Producing an Annotated List of Posts from Multiple WordPress Blogs

I had numerous posts in several WordPress blogs.  I wanted to develop a single list of all those posts.  Ideally, I would also have an option to add a brief description of each post in the list, or to use other tools to guide me, or other readers, among those posts.  Of course, I wanted to automate these processes to the extent possible.  This post describes my explorations in these regards.

I began with the discovery that WordPress would automatically generate a list of posts in a blog.  All I had to do was to enter the archives shortcode in a blog post or page.  When I edited that Archives page, I would see that word in brackets, as just shown; but when I viewed the Archives page, I would see the full list of posts, dynamically updated whenever I published a new item.

(The archives shortcode was simply the word “archives” surrounded by square brackets (i.e., “[ ]”).  I was not able to show it literally in this post because WordPress would expand it — that is, it would be replaced by the list of my posts, starting right in the middle of this paragraph, or wherever I typed it.  It seemed like there ought to be a way to display it in text, but when I posted a question on that in this WordPress forum, I didn’t get any responses, or at least none in time for this writing.)

Some of my WordPress blogs had only a few posts.  It would be possible to navigate among those posts by using a sidebar widget that would display them all.  In those blogs, no Archives page would be necessary for purposes of providing quick access to all of my posts.  But in the blogs that did have numerous posts, I used the foregoing information to set up an Archives page that would look like the Archives page for the present blog.  There would be an Archives link at the top of each blog post, like this one.  That link would provide one fast way to move among my posts.

Once I had all my Archives pages created, there was the question of what to do with them.  One possibility was to just construct a summary page that would provide links to each blog’s Archives page, like this:

Blog No. 1 Archives Page Link
Blog No. 2 Archives Page Link
Blog No. 3 Archives Page Link

That approach had two deficits, in terms of what I had originally set out to do:  there were no annotations, and anyway I would have to go dashing around to various blogs, following these several page links, to see what their archives lists contained.  This approach would provide some convenience, but it would not give me a single annotated list of posts.

Now, truth be told, I was no longer entirely sure that I wanted an annotated list of posts.  Because along the way, in getting to this point, I had used the display-posts shortcode to cook up an annotated list of posts in my ideas blog, divided by categories, and it was really long.  It seemed like a potentially useful alternative to that blog’s simple list of all posts, but I rather doubted that I would use an annotated list of posts often, especially if it included hundreds upon hundreds of posts, and especially if those posts were not first broken out into categories.

So for the time being, I decided that all I really needed was a simple list of posts.  I would rely upon blog titles to tell me what they were about.  Or if I wanted something a bit meatier than that, maybe I would see if there was a way, in WordPress, to automate the manual production of a list of posts with tags:  that was what I wound up doing to create an Archives list for my old Blogger blog.

The remaining unknown, from the original mission here, was whether I could and should try to combine all of the lists of posts from multiple blogs into a single master list somewhere.  I’m sure that, for a skilled programmer, this would not have been a big deal, but I myself was not too sure how to go about it, using a lay person’s tools.  It seemed that I might need to see if there was a way to embed one webpage or blog post inside another.  It was possible to embed YouTube videos and pictures, of course, but I couldn’t immediately recall seeing any webpages that embedded text from other pages.

I knew I could generate the various blogs’ archives pages automatically, using the archives shortcode, and I figured I could probably copy the results of those archives paged and manually insert them all into a single mass list of blog posts.  But I didn’t know of any way to produce a dynamically updated combined (i.e., meta) list.  So I posted a question on that and waited.

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