Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Continuity Issues

Our blog is incontinent.

Hang on; I don't think that's the right word for it. Like virtually every long-running work of fiction, this blog suffers from continuity issues. I'm not talking about why Alex suddenly looks like Robin Curtis instead of Kirstie Alley, or why the glove on my left hand suddenly leaped to my right hand as I was writing this sentence; no, I'm talking about why the "Posts by Topic" section of our sidebar has gradually grown so cluttered.

When we first started this blog, the idea was that people might go searching for new fandoms by genre or medium--comics, movies, fantasy, sci-fi, the works. Our plan was to tag all our posts with a finite number of broad labels that would serve both to keep our "Posts by Topic" section uncluttered and to minimize inconsistencies in tagging. This worked for a good long while... but then we started talking heavily about baseball and Mega Man and other subjects. "Sports" and "Video Games" no longer cut the mustard. We needed specifics.

Then there were the posts that defied our carefully planned system of categorization. All of a sudden we had "History," "Simulations," and "Visual Art." Still broad enough to fit the paradigm, but rare enough topics to make me wonder why we instated them in the first place. We might find some uses for them if we go back and update the tags on older posts, but who has the time to do that?

Compounding the problem is that Alex and I occasionally have differing mindsets on what qualifies for a particular tag. I've convinced myself that I'm the utmost authority on tags, naming conventions, and formatting for this blog--after all, the blog is half mine--which is precisely why we did not need a tag called "Alex's Nonsense." "Philosophy of Fandom" or "Off-Topic Discussion" would suffice, thankyouverymuch.

Since September, there have been 13 posts labeled as "Alex's Nonsense." He hasn't rubbed it in yet that the "Exhibits" tag I lovingly crafted back in August for my big Star Trek: The Exhibition recap was only used for those four posts, but he's bound to mention it eventually.

The more I look over the blog, the more inconsistencies, oddities, and dead-end ideas I see. For a short time, Alex labeled every uploaded image, regardless of content, as "abe.jpg" because it was easy to locate on his desktop. That's not the kind of consistency I thought we were going for here.

Many of our images are labeled with alternate text. Many are not. I dropped the ball on keeping up with that, mostly because it was a pain to go back and look at the picture to figure out what alternate text belonged with this abe.jpg. Perhaps the worst instance of dropping the ball is losing sight of the blog's namesake--really, when was the last time we Exfanded Your Horizons? We need another "Introduction to..." post, stat!

Actually, I'm not sure whether or not that last point counts. This blog has grown and changed in ways we never imagined it would, and these inconsistencies, oddities, and dead-end ideas are all part of the process. I'm naturally inclined to organize, streamline, and perfect everything I can, but that inclination doesn't necessarily fit the process by which we write this blog.

We're here to have fun, channel our enthusiasm, vent our frustrations, and generally get our thoughts out on virtual paper; keeping rigid systems in place has the potential to limit our creative output, or at least eat up the precious free time we should be spending on the geeky things we want to write about.

There may come a day where we go back and coordinate the old and the new, or where we finally agree on whether or not there should be a line space between the end of a paragraph and a photo. For now, I think I might be able to find it within myself to embrace the pathetic "Horror" tag that deserves way more attention than it's gotten. If entropy is the way of all things anyhow, we might as well let go of some of the little details and enjoy the gradual descent.


Scott said...

My images were a mess in my first blog, then I tried to clean them up a lot, but ended the blog before that effort really got anywhere. Now I always upload my images with filenames in a YYYYMMDD-XX.jpg format, which makes them easy to sort through if I have to.

I'm still waiting on Alex to exfand my baseball horizons...

Flashman85 said...

That seems like a good way to do image naming. I still like the description of what it is, because--very rarely, I might add--I like to have fun with the image titles. Like in my Avatar review, if I recall.

Alex! This man demands baseball!