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New Look Coming Soon to Uncommon Descent

Tomorrow (Sunday), I will be implementing a new look to the Uncommon Descent website.  This will not be an instantaneous process, so there may be a period of time when the site appearance is incomplete.  We appreciate your patience in this process.

In addition to the new look, there will also be some new features that we hope you will like.  Comments will be threaded, so you will no longer need to refer to comment numbers when posting replies.  Your comments and feedback on the changes will be welcome.

On another note, Uncommon Descent has had 5 successive record months in terms of traffic.  We appreciate all the hard work of the authors who have been producing excellent content, and most of all, the 100′s of thousands of readers who visit every month.

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128 Responses to New Look Coming Soon to Uncommon Descent

  1. 1

    Hey Jack,

    Thanks for the warning. No, seriously, I think it’s time for UD to have a new look and new features.

  2. Looks terrific so far. Great job…

  3. JC:

    Interesting tryout.

    Could you soften the background colour, though?

    Generally a moderate teal or some other greyish blue-green is much easier on the eyes.

    White is rather harsh for a screen.

    Thanks

    GEM of TKI

    PS: Kindly label the preview as such, I just caught myself trying to type in it.

  4. F/N: Pardon, I have long had experience of dealing with sites where comments are not numbered. The experience is that numbers are far more helpful to make reference, especially when there are long threads,a s is common at UD. If you can do the threading and give as well numbering? Is that possible?

  5. Pardon another small point: I much prefer if the title to a blog post is hot-linked to the post URL, too. Of course that is not always possible.

  6. 6

    KF,

    Agreed on all points – especially about the background color. This new look is going to take some getting used to, but I think we’ll all be fine in time. I understand that this may not be the finished product, so extra patience will have to be our practice for a while.

    Things I like so far – recent comments are tied to the actual OPs, so we know exactly where they are contained. The “home” link is a little more accessible.

  7. KF, thanks for the suggestions. I made a change to the background color.

  8. I can see where that would be useful to have. I’ll see what I can do.

  9. I second KF’s suggestion for a more subtle background colour; and comment numbering.

    I would also just like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contribute to, and maintain this site.
    Intelligent Design is a relatively new field of study for myself and this site has become an invaluable source of news and infomation; with the subsequent debates in the Comments section provding for some enlightening reading.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. With this new reply feature, which I am now using, I don’t see how the numbering would work. I can jump into any post and reply within the thread rather than simply at the bottom; so numbering will only work on posts that are not a reply to another. Unless of course you use a numbering/lettering scheme where each reply to a numbered post receives a letter instead of a number. For example, this post by KF would be numbered “4,” and this reply by me would be numbered “4A.” Can it work that way?

  11. Helps! I’d prefer a bit more of the green in it [I love Caribbean beaches . . . ], but we can live with this. Are you able to give say a dotted numbering scheme to comments, like 7.1 then 7.1.1?

  12. Sorry, Jack’s would be 4a, mine would be 4b, etc…

  13. CY: Main comment 7, sub comment 7.1, sub-sub comments 7.1.1 and 7.1.2 etc would be the logical way to go. Dunno if that is done out there? G

    –> Even if just the main comments were numbered that would help a lot.

  14. Actually I think that would work better than what I suggested.

  15. Yup, change always calls for adjustments, and there will always be something lost. I am hoping we will be able to have specific references to comments. Citing date-time is not much help.

  16. Great

  17. Yeah the sub numbering works better due to the fact that you will eventually run out of letters. Numbers are….well, technically infinite.

  18. A tad more blue? A neturalish, greyish blue-green teal is I think the ideal colour — think washed out Caribbean coral sand beach surf. Hard to catch, but when you do, it just seems right.

  19. Okay, softened a tad, helps.

  20. For reference as we tweak things, here is what the original re-design looked like.

    http://beta.uncommondescent.com/beta/

    That way we can compare/contrast.

  21. Great look so far.

  22. JC

    Hope you don’t mind a bit more.

    Just suggesting . . .

    I think we need a tad darker background, still. Just on the wrong side of glare-y to my eyes. (And you know I have said a bit more blue in the blue-green, i.e a tad of blue gray would help. But that’s me.)

    Also could we have a border between the main LH col and the RH one, much like ENV, maybe in the shade of the far left band? Same where the footer comes in?

    Some text sizing too, maybe the Home line could go down a bit, and the RH col too? Widgets at the foot as well?

    I would like for the header top page to link hot to home and for the headlines in a post to be hot for the post — helps to make sure you link there.

    Of course just ideas, I can live with what we got.

    G

  23. The new ability to reply directly to another comment is a nice feature — with a horrible side-effect that destroys its niceness: in a large thread, new comments will be list.

  24. You mean “last?” Isn’t that how it’s always been?

    Another new feature is page numbering for longer threads, so the most recent posts in a thread will be on the last page; so if you want to move quickly through a thread simply click on a page number. I can see how this might be more beneficial for those with slower browsers, but also for those who detest cursoring down a long thread.

  25. I think this new look is TERRIBLE. UD had the best most simple and functional design of any blog I had ever seen. I loved the way it was before…

    I dont even see a place on the home page where the recent comments are listed…

    I am not trying to be mean or harsh but the new look is aweful to me. I already miss the original template.

    If this change was done to “attact more interest” I dont think that will work. People come to UD for the substance not the look of the site. However, the way it was before I thought was near ideal.

  26. I stand corrected on the recent comments point- did find the recent comments section at the bottom of the page.

  27. Is there an example site that has the color you have in mind?

  28. Jack,

    I did notice an anomaly. Some posts have no reply button at the bottom. Also, I just finished writing a rather long post that didn’t actually get posted, and I’m not in moderation as far as I know. I will have to practice copying my posts before submitting so they’re not entirely lost.

  29. I like the look and colour scheme of the site compared to the old one.

    One question, can someone clarify what happens if I use the reply button on a post in the middle of a thread? Will my reply be inserted at that point in the thread rather than at the end?

    If that is the case I think there will be a lot of overlooked posts. How often do people scroll back all the way through long threads, instead of just going straight to the end to see if there are any new posts?

    Maybe I am misunderstanding the feature?

    fG

  30. I think we will rely a lot more on the “recent posts” section at the bottom of the page. But as you can see by my reply, it appears directly below your post. Subsequent replies will appear directly below my reply and so forth. Replies will be aligned in a stepwise fashion from the left edge of the post, such that you can tell what is a direct reply to your post, and what is a direct reply to a reply to your post. Make sense?

  31. Jack,

    I don’t know offhand, sorry.

    [Right now my most frequent use of that is as the background colour in my The Word freebie Bible Study software, which looks very good with the Grey-silver with light red-brown stripes Leopard livery and the sort of ice-greeny-blue a couple of shades off white. And I used a colour picker to get it by hand, then saved as a configuration.]

    This degree of v light greyness is okayish, a tad of blue-green on it would pick it up.

    I have been to http://html-color-codes.info/

    Look at colours: #E0F8EC or #E0F8F1 there or my pick- by- eye colour, converted into hexadeximal codes for use in a bgcolor = “value” statement:

    #EDFDEA

    I don’t know if that would help?

    Another possibility is to do a background image with a texture and tile it. But that can be messy if it’s not done right. [My favourite was a modified scanned image of cowhide, used to create a sense of a subtle coarse paper texture.]

    But that can be a bandwidth hog for a high traffic site. The bgcolor statement is a few hex characters.

    Does this help?

    GEM of TKI

  32. H’mm does the sub-subbing of replies stop after about 3 levels?

  33. Can you point out the page? Let’s hope that losing your comment was just a temporary server glitch. If it happens again, let me know.

  34. I’m a nobody around here, so my opinion probably doesn’t matter, but I much preferred the old look. It was far more slick and organized, with a better color scheme, in my opinion.

    Also, I agree with llion regarding the new comment layout. Making new comments much harder to locate is more of a negative than threaded discussions is a positive.

  35. Jack:

    I see you are hard at work!

    Tough job.

    G

  36. lost, methinks.

  37. J

    You aren’t a nobody to me!

    The issue you raise is indeed a serious one as threads could break up into clusters of sub-conversations that would be in the end hard to follow.

    Especially for long threads.

    So, maybe we need to weigh in on this question.

    Somewhere there will need to be a balance struck — maybe, there is a possibility of choosing the display format for comments, chronological or threaded? [I think I have seen that somewhere, sometime.]

    We do need to work together as a community to get the balance right.

    Which is why this thread is there — BTW JC, is this your first UD post?

    GEM of TKI

  38. I agree with Ilion about the direct replies. If new comments are scattered all over the place within a thread I know I will miss many of them. Under the old scheme it was easy enough to read say 50 comments deep, be away all day and come back and pick up right where you left off.

    In my opinion a “quote” button is a better way to reply to a post.

  39. Yes, it’s on this page:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ane-craig/

    Comment by Elizabeth Liddle at 10:01am. No reply button.

  40. That would be Pacific time if the times show up according to location of the poster.

  41. I’ve been on forums with quote buttons and the problem with them is that they quote the entire post, making the threads tremendously large with repeated information and little new information – seriously, they’re like (forgive me for this) “Junk DNA.” I don’t think that would work well with this blog. It might be better if we had an ability to block quote certain sections of a post simply by highlighting that section, without having to use html tags. Maybe that’s what you mean? If so, I’m all for it.

  42. Another problem I foresee in relation to this is with the stepwise format of the individual threads. As more people reply to replies and so forth the posts become narrower and narrower, leaving much to be desired as far as readability.

  43. Yeah that quote stuff is awful. I’ve seen 2 pages of quotes with sub-boxes and 10 colors followed by a smiley face.

  44. CY, yes I mean the block quoting of relevant section(s), and the new posts appear at the end of the thread. On another site that’s how I use the quote button, but I take your point about those who abuse it to quote long posts when they are replying only to a certain part.

  45. Strictly speaking about the new colors of the site, they don’t go together at all.

    If you’re going to go with a pistachio-esq color for your text background (which I think is a mistake), neutral gray is not what you want on either side of it. Choosing a more monochromatic or complimentary color would look much better, imo.

    The old color scheme made sense, keeping a more monochromatic relationship through out.

    I also liked the fonts and text setup from the old site, condensed and bold. I should also note that the text on the render at the top looks very “little kid-ish” to me, like comic-sans or something.

    Personally, I think the old color scheme and text should have been kept, just change the formate.

  46. I wrote a short post that didn’t get posted — when I’d used the backspace key, it vanished. I’m pretty sure that what happened is that before I’d tried to use the delete key I’d move the focus from the comm-box itself to the preview box.

  47. Per discussion above, I have been able to add a comment numbering scheme.

  48. yes, I meant to type “lost” (“i” and “o” are neighbors, after all, and I sometimes don’t notice that I’ve confused their addresses).

  49. One question, can someone clarify what happens if I use the reply button on a post in the middle of a thread? Will my reply be inserted at that point in the thread rather than at the end?

    Yes, at that point, rather than at the bottom of the thread … which is what I meant about it getting “lost”.

  50. I think we will rely a lot more on the “recent posts” section at the bottom of the page.

    That may help someone who “camps-out” on the site, but not those who do not.

  51. Thanks Scruffy. We’ll forgo the greenish color for now, because there was a bit of a clash of colors. In the mean time I’ll experiment with different colors on our testing site.

    I agree with your sentiments about the text in the header. I have altered it now and took away the fading borders. I’ll take your suggestion about the general fonts under consideration.

  52. I know I dont always agree with the content, but the new look is very smart. Good job guys.

  53. Jack Cole, I don’t know if you have, but is you haven’t could you add Creation-Evolution Headlines to the news feed? Here is the address:

    http://crev.info/

  54. See you went grey and chose the dotted numbers. Okay.

    I would love a view comments by chronology option.

  55. JC:

    Pardon a further thought.

    If there could be a smart comment WYSIWYG feature, that might help comments: B, I, blockquote, link I am thinking.

    But I know that may be a headache, certainly it is for Wikis.

    GEM of TKI

  56. We’ll forgo the greenish color for now, because there was a bit of a clash of colors.
    Thank you. The goal should be ease of readability, not “eye candy”.

  57. Colour scheme: Try a dark teal, a sort of grey-blue.

  58. I mean as a dark contrast colour.

  59. I think this feature will be detrimental to the discourse on this site. Responses will get lost upthread, people will be disheartened that nobody notices their input, and may conclude not to bother anymore once a thread gets a bit older and longer.

    I think it would be much better to just append new posts at the end of the thread, as before, and maybe include in the header of the new post the number of the post one replied to, if possible.

    fG

  60. 60

    My two cents… Having new comments appear up in the thread is a mistake. I hate to see it turn out that way. Also, expand the number of recent comments being previewed. It provides good access to ongoing active conversation, and a larger number means that comments in slower conversations are “advertised” for a longer period, giving them a chance to gain traction.

  61. I agree but I’ve also seen forums where you can easily highlight the part you want to quote.
    For that matter, I have not been able to figure out how to quote parts of text here. The key makes no sense to me and I tried and tried to get it to work.

  62. Hmm…I just posted a comment and it says it is awaiting moderation. Does that mean I am now in moderation? I have been posting here for years! (On and off.) Is it the policy to give a warning? I just updated my email…

    Anyway, I was just on a thread and I wanted to reply to a particular person, but I did not. I went to the end instead because the post I was responding to was made yesterday, and I can’t imagine she would go back and find it.

    So, I am weighing in against having that reply feature, even though it clarifies things in one way, it will do as faded glory says, and discourage people from engaging because their responses will get missed.

    I am also curious if this forum has a feature that I really value – to search for my own recent posts, so I can find responses which I might otherwise forget where to look.

  63. That’s because I have it set to only go 5 levels deep with threading.

  64. 64

    Geez, I hope ya’ll loose this format that places new posts up in the thread.

  65. 65

    Unless you click on a new comment from the preview pane (which will take you to it whereever its placed in the thread) then you are left to go through the entire thread to see if anything new has been added.

    C’mon. Think it through.

  66. Yeah I didn’t quite know which way to go on it but I think Upright has decided this for me. I’d like to see the old way again. I’d also like to engage in a little mystical philosophy, mystical in the sense that I believe I have direct knowledge of a fundamental law but I can’t communicate why it’s so. And that this law applies to a few aspects of the blog, compared to how it used to be, which I’m not going to go into.
    And the idea is that when you try to reach people they’ll walk away. The blog is moving more towards reaching people and away from a philosophical place. But when you forget about reaching people, and concentrate on the quality of your argument, intelligent critics will show up and there’ll be insights and long threads, and harmonious logic and actions will flow out from here into society, stabilizing it. I don’t know how to apply this, or what to change exactly, but a change has taken place from the last time I was here a couple years ago. I don’t think a whole lot has changed, so it’s not something that has to be paid attention to maybe, but it’s worth a comment. Also the blog goes through a cycle of action to not a lot of action so maybe I’m overreacting. I’d rather see the site stats go down and the quality go up.

  67. Upright,

    The new format has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It’s an issue of optimism. With the new format it makes responding to a particular post more convenient as I’m doing here in this reply to yours. You can’t have that advantage without giving up other conveniences. If you can think of a way, please do.

    I actually think this new format opens up the discussion, because we can reply to someone a lot quicker, and we can see their responses directly below our own posts. It does present problems with following the debate, and I’ve noticed some of the same problems you have when I’ve tried to follow (and find) certain posts, but I think that issue will be minimized once you get used the format.

  68. 68
    material.infantacy

    I’ll go with some other commenters and suggest that the threaded approach should probably go away; but at least one commenter suggested a reply should behave as a “quote” button, but I’ll add a caveat.

    Instead of the threaded comments, offer links at the end of a comment that direct the reader to “replies.” The replies would still appear in order of posting, but a thread could be followed by following the links. This would allow both convenient browsing of “most recent comments per thread” along with a threading-type behavior by linking to replies instead of embedding them.

    As to recent comments on the main page. Yes indeed, recent comments should be expanded (and excerpted). Since this now appears at the footer of the main page, there’s no reason not to include 10 or 20 recent comments with excerpts, since it won’t otherwise upset the flow of the page.

    Another suggestion (and a good one if I do say so myself). On the main page, under each article heading, display the most recent comments for that thread, spanned along the heading width, color coded according to activity.

    For example:

    [article heading and text excerpt 1]
    |red|orange|yellow|green|cyan|blue|

    [article heading and text excerpt 2]
    |red|orange|yellow|green|cyan|blue|

    [article heading and text excerpt 3]
    |red|orange|yellow|green|cyan|blue|

    Each color would indicate comments added within a span of time: red – within 1 hour; orange – within 2 hours — etc.

    This way a viewer could glance at the main page and see hot topics by most recent comments. If this isn’t clear I’ll provide a better example.

    Jack, your efforts to make the site more accessible is appreciated. It’s definitely not possible to please everyone, so if you’d just focus on pleasing me, we could do some wonders here. xp

    m.i.

    p.s. I noticed that comment paging is working, and I think it’s a tremendous enhancement, especially considering it will take a huge load off of the server.

  69. I’m with Upright. Plus, why can’t these boxes be like a text editor where I can bold or italicize something from my keyboard without having to use these HTML tags and attributes?

  70. Plus, for those of us who can only check in every now and then, it would be a great thing if more then the last 5 recent comments were posted.

  71. 71

    CY don’t get me wrong, I am Mr Optimistic.

    I agree that there are both advantages and disadvantages. If the threaded form stays, then there should be a vast increase in the number of previewed comments – by a significant number. That is a real estate issue, but others have solved it, and so should UD. IMO

  72. I think I meant “optimal.” We can’t have the optimal format without some compromises. I don’t think this format is yet optimal, but I think it’s closer than the last format. There may be other ways of fixing it so that all are satisfied.

  73. You have some of the best suggestions I’ve seen here. I personally like the threaded discussion format, but you’ve shown a way of compromising with those who don’t that could make us all either happy or miserable. :) Thanks.

  74. Yeah. I like the idea of text boxes.

  75. 75
    material.infantacy

    Ooh CY, you’re going to give me a big head! xp. Thanks.

    I don’t mind the threaded comments so much except they have an apparent limitation: they can only be nested so many times, at least with indenting (otherwise, a sizable enough “recent comments” box might do the trick.). Embedded links to replies wouldn’t suffer such a limitation, along with the added benefit of maintaining comment order.

    As for the rest of it, I have some other ideas, but I don’t want to overwhelm Jack, nor step on his toes. Already I think the site will see some benefits with the changes, especially considering that paged comments should dramatically decrease strain on the server, meaning less down time and faster page loads!

    Thanks again.

  76. 76
    material.infantacy

    Jack, the “Recent Comments” section on the right-side pane is looking fantastic!

  77. Hi all,

    There seemed to be consensus on expanding recent comments. I removed the text excerpt from ID news from around the web and put recent comments by thread in the sidebar on the home page.

    With regard to threaded comments we have to consider two important factors. The first is what works best for frequent commenters and the second is what is more easily followed by someone who occasionally stops by for reading posts (perhaps once daily). I think a vast majority of our readers fall into the second group, and they’ll not want to take the time to scroll up and down the page following comment # references. They can more quickly determine comment threads that may be more interesting based on the number of responses.

    At the same time, I want our current frequent commenters to be happy with the layout as well, as this is something that UD thrives on. I want to keep working with you to get the best setup for everyone. I think m.i has some interesting ideas that I’ll have to give some consideration to. Being on vacation from my “real job” this week has given me more time than usual to give UD a lot of attention. Unfortunately, it may be a few weeks before I have a good block of time again. TBA.

    Regards,
    Jack

  78. 78
    material.infantacy

    ^^That will likely assuage some of the concerns expressed here.

  79. 79
    material.infantacy

    Nice work there, Jack. Your recent comments solution is quite a good approach. Thanks!

  80. I like the colour level, now just a tad more green and it will be perfect :-)

  81. My thought on threading is can you give alternative views of the thread [timeline view and nested thread view], with a user able to set his preferred view and/or toggle?

  82. Also, if we can have the headers for threads hot with the thread URL that would be most convenient.

  83. Random jottings:

    Great work in progress!

    I had to do some thread searching today, for a lost comment, so if there is a view all option that does load the whole of a thread, that too would help — not as default, to save bandwidth. (I think Sphinx and Google provide site search options?)

    In that context, it would help to have a more powerful search feature, and if there could be a way to list all comments or posts by a user in chrono order, that would help.

    This is getting wishlist-y.

    While I am at it, I would like to be able to access the glossary, still.

    I have almost given up on suggesting FOREWORD as the preferred and less controversial spelling for that part of the Weak Argument Correctives — and it is not really a FAQ!

    For that I have suggested we link FAQs out there, IDEA’s is very nice.

    I’d love a link to a great ID 101 survey.

    How can I forget, we need to highlight the ID definition somewhere [and I think at the head of that page it should cross link to other definitions and the NWE page on ID]. One of the big headaches is that the very definition of ID is being routinely distorted, willfully so, so that should be highlighted.

    GEM of TKI

  84. Jack:

    I have become fond of the newsfeed, maybe the format in the old form? [I'd love a news ticker at the top of the blog but I don't even know if these are available. Could it maybe run off a Twitter or Facebook news aggregator that cross links here? No expert here . . . ]

    Actually I kind of liked the old RH where we saw recent posts, recent comments, daily popular and all time popular. 10 each of the first two with “more,” and the top five and more for the latter two would be great, I think.

    BTW, could the video showed change from one load to the next — or is that too much?

    The dead space was the far RH column, and I think some of the reference sites were deadish — too static for that strategic space — too. Maybe the top 7 or so quick refs and a “MORE” link that takes you to the expanded references page with key related sites and blogs high up on the page?

    Are these helpful?

    GEM of TKI

  85. Suggestions on feed for news here.

  86. I think the solution is to have a toggle to go between threaded view and chronological view. Both have uses.

  87. Ooookay:

    Spotted where I missed some features, like the newsfeed.

    I like the new listing in the recent comments. Though I still think we need to have the toggle on thread views.

    Also, I would like to see the RH col when I go to a thread.

    GEM of TKI

  88. 88

    The expanded recent comments in the right nav is good, and load time is much better after breaking up the comments. The adsense blocks are tricky. You had one above the fold under the title the other day and that will increase ctr but the tradeoff is user experience. I would try to keep at least one ad above the fold. also try blending the text color with the url color in the ads. right now it is green/black. The blue is good for the ad link.

  89. KF, responses below.

    Actually I kind of liked the old RH where we saw recent posts, recent comments, daily popular and all time popular. 10 each of the first two with “more,” and the top five and more for the latter two would be great, I think.

    I’m trying to keep the load down on the server a little to avoid needing to upgrade again. Daily popular is still there, and all time popular is in the footer. I might be able to fit all time popular in the RH if I reduce the number of recent comments.

    BTW, could the video showed change from one load to the next — or is that too much?

    It changes. But we only have 2 vids in the queue. Need to add more.

    The dead space was the far RH column, and I think some of the reference sites were deadish — too static for that strategic space — too. Maybe the top 7 or so quick refs and a “MORE” link that takes you to the expanded references page with key related sites and blogs high up on the page?

    I put these in the resources page because they were used infrequently by visitors.

  90. That will be a down the road thing if I find some spare time to do the programming. Sorry, no time to do it now.

  91. kf,

    We did have a google site search before. I haven’t implemented it with the new design yet. I’ll get to it at some point.

    Foreward is spelled just that way in the FRBWA. I changed that a long time ago. Unless you are talking about something else?

    I agree on the searching ideas.

    Thanks for the note on the glossary. I added it to the top menu. The IDEA FAQ could be added to the resources page, or even a link at the top of our FRBWA. I know it’s not an FAQ, but had to fit it in the menu somehow! :)

  92. Good point on the ad coloring. I’ll put that on my list. I do have one above the fold right above the 4 featured articles in the middle. Is that the one you are talking about? It may not have shown up temporarily because I was mucking around with it. :)

  93. 93
    material.infantacy

    Nice use of Ajax on the Recent Comments pane. However it could stand to display an “Ajax busy” animated icon after the “Older” link is pressed, if only to avoid confusion.

  94. 94
    material.infantacy

    I’ll take this opportunity to point out that the acronym FAQ is often not entirely appropriate for a given context, but on the flip side, everyone knows what it means.

    Trying to use more appropriate nomenclature is likely to result in confusion. Frequently Asked Questions is ubiquitously recognized, proper web terminology (not trying to start a terminology holy war).

    Just my 2 cents; and in this economy, not worth what it used to be.

  95. I know. Just wasn’t sure how to reference it more appropriately in the space we had to work with.

  96. Yes, it is a tad on the confusing side. Will check into it.

  97. 97
    material.infantacy

    I’m all for plain old, FAQ, as that three letter sequence is entirely recognizable by practically everyone, but I’m not trying to make a fuss. xp

  98. 98
    material.infantacy

    Aha! That’s what it is right now! =D My…reading…comprehension…low…must…try…harder…

  99. Something else that would be nice (isn’t there always something else?) is a search feature that would allow us to find posts we have made. Maybe ordered from newest to oldest. I know that sometimes I make a post, forget to bookmark it, can’t remember the thread name, and then can’t find the post. Or maybe I want to look up something by KF, SB, BA, UB or many others. This would be sweet. Thanks for all the hard work. Is this site running on SharePoint?

  100. 100
    material.infantacy

    Good call, I like it: a list of all threads one has commented on, perhaps listed in the dashboard.

    If we’re diligent, we can make sure none of Jack’s vacation time goes to waste. xp

  101. The tag cloud (or something in that direction) that Perry Marshall has on his Cosmicfingerprints Blog site would be a fantastic addition. I dont know how much bandwidth is needed for it or if it proprietary. Another idea is animating the BF header (and possibly linking something to it).

    I think interactive, mobile elements (which dovetails nicely with we see in the workings of the cell) are key additions needed. Tie the two in together. That would show commitment to and application of what ID is all about.

    Regards, Steve Proulx

  102. Understood.

  103. Jack: ForeWORD — pardon, note the emphasis — is more conventional, and less controversial, and I am speaking of the same frequently raised but weak arguments responses.

  104. JC:

    I do indeed suggest that the IDEA FAQ be listed as a sort of header redirect on precisely the WAC page. (That way the person looking for a heads up can go there, and the one needing to deal with common but weak objections can continue here. [I would also add a link to the glossary page.])

    Great to see the definition and the glossary at the top.

    That in turn brings up another headache — oh boy I am sorry for you.

    I am thinking that some of the headlines are disproportionately large, and could come down in size. In the case of the string of in-site tabs or links at the top (wouldn’t it be nice if that list looked like tabs?) that would probably keep within one line, and if it goes over tabs look nicer.

    BTW, headlines for posts are also disproportionate, and in the home tab, are uneven. Maybe the very top header only?

    (I assume this is the sticky feature in action?)

    Also, I notice that post headers are hot only on home page.

    For various reasons, I would like them hot when we go to the post page too, in addition to having an option on viewing the full thread, and an option to see threaded comments or comments in chronological order. I know this one — unless somebody out there has it as a plug-in — will be a headache to implement if you have to roll your own.

    I also go with those who vote for the comment box having limited WYSIWYG features. But I accept that that may be hard to do.

    Overall, we are getting there and the decision to go live and respond as users have their say is an excellent one.

    Really respect that.

    GEM of TKI

    PS: JM’s recent post on OOL chemistry should be added to the WACs. A real knockout punch, that. I would also look hard at his post on value of probability arguments in the same regard. TGP’s clip on chirality should be worked in too.

  105. Steve, that hot-linkable tag cloud is indeed very nice! (Now you know where PM made his money!)

  106. I hear you on the server load issue!

  107. Easy way would be to say a few words, then clip en bloc. BTW, format headaches on that page with the new format.

  108. Pardon, could I also suggest that the headers for the subsections in the RH col have a standout background colour much like the old format? Maybe even just the white space like in-thread comments?

  109. 109

    Ok i see it. That is the spot you want it. the larger 360 blocks generate higher ctr, but then the 360′s in that spot can look a little spammy.

    The new menu options look good too.

  110. “That’s because I have it set to only go 5 levels deep with threading.”

    Ah. I see. Yes, that resolves the problem of a continued narrowing of the comment block, but it does present a problem with a person’s desire to respond directly to a post that is at the 5th level, and for the person who posted at that level to be aware that there is further comment when a responder resolves to reply elsewhere as I have done here.

  111. If that can be done, I think it approaches what I mean by optimal. Doesn’t Facebook offer a feature like that?

    Another thing is, YouTube places the most recent comments at the top rather than the bottom, and you can reply directly to a comment while it is still placed at the top. The way they do it is that the responder and the respondent are identified in the comment.

    I really don’t like YouTube’s format other than that particular feature.

  112. re Jack’s vacation time… :-) what are friends for??

  113. Does it have to be a cloud? How about a tag flagellum?

  114. Can I suggest something?

    If you want a site that thrives on discussions between the visitors, don’t use this blog software – use some kind of Bulletin Board software instead. They have much better functionality to manage and keep track of many separate active threads of comments and counter-comments.

    If you use blog software, I think you really want to clearly assign the value of the site in people reading the OP’s rather than in the ensuing prolonged discussions that very often wander widely from the topic of the OP. If blogging is what you’re after, you should consider limiting the follow-on discussions in some way. They distract from the core purpose of people reading the OP, the software annoys people because the discussions become intractable, and in general the long threads suggest to people that this is a discussion board when in fact it is a blog.

    BB software doesn’t mean you relinquish control – you can still limit thread opening privileges, control who can post and who can’t, and moderate to your heart’s content. It is just so much more user friendly for the community of commenters than this confused maze we are having right now.

    fG

  115. The Watt’s Up With That? blog has a nice feature where people can submit stories to be considered for future blog posts, or even write their own blog entries that can be approved, and posted, by the blog admins.

    It’d be a nice feature for U.D., in my opinion; a nice way to make the site more interactive and spur on new, interesting discussions.

    Here’s the link to the feature for anyone interested in checking it out.

  116. 116
    material.infantacy

    That’s clever, KF. I still like plain FAQ myself (for its universality) but I could hardly be disappointed with your inventive approach.

  117. Why was the site redesigned in the first place? Was it based on new requirements, or just a general feeling that a “refresh” was in order?

    I agree with faded_glory above. The reason I visit this site is for the conversation in the comments. The posts themselves are just a conversation starter. It seems to me that the old site served that purpose reasonably well, with 2 important exceptions…

    1 – In the last few months the number of posts have drastically increased. Since this is a blog, and the posts are in chronological order without regard to number of comments, the front page didn’t really reflect the lively conversation going on inside the site. “Recent comments” became the most important feature on the page.

    2 – In the last few months the number of comments have also drastically increased. And, again, since this is a blog, it is not ideal for multiple, long conversations within a post.

    The first problem could have been solved in a number of different ways. Reducing the number of posts might be one. Or, dedicating one section to recent posts, and another to recent active posts.

    The second problem is endemic to almost all online conversations no matter what the format is. It cannot be solved by technology, but only by adherence to a strict set of guidelines, for example:
    – what is and what isn’t part of a conversation
    – when has a conversation ended
    – when does it deserves a new thread
    – how do you reply to a comment up the thread

    The new design doesn’t address either of these issues. In fact it’s now harder to find a conversation (either a specific post, or something new) than it used to be. The new layout in the main section(where some posts are displayed in a two column format) implies an editorial process, when in reality it’s just an ordered list of the 15 most recent entries. Some of the entries don’t show the number of comments they received(which is key). The post’s author is barely legible. The new format for comments (where your reply to another commenter is placed underneath theirs) makes it much harder to follow along, and therefore less likely to generate comments.

    Here’s the key. Make it easy for those willing to contribute. Those wanting to read will come for the content, not the design.

  118. I will say that the expanded “Recent Comments” section is a real improvement. And I like the “Daily Popular” section as well.

  119. 119

    I just replied to Dr Liddle on the “It Stunning” thread, and it is not showing up anywhere at all that a post was made.

    I’ve been cheated. ;)

  120. 120

    Am I correct on this new format. If a thread title is no longer featured on the right hand ‘recent comments’ section, then no comments made on that thread as ever shown as a “recent comment” – meaning that no one (not even those on the site at the time of the comment) will know a new comment has been made??

    Thats really weird.

  121. 121

    Dont get me wrong, I really like the expanded ‘recent comments’ section, but you have them grouped by thread title. So if a post is made to a thread that is not being featured among those in the recent comments, then that post is simply not shown as a recent comment.

    Why not lose the thread title idea, or even better, lose the date/time stamp on the recent comments (its useless there anyway) and replace it with the thread title that the comment was made on, this leaving you a little real estate to continue allowing a preview of the comment itself.

  122. That’s a good idea.

  123. Jack

    Pardon, but I really think we need a timeline view alternative for comments.

    GEM of TKI

  124. I agree that something along those lines would be useful. It will be awhile before that can happen.

  125. Okay

  126. In case the idea hasn’t been posted yet, I think I may have discovered what sometimes causes a post to be posted to the wrong thread.

    There is a “Reply” button in the post-preview textbox. Recently, meaning to post something, I accidentally clicked that button, instead of the “Post Comment” button … and then, when I did click the “Post Comment” button, the post went to the wrong thread.

  127. All,

    For those want to follow comments in a format as they come in, I have finally fixed the comments RSS feed. If you don’t want to subscribe, you can simply click on Comments RSS and click the link to go to the comment.

    Jack

  128. 128
    material.infantacy

    Fantastic!

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