Monday, January 26, 2009

Final Thoughts (Part 1)

Well, that's bizarre. In answer to DaveD's question, yes, I am planning to harvest the contents of this site (in the same sense that transplant surgeons "harvest" usable organs) and move selected articles into some sort of deep archives, either on the new site or on my long-neglected backup site. Fortunately blogspot now allows you to export the entire contents of your blog as one monolithic XML file, which must be a fairly new feature, as it wasn't there the last time I was looking for similar functionality.

Unfortunately, this export function does not capture any of the HaloScan comments attached to the posts. Since in many cases the comments are more interesting than the original post, I still have a bit more work ahead of me. Bizarrely, though, the export function does capture any blogspot comments attached to the posts—of which there should not be any, because I've always used HaloScan. But sure enough, when I finished downloading the XML file and opened it up to take a look at it, I discovered that over the years, this blog has been repeatedly splattered with spam comments: ads for porn sites, that sort of thing. These spam posts remained invisible to readers, because they were blogspot comments, not HaloScan comments, and the blogspot comment functionality has been disabled on this site since Day One.

But if the blogspot comment functionality was disabled, how did the spam comments get posted in the first place? Seems like there's a security hole somewhere and somebody at Google's got some 'splainin' to do...

Oh yeah, that's right, I forgot. Google never explains anything.

As regards the new site, I have two questions for you. One feature that has been requested repeatedly over the years is for some sort of "story lab," where people could post their stories and get reader feedback. I've always resisted, but perhaps the time has come to institute—no, not a story lab. Call it a story morgue. If you have a story that's so hopeless that you've given it up for dead, but you still can't figure out where it went wrong: do you think you'd be interested in posting it and asking for reader feedback?

I have to warn you, this is not something for the faint-hearted, and it could get pretty ugly. People—and especially anonymous posters, who presumably are people, although that remains to be proven—tend to become remarkably brutal when they're commenting online. Hell, they can be downright vicious.

With that caveat, do you think this is something you'd be interested in trying? Or is this something we should save for later, when we figure out how to wall off a login-required member's-only area?

The second idea I've been toying with is, oh, call it, "The Assignment Desk." I get far more ideas than I'll ever have time to develop, and the non-fiction ones in particular tend to get parked by the wayside. For example, I would love to run a good article on H. Beam Piper, the most influential writer you've probably never heard of. Would it be worthwhile to put a rolling list of ideas out there, free for the taking by whomever might feel like picking one up and running with it?

Meanwhile, the process of flushing out the buffers and cranking up the new site continues. I had about a dozen book reviews in the queue that I meant to run but never found time for. Maybe I'll just use 'em for filler on the new site.