After months of agonising over the decision I’ve decided to close down Byliner from the end of this month. It’s a real shame as I do think it’s quite a useful service and could be developed into something even better, but I just don’t have the time. It feels horribly like defeat, but I guess I’m finding there is actually a limit to the amount of stuff one can put online and not spend every waking moment staring at a computer screen. The site has sentimental value for me, being the site on which I taught myself PHP and MySQL, although this does mean the code’s a little ropey. Anyway, here’s the email I’ve just sent to the 299 people who had signed up for the service…
First, apologies if this seems like spam, but you won’t be receiving any similar mail from me after this.
Byliner has been running for nearly three years and in that time it has gathered links to more than 50,000 stories by over 4,500 writers from just a dozen websites. However, I’m afraid the site will be closing at the end of January.
I designed Byliner to require a small amount of administration but for many months I haven’t had the time or, to be honest, the inclination, to devote myself to even this amount. While it’s run pretty smoothly with little input from me, a large backlog of new writers has built up, each of which needs to be approved manually.
This has now got to the point where I realise I’ll never get on top of the backlog and I’d prefer to close the site down rather than run a service whose functionality is getting gradually worse.
When I built the site, as my first exercise in database-backed website programming, I saw it mostly as a proof of concept. It seemed like a useful idea that no one else had tried, and I like to think I’ve shown it could work. Ideally, a site like Byliner would index far more sources, but this can get difficult and would require more time than I could ever spend on it. Maybe someone will develop such a site before too long.
So, thanks for your “custom” over the past three years and I hope Byliner proved useful, or at least interesting, to you at some point. If it leaves a little gap in your life may I take this opportunity to offer a blatant plug for my most recent project, http://www.pepysdiary.com/ that might help you fill it.
All the best,