A side note to the attraction of file-based blog engines

September 20, 2008

One grumpy view of the attraction of 'file as blog entry' blog engines is that they are only attractive to people who don't know enough about their problems and once you come to really understand the issues you can see that they are actually a bad idea. That they are fairly popular is just because most people fall into the 'don't know enough' category and can only see the 'superficial attractiveness' of such engines.

(This should sound awfully familiar; similar things have been said about all sorts of other technologies.)

Adopting this point of view is a mistake. Regardless of any theoretical flaws that they may or may not have, it is very clear that file-based blog engines work in practice, and work well enough for people to be happy with them. Saying that such people don't know what they're missing and will regret it later is, while potentially correct, basically pointless. In this regard, good enough is the enemy of perfect and always has been.

And despite my words on the subject, I have to note that this point of view also overestimates the current practical importance of the things that file-based blog engines make difficult. Things like truly stable syndication feed identifiers and good handling of entry updates may become crucial features at some point in the future, but they are manifestly not that important right now, given that lots and lots of blogs get by fine without them. (Heck, I'm still not sure that having a syndication feed is an essential blog feature yet.)

(So, what's an essential feature? I'd say one that costs you a significant number of potential readers if you don't have it, something that has become part of the minimum accepted features of blogs for people. While I and most people I know use a feed reader, I'm not an average blog reader, so I'm not sure that feed reader usage is widespread enough in general to make syndication feeds qualify.)

Written on 20 September 2008.
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Last modified: Sat Sep 20 23:40:43 2008
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