I suggest the following:
- Always show the "chat" link.
- Always show the "blog" link (when the SE site has a blog).
- Highlight the blog link instead of putting "new" in front of it when there is a new blog post.
- No more "shifting" GUI parts. (If this were to be a reason for the current design, ironically it does shift now due to the "new" icon.)
- It's always visible whether or not a site has a blog.
- Users aren't surprised. When they use the link once, they can always find it again.
As a side note: the "new" icon in front of the bottom "blog" link doesn't disappear along with the one in the top-bar after clicking on the link.
To prevent any further "but, you can find the link in so many other places"-answers:
It's not an issue whether it's hard to find. The issue is it's inconsistent and confusing. I learned I was able to find it there, and afterwards it's no longer there ... that's the problem.