I started All Climbing back in January 2005 — 14 years now! There have been many ups and downs, including pretty much a full stop back in 2010 when I was in the middle of running a startup. Over the intervening years, while I didn’t post to the site, I continued to curate links on my climbing Twitter account which has grown to over 32,000 followers. From this, I’ve seen what the average climber is interested in reading and what doesn’t resonate.
And while I was burnt out chasing newsy type articles, I have a considerable backlog of article ideas that I’d still like to get out into the world.
The popularity of @climbing Twitter account where I curate climbing links, despite not publishing posts to All Climbing for a while, finally inspired me to update this site.
So all that said, I decided to do a reboot of All Climbing (still in-process of course) and wanted to discuss the various aspects covering the why, how, and what of this process. Much of what I’ve had to do to get it back in form, will be useful to others regardless of the site you may be building.
Fixing the site
Unfortunately, there were a bunch of issues to clean up on the site. From tons of comment spam to an old version of WordPress, there were issues everywhere.
During the time I was not actively working on the site (roughly 2014), over 30,000 comments and trackbacks were posted. Sadly it’s incredibly difficult to clean up these comments using the WordPress dashboard. So I had to do this manually using SQL queries on the database. It helps that I have a technical background or this would have been an even bigger problem!
This took many hours, but I eventually found a semi-reliable pattern I could use to remove thousands of comments at a time. Most of the spam came through during specific time windows, so sorting the comments by date and time, I was able to quickly remove them.
To prevent this from happening in the future, I’m going to turn off comments on a given post after sixty days. This is just my first choice to solve the problem as there are many posts on this site that have an incredible thread of comments. For example, these posts were highly discussed: Aron Ralston update, Partial Rupture to A2 Tendon Pulley, and Review: Vibram Five Fingers Shoes.
But this is the only trade-off I can make at this point to minimize future spam issues and the massive amount of work involved to clean them up. I’ve used Disqus on and off over the years, and I feel like it’s never really helped this issue. If anyone has any suggestions though, I’m open to better solutions than completely turning off comments after a specific time period.
Finally, I also took the opportunity to improve the permalink structure and added SSL to the site.
As for what’s coming and what I have tentatively planned, it breaks down into four areas:
- Twitter — First, I’ll keep curating links on Twitter. This is the everything bucket, with a much higher dose of news than on the blog. Basically, if I find it interesting and it’s related to climbing or the outdoors, I’ll be sharing it. To date, the average is less than one Tweet per day.
- Articles — I plan to have regular articles, though I’m not sure on the frequency. Likely no more than a post per week and way less news-focused that it used to be on the site.
- Videos — I love watching climbing videos, and I know you do as well. I plan to highlight a video on a weekly basis, assuming there’s something I find super interesting. This is highly curated and the best of what I consume.
- Email newsletter — Finally, I’m starting an email newsletter called the Climbing Digest. This email will essentially be curated from everything I post on the blog and Twitter, with some extras included. So if you follow on Twitter and read the site, you’ll still get value from the email newsletter.
The big picture here though is that I’m never going to post for the sake of posting on a regular basis, which is a trap I most definitely fell into back in the old days.
Over the years, my passion for climbing has never faded, but I’ve found my related interests have grown to include more mountaineering, skiing, trail running, and even mountain biking. Anything that involves playing in the mountains is fair game to write about at this point. Hence the new tagline: “Everything climbing, mountains, and the outdoors.”
I’m happy to be back and hope you’ll join me for the ride.