blogging

Crowdsourcing Blog Maintenance

Do you check older posts for broken links?

I suspect not.

When you’ve written and published a blog post, received comments and feedback, it’s all over ‘red rover,’ for that blog post.

Its moment in the WordPress reader limelight has passed, and it’s such a shame that its cyber-life is all but over. Time moves on and over years, the links or embedded content in older WordPress posts may become broken as the url’s are inevitably modified.

Blogs and their posts do require maintenance and maintenance requires time and effort. How can we maintain older posts by ensuring no links or images have broken?

For me, with nearly 1300 published posts, it ‘s impossible to maintain each and every one of my old posts.

I need help.

Collaboration Between Bloggers

The answer is an ingenious concept from PeNdantry.com called Random Raiders. It’s a way of working together to help bloggers maintain old content and in the process read some interesting content that may not otherwise be readily visible.

Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Random Blog Post Raids

Here is how Random Blog Posts Raids works:

Indicate your interest in taking part and then PeNdantry or another participating blogger will use a, ‘?random’ post linking tool, to visit a post or page on your site.

This is an excellent tool we can all use which means if you add, ?random after a blog domain name it will take you to a random post on that WordPress site.

For my blog I would enter the following URL into the search bar: https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/?random

and for PeNdantry’s blog I would enter:

https://pendantry.wordpress.com/?random

If the page reads OK, all is well. However, if there’s something wrong with the page (link rot, broken images or missing embedded videos, typos, out-of-date content, that kind of thing), the visiting blogger will leave a comment on that page, (or try to get in touch some other way) to advise of the error.

PeNdantry (adapted)

If that blogger then chooses to return the favour and visit a ?random page on your blog and let you know they’ve visited, (by way of comment or message), that blogger in turn, can continue to collaborate by returning for another random raid on another older post!

Colin describes it as a reciprocal arrangement: much like, “I scratch your back and you’ll scratch mine.” I love this community concept – bloggers helping each other.

Look here for more clarification:

Visit the Random Raiders Crew Page to have your site added to the list of participants. It is growing.

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156 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing Blog Maintenance”

  1. That’s interesting Amanda, I might give that a go. I also have another query. Sometimes almost always when I post something it comes up in Reader and very soon I’ll get likes or comments straight away. On the odd occasion I don’t get any comments or likes for a day or two and it doesn’t appear in the Reader. WordPress works in mysterious ways.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Any re-blog may not appear in the reader, but a delay in a post appearing might be something else. I suggest doing a F5 hard refresh on your desktop pc to ensure that you will see if a new post appears in the reader.
      Also check the publishing date in the post settings. Sometimes a draft doesn’t reset to publish immediately, if you have updated a an earlier draft). The post may appear further down in the reader and may be less likely to receive comments.
      Followers who receive email notifications may have notifications set to weekly or daily, not always instantly. I receive most of mine weekly – so saturday night I get a flood of email notifications from the blogs that I follow and then I comment on them individually. This could be days after publication.
      There are probably other reasons that wordpress support could help you with, Ali.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. Amanda’s point about double-checking the post’s date before publishing it is a good one (I always do that as a matter of course as I always schedule posts in advance). Also, make sure that the total of categories plus tags allocated to the post is fewer than fifteen, as otherwise it won’t appear in the Reader at all.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. This sounds like a great way to clean up old posts!

    I have gone through some and deleted the videos that were no longer there and Have been meaning to actually delete some old posts (like I did an old post on an eatery I used to like six years ago but we do not like at all anymore – so I feel like some posts just need to go away – hahaha. But you are right about how blog maintenance takes time and I might need to find the time for what I need to do. Then after that maybe join in on the checking of links and all that
    🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. … I feel like some posts just need to go away…

      I know what you mean, but I’m always reluctant to delete posts (I’ve never deleted any of mine) because of the potential for ‘link rot’. You never know when someone else may have linked to a page. (And as you may even have linked to it from your own site, so deleting a page could create a bad link on another page on your own site.) That said, of course, your site is your own, so it’s your choice 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

        1. In my experience very few posts actually become totally irrelevant. If the content is no longer relevant, one option would be to edit it to explain why that is; that in itself might be of interest to some. The main point is to avoid link rot; as I said, you never know who might have linked to a post, so by deleting it you may be subjecting some visitor to the annoying ‘404 not found’ message. I for one always find those irritating.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh goodness. Guilty of creating 404 errors on other blogs on many, many counts. But then, these are very old posts – and again, do enough people come across those to warrant worrying about it?

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well, I figure that if there’s a little thing I can do to improve someone else’s day, even if I have no idea who they are and will never meet them, then it’s time well spent.

              It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality 😉

              Liked by 2 people

        1. Is your old blog still up there on WordPress, M-R, or did you delete it entirely? Sorry, I can’t remember if you told me that already. Short term memory is shot.

          Like

              1. I think you mean ‘archive.org‘ (AKA ‘the Wayback Machine’), Amanda, yes? It would be easy enough to check whether M-R’s site is there, assuming you know what its address was.

                Like

    1. I for one don’t consider the term restricted to munny. Wikipedia agrees with me: one definition offered there is ‘an
      online, distributed problem-solving and production model’ (Daren C. Brabham 2008).

      Liked by 2 people

        1. After I made that comment I realized that I should have mentioned that there’s a difference between ‘crowdsourcing’ and ‘crowdfunding’ (so thanks for your thanks, which gave me the opportunity to add that!)

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve long thought it would be handy to have a tool (a ‘spider’) that could check through a site and report on bad links. In fact I made a feature request on Github earlier this year for it… but it has, sadly, elicited no attention whatsoever.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Perhaps the GitHub elite were offended that someone outside of their environs had the audacity to propose an improvement to their site. They don’t like THAT kind of innovation. A friend and former colleague and I used to loathe such attitudes, as we often solved many of the world’s problems at lunch or in phone conversations. But since we weren’t part of the “In Crowd”, no one would listen. **Sigh** If only open dialogue was truly OPEN.

        Liked by 4 people

  3. An interesting concept. The only time I still “use” older posts is by linking to them if a current post mentions an activity I did or place I visited in the past and blogged about.

    I feel there should be a better system than just randomly checking posts, though. In a perfect world, we’d all create a list of our blog titles, put it out there, and let people pick and choose what to read and check for issues, while at the same time some tool keeps track of which posts have been reviewed. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Just curious…
    How often one goes through their old posts?
    How often others are interested to read our old posts?
    Google’ search’ policy never attracts more viewers for the old posts.
    I read somewhere that google loves new posts for their search engine.
    Give and take is a good policy in the long run.
    Everybody wins at the end.
    Yeoman service from our loving friend-Pendantry!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, that’s really the thing, isn’t it? Once I’ve published a post, I rarely return to it myself; it’s done, dusted, over. But to every new visitor to that post, the content is as fresh as if it had just been published yesterday. And therein is the main thrust of ?Random Raiders!… it’s a way for folks to find your lost gems on the one hand, and, on the other, should there be a problem with the post they land on, notify you of the problem to give you a chance to fix it.

      Regarding ‘Google’ (or other search engines, I’ve avoided that one since they quietly ditched their “Don’t be evil” motto, and now use DuckDuckGo myself)… I’m not so sure you’re right about that. I suspect (but don’t know for certain) that newer posts may well be weighted more favourably than older ones, but if someone’s searching for “left-handed inserter widgets usable on Mars” and you happen to have written a post on that subject, it won’t matter how old the post is, any search engine worth its salt will offer your post in the results, I’m sure.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Maybe. But many search engines will honour complete strings if you enclose them in quotes.

          Search for:

          left-handed inserter widgets usable on Mars

          … and you’ll get results including ‘left-handed’, ‘inserter’, ‘widgets’ and ‘Mars’
          but search for:

          “left-handed inserter widgets usable on Mars”

          … and you should find that you’re presented with pages containing that exact string.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeoman service indeed. I don’t often read very old posts directly via a blog but I do read very old posts and newer ones, if I search on a topic in the WordPress reader. So they are read. Originally, I wonder if they designed the blogging platform to be like other social media, the current or newest pages are the ones that are read and the others fall by the wayside.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My guess is old ones are given a raw treatment in search box results.
        And as you rightly said and I too feel the same way-We rarely go through our old posts or other’s old post.
        But we do search our ‘topic of interest’ in the WordPress reader via the search box.
        Thank you Amanda for your valuable input.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Thanks for helping to spread the word about the ?Random Raiders!, Amanda 🙂

    My I suggest a small tweak to your post? When describing the ?random function, you’ve shown how it should be added after the site’s URL, but the two links you’ve currently got are to the sites themselves. I think it would be better if you changed the links so that they work as ?random links, as in:

    https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/?random
    andhttps://pendantry.wordpress.com/?random

    Just a thought.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. It may not be anything you did. There have been problems with ‘reblog’ for some months now. An issue relating to disappearing reblog buttons was reported on Github, and fixed, just last month. In fact, looking at some of the posts on ‘Wibble’, I’m seeing that when I refresh the page sometimes the reblog button is there, and sometimes it’s not; though, unfortunately, no matter how many times I refresh this page here, it doesn’t show.

          I’ve just had a live chat with WordPress support about this, they agree that there’s a bug relating to the reblog button and have promised to get back to me. I’ll let you know! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve used videos in both of my blog lives. Because they are embedded from YouTube, I realize that if the video is removed at the YouTube end, I’m affected. However, I admit not going back for maintenance to keep it up to date. For me and where I am in my blogging life, it’s more work than I want to do.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It does take work, to maintain old posts, for sure, Frank. And a good dose of time that we don’t all have. For some reason I find the YT videos disappear quickly, whereas an image link has more longevity.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I use a lot of embedded videos myself in my own posts. I’ve learned over the years that it helps to caption those videos with the title of the video, so that if and when they disappear (as, indeed, they sometimes do) I still have a clue as to what the video content was, which enables me to find a suitable replacement.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Travtrails 🙂
      I visited a few ?random posts on your site. On two of the posts, there were problems. I would have commented, but comments on those posts were closed, and I couldn’t find a ‘contact me’ page to let you know, so here’s my feedback for you, in case it’s of use:
      https://travtrails.com/2011/07/04/it-is-all-about-heights-hong-kong/
      Final image with alt text “Walk -away” is missing.
      https://travtrails.com/2021/06/21/nathu-la-pass-whispering-stones/
      Two images missing on this page:https://travtrails.files.wordpress.com/2021/06/img_0164.jpeghttps://travtrails.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/img_0150.jpg
      … both ‘404 not found’.
      Here’s hoping that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds interesting Amanda and I’ll try to get involved. Perhaps because of my VT history I still (possibly mistakenly!) feel old posts have a value and the information in my travel-related ones could be of use to future travellers to the same countries. So it’s important to me to keep them fresh. When on occasion I link from a new post to an older one I always double-check that old one and if necessary freshen it up 🙂 I also have the Broken Links checker plug-in. But this sounds like an interesting way to not only potentially be alerted to missing links or other errors but also to browse people’s posts and have some people do the same with mine – a win/win!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I find random raiders lots of fun and I think the type of post determines its relevance across time intervals. As Ally alluded, her blog posts are personal reflections of day to day events which are not always so vital to preserve for posterity, except perhaps as a historical record.
      Travel info can become outdated in terms of detailing access and transport options, (I have been caught this way), but posts relating to info on iconic structures/nature/points of interest can remained largely unchanged and this definitely has value to readers for years to come.
      Enjoy raiding!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, that’s why i try to focus on what I consider to be travel inspiration rather than practical advice. VT was full of the latter and while it could be helpful, it dated quickly and very few members bothered to keep those tips up-to-date.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. […] Broken Links checker plug-in […]

      !

      Well, well, well… I’ve learnt something new today. I didn’t know there was such a beastie! After some digging, I find that it’s no good to me:

      ‘Broken Link Checker | Finder’ by miniOrange — ‘free’, but requires a WordPress.com business plan (which requires a domain name change from .wordpress.com to .wpcomstaging.com) 😦

      ‘Broken Link Checker’ — ‘free’, but incompatible with WordPress.com 😦

      (BTW I checked a few ?random pages on your site, ToonSarah, and couldn’t find any problems. As my brother would say, “Tick-vg-gold-star-smiley-face!”)

      Like

    3. Hmmm… I hit ‘Post Comment’ but nothing happened (and I don’t see it ‘awaiting moderation’ either). Trying again with a minor change…

      […] Broken Links checker plug-in […]

      !

      Well, well, well… I’ve learnt something new today. I didn’t know there was such a beastie! After some digging, I find that it’s no good to me:

      ‘Broken Link Checker Finder’ by miniOrange — ‘free’, but requires a WordPress.com business plan (which requires a domain name change from .wordpress.com to .wpcomstaging.com) 😦

      ‘Broken Link Checker’ — ‘free’, but incompatible with WordPress.com 😦

      (BTW I checked a few ?random pages on your site, ToonSarah, and couldn’t find any problems. As my brother would say, “Tick-vg-gold-star-smiley-face!”)

      Like

  8. An interesting idea Amanda. Lately, I’ve been thinking I’d just delete posts and only keep a four year backlog. But, as you say that can result in rotten links. I wonder if I care though.

    I notice you’ve changed your background wallpaper. It’s very nice. Is this one of your designs?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Not my design, Sandy but similar to what I do. My wordpress theme/plan doesn’t allow for that level of customization.
      Four years?
      But there are some excellent posts of yours that might get the axe! That would be a shame. Imagine if in four years, your first stop animation movie got the chop?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Staying in the moment by keeping a limited number of posts active has some merits, particularly if you have a personal diaristic style blog, Colin. Perhaps WordPress needs an archive feature? For me, my drafts folder acts as a kind of archive. I switch posts back to draft if they need updating.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Do you check older posts for broken links? Very rarely. I’m a personal blogger and it’s enough for me to write something fresh in the here and now, let alone maintain what I said way back when. Maybe I’m missing the point of doing this? 🤔

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are definitely not missing the point, Ally and I totally get that it wouldn’t really be necessary to look back on your posts. They are very much relevant in the moment and time period in which they are written. Perhaps a fun exercise to look back on, but only in the same way we might look back at an old diary.
      There are many different styles of blogs, as we both know. This random raid exercise suits information style blog posts much more than personal reflections. That doesn’t mean that info style blog posts are more important and valuable. The amount of comments and the happy vibrant community you have built around your blog is testament to its significant value. Sadly, we all aren’t as articulate and entertaining as you are and rely more/enjoy Information posts or challenges with links that often break and need updating.
      Happy holidays to you!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks for explaining this to me. I am flattered by your kind words about my blog which is totally an in-the-moment affair, like a lifestyle newspaper columnist. I can see how if you’re providing information that has value in your blog posts, then you’d want that info to be current. Now I get it. It’s funny looking back on my blogging roots, it never occurred to me to write something informative– only something goofy and personal. And what does that say about my addled brain? 🤔

        Liked by 4 people

        1. What does it say? Perhaps it says that you live more in the moment than some. You have had various blogs since their inception, is that right? I wonder whether blogs started out more columnist-like in the early days and developed other formats later?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. You might be right about how blogs have evolved and adapted to the times. My earliest blogs were more like what Twitter is now– a few short paragraphs about something or joining in challenges like answering a bunch of questions. Zero depth, zero purpose, just something to do.

            Then I got wordier, which came with the confidence to put myself out there. I began to think of myself as a Lifestyle Columnist, rather than a Diarist talking about every day of my life. Many blogs used to be like that, a Dear Diary approach. A few still are. That never worked for me.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Just my tuppence… you may not value your old posts, but I for one do. I’ve just ?randomly visited three of them: a fun post about doors (2017), a lovely rainbow that brought a smile to my face (2011) and guidelines for a contented life (2015). (Intrigued by the mismatch of the URL and the page contents on that last, I wanted to search for “What became of Dottie” to find out more about the ‘unsolved mystery’… but, sadly, I couldn’t find a search widget.)

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Thanks for reading what I wrote way back when. I had to follow your links to remember what I was on about! I’ve no idea why the URL for the contented life post is as it is. The Dottie mystery post was published about a month before, so obviously I did something wrong when I published the contented life post. Here is the Dottie post, fwiw.

                I have no search widget on my blog because of content thieves. It makes it too easy for them to steal my stuff.

                Liked by 3 people

              2. Content theft? Has that happened to you, Ally? Does a search function increase the risk? (I had no idea!) I thought having a search button was helpful to readers and also me at times…. I must look into it a bit more.

                Liked by 2 people

              3. I’ve had posts *acquired* by individuals who use the title of my post as the title of their blog. In WP you can easily change the title of your blog and that’s what they do. They ping back to my post so they give me credit sort of. It’s infuriating.

                As for content theft straight out, yes I had that happen years ago. Someone stole my whole blog, contents, photos, title, template. I talked with a lawyer but there was nothing to do about it because copyright laws vary from country to country. Or they did then. I ended the blog because of that theft.

                Liked by 2 people

              4. Many individuals from the Indian regional area seemed to have recently discovered that blogging can be a way of making money, I believe. I have had a spate of posts copied, and occasionally re-blogged, without any additional content or words added from individuals in that area in the last year or so. At times, I find that infuriating and took one blogger to task over it, leaving a comment suggesting he try writing his own content. He was nonchalant in response: suggesting that if the content was out there, he was free to copy it and if a ping was added, it was legit. I sometimes advise these types that if they re-blog too much they will get bumped from the WordPress reader, and less views, but I don’t always have the energy. I just ensure I leave a comment on their blog thanking them for using my content 😉 Sometimes it is the only comment on their blog….
                However, copying your entire blog is taking this theft to another level. The IP issue is terribly frustrating when you are dealing with individuals in the Third World, there is little you can do, except what you did. Shut down the blog. My son is an IT guy who developed an app using open source software. He wanted it to be free for all to use. Some individuals in the Philippines/Vietnam/Asia took the code as it was open source, and then began selling it for profit for themselves. They have so far made several million dollars, and complain that my son who has received nothing, should update the code as it is now developing bugs as time goes on. My son should have commercialised the app to begin with – that was his failing, but any attempts at dialogue with the thieves has been nothing short of shocking. Rude, derogatory, arrogant words to a request to take it down. It happens a lot and will continue, unfortunately. It’s a minefield. I wonder if moving my search bar to the footer part of my blog to make it less obvious would help, or whether I should remove it completely as perhaps it is only the thieves that use it.

                Liked by 2 people

              5. You nailed it: “if a ping was added, it was legit.” I talked with the WP Happiness Engineers about this situation and that’s pretty much the bottom line. I don’t leave a comment on that which has been misappropriated instead ignoring anyone who does this, putting their IP address and name into spam, of course. Blacklisted.

                What happened with your son is sad. I cannot imagine being so immoral that you’d steal what someone created, then making money off it? Unethical + unforgivable.

                I don’t know for sure that the search widget appeals to content thieves, but I suspect it might. It’d be an easy way to find something well-written and on point to whatever they want to be known for. 🤷‍♀️

                Liked by 1 person

              6. I think your idea of blacklisting them is a good one. If they did it once, they will do it again. I think I will try that too. My comment on their blog was sarcastic but also meant for anyone reading it to know that they are thieves. Whether that is of value or not, I don’t know. I was just reading about Copyscape and adding a free banner that it is copyright protected. It probs won’t help much but may dissuade some new IP thieves. I think we bloggers need to unite and request the reblog function be removed. Why is it even there, given that we can ping to a site if we want to refer to it?

                Liked by 1 person

              7. In a weird way it’s the people who bother to ping back to a blog/us that are the honest ones. Others are just stealing content straight up with no attribution whatsoever.

                I hate the reblog function. It makes little sense to me. It just sort of appeared one day as far as I can tell. I know of Copyscape but not much about it.

                Like

              8. Some WordPress genius that didn’t know what kind of monster he/she’s unleashed. Like the guy that invented the ‘like button, thinking it was all pure positivity. Not realising human nature could twist its use.

                Liked by 1 person

              9. Thank you so much for providing the link to your (fun!) Dottie Dorsel mystery post! (Comments on that are closed, so I’ve sent you an email about it.)

                About the search widget matter: isn’t it a tad contradictory that you don’t value your old content… and yet you are concerned that others might value it enough to steal it? 😉

                Liked by 1 person

              10. Not at all! I value what I write, but won’t fuss around updating it, allowing it to stand as it is. Theft is a moral problem that I am against on principle. It’s wrong, no matter where or when it happens.

                Liked by 2 people

            2. Your comment raises the question: Would I have a diary-style blog? Would it satisfy me? Potentially not. I often start a diary but it never lasts more than a month or so, or is something I go to when some in-depth introspection is required. This is not likely to be of interest to sustain readers, but then if you don’t care about comments or community, there a diary blog may satisfy. As I think we have both discovered, half of the fun of blogging is the comments, we learn things, and it enriches our lives, at least it enriches mine anyway. Writing in a lifestyle-column style is much more entertaining, so perhaps Colin is right, the older posts do indeed have worth too?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. You’re right, some people write a blog because they enjoy recording each of their days, not looking for comments, focused on processing their lives via a blog. I like the sense of community that comes with comments so I write to entertain/inform + many comments get me laughing so I continue writing my blog in my own fashion. Do it your own way. As for the value of any particular post, who knows?

                Liked by 2 people

            3. This thread’s gone deeper than most, so I’m unable to respond directly to your comments about content theft. I’m saddened to hear that your content has been misused in this way.

              It’s not something that would particularly bother me, I have to admit: all content on my site is under a CC-BY-SA license. I might get a bit miffed if someone were to copy it and pass it off as their own, but to be honest part of me would feel gratified that it was considered worthy enough to steal as I consider most of it, well, more or less worthless 😉

              Like

  10. Bloggers helping bloggers – such a wonderful message! And I love Random Raiders – not only because it serves a much needed function, but I like reading older posts anyhow. It really is such fun!

    Liked by 4 people

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