Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been consolidating and spring cleaning my blog. This has involved using a self-hosted WordPress installation to import a bunch of old backup files, then adding some other posts by hand that were not in these backups for various reasons. After that I had to go through and remove duplicated posts, clean up and publish some old drafts that needed to see daylight, and then delete all the remaining drafts that I’m not going to use. Once everything was together in one place I cleared out all the content from WordPress.com and imported the consolidated site back here.
The result is that this blog (A Saved Wretch) now has 741 published posts, an additional 380 over what was here a month ago. Even so, there are still a few posts I know I’ve written but cannot find which I will add once I track them down.
Over the years I have wavered on my ideas as to what I wanted to present to the world on my personal website, initially it was strongly focused on my Christian faith, then while I was seeking a career change I tried to cultivate a different persona in case employers Googled my name.
The mindset I’ve settled into now is that very few people ever visit this site so it is actually primarily for me. I’m also getting old enough that there’s no point trying to change how others might perceive me based on what they stumble across here so it’s easier to just be myself. So there is a real mix of stuff on the blog, from single sentence updates to articles of several thousand words, all covering a fairly broad range of topics.
The spring-cleaning will be ongoing as I loop through all the posts (I’m going from oldest to newest) fixing typos, spelling errors, broken links, missing images and inconsistent formatting. While this is a big job, it is also interesting to me as I look back over nine years of blogging and see the changes in my writing.
Moving forward and as I do my spring-cleaning, I’m saving a plain text copy of each post with the categories, tags and publication date included, labelled with the post name. I making a folder for each of these plain text files and adding to those folders the original and resized image files plus any other relevant files for each post. One of my biggest headaches has been tracking down all the pieces that need to be put together into some posts. I’m keeping all this stuff synched with Dropbox so I can work on it anywhere.
Categories and tags
Another remaining task is to rationalise my tags and categories. I currently have 15 categories and 430 tags. My present approach is to try to make the categories obvious, I want to avoid subtle distinctions between categories, it should be immediately clear what category a post belongs to. The tags are where the finer distinctions come into play.
The point of this is to use categories and tags to enable the WordPress algorithm to display ‘related posts’. In my early days blogging I manually linked to related posts within the body of each post I wrote. However, this approach has problems; it is really time consuming, I can only link to what I’ve already published (i.e., future content won’t be referenced even if it is closely related), and it leads to a lot of broken links over time.
A couple of things I’ve learned from this exercise:
- keep backups in multiple storage locations
- make sure backups are well labelled
- have a logical system for labeling and archiving images
- plain text copies of the text of posts are super valuable
If anyone has wisdom or ideas on how to do any of this stuff better please let me know in the comments!