When a writer stops updating his or her blog, there is still a space where you can leave messages in the comments section of the final post or maybe even an email address. But when a writer deletes their blog--either accidentally or on-purpose, there is no way to contact them or hear the continuation of their story. There are no resources to let people know why you've closed your blog or why you've gone password-protected. Or how to get that password if you want to read along. If you change your blog url, you essentially start over with only the handful of readers that you can email and give the new address. You leave behind all of your loyal lurking readers who didn't comment even though they were reading along every day. There just isn't a good system in place that is googleable. Why googleable, you ask?
Because the problem with all those classified-ad-like bulletin board systems is that it is difficult for the person you want to find your message to find those words unless they are reading in the same space. On the other hand, most blogs show up in google searches. Put in a title or a name in a blog post and a person who is googling themselves (or googling you if you are the one who has information to pass along) can find requests for someone trying to get in touch with them. For instance, to test this hypothesis, I googled "gravida zero" a half hour after I posted the roundup and the post with her blog came up on the first page.
Because my blog comes up high on searches, I've decided to start this post (or what may turn into a series of archive posts too) called Lost and Found. You can submit messages for this post either through the comments section (I will move them into the body of the message so they can be found by google) or by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email me and want your email passed along (I do not give out email addresses for other people without their permission) in case I do have contact information, let me know too. This list will always be open so please check it from time to time to see if someone left a message for you. Feel free to link to this post from your blog in order to have a centralized place for people to leave googleable messages.
Here is a non-comprehensive list of possible things that could fall under each category:
- A blogger you read has suddenly gone password-protected and you want the password so you can read along.
- A blogger has closed their blog (either recently or a while ago) and you want to be in touch with them to ask a question or find out how they're doing.
- A person who has since closed their blog can pass on news to the community (think of this as something akin to an alumni update).
- A person who has accidentally deleted their blog or closed one/started a new one can give the new url to the community.
- A person who has gone password-protected can explain why/say goodbye.
- A person who has gone password-protected can tell people how they can request the password/invitation.
Directions: when leaving a message, make it as googleable as possible. Use the full name of the blog or if the blogger had a unique sign-in name (for instance, I also use The Town Criers which is more unusual--and therefore, more googleable--than Mel) use that too. I may have a blogger's contact information on hand, so if you want me to pass along your email address or information (I do not give out email addresses, sorry), let me know that too. I will only pass along an email address if someone has given me concrete permission. Your message will go up on the list faster if you leave it in the comments section, but you can also email me your message (especially if you're giving personal information like an email address and want me to hold onto it and have someone contact me instead of posting your email address) directly at email@example.com. You can put up as many messages as you wish, but make each blog its own entry (for instance, search for blog X in one message and search for blog Y in a second message). Once messages become extremely old, I will move them to a second archive post which will also be accessible through this post and can still be found via google and other search engines.