Downtime

Pharyngula will be going silent this afternoon. Do not panic, do not call 911, do not convert to Catholicism in a desperate search for succor. The Seed overlords are implementing a much-needed upgrade to the software that drives this place, so some of the functions will be turned off this afternoon, like posting and commenting, while a team of code dwarves move in and bang up the joint. It's a big upgrade, so you're likely to be locked out until sometime on Saturday. Be strong.

What will you get out of this? At first, not much. Everything will look and act exactly the same to the reader after the upgrade. However, I'm hoping for some performance improvements in some of the database functions, which means better troll control. There will probably be some other changes as I get a grip on the new functionality; I know there will be an option for threaded comments which I'll give a trial run, and I'll also be looking into requiring some minimal site registration requirements. Any changes that will affect you will be rolled out gradually, have no fear, and if they are disliked, I won't hesitate to roll them back.

Anyway, this afternoon and tomorrow will be your chance to step away from the computer, take a shower, bake cookies, shovel your driveway, whatever…but I expect you all back on the job filling up comment threads by Saturday evening, and definitely back at it by Sunday.

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Since I posted that open letter to Seed, it's only fair to post the reply I received the other day. We've just signed off with Six Apart, the makers of Movable Type, to begin Phase I of our registration program. You won't actually see too many changes with this phase - we're essentially just…

Noooo... threaded comments are such a pain... it's your blog after all, but I wish you wouldn't do it. :(

By speedwell (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

I think threaded comments is a good idea, at least if it looks like it does on gizmodo.com.

The advantage of threaded comments is that one could see replies right after, but the disadvantage is that it no longer forces comment readers to read every single comment.

I hope the back-channels are still open, so you can all partake of some group therapy to help come to terms with the withdrawal.

With the volume of comments you get here threaded = good. Far to often sensible discussions get lost because there's an idiot that needs kicking.

Oooo!

Threaded comments!

Yes please! Not having to cross refferance to somethng 87 posts away and then loosing your spot will make things so much easier.

Heck in theory it will even reduce duplicative posting.... but don't hold your breath.

Nooo! No threading, please! Threading is based on requires the incredibly stupid assumption that nobody ever replies to two comments at once!!! Not all of us are single-issue posters!

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Still hate the idea of threaded comments. Can't see that changing.

:(

Argh. The strikethrough is supposed to end after "on". Why am I so tired today?

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Already! An error by David Marjanović! Look at the trouble just the threat of threading is causing!

We all know that "Threaded Comments" are the work of Satan and thus to be eschewed by good atheists. Allowing threading will mean the xtianization of Pharyngula and a victory for Ken Hambone. Next, we will be worshiping idols and eating stale crackers. No, NO, NO, I say.

Or maybe yes, what the heck. It does make it easier for me to pick out points I like and ignore some of the side threads, i.e., troll stomping.

Just screwing around this morning because it is cold in Charleston - 35F now and only getting up to 55F. (Yeah, I love rubbing that into people who are living in the snow belt - evil grin)

Ciao y'all

Anon@8: If you take a way the relgionist bias on TFTD you will still have the insipidity bias. If they a had a non-believer it would have to be someone like Andrew Brown.

and definitely back at it by Sunday.

Ah, if I only had a nickle for each time I've seen that statement come back to torment the author.

Threaded comments and site registration? PZ, you are the Blogfather.

Do we register once for all of science blogs or do I have to regester seperatly others?

I told you, DON'T PANIC.

I will probably try threaded comments out in the near future — all it takes is a little tweaking of a template, and presto. I'll let it run for a few days or a week, and then we'll evaluate how its working. And if it's not, I'll simply switch it back.

We're just going to have some new avenues to explore, and I'll tinker a bit. Things mostly work well right now, though, so I'm not planning big changes.

Any changes will be on a blog-by-blog basis. Seed just gives us a fairly loose framework within which to work, and we're all very independent — nothing I do will affect Greg Laden's blog, for instance, and vice versa.

Suits me perfectly as I will be attending a LAN-party in a few hours and will be completley immersed in DOTA, Compay of Heroes and CoD 5 well into saturday evening or sunday morning.
Cheerio!

By Andersson (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Augh....Just as I might be snowed in (up to 9" possible today and tonight). Sigh, there is that backlog of tapes.
I'm not a fan of threaded comments either.

By Nerd of Redhead (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Already! An error by David Marjanović! Look at the trouble just the threat of threading is causing!

I sense a great disturbance in the Force!!!

Or maybe yes, what the heck. It does make it easier for me to pick out points I like and ignore some of the side threads, i.e., troll stomping.

You are again assuming that people never comment on several different topics at once, and that threads never merge.

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Threading Yes
Threading No
...

I say we take a poll

(ducks and runs....)

JC

David at #24, I am with you and SC and others - hate threads, love troll stomping. Agreed that one joy of this blog is that several threads roll at the same time, twisting and separating and combining. Besides, threading smacks of intelligent design!

Ciao, off to buy furniture.

Threading can be very effective if done right. I say, let's give it a shot.

(As far as the "threads merge" issue goes: we currently have 'threaded' comments, but only one thread. If the replies to the different threads are independent, they're better posted as multiple comments. If they genuinely tie in together, then one can refer to the other. It hasn't been an issue in my experience.)

By Benjamin Geiger (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

I'm voting no on threaded comments, too. It's much easier to keep up with comments (if you like to read them all) with linear comments. The numbering system here works well, in my opinion.

Registration could be good though, mainly as a way of dealing with sockpuppet trolls.

Registration could be good though, mainly as a way of dealing with sockpuppet trolls.

And of making the comments to each article as sparse as those on BoingBoing (which I believe actually has rather more readers)

Not all of us are single-issue posters!

Heaven forbid you should have to make a reply in more than one thread.

I can't stand non-threaded comments, and most of the time I don't read the comments on seed at all because I can't follow one aspect of the discussion without having to scan miles of irrelevant blather.

Also, I would point out to PZ that it's possible that the reason there's such an overwhelming mass of people shouting "NO THREADED COMMENTS!" is because a majority of potential commenters in favour of threads don't bother - because the comments don't have threads.

Mostly I'm in favour of threaded comments because it makes email notification more practical, at least in theory. Half of the time I don't know why I bother posting, because the only thing more tedious than searching screeds of blather to see if anyone's picked up on what I'm about to comment on is searching through screeds of blather to see if anyone's responded to my comment.

The only downside as far as I can tell is that long comment trees will make newlines >...< that big - and the seed page width is pretty narrow anyway...

Code "dwarves" ? Dwarves only do hardware and that under close supervision. Software is done by a Mage and implemented by Elvinkind.

By BlindRobin (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

I'm not a software engineer or anything, but it's going to take a DAY to upgrade Movable Type? I can upgrade Wordpress in about five minutes.

A big YES to threading from me. We can follow whole conversations easily, and ignore conversations that don't interest us. They'd make 1000-post threads navigable. It would be necessary to force threading on users (rather than allow threading as a user option) or you will get David replying to multiple conversations in one post.

Also, yay Usenet.

The numbering system here works well, in my opinion.

Breaks when a post is deleted by a mod.

BlindRobin @ #31:

What about CODE PYGMIES?

(Code monkey think maybe manager wanna write goddamned login page himself...)

By Benjamin Geiger (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Anon@8: I'm sure I've heard a humanist on TFTD.

amk #34 wrote "Breaks when a post is deleted by a mod."

Does that happen here... at all?

Posts are more likely to be disemvoweled than removed.

take a shower

A chance to bathe? At long last? Probably a good thing.

(This isn't a trick, is it? On the Internet, no one can tell if you smell like a dog.)

I hope there will at least be an option to see the comments non-threaded like on the Second Life forums. It's impossible to follow busy threaded discussions otherwise without scrolling all over the page and keeping track of how many replies were where. In other words, it sucks unless the thread has already died or unless you only care about replies to specific posts instead of the general discussion.

@amk #37

From Wikipedia:

In 2002, 102 notable people put their name to a letter to the BBC Governors, drawn up by the British Humanist Association, the National Secular Society, and the Rationalist Press Association. This protested that the slot was available only to religious views. As a consequence, Professor Richard Dawkins from Oxford University was given a two-and-a-half minute slot[2] to deliver a reflection from an atheist viewpoint, although this was not broadcast in the Thought for the Day slot itself.[3] The BBC commented that it wanted to keep Thought for the Day a unique offering of a faith perspective within an otherwise entirely secular news programme. In response to this decision by the BBC the Humanist Society of Scotland created their own programme 'Thought For The World'[1] to accommodate these non-religious views, while the site Platitude of the Day[2] was created to parody and analyse the Thought of the Day thoughts from a non-religious perspective.

Oh, and the BBC describe it as "Reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news", which I would imagine would exclude Humanists.

I told you, DON'T PANIC.

Too late, Master! I've already begun to pray for a glitch-free upgrade.

I for one am in favor of threaded comments. It would make it a lot easier to carry out and follow a discussion about a particular topic instead of just having a mish-mash of random comments. Currently, if poster #234 wants to respond to poster #117, they have to mention the number of the post and I have to scroll all the way back up to #117, re-read it, then scroll down and find #234 again (if I remember what number it was)...it's a real hassle and most of the time I just can't be bothered.

By Levi in NY (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

If I had a wish, it would be to have the option of being able to select something along the lines of 'go to first unread post.' I come to the site several times a day, and if I don't write down the last posting number, I have to scroll down and reread posts until something looks new to me.
I'm just sayin'...

By Man of Science (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Can't we have the option of threads and non threads? Perhaps we can thing up a few other things to throw in as well... So have a 'View By' option that lets you choose to sort by:
Thread
Time
Length
Name of poster
Occurrences of the word GOD
Number of times PZ is condemmed to hell
Proclamations that 'ID is Science'
Comma to word ratio
Number of misspelt words
... anything other suggestions?

By GCUGreyArea (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Also with threaded comments you can flip the order so the latest posts are up top.

I've been reading and posting more and more from my iPhone, but long threads take ages to load. Threading might make it load faster, might also take more clicks to the conversations that interest me. There's always trade offs.

"...shovel your driveway..."

Mwahahah. Oh, it's nice to be a Californian (below 4000').

By Rebecca C. (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

No Pharyngula? Threading? That's it, I'm officially freaking out. Where are my healing crystals? *mumbles a prayer while consulting the horoscope*

At the risk of turning this forum into something much like slashdot, what about the possibilities of tags, moderation (and the choice to show/hide posts based on their moderation scores), meta-moderation, and the like? Just sayin'.

Why all the hate for threaded comments? They're really the only reasonable way to follow comment threads as long as the ones here frequently get.

By Jason Dick (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

@#51 Jason Dick
Actually, it is reasonable to read threads in a linear manner. Keeping the unity in comments keeps all people in the same page, so to speak.

@#50 co
I think that people should post more independently. If there were moderation, then everybody would be posting just to please everybody, which is not particularly the best method of fostering intelligent discussion. When there is a high volume of comments, it is not like any obnoxious individual can be that much of a nuisance anyways.

PZ, it sounds like you can't have some threads threaded, some flat. This is unfortunate, as it means threads will be converted from flat to threaded. As threading requires posting in a consistent style (replying to one post at a time, linking to the post being replied to) this is likely to be messy, and to the detriment of threading.

The numbering system here works well, in my opinion.

Breaks when a post is deleted by a mod.

"A" mod?
Credo in unum Modo!

Actually, it is reasonable to read threads in a linear manner

With 500+ posts, no it bloody isn't.

If there were moderation, then everybody would be posting just to please everybody

Ha! Though you may be right, I suspect we're rather less eager to be herded cats than is presupposed.

On an unrelated but familiar subject:

http://zi.ma/d9a9c1
("One More Theory")

Sorry if that's an old hat and/or has already been posted.

Hey, people...

There is a Poll at a newspaper from Spain asking whether or not crucifixes at public schools should be removed... or not.
And right now? there's about 80% people who have voted NOT to remove them.

Nominally there is Church-State separation in Spain, but the Church even receives money from the government...

Want to do a little magic and help change the poll?

http://www.elpais.com/encuestas/encuesta.html?id=11300

"¿Se deberían quitar los crucifijos en los colegios públicos?"
Should the crucifixes be removed from schools?

No is no, and Si is Yes.

It's too bad nobody has written the blog-comment equivalent of a full-featured Usenet newsreader, where you can customize the hell out of the display to suit your preferences. I didn't mind threading on Usenet, but it's clunky as hell on a web page because there's nothing keeping track of which comments I've read, so on lengthy discussion with numerous threads I'm bound to either miss or re-read numerous comments. I don't see how that's more useful than a flat system.

The flat system here would work better if there was a built-in quoting mechanism. At least PZ doesn't limit the number of comments per page, so it's searchable, and some people are good at quoting what they're replying to.

Huh. I just glanced at the results after voting, and thought it was saying 85% No, too. Is it really saying 85% Yes? Sucky graphic.

Anyway, thanks for the irrelevant blather, Agersomnia.

Whew. I could use a little downtime myself. But what will my paycheck dispensers think when I suddenly become productive this afternoon?

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

Threaded comments? The technology that LiveJournal has had for most of a decade? And UserFriendly Comics has had since 1997? What a wonderful evolution!

What's next? Response notification?

Whew. I could use a little downtime myself. But what will my paycheck dispensers think when I suddenly and without warning become productive this afternoon?

By Brownian, OM (not verified) on 09 Jan 2009 #permalink

DARK IN HERE, ISN'T IT?

36 hours and no noticeable improvement. Why am I not surprised?

By 'Tis Himself (not verified) on 10 Jan 2009 #permalink

I have to be honest. I missed this site. Please, everybody come home soon.

By Janine, Bitter… (not verified) on 10 Jan 2009 #permalink

Oddly, these are the only 36 hours ever where Nisbet has not struck down all dissenting comments over on his own blog.

And, yes, I'll try to post my disparaging comment there as well.

Do I have any takers it will ever see the light of day?

By Jason Failes (not verified) on 10 Jan 2009 #permalink

Yay, Scienceblogs is back!

I'm okay with threaded comments, since not enough people respond to comments in a sane manner. That is, quoting the post and/or giving the number of the post in question. Under the current conditions, give me threads any day.

Although, I'd be very sad to see logins needed to comment here and hope that was just an empty threat.

By Bored Geek (not verified) on 10 Jan 2009 #permalink

Not ever again do I want to have to go through this !
2 night shifts without scienceblogs to spend the long hours ....

No threaded comments pls PZ,or at least trial it in some old threads first,where it can do no harm,so we can sniff at it a little first....

It's too bad nobody has written the blog-comment equivalent of a full-featured Usenet newsreader, where you can customize the hell out of the display to suit your preferences.

A Web app equivalence of Forte Agents certainly should be possible. Anyone want to right one?

I didn't mind threading on Usenet, but it's clunky as hell on a web page because there's nothing keeping track of which comments I've read, so on lengthy discussion with numerous threads I'm bound to either miss or re-read numerous comments.

One partial solution that springs to mind is to record the previous refresh in a cookie, and to highlight posts newer than that on refresh.

equivalence of equivalent to.
Has the min time between posts been increased?