A Blog Lost… While Diabetes Thrives?!

For a few years now, my husband’s been saying that AOL is where good services go to die.

Did you catch this veiled announcement last week that TheDiabetesBlog.com would be shut down by owner AOL on Sept. 14, 2007, ostensibly for “not being consumer-oriented enough.” WtF?!

AOL inherited TheDiabetesBlog as part of its 2005 acquisition of Weblogs Inc. Now it looks like AOL is killing off a majority of the existing Weblogs Inc. blogs, with little indication as to exactly why.

But here they had this well-read blog about one of the most relevant topics in online health (diabetes),Help_online and a catchy URL to go with it, and they just dump it (?)

At last count, there were:

- 21 million American consumers affected by diabetes, and growing

- about 18 million Americans connected to other people or to content online discussing health issues in the past year (according to Jupiter Research)

- a huge boom in the concept of online health consumerism and the collective power of “ePatients

- lots of jockeying for position as web giants like Google and Microsoft maneuver to get involved

So why the heck wouldn’t AOL at least sell TheDiabetesBlog.com to the highest bidder? Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway, I’m going to miss the team who spiced up the content over there in the past year. One refugee, Allie Beatty, hasn’t wasted any time finding another online home. She launched her own diabetes blog, LoveDiabetes.com, about ten days ago. I look forward to more of her “unfolding the mysteries of diabetes” over there. Go say hi.

And if you know anyone over at AOL/Weblogs Inc., give ‘em a Bronx cheer for the OC, will ya?

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10 Responses

  1. Jolene
    Jolene September 17, 2007 at 3:24 am | | Reply

    Thanks for this heads up Amy. I read my blogs 99% of the time via RSS feeds and missed this.

  2. Antigonos
    Antigonos September 17, 2007 at 5:04 am | | Reply

    Why don’t you move Diabetes Mine to Blogspot or another blog hoster?

  3. Allison Blass
    Allison Blass September 17, 2007 at 7:10 am | | Reply

    I attempted to contact Engadget’s PR person to see if she had any idea why the blog was taken down, but I never heard back. My boss at MWW Group was founding editor of AdJab, which was retired earlier this year, and he too thinks it just wasn’t consumer-oriented enough.

    Evan noticed that The Diabetes Blog wasn’t even listed in WIN’s blogroll almost a week before it stopped production, and neither are the other two health blogs. As he says, “It’s a conspiracy!”

  4. CrazyACpumper
    CrazyACpumper September 17, 2007 at 8:49 am | | Reply

    I must say, I have been following Diabetes Mine for over a week now, and very closely I may add. Although this news is disconcerting, I am thankful to Amy for keeping her blog going strong! The information you provide is so important and your writing/reactions/comments are priceless!

  5. Kerri.
    Kerri. September 17, 2007 at 12:52 pm | | Reply

    I spoke with some people at AOL, and they had several reasons for pulling the LifeSciences blogs. The Cardio Blog and The Cancer Blog have also been “retired” as of September 14th. But they were very, very quiet about it, without even a formal send off. The old posts will remain archived there, or at least that’s what I was told.

    As long as Allie has a new home, I’m happy. :)

  6. Scott
    Scott September 18, 2007 at 6:24 am | | Reply

    When Allie mentioned this during a recent Adults with T1DM Conference Call, I was pretty surprised, but as you note, AOL’s history is not one that is filled with stories of terrific business decisions, and this is likely to be another. Did you notice that on 9/17, AOL announced they were moving their headquarters from northern Virginia (D.C. suburbs) to NYC “to be closer to the advertising community”? They could be in the same building, but if no one is visiting their sites, they still don’t have much hope of attracting advertiser interest!

  7. Brad Hill
    Brad Hill September 18, 2007 at 10:38 am | | Reply

    Hello Amy and everyone who has commented,

    I’m the director of the Weblogs group at AOL, and the one responsible for retiring the Diabetes blog this month, as well as a few others. I am sorry for the disappointment — really. I have been with Weblogs Inc. (our original, pre-AOL company name) from nearly the start, when we were a niche-blog publisher. there was a time when we published nearly 100 small blogs; now we operate 34 properties. I have had to deliver the bad news in nearly all the retirements. Please don’t think I’m being false when I express sadness; every blog is meaningful to me because I was around when we started them.

    Business decisions are complex, especially when a small company operates within a larger one that owns it. Like any publisher, we place bets on the market, we have budget restrictions, we must protect our top properties, and we must plan our growth in carefully plotted directions. We might be right or wrong, but we are never heedless. We retire blogs regretfully, with full awareness that the sharpest disappointment will be felt by our most loyal customers.

    Amy, you wrote: “…AOL is killing off a majority of Weblogs, Inc. blogs…” I’d like to make two comments. First, AOL and Weblogs, Inc. are the same. Nearly everyone in the management team, including me, haas been a leader in the pre-AOL and the post-AOL versions of Weblogs, Inc. Please don’t think that AOL is savaging our little company. I and my team are AOL employees who continue to break new ground in professional blogging, making the best decisions we can every day. Second, the post-AOL Weblogs, Inc. is not on a retirement rampage. :) We retired blogs for business reasons before the acquisition, and we continue to hone our portfolio. We are launching two new blogs in the next two weeks, with more on the way. We are just a publisher, as we always have been, placing our bets.

    So again, I am sincerely sorry for the disappointment of losing The Diabetes Blog. Painful as it is to loyal readers, it is not a bad business decision. It is merely a business decision. We might reenter the market in the future; we might not. As of now, it is the right business decision for us.

    Thanks to everyone for discussing it. I’m going to hit Post without proofreading; please forgive typos. :)

    Brad Hill

  8. madbard
    madbard September 18, 2007 at 1:43 pm | | Reply

    Given the evolution of blogging (c’mon, the word barely existed 6 years ago), I think this isn’t a bad thing. It maybe a good thing. I’ve been frustrated by the blog central model (aka Weblogs, LiveJournal) because when the “company” or the organizing principle goes, the content dies. This happened to me as the Salon blogs and its software partnership with Radio Userland faded. It made some sense to use a company when setting up the software and website was hard or you wanted to tap into an instaneous community. The social-websites like MySpace and LiveJournal are easy to get lost in just because of the sheer amount of content. Plus it is so easy to set up your own blog with almost any host. If the content it good, community will develop regardless of who hosts. WordPress.com, Typepad.com, Blogger provide a platform but you build your own community by providing good content.

  9. AmyT
    AmyT September 18, 2007 at 6:39 pm | | Reply

    Thanks for your notes, Brad. But considering the potential audience, this might prove to be a bad business decision after all. In any case, we OC’ers are disappointed.

    And madbard, I agree: Lots of social networking sites are just too deep and wide. It’s easy to get lost.

  10. Allie Beatty
    Allie Beatty September 19, 2007 at 10:01 pm | | Reply

    Hey Amy, Scott, Kerri, Brad and everybody else reading this ceremonial blog..

    I will miss The Diabetes Blog but I’m so glad that I had the introductory experience. I’ve learned a lot of things, in a very short amount of time from people out there (like me) trying to use this blessed information highway as a path to enlightenment.

    Thanks to everybody for investing the time to smooth out the bumps in the rocky road of diabetes.

    onwards and upwards…

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