Blog Year 2018

It’s that time for a reflective reviewing the previous year. On a personal level, it’s been an interesting year, a year of some changes with more ahead. I may (or may not) talk about that more down the road. I’ve already shared some of the more mundane ones. I’m still chewing on some of the more personal ones.

As a blog post, it makes sense to do a blog review, as self-indulgent as they are. This is more a milepost for me; a sort of year-end report to the board — see if it’s worth funding another year. (Technically, the Blog Year starts on July 4, with year zero being 2011. The blog is now seven-and-a-half; 741 posts tall. Plus it just grew one more.)

Stick around if you want, but it’s gonna be long, dry, and narcissistic…

I’ve long enjoyed playing with data and making charts, so naturally I’ve been mucking about with blog stats.

One thing I like about computer programming is how it opens up the world of data processing for me. That said, I have to believe tools exist allowing bloggers to do everything here and much more. To be honest, what I’m doing is a little crude.

The flip side is total control over the process and the results. No wishing you could customize or change something. Perhaps more important is the transparency. The box is glass, not black, so there’s no question what’s going on under the hood.

OTOH, any bugs are also yours. But bugs can exist in the best professional tools, too, and at least you can kill your own bugs.

I digress, but speaking of charts:

posts-20-sep.png

Page hits per post by month. [Click for big.]

These are page hits for the twenty posts I started tracking back in 2016 (some of which date back to the earliest days). The chart shows the entire life of the blog (since July 4, 2011).

I designed it to be pretty more than useful (that’s okay with charts). I thought it was fun to see the rare spikes (the first two due to being “Freshly Pressed”) and general trends.

Also: obviously not a popular blog; those get hundreds (or thousands) of hits per day! Ah, well, popularity was never the intent, so yay? 😀

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I wondered what that data looked like combined:

Based on those twenty posts, traffic has grown!

But that growth is fairly slow — almost flat the last three years. I added some rolling average lines to help visualize the actual growth.

The two times I was “Freshly Pressed” really stand out on this chart — the two big spikes, left and center. They even affect the rolling averages. (The two spikes on the right are actually “echos” of the first FP spike on the left, although the right-most turns out to have a contributor.)

Increase in certain pages aside, blog traffic in general isn’t trending upwards at all:

Page Hits are hits on specific pages. All Hits includes Home page hits.

Seems my best year so far was 2015. As shown next, I did post a bit more that year. Of course, 2016 the world got weird, so maybe it has nothing to do with me.

It is interesting 2017, with no posts at all, didn’t kill traffic all that much.

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I also wondered what my posting activity looked like:

It appears my enthusiasm for posting waned over time. I found myself speechless in 2017 — obvious social political fallout from 2016, plus the Minnesota Twins had their worst season ever (losing 103 games) in 2016.

The gap early on, December 2011 through April 2012, is interesting. I’m guessing work either got interesting or depressing around then. Not sure which.

It seems 2018 is my lowest active year considering that 2011 was a half-year. A combination of existential ennui and a general weariness with the dreariness of it all.

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If you were iffy on reading this post, now’s a good time to bail. The rest is just a review of those twenty key posts.

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The elephant in the room, oddly, isn’t the Elephant post (see below), but the seasonal favorite, Santa: Man or Woman?

As you see, this spikes my page hits every December. It is down this year, 429 compared to 532 (both spiking “off the chart”), so maybe its popularity is finally fading. It was only number four in 2018.

This one got “Freshly Pressed” which explains the huge spike when I published it. Sadly, the Santa post I like better didn’t get the attention. But I suppose gender is way more a thing that fantasy.

(This one, and the next, come with the annual grouse about how these are From My Collection, and not 100% original material. Yet they’re my top posts. Damn it.)

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The aforementioned next is, Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille, my telling of an old joke with a well-known punchline.

At least this one was in my own words. It was number six in 2018.

(I think the Duck Joke is funnier. Or the one about Sally.)

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I’m very happy about number three, Rick O’Shay, it was a labor of love.

That it continues to attract attention is great, and I’m pleased people seem to be clicking the link to his site. Stan Lynde died shortly after I wrote the post, so I’m especially glad about the timing.

It’s third overall and fifth in 2018!

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I’m also happy with Deflection and Projection seeing so much traffic (it was number three in 2018).

I’m proud of the post (one of my fairly okay ones), but I think the content is important, and I’m glad it’s being passed around.

It seems to have gotten a lot of traffic during the first year of POTUS45, with an increase during the election. Wonder why it dropped off in 2018? Fatigue?

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Number five, Bushido Code (a page, not a post), is also From My Collection.

But it’s a fine thing to share. That’s why it’s there (along with Gibb’s Rules).

No idea why it spiked in January of 2015.

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Number six is a new kid on the block, My Grandfather’s Axe.

I’m delighted! I love this post!

It was top post of 2018 by almost double the runner-up. It already has 13 hits this month.

No one comments, so I don’t know why it’s taken off.

(A complaint I have with a number of these posts. They’re being passed around, apparently, but no one ever bothers to toss a Like my way, let alone a Comment.)

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Number seven, number two in 2018, is also somewhat new, From the Far Side.

It’s a collection of some of my favorite Gary Larson cartoons and why they’re my favorites. Apparently they are other people’s’ favorites, too.

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Here’s an oldie from my first month, God is an Iron, that simmered for a long time and then got noticed.

Since it’s one of my favorite posts from the “old days” of the blog, seeing it at number eight is sweet. It’s also number eight in 2018!

Wonder why it spiked in 2017 when I wasn’t even around!

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This one, Madam Secretary & Scorpion, is a bit of a puzzle.

No idea why it weighs in at number nine or why anyone still reads it. I liked the former show (still do) and disliked the latter. A lot, in both cases.

(The only reason this post is on the Key Posts list is that heavy traffic when it first came out. Which is when I created the list. I should remove it now. It was number fifteen in 2018)

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This one, BB #27 – Far Less, should probably also be removed (it was only number twenty-five in 2018).

It’s mainly about “Toyota Jan” (Laurel Coppock) with a side riff on bacon (no connection).

Toyota Jan is still going strong, so it was a good gig for her!

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I mentioned the Elephant Story

This is yet another post that really shouldn’t be in the Key 20 anymore. Had a big spike early on and some traffic since, but only 60 hits last year.

(No one has caught on that the elephant crossing sign is photo-shopped in. And I never did write that serious post about elephants.)

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This is a piece, Why I Hated The Holodeck, pre-dates the blog.

It’s just one of many, many Star Trek posts here. Nice to see it pick up some traffic in the last few years. It was number eleven in 2018.

OTOH, see It’s Dead, Jim. I’m kinda over Trek these days.

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I really wish Here Today; Pi Tomorrow deserved to be number thirteen.

As you can see, it’s traffic amounts to that one spike, when it was Freshly Pressed. It’s gotten pretty much zilch since then (single digits).

I wish it did better, because (A) it’s a very nice pi post, if I do say so, but more importantly (B) it kicks off the Special Relativity series I worked so hard on.

(At least some posts of that series do get some traffic.)

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Coming in at #14 (#18 in 2018), one of my all-time favorite posts, Hawkeye & Margaret.

People find this with the search string, “hawkeye margaret mash” a lot. I guess that relationship was as engaging to others as it was to me.

M*A*S*H is still a favorite TV show of mine. (From back when CBS made really good sitcoms. Now, from where I sit in front of the TV, not so much. See Reboots.)

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Another golden oldie, Barrel of Wine; Barrel of Sewage.

This is yet another personal favorite, so Santa posts aside, I’m pleased to see these posts getting traffic. It was number twelve in 2018. (If only they got Likes or Comments.)

The post is a rumination on entropy along with some observations on life.

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Number 16 is another page, Assassin Movies.

The list is pretty good for the time span it covers, but I stopped maintaining it. (In part because I think movies have gone downhill, in part because I don’t care anymore, and in part because maintaining any list is a pain in the ass.)

Interest in the list is obviously dropping off for readers, too. Could be for any combination of the reasons just given.

(My favorite at the moment is a Japanese anime TV series, Assassination Classroom!)

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I don’t really understand why Reflections: Work & Change gets hits.

It’s a personal reflection about my own time at the company. I have a feeling people are attracted to the title, but I wonder how many actually read the piece?

And, of course, no one ever says anything, so I have no idea…

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Speaking weird page hits I can’t explain, Beams of Steel.

It’s part three of a three-part post about 9/11 focused on debunking conspiracy theories attached to the event.

But parts one and two never get any hits, so what’s going on? Drives me (very mildly) crazy.

Again, I suspect it’s the post title or maybe an image people are seeking. I’ve left a comment — the only comment there — asking someone to say something…

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All-time slots 19, 20, and 21, respectively, go to my About page, another favorite post, Infinity is Funny, and (no doubt for the image) I Voted!

As it turns out, two other posts made the Key 20 list due to high activity recently. One is gratifying, the other kinda funny.

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The gratifying one, number seven in 2018, is, Movies: Grand Canyon.

It’s an off-the-cuff (email) I wrote long ago for a friend after seeing the movie, Grand Canyon, directed by Lawrence Kasdan (whom I respect a lot).

As reviews go, I’m not super thrilled with it; it was an email. I did touch it up a little, but it’s my writing style (and mental style) from the mid-1980s.

But it’s neat people seem to like it. (Just wish someone would speak up. I have gotten a few personal emails expressing appreciation for various posts, but no one comments. A bit point of a blog is discussion.)

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The funny one, number nine in 2018, number thirty-eight overall, is CNN Is Dead To Me.

I’m pretty sure this is about Erin Burnett. I see “erin burnett cleavage” as a common search string. Sorry to disappoint.

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And that is the annual report for 2018. Now we’ll see if the board isn’t bored and funds us for another year!

Stay blogging (and commenting), my friends.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

23 responses to “Blog Year 2018

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I’ve never been able to find a rhyme or reason for which posts are popular versus which languish in obscurity. I’ve had a few be shared on reddit or by another popular blog which led to huge spikes in traffic, but almost never to comments or likes. (Likes, it turns out, require a WordPress account. I didn’t realize that until sometime last year when a Twitter commenter pointed it out.) And the few commenters that it did attract tended to be trollish.

    In some ways, these spikes helped to clarify what was most important to me about blogging. Popularity would be great, but the conversation is really more important. And actually on some popular blogs, the discussion threads are so frenetic that participation often feels fruitless.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, I completely agree on every count! I’ve had some of the same experiences on other blogs — hard to get a word in edgewise. Also true that drop-bys are often trollish.

      I don’t know how long you’ve been on the internet, maybe as long as me (mid-1980s). Not that trolls didn’t exist then — the term is from that era, after all — but it was a lot quieter place. Conversations were much more common, the rule, in fact.

      (Admittedly often long, pedantic, and pointless, but fun in its own way. Kind of a form of social-bonding, really.)

      But being there at all implied a certain level of (technical, anyway) ability, and techs have always been prone to chat with each other, to share that stuff that lights us up but which makes us seem alien to mundanes. (Because to them we are magicians.)

      Now it’s like any big public place, a more accurate cross-section (sort of), plus it’s possible to wear a mask! No one needs to know who you are, with all that implies.

      ((Drat. I’m going off on a rant here. For all that’s worth. Anyway. Whatever.))

      I’m with you on the mystery, too. Who knows why something flies. On some level, given the size of the interweb and the potential for “going (seriously) viral,” I’m a little surprised that in 7.5 years I’m that obscure. It’s hard not to take personally, (especially when my biggest hits were Freshly Pressed assists from WP).

      OTOH, that size also means it’s easy to get lost, and (as you noted recently) long-form blogging is in vogue anymore, plus I’ve never made any effort to promote the blog, so I can’t really complain.

      And, as you say, real popularity, in some ways, sounds terrifying!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oh, forgot to mention: Good know about the Likes needing a login. Thanks.

      I’ve got comments set up to require one, too, to eliminate spam now that I’ve re-opened comments for all posts. (Since it seems some of my old posts are getting traffic, I thought I’d see if anyone has anything to say. Not so far…)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I really didn’t get on the internet to any serious extent until the early 90s (starting with telnet and gopher). Before that I was limited to CompuServe, AOL, and bulletin boards, for which I do go back to c. 1980.

        The discussions I recall back in the old days centered on whether Apple II, Atari, or Commodore was the best platform, the best programming language (Basic, assembly, Pascal, etc), on which games were best, and (on private bulletin boards) where to score pirated copies of software.

        Hey, be glad you did get Freshly Pressed. I never did. Although as a soulless skeptic, I’ve never been much for the life affirming stuff they tended to select, but the lack of notice did bother me in the first year of blogging.

        On comments, you can also allow logins from Twitter and Facebook accounts, which expands the people who can get in, although apparently only WordPress accounts can do Likes. I do allow people to comment with only an email address, and occasionally I’ve gotten a troll through that, but it’s rare. I have it set so I always have to approve someone’s first comment, which means no one else sees most of the trollery (or occasional spam message that gets past the filters). Plus I have a few commenters who only come in that way, and I’m not sure they’d stay if I cut that avenue off.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Sounds like we have a somewhat similar arcs; my age more than anything puts mine a few years ahead of yours. I was a CS minor in the 1970s, and had the internet through The Company starting in 1984, which explains the early access. And BBSes via 300 bps phone modems! (I’ve even used the 110 baud ones with rubber cups you stick the phone handset in.)

        I was never on CompuServe or AOL since I email at work. I was on USENET a lot from work (got in trouble a couple times over things I said with The Company email address attached to my handle) and FidoNet (mostly) from home. My cousin (doing research) was way into gopher (and SSPS), but I never did much with it.

        Ha! My cousin could have argued for Apple II; you could have (IIRC) argued for Atari; I could have argued for Commodore. Not that I would have. I was off arguing about Star Trek and which computer language was best (clearly Lisp, although which dialect of Lisp is a religious war unto itself).

        FWIW, I went by “Programmer Dude”. I spent a lot of time in the comp.lang.c USENET group.

        I should write a tech reminiscences post! I was about to ramble on at length because I remember it all so fondly. It’s been a really fun road; I’ve been hugely blessed career-wise. (Kinda compensates for pretty much everything else. 😮 😀 )

        I’m surprised you never got Freshly Pressed! That says a lot about the bias of that feed. I never found much value in it. Looked at it when it happened to me, of course, but otherwise only a few times mostly looking for interesting blogs. Rarely found any that way.

        They claim there are ways to promote a blog, plus ways to write a blog that encourage engagement. From what I can tell, I’m pretty much doing it all wrong. And I mentioned I make no effort to promote it. I’m not even on FB or Twitter.

        “On comments, you can also allow logins from Twitter and Facebook accounts”

        How exactly is that done? I looked at the settings and didn’t see anything explicit.

        I am doing the email address thing; I also have some outsiders (friends in RL) who occasionally drop by. I have the Share buttons turned on for those services. Is that the same thing?

        Those Share buttons are interesting. A small handful of posts have a number of Facebook shares. (Apparently I don’t appeal to Twitter anymore than it appeals to me.)

        “I have it set so I always have to approve someone’s first comment,”

        Likewise. As you say, we still see the spam that gets through.

        In 2017, I think, I turned off comments because I was “AFB” and didn’t want to even have to log in to delete the spam. No one was commenting, so what the heck.

        I’ve got comments turned back on, no time limit, and I’m wondering if the spam filtering has gotten better. There have been a small handful in months.

        I wonder if turning off comments dropped me off spammer lists? If so, wonder how long it’ll take them to realize I’m back.

        The ones that get me are the drive-by Likes and Follows. Posts sometimes get a Like within seconds of my posting it; not enough time (I’d think) for someone to read it. And Follows from what seem like commercial interests (I remove most of those; when WP gave us the ability to remove followers, I kicked out about 2000 of mine).

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        110 baud? Wow, I didn’t know they went below 300. Okay, I thought I started with the most primitive modems, but have to yield on that one. (I remember waiting hours for software to download from CompuServe over that 300 baud link. 1200 seemed like lightning after we upgraded.)

        “How exactly is that done? I looked at the settings and didn’t see anything explicit.”
        Just went nosing around in the Discussion settings for the first time in ages. Apparently we get two settings areas now, one in the new admin interface and one in the old WPAdmin. Couldn’t find anything in either.

        I did hit my site in Incognito, and you can still login via WordPress, FB, or Twitter. Maybe it’s automatic now? I also hit your site in Incognito but it looks like you require a WP login (which apparently you can now do with your Google account, which explains why Google isn’t listed as a separate login anymore).

        I could swear I remember explicitly selecting those options once upon a time, but that would have been in 2013-2014 when I first set up. So, maybe now to allow FB and Twitter you have to allow email only comments? I hope it’s not a forgotten zombie feature.

        I very rarely see spam these days, but then my own blog was in a semi-dormant state for a long time, so maybe I became less attractive too. I do have over 200 items in the spam folder, but in the old days that sometimes topped over a 1000.

        Yeah, the Likes and Follows from “entrepreneurs” and blog advice sites have always been a background spam. That said, I’ve occasionally had people follow me who looked utterly spammy but then provided cogent conversation. Sometimes people’s blogs don’t reflect everything they’re interested in, particularly if they have multiple blogs and the one advertised is their business one.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        The 110 baud stuff was from the 1960s, I’m sure. The picture at the top of this Wiki page shows one. Really old stuff. At work, until the early 1990s, I supported a variety of fax and telecom systems.

        The Company once sent me to (of all places) Disney World, where there’s a really nice business conference center, for a seminary on IBM SDLC because of a line of terminals we supported.

        There was just enough time after class to hit the monorail and visit the Park before it closed. Super cush conference center, too. Talk about a work boondoggle!

        I do remember my first (Hayes) 1200 baud modem. Quite the upgrade. When the 9600 baud modems came along, it was almost magical, and then they came out with (gasp) 19.2 and (double-gasp) 28.8. Holy cow, how’d they do that?! 😀

        “I did hit my site in Incognito, and you can still login via WordPress, FB, or Twitter.”

        I see what you mean. My site works differently.

        I think it’s the “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” checkbox under “Other comment settings”. I’d checked it to blog the spammers. That even blocks the email logins (and I want those)!

        The “Comment author must fill out name and email” checkbox is the one we do want. My site seems to work the same way as yours now. I’ll see if that makes for more spam. Seems like you’re getting about what I used to get.

        I’ve yet to experience any spam site follows contribute anything. I have had a couple re-follow multiple times after I’ve removed them. Not quite sure what to make of that.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Well, that answers that. In less than one day, with the new settings, 16 spam messages! God damn it.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        The filter isn’t catching them? I used to fret about the spam folder, but now I ignore it. Usually someone tells me if their comment gets caught.

        I wonder why WP won’t let us require login, but permit that login from any of the available sources.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I just emptied the folder, so I can’t check, but I think they’re using the email login? Does the spam have a “name” and email with it? (My mind is like Swiss cheese these days, but doesn’t the spam look just like these comments?)

        We can’t block that witout blocking the legit ones who just use email and a name.

        WRT the Spam folder and how comments look, I’m in the old Admin pages; I never took to the new ones. I use them sometimes, there are some advantages, and I enjoy the stats sections, but it’s mainly needing the old editor that keeps me using the old pages.

        That new editor, touted as so much better, is (to me) a huge step down. One of the worst web-based editors I’ve ever used. Every time you insert a link, it jumps to the top of the text. It handles all sorts of things terribly.

        Now I guess there’s a new, new editor. I haven’t checked it out, yet.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Just looked at my own spam folder, and yeah, most of it has email addresses and names with it. I do know that some comments from logged in accounts do occasionally get routed there. (That’s the ones I usually hear about.) But the vast majority appear to be coming in using the email identification method.

        I’m with you on the old admin pages. I’ve become increasingly nervous as they’ve copied more functionality into the new UI that they might eventually take the old one away.

        I also prefer the old editor. I did take a look at the new new one this weekend, just before starting on my latest post, but didn’t find it inviting at all, and quickly switched back. I might take another look at it later and try it with a smaller more throwaway post.

        Hopefully WordPress is monitoring the stats on which ones people use and taking it into account in their decisions.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I share your nervousness about the older interfaces. I have a feeling a lot of the new stuff is oriented towards mobile devices and touch screens. It does require a new approach, but I wish they wouldn’t leave old keyboard warriors, like me, behind.

        Guess it’s a resource thing, funding is zero-sum. Too bad.

        I suppose we’re stuck with cleaning our spam folders if we want those email logins. It sure was nice having it stay empty on its own.

        In an only vaguely related sense:

        I found what I consider a bug in how WP handles Tags and Categories. I’ve submitted a question on the forum; no response yet (might need to wait until Monday).

        It’s always annoyed me that, if I edit a Category, e.g. “Baseball,” so it has title case (as a Category should), my “baseball” Tag picks up the same case (and becomes “Baseball”). It’s something I’ve noticed, really disliked, but just lived with.

        Speaking as a software designer with four decades of experience, how is that allowed? How do Tags and Categories interact like that? That seems a huge design flaw to me.

        Turns out WP seems to conflate them — most times — behind the scenes.

        I recently exported the XML file of my blog. I have some tools I’ve created that let me use it to generate a variety of reports and stats. Much of the stuff on this post comes from that file.

        But I noticed a major discrepancy between how many posts my report assigned to some Categories versus what I knew to be true, and what WP itself said in certain places.

        For instance, if I look at the Categories Admin page, it shows 49 posts under the Baseball Category.

        My report shows two. And my index page for the Baseball Category lists only two posts.

        Turns out the reason is that WP doesn’t export both a Category and a Tag if they match, and it prefers Tags over Categories. So my XML file is missing the Baseball (or Politics) Category on any post that also uses the Baseball (or Politics) Tag.

        Which means some posts have no Category, since I generally only use one.

        I’ve just gone through and removed the Baseball Tag from 49 posts…

        (I get the feeling Category isn’t taken very seriously. Maybe I should stick with Tags? I included the duplicate Tag in case search engines only looked at Tags.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        You’re probably right on the mobile readiness aspect. I’ve never once been tempted to blog from my phone. I rarely respond to comments on it. I will occasionally read and like things on it though, and approve comments, but that’s about it.

        I don’t like the sound of the tag / category thing. Obviously WordPress keeps them straight somehow in the system, otherwise it wouldn’t display our categories correctly. It sounds more like maybe a bug in the export process.

        This actually fits with just about anyone I’ve ever seen attempt to migrate their blog from one place to another, even if it was between two WordPress installations. I once imported my blog into a test version so I could experiment with layouts and such. But I haven’t done that in ages, and my theme is customized so I’m not sure what would happen in the (free) test blog. Still, it might be worth trying at some point.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, I can’t fathom blogging from a mobile device, either, but then I’m a serious Luddite in that regard. I still have my analog flip phone. (I’d upgrade to more modern one — not a smart phone; don’t want one of those — but it’s actually hard to find them anymore. Sprint, my current provider, seems to have just one, and the reviews I’ve read about it aren’t good. I’m actually considering Jitterbug or something similar.)

        I’d bet the Cat/Tag thing is, at least in part, due to their DB design. They may have put the names for both types in one table. That would explain why editing one name changes the other. Not thinking clearly about the implications of this could explain the XML export file problem (they only export each name once, and the “Tag” identifier takes precedence).

        What I’d really like to know is the design principles behind their conception of Tags and Categories. As I mentioned, I get the feeling sometimes they consider Categories very tag-like. You just happen to “file” your post under one of them.

        Ah. And Ha. Writing the above paragraph I suddenly wondered if the RSS XML might offer a clue. It does, indeed. There’s no such thing as a “Tag”. Here’s the relevant section from my RSS feed for this post:

        <category><![CDATA[Basics]]></category>
        <category><![CDATA[2018]]></category>
        <category><![CDATA[blog]]></category>
        <category><![CDATA[blogging]]></category>

        The post is “filed in” Basics; the others are Tags!

        This may be a losing battle for me. If WP doesn’t see them as really distinct, I’ll just have to change my approach. Eliminate any Tags that are also Categories. I think I solved my concern about whether search engines might pick up on Tags only, though. It appears they would see both as the same thing: keywords associated with the page.

        It does mean their export/import system is a little broken, since it would be impossible to import the same blog you exported under some conditions. I would lose my “filed in” Categories, for example. (Unless I fix them.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Out of curiosity, I just did a quick google on the WP database and came up with this page: https://deliciousbrains.com/tour-wordpress-database/

        Apparently both tags and categories go in the wp_terms, wp_terms_taxonomy and wp_terms_relationships tables. So both tags and categories are types of terms, with the taxonomy and relations tables maintaining the distinction. Which means, I guess, WordPress is positioned to have other organizational concepts.

        But I still think WP keeps them operationally distinct. If you look at my philosophy category slug versus my philosophy tag slug, you get different posts. (The tag one is a superset of the category one, since I historically categorize the context and time bound posts to zeitgeist.)

        I took a look at my old test site. I had imported the state of the blog a few weeks after starting it, and it does look like the tag and category distinctions, such as they were at the time, were maintained. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the export and import didn’t get broken some time since then.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Needed a little elbow room to show you my research, so see below…

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Great link, thanks for that! Never occurred to me to look it up. (In some ways, I’m still not used to the internet!)

    That DB architecture looks very much like I thought it might. They do put all the names (“terms”) in one table. That’s why I can’t have a “Baseball” Category and a “baseball” tag.

    Which I would like. Looks like I can’t have the same name in Categories and Tags, since I generally want the former capitalized and the latter not.

    The only difference between them is how they’re linked through the taxonomy. That makes querying for both Tags and Cats of a given post a little more complicated, since the query can return multiple rows. Code that issues such a query would need to be aware of that.

    “But I still think WP keeps them operationally distinct.”

    In almost all cases, yes. I can show you can example of where it doesn’t. Start with the link to your posts with the Philosophy Tag:

    https://selfawarepatterns.com/tag/philosophy/

    Take note of the Category and Tags of the first and third posts, How do we establish causation? and Inflate and explode, or deflate and preserve?

    Zeitgeist | Causality, Epistemology, logic, Philosophy
    Philosophy | Consciousness, Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind

    Now look at the RSS version of that:

    https://selfawarepatterns.com/tag/philosophy/feed/

    First:

    <category>Zeitgeist</category>
    <category>Causality</category>
    <category>Epistemology</category>
    <category>logic</category>
    <category>Philosophy</category>

    And, third:

    <category>Philosophy</category>
    <category>Consciousness</category>
    <category>Philosophy of Mind</category>

    A similar problem exists with the export XML. Here’s a small bit of mine for one of my posts:

    <category domain=”post_tag”>Baseball</category>
    <category domain=”post_tag”>MLB</category>

    Compare that to one of the few posts I posted in Baseball but did not use the Baseball Tag:

    <category domain=”category”>Baseball</category>
    <category domain=”post_tag”>MLB</category>

    It seems that, with the export XML, each term appears only once. Probably what should happen is that Category should override Tag when both are present, but currently Tag seems to override. Which means Categories can vanish.

    I’d have to read the RSS protocol, but I’d guess they only have a “category” taxonomy akin to a keyword list. (I’m surprised it isn’t just called keyword.) That may be why the taxonomy is collapsed in the RSS.

    But since one can list posts that show both, and since WP does handle it, the export file really should include both. The problem (sort of) is that they end up with duplicate XML elements with duplicate content that differ only in their domain attribute. Maybe that was viewed as problematic. (Although I’m not sure why.)

    So, anyway, that’s what I’m seeing. Only annoying in terms of my using that export file, and the workaround obviously is to avoid duplicating Tags and Categories. Which is fine. There seems no reason to worry about search engines.

    I looked at the HTML of a page, and the Category and Tag labels on the posts are links with rel attributes labeling them as “tag” or (interestingly) “category tag” for the Categories. So a crawler could be category aware, but could also just see tag and would still get the Categories.

    So it’s really just the export XML that tweaks me.

    • SelfAwarePatterns

      Thanks. It sounds like the information is there, just obscured unless you’re willing to dig into the taxonomy and relations stuff. I’m still going to test the import when I get a chance, just to put my mind at ease. Last time the only thing that got mangled were the comments. (Not that I was happy about the comments getting mangled. A lot of the interesting content is there.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh, yeah, the comments can be the best part sometimes!

        If you try an import, check out what happens to a post with a matching Category and Tag. I’d be interested in seeing if those posts end up posted in “Uncategorized.” (If they don’t, I’d be very interested in how they pull it off.)

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Tried it but got a generic error message that it couldn’t do the import, with a suggestion that I try another file or contact support :-\

        My “production” theme is customized, which might be verboten in the free test blog.

        If so, upgrading the test blog to premium would fix it, but I don’t think I’ll do that until I’m ready to make major changes to the layout of my blog. (Even then, I might just muck around with the live version and save the money.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That all makes sense.

        Seems like there used to be the ability to clone your blog for experimenting. Not that I recall how it worked or if it’s still around or if it’s useful. I do seem to recall trying it once back when I first started. Maybe I’m just remembering how you could try different themes without committing? [shrug]

        I’m a little surprised WP hasn’t responded to my forum post about the XML file…

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I think you can still preview a theme before applying it, including customizing it, although I haven’t used it to the extent I did when I first set up.

        Did you open up a ticket? (Is it still possible to open up a ticket? Something else I haven’t done in ages.) They used to be much more responsive to those than to forum posts.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That sounds right. I didn’t use it much, either. Found a theme I like; I’m done. 😀

        Although I’ve been meaning for ages to investigate customizing my CSS. The default font isn’t black, and I don’t know where the trend for low-contrast themes came from, but I hate it. So I’ve had to highlight every paragraph and set the font color to black for all these posts.

        I didn’t upgrade for years, so that was the only way I could have black type on a white background. When I upgraded, it became something to learn about, but I never got around to it. I’m too used to the process.

        I did not open a ticket. I’m not sure I realized I could. Nothing obvious, but I wasn’t looking. I will when I get a chance.

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