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Blogging and Documents

It seems that the majority of blog traffic (at least in blogs I read) is time-based. It is personal-diary entry posts, references to current events, predictions about future events, bug reports, and other things that either become obsolete or for which it’s important to know the date. For such posts it makes sense to have the date be part of the Permalink URL, and in the normal course of events such posts will tend not to be updated after release.

Another type of blog traffic is posts that have ongoing reference value which will (ideally) be actively maintained to keep them current. For such posts it makes sense to have no date stamp in the Permalink – for example if I update a post about installing SE Linux on Etch once Lenny is released (a significant update) I don’t want people ignoring it when it comes up in search engines (or worse having search engines score it down) because the URL indicates that it was written some time before the release of Etch.

WordPress supports Pages as separate entities to Posts, and the names of Pages are direct links under the root of the WordPress installation. However there is no RSS feed for Pages (AFAIK – I may have missed something) and the WordPress themes often treat Pages differently (which may not be what you want for timeless posts). Also it is not unreasonable to have Pages and timeless posts.

I’m thinking of creating a separate WordPress installation for posts that I intend to manage for long periods of time with updates (such as documenting some aspects of software I have written). The management options for a blog server program provide significant benefits over editing HTML files. The other option would be to use a different CMS (a blog server being a sub-category of a CMS) to store such things.

What I want is a clear way of presenting the data with minimal effort from me (an advantage of WordPress for this is that I have already invested a significant amount of effort in learning how it works) and editing from remote sites (the offline blog editing tools that are just coming out is a positive point for using a blog server – particularly as I could use the same editor for blog posts and documents).

Any suggestions as to how to do this?

Then of course there’s the issue of how to syndicate this. For my document blog (for want of a better term) I am thinking of updating the time-stamp on a post every time I make a significant change. If you subscribe to the document feed than that would be because you want to receive new copies of the documents as they are edited. The other option would be to not change the time-stamp and then include the feed along with my regular blog feed (making two feeds be served as one is not a technical challenge). If I was to update the time stamps then I would have to write posts announcing the release of new documents.

Does anyone know of someone who writes essays or howto documents in a similar manner to Rick Moen [1] or Paul Graham [2] who also does daily blog posts? I’d like to see some examples of how others have solved these problems (if there are any).

6 comments to Blogging and Documents

  • Take a look at Alex King’s “Articles” plugin. He’s easily Google-able.

  • Anonymous

    Try ikiwiki. You can easily keep documents and blog posts organized separately, and you can use inline to create feeds for any combination of them.

  • You could try using an XML sitemap. This is a (CC-licensed) standard made by Google with which you can assign “priorities” to individual pages on your site. Google, but also Yahoo and ask.com, can then use these sitemaps and the priority values in them to prioritize results from your website by the order you gave (although they don’t promise anything)

    There’s a module for drupal called ‘gsitemap’ that was written as part of GSoC 2005, which generates these XML sitemaps on the fly based on ‘activity’ of your pages, and/or any static priority you assign to them. It’s possible that something similar exists for wordpress, though I’m not too familiar with it.

  • For the same problem: having ‘dynamic’ content and static one, i’m currently evaluating drupal which is more a CMS than a blog manager, and seems so powerful. Maybe you should give it a try.

  • Truls

    I assume you already considered sticking with Pages for “timeless posts” and then using blog entries to announce changes you consider big enough to warrant it?

  • etbe

    Jeff: I checked out the “Articles” plugin (read the docs and looked at the author’s page). At least in the way he’s using it the feature seems to only be a page with a set of links to blog posts – which I could easily do manually.

    What I want is to have a different style of permalink and to be able to search for them in a different way when editing posts etc.

    Anon: Thanks for the suggestion, but the bare-bones style of ikiwiki doesn’t seem to match what I want to do. You are correct that a wiki will satisfy the document management criteria though.

    Wouter: I’ve got a sitemap. But that doesn’t help the situation where a user sees 2006 in the URL and decides that the page must be obsolete.

    er:k: I’ll have to investigate what Drupal offers, thanks for the suggestion.

    Truls: I considered it, but currently the tabs at the top of the screen for posts already take up enough space and I would have to change to a different theme if I wanted to significantly increase the number. Also I will probably end up with dozens (or maybe hundreds) of such timeless posts and none of the ways of managing “pages” will cope with so many in an adequate way.