09 April 2005
Postal Order: or should posts be displayed chronologically or not?

Natalie Solent is a difficult woman.  You try to please her with long articles on defunct railway companies and all that happens is that she uses it as an excuse to get even more irate.

If I command him to put the newest posts at the top like every other bleedin’ blog in the world are you listening boyo, will he obey?

See?

Yes, this is one of my little eccentricities.  At the time of writing my home page and RSS feeds are in reverse chronological order - just like every other bleedin’ blog in the world (except yours Natalie because yours doesn’t have a feed when are you going to get that sorted out - it’s only a couple of clicks you know).  But my archives and category pages are in chronological order.

Now there’s a reason for this.  Most things in this world (diaries, logs, chronicles etc) are written in chronological order.  Which makes sense.  You start at the beginning and work forwards.  Blogs (or at least their home pages) on the other hand are in reverse chronological order. You start at the end and work backwards.  This rather bizarre way of displaying information is forced on bloggers by the need to advertise to readers that there is something new.  If new items were put at the end no one would ever know about it because no one would ever be bothered to scroll to the end on the off chance that there was something there.

Now, I think that’s absolutely fine and dandy and until the next revolution in web technology I am quite happy for that to apply to my home page.  But why should it apply to my date or category archives?  No reason that I can see which is why they are in chronological order.

The only reason that Natalie ever found out about this is because I sent her a permalink.  My permalinks link to the date archive and not to the individual page.  I did that so that when people linked to me they would be able to easily see other things I had written.  Well, you never know…

But Natalie finds chronologically-ordered blog posts confusing.  She’s not alone.  So, as it happens, do I.  Many has been the time I have been poring over my own archives getting ever more confused only to suddenly realise what order they’re in.

I draw two things from all of this.  The first is that blog readers have no real problem with reading things in the wrong order.  For them it is far worse if things are in the right order.  The second is (and I’ve said this before) that blogs need to look like blogs even if this means incorporating seemingly illogical but widely-used features.

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