Can ORBlogs be saved? [Update] Yes, it can

[UPDATE September 5, 2008]: Paul Bausch, the creator of ORBlogs was kind enough to respond to my email. His feeling is that while we may love the work that ORBlogs does—and how it works on the front-end—that the back-end was more spaghetti code than anything else.

As such, he suggests:

I’d be happy to dump a list of the active blogs, my db schema, or answer questions about how this or that works to get someone else up and running. But I really believe the code would do more damage than help—someone should make a new Oregon blogging directory of their own.

Great news! And, now, some work for us to do.

Thanks to those who have commented below offering their support. I will definitely be in contact with you on this project.

And if you’re interested in discussing this in person? Why not swing by Beer and Blog this evening at the Green Dragon where we’ll be discussing ORBlogs 2.0.

And I just got a tweet from John Metta that expressed a concern that this might lead to it becoming “PDXBlogs.” A valid concern, to be sure. But not the intent. While the bulk of the blogs currently indexed by ORBlogs are from Portland, it is my charge to help keep this discussion focused on an Oregon blog resource, by Oregon, for Oregon.

In fact, John may be our ORBlogs knight in shining armor.

Original Post

One of my primary inspirations for starting Silicon Florist was ORBlogs, a blog aggregator for Oregon-based blogs run by Paul Bausch.

It taught me that “thinking global and blogging local” could be a very viable way to communicate. And it taught me that—despite the ability to access information around the world—people are actually still quite interested in what their neighbors are doing in their own backyard. And saying. And writing.

And ORBlogs was the premiere source of that neighborly information. The stream of content that was “blogging in Oregon.”

But now that stream of information will be running dry. Sadly, it was revealed today that ORBlogs has decided to close its doors.

Paul writes:

I’m shutting ORblogs down now because the site continues to grow and the job of maintaining the site at the level I feel is necessary to keep it valuable has grown with it, putting it out of the bounds of a hobby. I wasn’t able to make ORblogs self-sustaining financially (let alone turn it into a job), and I can no longer devote the time to the site that it needs to grow. Blogging has changed significantly in five years, and blogging is no longer a hobby for many—it’s a job. Commercial blogging isn’t as interesting to me as the personal web and that factored into my decision as well.

After reading Paul’s news, I was kind of sitting dumbstruck. At a loss for words.

It really took the wind out of my sails. It was a complete punch in the stomach. For a number of us.

And no discredit to Paul. He bootstrapped this thing for 5 years. Five years! That’s like a millennium in internet time. I totally get it.

It’s sad news, to be sure.

Whoa, tiger. Who says ORBlogs has to close?

But then I quit moping.

Does it have to be? I mean, I was always taught the whole “if you love something, let it go” thing. But, quite frankly, I’m not willing to let this one go.

Paul built a resource that rallied—and completely codified—the Oregon blogging community. And that, my friends, is far too valuable to let slide by the wayside.

Because it’s actually bigger than Paul now. Too large for him to manage single handedly, for sure, but something that needs to continue. For the community. And for Oregon.

And if Jeff Martens, Aaron Hockley, Steve Woodward, Ryan Williams, Betsy Richter, Jack”Bojack” Bogdanski, Josh Bancroft, Doug Coleman, Gary Walter, Greg Hughes, Jim Mock, Curt Hopkins, Lizzy Caston, Rich Claussen, and Banana Lee Fishbones are any indication, I have the feeling I’m not alone in this opinion.

I’m not willing to let ORBlogs go softly into that good night. And I’m hoping you’ll join me and the folks above in finding a way to prevent that from happening.

Let’s save ORBlogs!

Are you in? Please comment below. And let’s make this happen.

We need to take the burden off of Paul, and manage to save this resource at the same time. I’m hoping you’ll join in the good fight and lend a hand.

[Update] J-P Voilleque has established a FriendFeed room to support the “Save ORBlogs!” campaign. Please join in!

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  2. […] the demise of ORblogs, several Oregon blog aggregators have come, and gone. None of the survivors quite live […]

  3. As I noted in a blog post that links to this one, you could recreate the aggregator over at FeedCluster.com. It’s pretty easy.

  4. Me…

  5. This is why I’m a big fan of teamwork. One can try to do something on their own, but unless you’re able to pull a team together, you’ll never be able to scale it.

    Count me in. I’m not a coder, I don’t own a server or have any bandwidth, I don’t have any money – but I could help sort blogs and approve or reject or ????

  6. I already talked to Paul about taking over the ORblogs website totally and he’s not interested in giving up the name or the code for the site.

    So anything would need to be created from scratch.

  7. I’m so glad see all these people willing to help. ORblogs has been a great resource for me since I’m new in town. Thanks to Paul for getting it running, and thanks to everyone else for jumping in to keep it going. Mile73.com Hearts ORblogs!

  8. Again, thank you so much to everyone for their willingness to help. My apologies for the relative silence, but things are happening to be sure.

    To ensure the most constructive discussion possible, I’d encourage everyone to join the mailing list @Mettadore mentions.

    Or for more info, see:


  9. It’s getting a bit hard to follow this thread here, on Twitter and on other blogs. I’ve created a mailing list for email-based discussions at: http://orblogs.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss_orblogs.org

    There’s an RSS feed in case you just want to follow: http://mailbucket.org/orblogs.xml

    Messages should go to ‘discuss’ at the domain ‘orblogs.org.’ I’m leaving it open so non-members can send messages without signing up. Visit above site for archives.

    Cheers, -J

  10. One more note — Robb and I would undoubtedly need lots of community help to manage the actual content/listings of the site and keep it updated, perhaps we could use some sort of distributed moderation…? (Now just thinking off the cuff.)


  11. My name is David McKelvey and I am the new media director at Lewis & Clark. I’ve talked this over with Robb Shecter and one other here and we’re interested in taking over the hosting of ORBlogs if the community is willing. Here are my thoughts as to how this might work:

    1) I’d want to check the bandwidth usage with Paul to make sure we can fund it. This is most likely not an issue, but I want confirm that I can maintain it properly.

    2) Since Paul says the code is ready for replacement, we’d probably simply move the current code for the time-being and rebuild it with RoR, adding some new features (perhaps tagging and aggregate RSS — we’re open to suggestions).

    3) I’d want to throw a little Lewis & Clark logo in the footer corner “hosting provided by…”, akin to Engineyard’s on http://lighthouseapp.com/ for example.

    I wasn’t able to stay long at the Beer & Blogs event on Friday (Robb and I were both there), so I don’t know what if anything came out of any later discussion, but Paul, contact me if this seems a viable path.



  12. I’m interested in helping out as much as can be. Like many others – I’ve got server space and bandwidth. I’ll even kick in for a domain name. We can do something like oregonblogs.com or orblogs.net?

    Rick H

  13. Hi Folks,

    Rich from Overheard in PDX told me you were trying to save OrBlogs. I’ve already launched PorBlogs at http://porblogs.com/ — it was something I’d already planned before PB pulled the plug. Anyway, I’m not a coder — I’m using wordpress and plugins to get it going. My buddy, Andy, is likely going to help with some GIS mapping at some point. I understand that many of you would like to see an OrBlogs-clone, inclusive of blogs outside of Portland. I chose to focus on Portland just to make things easy on myself. If people want to help out, I might consider extending its reach. Or, for now, if you just want to add your Portland blog, see the “about” section of the site.

  14. […] seen bloggers and techies rally together for fun (Portland Pie-Off!) and business (like the current attempt to save ORBlogs).  I’ve met people who, rather than waiting to be discovered or accepted by existing […]

  15. I’ll have to put a hand in just to keep the thing from being sucked into the PDX black hole and away from decent, hard-working places with solid blogging values, like Eugene and Hood River. (Right, John?)

  16. Guys, I just wanted to point out that someone has already done this, and to the most god-awful result imaginable:


  17. […] to work for me. (but I’ll link back to Silicon Florist […]

  18. […] I really have no idea how the technical end of blogging works. I am not a tech person at all, I’m a marketer and a writer. I don’t think I’d have anything to contribute to trying to save ORblogs – but I know many of you out there do. And it looks like the gang at SiliconFlorist is leading the charge. […]

  19. I’m an absolute greenhorn when it comes to tech stuff, but very happy to help with whatever opportunities fit my abilities. Very grateful to Paul for not only handling this for so long and so well, but he/ORBlogs was my first venture into the blogging abyss. As with any first love, its hard to see it end. Its an incredible resource for our local communities.

    If he needs help or wants to hand it off, I’m glad to hear some noise about it. Go team – and keep us all posted.

  20. I too am a web app developer, with an oracle database, server space and bandwidth willing to help. However, I don’t think a “digg” approach is a good idea as it’s primary goal.

  21. Actually, I honestly don’t believe that this is the right approach. I’m much more in favor of the suggestions John Metta’s making, and I think we need to have someone (or a small group of someones) coordinating and harnessing volunteer efforts before we all set out to storm the castle here.

  22. What about a Startup Weekend type event, with Paul’s approval and support, to get things going? Make everyone a stakeholder, 3 day work session, divide reponsabilities, etc.

    just might work…

  23. […] for blogs in and about Oregon. I’m not all that knowledgeable about it (go to Silicon Florist for more info and links), but I know that it’s been a great resource both for finding other […]

  24. I’m going to be out of town and won’t be able to make Beer and Blog, but count me in for random hacking or such. Glad to see the momentum exists to keep this going.

  25. […] that Jeff Martens had similar thoughts, and an equally difficult time sleeping. He posted them on The Silicon Florist. This morning there are even more blog posts and even KATU has weighed in on the […]

  26. Count me in, too, Rick. Just sign me up for something, and if I can’t do it, I’ll find someone who will. Thank you for picking up the mantle to help Paul out.

  27. How hard would it be to host a planet aggregator like many of the open source projects?


  28. I’m interested, although not terribly knowledgeable. I know ORblogs helped drive traffic to our Camp Arrowhead site while we were working to save the camp, and I’m certainly grateful for that. Thanks for spearheading this — I’m sure you’ll keep us posted, and if there’s any way that I can help, I will.

  29. We should be able to use the content and stats of the site to get local advertisers…We could use a combination of standard web ads and local bizs wanting to reach out to the vast number of people using ORBlogs…

    Many thanks to Paul for all of his hard work and to Ric for bringing this to my attention…

  30. I’d be interested in helping out. I actually wrote a blog aggregation service for political news that I shut down a year ago but we could easily resurrect it (assuming the original ORBlogs code couldn’t be used of course). It was all self-service, Digg-style voting to get to the front page. Perhaps that would reduce the community admin requirements and make it more manageable?

    I’ve also got plenty of server space and a managed hosting provider (same one Jive Software uses for all their stuff). So that’s always open. Let me know!

  31. Put me in, Coach.

    I don’t have the technical skills to maintain such a site, and time is a consideration. But I can certainly help vet new blogs and volunteer what skills I do have.

  32. I’m totally down for saving ORblogs. I wrote Paul a note a couple hours ago when I found out about its closing, and just saw this post — good to see the conversation.

    Personally, I’ve got the server space and bandwidth, and I’ve just spent the past few months programming a (truly) made-in-Oregon RSS / blog aggregator / web project, (all Ruby on Rails), and taking on ORblogs doesn’t scare me.

    I can also do PHP, Perl, etc. If people like Betsy can help with the social / management side, I can help keep the tech side up-to-date.

    See: http://greenfabric.com

  33. Add me to the list of folks interested in trying to save such a great community resource. I’ve found more people locally who share similar interests via ORBlogs, and was one of the first resources I ever used in blogging to try to find readers.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention – and WOW – who knew Twitter could be so useful….


  34. Lets look at this considering a few different commitment levels.

    First, can we just keep the site up and running, no new additions? What would that take?

    Then, if we can handle that, what would we need in order to open the site to new blogs?

    And after that, lets consider what it would take to keep the blog modern and progressive?

  35. What can I do to help ORBlogs?

    Mike landfair aka Mover Mike

  36. Weeelll…as someone who’s currently filling the role of group administrator for a fledgling blog, I think we need to figure out what the incentive is for anyone we ask to step up to that role (which I envision as being 10x what I’m currently doing for OurPDX, frankly.)

    I think the community can help – if roles are clearly and cleanly defined. But I think we’re going to have to figure out how to compensate someone to spearhead an ORblogs 2.0 and take this on – it can’t be a labor of love, otherwise the commitment will flag over time.

  37. […] Silicon Florist twittered that ORBlogs, the site for blogs about Oregon, is shutting it’s doors. Paul Bausch wrote a statement on the main page that it’s more than a hobby, but doesn’t pay enough for a job. I understand that- I have a number of my own pursuits that are similar. […]

  38. Count me in.

    Let’s convince Paul to stay on! Can we all buy a subscription for a small monthly fee that would make it worth his while?

    Or if he won’t keep on (I agree, it’s understandable that he would want to stop), can we take up a collection and convince him to hang on and hand it off to a group of volunteer successors? We could even let him choose who among the willing volunteers to keep things going with.

  39. I’m in. We should put together a gathering of those interested to brainstorm. I’d offer to host, but I’m in Hood River and it seems like Portland will be the location.

    I can offer tech support, management time or question time. I’ll do what I can.

  40. Big thanks to Paul for creating and managing such a great resource. I can only imagine what kind of time commitment it was and I appreciate every minute you spent on it.

    As others have suggested before me, community management is a great start. A few people to approve new blogs, a few to answer questions, a couple tech folks to keep it running, a meeting at the Green Dragon every few months to keep things on track, etc.

    We can do this, I am sure we can.

  41. I’m having a similar issue with a blog of mine and am trying to figure out a transition plan and who to hand it off to (although I think I found that person).

    I could ORBlogs being managed much like a group blog would be. One main administrator, some guidelines and tasks, and a handful of people who can take turns at different duties that require different commitment levels and skill sets. I do think it is quite doable, if Paul is willing/interested of course.

    Thanks Paul for managing this for so long. I can’t tell you how invaluable ORBlogs has been in my work and personally.

  42. As much as I’d like to I don’t have the bandwidth to lend a hand, but you know I can talk! I’d be happy to spread the word about ORBlogs and the help you need.

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