Monthly Archives – What Purpose Do They Serve?

I often see blogs ‘proudly’ displaying their archives by month on their sidebar and am drawn to wonder – why bother? Does anyone ever click on these links to see what someone wrote 10, 11 or 12 months ago? I know I don’t.

In fact, I don’t think I ever have. So what’s the point of them? I mean they must serve a useful purpose, right? Perhaps it’s just me, as I just can’t fathom it.
The whole point of blogs is that they’re about the here and now. I barely have time to keep up with what people have been writing over the last couple of days, and I hardly ever go back and read old posts on someone’s blog unless I arrive there via a search engine.
So why add all this visual clutter to your site when it serves no useful purpose?
On the other hand, most web design blogs have them, so there must be a reason that valuable real estate is being taken up by this ‘useless’ information – no?
I am always especially surprised when I see monthly archives listed on someone’s home page or even listed on an individual entry page.
Surely there is a better use that part of the page can be put to? Serving ads, listing your blogroll, links, recent comments, photos of your family/pet, almost anything, in fact, would be better.
The only reason I can think of as to why people have monthly archive links is to show how long your blog has been around, and thus to show some level of permanence and thus credibility. Maybe that’s sufficient reason – not for me, however.
Until then, I’ll just stick with listing my archives by category and guessing when I wrote my first post.
Footnote: If you insist on listing out your archives, then “Keith’s archive page”: is about as good a design for one as you’re going to find.

One thought to “Monthly Archives – What Purpose Do They Serve?”

  1. Monthly archives come from an earlier era, where blogs were supposed to be journals–an online way of getting to know a person, if you will. Continuity was important: a person should be able to log on, see what’s happening today, and then–if they’re interested–follow the trail back, piece by essential piece, to where the online chronicle began. The idea was that your blog was about personality, about revealing a story.
    That is NOT what blogs have become. Instead, blogs have become places one goes to for articles, links, and other relevant information. Everyone’s bought into the idea that you go to a blog due to interest in a subject, not a person. If the personality behind a blog is famous, it tends to be because he or she is an expert.
    If you buy into the new era of blogs, I could not agree more with the post: date-based archiving is dead.

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