Hey Tumblr — I haven’t heard anything back from you loverly folks in over a week.
I’ve been Googling “tumblr backdated posts ordering issue” (or some derivation) for the last few weeks hoping something would arise, but I’m not having much luck. I found a few posts describing post backdating working or not, but nothing along the lines of the pagination ordering issue I’ve been seeing. I figure there’s got to be a few other people experiencing a similar issue, so why not write it up?
As I’m sure my few followers have noticed, I’ve been putting a bit of work into finally filling out my portfolio over the past few weeks. In an effort to keep things simple, I’m just using a tag #portfolio to create that section of my site.
As I was planning the best strategy to overhaul my digital existence, it eventually came down to a WordPress vs. Tumblr scenario. I’ve had a lot of WordPress work experience, so I know how powerful and customizable it can be, but I know it can also be a good amount of work to publish simple posts — especially on the go. And although they’ve got some improved apps, nothing really compares to the simplicity of the Tumblr suite. And let’s be honest, the themes are way sexier. So I thought I’d keep it as simple as possible for as long as viable. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that the easier it is to create the content, the more likely I will be to do it.
I had one requirement that I wasn’t sure Tumblr could fulfill: backdated posts. I needed a way to create an ordered portfolio section. With a bit of poking and experimentation, I found that Tumblr supported this. Whew. And tag pages even support RSS feeds to match, which would be nice if I ever want to display a feed of only portfolio items, like on the next version of MattLeiker.com. The RSS feed even displays the backdated post date correctly.
As I’ve created posts related to the projects I’ve worked on over the last 8 years, I started to notice something was funky with the post ordering between pages. Since I started with cataloging more recent projects and worked my way backward (for the most part), I’ve ended up creating posts for some of my oldest projects last. Yet those newer posts have the oldest (backdated) post dates.
If you look at my portfolio page, you’ll notice that all the posts on the first page are appear to be ordered by date. Glorious. Perfect. Wonderful.
But if you go to the second page of posts with the #portfolio tag and examine the dates, you’ll see that the posts are indeed in chronological order, but they aren’t necessarily older than the posts on the first page.
Here’s what I think is going on:
- Tumblr supports backdated posts. Glorious.
- … but before they started supporting it, I think their system was probably set up to display posts ordered by post ID.
- Post IDs get larger as the post gets newer. I suspect post IDs are probably unique across the entire Tumblr system.
- This is likely what each users’ dashboard uses to order whatever posts are coming in from their “Follow” list. (It would probably be too complicated for the Tumblr servers to order a Dashboard by date — and that would defeat the purpose.) I don’t mind if my backdated posts show up in the Dashboard, but I do expect them to be in order on my site.
- When Tumblr renders a site, I suspect it looks at the list of posts ordered by post ID, grabs the first 15 (or whatever you have it set to display), calls that “Page 1”, then reshuffles them by post date before finally displaying them.
- When you click “page 2”, it grabs the next 15 posts in the system ordered by post ID, and then reshuffles ‘em by post date. Wash, rinse, repeat for each page.
- (Displaying only posts with a particular tag behaves the same way as the main loop.)
So, what can I do? Is this a bug you’re working on Tumblr? Do you ever expect to support this properly? Or do I have to move to WordPress to get true backdated post support?
I’d really like to not have to remake all the posts in a chronological order before backdating them just as a workaround.
And I’d like to recreate some posts from my old blog here on Tumblr — which has to be a manual process since you don’t support much in the way of importing content. All of those posts would need to be backdated. But I don’t dare if it’s going to wreak havoc on anyone attempting to peruse my archives in a normal fashion.