In one of the most apt uses of a .blog domain, Refined.blog is a new website that promotes personal blogging with an organized list of software engineering blogs. It’s a simple site with an index of blogs, their Hacker News scores, tags, and a link to each blog’s RSS feed. The search function is very fast and applies to all columns in the index (except the feed URL). Columns can be sorted alphabetically, by tag, or by HN points.
“Experience is gold,” Musa Ünal, creator of Refined.blog, wrote in the site’s introduction. “There are a lot of social media platforms on the Internet, but we need personal blogs again. It’s hard to find blogs, so let’s make this blog list together! “
It’s true, discovering new blogs is not easy. If you’re not following the right people on Twitter, or if you’re not around when someone logs into their social media posts, then you’re usually out of luck. Personal blogs are often not very well optimized for search and can get lost in the haystack.
Google search cannot restrict results to personal blogs. The Wiby search engine is about the closest you can get to finding these types of websites, although it appears to be limited to older style pages that are based on a topic of interest. Wiby uses Microsoft Bing search results combined with Wiby.me results without sending your IP address and user agent to Microsoft. The about Wiby page explains the problem that sites like Refined.blog aim to solve:
In the early days of the web, pages were mostly created by hobbyists, academics, and computer scientists on topics of personal interest to them. Later, the web became saturated with business pages overloaded with everything else. All the custom sites are hidden among a stack of business pages. Google is not very good at finding them, its goal is to find answers to technical questions, and it works well; but finding things you didn’t know you wanted to know, which was the real joy of surfing the web, doesn’t happen anymore. In addition, many pages today are created using large scripts that add sleek cosmetic features in order to hide the lack of content available on them. These pages contribute to the blandness of today’s web.
The Wiby search engine builds a web of pages like it was in the early days of the Internet.
Refined.blog brings more exposure to some of those one-person websites. Its creator, Musa Ünal plans to move from an index of software engineering blogs to separate indexes for different topics.
“For example, I’m a huge fan of history bloggers, but it’s very hard to find these kinds of blogs,” he said in response to a question on Hacker News. “If you know of such blogs, thank you for contributing to the project. If we have enough bloggers listed, we can create subdomains like history.refined.blog or art.refined.blog.
Hacker News’s comments on the project range from people new to RSS and looking for reader recommendations, to people returning to RSS for their news after being jaded by news algorithms and social media platforms. Other commenters have shared that they too maintain their own curated blogging lists. Refined.blog used some existing engineering and safety blog listings as sources for the index.
“I love it,” one person commented on Hacker News. “I’m part of the ultrarunning community and love reading everyone’s blog posts / trip reports / race reports / adventures. But everyone has stopped updating them in the last 5 years. Now that sort of thing is just an Instagram photo with a paragraph or two. The depth and character of these old blog posts has been lost. I wish that in-depth blog posts came back, but in reality I don’t think they are.
Another commentator echoes the sentiments of other people who have given up on promoting their blogs in the age of social media:
I completely gave up promoting my business. Before, it was very simple and straightforward. Like-minded people could find new things without a problem. These days there’s way too much content, the vast majority of very low effort, and you immediately get lost in the noise.
For example, I have an old blog post that was featured in podcasts, on dailyjs, HN, related to MDN, etc. When I wrote it in 2014, I just submitted it to Reddit, that’s it. Nowadays, I couldn’t recreate this exhibit – or even a tiny fraction of it – if my life depended on it.
Whether the site takes off or not, I think it’s important to catalog these attempts to restore the magic of that earlier era when websites provided a real window into people’s knowledge and interests. It may not sound like what many of us remember about the old-fashioned “vintage” internet, but the blogosphere will continue to evolve as long as bloggers at heart continue to experiment with projects like this one. -this. Much of this writing style has gone to email newsletters, but content that lives publicly on the web has a longer lifecycle that can be rejuvenated through linked conversations. Writers can and should be able to adopt both methods of distribution.
Refined.blog is hosted on GitHub and is open to feature suggestions and contributions. Someone submitted an issue, suggesting that the site add one or more OPML feed links so that people can subscribe to some or all of the blogs at once. Ünal said he was working on making an OMPL export for the selected blogs.