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Looking for the New Article on Using WordPress.com?

A strange new bug in WordPress.com caused What Do I Do With My New WordPress.com Blog (and others) to release three days early. The date on the post was for July 29, and yet it posted without my knowledge on July 26.

Unfortunately, it released in the middle of the night and I woke up to no Internet access for hours. During that time, a lot of people found it, loved it, and linked to it.

Before I saw that it was released, I had awoken realizing I’d made a big error in the article (left an important part out). As I’ve described before, I work with two tab windows open in Firefox with the Administration Panel in one and a view of the site in another. As soon as I had Internet access, I hit refresh on the site view, and before it finished loading, I switched to the Administration Panels to edit the article. I made my fix, hit save, and then switched to the view of my site and screamed.

The post was there. For all to see. Even with the error. This has to be a mistake! I hit the refresh buttons and the post was gone. Whew! I escaped an unfortunate icky. Glad that wasn’t released yet.

I then switched back to the Administration Panels and found a bunch of comments and trackbacks to the article. The unpublished yet published article. The article now sitting back where it belongs for posting on July 29. Yikes!

I’ve notified the WordPress.com developers of the bug and problem. I’m awaiting a response. In the meantime, we have a problem, Houston.

What To Do When Your Link Dates Go Astray

If I release the article now, it will have the URL date of 2006/07/26 when it currently has, and is linked to by many, a URL of 2006/07/29. I’ve tested it and if I change the date, it’s Page Not Found. If I leave it to post on July 29, then it is a Page Not Found error, but it will work and everyone who linked to the article will have working links.

So I’m in a quandary. I know that most of you will say release it. Once the cat’s out of the bag, it’s out. But how do I account for everyone who already linked to it (traffic has been heavy hitting on that article so far!)? How do I get them to change all their links to my article? An announcement here? Come on, I might be popular but do you think that many people are going to even read this and then go back and edit their posts?

And what do I do about all the people eager to read this? Make them wait?

This would be a very easy fix if I had access to my site’s .htaccess file which allows for easy redirects. Having had a similar problem recently, and debating that decision of having a misspelled word in a URL, I know that there is little I personally can do to fix this problem with my WordPress.com blog.

Though, there is something I can say. I’d like to take this moment to do a favorite rant of mine AGAINST DATES IN URLs.

I see no reason, none at all, and never have, for putting a date in a web address/URL. If you are a newspaper or timely media, and the “when” is critical, then great. It works for you. And you alone.

Personal bloggers blogging about their life in diary form, they can have the dates of their posts visible on their post pages. They don’t need them in the address. Who cares? Do you really care if Harry met Sally on July 20 or July 22? Is it really that important? Maybe to the writer, but definitely not to the reader.

The majority of web pages out there are not time or date oriented. An article I wrote on photographing patterns in nature isn’t going to change from 5 years ago or 50 years in the future. What? Are they going to invent some new patterns to photograph? I don’t see that as a major area of research today, do you? So who cares if I wrote the article in 1996 or 2096? Or yesterday? The information is still valid. The date does not belong in the URL.

Website addresses are a pain anyway. Since WordPress doesn’t really use folders or directories, these are just a made up link. The pages are generated and a technique called “permalinks” turns the links into “pretty links” with the date and post title. Why not save some coding and processing and either remove the date or shorten it?

If the article’s URL was one of the following, this wouldn’t be an issue. The post would still show up and I wouldn’t be ranting and raving about it:

lorelle.wordpress.com/what-do-i-do-with-my-new-wordpresscom-blog/
lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/what-do-i-do-with-my-new-wordpresscom-blog/
lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/07/what-do-i-do-with-my-new-wordpresscom-blog/

It is well known by fans of search engine optimization (SEO) that search engines pay attention to the words in links. So why would it help us to

  1. Have dates in the link URL.
  2. Push the words deeper within the link text.

Good question.

My recommendation has always been to keep it simple:

lorelle.wordpress.com/what-do-i-do-with-my-new-wordpresscom-blog/

Or to use categories:

lorelle.wordpress.com/wordpressdotcom/what-do-i-do-with-my-new-wordpresscom-blog/

The problem with using categories is that WordPress treats categories as tags, and therefore encourages multi-categories for each post, so that post URL could easily be:

lorelle.wordpress.com/blogging-tips/wordpressdotcom/wordpress-tips/what-do-i-do-with-my-new-wordpresscom-blog/

That doesn’t help either.

Still, I am not dissuaded from my rant. I think dates should be OUT of URLs. No dates in permalinks, unless you got a very good reason.

Do you honestly pay attention to the dates in the URLs and judge the worthiness of the content based upon the date in the address? Really? Most URLs are hidden on web pages anyway. Have you been peeking? ;-) Shame on you!

What To Do About What to Do With My New WordPress.com Blog?

Right now, I’m leaving it, hoping for an answer soon from WordPress.com support. I apologize to everyone for this recent mess, and I hope it will be cleared up. If I could offer any form of redirect here, I would.

As for those who are seeking the article on What Do I Do With My New WordPress.com Blog, it will be here soon. Sooner, hopefully.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

9 Comments

  1. Posted July 26, 2006 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, the same thing happened to me two nights ago — and then I posted on the forums and got smacked down by Dr. Mike! :-) (He was right to smack me, but at the time, I was pretty annoyed…) I had the same problem — an inordinate (for me, at least) number of people referred to the article in question, linked to it, etc. Total pain. And now it’s going to show up again on the 28th.

    I sent in Feedback, too, but no answer yet.

    Genie
    The Inadvertent Gardener

  2. Posted July 26, 2006 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Coupla issues — wordpress.com must be forcing the date format on you? Its default is actually quite a pedestrian site?p=# where site is your wordpress blog url and # is a consecutive number.

    Why are dates nice? I think you actually addressed that yourself in one of your posts on intranet linkage where you pointed out that with date based url’s, google will follow the rest of the date sequence if it can.

    Last issue — a question of mine! I’ve played around with future dating (since it could be very nice to have several already finished articles that will release on their own while I’m off (fantasy fantasy) on a gorgeous vacation somewhere in the caribbean so it doesn’t look like I’m “gone”) but there are some issues with it. The primary one seems to be that it doesnt’ do some of the “backend” wordpress stuff that does happen when the article is explicitly published. For example, if I have a plugin for email notification of new posts, those emails do not go out for those post-date published articles. RSS feeds seem to be affected by this as well (though feedburner might be a way around with that, I didn’t test it extensively). Have you noticed any problems in that respect? If not, I may need to dig a bit more…

  3. Posted July 26, 2006 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    The future posts issue is one I’ve been whining about for a long time and recently, it finally looked like the WordPress developers were going to dig into it. Now it looks like it ran off on a tangent, for the very same reasons you are mentioning. I’m watching and waiting and not happy about any of the watching and waiting. My full version WordPress blogs have no problem releasing future posts, but WordPress.com blogs…yuk.

    The “default” you talk about such as wordpress.com/index.php?p=42 is the “real” URL. The /wordpress.com/2006/07/09/this-is-title is created artificially by WordPress’s permalink function in the .htaccess file. With full versions of WordPress, you can control this. With WordPress.com, we’re stuck with what they give us. ARGH.

    Genie: So glad to know I’m not alone in whining about this. Thank you!

  4. Posted July 27, 2006 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Another off topic comment, but have you seen Ruff’s Firefox search Plugin for WordPress.com blogs? I think it is pretty easy to use and it works, his post is here

  5. Amber
    Posted July 27, 2006 at 3:59 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, what I don’t understand is why you blog at wordpress.com at all.

    Many of your posts are about the full version of wordpress, you obviously like the functionality of the full version, there are obviously things about the dot com version that bug the crap out of you… so why use it?

    Amber

  6. Posted July 27, 2006 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Amber: Quick Answer

  7. Posted July 27, 2006 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, you make a convincing argument for not including dates in post URLs. I took a compromise approach: my URLs are year/month/title, so I get 2006/07/this-is-the-title. Adding in the day of the month seemed to be overkill. Next blog I start, I’ll have to give this some more thought: can I come up with a good reason for including the dates?

  8. Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    Was this date-in-the-url thing ever fixed on wordpress.com?

    I’ve just started using it and don’t want the date in the URL. I’ll go somewhere else if necessary.

    Mike

    • Posted April 27, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      It is this way for everyone. It is set that way after consultation with SEO experts, Google, and others as the best format for a standardized URL.


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