Tuesday, October 28, 2008

CS Blog post dates and links

I have been working on another Community Server installation for a client concerned with SEO (more on lessons here later). Duplicate urls are one of the major issues we have tried to elimate in his site. CS publishes lots of urls for the same content, and in particular will display blog post urls that are date based where the date is dependent on the publishing user's time zone or the server time. These probably don't cross over too often, but we needed to eliminate different date-based urls.

Here are the things I learned about CS blog urls while investigating how to change this behavior:

1. During post creation two dates are stored – the server date/time as PostDate and the user’s date/time as UserTime.

2. When posts are retrieved as IndexPost through the SearchBarrel (search, tags/topics) the UserTime is set directly from the PostDate field before requesting the url.

3. When posts are retrieved as WeblogPost through the WeblogPosts component (weblog archive lists, googlesitemap) the UserTime is populated from the UserTime property.

4. The BlogUrls provider uses the UserTime property to createthe url. Based on 2 and 3, this could vary depending on execution path.

5. WeblogPost picks up a third property called CurrentUserTime which is a manipulation of the PostDate to the viewing user’s timezone and is dynamic. This property does not appear to be used anywhere in the SDK.

6. Any object property that is of the type DateTime will be formatted by the default property formatter to be displayed in the current user’s time zone manipulated date and time. In the case of blog post display, this property is supposed to be "PostDate" but actually comes out to be CurrentUserTime because of this property formatting. While this seems like a failure of consistency to me on the part of Telligent, it is not 'dangerous' in terms of SEO because it is simply the text displayed to the user. Changing this behavior would require new IndexPostData and BlogPostData controls to properly override the FormatProperty method and a global replace of their use in the site’s theme files. Not a prohibitive change if required, but probably not necessary.

Our fix here was to create our own BlogUrls provider, override the Post(WeblogPost, Weblog) method, and standardize UserTime to PostDate before getting the url from the base provider.
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