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03 November 2008

The Blog Problem

I've been blogging for a while now and for the most part you can't beat the functionality. You get online content management, streamlined text editing engine, pre-designed templates (if you are ok with that) and an RSS feed. Add some "widgets" to your sidebar and the possibilities are endless. And in the case of Blogger its FREE!

But there are some things about blogs that just get downright frustrating. The other day I came up with two that I thought I'd ask you about. So I'll just phrase them in the form of questions:

1. How do you keep good content from getting lost?
Blog posts get bumped down each time you create a new one. Problem is, over time your post becomes lost in the massive post archive list. If it was a great post that people still need to find, it can get a little crazy.

Here are a few things I've tried in the past:
  1. Predate the post: If you put a date of 2010 (or any date in the future) on a post it will remain at the top of your blog until that date arrives. Problem: people get sick and tired of seeing it every time they visit your blog.
  2. Create quick links: Most blogs already have an archived list of all posts, but the farther away the post gets the harder it is to find. So adding a quick link list in the sidebar for important posts might be helpful.
  3. Add search functionality: I recently added the lijit search box to my blog (after a thumbs up from Kem Meyer and Tim Stevens).
2. How do you deal with your content becoming dated and in essence misleading?
The other thing that happens with a blog is that the engine archives the posts as they are. Its like writing a book - the minute you hit publish its old and starts to fall victim to changes that contradict it.

Of course with a blog you have the ability to edit the post. So here are some ways I've attempted to keep content correct:
  1. New posts: The simple solution is to just keep posting with new and updated information. Problem: The old stuff is still there and if someone searches for it, they will get the wrong information.
  2. Edit the old post: This works if you just have a couple posts that need updating. Problem: The old post isn't published at the top of your blog so people may never realize that the post has been edited.
  3. Keep all important info in one post: At some point I created a FAQ post. I update the content on this post when needed and add new content when new questions arise. I also link to it from my website and from the sidebar of the blog. This is my attempt to keep the content current and accessible at the same time.
Other ideas? Let us know!