WordPress import is powerful, mysterious ­— what it says (and what I’m saying) about the past, present and future of online expression

I recognize that the title of this post is absurd. I intended to write about WordPress Import and how it makes it so easy to move thousands of posts and images from one WP site to another. But the post took a turn into what we should do about everything we write online.

I should probably split this into two posts. Instead I’ll just ask you to go along for the ride. I’m adding this forward on my phone with the WordPress mobile app, and that’s another piece of the WP ecosystem that benefits both .com (Automattic’s WordPress hosting service) and .org (self-hosted) users alike.

I’ve always been skeptical of how you move content from one WordPress site to another. I’m about to move an entire installation, and I think there should be a lot less mystery and a lot more “here’s how you do it.” Maybe I’m missing something.

I always worry: What if my entries come over to the new site but my images are all on the old one, and I have a thousand posts with links to a site that’s going to go away.

So I did a test. I took the entries from two self-hosted WordPress.org blogs and exported them in the usual WP XML format. I uploaded those two XMLs to this WordPress.com blog, and all the entries, images and comments came along with it. Somehow the Import function was able to grab all those JPGs, stash them in the new system and rewrite the links in the posts. That’s the holy grail of blog migration.

The WordPress documentation should really be shouting from its rooftops about how well this works.

It works so well when moving from a WordPress.org site to WordPress.com. Does it work as well going from a WordPress.org to another WordPress.org, or from a .com to a .org?

Why did I move about 2,000 posts from a couple of .orgs to this .com? For one thing, I can’t believe that those two particular .org blogs (over which I don’t have control) are still live. I had to get the posts — and the image and comments — while I still could. Now I have them on this .com, and I trust WordPress to pretty much keep this site going forever.

My plan was to somehow convert these posts into a format that could be used in a Hugo static-site blog. I could still do that, but then I’d be on the hook for hosting them forever. I can probably do that as long as I’m alive. Who knows what happens after that?

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t Shakespeare or Plato or anything like that. It’s just my once-daily musings. It’s probably too tech-heavy, and it definitely says something about what’s wrong with me as a person that I focused (and let’s be real, still focus) on tech and not other parts of life. If I were to analyze it, I’d say that tech is a “safe space” for me and my mind, and that’s why I do it and write about it.

That was a little heavy. I’d like to write more like that last paragraph and less like the 2,000 entries surrounding it. Be that as it may. I think it’s important not just for me but for all of us to write and have that writing survive.

The Internet Archive notwithstanding, there’s a huge “here today, gone tomorrow” theme in web-based projects and technologies, and most of us have written (blogged, tweeted, Facebooked, MySpaced, Google Plussed) in so many different places, at the behest of companies large and small. So many things go away. WordPress — in its “dot-com” form at http://wordpress.com — is one of the more consistent players out there. I wish hosting your own (which I have done and will continue to do) were as reliable. The slings and arrows of domain hosts (I’m fighting this battle right now), shared hosting, cloud computing and startup birth, acquisition and death — and our own changing obsessions and attentions — make for a complicated road if keeping our content visible and accessible ­is the goal.

Many of us blog/post/comment in dozens of places. Over the years, so much goes away. My blogPoster project is an attempt to address this. Just the act of mirroring a Twitter (and now Mastodon) post on a self-hosted site is me saying, “I give you this content, huge web service, but I also keep a copy for myself.” We should all be keeping these copies, and it shouldn’t be so hard to do it. Thanks go to WordPress.com and Automattic for being one company that makes it easy.

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