Over the past 36 hours, I've seen most of my favorite AOL Journals taken private with no readers, or filled with angry postings. Some of you have already started an alternative blog or journal on BlogSpot or elsewhere. There are two major drawbacks to doing this:
1. Frankly, the Blogger templates have columns that are too narrow to do photos well. For the last year and a half I've been trying to tweak Messages from Mâvarin so that the main column is wider, and I've ended up with something that looks fine in Netscape but horrible in IE (and I don't know how it looks in Firefox or Safari). Steven, Becky, anyone: can you help me with this?
2. More important: in some cases we've spent years building a readership with comments and Weekend Assignments, Monday Photo Shoots and Round Robin Challenges, Saturday Six, Blog Explosion and plain old hard work. When we move to BlogSpot, we are back to square one. For example, here are my Technorati stats for Musings and Outpost, as of Wednesday at 7:22 PM MST:
For this reason, I'm extremely reluctant to abandon Musings forever. I expect some of you feel the same way. You don't want to leave yet, in case something good happens, in case it blows over, in case it turns out that staying is the best alternative.
Allow me to suggest something we can do in the meantime: a multi-user blog! We could call it J-Land in Exile or something like that. One person would start it, and other people would be signed up as members. All members would be able to post on the blog. It would give people a forum while waiting for a resolution to the current mess, and help to keep the community together, and provide for more readers than a new solo effort. Then as people hang out their own shingles, the group blog (I think it's called a mob blog) would help to build a readership for those, too.
Now, if I were the one to start the thing, I would impose a few rules, a sort of watered down version of TOS: no personal attacks, no overt bigotry, no explicit sex. This would be for the protection of the blog members, and to keep things reasonably pleasant. (And of course, you can always start your own blog without such strictures, subject to the provider's terms and conditions.)
Who could get in as members and start posting? Why, anyone who asks, of course! Again, if I'm the one to start it, I'll reserve the right to lock out anyone who gets to egregious in the personal attacks and such. However, unlike AOL, I wouldn't do it capriciously, without investigation, or without contacting the people involved first.
Well? Whaddaya think? Hello?
[Insert sound of crickets here.]