And so it continues...

Why, oh, why is it that it is seemingly impossible for any sort of significant change to the ScienceBlogs collective to occur without major problems? It happened a a few years ago when we underwent the first major template upgrade. Given that experience, it was with great trepidation that I faced the upcoming migration of ScienceBlogs to WordPress. It began yesterday and thus far has not gone particularly smoothly. I was locked out of my account for a period of time, and, as of this writing, I've lost at least a couple of months' worth of comments dating back to before the original date that the overlords had proclaimed to be the date before which nothing would transfer; that is, before a deafening wailing and gnashing of teeth went up from the bloggers, who, quite understandably, were not happy with the prospect of losing a month's worth of comments and having to repost a month's worth of material manually themselves. This is a particularly annoying situation given that Abraham Cherrix had actually shown up in the comments and I wanted to blog about it. Now they're gone, hopefully temporarily. (Of course, given how the migration has gone thus far, I'm not entirely convinced that this post will actually show up, which is why I now think it might not be until Thursday before I have a new, real post doing what Orac does best.)

Don't get me wrong. I'm very happy that we're moving over to WordPress, but so far things have been a bit...rocky. Database errors, me getting locked out of my blog (me! Orac!), and a variety of things not working properly. I'm sure that sooner or later the Powers That Be will get their act together and fix all the glitches in this upgrade. I know for sure that they will restore the comments, because I will raise holy hell until they do.

In the meantime, here are a few things I've noticed and that you'll have to know. First off, there will be no more necromancers. I've set WordPress to automatically shut down all comment threads 90 days after the post goes live. (Doing that also cuts down on comment spam, too.) Second, you will not have to use your WordPress login or in any way register for an account here in order to comment. Pseudonyms will still be permitted as before. However, after things get fixed here, I do plan on turning on the feature in which you must have a previously approved comment in order to comment without moderation. What that means is that new commenters will have their first comment go to moderation. Once I approve it, they'll be able to comment freely. I realize this might be an annoyance to longtime commenters when I finally turn this feature on. You might get caught up as a "new commenter." However, this is the way it is at my other blog, and I like it there. At the very least, it will help me keep sockpuppets under control, because each time someone posts with a new 'nym and/or e-mail address, that person's post will automatically go to moderation. Once the glitches have been hammered out, I will also start fiddling with the other settings, all in order to try to make this blog look as cool as I can within the restraints of the template.

While we're waiting for our overlords' developer to get its act together, this is as good a time as any to discuss what you like about the new look, what you don't like, and what you'd like to see tweaked and changed to make it better than ever. I'll pass on suggestions to the overlords. Personally, I don't like not being able to control how much of each post shows up "above the fold," so to speak. I do like the fact that it's WordPress, however, which might just make up for the other annoyances.

More like this

Something came up that made me think it would be a good idea to mention a couple of features of the new WordPress template, just in case anyone missed them when I mentioned them before. I apologize to any who might find this repetitive, but there do appear to be some newbies here; so I think it's…
...the long-awaited migration to WordPress, promised ever since NatGeo took over: Notice: will be migrating to a new publishing platform starting on the evening of Monday, May 21 at 7 PM Eastern Standard Time. Please do not add any comments or posts between then and Tuesday…
The day is here. Time to throw the switch. What do I mean? I've been mentioning that I wanted to turn on the option that states, "Comment author must have a previously approved comment." What that means is that any new commenter's first comment will automatically go to moderation. I'll approve it (…
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)…

I think the new platform looks nice and less cluttered.

By Emil Karlsson (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

The overall look of the blog was, I think, nicer before. But then, that might just be my natural aversion to sudden, major changes.

I share your dislike of the fold cutoff. It's a useful tool to develop a story and establish a hook to read more.

The Recent Comments section to the right needs to allow at a minimum the 10 most recent comments, if not 15.

Don't like that names cannot be hyperlinked to sites. A much, much more useful feature than "Location".

Numbered comments will be missed. They provided a really good way to reference previous comments, especially when someone has commented multiple times.

Although not a huge deal, it would be nice to have "Next Post" and "Previous Post" navigation from within a full post.

Finally, the font choice is horrendous. I'm not sure which I would opt for, but...barring comic sans, anything might be better.

Okay. It looks like my recent comments comment has been addressed and that my view just hadn't reset.

One other thing I thought of, though, is that gray is a really bad font color for comments.

I think the new template looks very sharp, to be honest. The fact that you're experiencing so many glitches is, of course, an annoyance.

Look forward to seeing it up and running smoothly!

Eh, I like the font - it's nice and clear for my old eyes.
WordPress has a lot of options; pretty sure there's one for turning the "read more" cutoff off, though it may be on a post-by-post basis and not automatic. Me no like the lack of comment numbers or the lack of hyperlinking to commentors' URLs either.
But lots of options depend on the theme, and this is a custom theme - so the Overlords' web minions can put in pretty much whatever option is asked for. Get on their backs, Orac!

Some things I control, some things I don't and our NatGeo overlords do. I don't control the "read more" cutoff.

Come to think of it, I don't like that the posts don't show how many comments there are until you actually click on the link to read the entire post.

Agree the grey font shade is not ideal.
And I also will miss the numbered posts.

Where is Lord Draconis when you need him most?

The High and Most Revered Lord Draconis is currently busy eating the unworthy Wordpress Development and Scienceblogs migration team. What an honour HE bestows on them!

By Catherina (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Todd W. @7:01 AM and others -- The timestamp provides another way of referring back to a previous comment. It's just another digit or two to type.

Don't like the grey that much either. I prefer to see things in terms of black and white, without shades of grey. For example, homeopathy really IS bunk.

By palindrom (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

I like the less cluttered look of the new blog. It's very crisp. I also like the font, but I'm dyslexic and I tend to like the fonts that most people hate. I'm used to falling on the losing side in that battle.

My big complaint about the new format has already been mentioned. The grey commenting font is not good. I already have enough trouble bringing computer text into focus, making the text dim is not helpful.


By Comrade Carter (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Another vote for yucky grey font and boo on no comment numbering. This one is a minor rant and don't know if anything can be done but my preference is for balance on both sides of the main body of text and everything is off to the right here.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

It looks cleaner, but less functional. The categories list should be a "category cloud" or "tag cloud". It's just too long. But that's just me. Also, I just wanted to pile-on.

I hate change!!!

There, now that I have gotten that out of my system, the new site looks very nice. :)

I must say, though, I will sorely miss the necromancy! It was fun to see the regulars shred the 'Mancers. I do see how it might be supremely annoying for our host, however.

By Melissa G (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

What about the other change that NatGeo ordered? The 'no-pseudonyms' policy; is that still on?

By Dave Ruddell (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

If the timestamp on comments were expanded to include date (which presumably will be the case for anything "not today") it could actually be an improvement on numbering of comments, At the old site, every time a comment was released from moderation (or one was deleted), everything below that point got renumbered. The auto-generated hyperlinks for each comment were good, but they were almost never used.

I like the larger font for the main text, primarily because I read blogs on a monitor that is rather near the limit of distance of my vision - I always found RI more of a problem than any other blog. I can read one typeface as well as another, within reason. Frankly, I think a lot of people object to certain type styles because they think they are supposed to, not because of anything to do with actual readability. Though I don't find the greyed comments difficult to read, some people apparently do, and I can see no valid reason for using grey.

Just stopping by for a test. The site definitely looks cleaner than the old one.

Urgh. Hate the grey. Don't like the lack of next/previous post.

I just tried clicking on one of the "Recent Comments" and it took me to the first page of the post, not the 3rd page of comments where the referenced comment was. (Try "Orac on The (not so) Thinking Mom's (D)evolution".) Given how long the comment threads can get here, it's going to be a pain to locate the correct comment.

One step forward, two steps back

Comment numbering would be nice.

By Greg Laden (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Well, this is a nice redesign though I agree that not being able to see the number of comments and having a short paragraph as the only post content you see before the cutoff isn't all that great. Nevertheless, it's not 2 point font anymore so it's much easier to read.

As for the migration problems, they're unfortunately unavoidable. Movable Type and WP use different database structures, especially when MT is running on a more or less customized platform for which WP can't account during the migration process. Fields may be named differently, the databases may be distributed so synchronizing them is a pain, etc.

The other errors you reported sound like issues in getting the database server(s) online and lack of exhaustive testing on Sb's part. They do have the missing data though, all you need to do is keep reiterating how much you need them to transfer it...

By Greg Fish (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Greg Fish,
"As for the migration problems, they’re unfortunately unavoidable"

I disagree. Such migration issues may take a lot of time, effort, and resources to avoid, but most major issues can be avoided.

It's called a test environment. You set up replicas of the current and future systems and do the full migration in the test environment You discover and resolve the issues in the test run through so you don't have to discover and resolve them in the production cut-over. There will almost always be some subtle differences between the test setup and prod, so some issues will likely still pop up, but you should be able to catch the major issues, like comments not coming over. You generally don't just flip a switch with the idea of just figuring it out and making it up as you go along in production.

I'm a bit surprised they did the cut-over in the middle of the week during prime blog traffic time. Where I work, we always do such major cut-overs over the weekend, to minimize disruption.

By Karl withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Oh cool, my Worpress avatar shows up!

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Karl, you're describing an environment where the work is taken seriously. Sb's track record calls that assumption into question right away. And besides, even if you do set up test after test, this is no guarantee that you won't have problems converting between different systems.

By Greg Fish (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink


The auto-generated hyperlinks for each comment were good, but they were almost never used.

I use them all the freaking time, although not generally for directing others to a particular comment. Hyperlinks are great for saving one's place while reading on an iPhone. I get around by bus and so I read comment threads in parts, and my phone is prone to reloading pages at random. So without hyperlinks, I have to hope I remember where I left off (made even harder without comment numbering) and scroll through the entire thread to find that spot.

Also... no preview?

I also don't like the loss of numbering of comments.
I would like to see a darker grey, not quite black.
The comments so far have all been from today, but will they show up with the date when the clock turns over?
The fold setting should be at the discretion of the blogger.
I would like to see a little more color.
I also miss the different backgrounds on alternate posts, which made it a little easier to differentiate them, but that's not a serious change.
And why is the right side of the screen vacant?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Long-time reader, first-time commenter.

I'm not sure whether I like all the changes or not, but as long as Orac serves up his usual quality of content I will continue reading.

I don't know what specific gains have been made in the move, but I would like to second specific mis-features of the new layout (and not sure if I can make the list formatting come out correct):
- no control over amount of text before the fold on the main page is disappointing
- no next post/previous post links on individual articles makes it much more annoying to browse the archives - the full titles on the old layour were especially nice
- lack of comment numbers makes it difficult to refer to specific previous comments
- no date on comments made "today" mean it will be more difficult to make a textual reference to specific comments (have to manually include date for it to be relevant in the future)
- it does appear (from the Recent Comments section) that it is possible to make hyperlinks to individual comments, but definitely in a hard-to-predict way:…
- I would prefer comment count per article on the main page, as well - it would be much easier than manually tracking "recent comments" to determine whether there were new comments I needed to read.
- tiny comment text box and lack of preview makes it harder to submit more than short, inconsequential comments.

Also, the "recent comments" section shows that there are already at least two comment spam entries for previous days (5/14 and 5/15), so it seems that pre-moderation doesn't seem to be working properly yet

Greg Fish,

I can't dispute you on the first point, but if you recreate both different systems in the test environment and restore/copy the production data into the test env analog of the current/old system, you should be able to discover most issues with converting between different systems because you will experience those issues first in the test run. If you can't accurately reproduce your production setups in a test environment, you can't adequately recover from a disaster scenario either.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Just noticed another one - there's no time zone listed on the comment times, so I need to remember to manually compensate for the time zone to figure out how recent a comment is.

For example, it's about 8:20 AM PST now, but Old Rockin' Dave's comment (which appeared while I was composing my previous comment) has a time listed of 11:06 am.

Oh, and darker text for comments, and a slightly more-prominent background for Orac's comments would be nice. And I'm curious - why did Greg Laden get the only "highlighted" comment besides Orac? If it's under commenter, rather than Oracian, control it could become a problem.

I agree with Todd's comment above and Orac's comment about the removal of the number of comments from the main page being rather annoying. I am not a fan of breaking the comments into pages either. When I am trying to follow a long thread I suspect this is going to be rather annoying, making it difficult to find previous posts.

While I am sure this move will probably help the administration of the blogs and hopefully improve backend issues I am sadly not that impressed with the changes to the frontend as in almost every area I look features have been removed. Did they consult with the bloggers when making these changes to see what they wanted? I keep seeing this "Location" field and keep wondering "Who ordered that?"


"- tiny comment text box and lack of preview makes it harder to submit more than short, inconsequential comments."

I figured out you can enlarge the comment box the same way you would resize a window. Just drag the lower right corner of the box to make it larger, but if you drag it too far to the right, you will lose the corner, at least I do on Firefox, which is annoying because I cannot see the last few letters of each line as I type right now. the box size resets after submitting or reloading the page.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Karl definitely has good points - if you can't run the conversion (repeatedly) in a test environment, you can't really say you have adequate QA.

And another item - the "recent comments" section seems to be at least an hour behind, because the most recent one listed for me is Greg Fish @ 10:23 am

Testing html in "location" box for hyperlink.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Andy, the lag in recent comments must be somewhat dependent on the person as mine as up to date. I saw yours pretty much immediately.

And I’m curious – why did Greg Laden get the only “highlighted” comment besides Orac? If it’s under commenter, rather than Oracian, control it could become a problem.

Probably, I would guess, because he was logged into Sb WordPress when he commented.

Add another vote for a darker "ink" for comments, if posible. Needs more contrast to avoid eye fatigue, though I understand rolling one's eyes frequently (which is all too easily done when some special snowflakes show up) can help.

I won't paricularly miss the numbering, since that changed on the old SB platform with moderation and thus made callouts for particular comments a dicey proposition. I like the timestamps... assuming they're universal. If this is showing the timezone local to the user, though, then it's nigh-on useless.

The new platform seems spritelier somehow. I like that.

-- Steve

By Anton P. Nym (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

I keep seeing this “Location” field and keep wondering “Who ordered that?”

No one that I know of. Certainly not any of the bloggers, as far as I'm aware.


you should be able to discover most issues

That would be the key word. I've done several major migrations myself and while you're right form a technical standpoint, I'm talking more about implementation. How many issues you find depends on the complexity of the migration and the amount of data you have. The more data has to be transferred or converted, the more likely little snags are to pile on.

Small blogs should move over just fine. Big blog networks with millions of posts, comments, and years of data? You can't check every post or every comment to make sure it's accurately transferred. Through form the things I'm seeing and Orac is describing, Sb seems to be totally winging it, much less trying to check even a small sample of the data being converted...

By Greg Fish (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Hoping blockquotes still work as I expect.

I won’t paricularly miss the numbering, since that changed on the old SB platform with moderation and thus made callouts for particular comments a dicey proposition.

I still find them useful even if they shift around a bit. Often people give some extra information about the post in question, so if the number has changed by one or two places the post can still be tracked own. I find that helps a lot when the number of comments reaches a high number and the post in question is buried somewhere in the past.

I'd like it if URL's could be included in a person's nym, just like before, but I'm not sure it's feasible.

By dedicated lurker (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Another vote for numbering.

It does seem less cluttered, but the other recommend blogs that were on the SB blog are gone. I liked that part when I sometimes felt like exploring.

Really enjoy reading this blog

I'm sorry, but my first impression is that it's ugly. Or maybe not ugly, exactly, but disturbing. Lacking some je ne sais quoi that the old site had. Maybe just change anxiety.

I had missed the lack of preview. That's another very bad thing.

So, what's so good about WordPress that losing features (preview, next/previous, comment numbering, hyperlinks in names, etc.) and introducing bugs (clicking on a "recent comment" can't take you to that comment if it's on another comment page) worth while?

Given the "we're going to lose a month's worth of comments" and then losing a bunch of comments after promising not to, makes me question the competence of NatGeo's web staff. They seem to have chosen things that are easy for them, but not good for the end users.

BTW, the grey text for comments illustrates that perfectly. It's an accessibility issue -- the contrast is too low for some people to read. Someone with a modicum of user-experience knowledge would have known that to start with. Knowledge that I'd expect the web staff of a major publication to have.

Greg Fish

"You can’t check every post or every comment to make sure it’s accurately transferred."

True, but we're not talking about random comments from random posts scattered over the history of the blog. We are talking about a very easy to discover issue that was actually anticipated as a possibility.

I've done many major migrations myself, which is why I am surprised at the timing. We generally aren't allowed to do such migrations during the week.

If you test in lab with full production data, major issues should be detected ahead of time. Not everybody has the resources to lab full production data & setup, though.

I suspect that this is not something that was labed and worked in test, but did not execute in production as it did in test.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

I hate WordPress. It's ugly and unimanginative. Sorry, guys, but I just had to get that off my chest while it's fresh-like.

If anyone wants me, I'll be in the Valley Temple.

By Queen Khentkawes (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Looks like the recent comments list doesn't update very quickly.

Also, after taking a look at some of the other threads, I need to second (or third or fourth) the comments being broken into separate pages thing. Particularly if a thread is really active, you can quickly lose your place and have trouble finding previous comments. All comments on the same scrolling screen would be better.

Got a spurious error message "you're posting comments too quickly, slow down," which is weird since I didn't click twice or anything. Though I have all my privacy settings dialed up to max, as usual.

The new look is cleaner (so far!), there's no graphical clutter on the page, particularly none of the pesky blinking stuff that used to be on some of these blogs and made them annoying to read.

Now we'll see if the "skip a line to demarcate a paragraph" thing works.

There appears to be no "preview/edit" function, but that's not a big deal since the comment box has a slider thingie to use while proofreading before posting.

YES I wholeheartedly support your new comment moderation policy. Compartmentalized pseudos are good, they reduce tracking. Ideas stand or fall on their own merits.

Though I might suggest being a little more obscure about how many of a new commenter's comments go to moderation, because undoubtedly some clever trolls will make a "nice" first comment and then flood the place with a river of untreated sewage. OTOH presumably you have a way of drowning them in their own dreck. Or just leave them up for the rest of us to use for target practice. Either way's good:-)

It's certainly not showing commenters' local time zone. I'm posting this at 17:49 BST - lets see what time SB shows.

And it appears that Science Blogs' clock is 3 minutes fast!
I think Lord Draconis needs to eat a few more web minions.

The first thing I can think of is the letters need to be something more than light gray. That is really hard on the eyes.

When I tried to post this a moment ago I got an error message telling me I was posting too fast and to slow down. This is the first post to Science Blogs today. W.T.H.?

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Testing html in “location” box for hyperlink.

Seems to work for the spammers in the Name field. Test.

Nope. Hmph.

I miss the list of other available science blogs that used to be on the side. I like to hit a link at random to see what it is there

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Karl Withakay,

How much revenue will Orac's web overlords lose due to the issues they've had during transition? Alternatively, how much more revenue would they have made if they had done the transition perfectly? Would that have been enough to pay for the cost of doing a full rehearsal?

Assuming everything calms down and in a week what you see here is what you continue to get - what impact will that have on their revenue?

Remember, we are not their customers (unless you're paying someone, you're not a customer). We are product.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Oh, and the timestamp for comments seems to be fast. I'll click submit for this one when the USNO Master Clock flips to 17:00:00 UTC.

Let me try a little test.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

I miss the little map on the bottom showing where we all were. I still wonder who was regularly posting from Sao Tome!

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

g724 @ 12:50 pm
"none of the pesky blinking stuff"

I'm with ya! I loathe those horrible things, and have always considered them something suitable for attracting the attention of very young children.
I find them very distracting. I'm not sure if it's because I'm easily distracted or because I watch birds & other wildlife a lot, and noticing small motions outside of my main field of vision is very useful. I have enough problem with the birds/bugs/mice now permanently inside my right eye since it came apart a year ago.
A. Noyd @ 10:57 am
I never thought about using the hyperlinks for navigation. I don't hold with them fancy newfangled pocket electrical thingies.

MESSAGE BEGINS-----------------------


-------------------------MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

MESSAGE BEGINS-------------------

Minion Withakay,
How does one have one's "Gravatar" appear from the word presses? We can move a small planet from it's orbit and travel across half the galaxy, but evidently your simple communications technology have level 7 flummoxed.

Lord Draconis Zeneca VX7iHL
Glaxxon PharmaCOM Terrabase DIA

-------------------------MESSAGE ENDS

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

MESSAGE BEGINS-------------------

Minion Withakay,
How does one have one's "Gravatar" appear from the word presses? We can move a small planet from it's orbit and travel across half the galaxy, but evidently your simple communications technology have level 7 flummoxed.

Lord Draconis Zeneca VX7iHL
Glaxxon PharmaCOM Terrabase DIA

-------------------------MESSAGE ENDS2

By Glaxxon Pharma… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Getting my post in. Sad to hear about the big comment loss, and mildly annoyed that I apparently won't have my name linked to my blog.

By Bronze Dog (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

There won't be a big comment loss, at least not a permanent one. I plan on making very sure of that. I'm also going to fight for having commenters be able to link their names to their blog. Cutting that out was just plain ridiculous.

mildly annoyed that I apparently won’t have my name linked to my blog

Given that some of the spam that has come through has had it working, there's got to be some way. Just seems to require fiddling around.

Oh Nooooo Killfile doesn't work!
Does anyone know if there's a killfile version that works with wordpress? I can not stomach ThThingys tripe at all and Killfile takes care of that very efficiently.
I also miss the preview option.

By VikingWarriorP… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Mephistopheles O'Brien,

Are you advocating or justifying the George Lucas "We could have made just as much money on Empire if we spent half as much" approach?

I don't know how much money Science blogs may lose because they may have a harder time attracting new bloggers or even lose some current bloggers due to their ineptitude in the conversation. They certainly lost a lot of bloggers when they did their deal w/ National Geographic.

"Remember, we are not their customers (unless you’re paying someone, you’re not a customer). We are product."

That's not any different from network television. You still need to keep the viewers eyes on the content of the advertiser how no reason to pay.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Oh great Lord Draconis,

I suspect Wordpress is getting my gravatar from my wordpress blog due the email address I am posting with being the address linked to my Cordial Deconstruction blog. I doubt it's getting it from Google+.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Timestamp, the time stamp need a time zone listed and the date as well.
The grey text is not a very good idea, not enough contrast so it is unnecessarily hard to read.
Hmmm... I'm obviously in a whingeing mood today so what else can I find to carp on about...

I'm overjoyed to see that Lord Draconis was not lost together with all those comments that went AWOL.

By VikingWarriorP… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Oh Nooooo Killfile doesn’t work!

Oh, crap, that hadn't occurred to me yet. It shouldn't be too difficult, as WP is the killfile base scenario, but I haven't looked at the actual script in some time.

I'll just chime in again,with everybody that the grey type is very hard to read.I would also like to see the blogroll put back,as well as the links to other Science Blogs posts.

I see complaints about lack of previews,and spam.What about moderation?Is there any?

We're big boys and girls.We are all pretty much used to what Th1Th2,Sid,and the rest dish out by now.They caused so much chaos at the old place,even with moderation and preview,it can't be that much worse.

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Overall this layout looks quite clean to me.

Seconding sophia8 -- it would help if the time zone was specified, so we know when we are and who might still be up and talking.

Add another plea for darker comment text, please.

Also I'm not impressed when my first attempt to comment results in a 'posting too fast, slow down' message. Should I click the mouse button a little slower? Let me try this time...

Didn't work. Not happy. (Not that anyone is likely to find that out at this rate!)

Ha! Third time lucky!

I do think the new look is quite sharp.

I share the annoyance at the lack of comment numbering.

Although I do agree with the statement at comment number... er... that comment up there - as long as Respectful Insolence is still being served, I will continue to come here and enjoy it.

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

We're adaptive agents of transformation amidst erstwhile symbolic manipulanda, aren't we? We are fabulously complex and innovative creatures who aren't stymied by mere superficial GREYNESS... lord almighty, it's grey here every day. You'll get used to it. All of it will work out. TRUST me. "Consciousness loads the dice". And we are VERY conscious.

Once you get your snark and scepticism properly alligned with their new co-ordinates, you will be alright. Come on, now! Let's do it. There are mountains of stupidity out there just waiting for our excavating prowess. And the mountains shall be moved!

WAIT! Where's my drink? Hey, that was MINE! What's wrong with you!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

So, it's looking like the "fiddling" necessary to generate a comment with a name link is probably sending a request directly to wp-comments-post.php, which is not worth the effort. I had been hoping that slipping a PHP hook into a regular <a> somewhere would work, but I'm not quite seeing it.

Karl Withakay,
I'm not justifying their actions. Like others, I'm perturbed by some of the changes, the (temporary?) loss of comments, etc.

But then there is reality. As long as they don't mess up badly enough that people actually stop reading and bloggers move to some other provider, they have done just a good enough job to meet their requirements. So my question with regard to some of the statements made about how they should have run the migration is - what would have been in it for them to run it any better? It would have cost them more time and money; if there were no calculable benefits, I don't see why they wouldn't have done any better job.

Are you advocating or justifying the George Lucas “We could have made just as much money on Empire if we spent half as much” approach?

I'm not sure what that quote is supposed to mean or how you're interpreting it. Clearly he spent "twice as much". Could he have made a less expensive, less popular picture with higher margins and made as much or more money than he did on Empire? Possibly - clearly he thought so if the quote is accurate. Did he do it? Apparently not.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

testing gravatar

Well, here's my initial comment so I can be approved. Tried this morning, but my work computer blocks commenting, though I can read RI. Go figure....

Not too sure I really like the new format, but I'll give it time and see.


I'll agree with others on the importance of

numbered comments

something on first page showing how many comments follow the post

Mephistopheles O'Brien,

"As long as they don’t mess up badly enough that people actually stop reading and bloggers move to some other provider, they have done just a good enough job to meet their requirements."

Well, that's really the key isn't it? Scienceblogs has already had several prior hemorrhages of bloggers.

"what would have been in it for them to run it any better?"

That's not a great attitude to have for running a business,a nd its a relatively short sighted position to take.

"if there were no calculable benefits, I don’t see why they wouldn’t have done any better job."

I guess that depends on how you define calculable. Certainly it's hard to calculate ahead of time how badly you have to mess up before X number of bloggers leave, but that doesn't mean there isn't some monetary value to doing a good job and providing quality service.

A number of prominent bloggers left when the Nat Geo deal was signed, and there are others taking a wait and see approach. There's value in letting the bloggers know you care about the quality of the operation.

A blogger considering moving to scienceblogs has other options to consider, and a record of poor quality of operation and service is not a way to entice bloggers to sign up or a good way to keep existing bloggers from jumping ship.

The quasi quote about Lucas was in regards to how after making Empire, many involved in the project were beaming about what an outstanding film they had made, and Lucas lamented to Gary Kurtz that they could have sold just as many tickets if they had spent half as much money on the movie and said all that mattered was the roller coaster ride.

If money was the only driving factor, there's better ways of making money on the web than a site dedicated to high quality science blogging.

By Karl Withakay (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

what would have been in it for them to run it any better?

I dunno, some people actually take pride in what they do. The fact that this was so amateurish as to apparently assume that Akismet would take care of robospam is just embarrassing.

I tried some tweaking with killfile for greasmonkey, but for some reason it doesn't work. Anybody had better luck or found alternative solution?

Spent a lot of time on Sadly, No!, a WordPress blog, and you'll get used to that "slow down, you're posting too fast" thingy. Yes, indeedy. Also, although Sadly looks nothing like this, I suspect that sooner or later, the main meme, "F*ck you, WordPress," will become known 'round here . . .

I tried some tweaking with killfile for greasmonkey, but for some reason it doesn’t work.

What did you try? With luck, all that should be needed is to identify commenttopxpath, sigbit, etc., from the page source.

A lot of spam has popped up on old threads. They also seem to be able to link to their sites through their nym's. Some older threads have no comments left on them.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

A lot of spam has popped up on old threads. They also seem to be able to link to their sites through their nym’s.

It's being submitted by (1) grabbing akismet_comment_nonce and (2) using an HTTP POST to send it directly to the canonical target for WordPress posts. No humans required. Apparently, it never occurred to NatGeo IT monkeys that legitimate comments generally have a referrer.

I, like Kelly, will miss the map. It isn't a big deal, yet it served in a way to shrink the world and form a sort of global bond. Somehow, I think an outfit with "Geographic" in its name might see some merit in that.

Looks fine on an Android phone. I would also like comment numbers again. I'm not much for avatars. I personally don't use them (and would like to have an empty square - help, please?) but wouldn't deny others.

Eh, I dunno - - - new curtains, a few throw pillows, this might be home.

And by new curtains, I mean make the comment font black, and by pillows, I mean take care of the bugs, like make sure the recent comments transfer over and get the "Recent Insolence returned" to update.

The 'new poster goes to moderation' feature will be nice when it comes on line - less spam, and the good "Dr. Smart" will spend more time in limbo where he belongs.

The multi-pages of comments might be better for those with slow connections - less data to load per page - but with a reasonably fast connection, it's gonna be a PITA.

I'll miss the map, too.

This is known that cash makes people independent. But what to do if someone doesn't have money? The one way is to try to get the home loans and just student loan.

I see that spam is not limited to old threads.

Not sure I like the new setup, either, but I will keep reading since I've been doing so for several years and it's the content that's really important. Hopefully the glitches will get worked out and the Insolence will be dished out unabated. I enjoy this spot too much to give up on it over some format changes. I did like the numbered comments, too, as several others have mentioned. Makes it easier to respond and reference other comments in a thread.

By medrecgal (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

I see that spam is not limited to old threads.

Just changing the name of the damn file would alleviate things while a proper (heh) fix is slapped together.

Can a spam flag button be set up?

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Test post.

By Sid Offit (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Just checking to see if my gravatar shows up....

By The Very Rever… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Whaddaya know.

Soon every other comment on this blog will contain the letters FYWP, like all the others I frequent. I have to say though, all Wordpress pages load slowly, but this one is slower than molasses in January.

By The Very Rever… (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Kelly @11:25 PM says

Can a spam flag button be set up?

Can a "Sid the Idiot" flag be set up?

Sid, your post didn't show up. Go away.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

I would like to add my vote for numbered comments and a line on the main page under each post showing how many total comments there are for each entry. Other than that, it looks new and shiny, so hurray.

Can't wait for your insolence to get back to normal Orac!

Welcome back. Missed this crowd. First comment in the new digs.

Is there an allowed html list?

OK, I'm officially perplexed at not being able to get the needed killfile XPath correct. I blame society.

I hope they get this sorted out. I do miss the regular doses of refutation, science discussion and general snark.

By DurhamDave (not verified) on 23 May 2012 #permalink

Wow. I leave for a bit and the whole place is changed. I'll still be busy with wonky hotel wifi, so I hope all is better when we get home next week.

The spam is fairly annoying, as is the gray comment font. I would like a link to individual comments, because those are very handy.

OK, this may be a minor issue, but on some of the machines I check RI on, something's wrong with the caching of the "Respectful Insolence Returned" section. What it's showing as the most recent comments are from May 23, including spam comments that have already been deleted, and that continues even if I tell the page to refresh its cache.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

something’s wrong with the caching of the “Respectful Insolence Returned” section
For me, it updated when I commented, but not otherwise.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge looks nothing like the way I imagined him from his comments at "Sadly,No!"

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Thank you Orac for fixing the hyperlinks and keeping the comments on one page. I'll even wait a bit to kvetch about what hasn't been done.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

If you have any pull with NatGeo overlords, I wish we could get back the "Last 24 Hours" page. I am sick of the Internet trying to find the most "relevant" content for me when what is relevant for me is the content that has been posted since the last time I visited the site.

By justawriter (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

And I just got a "You are posting too quickly, slow down" error on my first post of the day. Maybe that just went into moderation...

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Just a test. Please ignore.

This is a test. Is it black?

Ok, something strange is happening; my 'nym was hyperlinked to my blog on the "genome" post but now it isn't here or anywhere.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Okay, while the spam in sometimes amusing (on the "Wakefield exonerated" article one claimed it described his friend's problem), it is very annoying.

I'm still waiting for the Recent Insolence Returned to start updating.

I'd also like something darker for the comment font. The gray is just a bit too dim for easy reading.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Curious how the spammer tsunami can "linkify" their usernames whereas I have yet to figure out how to do so... I'm not used to feeling inferior to the "nice site thanks" crowd.

-- Steve

PS: this is my second attempt to post this; the first was trapped by "you post too fast", which is strange given the ~30 minute gap from my last posting.

By Anton P. Nym (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Well, one computer running Windows 7 and Firefox is updating the recent comments but another running Vista with Firefox is not !?!?

Avatars seem to be generated at random. I logged into Wordpress and looked at my profile, but couldn't see any place to choose one.

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Then I submitted a comment on the Vista computer and the recent comments finally updated!

By squirrelelite (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Curious how the spammer tsunami can “linkify” their usernames whereas I have yet to figure out how to do so…

I mentioned this above. They're not using the comment form.

The "contact us" link at the bottom is broken. I was hoping to contact them to tell them that they lost all the comments on the old Tet Zoo pages, which really sucks.

And when I try to post I get "file not found".

By Kelly Clowers (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Apparently blocking *any* tracker or scripts on the page will keep you from commenting. Awesome.

By Kelly Clowers (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Apparently blocking *any* tracker or scripts on the page will keep you from commenting.

No, I have DoubleClick scripts blocked, as well as Google Analytics. I suppose I should take a look at what's new in there.

Say, NatGeo, making comments a different shade from the main text is so....lazy. If you really think they need to be differentiated, try a different font.

In other words, I Nth the motion that the grey color for comments is heinous and must go.

test driving putting a link in the location field.

Well, you can see how that worked.

I suspect the datestamp time is US Eastern Daylight Time.

Apparently, WP adds a date to the datestamp when the clock passes 12:00 midnight in EDT. In other words, yesterday's comments look like this:

May 23, 11:25 pm

but today's comments (so far) look like this:

4:26 pm

I guess by tomorrow, it will be automatically

May 24 4:26 pm

OK, not to test some stuff:

This is bold. Is it bold and grey?
This is my blog:

I suspect the datestamp time is US Eastern Daylight Time.

Plus 4 minutes for good measure, last I checked. This will be submitted at 21:49:00 UTC modulo USNO transit time, since I don't want to fire up the shortwave for WWV.

I can't get the search bars to work specifically the searchs for this blog

By delurked lurker (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

Oh yes, a few more things: the ability to link to individual comments is critical on this blog,and I believe on most science blogs, since so much of the valuable discussion goes on in the comments.

If a preview button is available, I would very much appreciate having it, at least on this blog. I tend to use a lot of HTML for formatting.

I also liked the two boxes on the old blog that had SB's "most active" and "last 24 hours" -- useful to see posts from blogs I don't follow.

In other news, heard from Chris -- all is going well.

Next to our habit of overestimating diificulty one of our worst traits is our habit of underestimating difficulty. Such as all the premature attempts to simulate the human brain using a digital computer. Setting up a blogging community appears to be one task we assume to be simple, only to have it blow up in our presumptous face.

Good luck with the move, and I hope Nat Geo finds a cautious web master.

By Alan Kellogg (not verified) on 24 May 2012 #permalink

I like it--even the gray! The typeface (font) is much clearer and cleaner.

I especially like that commenter’s names are at the top of the entry rather than the bottom.

Test comment.

Preview was my friend. Even when it didn't help. I'm with Liz: If it's at all possible please bring it back! I'm not looking forward to finding out if my minimal html skills are up to the task without any testing before I submit.

Setting up a blogging community appears to be one task we assume to be simple, only to have it blow up in our presumptous face.

"We"? "Premature attempts to simulate the human brain using a digital computer"? No, it's actual amateurishness. There are plenty of people who could have told you what was going to happen with the comment spam. It's not even hard to do something about, even on the fly, but on it rolls.

Selecting something from the "Go to [Select Blog...]" drop-down also does nothing from here.

I noticed this morning that lots of comments from the 25th have disappeared.

I noticed the recent comments section is not updating.

Also, it would be nice if the front page showed the number of comments before you open an article.

Just testing after a few days away. Though I agree about the low contrast grey font, it is hard work.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 26 May 2012 #permalink

P.S. the Recent Insolence Delivered column is better than nothing but is not really a replacement for a previous/next button.

By John Phillips, FCD (not verified) on 26 May 2012 #permalink

testing avatar yet again......

One of my computers seems to be staying upto date on the recientcomments, but this box is still showing something from Friday as the newest. I'm wondering if it's necessary to make a post, to get a cookie, to allow things to update.

By Johnny Miller (not verified) on 28 May 2012 #permalink

As 'sub' doesn't work, I just want to test 'inf': R0.

Ah, that's too bad. Science blogs, as it goes, might want to accommodate those krrrayzee superscripts and subscripts.

I don't think I should have to make a comment just to see the recent comments.

And I should be able to make a second comment within ten minutes, not be given a warning when thirty minutes have passed. I hardly think forty minutes is "too fast."

This is ridiculous. I went out of town last week, confident this mess would be cleared up when I got back. And here we are, more than a week after the move, with recent comments still frozen at 5/23/12, no numbered comments, no total of comments on the front page, erratic linking to comments (sometimes to specific comment, sometimes to first page of original post). Why? Why?

I really commented because several people said that would make the comments update, and it worked for me. That aspect could have been designed, I suppose, as a strategy to bring the lurkers out of hiding, though given the unimpressive level of competence demonstrated otherwise, I find it difficult to ascribe such sophisticated motives to your transition team. Sorry the spam elimination is turning into such an overwhelming time sink.

I don't know. Much of the spam has a bit of a surreal quality. It's off topic in a strangely polite sort of way. Like haiku for stoners.

By Kelly M Bray (not verified) on 30 May 2012 #permalink

Just testing something. Ignore this post.

Test 2.

How the heck do the spammers all manage to get hyperlinks associated with their names, while none of the "regulars" do?
I does make is easy to spot spammers in "Insolence Returned"

Has anyone with a web site simply tried putting a properly formatted HTML link into the Name field?

Sorry, not very observant today - I just noticed several regulars have found the secret to hyperlinks with their names.


Pass on to your overlords that they've successfully reduced the utility ScienceBlogs as a launching pad for me. There are a few blogs I follow regularly on here, but the "Now on ScienceBlogs" headline on the old format, and the links to "Research Blogging" were two of my favorite now missing features.