Today’s post comes courtesy of the guy/gal/folks who run PoeWar.com. If you do enough online reading about writing and freelancing you will eventually come across the PoeWar site.
I remember it from my early days, and sure enough, it’s bookmark resides within my oldest links. Yet, I never really seem to end up at PoeWar on a regular basis, and it doesn’t have a spot in my recently reconfigured Speed Dial under "Business", "Writing", or "Freelance". That seemed odd, because it is a great resource with a lot of useful information.
However, as I was getting ready to leave a comment on one of the posts I read I noticed that it was from over a year ago. There is nothing wrong with commenting on older posts so long as the topic is still relevant and actively discussed on the site in question. On most blogs, where a single author writes about a topic and then moves on to other topics, it sometimes seems like there isn’t much reason to comment on year-old posts, especially if the last previous comment was from long ago too.
The weird part was that I didn’t get to there by searching (which is usually how I end up at old posts), but rather by clicking a link under the heading Newest Articles.
Turns out that while PoeWar does update its writing jobs and freelance writing gigs listings frequently, they post new articles much less frequently. There is nothing wrong with this, it just threw me for a bit of a loop. After all, writers love to write so their blogs tend to be frequently updated.
I sometimes worry about not updating here often enough. Usually it’s because I ran out of time after updating other sites, or finishing projects for clients, or whatever. And yet, here is a very successful site that updates much less frequently.
Non-Blog Website Structure Provides Longer Lived Usefulness for Writing
As I pondered, I noticed that the key is in the site’s structure. Unlike here at Arctic Llama where we use the traditional reverse chronological order, PoeWar offers no way to read it’s collection of articles by date. Instead, articles are broken out into categories and listed there for readers to find after any period of time. The Recent Articles heading on the front page gives readers a way to jump in and get a sampling before they head off to read the articles that might appeal to them within the various category listings.
Like many writers, I don’t like the idea of my writing becoming regarded as "old" or "out of date" unless what I wrote is actually out of date due to changes or events that have taken place since it was published. By using the PoeWar format, articles don’t appear out of date because they don’t get older as you read them, giving rise to the thought that you’ve read "back far enough" on the site. And, also because the date of each article is not displayed until after you’ve already clicked to load that particular article. By then, you are usually ready to jump right into the content and past the small font date.
It is a brilliant concept, though not one that I would want to embrace completely. I like the idea of my "regular" readers or even new readers being able to work their way through my stuff one article at a time starting with the most current thoughts and topics I’ve published. At the same time, I’d love to be able to find a way so that something I wrote that was particularly useful could live on longer than a year or two.
I know that only the most dedicated reader would read back through 100, 200, or even 500 articles in order. But, a new reader looking for information on something that I covered well 26 months ago would almost certainly click on a topic or category that matched up with his question and then find and read that article because, regardless of its age, it applies to what he wants to know.
I think in the coming weeks I’ll look to convert Arctic Llama into a hybrid of this model with a reverse chronological front page and dateless alphabetical Categories or Topics listings. I’ll keep you updated on how it shakes out.