Friday, January 11, 2013

A Good Idea Gone Wrong :: But, I've Done It Before...

If you don't publish a Blog and you don't use Blogger you may want to skip this post... I'm venting...

I did what I've done for the past couple of years. But this time a change made to Blogger (probably when "New Blogger" came on the scene) has caused extra work as well as a little frustration on my part.

A group of posts was created a few years ago that I call "Index Posts" and they list the blog posts that have been published for a given surname. As new stories are posted for a surname, the Index Post gets updated with links to the new post and periodically the date of the post will be changed. The date is changed so that when someone does a search on the blog for a specific surname or clicks on a surname label at the bottom of a post the Index Post will be displayed near the top of the search results.

Maybe I should have known better, but, in the past, doing what I've done did not cause any problems. But what I learned today means I won't be doing the same thing again!

You know that thing called a permalink, aka the url for a post? Well, contrary to it's name, it isn't a permanent link. At least, not if you click on the button that says "Revert to Draft" while you are editing a blog post AND you change the publication date of the post. If you've done that and you then re-publish the post or page, the permalink (url) could change. That's not good. Especially if you have linked to that post within other posts. It's now a broken link.

So, I had updated all of the surname Index Posts (19 of them!) before I discovered the error of my ways. And then it was too late. I tried to change the url by using  the "custom url" but that didn't work. It only allowed me to enter the last portion of the url (the part after ""). If a post had previously been published, say in July 2011, the beginning portion of the url would have been "". When I changed the date, Blogger changed the date portion of the url to "2012/12". And therein lies the problem.

After a few choice words, and thinking about it for a while, I edited the "Master" Index Post to update it with the new links. And then edited the two "Pages" for my Maternal Ancestors and Paternal Ancestors, as well as the links along the sidebar that list the surnames that I am researching.  Those are the obvious links.

The "problem" now is that I know there have been times when I've linked to an Index Post from a another blog post. I don't think I've done it very often but, in my opinion, one broken link is one too many. For one thing, it leaves a bad impression. And for another, it's irritating to the reader.

If I had thought about it, and if I had kept track of the date the posts were last published, I could have edited all of the posts a second time and then reverted back to that publication date. I think that would have worked and I wouldn't have the broken link problem. Each of the Index Posts does have the date it was last updated, but that isn't necessarily the date of last publication. In other words, I may not have changed the date when the post was updated.

I've spent all afternoon and evening working on this. I'm irritated. I'm frustrated. Mostly at myself but also with Blogger. So, I'm going to "sit" on this for a few days and think about it some more, then decide if it is important enough to go looking for broken links to the various Index Posts. In the meantime, if anyone has any great ideas regarding this, please let me know. Oh, and if you come across a broken link, please notify me. I won't yell at you. I promise.


  1. Oh, Becky, what a mess! I'm so sorry. Is there any way you could do a search from inside blogger to identify the links? Depending on the wording you use to identify them, it could work.

    You might be able to find the old post date IF you had comments on the post and then revert to the original permalink. I've reposted on an old date but I've never checked the permalink before. (Oh, no. I better check....)

    As far as your index post does, could you leave the permalink the same but at the very beginning of the post say something like "Updated on ..." and put the date?

    It's awful having to waste time on stuff like this.

    1. Yes, Nancy, quite a mess I've made for myself! Thanks for the suggestions. I have tried several searches but it doesn't give me the results I need. I have found a few posts and fixed them but I know there are more broken links out there. And yeah, lots of time wasted trying to figure this out. Live and learn...

  2. Thanks for the heads up about the permanent links. I sometimes add updates to posts when I get new information, or add links to things like the honor roll list from other bloggers. Now I'll have to spend the weekend rechecking all the links. Blah!

    1. Heather, if you simply edit the post then click on 'Update' when finished making the changes, it doesn't mess with the permalink. It's when you use the 'Revert to Draft' then 'Publish' that caused this problem.

      But as far as I can see, you have to 'Revert to Draft' to actually change the post date. If I'm just fixing a typo or adding new info I wouldn't do that anyway. I guess it just depends on how you've made the changes. Just something more to be aware of...

  3. Ohhhh! I hear your pain! Fortunately, I have learned over the years that a short-cut usually ends up to be a long-cut. I am leary of the "Revert to Draft" feature. I just go to post, edit and update. When I do my index page, i.e. for Civil War Pension Files, I open a second tab with my blog visible and get the link directly from visiting the post. Changing the post date is one thing I absolutely cannot stand about Microsoft Works and Word. If you edit a letter days later, it automatically changes the date. All in all, modern technology is a great thing when you understand all the ins and outs.


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