Locus Online


A concern arises for any website that has a turnover of content. Suppose your site has a page called "news.html" and every day this page is updated with the latest headlines. The page size keeps growing; to avoid taxing the patience of browsers with slow connections, it's wise to keep page length down to a moderate size, which means eventually cycling some of the time-stamped material off onto "archive" pages. But this means moving content one page to another. If a browser or search engine has bookmarked the original page because of certain content, when the page is accessed again, that information might not be there any more. Users of search engines experience this all the time -- you use Alta Vista, say, to search for "Hugo Gernsback", click on one of the matched links, read the page, and there's no Hugo to be found!

One solution is to only create pages whose names incorporate a date, perhaps the week or month. New content appears on a new page with the latest date, and then never moves from that page. The problem with this is that all links within the website -- such as menu bar links along the top of every page, as on the Locus website version 1, or at the bottom of every page, as on this website -- would have to be updated. This is usually impractical. (Though Slate does it, in their bottom of page menu bars. Presumably their operation is highly automated.)

To avoid this problem, one can eliminate most links between pages of a website -- eliminate 'random access' from every page, or at least every section, from every other page or section. You would return to the home page or cover page of the website in order to go anywhere else. This is workable, but it may constrain browsers from easily clicking through your site. (This is what Salon did, until recently. Its redesign added section links to the bottom of every page.

The middle ground is to post new content on pages within each section called "latest", and then to cycle the content off onto date-named pages each week or month. (This is what Science Fiction Weekly does exclusively, with section pages called "current" later cycled into subdirectories designated by "issue" number. The Locus website is more complex because some sections don't update as often as others, while other sections, such as the "About" pages, won't cycle at all--though they may be updated over time.) While it's still possible for a browser or search engine to register a "latest" page for the content on some particular day or week, as the site grows, the proportion of information on these "latest" pages gradually diminishes. The presence of "latest" pages allows random access to the entry pages of each section of the website.