Byliner is closing

Over eight years ago I launched Byliner, a site that lets you know when a writer you’re following publishes a new article. Three years later I decided to close it down. Then changed my mind.

But the time has come, again, to say goodbye.

I want to focus my energies more and while the site requires little of my physical time it’s always there at the back of my mind. These days I get very little joy from maintaining the site and, I confess, don’t even use it myself. I’m sure a handful of people find it useful — with no publicity at all it’s averaging one sign up every day — but I’m going to put myself first.

When I launched Byliner it was more a “proof of concept”. I knew it was far from perfect — it only indexes a small number of pages on a small number of sites and misses out several stories on even those — but I thought it was a service that should exist. And I hoped someone would steal the idea and do it properly at which point I could close the site down. It now indexes around 200,000 stories and about 25,000 writers.

Recently Journalisted has started doing something similar. It only covers the British press but does so more comprehensively than Byliner. However, there’s still no comprehensive world- (or web-) wide way of finding out when writers you like write something new.

Of course, never say never. I can imagine starting the site up again, perhaps as an exercise in learning a new programming language just as I used it to learn PHP and MySQL all those years ago. If I found a way to fund my work on the site I’d be more inclined to improve it — there are many ways it could be better — but finding funding isn’t really my bag.

Many thanks to those who have given me nice feedback over the years and I hope you won’t be too disappointed. The site will stop updating at the end of September 2008. Let’s hope someone finally steals my idea and does it properly.


  • hello. although i copletely understand why people stop doing things they no longer enjoy, i am deeply saddened by the fact that the site will not be maintained from now on - it was such a good thing!
    all the best
    jana, prague

  • Hi Phil,
    Heartbroken that byliner is closing. It made life so much easier for me, tracking down my favorite writers! But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. Thanks for giving us byliner, will sorely miss it...And goodluck with whatever you are planning on doing!
    Best Wishes,
    Roshan Mogali,
    Pune, India.

  • Thanks for making it in the first place, Phil.

  • Virtue is not its own reward. Byliner turned out to be a good, but not great idea. I've been there. Take comfort from a critical if not commercial success. It is essential to move on, when the spirit dictates. God speed!

    Germantown NY USA

  • Thank for creating and running the service, which I have found very useful over the years. I seem to remember you retreating from the brink of closing the service back in 2003, but it appears your decision is more final this time ;-) I think the understanding of the need for this kind of service has increased, and services of the Byliner form are likely to be realised.

  • ... And if I ever read the intros to articles and posts I would have noted that you had noted your previous change of mind.

  • Thanks very much for the service you have provided. I found it very useful.

  • It was magic - I got sent articles that I never would have just come upon. Thanks so much Phil! Byliner will be missed - but ultimately a happy Phil is more important!

  • awwww that epilogue was nice, thank you so much for this site. It's so useful I checked it everysaturday thank you and I hope things in your life are as good as this site :)

    Have you tried advertising on it for profit and try selling you website to jounalistic or whatever :)

    Thanks again

  • I found this site while searching for my own writing and found it pretty useful for finding out what other humor writers had written in the past, especially since I'm a big McSweeneys fan. When I read something funny at McSweeneys, I could always see if that person had written previously for them.

    This site is a great idea and it seems like you should be able to have made some money off of it yourself instead of hoping someone else ran with the idea. I hope this place, or one like it, is back someday.

  • Thank you for creating it and maintaining it for as long as you have. Best of luck!

  • Why not hand the site over to some university project?
    I'm sure sooner or later some bright student would take it up.

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Thursday 18 September 2008, 4:01pm

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18 Sep 2008 at Twitter

  • 9:32pm: More than usually dunk after catch-up patrol. Quality bifta.
  • 5:00pm: Why did I get a bus in rush hour? Slower than a glacier.
  • 4:07pm: After listening to music from 1986 and eBaying things from 1988 I'm off into town to meet people I haven't seen since 1989.
  • 2:35pm: Scaring people off with my day rate.
  • 1:45pm: Enjoying this Luther Vandross album I haven't heard in twenty years a bit too much. Normal service will be resumed shortly.
  • 11:10am: This slow getting rid of stuff can't be a good use of my time. I never want to buy another physical object again.
  • 8:52am: 7Digital's new MP3-only store is proving dangerous. Still too many gaps though.
  • 7:32am: @russelldavies A chap at the nice London Fields Cycles said Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires are the best they've had. Worked well for me.
  • 7:22am: The trouble with finally managing to get up an indecent hour is that it's so much chillier.