Moving and merging blogs the smart way

In supporting the Jisc involve service (on which Netskills Voices is hosted) I deal with lots of enquiries from users. Last week I was given an interesting challenge – to merge two well-established Jisc blogs into one without annoying readers and losing subscribers. This post explains how we went about doing this.

The blogs in question were both run by the Jisc e-Learning programme. For the purposes of shorthand, lets call them blog 1 and blog 2. The aim was to get everything on blog 2 onto blog 1.

The move involved the following steps:

  1. Write a post on blog 2 explaining the imminent move to blog 1
  2. Export content from blog 2 (posts, comments, users, media…)
  3. Import blog 2 content into blog 1 (posts, comments, users, media…)
  4. Reassign posts to a new admin/role account
  5. Adjust user roles and permissions
  6. Change blog 2 (RSS) feed address in feedburner to point to the blog 1 feed
  7. Setup Apache 301 redirects (to redirect ..site2/post to ..site1/post)
  8. Archive blog 2 (as no longer available)

That took just over 3 days from first request to completion, which I’m pretty happy with and I hope the site owners were too.

Still here? Key lessons I drew from this were.

Tell your readers. Give them fair warning and a chance to take action before you do.

Feedburn your feeds. This makes it easier to move sites without impacting on people who are subscribed to your site feeds. By changing the feedburner URL to site1, users subscibed to site2 will see new posts (on site1) in their feeds. It also gives you feed stats, subscribe by email and other useful features.

Open rules. Being open, WordPress has good interoperability that makes moving content from one site (WordPress or other system) easy. There are lots of plugins to help with this as well as with redirects if you don’t have direct access to Apache to set these up.

Backup and Test. I was pretty nervous about doing this for real. That’s despite having tested it locally – twice – and the entire service being protected from my stupidity by a rigorous backup policy. If you’re going to do something like this, please make sure you have tested and backed things up, just in case.

So, if you want to know what Jisc is doing with e-learning, from now on you can read all about it in just the one place –

When 2 become 1

While we can’t claim this work was the inspiration for David Kernohan of the Jisc e-Learning team to make this beautiful Hendrix vs Spice Girls version of “2 become 1”, it was on my playlist while doing it and this seems like a good excuse to share it!

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