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Articles about eclectic things that don't fit in more specific categories.

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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Don't use Excerpt... At least with DotClear.

DotClear automatically generates a meta description tag from the blog entry, but it doesn't take the excerpt into account.

It just takes the beginning of the article content. Since the excerpt is also shown at the beginning of the article, I cannot just write 2 times the same content.

meta description is quite interesting since it is usually used for the little snipped under a search result in usual search engines, so having the beginning of the post in here is very nice.

This fact annihilates the good point of having excerpts.

I'm now falling back to removing progressively all the excerpts on my posts...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Immutability of an URL

In the pure spirit of Data is King I think that URL should never change. Even the W3C agrees with their Cool URIs don't change article.

But we all know that in IT never is only not in the foreseen future. So URL do change, at least after a while, and usually for technical reasons[1].

Since you can update your website to update the URLs, but the inbound link cannot be easily updated. To handle this need, the HTTP protocol has specified the 301 response code.

The solution is that the site should remember all the urls that it generated and redirects accordingly. This way you'll never loose a potential reader to the infamous 404 (this page does not exist).

Some sites even try to approximate the page on a custom 404 page. That's another reason to have user-friendly urls : to be able to hint your reader to appropriate pages in case you don't find his initial destination.

Sadly, this redirect behavior isn't supported by my blog engine (dotclear)... That's for the eat your own dog's food, but I'm looking forward to do it on my current blogging platform.

Notes

[1] upgrade to another blog engine...

Friday, 29 May 2009

Synthetic Style for Blog Posts : Presentation Style Blogging

The good

  • With SMS, IM and now Twitter becoming more and more predominant : ideas might be given as bullet points
  • A presentation is much more dense in meaning than a big blob of text, Less time is required to read the post and be inspired by the content
  • Blogging is much less time consuming. As Jeff Artwood said Quantity Always Trumps Quality, it is the commitment that is important (hence the schedule).
  • You might divide a long article in several short and related posts.

The bad

  • Blog articles are usually a medium-depth analysis of a problem whereas presentation are usually a written support of a more detailed oral presentation.
  • Presentation sentences are usually hard to understand since they are just headlines without the underlying context.
  • You can always do a fast-reading version by putting the important sentences in bold for all those hasty readers.

The ugly

  • Longer don't always mean more interesting. Voltaire said Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time. and Antoine de Saint-Exupery completed Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away..

Conclusion

As concluded by Pascal, I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter, a good and terse article is therefore much more difficult to achieve. Therefore Presentation Style Blogging may be a false good idea.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Are Excerpts a Good Thing ?

One thing I'm really wondering is : Should I use excerpts ?

On the plus side :

  • The list is easier to read & shorter to parse. You can then just click on the link that are interesting to you
  • I can manage to see which posts are mostly read (useful ?) since the comments aren't a good indicator[1]
  • Mostly all my readers comes from Google. Having a little list and only then content on a dedicated page seems to help being nicely referenced on more specifics, hence ususally more relevant topics.

On the down side :

  • The RSS flow and the front page list are truncated. You are one click further to the whole story.
  • It seems quite arrogant to force the reader to come to your site.

I just edited my articles to have an excerpt when it is quite long.

What do you think ?

Notes

[1] It is very far from being a very famous blog with hordes of readers :-p

Friday, 10 April 2009

Email Ping to Comments Reply on Blogs

As a blog writer I can receive the comments written on my blog via email.

I'm wondering why this service isn't implemented for replies to my comments on foreign blogs. I don't really want to remember all the blogs I left a comment on in order to poll them to see if there is a reply to my comment.

Actually, a quick hack would be to subscribe to the RSS feed of this particular entry and let the RSS feeder handle all the remembrance and polling for us, but that seems so inneffective. Just imagine all the wasted traffic induced by polling if this habit becomes mainstreams.

I thought about turning it the other way around, since it seems that I'm forced to leave an email adress on each comment I leave, why don't the blogging engines just use this adress to send a notification (maybe opt-in) if there is a activity ?

I wanted to activate this feature on my blog and it seems non-existant. I therefore searched around quickly only to discover that noone seems to be having this particular need.

Strange...

Edit(15/04/2009): I just found out that WordPress seems to support this functionality via a plugin : Subscribe to Comments

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