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Show HN: r/hnblogs, Blogging is not Dead
304 points by fossuser 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 55 comments
Link: https://www.reddit.com/r/hnblogs/ Old Reddit Link: https://old.reddit.com/r/hnblogs/

Hi HN,

Inspired by this post earlier this week: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23237559, I thought we could make blog discovery easier by having a place to find interesting, unusual, niche, or really any kind of non-marketing blogs that are posted by the people that write them.

There are a ton of interesting blogs on the web, probably more than there were when the web was new, but even though there's more they're a smaller percentage of the total internet and hard to find.

Search engines fail to help with this for a lot of reasons. They're both not incentivized to find this kind of non-ad, non-sales content, and there are lots of sophisticated actors trying to game search engines to show their own content.

Regular people just writing interesting blogs who don't have an interest in SEO will be lost in that shuffle.

HN and Reddit are great for link aggregations, but rely on submissions and upvotes which skew things to more generally popular content. The volume of posts also make it hard to compete (even though I really like HN and find the content interesting).

The restriction to only allow posts from the authors of the blogs should help and the writer can interact with the community.

The end goal is to generate a wiki on Reddit reminiscent of old 90s 'portal' pages with curated links to interesting content.

We have a small initial community from my HN comment on that other post (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23239999), but if you write a blog and want to join please do!






The difficulty with the blogging ecosystem is the same challenge that many others face, which is that some very large companies don't want you to have your own blog when you could instead be producing content to make (Twitter, Medium, Youtube, Facebook, etc) more valuable. Still, the level of control and decentralization with blogs remains appealing to many, luckily. While blogging isn't dead, being able to better discover individual places on the Internet is a great step.

My vision of the Internet was always that everyone gets their own website, which could be a blog, or of course anything else, perhaps they want to host videos or music instead of text posts. Then there would be centralized directories as well as decentralized+federated networks and interlinking to help people navigate through all of this. Then you could have open protocols on how all of these things connect, but the huge benefit would be the level of control that users have, resilience to censorship, significantly more creative freedoms and so on. It would be nice if people were not obligated to use certain social networks to be able to have certain kinds of content viewed by others, since we all know if you want your video watched, you have to use Youtube, as an example.


The difficulty with the blogging ecosystem is the same challenge that many others face, which is that some very large companies don't want you to have your own blog when you could instead be producing content to make

I don't really think that's it. I think it's just that you learn the names of the big companies because they are big.

It's kind of like saying "Walmart doesn't want the world to have mom and pop shops. That's why you never hear about them." Well, Walmart has a history of undermining the success of local businesses, but I don't really think that's a goal per se.

The existence of Walmart is not why a billion people don't know the name of some mom and pop shop in my small town. They don't know it because it's a mom and pop shop. If it were a multinational corporation, it wouldn't be a corner store anymore.

I hope this reddit does well. I have subscribed and posted a thing, which is my attempt to support it, fwiw. It's nice to have some kind of aggregator, but I think blogging just has inherent challenges and there's no plot to kill them off just because the internet moved on and they stopped being as readily discoverable as they once were back when the internet was young and there was less competition and whatever.


> "Walmart doesn't want the world to have mom and pop shops. ...

That may not be their stated goal (or it may be, I don't know). But aren't corporate structures pushing them to continuously grow? Can they truly bring new money into the economy, or will their growth be at the expense of another company's revenue? Maybe on Monday, they pull one over on another big chain, on Tuesday, they end up hurting a mom and pop shop.

> make (Twitter, Medium, Youtube, Facebook, etc) more valuable

These companies may also not have a stated goal of destroying the distributed blogging ecosystem (or maybe they do), but wouldn't them driving for their own growth not have the same (potential) result? Isn't this the same thing Uber does to taxis? Amazon to book stores? (Oh, wow, the Amazon example hits close to the Walmart example, now doesn't it?)


I do a lot of blogging and some of my blog posts have made the front page of Hacker News. And I'm enormously frustrated that they seem to not get shared by anyone but me on any other social media platforms and I'm enormously frustrated by what looks to me like classism, sexism, etc holding me back.

This is a problem space I have thought a lot about and I don't agree with you. Frankly, I am not sure I can make use of r/hnblogs.

I've suggested the moderator of it should determine a posting frequency that's acceptable and was told they don't expect to need such a guideline and I have no desire to become the de facto "test case" trying to determine what the word "occasionally" means to them and end up banned and blah blah blah. I don't need more drama.

My expectation is the very platform under discussion here intended to solve this problem probably won't solve my problem. And I halfway expect to write a blog post somewhere detailing why this is likely to be drama waiting to happen for me no matter how I handle it.

So while my life generally makes me feel like spitting nails, I sincerely do not agree with your world view that everyone is simply up to something nefarious all the time. I've met a few people like that in my life, but most people honest to god aren't intentionally shitting all over me. Most don't even realize that their rules or expectations or whatever end up being problematic for me personally while often I am, theoretically, the exact kind of person they are supposedly hoping to solve a problem for.


Yep, I agree with this idea. Aggregators and directories should be separate services from the actual blogs, content. If you don't like the censorship/curation on one aggregator, you can go to a different one.

I started working a little bit on this idea, by creating simple aggregators for mastodon and pixelfed (still thinking about how to improve the discovery/curation aspect)

https://pixelfed.club

https://mastodonia.club


This is great. Thanks so much for creating this!

There is actually an amazing amount of really good quality content out there, but as everybody on this thread has pointed out already, discoverability is a major issue. I often wonder how one would go about finding a site like the one you made if it hadn't been posted here, though I suppose "aggregator" is actually a decent search keyword that should (in theory) also lead to other good content. Presumably "blog aggregator" wouldn't be a particularly useful search term though.


Aren't those services already self-aggregating? The whole point of federated instances is that they exchange and sync their content, or am I wrong?

They are. I created these for several reasons.

- Reduce friction for unregistered users to see content.

- The instance you use, only aggregates from specific instances of their choosing. You might miss content from other instances.

- Work on custom curation / discovery features in the future.


All that's missing now is a ranking mechanism and commenting system.

> My vision of the Internet was always that everyone gets their own website, which could be a blog, or of course anything else, perhaps they want to host videos or music instead of text posts. Then there would be centralized directories as well as decentralized+federated networks and interlinking to help people navigate through all of this. Then you could have open protocols on how all of these things connect, but the huge benefit would be the level of control that users have, resilience to censorship, significantly more creative freedoms and so on.

So, Geocities? I agree, let's bring that back


> So, Geocities?

Geocities was still hosted by a single company.

Is that your point? Are you missing something or am I?


> Geocities was still hosted by a single company.

Because it was forever ago, but nothing about it required it to be hosted by a single company, so you could still replicate it today through federated distribution


> So, Geocities? I agree, let's bring that back

I'm pretty sure that kyledrake already accomplished that the best way it's going to be accomplished with neocities.

part of what the grandparent described reminds me more of webrings, perhaps more contextualized, along with the more centralized link aggregators. I think that ultimately the internet got too large and complex for the latter, and possibly too large for the former.

which leaves us with conclaves:

* "the dark web"

* facebook

* medium

* slack/discord (community oriented, not work oriented)

* reddit

* and in its own way, hn

curation seems to have been replaced with algorithms and machine learning, but the scale has forced it.


Yes! The technology really seems basically complete now with the IndieWeb and Fediverse efforts. It’s down to a UX and service provider problem now.

I see the largest problem as that you're basically competing with the social networking giants, and without a profit model or some other significant source of funds, how can you expect to take enough of their users to garner your own network effects?

I'm reminded of that one xkcd about competing standards (https://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/standards.png), where every platform wants to maximize their long-term user retention, so ends up being proprietary, and now we have thousands of different systems, apps, and websites, just for something as basic as chat. Not only is this inefficient and wasteful, I think it really hampers the Internet and developer creativity as a whole. It would be great if when you make a new app, you could just drag and drop 'chat' into it, and it would be the same chat protocols and systems that all the other apps use.

If we can have donation-funded services as good as Wikipedia or the Internet Archive, maybe there is some way to do this eventually? One can only hope. Services like Mastodon and many others do at least seem impressive technically, even if they're lacking the userbase of their centralized alternatives.


> I see the largest problem as that you're basically competing with the social networking giants, and without a profit model or some other significant source of funds, how can you expect to take enough of their users to garner your own network effects?

Content.

They have every advantage... except this one blog you like because it is written by someone you like hearing from. Adam Cadre has good content, Rachel By The Bay has good content, Bruce Schneier has good content, and none of them post primarily on Reddit or Facebook or Twitter. So you go to their blogs, and read them, and go to blogs they link to, and so forth.


The value of this model has to be apparent to the user, and I believe that can happen. When that happens, then there’s money to be made off of hosting these sites and for premium providers.

The lack of profit motive hasn’t stopped the development of the technology; that’s gone very well as open source and standards development. There is profit to be made in packaging this up and selling to people who realize ~$100/yr is well worth it for a coherent, permanent, flexible home on the web without all the manipulation of the big platforms.


That's a good point, and we can already see sizeable portions of normal users that voice concerns about Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, etc. But how many of these users would really be willing (and able) to pay $100/year?

I worry that any platform that succeeds enough will eventually fall into the same negative patterns that we dislike about the current prevailing platforms. Advertising will increase as advertisers realize there is money to be made, censorship will increase as governments realize freedom of speech has become an absolute and copyright laws are not being enforced, and so on in many other ways.

The promise of decentralization is to solve these problems, but can they all truly be solved with code alone?


I think Matrix/Riot is an example of a successful approach, and when p2p matrix is ready the complexity should be largely invisible to the user (and it also won't require paying for any hosting since the server is embedded in the client).

Urbit attempts to solve this by making the default state a server on your own machines that’s p2p.

If done right you get ad free applications where users own their own data by default without the complexity overhead of server management.

The complexity can be invisible to the user (eventually) since the UI would basically just be using local applications that plug into your Urbit node.


> It’s down to a UX and service provider problem now.

UX and service providing (including marketing) is 99% of the problem when competing against twitter/facebook/etc though. The technology for self-hosting has existed for a very long time, but most people are about as interested in hosting their own mastodon server as they are in setting up their own wordpress instance or nginx install.


Not the technology for self-hosting, the technology for a decentralized, federate Web. That hasn’t been feature-complete for very long at all. And of course it’s the prerequisite for good UX and services.

I know older tech isn't as cool as the fediverse and friends but DNS and web servers have enabled decentralised blog hosting for a very long time now. The parent comment by ve55 mentioned "My vision of the Internet was always that everyone gets their own website, which could be a blog, or of course anything else" and that vision has been possible for quite a while.

This is one reason I’m pretty excited about Urbit and have been playing around with their OS1 release.

A from first principles design of personal servers where that complexity can eventually be invisible to the user. Applications made on their OS are decentralized by default and the identity model helps prevent spam. I think it’s pretty cool, and I haven’t been as excited about playing with something since I first started playing with Linux.


I submitted jakeseliger.com and yet I also find it comedic that the solution to too little independent Internet simultaneously runs through the corporate behemoth that is Reddit.

I view that as a temporary thing to “ship” now using the most widely available tool.

I think once there’s a community we can figure out the way to do it in a truly independent ad-free way eventually.

Right now I think a subreddit is the most accessible/best place to do this kind of thing for the most people to participate.


> The difficulty with the blogging ecosystem is the same challenge that many others face, which is that some very large companies don't want you to have your own blog when you could instead be producing content to make (Twitter, Medium, Youtube, Facebook, etc) more valuable.

I'm not following. So they don't want you to blog on your own site instead of theirs. What are they going to do about it? Why does that make for a difficulty in the blogging ecosystem?


They can cut features like RSS support and thus make it more of an effort for readers to follow your blog.

I'm working on this with https://intrgr.com

In the current form, blog posts are recommended to others based on their reading interests.

I can add the rss feeds of any blogs you like to the global pool of articles. Just place them in a reply.


To close the loop, remember that you can get an RSS feed to a subreddit by tagging .rss on the URL.

So if you want, you can get an aggregate RSS feed of hnblogs here: https://www.reddit.com/r/hnblogs.rss


Thanks for mentioning that, I had no idea that was a feature.

I didn’t know this - very cool. It helps since a lot of people don’t have rss on their blogs anymore (myself included).

I’ll add a note to the sidebar on the subreddit.


I love this idea. I guess my main concern will be figuring out how to do it without mission creep.

It's unproductive to debate what it does or doesn't mean for blogs to be dead. But it is productive, I think, to do something like Awesome Lists[1] but for this.

There are some great blogs that I never, ever would have found, unless some random person on Mastodon pointed me to them, and I want there to be a way to find them. I don't even want to say findable blogs are bad necessarily. Discoverability isn't what it used to be.

1. https://github.com/sindresorhus/awesome


StumbleUpon was pretty good for this.

I really like this, and I think the key is that you have to submit your own posts, so that there is engagement. I suggest having some kind of requirement that authors engage with comments. Otherwise it could turn into Twitter: someone posts material in an attempt to promote themselves (even if there's no attempt to sell anything) but they refuse to engage with most people. That's super boring, and there are other places to do that.

I feel that if in general you want the authors to engage, I would ask the audience to post the comments on the author's blog (for those blogs that support comments).

In this specific case it's a bit trickier because you want authors to post their content, and this may or may not be in line with your goal, depending on whether you e.g. prioritise build another community (social network?) of people interested in blogging or reducing reliance on <big centralised websites>.

I would prefer reducing the comment fragmentation in this kind of a context.


Yeah the summaries and text only posts are meant to help with that.

It could be worth asking authors explicitly to engage with comments too. I’ll add that if it looks like people are only dropping links to promote.


The subreddit appears to entirely miss the difference between a "blog" and a "post." The former is a collection of posts, and the subreddit seems to consist exclusively of posts, not blogs. What the the HN post was lamenting was that there aren't blogs as a whole that you can follow anymore. The subreddit doesn't quite seem to be filling the void that had been identified.

This seems pedantic to me?

The reason for people to submit a post they like is to interest people in their blog and focus discussion about a specific post in the comments.

Submitting the homepage is less interesting.

People that like the post can follow the blog (the homepage of which is easy to find from a post).

Also, the wiki is a place for the collection of blog links generally.


For a lean mobile view add ".compact" to the end: https://old.reddit.com/r/hnblogs/.compact

Thank you for trying this. It is adding to my own recent interest in resuming blogging for blogging's sake.

Thanks - I look forward to seeing your post!

All this talk about blogs and this subreddit led me to restart my github pages blog.

Just liking a post in which I discribed a tool I created to help finding 'original posts' and therefore blogs from HN publications

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23093990

I'm going through all post published on hn everyday to discover those contents, maybe I could publish my daily findings


This is a great idea for aggregating blogs. I am very happy with the initiative. Blogging isn't dead but it has become more niche.

Glad to see you followed through with the idea!

If you’re running a blog or personal website, be sure to IndieWeb-ify it for maximum site-to-site engagement. Use micro.blog or the various IndieWeb plugins (or find lots of other options on http://indieweb.org).

You got me thinking... Would a webmention-based aggregator make sense? In the sense that you link to it from your post and send a mention to it, and your post appears on it?

I see a potential for spam, but on the other side I always found that given the low number of webmention-using blogs, they do not seem to bring a lot. Most posts where Ibsaw them used were posts about webmentions themselves, where people basically were playing around.

Such an aggregator would at least create some kind of hub where such posts appear.


I can see something in that idea for sure. Maybe read through some of this to help conceptualize what might work. https://indieweb.org/Webmention


May I recommend a webring?

I'll believe blogging isn't dead when more small blogs make the HN front page.

Thanks for making this

> No ads on your blogs (no ad-farms), some light ads may be allowed on a per-blog exception basis.

So no way to montize blogs for the creators. Are you serious?

> Add your post.

This is not a list of blogs, you have to repost each article. Perfect for full-time SEO spammers, but a burden on normal bloggers.


I’m not against creators making money, but the default stance should be no-ad with exceptions for light ads on quality blogs when necessary.

This whitelists the spam problem which is more effective and reduces the incentive to push large volumes of low quality content that only exists to serve ads.

Creators can also make money via paid subscriptions and Patreon, both of which are better models than ads.

You’re not supposed to spam every post you’ve written, you’re supposed to post an interesting one that introduces people to your blog so they can then follow if they like it.

The wiki is a ‘portal’ of links to the blogs themselves. The post requirement is better for engagement and more likely to get people interested in your blog if they like the post.




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