WUWT web retooling – comments welcome

After 2.5 years with the same design, I’m looking to do an upgrade to WUWT to give it more modern features. I’ve got some professional help involved to do this. It will be a complete rework from the ground up with a new theme

I’ll be staying with wordpress.com as a host, since it solves all my bandwidth and DDoS attack issue with ease. That means I won’t be able to do wordpress plugins, such as a comment edit/preview feature that everyone asks about. I wish I could, but the security outweighs the convenience.

One thing I do plan is a way to keep the most viewed/discussed stories available on top longer. Some days they scroll off too fast when there’s a lot of news.

That said, I’m open to suggestions. Feel free to drop suggestions in comments.

Tell me what you want to keep, tell me what you want changed or improved. Brainstorm ideas. After all, its a community blog, so I value the input.

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Andi Cockroft

Hi Anthony
Would it be fairly easy to have a seperate tab for popular articles (along the lines of Tips & Notes), and retain the current chronological order everyone is used to?
Andi

It would be nice to have a way to indicate agreement or disagreement with a comment. Perhaps a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” button or icon.

I can probably handle anything WordPress does except make the interface a big morass of Javascript. I maintain http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/index.html by reading URLs like http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/09/01/ to get the posts of that day and the comments made. At least, I think that’s what I do, I haven’t had to look at that code in over a year.

Hotair.com has a two column format where the right column scrolls down with every new post going on top. Posts that have some reason to stay up longer get moved to the left column where they scroll down slower.
That seems to work well. If I want to read everything then I look to the right. If I want only the more interesting posts then I look left.

Anthony,
I am sad to hear the upgrade bug has bitten you. I love the site just as is. But if you must do changes, please keep it simple as you can. It is the words — the facts — here that matter and not the “look and feel”.
One man’s opinion; worth every penny you paid for it. 🙂

Paul Deacon

Anthony – please keep your font and font size, and your simple clean layout.

Disagree with Roger Sowell. People who disagree or want to say “me too” should do so in words, not by waving arms.

Doug

When I want to look at some of the items low on the list of “Reference Pages”, the topic line has to be right at the top of the page, or else I can’t get to the bottom items. So, I have to scroll the topics up, and then move my cursor down to the item. Would it be possible to have the items in a double column, rather than single?

View from the Solent

“.. more modern features”
More features that are modern, or features that are more modern? 😉
Either way, I hope you don’t lose the simplicity

johanna

Any chance of getting rid of the html requirement, and substituting the highlight and click (for bold, italics etc) feature? Apart from being clunky and slow, the manual html seems to cause a lot of formatting errors when users make an accidental error.

D.I.

I think that linking replies to comments would be useful.

Alan Bates

I agree with markstoval (12:10 p.m.)
Personally, I would read everything up here, whatever the format. I regularly go to:
http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/
which is probably the worst laid out site of all time but the content is well worth it.
This means it doesn’t matter how I feel so do whatever you consider serves the needs of the site and the message!
Best wishes from the UK.

Steve from Rockwood

In the comments section it is very helpful to have reply comments embedded (and indented) so that you can follow the thread of a discussion rather than having to scroll down to see @so-and-so or so-and-so says with the reply.
I also think the right side is too long (TMI). Perhaps link buttons like Recent Posts, Recent Comments, Blogs, Publications etc and you can click to see them rather than having them all listed.
Maybe too many links on the top menu bar (under the graphic) as well.
A picture of A Watts on the top right-hand side would personalize the site a bit more. After all he’s a pretty good looking guy 😉
The information and discussion on this site is still the key to me (and it’s great) so keep up the great work.

Anthony
I get the feeling that the number of articles carried in any one week has increased over the years. This means that an article that is just getting into its stride with comments is suddenly bumped down the list when a new one is listed and as a result the number of comments drops as people swarm over to the new article.
As a consequence i feel that the breadth and depth of discussion has , on the whole, diminished.
Would it be possible to run fewer stories or alternatively design the site so that the last five articles are all featured prominently in ‘top’ position?
Tonyb

Bill Thomson

I agree with Tallbloke. Please do not add “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icons. It discourages thinking and reduces the quality of the discussion.
I like the format of the site quite well as it is. The only thing that I find difficult is searching through the mountains of posts to find something that I read previously and would like to refer to again.

u.k.(us)

Doug says:
September 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm
When I want to look at some of the items low on the list of “Reference Pages”, the topic line has to be right at the top of the page, or else I can’t get to the bottom items. So, I have to scroll the topics up, and then move my cursor down to the item. Would it be possible to have the items in a double column, rather than single?
=========================
I used to do the same thing, until I discovered that leaving the cursor positioned anywhere over the list of topics, and then scroll with the mouse wheel to show the bottom items.
Did that make sense ?

Gunga Din

I understand there will be built in limits. One feature I’d like to see is the ability to search for comments made by an idividual across post. ” F” will find words in a particular post but it would be nice to search across post.
(I’ve made comments that I’d like to recall that are now archived but don’t remember when I made them.)
Another feature might be the ability to mark a comment as “read/unread”. Sometimes when a post becomes “hot”, loading all the comments bogs things down for those of that are still using hammers and chisels.

Gunga Din

” F”
That should be “Contol key “F”‘

Gunga Din

That shout be “Contol key “F”‘
AHHHHHHHH!
“Shout” should be “should”.
PS How about “spell check”?

Never change a winning website….

Kasuha

I am quite happy with the site layout and don’t really need any radical changes, the only thing I would really like to see improved is the discussion. It would be really nice if it was possible to respond to a particular comment rather than to add yet another comment downstream … and subsequently for the commenter to see instantly who replied. What I would like best is if “root comments” were always visible and replies/discussion to them was hidden initially with an option to show them per comment, similarly how it’s done e.g. on this site:
http://www.zive.cz/clanky/zpravy-a-tyden-zive-hromada-stroju-s-windows-8/sc-3-a-165233/default.aspx?artcomments=1
(sorry it’s in czech, I don’t know about any english example; you can unroll discussion to each comment by clicking on “odpovědi” below the comment)
… but I’m afraid it won’t be possible given the WordPress constraints.

David Ross

Remove the “Recent Comments” section from the sidebar. It pollutes Google search results of WUWT with multiple entries.
Tonyb wrote:

I get the feeling that the number of articles carried in any one week has increased over the years. This means that an article that is just getting into its stride with comments is suddenly bumped down the list when a new one is listed and as a result the number of comments drops as people swarm over to the new article.

Agreed, but moderating all those discussions must be burdensome.
Why not have a separate unmoderated forum (perhaps even on a separate site) for people to continue discussions? That is, after a few days, comments are closed for each article and a link is provided to the relevant section in the forum.

security outweighs the convenience

Ain’t that the truth.
On the other hand, Drudge’s cutting edge design is good for 900,000,000 or so hits a month.
On the gripping hand, a ton of horrible javascript & maybe a big flash intro would keep jerks like me away. 😉

davidmhoffer

My only recommendation is to avoid big bang changes. My long time standard recommendation is to introduce new features one or two at a time so you can gauge the reaction to each one of them accurately. If you throw twenty new things in all at once, the comments both good and bad simply get lost in the noise. I also find that if you throw too much change in all at once, excellent new features may not get explored at all by the users and fall to the wayside because other new features, particularly the bad ones, are grabbing all the attention.

JimP

Clean and simple for people without university bandwidth. You have a great site here, content is king. So add a ‘thumbs down’ on commenter thumb ratings. 🙂
All that said, an index or extended TOC feature might be welcomed.

Eric Dailey

Please talk to Ric Werme.

kwg1947

Thumbs up and thumbs down is good better would include ‘Watt?”

JJ

Second TonyB’s observation. Substantive posts often get buried under ones that are trite but newer.
Why is it that using wordpress.com as a host prevents use of wordpress plugins? Seems counterintuituve…

Richard Hill

I agree with markstoval (12:10 p.m.)

Richard Keen

Every so often I’d like to include a chart or graph with a comment – could that be an option, within reasonable limits of size?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Roger Sowell said on September 2, 2012 at 12:02 pm:

It would be nice to have a way to indicate agreement or disagreement with a comment. Perhaps a “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” button or icon.

This was tried once before using the wordpress plug-in for it. Killed page loading on dial-up as each instance in each comment was something else to load, plus wreaked havoc on slower machines, those with less memory, older browsers, etc. For each comment there were separate bits for an up thumb and a down thumb to download and monitor, and the counters, the continual “phoning home” to check the counts for each and every comment… I had to use AdBlock to get rid of all of that to make WUWT readable again.
Unless wordpress comes up with a better plug-in, best to never try that again.

A button to make WUWT your home page would be nice.

Robert in Calgary

“Recent Comments” is one of my favourite features. Please keep it. I would like to see it move back towards the top.
The ability to switch to a larger font size is a choice I often appreciate on a website.

Duke C.

Anthony,
Would it be possible to automatically insert a “more…” link within a comment(s) that runs more than one paragraph (or 6 or 7 lines) in length? This would allow faster skimming through comments and faster page loading for those with slow connections. Also, it might compel those who tend to be long-winded to get to their point.

I believe you can have a preview option via having a wordpress account linked?
I would ask for an edit button limited to typo correction, but that would certainly change the moderation process.

ossqss

Just for the record. The window for using older equipment and older operating systems is closing.
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/help/end-support

TFNJ

The solar reference pages are a mess. many graphs have no axis labelling, and some expanatory text would be helpful.

David Charlton

Anthony,
I have no issues with the on-line format. I concur with others that you keep the changes to a minimum. I defer to others what is needed and in what priority.
However, I would like to see either changes to make your blog more mobile friendly or to have the ability to detect a mobile device and serve up an optimized (smaller) version. Your current layout is not mobile-reader-friendly in that only a limited amount of text shows initially. Fine but there is usually not enough text to judge my potential interest in the post, so I have to follow the link to the full page, which is definitely mobile friendly, at least not for a Verizon Driod x.
Thanks for considering changes…love the blog.
David Charlton

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

Richard Keen said September 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm:

Every so often I’d like to include a chart or graph with a comment – could that be an option, within reasonable limits of size?

That currently requires administrative/moderator privileges. Which is good, as it should not be something mere commentators are allowed to do.
Here’s why. Some anonymous someone drops by, puts a graph into their comment using a link to an online pic service somewhere. Moderator checks graph, approves, comment with graph posted.
A month later when no one is looking, the pic at link is changed from the graph to kiddie pr0n or something similarly offensive and objectionable. Notification goes out that WUWT has posted the content, to government authorities, media, politicians, wordpress, etc. End of WUWT, with massive legal fees and possible jail time and other punishments for Anthony and moderators.
So mere commentators cannot post charts or graphs or pics with their comments, and that’s how it should be.
Heck, I worry about wordpress letting in the YouTube video links. When someone links to an hour-plus feature that no moderator has the time to fully preview, who knows what’s really in there?

Steve C

I’d like to see more columns. Scrolling down kind of gets boring over time.

Bill Parsons

If the video ad underneath the main post is profitable, ignore this comment. It it’s not, I wish you could just make it go away. Or else make it appear somewhere else. It delays the appearance of main text – minor annoyance, all things considered.

rogerknights

1. I’d like to see the Recent Posts section moved up in the sidebar, ideally all the way to the top. At present, after I’ve got to the end of one thread and want to check out where I want to go next, I have to hit Home, then page-down seven times to get to it.
2. I’d like to see WUWT’s threads referred to as threads or articles, not posts. A post means a comment, to me.
3. Amazon and a few other sites have a clever way of linking Replies to Comments. Each Reply is tagged with a clickable link that says “In reply to “, and hovering over that link brings up the first half-dozen lines of that comment without having to click on it.
4. I wish the “Post Comment” button weren’t usually below the edge of the screen, forcing one to click outside the comment box and move down-page to get to it.
5. Tips and Notes shouldn’t be allowed to grow too large.
6. Teaser-titles on threads are bad because they don’t get correctly indexed by Google, I suspect. And they make it hard to browse the archives when searching for material on a topic. Boring, descriptive titles with common keywords are better. Make the teaser-title a subtitle. Or, if that won’t do, provide descriptive subtitles.
7. There should be a permanent sister-thread to Tips and Notes that consists only of links to recent threads in other skeptical sites that are noteworthy for one reason or another, but not “newsworthy”, which is the focus of Tips and Notes. There are probably lots of good threads elsewhere that don’t get enough attention here.
8. Have a typo-report button, so article authors and Mods get notified privately, but regular thread-readers don’t get offended by us sticklers.
9. Provide a way to view all of a poster’s posts. This would help in researching what others had said–and also in retrieving one’s own earlier remarks when a topic previously discussed comes up again.
10. I endorse this idea:

Gary Pearse says: March 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm
“To raise the quality of comments, it would seem a good idea to highlight in some way the 10 best (or some such) comments of the week as an incentive to be on topic, have a good take, be succinct, be informative (or possibly entertaining).”

How about another permanent thread, one where everyone can copy and paste their favorite quotes? (With a per-day and per-week limit for each submitter.) This Best-Of thread would be an attractive entrance point for newbies.

jorgekafkazar

Comments longer than 2 screens are often poor quality rants. So I agree with Duke C: condense comments over 7 lines with “more,” if practical. [I’ll expand anything from from Lucy, Leif, Bob Tisdale, Mosher-san, RGB, Tallbloke, Frank Lansner, and a few others.]
Agree with johanna re application of HTML codes on highlighted text, if feasible.
Agree with Steve from Rockwood: I don’t use the “Recent” stuff feature, but it would be nice to be able to expand or link to the list, if feasible.
Agree with Gunga Din re cross-comment searches. I could still use a general web search to find my old posts, if Gunga’s suggestion is too much trouble.

tallbloke says:
September 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm
Disagree with Roger Sowell. People who disagree or want to say “me too” should do so in words, not by waving arms.
See your point, but I think encouraging everyone to concur with a particular statement by issuing another statement to a similar effect to the one concurred with would often result in too many words buzzing around the same flame. I would go a third way, with the also-familiar format of choosing yes or no on whether you ‘found this point useful.’ Often times points I may not simply back or like are still useful and I want to flag that it’s the quality of a point rather than it’s particular angle that earns respect rather than an actual –often literally political– vote.

if ain’t broke don’t fix it !

Paul Marko

Forget the column thing. The ICECAP site is a good example of a bad presentation. Also, kindly keep the back ground White. All those colors on Jo Nova, not necessarily annoying, but distracting. Great site.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

From JJ on September 2, 2012 at 1:16 pm:

Why is it that using wordpress.com as a host prevents use of wordpress plugins? Seems counterintuituve…

There’s a small suite of plug-ins available for free wordpress-dot-com accounts. There are more provided with paid accounts. The selections are decided on by wordpress-dot-com management, what they allow is what you can have.
If using the free wordpress software available at wordpress-dot-org on server space they themselves provide, site owners have a much larger suite of available plug-ins to play with. ComicPress with WordPress is a popular choice for online cartoonists, for example.

Anthony,
I am disappointed that you are thinking of changing the format of WUWT as I find it one of the best web-sites to use and look at and search through, at present on the web. Why change a winning format. What counts is the content not how it is tricked up or decorated. I love the site just as it is. Please keep it as simple as you can.if you must fiddle with it.

DirkH

ossqss says:
September 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

“I believe you can have a preview option via having a wordpress account linked?
I would ask for an edit button limited to typo correction, but that would certainly change the moderation process.”

Get Firefox, and download the CA Assistant from climateaudit. Adds preview and shortcut buttons to WUWT’s input box. No wordpress account necessary.

DirkH

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
September 2, 2012 at 2:03 pm
“Heck, I worry about wordpress letting in the YouTube video links. When someone links to an hour-plus feature that no moderator has the time to fully preview, who knows what’s really in there?”
youtube has their own content flagging system; and current flash players show a preview thumbnail when you hover the mouse over the horicontal time axis.