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Open letter to all developers with blogs
52 points by thisguyrob on Oct 9, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 35 comments
Please add timestamps to your posts!

Thanks, thisguyrob

I would also add:

No screenshots of code. I don't care if it's not syntax-highlighted, but I would like it to be in plain text, hopefully fixed-width.

If you're going to reference another blog, please include the relevant information in your own blog before the linked site goes down and I have to hope that site's owner didn't block archive.org from indexing it.

I'd like comments enabled, but I know some people have a hard-line stance against it (I was once told, "oh, you're thinking of a forum" when I suggested a developer add comments to their blog). Sometimes people smarter than me comment on my blog, and that adds value to my post when it has incomplete or incorrect information.

And if you have line numbers or a shell prompt prefix, make sure they aren’t included when the text is copied!

I'd like to add that snippets of code presented as plain text should not be auto selected when someone clicks on them or what not, but should give the user the OPTION to copy the entire snippet as a separate button.

We don't always want to copy everything, we sometimes want to test out specific lines or what not. Don't mess around with how the select option works.

> No screenshots of code.

Not that I disagree but isn't there a security risk with code that can be cut and pasted?

> Not that I disagree but isn't there a security risk with code that can be cut and pasted?

Yes if the blog author is malicious and the copy-paster inattentive. Don't even need an inattentive user if it's a command pasted in a terminal that will interpret the newline as <enter>.

No. Not to the poster. And not any different to the recipient than code that can be retyped, downloaded, or reproduced by any other mechanism besides copy and paste.

Who cares - is it your problem?

If you guys want to try a new blogging experience, I recommend Epiphany:


Epiphany is a crossover of Jupyter notebook and Medium.com,

Not only can you write text, you can also program on it, to create interactive examples, see:


In addition to interactivity, Epiphany implements version control, forking and pull request. You can collaborate with others just like you do on github.

An article will have two timestamps, Create time and last modified time. More than that, you can see the entire revision history.

Source code is in text and syntax highlighted.

It also has the social publishing feature as seen on Medium.

Finally, users own their content. Epiphany has a download button to allow downloading all blog data.

The format used by Epiphany, unlike that of Jupyter, is in plain text and is human readable.

disclaimer: I made Epiphany

I just signed up, this is exactly the kind of platform I've been wanting. Thanks!

thank you! It’s still new and has bugs. Let me know your experience and any issues. I will fix ASAP!

Sure! In the little tour it gives you, when it's describing the play button, I couldn't click Next or Finish because they were hidden behind the little tag input area. I just zoomed out on the page with CTRL + minus and was able to click.

I imagine you didn't notice this due to it being specific to my screen size (I'm on a macbook, I'm guessing you're using something else?)

Thank you for the feedback. Yes, the tour isn't perfect. I'm using a library called vuetour. I don't like it and am about to replace it.

I will resolve the issue this weekend.

You're welcome! I'm enjoying the site quite a bit, it's gorgeous.

I don't think the GitHub for the project is updated but from now on when I notice things I'll raise them as issues there :)

In iso8601, so I don't have to figure out where you live and which format that country uses.

Also, not just blogs but everything ever posted online.

I think that goes for everyone with a blog. And make sure that those dates have years! I've lost count of how many blogs only show the month and day of a post. "Mar 3" of 2019? Or is that 2009? I can't tell!

Absolute, not relative.

"17 minutes ago."

One of my pet peeves with HN. Eventually, every post ends up as "X years ago". I wish I knew when in that year.

Hm, HN seems to show the exact year for me, see https://news.ycombinator.com/front?day=2018-10-08 and this submission https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18169243

Or the top voted story on Oct 8, 2007 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=64795

You're right. The issue is with months. Once it gets to a year, HN shows the date. It's not as bad as I mistakenly recalled/extrapolated.

I'm pretty sure it used to just show eg "3 years ago". I was surprised to read the exact date in the above.

Created used to show the number of days (I remember passing 3650), and now it shows the date. So the change was within the last year.

Thank you for giving me hope in my memory. Checking the Wayback Machine, it seems that putting absolute dates was a change that came some time after 2017. In 2017, HN post id=1 was dated "4027 days ago"[1].

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20171019104348/https://news.ycom...

Eh, I think it's fine if said timestamp starts off as relative, but becomes an absolute timestamp after a while. For instance, quite a few forums I use have the timestamp for today's posts as 'posted today at [time], but it changes to 'posted yesterday at [time]' when its a day old, then eventualy to 'posted on [date] at [time] once it's about a week ago or so.

I like the relative "x hours ago" because it spares me computing the difference, but I want to have the absolute too.

Facebook used to do it well, with fuzzy time displayed but absolute time in the alt-text, visible on hover.

I would do "17 minutes ago on Oct 9, 4:00 PM UTC-4". Come back to this comment 10 years later and you will still know when I wrote it :)

Oops, I'm one of these people. However the URL slug always shows the year but yeah, I can see how that would be annoying.

Toptal is a big offender with this. I asked them before to do this and they declined. I understand there are some evergreen content out there, but anything related to technology does not fall into that category and having a date is important to understand if the content is likely out of date.

I suspect a fair few of the people who do this are trying to trick search engines into thinking their content was posted more recently than it actually was, since a few SEOs did experiments and found content without timestamps/with misleading ones would sometimes rank higher than those with accurate ones.

That or they think it gets people thinking they post more regularly than they actually do.

But yeah, agreed. Especially given that software development is a rather time sensitive field, and what works/happens to be best practice at one point may not be so further down the line.

If it's a wordpress blog, append /feed/ to the post url and the timestamp will be in the channel->item->pubDate field.

Ex: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2019/10/04/breaking-down-this-...

Apparently Facebook does not like blogs/vlogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pIJoPkh9IU

Oh i wrote last blog post 10 years ago? So sad. Swoosh. Evergreen enabled :) Ps. Techcically speaking a set of articles without timestamps is not a blog

Is this as opposed to just having date stamps? That’s what I have on mine. Is there any reason the time of a post is particularly relevant?

Date or time, same thing.

A timestamp is useful for rapidly-cycling content, especially comment threads. If you're posting content less often than daily, a date stamp is sufficient, though if your site has multiple posts daily, go with timestamps.

"Sufficient granularity to distinguish content" should be your guiding principle.

Also n00bs like me... just don't offer code specific instruction about coding on your blog. Personal experiences, learning advice have at it, but if you really haven't done much coding.... please don't offer advice about it.

I hate to be so negative but the internet is awash with bad coding advice (and the same code copied from vid to blog and back again) that seems like resume fodder more than helpful.

The worst thing about learning is reading a post long enough to realize the other person is a noob too and their code is a malformed mess that the blog author doesn't really understand.

I have to disagree, I have learned from a lot of n00bs. I copied broken code and it didn't work, but it provided enough hints that I was able to make it work. I also posted back fixed code as comments on authors' blogs, and many would update their post with my code.

Same thing has happened on my blog, I have some super old Pentaho configuration posts, and every once in a while I get an email from someone saying my code is not right but they were able to make it work with some changes. Hence, I leave it up there.

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