Whither the spankosphere?

Lately, I’ve not had as much time as I’d have liked to read other blogs out there: seeing kinky friends in real life has rather taken priority over my online explorations. I’ve just about kept up-to-date with my “Spanking – Friends” category in Google Reader (that is, blogs written by people we’ve actually met, or know so well online that they class as friends even though we’ve yet to met in person).

But when I glanced at  my “Spanking – General” feeds the other evening, I found a ridiculously high number of unread posts. At the same time, I noticed that a surprisingly large proportion of the blogs to which I subscribe weren’t showing any new posts at all. So I started pruning: if a blog on the list didn’t show any new activity – and had thus been dormant for the eight weeks or so since my last catch-up – then I deleted by subscription. Of course, I may have been a tad premature with some – we’re unusual in posting every day, and some may be happy posting every few months when they have something of particular interest to say. But it’s a fair guess that two months of no activity suggests the site in question isn’t exactly that active!

And guess what proportion of the 201 spanking blogs on my lists appeared to be defunct? No fewer than 97 – very nearly half – including many that had previously been pretty active.

Why is this, I wondered? Boredom or a lack of time on the writer’s behalf  – or simply running out of things to say: a sense that they’d come online to explore the ideas that had been percolating in their minds for so long, had explored them, and found nothing left to share? Perhaps their blogs have achieved their objectives (introduce myself, meet a partner, disappear happily back into the shadows)? Perhaps they just didn’t enjoy writing in this format as much as they’d thought they would.

Or maybe it’s resulted from ennui amongst their readers, leading to too few site visits or comments for writing to be worthwhile? Or (I pray not) a mass migration to Twitter? Or even a defection from blogging to the boards of the kinky social networking sites – such as  Fetlife or  SpankoLife (my personal favourite); I’m listed as ‘Abel’ on each, if you ever fancy saying hi!

It does make me wonder about trends in the spankosphere. I’m guessing that, a few years down the line, we’ll still see a still-smaller number of blogs – the best and most popular of those here today complemented by some new arrivals (as new folks discover the scene, pluck  up the courage to post, or reach the age at which they’re legally or practically able to set up a site). The percentage of blogs with purely commercial content (as a means to attract customers for paid sites) might increase in comparison to those of us who simply have a passion for writing about kink.

And technology will inevitably evolve: I’d love it if that involved an easy and elegant way to consolidate our blog with our stories with our tweets with our podcasts (watch this space: ‘spankingcasts’ on the way soon!) – and to collaborate more on writing, ideas and conversations with others who share our enthusiasms.

Nearly four years in, we’re still buzzing with ideas, for sure. But I’m really interested to learn what others think…

12 thoughts on “Whither the spankosphere?

  • 7 February, 2010 at 9:53 am

    I think the technic run more and more to new ways, but blogs are always only a one way street.

    Perfect is a mix from blog,chat, board,gallery, vids! Spankolife ist good, but often notrealy good works.

    The best is the mixted, from OLDIES and NEWBIES from all over the word.

    Blogs are a other way, but I will not missed this way

  • 7 February, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Well, I, for one, quite like blogs – though I definitely do not have 200 (!) blogs bookmarked. I can see where blogging would be less than satisfying – both for the writer and the reader – even with comments, the communication is vastly one-sided. Twitter et al provide instant gratification and dialogue. That said, I think blogs perform an important and undervalued function of providing a resource for those who aren’t confident enough to enter into the scene, for those who *want* the conversation to be one-sided. Too often I think bloggers get caught up (understandably, as I’d be the same way) in the comments and feedback, but I think kinky blogs are probably most valued by those who say nothing because it’s their only inroad to the kinky world – so, I really hope blogs don’t disappear entirely because people need them. Also, spankingcasts sound freaking awesome :)

  • 9 February, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Well, as the publisher of what I think may have been the very first spanking blog (although there were many wonderful personal spanking sites in other formats when I started in 2003) I can say that one can easily grow weary. Over the years Bethie and I have found ourselves with less and less to say that we haven’t already said.

    For me the easy answer is to post more spanking porn and spanking goodies from popular culture. I know I’ve gone too commercial for many tastes, but if I wasn’t making a bit of coin, I don’t think I’d still be enthusiastic enough to be posting after seven years.

    Blogging has indeed lost some of its social sparkle; I get many fewer comments than I used to. I think people are indeed conducting their social interactions more on the social networking sites than in blog comments, as they may have done formerly.

    And, for what it’s worth, I’ve long used a two-month rule for pruning links — if I notice a site hasn’t been updated in two months, the link usually goes. I do make exceptions, but usually only for “elders” who’ve been at this many and many a year, like me.

  • 9 February, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Hi, Dan

    Thanks for a fascinating comment.

    You’re very right that blogs in themselves were an evolution of other types of site – I look at the SSS newsgroup (for example) today, and it’s a shadow of its former self. And I don’t see that many people these days setting up websites of their own writing – like the Treehouse, Two Shades of Blue or my own stories site (which started in 1999).

    I’m amazed after four years of our blog that the ideas keep flowing, and that we’re still so enthusiastic. You have a few years’ head start on us, though! I doubt we’ll ever start posting porn here – that’s just not what we do – and The Spanking Writers isn’t that commercial (the odd dollar we make from e.g. book sales scarcely makes a dent in the investment we’ve made in the site over the years). But I understand the temptation to want to ‘commercialise’ blogs, at least to an extent, to try to get some reward for all of one’s efforts.

    Thanks for such an interesting contribution!

  • 9 February, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    200! No wonder you can’t keep up. My blog reading list holds probably no more than 25 and I’m barely able to keep up with that. I’ll add that I’m constantly in awe (and quite thankful) that you and Haron manage to post here every day.

    I cant speak for the 97 defunct blogs on your own reading list, but I can say that when I started my now sadly neglected blog I had a few goals including forcing myself to step outside of my usually highly guarded private inner world and interacting with like-minded folks. And while I thoroughly enjoyed my brief stint as a blog writer when I was in a generally good frame of mind, I found that as personal issues cropped up in my kink life that heavily guarded privacy became harder to overcome and that I could accomplish goal #2 just as easily by commenting on other people’s blogs.

    I’ve left the blog up because I do intend to return, but right now I’m operating under the guiding principle of “if you don’t have anything nice to say…” And I am ever so grateful for all of the wonderful bloggers out there who are far more committed than I :)

  • 10 February, 2010 at 6:35 am

    This is a great discussion Abel — I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone’s thoughts.

    I think for me, blogging is enjoyable only as an every-so-often sort of activity, especially for my personal blog. When I feel like writing, it’s generally something longer (rarely do I have an entry under 500 words) about something that seems worth thinking about in public and with my fingers. Further, it has to be something I both want to write and feel like writing. Promising an entry on a specific topic, be it a party report or review is the best way for me to ensure that I won’t blog.

    Basically what it comes down to is that this is recreation so I have to make sure it doesn’t become “slog.”

    The in public part is key. When I’m feeling depressed or just insular, even the relatively private task of blogging is too public. Those times I write in solitude if I write at all. Since I’m quite introverted, those times are quite frequent.

    Other times I feel like playing and sometimes the energy put into writing about spanking somehow translates into real spankings not happening.

    That said (and clearly I feel unaccountably defensive) my “slow blogging” won’t be stopping anytime soon. Despite breaks of up to 6 months, el tercer ojo alone has had 176 posts since I started blogging in late 2004. That doesn’t include another 40 plus over at the PB.

    I can only speculate on the general reasons so many blogs go defunct. A good one is that a lot of people aren’t writers by nature. Real life gets in the way. Further (and saddest), those of us who came to kink writing via usenet have an advantage in terms of having known before we started blogging how much we needed / wanted to protect our identities and how to do it. I’ve seen too many people in the past few years reveal way too much (for them) in their blogs only to have the information come back and bite them in negative ways. It’s one of the reasons I suggest everyone who starts a new blog put a statcounter on it. It’s way too easy to believe that only a few friends are reading when in reality a blog is getting hundreds or thousands of hits a day.

    Whatever’s going on isn’t lack of readers — StatCounter says that number keeps going up. If only they all left a comment!

  • 13 February, 2010 at 9:16 am

    @Emma and @Mija – thanks for your thoughtful contribution, as ever.

    I do very much agree that it’s much easier writing if one’s in the right frame of mind… If one’s not feeling relaxed/ kinky/ creative, or if it feels like a duty rather than a pleasure, or if one couldn’t write about R/L kink stuff without it having an adverse effect on others / friendships, then it’s far harder and would sometimes be far better not to write.

  • 16 February, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Boredom and lack of time are two pretty understandable reasons for blogs to wither away, and the passing of creative and original blogs such as the late, lamented Lowewood is a real shame. Even though I quite see that it was an enormous commitment by the writers and editors, and not sustainable for more than a few great years, the daily excitement of “I wonder what happened at Lowewood today” is still something I miss.

    However, for every Lowewood, there’s a blog whose passing is positively welcomed. These include blogs whose creators steal pictures from other sites and pass them off as original compositions, taking credit where it definitely isn’t deserved; and those that spend their time making nasty and judgemental remarks, spreading webs of lies, unpleasant inferences and insults in the name of kink. I’ll happily raise a glass to the demise of this latter sort of blog which, even if it can sometimes be amusing, is destructive rather than creative and has no place in a community which I’ve so far found to be largely tolerant and supportive of its members.

    • 16 February, 2010 at 8:32 pm

      @Belinda – hi, and welcome to the blog. I think Lowewood (a quite marvellous achievement) had run its course (and, indeed, that writing perhaps beginning to feel like a duty rather than a pleasure for its authors – of which I was proudly, occasionally, to be one). As for other blogs that have recently disappeared or hidden themselves away: my primary instincts are actually to feel rather sorry for bloggers who feel the need to perpetuate a fantasy of falsehoods, rather than being happy with themselves as they are. And then my good nature gives way to being rather angry on behalf of those who’ve been wilfully upset, manipulated or offended, or whose work has been stolen. In some cases, it’s possibly a good thing if certain blogs vanish from the radar – for their authors, as well as for their sometimes all-too-gullible readers.

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