Rogue time travel issue on Boing category posts

@codinghorror I don’t know enough about the underlying structure of Word Press or what may be going on there to be sure this is related and maybe it’s something y’all already noticed. I looked around for a thread on it and didn’t find anything so hopefully I’m not summoning y’all in vain. Sorry in advance if it doesn’t help at all.

On one of the recent time travel threads I noticed that the meta information for the post date matched up with the day the article went live but there’s another line in there:

meta property="article:modified_time" content="2016-08-15T23:51:43+00:00"

Same thing on this one.

meta property="article:modified_time" content="2016-08-15T23:53:58+00:00"

Based on the times, I’m guessing it’s some kind of automated Word Press cleanup function. Maybe whatever y’all are using on the Discourse side can filter out posts from the distant past or posts where the modified time is more than a year past the article:published_time. Course, I don’t know if Discourse is getting the metas at all.

Sorry if this isn’t helpful. :sweat:


Sure @eviltrout can have a look. The detailed info is always helpful.


ens the safe!


I think you are on to something. I’ve also noticed that the posts are usually one year old to the day so I suspect either it’s a process that happens once a year perhaps to clean out old stuff, or something is comparing the wrong dates.

Unfortunately we don’t pass the modified_time across to Discourse.

I do wonder if we can upgrade the plugin to avoid posting really old things. That would involve bringing in someone more familiar with the PHP side of it though.


I’ve mostly seen posts from five and ten years ago exactly, leading me to think this is may be part of the old “This Day in Blogging History” feature that was discontinued back in 2014. Maybe @jlw or @beschizza can look to see if some automatic part of that feature was re-activated recently.


That was never automatic. @doctorow would do each one manually and personally make the picks.


Huh. Color me even more impressed then.


Another thought. I’ve noticed on Cory’s Tumblr that he still highlights posts from five and ten years ago. Is it possible that when he’s browsing through the old posts that he’s inadvertently tripping the modified date?


Highly doubtful.


I think it might be worth looking into. Not every past post that Cory highlights on his Tumblr gets a repeat thread here on the BBS, but quite a few of them do. And looking at the pattern of events the Tumblr post always comes after the repeat BBS thread which would make sense if Cory is placing these old links in his Tumblr queue to post later.

August 25 -
August 21 - <em>Feynman</em>: comic biography of an iconoclastic physicist

August 25 -
August 22 - Exotic debt-trap mortgages about to turn on their owners

August 25 -
August 21 - Dress made from sock-monkeys

August 25 -
August 21 - Ghost town dial-up BBSes still online

August 25 -
August 22 - California to become first state to limit greenhouse emissions

… Jumping back a few weeks, see if the pattern holds …

July 31 -
July 30 - Flowchart shows the complexity of the New Zealand’s Internet Disconnection copyright law

If I’m right, by Tuesday we should see Three-hole punch debut, April 1940 and New Zealand wants a Ministry of DRM show up on Cory’s Tumblr.

Edit: So Cory’s going to be at Burning Man until Sept. 5th. and supposedly off the grid. Another test to my hypothesis - do any repeat threads show up on the BBS during Cory’s absence?


Really excellent detective work sir. Let’s see.


This is caused by editing old pre-Discourse era postings in Wordpress, simply because the UI defaults to having “Post to Discourse” checked. As these old posts never had Discourse threads, they are created by the edits.


Oooh, my estimate was way too high. was just posted at 2:41pm EDT on Saturday August 28th and was posted at 12:06pm EDT.

Now to just keep an eye out for any new WABAC Machine failures here on the BBS.


Interesting. You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack: a collection of Tom Gauld’s brilliant cartoons just repeated here on the BBs despite Cory’s presumed unavailability. Now we watch to see if this post gets featured on his Tumblr in a few days time.

@codinghorror or @sam, I’m woefully uninformed as to how you’ve tied Discourse and Wordpress together, but would it be possible to have some kind of “do not post to Discourse if originally posted prior to date” kind of check?

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I wonder if that would cause problems with intentionally reposting older material. That has been done before.

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Perhaps it could work such that posts prior to the specified date didn’t have “Post to Discourse” checked by default but the box could still be checked if desired.


Not knowing how the 2 are integrated, I have no idea if that’s feasible or if it would disrupt anyone’s workflow.

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Oblig. XKCD


That was a Mark Frauenfelder post though. Does that affect your theory at all?

Not really. Though most of the posts that Cory features in his flashbacks are his, he does include some from other editors. The California greenhouse gas post that showed up on the BBS on August 22nd was originally by Xeni, for instance.

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