Status report on changes to WUWT, with user poll

changeAs 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:

  1. Scroll off – stories often disappeared down the page too quickly and didn’t get seen
  2. Style – WUWT still looked like a blog rather than the most read resource it has become
  3. Readability – The way it was presented didn’t lend itself to readability as well as it should
  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
  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
  6. Comment reading – there was a lot of room for improvement
  7. 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:

WUWT_commentform

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.

WUWT_story-navs1

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.

UPDATE:

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:

wp-editor-posting experience

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”.

Two thoughts:

1. Users win. Lesson to WordPress – trust your users.

2. Thank you WordPress for finally seeing the light.

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Latitude

nested threaded comments (whatever they are called) are going to have to be ignored by me…..I’m mostly time constrained, and don’t have time to start from the very beginning of comments, and read them all each time…to see if I’m repeating something. missing something that already been said, or missing an interesting conversation
The old way I could mark where I left off….and take it back up there again and not miss a thing
I’ll miss a lot with the replies this new way…..and don’t want to be repeating what’s already been said

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

It’s Deja Vu all over again!

Latitude

well I guess there is one plus to it……….I can call you a big doodie head……and no one will ever see it!
LOL

I can only post when I reply to a post. I don’t understand why. Help.
This site is quite good because it tries to address all of the issues which are thought to or have a potential impact on the climate. All and all Anthony has done a good job.

ShrNfr

Overall, however, I think that collecting thoughts on a particular aspect within a thread outweighs any inconvenience. Many times I have to hopscotch through the comments to get the gist of a conversation in which something is being debated, and frankly I am not sure that I am not missing some of it.
For my vote I give thanks to Mr. Watts for his work on the format and give it an overall thumbs up. That and a Charlie Card with tread on it gets you a ride on the Green Line in Boston.

rogerknights

What’s needed is for the system to prominently highlight the new comments since your last visit.

Rainer Bensch

Yes, like it was in Compuserve times.

TonyG

I have always used the “notify me of follow-up comments” option and it works the same with nested comments. I still get ALL comments on the post made after mine, so I can keep up with the discussion without a problem.

Keitho

Yup, that’s exactly what I do, always have. I think the nesting is a huge step forward and allows for much better following of conversations.
I must confess, I like the new format. Well done boss.

Thank you Anthony.
I like the format so far.
No worries, mate!

Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

Definitely liking this new setup, especially when it comes to researching older articles you have posted. Thanks!

WAYYYYY better than the former format. Thanks.

bobbyv

I find the font a bit dense, but like the layout.

I like the layout, but the font is unreadable on my 1920×1280 screen. Too large, too dense, too cluttered. I know I can scale the page to address the first concern, but that makes the smaller fonts present on the page unreadable, and no amount of scaling will remove the serifs or increase line spacing. Reading is no longer effortless and the amount of effort it requires jumps my threshold of tolerance. I scan a few lines and bail out (knowing full well that I may be missing something important).

E Martin

Can’t wait for next week!

The other Ren

Much superior format in my opinion. Easier to read, right side bar just seems easier to browse and find stuff. Works well on my big monitor. Two thumbs up.

larrygeary

There seems to be a nesting limit to the comments. There was a comment, I replied, someone replied to me, and there was no way for me to reply to that comment without starting a new top-level comment.
“Many people have reported they like the new 3D offset for blockquoted text.”
I don’t like it, or the font it uses.
Over all, I like the improvements. I like the latest posts near the top, though it has kept me from scrolling down much to see even earlier posts I might have missed.

rogerknights

“There seems to be a nesting limit to the comments. There was a comment, I replied, someone replied to me, and there was no way for me to reply to that comment without starting a new top-level comment.”
The technique for handling that is to use the nearest Reply button upthread and use it. Your reply will inline, so you will have to quote what you are replying to unless it was the one just above yours.

Sweet Old Bob

Nothing can improve without change.Some people will always hate change,but so what!
Life goes on ,with or without them!

Mike McMillan

You might try reducing the indent on the nested comments. Deep threads tend to squash the last comments into a narrow column.

rogerknights

Not much of a problem here, because there are only three levels.

Nigel in Waterloo

Too much white space between comments, could be a little more compact without losing readability.

rogerknights

The blank line above “Reply” could/should be dropped.

A compromise on the threaded list is to display the “Reply” button only a short time (1-24 hours) after the comment is posted. This allows for immediate corrections, additions, errata to a comment, without a hydra of multi-day old threads. This is obviously a PHP programming issue, but I think one whose merit should be considered (if it hasn’t already).
Nested thread management is going to depend upon people finding a social custom that works well.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

2. Navigation buttons within posts – some people lamented that the previous/next story buttons have disappeared – they haven’t! They simply moved.
Nah, it was the top set that did disappear, the convenient ones. The other set right above the comments is still there.
The site does look very nice. Good job.

Martin C

I sure would like to have the ‘previous/next’ story link at the TOP of the Article be put back.
Having at the bottom is fine, but after reading an article, and comments, it’s so much easier to go the the next article by going to the top of the Page (scrolling up until it stops) rather than scrolling up, and looking for the ‘bottom’ of the article, just before the comments.

Martin C

. .I should have also stated that I DO LIKE the new format. I like the ‘capsules’ of the articles at the top, then the rest below. The readability and font is fine to me . . .

SCheesman

Let me second this request… with long articles you end up searching and scrolling forever to find the next linked story.

Zeke

It’s gorgeous. “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” is the best way to keep up with a thread. It eliminates the need to hover, lurk, frequently revisit, skulk, slink, creep, edge, worm, ghost, pad, or tiptoe around a thread you are following.
PS. Did you know that some sites allow you to search a user’s comment history? No, no reason why I bring that up. (: Ty to Jim Reekes.

Matthew R Marler

I like the new format for its aesthetics, but I find the font harder to read.

I’m with you. My company from another life spent several thousand dollars researching readability fonts. Helvetica style fonts like the name headers won hands down as easiest to read and a huge increase in understanding. But I guess it is what it is.

Richards in Vancouver

Tell your “company from another life” to re-run their data, specifically the demographic details of their responders. Best data shows a push: people who grew up with serifed fonts (like me) find them much easier to read, whereas those who learned from sans-serif (eg. Switzerland, the Nordic countries) prefer the sans. But the “tipping point” is this: sans lovers can adapt more easily to serif than the other way around.
Bottom line: Keep the Sans! (I want a tee shirt to that effect.)

KRM

The readability of the font seems to vary depending on the device. I had no problem on my tablet or laptop, but it becomes very irregular and unpleasant to read on my 1920 x 1080 wide screen.

Matthew R Marler

KRM, that might be my problem. I guessed when I posted that my “problem” would not be an actual problem unless shared by many people.

Of course, the greatest strength of your WUWT blog is the quality of the blog posts (articles) and the added benefit of the many enlightening comments. That said, the new WUWT format is a significant improvement that showcases better the information and commentary provided by WUWT.
Dan

David, UK

Thanks, Anthony. To be a bit picky, I would have liked a voting option of “like” in addition to “love” or “hate” but that said, I really do like it. Just wish ‘double-tap’ worked on smart devices to zoom in on paragraphs. Of course we can zoom with touch/swipe gestures, but I do like to be able to just double-tap to get instant fullscreen view of an article. Thumbs up though!

latecommer2014

Hi David…..I bought an iPad because it does do the double tap

Paul Coppin

My Android tablet does the double tap… This site looks ok on my tablet, but the twenty-ten did too…

Frodo

This is a fantastic site. With all the media and politicians they carry around in their pockets like so many nickels and dimes, the CAGW crowd is trying to get away with a horrible fraud, with associated grave costs to humanity. Anthony and some other brave souls are doing a great job shedding light on all the deception and lies. That’s the main thing, getting the truth out – everything else is secondary. I like the site, and even if some people don’t think it’s perfect, you should get at least a 30 year grace period before anyone has the right to criticize it.
Seriously, though – God bless you, Anthony, and all that you and the other contributors to this site, do.

Many good features of the change. I think 3D blockquotes are gimmicky; they make the quote stand out, but probably more than is wanted, and if several they dominate the look of a page. I’m a big fan of color contrast, and it’s good now.

jorgekafkazar

Bueno!

JohnWho

Some folks almost always struggle with change but then, once they “get used to it”, they wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am adjusting and am feeling positive amidst this ” climate of change”.

Zeke

The participation in “like” features drops exponentially after the first three comments. There are hardly any votes near the bottom of the thread. It is worthless.

Congratulations!
You work hard, you get good results (most of the time).
WUWT has met and vanquished another webmaster’s challenge.

Richard G

The font and readability issues in my opinion have been resolved. Thank you Anthony, Jim and everyone who contributed. I’m using 150% zoom setting on my desktop and it fills the screen perfectly without cutting anything off.

kenw

I like it.

TRM

Good work Mr Watts. If you ever get tired of this climate / weather thing you could cut it as a sysadmin easily. My only request would be to have logins via Google authentication but it’s not a big issue for me.
Cheers

NZ Willy

The right-hand column (with all the links etc) takes up too much of the screen, I’d suggest making it a little narrower with a smaller font.

LeeHarvey

While you’ve got the developer on the line to talk about comment counts…
You know those little tags on the main page thumbnails that show the tags associated with the article? Isn’t there a way to make the text in those tags hyperlinked to the appropriate tag category?

LeeHarvey

Wait, never mind. I see that’s been corrected since yesterday.
Bang up job!

I am on the fence at this point. If the comment count was visible on the review pages I would have been in the Love it category.
Keep at it! Waiting for next week. BTW, any update on the status of the paper?

I think it’s great. The darker font helps when I’m outside on my iPad. [BTW, what is the font?]
I saw a blue background for comments about three hours ago. Did that disappear? I loved it. Thought it was wonderful with the Jim Reekes white blockquote: again, very tablet friendly.

I agree with you on the blue background. Not sure why it was there but I did feel it helped the readability of this font.

Chris4692

I thought the blue helped separate the comments while not being distracting.

Tonyb

You have responded to various criticisms such as font type and size and overall it looks far better than the old version which now seems dated, although it didn’t at the time ( a few days ago!)
Let’s wait and see how the nesting works.
Tonyb

Oldseadog

Every change has good and bad but this is fine by me. If I can work it anyone can.
One thing that would be good for me, the original technodinosaur, would be a “forward” button at the bottom of each story so that I could forward it by e-mail to someone else.
I see that my spellchecker STILL doesn’t like the word “technodinosaur”.
Or maybe I’m not spelling it the N. American way.

greymouser70

Oldseadog: You can fix that by right clicking on the word with the squiggly red line under and selecting and to dictionary. That way if you ever type it again you computer recognizes it as a proper word.

greymouser70

That should … add to….

Bloke down the pub

Being an imperfect human being, I recognise the temptation to use the reply button to get a post closer to the top of the list than would otherwise be possible. So far I have resisted the temptation.

Anthony, I love the new look & function. Note that on your banner, “The world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change.” The “and climate change” gets lost in the brightness of the aurora borealis.
Just prophetic, or a subtle dig, LOL.

Oldseadog

TRM:
I wouldn’t have anything to do with Google.

Paul Westhaver

Testing reply, but me too. Start page, duck duck go.. etc.

jorgekafkazar

Agree.

Steve in Seattle

Yep, its REALLY good, I like the main page TOP, with the stories cluster, and font is easier to read. Thanks.

Vincent

I didn’t have any gripes about the previous format, but the new one is great. No complaints and thanks for your effort.

Mike Singleton

Like it all, especially the font change.

Victoria

I love this site Anthony. And most of those who comment as well. I’m no scientist and some of the details discussed here can be a little above my comprehension but its good to aim high. Thanks for helping bring a little sanity to this crazy world.

Amatør1

The font puts me off, it hurts. I will not scroll up and down to look for, new nested comments. Maybe I’ll just go somewhere else.

Warren in Minnesota

I would like to see the author of each story shown on the home page. That is now missing. Was the story written by Anthony or someone else?

Jim Sorenson

I agree with Warren. You’ve really lost something very valuable by not showing the author of each story on the home page. It results in a loss of identity and uniqueness. We want to see your name particularly. It’s a matter of branding and product differentiation for sure, but I just miss it. Without those names, you look more common and less personal. Bring it back!
As the to other changes – Well done, indeed.

Scott

The one change that is affecting me is that the links on pages no longer change color when viewed or clicked through. I also miss the forward one article and back one article buttons.
Otherwise great change. Thanks for all the work you guys put into this site. I have been a daily reader for a couple years now.

earwig42

The opening page seems too busy for me but the success of the new main means I’m in the minority. I can live with that. Love the nesting of replies! I agree with NZ Willy, the right hand column should be smaller.
All-in-all the changes are a big plus. Thanks.

OK S.

I voted “unsure” but I’m really not. Everything is OK except for nested replies. I’ll read them the first time through, but not later. This site simply has too many comments to have to reread them all just to find a new one.

William Mason

I like the new format on the comments. When someone is replying to another post I don’t have to mark where I am at and scroll way back up to see which one they are referring to. Now it is right there which make more sense to me. Good job on the remodeling.
Cheers,
William

Never mind I see you can post at the end. Silly me. Thanks.

Gary

Looks great, Anthony. And btw you’re approaching 200 million views!

M Courtney

The style changes are nice. But style is merely superficial. It does look more professional but the substance was always good anyway.
The nested comments is the big change.
And I don’t like the way that debates are closed in on themselves instead of cross-fertilising.
So I voted “not sure yet”.

DaveW

I like the way they are nested so I can disagree with you directly and not 50 comments down the page.

Paul Coppin

However, with linear commenting, I can go quickly go to one place to find the “new business”, and my memory hasn’t failed enough yet to not remember what I read 50 comments above. With nesting, I feel like I’m circling a dozen drains after the first bunch of replied comments – Way. Too. Slow. to process new info.(Is it possible to up the font style in the comment posting blocks -really have to squint to read what I’m posting which is going to add more typos…:)

John V. Wright

Anthony, we appreciate all your efforts and expertise here in the UK. The new format is fine. In a couple of months those who are not finding it so easy to adjust will have adapted. More power to your elbow and to your dedicated mods.

DD More

Anthony, like the new font and color bars. Would it be possible to have a ‘view sort button’ with nesting as basic and by posting / comment number to allow reading as posted?

petermue

Am I the only one who noticed an almost double loading time compared to the old design?
Seems that something preloads 3-4 times on a white page before the content becomes visible.