I Need Help

Posted by Ryan Jerz on Wednesday September 7, 2005.

I never did this one. What’s that, you ask? Well, it’s this. See, when one begins their journey down the road of personal web publishing, they are sort of required to write that post or article about what blogging is. It’s not even what many people might think it is. It’s not some deep, thoughtful, introspective thing where the writer explores who they are and why they do it. It’s usually some rules that they somehow came up with. Mostly I think they came up with them because they read somebody else’s website and got pissed because that person did something that violated the rules. You know, the rules that the new blogger who’s been doing this for a whopping two weeks invented.

That brings me into the picture. Several people who read this site are exploring the possibility of starting a site up for their own personal things. At least one of them is pretty proficient in HTML, and can build webpages expertly. But every page ever built has been static HTML. No databases, no automatic archiving. Horribly inefficient, but done well, nonetheless. This person wants to go with what they know. They want to start a personal site using static HTML pages instead of learning something new like a content management system. I think they’re crazy.

The benefits of a CMS are pretty evident once you decide what to do with a website. If you want feedback, you need the ability to have readers comment. If you want to offer content that can be used as reference, you need permalinks and automatic archiving. You can’t make a page, then bury it in another directory later and hope that the page gets indexed and comes as a high return on a Google search. That page has to have a unique address that never changes. And most of all, you need to have changing content. New stuff gets people back more and more often. All of those above things come standard with a CMS. It’s just hard to drill into someone’s head that their old way of doing things isn’t pertinent anymore. The technology has moved beyond their method, and it’s time to learn something new.

This person has also become quite accustomed to reading entries to other people’s sites via a newsreader. I’m not quite sure which they use, but that really doesn’t matter. So that brings me to the big issue here. RSS. Whichever flavor you prefer, you need it. But it’s not that easy to just up and create an RSS feed. Sure, the language isn’t difficult, but why would anyone in their right mind build a page on the internet, then turn around and build it again in a text editor so it can be distributed as a feed? That’s just crazy. In the CMSs I’ve used, the RSS feed is wholly customizable, so doing it manually carries with it no benefits. Am I mistaken? Is there any reason you’d want to build it by hand, as opposed to using a CMS to handle the work for you? To me this is the biggest sticking point. Unless you really enjoy it, there is no reason to double the work to produce web pages in all the formats you wish to distribute. That’s why databases were created (maybe).

Sorry to have put anyone still reading this through it all. I am desperately trying to convince my friend to do something new and cool. Anyone interested in helping out can comment and tell me what I missed. Do you have a particular feature of a CMS that you would love to point out? Tell me, and let’s convince this person that what they’ve been doing is crazy.

Ryan JerzRyan Jerz is an all-around good guy who wants people to eventually refer to him as "that dude who climbs mountains."

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