RIP Writers’ Websites?

Reading & Writing

(My photo shows the cemetery where most of my family is buried)

I’ve been blogging since (I think) 2006, starting on the site that preceded this one. It might have been earlier – the old site was far more complex and had revolving views of nighttime London built on Flash (remember that?), but was too difficult for some readers to load, so I eventually simplified the site.

Since that time social media has exploded, and after we hit Peak Website many readers realised they were taking on too much. It’s no surprise that TikTok caters so well for shorter attention spans.

Now it appears we’re not visiting writer websites as much as we used to. I came off Facebook owing to privacy issues, and use Twitter regularly (and Instagram very occasionally, although I find it utterly uninstinctive) but I’m starting to think that most writer sites have had their day.

I kept moving forward from the carefree early posts that consisted of dance routines, jokes, puzzles and clips through to the longer more serious pieces I wrote for research, and had a lot of fun doing so.

It’s been good to me too, providing me with the basis of several books – regular readers will find that ‘Peculiar London’ owes its origins to a number of articles extensively reworked from the yeast mother of the site’s London posts.

Times change, though – some of the old content on this site has corrupted and videos have timed out, but there’s quite a bit of information in the various sections. I looked around at other writers’ sites and many of them have slowed the posting of fresh content to a trickle, while some have stopped altogether.

Personal issues have not really stopped me from blogging, but now I’m thinking of closing the site. I wonder if another simpler UK-based platform would be better. Any suggestions will be welcomed. It may be that I just use Twitter for announcements and make life simpler for all of us. I’d happily reclaim my leisure time…

Do writer blogs still have any purpose? Are there easier ways of providing readers with information? Let me know what you think.

61 comments on “RIP Writers’ Websites?”

  1. Helen+Martin says:

    What is a content strategist and marketer?

  2. roxanne g reynolds says:

    what they all said. this blog gives my brain a good old workout. i read every comment and enjoy every word. i dearly miss long-form blogging. there were several blogs i had followed daily for 15+ years.

  3. Hello Helen+Martin,
    As a content strategist and content marketer, I don’t just write articles, I make sure that the content created will serve the business needs of a company. That means knowledge about SEO and how to promote content via digital channels. I also make sure that the content will be maintained properly so that it will continue to reap rewards for the company. That means keeping track of the hundreds of articles on the website, and the change them whenever Google comes up with an update, which is the bane of my life.

    Honestly, it’s a fancy way of saying editor.

  4. snowy says:

    ♪ ♪ Oom oom oom oom, ooma mow mow
    Ooma mow mow, papa ooma mow mow
    Papa ooma mow mow, ooma mow mow

    A well a don’t you know about the nerd?
    Well, everybody’s talking about the nerd!
    A well a nerd, nerd, n-nerd is the word… ♪♪

    [If you are technophobic and still reading this after that, consider yourself as ‘aving ‘ad fair warning about what follows!]

    I was taking a stroll this afternoon, I wanted to puts some flowers on the grave of somebody I’d never met, and during the 5 hours it took to walk there and walk back I mused ‘pon why this blog was running on such an ancient version of WordPress. Pausing for a break and a glass of something refreshing, I pulled out my pocket computer and looked things up.

    [If you are technophobic, this really is your last chance to bail out before it gets all ‘word-salad’].

    So a bit of basic background.

    The domain is registered via a company in Cheshire, nothing startling there. It will expire 4 days before Xmas this year, so a little action might be needed.

    The hosting provider is a well known company in California, as far as I can tell. If true they do have contactable support.

    [None of this info is secret, all in the public domain].

    How updates are supposed to happen is easy; they just happen.

    How they stop is an entirely different bucket of frogs, the documentation is comprehensive and quite clear: it used to do something, then it stopped and now does something quite entirely different, er… just because. What happened depends on a diverse range of conditions, version, install method, day of the week, wind direction and the colour of your socks on the date you installed it.

    Now, there is a way to find out if updates are being blocked, if you feel so inclined?

    [Entirely optional, obv.]

    OK, you may wish to don your best leather trousers, take the blue pill, [not that sort], and get your bullet-dodging skills honed for the next bit… We are going to look at some code.

    Log in the the host providers web-panel, where you will find a file-explorer, find a file called wp-config.php, usually in a folder called public_html. Look inside that file and see if either of the following lines or similar are present:


    'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false

    If you find them, DON’T CHANGE THEM, and I’ll say this once again for emphasis DON’T CHANGE THEM! I would be bad…….!

    [How they get there is another story…. but it’s even more mind-numbingly dull, hosts can put them there, plugins can put them there, users can put them there; the list goes on].

    All fixable, just takes a bit of work, updating will update the WordPress editor into something less ‘knife and fork’ and a bit more drop and drag.

  5. snowy says:

    “It would be bad”.

    Computers eh, who’d ‘ave ’em!

    *Paging Dr Freud, Dr Freud to the restraining room urgently!*

  6. Peter T says:

    I have two websites. In spite of me not doing anything to them in yonks, I receive frequent notices that the WordPress version has been updated. The updates don’t seem to change anything in terms of what the sites look like. I started the sites in 2017 and chose WordPress for its ease of use – it really is. It was already WYSIWYG. Mr F must be working with something particularly ancient.

  7. snowy says:

    Ancient… I think it was what they used to write the Operating manual for Stonehenge.

    [The blog is on version 4.9.4, Feb 2018. The new editor came in with the update to 5.0.0 in Dec 2018].

  8. Peter T says:

    Ancient was IBM’s JCL, something unfathomable to all but the most dedicated, of whom I was never one.

  9. Helen+Martin says:

    Elizabeth Tai – Thank you, I’m always glad to have clarity added to descriptions.

    Snowy – I have never been able to omit reading any part of your explanations but I can’t say I have always learned something from them, just had a few minutes of entertainment in a totally foreign realm.

  10. Gareth says:

    This is one of my favourite nooks of the internet.. Like your brilliant B&M novels it’s (let’s say peculiar), informative, quirky and interesting.

    Personally I find the ‘connection’ so rewarding. Interesting information or book/film rabbit holes to jump down and explore would be missed!

    Would be a fantastic project to see it reimagined as a non-fiction book of some sort! Thanks again for everything.

  11. Glasgow1975 says:

    I remember the Flash site. I’m still annoyed that when I lost my old email address I lost my Spongebob icon here. I may dip in here less frequently than I used to, but I would miss it if it was gone. One of the first things I did when I was deleted from Facebook for being a very naughty boy, was trying to re-add your Pages, so that explains why I couldn’t find them…Twitter is all very well but it’s definitely less personal than coming back here after a break and seeing what Snowy is rambling on about this time 😉 or what Helen has to add to the discussion. I was genuinely upset when I came back and found out Dan had died, despite never having met him and only chatting on here and Good Reads…We’re an odd little family here.

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