Trials and Tribulations in Blog Maintenance

May 6, 2010

One of the more challenging aspects of content governance is maintaining a blog, particularly if it's well-established and contains years worth of posts. Trust me on this one; as part of my role as guardian of Digett's content, I've been auditing and maintaining a half-decade's worth of blog posts from more than 10 authors. Invariably, the emotional response to this activity tends to range from:

It's in the latter situations that I find the ROT (Redundant, Outdated, Trivial) or OUCH (Outdated, Unnecessary, Correct, Have to write) content scoring techniques only do so much. After all, you still have to do something about troubled content. Unfortunately, there are a couple of potentially sticky blog governance situations that have me scratching my noodle:

Updating incorrect, outdate, or unneeded posts

From what I've seen, the content community is still split on whether old blog posts should be subject to edit or should just stand untouched. Frankly, I see the pros and cons of both positions. On one hand, you don't want incorrect or grossly outdated posts polluting your positioning; on the other, you don't want to look like you're trying to mislead or rewrite history. You also face SEO and taxonomy considerations.

But when it comes down to it, I can't help but think that rewriting a blog post is a blow to authenticity. Instead, my suggestion is to append updated or corrected information. If you were wrong, admit it; if times have rendered a previous tactic or opinion useless, let people know. You'll likely gain more from your honesty than you would from just taking a big, pink eraser to your content.

However, I'm still confounded by posts like this. To me, removing it is a zero-sum game—but I haven't pulled the trigger, obviously. What's stopping me?

Dealing with an ex-employee's blog

We had an employee leave recently, so I've been forced to wonder what should be done—if anything—about his blog posts. I'm not concerned about ownership issues or propriety; rather, I wonder if there might be any perceived loss of knowledge or depth from the Digett team. Besides, having one blog post after another from former staffers is akin to hosting a virtual morgue.

Still, some of those old posts are remarkably popular and well-indexed, and serving up redirects to visitors looking for very specific content isn't a wise idea. Plus, they serve as that all-important record of achievement that helps establish us as subject-matter experts, even if the author no longer works here. Ultimately, I score this as an awkward situation caused by our commitment to being open about who we are.

Controlling exploding taxonomy

At present, we have 19 terms that categorize our blog posts—though only 5-6 are used on a regular basis. That's neither here nor there, and I'm certainly not trying to ignite a debate in the Drupal community about the proper incubation and use of taxonomy terms.

I'm just looking at this from a user experience standpoint. For one, being faced with so many taxonomy terms is confusing and causes hesitation, even doubt, when navigating a site. Moreover, seeing content weighted toward a few items in the midst of a wide-ranging taxonomy tends to make me think we might appear impulsive or unfocused in our publishing efforts. However, there can be drawbacks to removing taxonomy terms, though I can't cover them all here.

I imagine I'll be dealing with these three issues for a while; technologies/techniques change, as does our firm, and I just don't see myself posting to the Wine and Dine category. I don't want y'all knowing what I eat.

Do you have any sticky blog situations of your own? Share 'em.