Changes coming to WUWT

change

I figured that I should give people a heads-up, rather than just dump changes unannounced like wordpress.com did with their recent beep boop editor bomb.

Two changes – comment filtering and format. Two notes: editing for guest authors and a personal note about the future of WUWT.

1. Comment filtering has become stricter

This change is already in place this week and has been necessitated by the rising amount of spam comments not just at WUWT, but all blogs seem to be getting. Steve McIntyre laments his trouble with recent spam increases here.

WUWT gets about 3 times the amount of spam that Climate Audit does, most of it commercial link-back spam disguised as a comment. I too have seen the increase, and clearing out the spam filter has become quite a chore on some days. As a result, I’ve turned on this setting in my wordpress.com dashboard:

Strict: silently discard the worst and most pervasive spam.

What this means is that occasionally, some legitimate comments that meet this criteria might get thrown out with the bathwater. Some comments that are on the fence may also go to the spam holding que for review.

So, if you make a comment and it immediately disappears, it may go straight to either of these places. But, that doesn’t mean it is lost forever, it may be in the holding queue. Give it some time to see if it is retrieved by a moderator. For overnight, typically 11PM-6AM PDT, some comments may take awhile before they are rescued.

For a few people who have no manners and have been warned and finally banned (for example, Doug Cotton and his variety of shapeshifting sock puppets, and NASA GISS scientist Jan Perlwitz who made a death threat) those comments will straight to the bit bucket. Words with the usual variety of cuss words, profanity,  and banned topics, etc. will also go straight to the bit bucket.

If your comment doesn’t fit any of these categories, and you don’t see it rescued within a few hours, it may have been a victim of the new stricter spam policy. I wish this wasn’t the case, but the enormity of the spam increase requires it. There just isn’t enough time in the day as it is and we shouldn’t be wasting it wading through dreck comments to decide which require permanent deletion and which don’t. Due to WUWT being a high traffic blog and in the top 10 of wordpress.com blogs worldwide on a daily basis, it is a prime target for spammers.

Also, some comments may be held for moderation, as we’ve recently added some words to that filter. Some people who have been known to post wildly off-topic, long rants, hateful, or otherwise inappropriate comments will get the inspection of a moderator. Also, first time commenters will be held in moderation, and after the first comment is approved, you are whitelisted.

The vast majority of regular commenters are also whitelisted, but occasionally somebody may trigger moderation. One of the surest ways for your comment to be held is to put a whole bunch of links in it, which mimic commercial spam. Right now we have it set to 4 links as the maximum. If you have a comment that requires more than that, try to break it up into two comments, or just accept that your comment will be held for moderation.

Also, moderator, please step up in removing off topic comments, we have a handful of people who think that “anything goes” when it comes to posting these sorts of comments on threads. Likewise, feel free to snip and warn purveyors of abusive comments.

The WUWT comment policy page is here.


 

2. New format

One of the biggest problems that WUWT (and many blogs like it) is that given the linear scrolling format, stories often get shuttled to the bottom of the stack pretty quickly, especially on busy news days. This means that some topics die a premature discussion death.

WUWT readers may have noted that I’ve been trying some experiments to keep stories of interest at the top, trying for awhile a “top stories” sticky post for a few weeks. While it helped, the amount of work to keep up with it was large, and some people didn’t like it. Of course in any change, there will be those that don’t like it.

The last major format change I made to the WUWT format was in early 2010, a couple of months after Climategate broke. I found the old Freshy theme we were using then was too narrow, and restrictive (it didn’t support mobile devices well) so I opted for the new (at the time) 2010 theme, which has served us well for over 4 and half years. But, it too is now showing signs of age, especially with so many topics and so much traffic.

After months of trying out new ideas offline, I believe I’ve found a new theme that will solve the problems mentioned above, while still retaining much of the look and feel of WUWT along with being able to keep all posts in a linear scrolling format as we have before.

The new theme is called “Expound” and you can read about it here. WordPress describes it as:

Expound offers a fresh, clean magazine-styled look for any type of blog. With a responsive design that looks great on any device, its support of post formats and featured posts will help your content shine.

Here is what it will look like. I still have not included the header image. This is a scaled version to show what the scrolled areas below the main headlines look like. It will be full width on any browser, and will properly adapt to tablets and phones as well.

The five most recent stories are at the top, you can see other stories directly below by scrolling down.

WUWT_new_look

The only thing that will significantly change is the front page of WUWT and some sidebar elements will be removed that are no longer relevant. Posts themselves will pretty much look the same and commenting will work as before.

One big improvement to this theme is that it will allow bigger images, 720 pixels wide, up from the previous width of 640. We’ll be able to do HD! This is important for graphs with a lot of details and some videos in HD.

Here is a full-on view of the main page before scrolling:

WUWT_new_look2

The change will start on Monday morning, August 25th.

The good news is that if it doesn’t work for some reason, it can be changed back.

UPDATES

UPDATE: As you can see by now, the new format is live. Like with any new format, there may be some hiccups or some things that aren’t quite right. I’ve spent the evening doing some font tuning, and I hope the body font for posts is OK now for most people. If not, you can magnify/shrink in your browser using CTRL and + keys simultaneously as well as CTRL and – keys.  CTRL and 0 (zero) puts you back at default magnification.

There are a couple of missing elements, such as comment count, and “leave a comment” on main page entries, along with some other small tweaks that will be put back in over the coming days with the CSS editor. BTW, if anyone is a WordPress CSS specialist, and can help me with such tasks, please leave a note in comments – thanks, Anthony

UPDATE2: Some things that I expected to retain got broken, such as the mobile theme, which I believe is fixed now.  Some other things that we are used to got broken or removed because the default theme setting didn’t support them.

The good news is that most everything can be fixed with CSS tweaks over the next few days, though I have a bit of a learning curve on these items. Anybody out there a wordpress CSS specialist?

Some things already fixed are:

  • Mobile theme
  • Header font and body of story font sizes
  • Making body font more readable by making it sans serif
  • Put back “latest posts” on sidebar since some users still need it
  • Background image restored

Things I’m working on:

  • Putting back real time stamps
  • Putting back comment counts
  • Getting comment body fonts and comment name headers sized properly
  • Less white space
  • About a half dozen other small tweaks

Your patience is appreciated while these things are dealt with. – Anthony

 


 

Note: editing for guest authors.

For guest authors who can post on WUWT, to get an image to appear in the top five, you’ll have to select it as a “featured image” (on the lower right sidebar) during editing, otherwise it will appear as text only. Putting a short summary in the first sentence or two is more important now, since that is what readers will see at the top of the main page.

Also, to get around invoking the horrid beep boop editor that wordpress.com refuses to dump, here is a workaround. In the dashboard, simply click on the “Posts” item but NOT on the drop down menu where it says “Add New”:

editposts

To edit a post, click on “all posts”, select the post needed to edit, and edit from there.

Personal note:

After this change settles in, I will make the decision as to whether to stick with wordpress.com any longer. They assure me they are trying to polish this beep boop editor turd fix the beep boop editor, but I’m not sure they are going to be successful. They’ve pretty well ignored users concerns in this thread, and then decided to close it.

Closing threads where users are sounding off angrily sounds like the tactics some newspapers and magazines we know that simply choose to ignore overwhelming reader input when it comes to the many climate science faux pas that grace their pages.

Bad move, WordPress. I’m not sure your free hosting is worth the hassle anymore. Many other users feel the same with this “jumped the shark” moment with the “beep boop” editor debacle. Being able to control one’s own destiny has its advantages, and I’m beginning to feel abused by wordpress.com.

BTW, the video ads that appear at the bottoms of posts give the highest payback to WUWT, should you be inclined to watch them.

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Spam has become a terrible curse. Seven years ago there might have been a couple of spam posts; often, none. Now there can easily be more than a thousand on a thread. It is tedious picking out the few legitimate comments from pages of spam.
If you don’t see your comment posted in a reasonable amount of time, post a note to the moderator and we’ll look for it. Sometimes, though, WordPress eats comments and they are never seen again. It is best to keep a copy somewhere until you see it posted.

Mike McMillan

Crossing fingers in support.

One additional warning to fans of my Guide to WUWT at http://home.comcast.net/~ewerme/wuwt/index.html I “web scrape” WUWT’s daily summary pages to fish out the article names and other data, e.g. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/08/23/ .
This change will likely make the program fail. I expect not for very long. Some features of WP’s classes help identifying the important pieces of each post.

No way to add a feature to allow editing of ones comments for a few minutes after posting is there like there is on some of the other blogs I have visited? Seems I never catch all the typos until after I’ve posted and then they stick out like sore thumbs.
REPLY: this is my most requested feature over the years, and wordpress.com has steadfastly refused to provide this feature even thought I continually ask for it. It is part of my reasoning to consider abandoning wordpress.com, especially when their major rival, blogger.com has it. – Anthony

Keitho

You are the boss, boss and whatever you find works best is good. I will continue to do the best I can to keep things copacetic. The volume of input here is amazing and I guess it is a credit to what WUWT has become, a beacon for thinking people.
What a ride.

asybot

Agree with alcheson. and I guess the like /dislike and being able to answer the poster right below his post is still out?
REPLY: that one has been tried several times, each time failing because so many users consider it pointless and annoying – so, yes – Anthony

What Keitho said. Whatever works best for you Anthony.
You are in charge and we respect your decisions.
Thanks for all of your efforts, dedication and hard work. ☺
Clive

Tom in Florida

Moderator says:
August 24, 2014 at 10:49 am
“If you don’t see your comment posted in a reasonable amount of time, post a note to the moderator and we’ll look for it. Sometimes, though, WordPress eats comments and they are never seen again. It is best to keep a copy somewhere until you see it posted.”
————————————————————————————————————————
I am sure that many do this already but for those that don’t, the easy way for longer comments is to pull up a new word doc and type your comment, edit it and when you are happy with the result; cut and paste in the comments section. Don’t delete the doc until your comment posts.
+ + + + +
[Reply: Or just use a draft email. Post it there, then just delete the draft when you see your comment. ~ mod.]

OrcasMatt

I think we all just really appreciate the time and effort you put into having the best climate website out there. Thank you!

Tightening up on spam will hopefully save you (and the mods) time. Time is a precious thing to conserve during the long and difficult process involved in criticism of climate science issues.
Thanks for keeping this site thriving.
John

Paul Coppin

“REPLY: this is my most requested feature over the years, and wordpress.com has steadfastly refused to provide this feature even thought I continally ask for it. It is part of my reasoning to consider abandoning wordpress.com, especially when their major rival, blogger.com has it. – Anthony”
Think long and hard if you’re contemplating Blogger. I dumped them years ago for WP for a whole variety of reasons and have seen no reason to return. The major issue on the table right now for browsers and blog hosts is the “Rise of the Money App” that came with apple, and then Android and now Win8. “They” are all going there… Firefox couldn’t leave well enough alone with their management, they now believe they know what security you need and what you can read as a result. No way to opt out. Google Chrome now disables any add-on that makes an end run around any of their associated regimes, if they haven’t lassoed them for their App Store. Microsoft does the same on a lesser scale. The Google one is funny – they tell you the privileges afforded the installed rogue apps may be the same as their own, but you can’t use it. It isn’t about security, its about control their kingdom. Biggest app groups to get hit are the anonymisers and the U-tube downloaders… I wouldn’t have said so a few years ago, but I see the internet in a few years time being nothing more than another delivery model of “cable”…

Sasha

These blogging sites are rated by their users as better than WordPress:
http://www.weebly.com/features/#!/blogging
https://www.tumblr.com/
REPLY: nope, I’ll never use either. Trying to export a large site like this to them is a train wreck – Anthony

self hosted wordpress allows disqus/livefrye integration. have never personally done it but have seen examples of it.
its only items on actual wp servers that are restricted.

Paul Coppin

And down the moderation rabbit hole we go…sigh.

Jim Jelinski

THANK YOU Anthony for all the work you put in to this site!
Never forget, as you are picking through some irritating issue (whether it is a scrap between article authors or between people making comments, or cleaning out spam, dealing with your website service, or whatever) that there are a BUNCH of people like me who really value and enjoy the information, the stories, the back-and-forth discussions that you make possible.
An informative, highly readable website on issues that affects us all.
Again, THANK YOU Anthony!
Jim Jelinski

Tonyb

Can I suggest that people make a copy of their post before pressing the ‘post comment’ button.
If the post does not surface it can be readily reposted. Personally I find by far the easiest way of doing this is to merely make a comment, copy it then paste it into notepad or a new email.then delete when it appears.
This is also useful in case the connection is lost as the post gets transmitted. Saves a lot of hassle especially if you’ve made a long comment that you have invested time in.
Incidentally who on earth responds to the spam which is very obvious and quite useless?
Tonyb

Mike Mangan

Heh. Preemptively ban all comments commenting on the new format. That should save a lot of time next month. Or better yet, any complaints directed towards the new format must be accompanied by a contribution to the Tip Jar in order to be published.

TimC

Even if WordPress don’t oblige, hope you might consider it right to delay any possible change (despite the various problems) at least until WUWT reaches the full 200 millionth page view, to get every due accolade for this tremendous milestone, both for yourself and the Mods. It should only take a few more weeks …

Kenneth Simmons

The new look reminds me of Icecap.us, which is a refreshing look. Keep up the very important posts.

stevefitzpatrick

Anthony,
I suggest you give WordPress a few weeks to see the light. The bigger the ship, the slower it turns. Those responsible for the changes you so dislike will have to be either shouted down within the company, or run away on their own. Either way, it will take some time. (Remember the New Coke debacle? Careers were at stake, and it was very awkward to return to the earlier formulation.)
It is difficult for people to admit error…. it’s not just climate scientists. 😉

REPLY: that is a good point, and per TimC’s comment upstream, I think I’ll at least wait until 200 million on the counter. – Anthony

mountainape5

Anthony you need to create a new Blog and change nameservers. The styling and about everything about this blog is ancient. Host your new Blog on a cloud server such as Google Cloud where you can optimise the site yourself and most of all make it responsive to all screens.

mountainape5

edit: Plus you can completely eliminate spams once you have access to the source.

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Just curious: How will you be able to tell spam from, say, nick stokes posts?

Clyde

I don’t know if WordPress would allow it or if the readers would like it, but supposedly Disqus is good at blocking spam. TVBTN (the site for daily & weekly TV ratings) switched to Disqus to fight/block spam.

rogerknights

The vast majority of regular commenters are also whitelisted,

Whitelisting should solve many problems.
I hope I’m on the list. I’ve made 4000 (est.) comments over five years with only one snip.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

I echo the appreciation expressed by others for all your hard work in bringing fourth and maintaining WUWT.
Keep in mind the problems you mention are those that come with success.
If you decide WUWT can no longer be accommodated on a free hosting service, I will happily join with many other regular readers in pledging a regular contribution to meet your costs.

Arno Arrak

Looks good. But while making changes, would you tell them to remove that annoying “enter your comment here” that pops up and constantly blocks your view of what you are writing. And another desirable feature would be ability to include figures in jpg or similar format without having to post them somewhere first. Arno
REPLY: Can’t help on what you are seeing. But try a larger screen size. I cannot and will not allow user uploads for convenience sake. It is a HUGE security risk.
You can include images from any URL just simply by typing in the full path with http like this:
[http://cache1.intelliweather.net/imagery/KPAY/sat_atlantic_120x90.jpg] but don’t put in the brackets, the result will be this below.
http://cache1.intelliweather.net/imagery/KPAY/sat_atlantic_120x90.jpg
Anthony

rogerknights

Also, moderator, please step up in removing off topic comments, we have a handful of people who think that “anything goes” when it comes to posting these sorts of comments on threads.

I hope Pat will be whitelisted! I think most people like his stuff. It rarely distracts or derails. (Maybe run a poll??)

Latitude

That’ll work!….plus the easier it is on you….the more you can post!! .. it’s a win win
You guys stop worrying about “spealing”….who cares as long as someone can read it…..and if it’s that wrong….just post a corrected post

John Towers

Sir, thank you for the improvements on an already excellent site. I have learned more here on many topics other than climate change and enjoy the discussions of the comments section as well. As just an average joe, I have yet to find any articles where I am lost in the science (though I have had to research some). I also enjoy the fact that you link to other science sites that also drive my curiosity. All in all, thanks for a site well done.

Gunga Din

I was going to suggest that a list of words that go to the “bit bucket” be put under the “site policy” drop down. That would be helpful for the “innocent” but it could also be useful to the disrupters.
Your call.
Thanks for what you do and thanks for trying to make it better overall for both the users and your ModSquad.
REPLY: I had thought of that, but my wackadoodle Internet stalker Miriam O’Brien (aka Sou Hotwhopper) and many others will most certainly use that for some unscrupulous purpose. – Anthony

Pamela Gray

Kinda like the gif I finally tracked down thanks to Leif. Hope it runs.
http://www.beerorkid.com/avatars/love_your_job.gif

I am looking forward to the changes. I think you need a new format due to the many new articles that appear each day.
As to nested replies, there are pros and cons on that issue. Having followed Mr. Greenwald (his posts normally get over 500 to 1000 comments each) at different places where some had nested comments and some did not, I found that your present system is better than nested most of the time. (not always of course)
On another issue, editing comments by commenters can lead to certain abuses that might make correcting a few typos not really worth it. Perhaps WP is right on that issue.
I do wish you would do the occasional “open thread” where certain topics and certain other skeptical sites could be mentioned. But, after all, it is your blog and you can ban talk about anyone or anything you chose.

Mods
Another one went to moderation.
I seem to get moderated on almost every comment. Yet I have not ever been snipped or warned. Any thoughts as to why?
REPLY: no idea, but I’ll see if I can find out – Anthony

Frodo

This is your site Anthony, your site your rules. The fact that you’ve gone to such lengths to explain all this shows yet again the quality of person you are.
And it is all greatly appreciated. I know there are many here who are primarily interested in CAGW – oops climate change – but he CAGW movement is just a part of a much bigger travesty, and whatever guys and gals like you can do to stop it is greatly appreciated – and as the site itself shows, is appreciated everywhere – in Murica, in Murica’s economic vassal to the north Canada, in Engerland (went to the Man U game at Michigan Stadium with 109k of my closest friends – awesome) , Australia, Eriador, Scandahoovia, just about everywhere on the planet but France.
As for me, my posts are always on-topic and devoid of frivolous nonsense, so I have nothing to worry about.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE?feature=player_embedded&w=640&h=360%5D

Jake J

Can you buy software that does what Word Press, et al do, but you control it, and then just host it on Go Daddy?

Tesla_x

I look forward to the changes!
Fwiw, disqus seems to work much smoother on other sites I’ve seen it used.
In any case, thank you for all your hard work and perseverance!

M Courtney

I get stuffed into moderation all the time too. Fair enough. I take this as a sign that my comments are offensive, in some way, and so use that as guidance to try to be more polite. We can all make mistakes.
Antony, whatever you choose to do will have my support (for what that’s worth). You’ve earned respect and shown competence.
Editing comments would be wonderful.
But Like/Dislike is just a means of enforcing conformity and intimidating minority viewpoints. That hasn’t discouraged me but may diminish the blog in the long run.

Over the past few months, three users have asked that the “Test” page be culled of unneeded/unusual posts: It now has several thousand messages. Some remain very, very useful, but certainly not all. Can the moderators be allowed to work on that?

David, UK

Hope a spam whitelist of long-time trusted commenters will be maintained (with me in it, needless to say!). Sometimes cuss words – in context, like in direct quotes, for example – are wholly appropriate, and censoring can dilute the message.

James Ard

Best of luck with the changes, Anthony. We’re just lucky to have you.

John Robertson

Like markstoval I too get moderated from time to time – could be I am putting four or more links it (nice bit of info – thanks!), however (as far as I know) they are all on target for the thread.
Perhaps if a person is whitelisted their link count can be increased a smidgen?
It would be nice to have threads such as are structured on Judith Currys’ site – Climate Etc. – makes for more interesting reading and folks have a better chance to learn.
I must say for initial info I usually start with WUWT and then spread out, but the comments structure really leaves a lot to be desired…

David, UK

Re my last comment: duh, should have read the article more carefully. My point was already addressed. Sorry!

M Courtney

David, UK says at August 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm…
Not sure I agree. Many long-term trusted commenters may cross the line occasionally. Mea culpa sometimes and even my respected head of house may make the rare faux pas.
Yet such actions should lead to a ban in order to keep the tone of debate open and friendly.
But having double-standard rules means that the decision to “suspend” becomes harder.

Dodgy Geezer

@Tonyb
…Incidentally who on earth responds to the spam which is very obvious and quite useless?..
They (and the the Nigerian 419 scams) are obvious and stupid for a very cunning and intelligent reason. The people who run these things are not stupid.
What they are looking for is dummies – people who will buy what they are selling without question. They DON’T want intelligent people coming and asking them questions, then not buying anything and wasting their time. They want people with money but no sense. People who are gullible and credulous.
The easiest way to arrange that is to offer an advert which is badly spelled and screams “FRAUD!!” very loudly. If someone still responds, they are going to be easy pickings….

Here is a test post per request.
If it is a problem with me logging in with my blog credentials, I could log in with my Twitter account. (same name)
But it is kind of funny since it took me weeks to get this site to let me use my WP account. Several regulars gave advice and one of them (sorry forgot who) hit the nail on the head and got me going. Would it not be a hoot if logging in with a WP account sent you to moderation at a WP site? I have always said that computers are magic. (black magic)
~ Mark

Bruce Ploetz

Thanks for all your hard work Anthony. I am sure your judgement is best on what to do. I will say that one site that I use a lot says “Powered by WordPress and Atahualpa” at the bottom, has Disqus (love it or hate it, it does have an easy way to edit posts, attach photos and videos, and a discreet voting system; but the best thing about it is you can reply to a comment and the replies stay together tabbed in, making it possible to help a newbie or air a disagreement without stalling the whole thread), and never gets spam somehow. Don’t know how they do it but it works (mostly).

Thanks Anthony.

Thank you Anthony for hosting WUWT; I have faithfully, almost daily, read your blog for over four years and have learned much from you and other WUWT contributors and commenters.
You have my utmost respect for your dedication, hard work, and the respectful and even-handed way you manage WUWT! As others have noted, WUWT is your blog, and I too fully accept any and all management decisions that you make.
You, through WUWT, have nucleated and grown a great climate science community, I just want to see you and this community thrive.
Thanks
Dan

Peter Foster

Re use of Expound. On Icecap, which uses this style, it is quite frustrating to have graphs which are so small that one cannot read the figures on the axis and frequently there is no larger version available. I have noticed of late that a number of graphs in WUWT posts likewise use clip-image graphs that are too small. I hope posters will be requested to provide links for any such graphics to larger graphics that can be read easily.e.g. sea temperature graph in David Archibald’s post on missing heat in the Atlantic.