I think it's safe to say that our beloved Houseblogs.net is down for the ten count.
For those who don't remember Houseblogs, it was an online community of house bloggers like us. Besides aggregating our RSS feeds in one place and offering Vanilla-based forums for novice DIYers to ask questions of battle-hardened home renovation tyromaniacs, Jeannie and Aaron went above/beyond to create a congenial, positive environment with contests and features to keep us coming back. Even though most of my renovation battles are behind me, I really miss the hang. I'd like to see if we could get it back.
A couple of years ago I created HomeOwnersLike.Us as a test jig for an RSS aggregation module I was writing for a client based on the Drupal CMS software. Houseblogs.net was the inspiration for it but I wanted to fix some of my peeves with it, like RSS feeds which spammed the queue with multiple posts per day, driving other, usually more interesting feeds off the front page. I also wanted to create a robust "home page" under the bloggers' control so they could introduce their feeds, respond to comments about it and maintan a list of their most recent posts so people could read their blogs in chronological context. Houseblogs' performance also tended to grind so I wanted snappier performance. I think that's been achieved.
If you've got a house blog with an RSS feed, web your way over and set it up. If you have problems doing this, contact me and let me know so I can help you with it, and possibly fix it for others. I'd like HomewnersLike.Us to be more about home renovation/repair/improvement than photos of your kids' soccer game and cookie recipes. But that's okay in moderation too.
I've viewed HomeOwnersLike.Us mostly as a software beta test so I've never publicized it. Nevertheless, it's managed to attract 27 house renovation feeds as of this post. While that's a far cry from the hundreds that lived on Houseblogs it's enough to give me confidence that it's ready to meet the world. As it stands, HomeownersLike.Us is mostly just an application. I would like to make it more of a platform offering multiple points of interest for both remote bloggers and visitors. Forums are, of course, one of the features it needs. What else? And, yes, I know it could use some expert UI and design help too. Any professional site designers out there?
I'm going to let the homeblogging community help me with this. I'm not a marketing person like Aaron and Jeannie so I'm also going to rely on bloggers to promote HomeownersLike.Us too. Tell your house blogging friends about it. Get them to sign on. Blog about it. Send me ideas that you would like to see incorporated here. At least for the time being, I'm not interested in monetizing the site with advertising partners and promotions and giveaways and stuff, at least beyond the usual Google AdSense thing. Let's get our old community back.