I’ve mentioned here that one of my recent projects is the redesign of spokesman-recorder.com. There were a lot of challenges presented by this undertaking, many of them involved managing the 4,000 some legacy posts that existed. One of them had to do with the authorship attribution. The old theme did not display the author meta, the bylines were simply included as parts of the text. Our new theme, Largo, not only displayed the meta, but allowed the user to customize the byline. That allows the articles to be attributed to their actual author, rather than the person actually posting, very handy for a publication that goes to print first and then uses the print content on the site. We would eventually like to shift that paradigm to having the authors post directly to the site, subject to editorial approval. But that’s a different kind of challenge.
The problem I’m concerned with here is that we now had almost 4,000 posts attributed to the online production person. Of course we could go back and change every author and remove every credit from the text to avoid redundancy. But who has time for that? So my first thought was to suppress the display of the author meta before the date that we went live with the new site, since it would be difficult to remove the byline from the text.
Face it, I’m not much of a coder. But I know people. I posted to the MSP WordPress Google Group and of course got a quick answer from Nick Ciske at Thought Refinery one of the most accomplished and generous members of the local WordPress community and famous for his quick replies and great answers to just about any question. His advice was to wrap the code that inserted the byline in an ‘if’ statement. I get that. I could probably even do it with some study and some trial and error. But before I dove into it, I wanted to see if I could come up with an easier way.
Then a lightbulb went on in my head. I was asking the wrong question. I was asking a specific technical question, a ‘how to’ about a narrow solution to my problem, not addressing the problem itself. The right question to ask was, “We have legacy content that displays the wrong name in the author meta. What can we do to correct it.” In other words take a step back. When I looked at the problem from a higher level I realized that the answer was right there in WordPress. Fortunately the 4,000 odd posts were input by the same user, so we just made a new user with a generic display name, deleted the original user and attributed their posts to the generic user. Bang-Zoom.
So take a step back and make sure you’re framing the problem and not too focused on a single solution.