Friday, April 14, 2006

The Blogger Buddy System

Over the past week or so I've been getting a lot of hits from people wondering whatever became of Sammie's from Australia. I was a little worried in the first few days after I came back from Ireland because I couldn't get onto her site - one of the sites I visit daily - and I couldn't find any mention of her site's absence on the sites of any of the other regular commentors on her blog. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with Sammie herself, and she let me know what was going on. I posted an entry reporting what she had told me. Since that time that information has been passed on to a lot of people who have come to my site while surfing the net trying to find out what has happened to Sammie and her site.

I don't know Sammie personally, so it was a good thing I had tucked away her e-mail address at some point in the past, and a very good thing that she responded to my e-mail. There are a lot of other bloggers out there whose sites I used to visit fairly regularly who seem to have dropped off the net entirely, but I have no way of getting in touch with them to see where they've gotten to.

People stop blogging for a lot of reasons. Sometimes their lives get more complicated and they don't have time for blogging anymore. Sometimes they get fed up and decide to quit. Maybe they have other reasons.

There's a very real possibility that looms more darkly on the Internet than in the real world. Sometimes people die, and nobody knows about it.

Most of us are known here by user names, pen names, pseudonyms. "D.B. Echo" is not my real name - "D.B." stands for "DataBoy". You won't find me in the real world under that name. If something happened to me in the real world, you wouldn't see a headline shouting "D.B. ECHO NIBBLED TO DEATH BY CATS". Unless you knew where to look, you might not ever know what happened to me.

So I'm proposing the Blogger Buddy System. It works like this:

1. Every blogger picks one or more "Blogger Buddies" - people they are in regular contact with in the real world. (This should be direct, frequent contact - a friend, a relative, a co-worker. Virtual contact - telephone, IM, etc. - doesn't count, since it's still possible for something to happen to the blogger without a "virtual buddy" being aware of it for a long time.)

2. Each blogger posts contact information for their "Blogger Buddies" on their site. They also publicize this information and encourage readers to record it offsite. (Otherwise, if the site goes down it doesn't do much good.)

3. If something happens to a blogger or their site, their Blogger Buddies will post this information on their own sites - salted heavily with keywords that will assist anyone doing a websearch.

4. Now, this plan breaks down a bit in the event of a catastrophe, since it is possible that all of the Blog Buddies in a given region could be affected simultaneously. In that case it might be necessary to rely on a second tier of "virtual buddies" who are in regular but indirect contact with the blogger.

5. It's also possible that a given blogger will not be in direct contact with anyone else who is a blogger - strange as it may sound, there are still some people out there who don't have blogs. In that case they would probably want to set up a list of buddy e-mail addresses.

6. If all else fails, you could do what I did: scour the net for the sites of regular commentors for any mention of the missing blogger, and if that fails hope that you have the missing blogger's e-mail address tucked into your address book - and hope that they respond!

Related Posts:
Update, 5/4/2006: Sammie's new site is coming soon!
Sammie's deviantART site (April 30, 2006 - a link to an update by Sammie herself!)

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