As readers know, I announced changes to WUWT’s format last Sunday, and the changes went into effect overnight from Sunday night to Monday morning. As is the case with any change, there will be some issues, some people won’t like it simply because it is change, and some will embrace it. Below I’ll address the improvements and the things remaining to be fixed.
My goal was to bring WUWT into a more modern realm and address these issues:
- Scroll off – stories often disappeared down the page too quickly and didn’t get seen
- Style – WUWT still looked like a blog rather than the most read resource it has become
- Readability – The way it was presented didn’t lend itself to readability as well as it should
- Mobile compatibility – the mobile theme we used to have was terrible, we needed to make the experience better for tablet users and phone users
- Comment filtering – was problematic, too many comments were being held that shouldn’t be, some comments that should be held for inspection haven’t been
- Comment reading – there was a lot of room for improvement
- Comment SPAM – moderators were getting overwhelmed
What we’ve done and learned:
1. Scroll off – stories often disappeared down the page too quickly and didn’t get seen - The new Expound theme format of providing “capsules” on the main page seems to have solved this nicely. I can report we are getting a consistent 40-50% increase in daily page views, which means more people are reading stories than they were before. I call that success. Also, the new format provides for “infinite scroll” on the main page, making it easier to find older stories. Just keep scrolling down.
2. Style – WUWT still looked like a blog rather than the most read resource it has become – Besides the new theme format making WUWT more professionally styled from the get-go, I’ve spent since Sunday night making CSS tweaks to all sorts of visual style parameters, many of which were brought up in the previous thread. I could not have done this without the help of WUWT reader Jim Reekes, who offered help in that original thread. At this point, I think most of the major style, color, and formatting issues have been addressed. However, there may be some that can still be improved upon. I’ve tried to accomodate many requests, but I can’t please everyone. What we have now is what I consider the best strategy based on user input.
3. Readability - The way it was presented didn’t lend itself to readability as well as it should – Font size tweaks and color tweaks have made WUWT more readable, IMHO. Jim has helped be put the fonts into “em” mode in CSS, which helps them scale much better to various venues. Your mileage may vary. Bear in mind that for those who have font size issues, the zoom control of your browser using the CTRL and + or CTRL and – key combinations is your best friend. BTW CTRL and 0 (zero) resets your zoom. Pressing CTRL and the scroll wheel on your mouse does the same thing,
4. Mobile compatibility – the mobile theme we used to have was terrible, we needed to make the experience better for tablet users and phone users- From what I’ve seen myself on my own set of mobile devices, and the reports I’m getting from users, the new mobile device compatible theme is a win all around.
5. Comment filtering – was problematic, too many comments were being held that shouldn’t be, some comments that should be held for inspection haven’t been – I’ve spent several hours tweaking this, with the most recent change made this morning that caught a problem that caused a lot of comments to be held when they were not supposed to be. We’ll see how the new setup goes. For those suddenly have a comment in moderation that think that their comment is being held on purpose, bear in mind that this is algorithm and keyword based, and never perfect. Don’t take it personally. Some people who have been problematic, such as doing thread bombing with off-topic posts or otherwise making nuisances of themselves may still be held for moderation.
As before, if you need attention, leave a new comment with the full word “moderator” in it. Comments that use my name are also held, so that I see them in the firehose of comments we get daily.
6. Comment reading – there was a lot of room for improvement - I think we’ve got this one sorted out. Early versions of the theme for comments weren’t very good, but I think we have a good balance of size, color and style now. Many people have reported they like the new 3D offset for blockquoted text. Thank Jim Reekes for that one.
In the past, we’ve had a lot of requests for threaded comments, and I tried it a couple of times, but didn’t like the way it flowed. Some readers didn’t either. Now, I’ve enabled threaded/nested comments again, and I think it works better with the new format. Both Climate Audit and Judith Curry’s sites use threaded comments, and while “me too” isn’t a reason, being able to reply to people directly below or to make a correction update directly below your own comments is.
As it stands now, pressing the small blue “Reply” link below a comment will pop up the comment form right there in place, no more scrolling to the bottom to post comments, though you can still do that.
TonyB writes on the original change thread:
I’ll give the ‘reply’ facility a go. Not sure how we will notice comments that are inserted days after the event. On the whole I prefer the linear format of WUWT over the nesting format of Climate Etc but let’s give it a fair chance.
If you want, you can be notified of new comments via email, simply by checking the box on the comment submission form where I highlighted in yellow:
Some people don’t like threaded comments, and I get that. But let’s see how it goes with the new format. Some people worried that nested comments would allow “last word” derogatory comments to happen months later. That’s rubbish, we have tool in place to prevent such things from happening, though I’m not going to give details to what they are. Basically, we don’t have the problem now with regular linear comments, nested comments won’t make this non-problem worse.
NOTE: You can test comments before posting them on the WUWT “test” page. Get them right by trial/error, then copy/paste them where you want them to be. There’s also help there too for making italics, bolds, blockquote, and other codes.
One thing you can do right now is to insert images, simply by putting in the image URL in the form http://someserver.com/images/graphic.jpg (.gif and .png files are also supported) WordPress will automatically format and display the image in comments.
7. Comment SPAM – moderators were getting overwhelmed - I think we have this under control now, though spammers are always trying new things.
Things that remain to be addressed:
1. There are a couple of missing elements, such as comment count, and “leave a comment” on main page entries - I had hoped this was available to tweak in CSS; sadly, no. This feature is actually missing from the Expound theme. WordPress has a bug report into the developer, so we’ll see how that goes. Unless the developer fixes the theme, I can’t address this feature unless I move WUWT off of wordpress.com and onto private hosting. WordPress.com doesn’t allow us to tweak PHP code for security reasons.
For now, comment counts appear on the top of the story itself after you click to see it in full. In the meantime, for those that want to see which posts are getting the most traffic, can view the Top Posts & Pages on the right sidebar.
2. Navigation buttons within posts – some people lamented that the previous/next story buttons have disappeared - they haven’t! They simply moved. See screencap below. They are at the bottom of the story. Like with the comment count issue, I can’t move them unless I move my entire blog.
3. Comment editing – a feature to allow editing of ones comments for a few minutes after posting - this is my most requested feature over the years, and wordpress.com has steadfastly refused to provide this feature even though I continually ask for it. Again, I can’t implement this unless I move off wordpress.com or pay their $500/month “Enterprise” service…which I tried last year, and was a disaster in my view. It wasn’t worth the money and the comment editor they provided was lame.
And there may be others that need attention that have gotten lost in the shuffle, or haven’t been noticed yet.
While I can’t promise we can handle all requests, we’ll at least try.
Finally, I’d like your opinion on the changes in this poll.
Thanks to everyone for your patience through this upgrade, and thanks for being part of the WUWT community.
I’ll have another major announcement coming next week, a big one that will allow our community to make a difference in what Michael Mann calls “The Climate Wars” Stay tuned.
Readers may recall in the original thread that I made quite a stink about the new WordPress “beep boop” editor, and even wrote a full post about why I thought it was a stunning failure. WordPress seemed oblivious, but I and many others continued to bombard them with emails, posts, phone calls, and anything we could do to tell them how bad this change was.
Today, all of the sudden, things were back to normal, and this appeared above the editor page:
That “new and improved posting experience” aka the “beep boop” editor, is corp-speak for “we took this turkey out back and shot it in the head”.
1. Users win. Lesson to WordPress – trust your users.
2. Thank you WordPress for finally seeing the light.