Learning to Cope with the Evolution of a Weblog

At February 13th, it will be 4 years that I posted my first blog entry – I am still lovin’ it! Let me tell you about some of the changes I had to deal with in those 4 years and what you can do about them.

The most important changes were:

  1. My Weblog has moved to different domains (from zzoss.com to sandrozic.de to groganz.com as of today).
  2. I changed the software several times (from b2 to a self-made eZ Publish-based blog to WordPress).
  3. There were times when I blogged actively (~5 blogs per week) and less so (1 entry per month).
  4. My focus on certain topics varied over time (e.g. from general LAMP-based Web development to ECM, from development to marketing).

Points 1. and 2. lead to the fact that I repeatedly lost some link love, especially on Google and Technorati, because Trackbacks and Pingbacks got lost. Just recently, I managed to import all posts I wrote in my first 2 years of blogging – it’s amazing to see that some of them made it back to be listed among the most visited pages in my site stats (mostly referrals from Google).

What’s most unfortunate is that I could not recover comments to old postings. Well, I could, manually, but that would mean a lot of work. Lost comments is like lost friends.

If you want to avoid the same mistakes, make sure

  • to keep your blog at the same domain at all times to keep your permalinks valid,
  • to choose a Weblog software that is well supported to avoid migration problems.

When it comes to point 3., it has a lot to do with point 4.: The level of active blogging correlated with what I did. I blogged more actively while I was self-employed, simply to raise awareness which would lead to consulting contracts. After getting employed, there were times when I was simply buried with work that did not require me to blog.

Concerning point 4., I believe that there is nothing you can do about the shifting focus of what you write about. I even think that Weblogs are there to show how individuals change over time and how their interests change.

If I narrowed down my blog to one specific topic (e.g. Open Source ECM), it would not be in sync with my personality. My general interest is in being open and combining Open Source software with the knowledge society. That’s a rather broad topic, but also a thrilling conjunction where most new things happen these days.

The only problem I see is that my tagcloud does not reflect the change of interest. Some tags (e.g. “pear”) appear much too prominent, although they are outside of my scope of interest these days. Hm, I should get a chronological slider for my tagcloud, just as they did here to display Microsoft’s evolution based on a tagcloud.

In the end, it’s all about transparency and authenticity in the blogosphere, including the ability to deal with changes. Blogging is a lot about learning to cope with evolution, reflecting upon what happened and letting others know how to avoid some of the traps. Hope that helps!

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