diamond geezer

 Monday, July 26, 2010

The longer you leave something, the more it falls apart. I've had this blog for eight years, and it's quietly falling apart behind the scenes. Not the content, but the presentation, courtesy of Blogger's ever-changing rules, code and settings. In particular, internal links that worked perfectly well back in 2002 are now permanently broken, which leaves me with an archive that's increasingly inaccessible.

It's Blogger's Auto-Pagination feature that's mostly to blame (yes, sorry, I am going to go on about this again), truncating pages to save users time, but also concealing several hundred posts in the process. I spent seven years optimising my blog for display in monthly archives, and then Blogger changed its mind in the eighth and snapped them all in two.

Take my visit to Dungeness back in 2007, for example. This used to be visible at the bottom of the June 2007 archive page, and I could link to it at http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2007_06_01_archive.html#3472633985014608338. Not any more. Thanks to Auto Pagination only a fortnight of June officially exists. Everything prior to June 18th exists only on a dynamically-created page, which search engines can't find, and this old link can't link to. You can click through to June page 2 from June page 1 if you know to do so, but unless you know where to find my Dungeness post you'd never think to look. This angers me.

So I've had to do something I really didn't want to do, but which Blogger thinks is a jolly good idea. I've "enabled post pages". This means that every one of my 4000+ posts now has its own individual page which you can read separately from everything else. My Dungeness post now exists at http://diamondgeezer.blogspot.com/2007/06/dungeness.html, for example, and you can read it whenever you like. But only if you know what the special individual link is, which for 4000 other posts you don't. So I'm still unhappy.

There are two places that do know what these special individual links are. One is my RSS feed. If you're reading my RSS feed and decide to click through to read the blog proper, you'll click through to the individual post page and nothing else. And the other is Google. It's the only search engine which knows what all my individual pages are called, because it's owned by the same people who own Blogger. Search Google and you might possibly find my Dungeness page, maybe (although it's probably so completely buried you almost certainly won't).

The true reason I hate individual post pages is because arriving readers no longer notice what's written in the posts on either side. Sure they could click through and have a look, but few people ever do. In the case of my Dungeness post, they'd never spot there's a related post about the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway nextdoor, plus a whole load of other hopefully interesting posts throughout the rest of June 2007. Blogger's changes have atomised my blog, one snippet at a time, whereas previously it used to run in a series of interconnected chapters. Precise targeting has destroyed adjacent serendipity. Sad face.

So why am I telling you all this? It's because I've finally got round to updating the search engine in my sidebar so you can actually find things again. I've had to use a Google search engine, obviously, and the end results come out with adverts all over them, but it means my entire blog is discoverable once more. It's not perfect, and it still directs you to monthly archives that don't exist, but Dungeness is in there, and so's everything else if you look hard enough. Actually that's a big if, because sometimes you have to look very hard indeed. My archives are still buggered, and semi-undiscoverable, thanks to thoughtless technicians at Blogger HQ.

Anyway, here's the search engine if you want to have a play.
And it'll be in the sidebar forever as well, at least until Blogger breaks that too.

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