AOL bloggers sigh over closure of Journals, Hometown

Two of AOL's efforts to keep pace with the Web 2.0 era are slipping quietly into the 404 files as the service announced plans to close AOL Journals and Hometown at the end of the month.

One BetaNews reader this morning shared the e-mail he received from AOL, which included this: "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."

On the whole, loyal users -- including one of the system's early principals -- were less than shocked. Blogging at Whatever, John Scalzi described the news as sad but not surprising: "AOL Journals, like a number of AOL initiatives of the time, was something of a member retention maneuver...Since that time, however, AOL has moved toward advertising as a revenue model, so member retention initiatives don't really matter much anymore."

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Some rank-and-file "JLanders" were less sanguine, grumbling that since AOL management should have given them more notice. And one user raised a poignant point: Journals created by users who are now deceased will, in fact, cease to exist. (At least one knowledgeable user has pledged to at least try to port those dormant blogs to a "living" service.)

At Magic Smoke, a blog written by two AOL Journals managers, the mood was generally one of resignation and curiosity about the porting process.

Some users, though, are ready to just hang it up, as the proprietor of Just Mary says she is: "My first journal on AOL, Francesco's Life, was a tribute to my Father...All the words I need or want to type about him have been typed. Transferring to another site? A journal without Dad (for me) would just wither in the shadow of my past journals that were so full of him."

According to Magic Smoke, AOL is working with Google (which is an AOL stakeholder) to migrate most journals -- posts, comments and all -- to Blogger starting October 7. In the meantime users are encouraged to back up the contents of their journals. People using Hometown for file storage are encouraged to make other hosting arrangements.

Curiously, users were still able to create a new AOL Journal as of Wednesday evening.

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