When blogs go dark

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Over the five years that I’ve been really involved with this blogging world, I’ve seen more than a handful of blogs wither away. Maybe the person’s interests had changed, or they felt like they said all they could say, or they just didn’t have the time, or they just didn’t care anymore. It happens, it’s the nature of things. Some of those blogs I miss, many,not so much.

But the thing about these blogs is that for the most part they still exist. The domain is still there, and you can go visit the blog, but there may not have been anything posted in the last year or two. Or three.

But sometime the blog goes dark, as in it doesn’t exist anymore on teh internets. If you’ve been following it in some form like email updates or a reader, you may have the posts somewhere. But if you try to follow the url, you get a 404, or with WordPress, “The author(s) have deleted this blog.” Any time I see this, I wonder what exactly happened. And the most recent incidence of it has me particularly curious.

Every summer I end up following a few blogs by people actively touring the country. This summer I was following one particular blog of a dude heading from the east coast to Portland. I didn’t know him, and forget exactly how I came across his blog, but I decided to follow his posts. They were pretty sporadic, which I’m fine with, as I know from first-hand experience how hard it is to blog every day/every other day when on the road. (I’m always amazed by the folks who can do it almost daily.) I’ll admit that the blog wasn’t the most interesting of reads, as he concentrated too much on “bike touring is sleeping, eating, drinking water, and pedalling” and less on where he’s been, what he saw and the experiences he’s had. But it was still nice to see his progress across country.

Then I realized that the new posts stopped about a few weeks ago. A week or so without an update is one thing, but nearing a month when you’re on a tour is something else. Wondering if my reader wasn’t updating posts in a timely manner (it happens), I decided to go straight to the url, and got the “blog has been deleted” message.

Now what happened? I really hope nothing bad happened, like a bad injury, or even worse, death. But when that has happened, from what I’ve seen the blog doesn’t come down and maybe a relative/spouse/partner/friend will post the bad news to the blog. So maybe he’s still on the road? But deleting an entire blog while one is supposedly in the midst of a several month long tour, if still doing the tour, is just plain weird. Especially since this person is doing this tour as a fundraiser, and the fundraising site (last I checked) was still up, including the no-longer-functioning blog link. (And his facebook and twitter links lead to similar dead ends.) I can only think of two possible scenarios: either he pissed off WordPress and they took down the blog, or he bailed on the tour for some unknown reason, got embarrassed about not finishing, and tried to erase any reminder of the trip.

And I know the feeling when one gets their hopes up, tells the world what they’re going to do, then doesn’t (or can’t) finish. I felt that way at the end of the Cross-Continent Tour in 2011. While we were on the road for over four months, and did log several thousand miles, we didn’t get to the East Coast as was our goal. I felt bad, and felt that we let people down.

But I don’t know what’s going through this particular dude’s head. And unless he starts blogging again, I’ll never know. I just hope he’s okay.

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