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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ugh, part two

I see that AOL Journals is going through a major bit of flux right now, since AOL's corporate overlords decided to unilaterally impose banner advertising on all AOL Journals, even the ones owned by paying AOL subscribers, which are apparently supposed to be a "cut above" the free AIM model, if I've been reading this stuff correctly.

I can totally understand the amount of anger that has erupted over this, since my own experience on Blogger has tracked the exact opposite direction: when I started blogging, all BlogSpot blogs sported banner ads, which could be removed by paying a small fee (it was something like twelve bucks, if memory serves), but when Google took over Blogger and BlogSpot, first the ads switched to Google ads generated by the content of the blog itself (sometimes with amusing results -- it wasn't uncommon for a blogger to post something like, oh, "I hate Garth Brooks!" and then have the banner ad hawk some new Garth Brooks CD), and then the ads disappeared entirely in favor of a "Navigation Bar" that's really not that intrusive. (Somehow, I don't have the NavBar activated. Maybe I should? I dunno. I don't use the thing even on blogs that have it, so I don't care.)

Contrast that with AOL, a pay service that launched its own blogging community a couple of years ago, which then became a pretty vibrant blogging community in itself -- but maybe it was a little bit too "in itself", as with only a couple of very rare exceptions, I almost never encounter links to AOL Journals while noodling about Blogistan. I'm not really sure why this is the case -- maybe there's something about AOL Journals that fosters a sense of "community" that doesn't really exist for users of Blogger or WordPress or TypePad or CityDesk, which is nice if you're in the community but doesn't really help to get noticed outside it. AOL Journals seems to be an even more sequestered blogging community than, say, LiveJournal. (And don't get me started about MSN Spaces. What are those about?)

Anyhow, in reading the comments on Paul's journal and on the "flagship" journal, John Scalzi's By The Way, a common theme I see is that AOL's forcing of banner ads upon its already-paying customers will hurt the community those customers have built over there. I sympathize entirely. I also see a lot of folks threatening to leave AOL, and some have actually started migrating their journaling to other outlets. Since many of these people are likely to have distinctive blogging voices of their own, and since many of them have already been blogging on AOL Journals for a long time, it seems to me that they deserve better than to simply be thrust into the larger open environment of Blogistan, without so much as someone to say, "Hey, check out those folks over there."

So, if any AOL Journalers are, in fact, moving to other blogging tools and hosting sites, whether intending to be there temporarily (in the event that AOL reconsiders its ads) or permanently, and if those Journalers would like some kind of introductory link, feel free to let me know, either in comments to this post or in an e-mail (my e-mail addresses are in the sidebar). I can't recreate your AOL Journal community here in Blogistan, but I can at least introduce you to my small readership, and vice versa.

Here are two I found already, via the post linked above at Paul's journal:

Judith Heartsong
In the Shadow of the Iris

Good luck, folks. Just because Kent Brockman, for one, welcomed his new alien overlords doesn't mean that you have to welcome your new corporate overlords.

UPDATE I: Here's one refugee AOL Journaler:

The Peach Pages II (originally here)

By the way, a word of advice to AOL Journalers planning to leave AOL: before you pull the trigger, make sure you save to your hard drive any journal entries you've made to your old journals that you'd like to save. You can always post them again as reposts to your new blogs, but you can't do that if you don't have them available. And unless having an AOL Journal means signing over copyright of your content to AOL, they're your words, and they don't have to disappear into the cybervoid if you don't want them to.

UPDATE II: Here are a few more:

Collage of Clouded Lucidity
Where Life Takes You...
My Journey with MS

UPDATE III: Still more:

Search the Sea (formerly Midlife Matters)
The Ups and Downs of My Life
Clerical Work: A Survivor's Guide
Looking Beyond the Cracked Window

If this gets too unwieldy, I'll gather all these links onto a new post for ease of use.

UPDATE IV: A couple that have trickled in over the last couple of days:

Adventures in Juggling
Dawn Allynn
Separation Anxiety

More are welcome, of course.

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