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What should Microblogging look like on a WordPress blog?

Manton Reece has written a post looking to define what a microblog is and is not. His definition:

From my perspective, a microblog post has these qualities:

  • Must have an RSS feed.
  • Does not have an RSS item title.
  • Contains short post text, 280 characters or less.

This is interesting as I’m pondering how to treat a link list feed in WordPress. The link list would not be a microblog according to Manton’s definition, since I definitely want titles for the links (also, the underlying concept is different).

Instead, a microblog feed would essentially be, for lack of a better analogy, a roll-your-own Twitter, but could be implemented easily without all of the bells and whistles (and ads). In other words, a microblog would be similar to a status update but published through WordPress as a post.

This all means that there are potentially at least three kinds of standard writing content on a single site:

  • Long-form writing (i.e., blog)
  • Link list
  • Microblog

I’m interested in having all of these post types, but the challenge is how to treat them in the WordPress database and the WordPress theme.


How should WordPress be told which type of content is which?

When publishing a new post, telling WordPress what type of content is being published should be as simple as choosing from a list: blog, link, or microblog.

If categories are used to identity types of posts, the solution is already built in to any standard WordPress site. Simple.

I’m just not sure if categories at the best choice for use as the post type identifier, especially when categories are already being used as categories, to identify the nature or subject of the post content.

Is that where the difference between categories and tags comes into play? Or is there a better solution still?

Do all of three types of standard writing content need their own separate RSS feeds?

Again, it seems like WordPress categories would take care of the problem because any category URL has its own feed.

A couple of examples on my site that would work in an RSS reader:

Actually, any of the categories on the archive page page would work, only showing in RSS those posts that have the specified category.

But if I were to use categories to distinguish post types, I would have to add categories for all three content types: blog, links, microblog. Again, if categories and tags are the answers, I’m back to imagining that it’s better to separate the role of post type identifier and the post subject identifier, or tags versus categories.

How can this division of content best be integrated into WordPress theme design and site structure?

That’s a question everyone will have to answer for themselves.

Going back to Manton’s site, you can see that he has the microblog showing in the same area as his long-form writing content. The microblog is not separated spatially from the blog. The difference between the long-form writing and the microblog is evident only by what the microblog posts lack: title, tags, and categories. This is certainly one valid answer to the question (Daring Fireball does something relatively similar, mixing link posts and long-form writing, though both types have titles).

For this site, I’m interested in separating the types of content visually if possible. For one, I want to avoid having a single content area where some posts have titles and some don’t. That really disturbs the rhythm to my eyes.

The trade-off will be in adding complexity to the page layout. Instead of a single feed of posts, there will be two or three distinct areas. This could easily confuse a new visitor to the site if not done with some thorough consideration.

If you have any thoughts on this, I’d love to read more about it.

In the meantime, since I seem to mention categories so much while thinking about this subject that perhaps I should just go with it and see how it works.

What should Microblogging look like on a WordPress blog?
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