Another day of product sunsets in the world of AOL — AOL will be shutting down AOL Journals (personal blogs) and AOL Hometown (personal web pages) effective October 31, 2008. In an announcement via Official AOL Mail, AOL gave users about 30 days to back up their personal life before they flush it all down the Internet tubes.
AOL Journals: 10/31/2008, R.I.P
AOL Journals was AOL’s response to Google’s Blogger and WordPress.com, and had some lofty goals of engaging users into sharing their ideas on the Web. Journals had it’s ups and downs and even though I’m not an AOL Journaler at heart, there are about 100,000 users who are. On the plus side, the Journals community bonded really well and frequently held their own memes around various topics such as philanthropy, pets and animals, photography and including their own blog awards.
Later once AOL saw the rapid growth of AOL Journals, what did they have to do? Throw a nice 768×90 pixel graphic banner ad on the Journal. This caused as mass churn effect throughout the Journals community. In response, business owner, Bill Schreiner, responded basically that AOL must profit from display advertising in order to fund Journals. (The actual entry is here, read it before it’s gone!)
After the mass exodus, the die-hard AOL Journals users stayed, even as official AOL-branded blogs abandoned the platform toward the likes of Blogsmith (a Weblogs Inc., product). (Hint: If a company abandons their own platform with no promise to get features up to par, it’s time to move on, too.)
Personally, I’m unaffected; but I know many who are and I empathize with how frustrating this can be. Soon Learn how you can back up all your Journals content using a free application. For me it takes about 30 minutes to back up a pretty large Journal.
Note to AOL: PLEASE provide users a way to export content into a WordPress XML file. Otherwise a number of AOL users will be hitting your servers with a ginormous amount of bot traffic in an effort to save their personal contents. Please, if not for yourselves, do it for the users who made AOL Journals a success.
AOL Hometown: 10/31/2008, R.I.P
Many on the Web wonder why AOL Journals has been kept this long. According to the Internet Archive, AOL Homedown has been around since 1998, a whole decade. According to Google, when searching their various subdomains, that amounts to 1,416,400 web pages authored by AOL users.
The interesting fact however is that many Journals users often hosted their images, video and audio through Hometown. So, you really can’t have one without the other when it comes to AOL Journals ~100K users.
The Hometown product hasn’t been updated in a very long time. I suspect the last update to it was in 2002; when they made the assets match their AOL 8.0 software counterpart. Users have complained because of the lack of features offered. One thing AOL did to (whether good or not) was to raise their quotas from 10MB to 100MB per screenname.
Alternative Web hosting for AOL Users: Weebly or Get a Free Domain and $5.95 Hosting at Dreamhost (use promocode DYGISCAPE)!
For reference, I’ve included the e-mail below. It’s legit, and all AOL Journals and Hometown users should be concerned if they have any content that they wish to save. Later, in a follow-up entry, I’ll demonstrate how you back up all your AOL Journals content. With regard to Hometown, you really can’t since they killed their FTP access; except using that god-awful AOL FDO form found at AOL Keyword: FTP.
Dear AOL Journals user,
We’re sorry to inform you that on Oct. 31, 2008, AOL® Journals will be shut down permanently. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
It’s very important that you save your Journals content before the shutdown. We’re working on a way to easily move your Journal to another blogging service — you can expect an email within the next week with more details about how to do it. We want the transition to go as smoothly as possible for you, so you’ll have two choices. You can either save your information manually and find another place to blog on your own, or choose to automatically transfer your Journal to a different blogging service we’ve selected.
In the meantime, please bookmark the People Connection Blog, where you can find out more about AOL Journals. You can also subscribe to the People Connection Blog RSS feed to stay informed about any changes. We’ll be updating the People Connection Blog often, so please check it regularly.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we make this transition.
The AOL Journals Team
What are you thoughts? Share your perspective in the comments below.
UPDATE: Posted how to backup/index your AOL Journal. Check it out and share with fellow J-Landers.
UPDATE II: AOL officially informed Journals users to migrate their contents to Blogger.