The blog parasite

By the way, that’s not some very selective strain of computer virus specifically targeting Blogger and WordPress. It’s me I’m referring to; although it’s taken me a while to realise…

Back in the summer, the outdoor blogging community sadly lost one of its finest – Oldmortality. And there, straight away, that tells its own story: I never met him, never knew him by his real name; only by his blogger username.

His blog, One small step, was (and remains – follow this link) wise, funny, erudite, provocative, irreverent, endlessly entertaining, and all of the many other things you’d want to find in a blog. As if that wasn’t enough, he’d also frequently add links to some exceptionally fine musical treasures.

But here’s the thing: I visited One small step regularly, have read pretty much all of the back posts at some point, still do, and will continue to do so for as long as the link works. But I rarely commented: only a handful of times over the years and that’s true of other blogs as well and for all sorts of reasons. Now I’m wondering if passive reading of the efforts of others, without the mutuality of leaving at least a brief comment is tantamount to taking from the (blogging) community and contributing nothing – or not much – by way of reciprocation. People go to a lot of trouble to put this stuff in the public domain, generally without reward or any desire for it; maybe they deserve better recognition – something a bit more tangible than another tick in the stats counter.

I know some blog sites – this one among them – can make commenting less than straightforward: crossing platforms seems, if anything, to become less intuitive as the social media options continue to proliferate. Measures intended to keep the spammers at bay can be a deterrent to like-minded souls whose only intention is to add a constructive comment.

So, not normally given to the making of resolutions, I’ll break the habit and resolve firstly to comment more regularly on other blogs when I visit them, and secondly to explore ways of making this one a bit more accessible and welcoming.

I hope I’m not breaking too many laws by adding this…


9 thoughts on “The blog parasite

  1. A fine and richly deserved tribute to OM, Dave.

    On the subject of commenting on blogs, I used to believe that there really was a blogging community out there, but over time began to realise that the community was actually a tiny proportion of the readership. Some of my posts have upwards of five thousand hits, yet barely manage half a dozen readers’ comments.

    Now that blogging is well past the wave of enthusiasm comments are holding up, but hits are falling. But I really don’t mind. I’ve been banging away at this old Remington for over ten years now and I am writing less. My usual winter campaigns railing against wind turbines in our wild places are drying up, as at last policy makers are beginning to see the stupidity of it all and far fewer developers are applying for planning permission now the subsidies are vanishing.

    Over the years I’ve had some wonderful people commenting on my blog, with a deep love of the hills and a matching fury at what was being done to them. I can think of quite a few who I consider to be firm friends, that I have never met.

    Mostly I write for pleasure and the satisfaction that one day I will be able to look back at my escapades and thoughts at a particular point in time and smile to myself. In fact, I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately having had a foot injury for six months.

    No-one should think of themselves in a poor light for not commenting. We don’t write for them, we write for ourselves. Besides Dave, you’re one of the finest.

    Best wishes for a good Christmas, Sir.


  2. Hi Alan, thanks for stopping by and for the comment. I think one of the reasons the number of posts is maybe reducing over time is that, for much of the year, there inevitably has to be some repetition in our days out. Even somewhere as lovely as the Shropshire hills will only sustain a finite number of posts (although they’ll sustain any number of days out). I suppose this is where those like Gibson and Lynne have an advantage in terms of accessible options, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being sometimes envious.

    Somebody like Chris Townsend has excitement waiting right outside his front door and could probably create a unique blog post every day, given sufficient free time. But if we all lived within a stones throw of the highlands, they wouldn’t be the same highlands any more.


  3. I have made my own contribution to this discussion on my own and Alan Rayner’s blogs. I reckon another reason for decline in blogging is undoubtedly the huge increase in the use of Facebook and Twitter, the former which I detest, and the latter which I have a tiny bit of respect for because it educates people int the business of economical writing.


  4. Hi Conrad, thanks for your comment. I don’t have much of a social media presence beyond the blogs: I’m not on Facebook, although I know plenty of folks who rarely seem to be off it – and they’re not all youngsters either! I’m not on Twitter either, although I’ve clicked onto other peoples’ accounts; the whole thing is just too ‘busy’ for my tastes, plus there seems to be a bit of a herd mentality and hounding of those whose views don’t conform. Each to their own, though…


  5. I agree with Alan S, Dave, I think many of our ‘outdoor blogs’ are a means of diarising activities* mainly for our own benefit, though of course Alan has gone far beyond that with his laudable wind farm protests. Those who enjoy creating posts will no doubt continue and those who don’t won’t. And when we get around to catching up on our reading lists we’ll make the odd comment, that hopefully will be appreciated by the recipient, who will know from their reader stats that they do have a majority of regular readers who don’t, for one reason or another, comment.

    I enjoy your blog, even the mundane bits – keep up the good work.

    * also reviewing gear etc in a way that might be of general interest, and other ‘special interest’ subjects such as flora and fauna, photography, or tractors…


  6. Hi Martin, in many ways, that’s how I see the blog – as a kind of online diary. And sometimes as a reminder to myself about how quickly time can pass; I’ll often read back on an old entry and think “Is it really that long since we last went there?”, and then I tend to come over a bit mournful about the whole ‘so much to do, so little time’ thing.


  7. I sometimes think that I’m not “playing fair” when it comes to blogging. I write when I have the time and there are a few blogs on which I read every word, but my backlog of unread blogs is enormous and I never seem to find the time to read them, let alone comment. I know some people read what I write but I am not always reciprocating by reading what they have written. I’m taking the time today (a Bank Holiday weekend) to catch up and I will comment – although, as you say, it is much easier to comment on a fellow WordPress-er. Maybe it’s dumbing down, but I do like blogs with simple “Like” buttons so I can lazily say “Thanks, I enjoyed that” without having to type anything.


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