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Essay Status

The idea that essays have statuses has been around since day one, but somehow I never bothered to write any reference material about what the statuses were. The closest I came was in April 2000:

The main one is that I've classified the essays by status: some are complete, some are incomplete, and the rest are structural essays with no content. This classification has been used to make an index of essays by status (mainly useful for finding complete essays) and also to organize the batch details page mentioned above.

As a result, there are a couple of links that point there that really ought to point here.

In addition to the index of essays by status and the batch details pages (e.g., the details for October 2001), essay statuses are now also used in the history block. Actually, in the latter two cases it's not just statuses that are used, it's transitions between statuses! I'd also like to point out the nice breakdown of essays by status from March 2004.

Now, without further ado, here are the statuses.

  • Complete. An essay is complete if I've finished writing it. Most essays are complete.
  • Extended. As I explained in Persistence of Content, once an essay is complete I never go back and change what I've written, but I do sometimes add more material (always with a mark to separate the new from the old). When I do that, I say that the essay has been extended. The essay is still complete, of course, so being extended isn't a status, it's a status transition from complete to complete.
  • Incomplete. An essay is incomplete if I've started work on it but haven't finished. I already talked at length about such essays in Incomplete Essays; the only point I'd like to repeat here is that when an essay is incomplete, the work in progress gets covered up by a standard message about incomplete essays.

    The number of incomplete essays has gone up and down. At first there were quite a few. In November 2006 I got rid of the last one, but then in April 2007 I immediately created a new one, How I Cleaned My Room, that via its subessays persisted until just now. No doubt there will be more incomplete essays again soon.

  • Suppressed. Actually, if I've started work on an essay but haven't finished it, I usually just suppress it so that it's not even visible. That leaves a gap in the essay number sequence, but since there's no way to navigate by number, who cares? If I haven't finished an essay and I can't suppress it because I've already referred to it in a complete essay, that's when it has to show up as incomplete.

    Since suppressed essays aren't supposed to be visible, they don't appear in any of the indices, and in fact I rarely have any reason to talk about them at all. They're just one step above the numerous essays that exist only as notes.

  • Structural. An essay is structural if, as a web page, it doesn't contain anything one might want to read and instead simply helps provide structure to the site. Since an essay one can't read isn't much of an essay, and since the structure involved is a tree structure, I mostly prefer to call such pages nodes rather than essays structural nodes, to be precise.

    When I've talked about structural nodes before (notably in Prose Explanation), I've always really been thinking of categories (with no explanatory text), but actually index pages are structural nodes too. That covers the batch details pages and also a lot of the search pages.


  See Also

  Notes on the History Block

@ August (2010)