Respectful Insolence

A brief holiday blog update

My American readers don’t need this reminder, but, because I’m continually humbled at how many international readers I have, I thought I’d just mention it anyway. We here in the States are in the middle of a three day holiday weekend for Memorial Day on Monday. As a result, I’m taking it (mostly) easy, although yard work still calls, as do my grant and paper that need to be submitted. Given that, I thought this lazy Sunday would be a good time to provide a blog status update about the ill-fated transition to WordPress that began on Monday. I’ll try to have a “real” post tomorrow or Tuesday. Hopefully, after Tuesday things will be back to normal.

In the meantime:

  • Things appear to be stabilizing as far as blog functioning goes. However, as readers have noticed, we still have a serious spam problem. This is not likely to be resolved before Tuesday because apparently the Powers That Be don’t consider it enough of an urgent problem to work on over the weekend. In the meantime, every time I take a look at the blog, there are a bunch of new spam comments that need to be nuked, and, as spammers are wont to do with them, they are ever-morphing such that adding aspects of them to my killfile has only limited effect. We’re just going to have to put up with this for a couple of more days at least. Believe me, I find it more irritating as you do, as I’m the one who has to zap the comments. The problem, of course, is that real comments naturally tend to decrease over the weekend (and especially over holiday weekends), which means that the spam-to-real-comment ratio is ridiculously high right now.
  • I don’t know when issues with the changes to the new template that you (and I) don’t like will be dealt with. Personally, it irritates me to no end that the number of comments for each post is not displayed on the front page.
  • Over time, I’ll be fiddling with the appearance of the blog as much as is allowed within the confines of this template in order to get it back to looking something like what I like.
  • Not surprisingly, since I got access to stats again after two days with no stats, I found that my traffic is down approximately 20-30%. I don’t know how much of this is the normal holiday weekend drop and how much is due to the transition, but I’m not happy.

All whining aside, here’s hoping things return to normality soon. Feel free to continue the discussion about what’s good and bad about the new template and what you, as readers, see as the most urgent problems that need to be corrected and things that need to be changed.

Comments

  1. #1 Candy
    May 27, 2012

    Need preview . . .

  2. #2 Midnight Rambler
    United States
    May 27, 2012

    I think the gray type is by far the worst thing. A lot of blogs do that, and I really don’t understand why, but usually they’re at least closer to black. This is so gray that it hurts my eyes to read the comments. I won’t be able to do it if it stays like this.

  3. #3 Midnight Rambler
    May 27, 2012

    Also, it would help if the article type were fully black as well (it’s in the dark gray that I mentioned above, while the title is black).

  4. #4 herr doktor bimler
    May 27, 2012

    At least the spam-bots distinguish themselves from genuine commenters by their ability to embed hyperlinks in their names.

  5. #5 Kelly M Bray
    The cooler side of Hell.
    May 27, 2012

    1. Preview.
    2. No gray type.
    3. Comment count below each entry. This helps see if there are new comments.
    4. The Recent Insolence returned bar is static. it has not changed for days and many of the posts it lists are not even there.
    5. Comment numbering.
    6. Consistent date and time stamps.
    5. A spam alert button would be nice if it would help police things.

  6. #6 Narad
    May 27, 2012

    Believe me, I find it more irritating as you do, as I’m the one who has to zap the comments.

    Given that somebody thought Akismet was a good idea, I’m inclined to ask whether it’s catching anything on top of what it’s letting through. (The idea is that it devolves to the blog owner to flag every bit of spam as a never-ending training exercise, so one isn’t supposed to just delete them.)

    Oh, and what everybody else said.

  7. #7 justawriter
    May 27, 2012

    I would again ask that the “last 24 hours” page be restored. My main desire is to check the blogs that have updated since my last visit. I don’t want to go through a list of 60 or so (two thirds of which are defunct or close to it) to find the latest stuff. It isn’t so bad for this blog since Orac updates daily but some of the others only write something once or twice a week.

  8. #8 Ren
    Toronto, with Jake Gyllenhaal
    May 27, 2012

    Meh. I’ll adjust to whatever you throw at us. I like change. You can take away my cheese any time and I’ll still make quesadillas.

    And, yes, I just met Jake Gyllenhaal.

  9. #9 Skeptico
    May 27, 2012

    The RSS feed is different, so if some of your readers haven’t realized that, they will not be seeing your new posts. I guessed that was the case and so reset it with the new feed. Not sure how you get this message over to the missing readers, since they will by definition be looking at the wrong RSS feed.

  10. #10 adelady
    city of wine and roses
    May 27, 2012

    Just to add to the nagging _ for transmission to the overlords, not Orac.

    Comments should be
    1) readable colour, not necessarily black, but much darker.
    2) numbered
    3) number of posts must show on front page.

    (I’m presuming that the failure to update on right hand column is just a transition issue.)

  11. #11 Chemmomo
    Location, Location, Location
    May 27, 2012

    re updating: My sidebar started updating once I posted a new comment.

    If we don’t have our own gravatar, are we stuck with whatever the site gave us on the first comment? I don’t particularly like the color yellow (Why not? Hmmm. I’m a chemist. Yellow = sulfur. It stinks).

    That’s also an html check.

  12. #12 Chemmomo
    May 27, 2012

    Hah! I want my preview back! I saw the missing “i” after I hit “submit.”

  13. #13 Phoenix Woman
    The steaming tropical tundra
    May 27, 2012

    Tell NG that this template stinks.

    The old SB template looked far more professional. This just looks like a variation of the freebie WP or Blogger templates.

    The one good thing: The number of trolls seems to have dropped precipitously — perhaps the woo-ists are far less patient with the site than we are?

  14. #14 Ultra Venia
    May 28, 2012

    Well I was going to note that many browsers allow you to choose your own font color, but apparently the most popular browser Chrome no longer has that option AFAI can see…

    I would like to know how the spammers managed to link their names.

  15. #15 Narad
    May 28, 2012

    I would like to know how the spammers managed to link their names.

    .

    Like this. I presume this problem is also actually why the “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down” messages are barfed up, even though that’s not how the spam is being injected.

  16. #16 Narad
    May 28, 2012

    Apparently, even the “slow down” is broken: I’m now getting it with every attempted post, although simply paging back once and hittimg submit again, which is to say, doing the opposite of slowing down, works fine.

  17. #17 Kelly M Bray
    The cooler side of Hell.
    May 28, 2012

    The search function seems to be not working. When I try it I just get the R I front page again.

  18. #18 Th1Th2bot Service Center
    May 28, 2012

    The search function seems to be not working.

    Even worse, Google hasn’t reindexed the older pages, so they’ve essentially been blackholed.

  19. #19 Th1Th2bot Service Center
    May 28, 2012

    Oops. Hey, the bot’s changed careers anyway.

  20. #20 Kelly M Bray
    The cooler side of Hell.
    May 29, 2012

    I was just reading the LA Times and there was a birther article. The conspiracy nuts were out in force. If you replaced the birther rhetoric with antivaxx rhetoric it would look the same. Same faulty logic, same discredited ideas repeated over and over, same ……. I am really frightened for our country at times.

  21. #21 adelady
    city of wine and roses
    May 29, 2012

    Well, that’s weird.

    My hard drive just blew itself up so I sneaked over here to my husband’s desk. He uses Chrome – and hey presto! the recent comments are back at the state they were in a couple of days ago.

    Chrome as time travel. Who knew?

  22. #22 kia
    May 29, 2012

    This morning I realised I hadn’t seen any posts for a while, then I remembered the migration, so I came straight to the site and realised DUH, the RSS is different, and updated it. So I wonder if that has something to do with the reduced traffic?

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