[wp-hackers] Mailman-style Blog Archiving

Scott Merrill skippy at skippy.net
Mon May 2 14:00:42 GMT 2005

This post has had me thinking for some time:

At first I railed against the idea of retiring a mailing list in favor
of a blog discussion.  A blog discussion of fifty or so messages is far
less useful than the same fifty replies on a mailing list.

Some complaints I have:
* Blog discussions have a flat hierarchy: everything is in response to
one top-level post.
* Blog comment permalinks are inseperable from their parent post.
* pingbacks and trackbacks are (IMHO) inelegant means for participation
in a conversation.

But careful consideration helped me realize what specifically it was
about a mailing list that I found so valuable: archives.

I keep local copies of all mailing list messages I receive, stored in
IMAP folders by list, so that I can review any individual thread,
regardless of whether I'm online or offline.  I often include links to
mailing list archive permalinks when referencing an old(er) post, and I
find it extremely useful to know that I can link directly to just that
one post, instead of an entire thread.

Mailing list archives allow each post to have a unique page view, and
provide navigation controls for next-by-date and (usually) next-by-thread.

If WordPress would support a "?c=X" query string variable to load a
single comment, and then display that comment in a single view without
the entire discussion, AND provide navigation links for next-by-date and
next-by-thread, AND include links to the post's permalink and this
specific comment's permalink in the post (to quickly provide links to
full context), I think I could live with a blog discussion instead of a
mailing list.

Archive links could then be of the form
for post-only and comment-only permalinks respectively; and an overview
could be made similar to the display at:
This kind of archive display, I think, is more useful in a long-running
discussion because it lets you see each element individually (which
drastically improves load times), thereby making it easier (IMHO) to
reference specific comments.

I was going to try to write a plugin to accomplish this, but I simply
don't have the time.  So I'm sharing this idea here, in the hopes that
someone can run with it.

One of the biggest shortcomings with this methodology, though, is the
use of exceprts for trackbacks, and the complete lack of any content in
pingbacks.  In order to provide a coherent view of the conversation in
one archive display, full-post *backs would be necessary.  If an
"archive" view requires me to go visit some other site(s) to read bits
of the conversation, I most likely won't participate.
(Alternately, someone could implement transclusion to silently include
the remote ping data into the comment stream...)

skippy at skippy.net | http://skippy.net/

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