February 15, 2008

Automated links posts

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at February 15, 2008 5:00 AM

Earlier this week I mentioned that I've revived my del.icio.us account. The links here are items that I found interesting but didn't have enough extended commentary on to warrant a full blog post. They get a sentence or two of commentary plus tags. There's about a week's worth of recent links up now, plus some from a while back when I'd been using the account before.

There's good reason to cross-post these links here: it adds more content for discussion (del.icio.us doesn't have comments), and allows readers to get everything on one page rather than having to check my del.icio.us page separately. I used to collect items like these into periodic links posts; del.icio.us can do this automatically, which is the approach I'm thinking of using. Several blogs I read use this feature, for example Uncertain Principles. (Scroll down to see recent links posts.)

I'll turn this on soon but I wanted to check first in case people secretly hate this sort of thing. If there are objections I'll put it in the sidebar instead, possibly with periodically-renewed comment threads like I did for Project 365.

Tags: Website
Comments

The Project 365-like format sounds good to me.

By the way, I neglected to mention this earlier, but I'm very glad that you're blogging regularly again!

Posted by: Mason | February 15, 2008 9:20 AM

I'm glad my readers didn't abandon me in the interim. :) I'm trying to get back in the blogging mindset--I still have to actively remind myself to post. Hopefully I'll be able to keep it up once I start a new job and have less free time.

On the topic at hand, there are a few downsides to the sidebar approach: it requires RSS users to subscribe to a separate feed, which isn't directly tied to the comments; older comments appear out of context if the relevant item has been pushed off the page; new comments on older discussion threads don't show up in the comments feed.

Meanwhile, the major downside of the daily autoposting is that it's daily, and thus at a slightly higher frequency than other posts (I'm aiming for 5/week currently). Thus it ends up occupying a larger volume in the feed and dominating the front page (although links posts take up fewer column inches).

Ideally del.icio.us would have the option of a weekly links post, but they don't. At my current posting rate that would produce rather long lists of links, but I could reduce the rate and aim for higher SNR.

Related to that, there's a third option in which I manually compose a "best-of" links post on a weekly basis. This could be coupled with the full links feed in the sidebar. This might in fact be the best option, but it's also the most work.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | February 15, 2008 1:34 PM

I dunno about the daily autopost thing. It could be good, but depending on the clutter it'd also be annoying. I think the sidebar approach is probably best, but I'm not quite understanding the downside that you mention. (I'm also not an RSS user, so that could be why I don't quite get it.)

Posted by: Zifnab | February 15, 2008 8:33 PM

Well, to elaborate a little bit on the RSS issue: the trouble with putting any updating content in the sidebar is that a lot of my readers (I'm pretty sure a majority) never see the sidebar, because they're reading the RSS feed directly or via GReader, Bloglines, or Livejournal. If someone wants to follow the links via RSS, del.icio.us does provide a feed, but it creates an extra barrier to reading where one has to know that the feed exists, and add it to the subscription list. (There's an upside to this--people who don't care about the links don't have to subscribe to them. But under the autoposting scheme I can make a version of the feed without the links anyway.)

Worse (from my perspective) is that even for people reading the del.icio.us feed by RSS there's a barrier to commenting and participating in the discussion. In the main feed, to get to the comments one just clicks on the link. But the del.icio.us feed doesn't link back to the appropriate comments page or even to arcanegazebo.net at all. Reading or posting a comment requires the more roundabout method of going to the front page some other way, and then clicking the comments link in the sidebar. It may not seem like much, but it's enough of a detour that some readers plowing through a stack of unread posts won't bother to take the extra steps.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | February 15, 2008 11:58 PM

*ponder*

For one, because of RSS, I typically don't ever stop reading (or really, unsubscribe) for lack of content. I stop reading for bad content.

I didn't mind at all, actually, following 365 through the flickr RSS, and jumping over to the site to post. It was, as you say, a little extra work, and their may have been a few times I didn't comment when I may have otherwise.

I'm curious to see what it would be like just autoposted, but if you're going to be using del.icio.us, I should just add that RSS anyway, and not care too much.

Posted by: Lemming | February 16, 2008 8:56 AM

I just tried to subscribe to the RSS for the del.icio.us, though, and it came up in Google Reader as an unnamed feed with no contentent (/rss/arcanegazebo).

You know, just sayin'

Posted by: Lemming | February 16, 2008 9:10 AM

Well, after thinking over what people have said, I'm giving the sidebar option a lot more weight. Maybe I should just try one or the other for a week and then see what people think?

Lemming: Trying it just now I have the same problem. The one comment I was able to find on this with a Google search says that it's just a problem when you first subscribe and should resolve itself the next time Reader checks the feed. I'll keep an eye on it to see if that actually happens.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | February 16, 2008 12:30 PM

Confirmed: it took a little while, but the del.icio.us feed eventually started working in Reader.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | February 16, 2008 4:47 PM

woot!

Posted by: Lemming | February 16, 2008 8:28 PM
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