Reflecting on Migrating from Wordpress

This blog post was in a halted state, but spurned forward by Alex Schroeder's post What Killed the Blogs?.

Darth Vader talking with Boba Fett with Lando Calrissian in the background
“I am altering the deal, pray I don't alter it further."—Darth Vader

In November, Google announced they were shuttering Google+ as of August 2019. In mid-December, they announced they were advancing that timeline by four months to April 2019. A lot of gaming content and conversations will soon fade to memory.

Around this same time, Tumblr announced a shift in allowed content. Many content producers on Tumblr must now look to another safe harbour.

I look to the blogs I've subscribed to in Inoreader and see 304 of my 563 blogs have blogspot.com. When will Google get around to shuttering Blogspot? What will that event look like? Even if all content were exported to some other service (eg. Wordpress), I cannot imagine Goolge providing a redirect service to point those old URLs to their new destination.

When I started my blog, I had one driving consideration: Own my domain name. As long as I owned my domain name, I could ensure the long-term availability of my content. I could also setup redirect rules if I shifted blogging platforms. In moving from Wordpress to Hugo, I created redirects from /tag/:tag_name to /tags/:tag_name. I did a few other tweaks in URLs as well; All while preserving inbound links to those now moved resources.

This one driving consideration ensures that I have ownership of my content and, to a great extent, ownership of where you can reliably find it.

This site works without Javascript (though you'll need to get creative about search). I haven't added a commenting feature, but instead rely on a contact form; And if that doesn't work, I've included a link to my email address (jeremy.n.friesen@gmail.com). With a static site, my options for commenting would require Javascript, and I'm not interested in either installing a Javascript commenting platform, or rolling my own.

Now the Reflection

Pay attention to AMP. Reviewing Google Analytics, AMP accounts for 10% of my traffic. Would these people be finding my site without AMP? Don't know. Regardless, welcome! My AMP implementation creates a duplicate page referenced in the header; You can see the AMP page for this post here. I did not want to comingle the javascript requirement of AMP and noscript on the same HTML page. Turn off Javascript and view the AMP page.

Redirects Matter. When you move your site, pay attention to the URLs. What were the URLs on your previous site? Make sure they still work.

Schema.org and JSON+LD for parsing. I work in libraries, and love metadata. Look at the HTML source and see the JSON+LD or look at the analogous JSON representation of this page.

Canonical URLs help the search engines. I opted to syndicate some of my content to Medium. However, I make sure to post the canonical URL as part of my syndication (see documentation). In doing so, people on Medium can find my posts yet search engines will direct people to my site instead of Medium. As other sites rise and fall, I can evaluate syndicating to those platforms to improve discoverability.

I love the absence of Javascript. My new site loads blisteringly fast. And in my experience, Javascript begets ongoing maintenance. I can watch as browsers update and JS frameworks rise and fall. Yes, I have Google Analytics installed to get a sense of what's popular.

All the command line tools. I manage my site using the day to day tools of my job: regular expressions, XML parsing via Nokogiri, Rake tasks, and plenty of Ruby. I've used these scripts to help normalize tags, convert formats, and build the AMP pages. Eventually, I'll get around to releasing my build scripts.

Expanded Metadata rocks my socks. I have extracted Series to help people navigate through threads of common thought. I also added options for setting the different applicable licenses for this content (see the footer).

Where to Next

I'm approaching 400 blog posts. I've been considering leveraging Latent Dirichlet Allocation to perform topic modeling of my blog posts. See how things inter-relate and perhaps gain some insights into my writing preferences.

More likely, I'll wrap up my Tomb of Annihilation game and move on to Adventures in Middle-earth.