A week ago I closed ORblogs
—a project I started in March 2003 and worked on in some way or another every day until last Thursday. The site was a directory of weblogs based in Oregon and a post aggregator that gathered together posts from those blogs. The site sliced and diced posts by topic and city, and gave readers a way to quickly scan who was saying what, where in our state. At various points it was also a photo-sharing site
and general virtual gathering place for Oregonians. I closed the ORblogs discussion forum sometime in 2007, and closed the photo-sharing portion of the site in January of this year. Even with the leaner, meaner ORblogs I found that I simply didn't have enough time to devote to the site that it needed. Traffic to the site had been trending down over this year while blog submissions were growing exponentially. I knew that as the number of blogs in the directory grew, there needed to be new ways to organize posts so readers could find what they're after, but I didn't have time to code it.
In the wake of the closing I've received many emails of thanks and support. I appreciate it, especially knowing that many are losing a daily web destination and source of readers for their blogs. I also received many offers to take over maintenance, but because the code wasn't written for public consumption in mind, it's a Rube Goldberg-esque series of pulleys and levers that would drive someone who isn't me insane. And to be honest, I wasn't sure there was enough interest in a general-topic, local aggregator to make it worth someone's effort.
But I found there was quite a bit of interest after Portland tech community maven Rick Turoczy posted about the closure on Silicon Florist: Can ORBlogs be saved?
And John Metta in Hood River began organizing an effort to build something new: Roll your sleeves up...
. That was followed quickly by Lewis & Clark College
in Portland offering to host a new Oregon weblogs directory. I talked with John on the phone on Wednesday night, and he posted a summary of our conversation: Talking with Paul Bausch about ORblogs
As John mentions, I still believe in the idea that community aggregators can provide a view of blogging that you can't get from a personal newsreader. That made closing the site an extremely difficult decision, but I didn't have time to take the site to its next stage. I'm looking forward to seeing what Metta and crew build because with the current level of energy around their project, I think they can make that next stage happen.