Automation is all well and good, provided it's coupled with control. At this point this entry could go into a discussion of I, Robot; it's not going to.
To paraphrase something Andrei once said, “one of the things that had bugged me about Mooquackwooftweetmeow was the fact that as I wrote new articles, they always appeared as the lead story. I had no good way of adding new content without distracting from what I wanted to be the prominent entry, which was always the last thing I'd written. Maybe this is how weblogs are supposed to work, but I view Mooquackwooftweetmeow more as a publishing platform for myself than a weblog. I needed to break this model.” Hence the new “Featured Entry” item on the front page. Actually this addition was inspired by Andrei's change (which he later repealed), but my solution is a little less all-out.
Originally I'd intended to include the entire Featured Entry on the front page, but I ran into a problem with the Related Links list. It would be too complicated to display the Related list if either the Latest or the Featured entry had related links and if the Featured entry had related links include them and if the Latest entry had related links include them, but if neither had related links show the Perpetual Links list instead.
So I decided to display just the first paragraph of the Featured Entry on the front page. Then there wouldn't be the need to present the Featured Entry's related links, because there would be no pretense of displaying everything about the entry. A good side-effect of this is that it prevents the Featured Entry from completely obscuring the Latest Entry.
The Featured Entry is also added to the top of the Atom feed if it's not already present as a recent entry.
The key thing is that the Featured Entry is optional - I can simply empty the
<featuredentry/> element in The Big, Bad Source File (which otherwise contains the Featured Entry's
id) and the Featured Entry will simply disappear from the front page. No maintenance is required - fully automatic control.