The Problem with Permalinks

I’ve been thinking for quite some time about changing the URL structure at Mostly Muppet Dot Com to be a little more human-friendly. You know, taking out all the “archives” and date-string bullshit and just getting to domain-slash-post-title.

I’m also toying with the idea of moving away from the whole vanity domain and getting something that is actually my name or approximates my name. As much as I love Mostly Muppet Dot Com I covet after folks who have theirname.com. Of course, some domain speculator has my all-time favorite domain, no doubt hoping to get a big payday from Miller Brewing, so that’s right out.

My main concern in all of this is maintaining whatever scant amount of Google juice this blog has. I realize I’m an expert in next-to-nothing, but I do receive a trickle of traffic and a modicum of cash (from AdSense) and I’d hate to see that all go away.

So when Dave Winer posted about shortened URLs – his focii were on usability, portability and sustainability – I knew I had to take action. Or at the very least blog about taking action. ;-)

One of Dave’s commenters left a link to his blog post from over two years ago talking about the danger of URL-shorteners, mostly from a user’s perspective. Where does the link lead? How fresh/relevant is the content on the other end (if the link works at all)? Will I be inundated with spam or porn?

All good questions that I don’t know if I can answer. All I can do is make my own site better for folks who visit, most of whom come from search engines (so I can’t lose my edge there).

First things first, I’m going to change the permalinks structure of the site. I’ll likely remove the “archives” designation at the very least. I kept this as a hold-over from a previous blogging platform, but it’s only legacy is that it’s legacy, so it’s gone. I’m pretty tied to WordPress (and I like it) so I’ve got several options for solving my problem:

I’m still a little scared to make the leap seeing as I may not have much internet access over Thanksgiving (I’ll be in Knoxville, TN; write you own joke) and I don’t want to completely hose things and lose my ability to monitor the situation. So, far now, my plan is to implement one of these plugins over the weekend or early next week and just pray. I think users (and I) will both be happier when we don’t have to do so much scanning and pasting of the bigger URLs.

Look for a new domain name potentially in 2008 (it’ll be a Christmas gift to myself). I have no idea how I’m going to square the circle that is permanently re-directing an entire site, post by post, but I’m willing to try. Of course, I’m probably going to drop in the rankings for some of the more Muppet-centric keywords, but I’m OK with that.

I’m ready to be more than Mostly Muppet and, simultaneously, less than all these characters (both Muppet and letters).

One thought on “The Problem with Permalinks

  1. As long as you haven’t changed the title slugs of any of yr posts, you should be able to use mod_rewrite to handily forward all the current style permalinks to just the title slug style ones like this:

    REWRITE_COND %{REQUEST_FILENAME} archives.*
    REWRITE_RULE archives/\d{4}/\d{2}/\d{2}/(.*) $1 [QSA,L]

    If this is Greek to you, there’s a cheat sheet here: http://www.ilovejackdaniels.com/cheat-sheets/mod_rewrite-cheat-sheet/ and Googling mod_rewrite has a ton of information but those two lines should do what you want.

    As far as switching domains, you’ll prolly want to keep mostlymuppet.com registered for a while too and leave a rewrite rule that looks for those archive old-style permalinks first, redirects them with the new slugs _and_ a new domain, which you’d just tack on the front of the redirect like so…

    REWRITE_RULE archives/\d{4}/\d{2}/\d{2}/(.*) http://newdomain.com/$1 [QSA,L]

    then have a catchall that redirects everything else [which should be correct still] to the new domain. Lemme know if that doesn’t work or you need more help. :) Happy thanksgiving!

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