terminal illnesses, knowing that the ending is coming sooner or later. I think at some level we do prefer to love and lose than never love at all.


25 smiling.scar { 08.25.12 at 7:50 am }

I guess I assume the story will go on, but whether or not I get to read it, well I have never had any claim to that. It reminds me of those travel moments where a stranger tells you a very personal story, because your lives don’t over lap, and then you go your separate ways…. not always, but often.

Blogging is like that for me… a very long plane ride where we pepper each others lives with stories. Some of those conversations may lead to friendships later or a longer term exchange of letters latter — some just inform you of how complex life can be and it becomes a story you retelling with “actually I once met a person who had X happen to her, and while rare, it does happen….”

And yet today I got all excited about a new post on a blog in my ‘once read a very amazing post’ section of my google reader, often from bloggers I discover through LCFA and your round up. I was so so excited. These are only blogs where I have read very amazing writing and stories. But many have been quite silent for awhile. This is also the section that can be quiet for months or years, and then POW a great recap post. I was so eager to click over. I was a bit sheepish because I couldn’t remember who this blogger was, but had faith that all would wash back when I clicked over….

… and the blog was gone. Filled with a single post of some new person or ‘bot that had put a random post up to hold the blog name. some crap about marketing or something.

and I was very sad. Sad because I had lost even the information I depend on to even remember which blogger I was now missing.

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