I’m not sure how long BlogExplosion has been around, but I joined back in 2004, so it’s been a while. The idea is pretty simple: bloggers want people to read their sites. So, convince them to read other people’s blogs. It’s built around a system that lets you surf from member site to member site, earning credits for each visit that will bring other people to your site. There are also various games that either generate credits for you or get you to visit member’s sites.

It’s an effective way to get traffic. I’m not so sure it’s an effective way to get readers, but I’ve kept up a modest participation because it doesn’t take much effort. And who knows, maybe some of those people will stick around longer than 30 seconds.

About a year ago, the site was in trouble. There weren’t enough volunteers to approve all the new blogs being submitted (spammers love this sort of place!), and spammers took over the forums. A concerted effort by members managed to get a new admin assigned. The admin cleaned up the forum spam, fixed some site problems, granted approval access to more volunteers, and things started to improve for a while…

Well, things haven’t been that great lately. The lone admin has been gone since October. New blogs are again backlogged, and spammers are returning to the forums. The owners seem to have vanished into the ether. Meanwhile, I’ve noticed traffic from the site has been way down. Burning through credits takes a lot longer than it used to, and not only does it take three times as long to cycle through the “Blog Rocket,” but I get about half as many visits from it as I used to.

Today, I logged in to shuffle things around, and started getting PHP and database errors. Some pages would load, but without data. No blogs available to surf, none on the blog rocket, my credits and banners are gone, etc. The forums are still working, and the few people still around are lamenting the same problems.

Since there’s no administrator, and the owners are MIA, I’d guess that no one’s around to fix it. (Unless it’s purely a hosting issue, in which case they’ll be fine.)

It may be time to let go, and watch BlogExplosion drift off into that great server farm in the sky.

UPDATE (Feb 24): It looks like BlogExplosion is not dead yet. The errors are gone, site functionality seems to be mostly back to normal, and — most amazing — an admin posted on the forums. (Though from the comments, I half-suspect it’s a sysadmin from the hosting company, rather than BlogExplosion themselves.) Needless to say, I won’t be holding my breath for a resolution, but who knows? The site could pull through.

It looks like the campaign to reclaim BlogExplosion is working! The efforts to bury the forum spam have brought new members into the site, and earlier this week a new administrator appeared on the forums, banning over 55 accounts used by spammers and deleting 13,000 spam posts. This morning, the banner approval I’ve been waiting for since August finally went through.

Things are looking up!

I haven’t written much about BlogExplosion in a long time.  I participated a lot for a few months, then kind of left it alone for a while, until I came back to it last year when I launched Speed Force.

Sadly, in the last few months its owners seem to have abandoned the site to let it run on autopilot. Most of it is automated, but there are features that require administration: approving new blogs and banners, moderating the forums, etc. The few volunteers with the ability to approve submissions are swamped, the main page promotes features that no longer exist, and the forums are overrun with spam.

In the past two months the community has attempted to take back the forums by out-posting the spammers, and it seems to be helping, but it’s not enough. The next step is a letter-writing campaign to convince BlogExplosion’s owners to at least delegate some authority to community volunteers who are willing to put in the effort to take care of the site.

Rather than send the form letter, I decided to write my own, and sent the following this morning:

Continue reading

Since joining BlogExplosion, I’ve noticed something interesting about surfing it. First, I tend to see many of the same blogs over and over. Second, when I’m actually reading these blogs, by the time I log out all my new credits have been used up by people looking at mine. This leads me to this conclusion:

The only people who see this site through BlogExplosion are the people who are logged in at the same time I am.

If you have a routine where you spend a half hour on BE every evening, or 1 hour every Tuesday, or whatever, chances are the same people are seeing your blog over and over again.

Just to experiment, a few days ago I took 10 minutes late in the day and logged in from work. I don’t think I saw a single familiar blog.

So what’s the answer? Vary your BE routine as much as possible. Don’t assign your spare points when you surf, pick a random time, log in for 1 minute and just assign them. Make a banner and assign points to it the same way. Talk someone into signing up with you as a referrer, and get a share of their points.

Otherwise, you’ll get the same audience every time… and chances are they’re either regular readers by now or they’re tired of seeing you.

In hopes of bringing in some more readers, I signed up with BlogExplosion yesterday. I’ve spent some time last night and tonight surfing through their system, and I’ve seen some interesting blogs, some boring blogs, and some infuriating blogs. (Politics… why did it have to be politics…)

If you’re coming here through BlogExplosion, feel free to skim for 30 seconds or explore as much as you want. This is the group-blog of a twentysomething married couple in California who enjoy computers, sci-fi and fantasy, and comics (OK, one of us likes comics). Each of us has other, non-blog stuff online as well.

Enjoy your visit!