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It is amazing how much housekeeping a website can require!

Recently I began a project of updating my website in a few small ways, one of which was adding support for this blog. At the same time I addressed a few code bugs, and added a few features to the CMS (Gecko) with which the site is built. So far, so much normal code-tinkering.

But then I made the mistake of looking at the Site Map — and I was struck by the accumulation of ancient pages, and even categories of pages, that I'd entirely forgotten about. I got sucked into pages about the Battlegrounds card game, pages about old RPG campaigns, pages about Playmobil.

And then, of course, the errors began. I found old bits of code that no longer worked. Pages marked out in obsolete versions of the page templates — lacking my new navigation or editing elements. I found dead links — so many dead links! I found pages that were wrappers around projects that no longer existed. Out of date pages describing things I planned to do with the CMS two decades ago! (Urk!). I've removed a whole bunch of "Pages I like" or "Links" pages where no link worked.

Even this was only the upper reaches of the rabbit-hole. As soon as I started to look at older templates (e.g. the plain template used for Duality v.2.4) and add things that were missing (open-graph properties, facebook comments, font-encoding meta tags), I realised all the other things that none of my templates had: skip navigation links, screen-reader headings, aria-tags, semantic use of heading/nav/main/footer tags, so I had to add those to all the templates, not just the old ones — and if I am doing that, I reasoned, then why not turn the breadcrumbs into ULs, and the floating divs into ASIDEs and ... and ...

Somewhere along the way I found myself adding Bootstrap for the css (and coping with undoing the bits of Bootstrap's Reset that I don't like), and then the js on some pages (for image carousels), and then more js (to implement new admin-mode editors), and soon I was tinkering with the back-end as well as the front end ...

All this for housekeeping!

Which made me think about the role of Webmaster. Back when I first started to work in web design/development the Webmaster was a monolithic entity, the person responsible for design, coding, content, and maintenance. Over the years I've seen that role fragment to the point that it no longer exists. We have web-app developers, content editors, system administrators, API designers, DBAs, all working together to maintain big complex web-based systems. But that also means that we don't have someone whose daily job is "webmastering", looking for broken links, checking for dead pages, making sure that there aren't icons from the old colour scheme lurking around, and so on.

Or maybe that's just where I work.