End of that experiment: I don’t like excerpts on the home page

I edited my theme for this site and tried out showing only excerpts on the home page, tag and category pages, and other archive pages. (Actually, I think I got rid of the date archive pages with a plug-in.*)

I did all of this to prepare for an eventual shift from WordPress to some other platform, preferably one that is based on generating static HTML files that I can upload to my host. I’d like to be able to go 100% static if I so choose once the conversion is done, because I like making pages by hand and updating links.

Unfortunately, as I’ve said in a previous post, I don’t have time for this now.

It was a surprise to realize that I don’t like the excerpts instead of the full posts—especially because I’m happy with the excerpts-only view on a few other sites I have. I think it has to do with the way this theme is set up and the way the excerpts use up so much space on a page. (See the screenshot.)

On my other sites, the excerpts occupy a reasonable portion of screen real estate. Here, one short excerpt pretty much takes up the entire screen on my desktop.

What I really want is custom pages with links or text that I link out to my archived content (in place of the tag and category pages), and an archive list of posts by date the way I have now.

Since I can’t have that without too much work or changing themes, I’m just going to go back to full posts.

Easy! :)

*I put the date archive pages back when I realized the links on my calendar widget don’t work without them. I don’t know what that’ll mean for my shift to a static site someday, or if I’m even still planning one. I’ll leave that decision for later.

Site updates

I’ve deleted tags and renamed categories many times over the years. I realize it’s not great for search engines that I do that, but I don’t really care. This is my site and I do what I want. :)

That said, I’m always looking for ways to make my tags or categories more meaningful and I have yet to figure out the best way to interlink the 1,300+ posts on this site. Most are rambling, some are meant to be helpful, and the rest are just posts about my day of writing.

The thing is, I’m still considering a move to static HTML for this blog, and if that happens, I don’t want four bazillion gillion tag pages to deal with. I’d mostly like the tag and archive pages to be a list of links with the post title and one short line of text under it, but that’s going to mean some coding in the WP theme. Those pages will have to be generated with a template of some kind because I’m sure not doing that by hand for 1,300+ links.

All that to say there could be changes coming to the site. You’ll know they’re here when you see them.

I’ve already started with a bit of it by adding a plugin that lists all the posts on the site by year. They’re in reverse order, pretty much just like my reading logs. That’s pretty nifty and I like it. I guarantee I’ll keep that even if I go static with the site. :)


I was all set to be a rebel and then I realized I don’t have time

I wrote a long post about how I was abandoning WordPress a few days ago, and then I started the process by creating some HTML5 templates for one of my websites (the easiest to convert), but after two days of fiddling, it hit me hard that I don’t really have time for this. I am as much a perfectionist with the websites as I am with the writing and what should take one hour takes ten. Not my favorite confession. But—

1. I plan to finish a book this month. And by gosh I’m doing it.
2. The classic editor plugin isn’t going anywhere for a while, so for me nothing’s changed. If it changes suddenly, well, then, I can start moving on this project again (make no mistake, it’s a project for the future, because I am going to do it eventually)
3. The time will come, but maybe jumping right into it right now when I’m actively looking for things to tear me away from writing (but shouldn’t be!) isn’t what I need to do.
4. It feels like an obsession in the making. It took all day yesterday of doing other things and distracting myself to not think obsessively about it. I feel like I’m borderline this morning. A stray thought here or there could pull me right back in. So I’m going to have to do something this morning that is distracting in itself. Writing fits that bill. And since I need to write to finish that book this month, yep, that’s the one I’m going to aim for, right after I do a little morning reading (there’s a fan fiction story for Psych calling my name).

Looking for a comments alternative for WordPress

Basically, the only reason I don’t want to move from WordPress to static HTML (after years of thinking WordPress would make it easier to post and give me options away from my computer but in reality almost never finding that to be true for me) is that I like having comments enabled.

The fact is, I rarely get comments. Out of 1,305 posts, I’ve gotten 27 comments here and since I respond to most comments, only half those aren’t me. In fact, I filtered and searched and 14 of the 27 were me.

So yeah, there’s not a really good reason to want comments enabled but I do.

I’ve tried Disqus in the past on other static sites and it worked, but it was a hassle. (I apparently think lots of things are hassles, but what can I say? I do.) And there are ads. But it is an option.

I’d like a better option. So if you know of an alternative—a way to get comments that isn’t a hassle for a static HTML website, I’m listening. :-)

On the other hand, I’m also seriously considering going plain old HTML anyway. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at an HTML5 site because I really stopped making sites before it was standard.

And finally, I’m keeping an eye on ClassicPress, but before I do anything with that, I’m going to need a little time. It seems there’s some bad blood there between the CP and the WP people or something because I’ve already found one person who’s writing code to help plugin authors break their plugins if they’re being used in ClassicPress. So, sounds like sabotage is a possibility? (Which really did just give me an idea for a murder mystery. Holy shit. I need to get out on the web more.)

Disqus for Static Site Commenting

Although I personally hate(d) Disqus, as a user, I’m testing it on a website that I turned static.

The reason I hate hated it? Login/sign up requirements.

Why I want it anyway? Because some of my sites are just begging me to have some interaction on them, and the static HTML that I moved to doesn’t really let me do that easily. The sites would be so much more fun to run with other people commenting occasionally! I thought about setting up a comment form on each page I want comments enabled on and have visitors email me their comments. Since I moderate everything anyway, no one will notice. But what if things take off and I don’t want to moderate? Or I decide discussion is being stifled by not having more real-time comments?

I’ve since discovered that site owners set the requirement to login to Disqus or not, so maybe I don’t hate it as much as I just hate the site owners who make it so that only people who want to actually sign up with Disqus can comment. Oh yeah.

I don’t like having everything I do online being all linked up. It creates the creepy feeling of being followed around and spied upon and I already have enough of that paranoia, thank you very much!

The requirement for an email address is still there, and I had that with WordPress anyway, so that’s no biggie. I hadn’t realized though, that I could set this up as not requiring actual Disqus membership and that’s really nice! This might be just what I want.

I’m not that interested in the content from commenters showing up on my pages for search engines (it won’t, because you use a javascript code with the universal setup that works with static html sites) but I’m very interested in having some interaction with visitors on certain of my sites…

The only thing left to decide is whether or not to have multiple accounts myself. I set this one up with an admin user(name) that matches the site and realized quite quickly that that’s going to be awkward to reuse on another site. ;-)

Update: I eventually abandoned this idea, because comments are few and far between and the overhead definitely outweighs the benefits of the few comments I was getting. :-)