Smorgasblog: the fourth incarnation

This will be a minor housekeeping note for everyone but my fellow self-hosted WordPress ( geeks: If you’re one of the small handful of people who’s subscribed to the Smorgasblog feed, I’m afraid that one will no longer work and you’ll have to plug this ugly-ass URL into your reader instead: — my apologies for the inconvenience. (If a lot of people were subscribed, I’d figure out how to create a redirect in the .htaccess file, but I’d rather not screw around with that if I don’t have to.)

By the way, I’d be happy to create an email digest (daily? weekly?) for the Smorgasblog in Feedblitz if anyone would find that useful. Let me know.

Another change you might have noticed is that the Smorgasblog no longer appears in the outer sidebar for single posts. I did that to clear room in the inner sidebar for a list of posts in a series, which displays when one is visiting a post in that series — a useful navigational aid, I thought.

Another new addition to the inner sidebar, down at the bottom, is a directory to almost all authors on the site. (Almost all, because in the case of guest posts co-written by two or more people, I had to choose just one as the official author. At present, WordPress doesn’t provide a way to assign more than one author to a post — a serious bug, in my opinion.) Each name in the list is linked to an archive of that author’s posts. Also, if you want to subscribe to the posts from just one author, just tack “/feed/” to the end of the URL: for just Luisa’s posts, for example.

Note, also, that the number of posts after my name is 830 posts shorter than it was yesterday. That’s because I killed off the previous incarnation of Smorgasblog, in which it was a specialized category of regular posts, and brought it back to life as a new content type with a wholly separate identity, akin to the non-chronological pages on the site. Unlike pages, though, smorgasblog posts remain chronological: there’s an archive, as before, now included in the top navigation bar, and if you click on the permalink for any post in it, you’ll find you can go from one Smorgasblog post to another using the “previous” and “next” links.

I think it’s useful to have a completely separate archive, but the other reason for the change was to clean up the regular archives, as well. While I believe strongly in linking to fellow bloggers from the front page of the site, I also like having readable archives, which to me means minimizing clutter. I think the reason a lot of long-time bloggers also use Tumblr, for example, is because they don’t want to overwhelm regular readers with short link posts, and that’s always been my thinking with Smorgasblog, too. That’s why I’ve kept it out of the main site feed as well.

Now here’s the part that only fellow WordPress fanatics will care about. I do highly recommend the Sideblog plugin I’ve been using for the last couple of years to do Smorgasblog as a category. There’s also Alkivia SidePosts, and it’s not bad, either. Sideblog provides a “recent posts” widget that excludes sideblog posts, so that’s cool. I used Simply Exclude to keep Smorgasblog posts out of the monthly archives, and for a while it worked great, but recently I had to uncheck that option or lose Smorgasblog’s own archive page as well.

It was that that led me to take the leap and register a new custom post type in functions.php. I used the Convert Post Types plugin to move all the posts into the just-created “smorgasblog” post type. Then I spent way too much time trying to figure out how to create a new archive page before realizing that all the online tutorials I was looking at had been written for WordPress 3.0, and 3.1 had completely redone things, rendering the previous work-arounds unnecessary. Now all you have to do is copy your single.php and archive.php pages, tweak them as necessary (in my case, to eliminate post titles and comment links, and add the text about each quote being the copyrighted work of its author), and call them archive-{post-type-name}.php and single-{post-type-name}.php. I’d be happy to share the code I used with anyone who’s interested. I’m using the Query Posts plugin to put Smorgasblog in a sidebar widget (which is also another option if you’re doing a sideblog with a dedicated category).

Unfortunately, all this work means I’m really far behind in actually reading blogs and finding things to quote and link to! (And yes, there will also be a weekly link roundup for non-blog items, insh’allah, either tonight or tomorrow morning.)

2 Replies to “Smorgasblog: the fourth incarnation”

  1. Well, I read this with rapt attention. I’m bookmarking it for how to improve my own version of Smorgasblog. I like the feel of your post pages with less stuff on the right, and I love the idea of a contributor list. When the time and chemistry are right, I’d love to help start a (non-multi-user) blog with two or more regular or irregular contributors.

    1. I’m glad you found something useful here. I have it in mind to write a more general post about sidebar blogrolls and link blogs, the how and why of them, but in the meantime I thought it might be good to at least provide an update on my own progress. I really like the kind of blogroll Dale has at mole, too — Blogger is much better than, for example, for that kind of thing.

      It was fun to find an excuse to play around with custom post types, WordPress’s most CMS-y core feature to date. As with my deployment of custom taxonomies at Moving Poems, it’s a feature that I may never use more than once, but I think it’s just the right tool for the job.

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