Welcome to the New Freethought Blogs


After seven months of frustration and irritation, the new Freethought Blogs is finally here. As you have certainly noticed by now, we have not only a new design and logo but a whole new theme and even a new server with a different hosting company. The front page is completely different and should be much more useful to those of you with an interest in specific issues, as it will curate posts across the network by topic. Three years to the day after the launch of the network, it’s a whole new FTB. A few notes:

Huge thanks to our site tech, Alex Songe. After the company we hired to do the redesign turned out to be completely incompetent, he rewrote damn near the entire thing to make it functional. He’s worked his ass off on this and there’s no way we could have done it without him.

Also a huge thanks to Matthew Pickard, a longtime FTB reader and brilliant graphic designer. He designed the new logo without charging us a dime and I really love the look. The idea of the handprint goes back to the paleolithic paintings on cave walls at Lascaux, France. There was a small minority who demanded a picture of a tentacle (I’ll leave it to your imagination to discern where that came from), but their brief insurgency was put down.

There will inevitably be things that will need to be tweaked over the next few days. If you’re having a problem with the site, please use the tech support form to send it to us. And be as specific as you can, include what OS and browser you’re using and get screenshots if possible so we can track down the problem. Your registrations should remain the same and be fully functional for you to comment. And please be patient while we track down those annoying little gremlins.

One new thing you may notice: We now have an Amazon storefront, the Freethought Shop. I’ll be adding books and DVDs and other items that I think our readers might like. If you link to Amazon from there to buy one of them, FTB will get a little kickback from Amazon. That’s just another way you can help support the network without costing you anything at all.

There are more changes coming as well. As soon as we’ve got all the little bugs fixed on the new design, we’ll be adding three new bloggers that I’m really excited about having here. And we’ll be moving forward on yet more new bloggers soon, as we’ve been in kind of a holding pattern for the last few months in that regard as we’ve worked on the redesign.

So welcome to the new FTB. Hope you like it.

Comments

  1. Seven of Mine, formerly piegasm says

    Looks great and runs much faster for me. I like the longer recent posts/comments list. Great job!

  2. says

    One complaint: the loss of index numbers on the comments. This will make it very difficult to respond to individuals where the blogger has turned threading off. A more cosmetic issue is the complete lack of side padding on the buttons: see the “Post Comment” and “Preview” buttons below.

  3. says

    Yeah, it’s running much faster and the server load is much lower too. That was one of the goals. And we know that the numbers on the comments aren’t there, but they’ll be back soon.

  4. says

    Two other suggestions, if I may. It would be nice to have the time stamp in closer proximity to the title; this will make skimming a bit easier. And the front page is rather unwieldy: maybe make the topic headers into accordion windows, normally closed (and hiding the post lists) but open/close -able by clicking on it? Or list only three or four posts, and add a - More - link, or make the section header a link that takes to a comprehensive index page?

    I think I’m done with complaints now. I really like the new layout, and yes, the site does seem a lot more responsive now. Kudos to your tech team!

  5. R Johnston says

    The disappearance of the FTB Recent Posts sidebar element is disappointing, at least to me. I found a lot of interesting posts on FTB blogs I don’t regularly follow because a title caught my eye as I was reading a post, and it was nice to see at a glance of a page I’d visit anyway where recent activity was happening. I’d much rather have seen that element expanded to show more posts than lost. Navigating regularly through the front page to catch recent posts when I mostly just follow a half dozen of the FTB blogs closely feels silly and like a bit of a waste of time, the kind of thing I’d do if I felt an obligation to check out other blogs rather than the desire to check in when something catches my interest.

    Also, the front page is just way too long a page for a portal page. The top two categories are prominent, the next two are one scroll down, and the bottom four seem buried. Scrolling through a lot of text to read a post is one thing, but doing it to find a post is another. Collapsible categories would help.

    All IMO, of course, and not in any way an expert opinion at that.

  6. chezjake says

    I’m in complete agreement with R Johnston on all points about missing the FTB Recent Posts. That’s far more useful than any subject indexing on the front page.

  7. says

    Yeah, we’ll put the “recent posts” thing back on the sidebar of the front page soon. We may look to do expanding topics there as well at some point, but there are more important priorities first.

  8. Ysidro says

    So far not liking the new layout. I’m sure a lot of that is just “change is bad!” but I hope I can get used to the way the main page is organized. Right now I’m finding it hard to navigate. And having the same post referenced multiple times under different subjects just seems to clutter things up. I prefered being able to see the latest couple of posts from each blogger. This way, I can see less prolific bloggers getting buried.

    I also miss being able to go forward and backwards through posts from links on a post’s page. Having to click each article seperately, click on comments to read those, then go back all the way to get to another post (and have everything on a blog’s first page load again) is pretty annoying.

    And I hope the fact that new tabs open every time I click on a blogger is just miscoding. Otherwise I’m going to end up getting PO’d at having to close tabs everytime I check another blog out.

  9. Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach says

    You’ve won this round, Brayton. But the cephalopods will rise again!

  10. Johnny Vector says

    I agree with Ysidro, times three: I am filled with a fiery rage on account of not having a direct link to the next and previous posts.

    Some way of organizing by blog would be great. There are some writers whose every post I want to read, and some I have no interest in reading. The only way to go to a specific blog is to read through the long text list and click the right one. If that list at least had icons it would help.

    Also, yeah, the Post Comment and Preview buttons are truly ugly. And shouldn’t the Preview button be on the left (when displayed in a left-to-right script)? To encourage people to use it, y’know.

  11. afriendcalledfive says

    I think I’m thirding this: there should be a link to previous and next posts within each blog.

  12. dingojack says

    Do we really need HUGE avatars* ( is enlarging them 16 or so times, actually helpful) ?
    We’re not illiterates, more text less images.
    Dingo
    ———
    * Plus that huge Ed head is distracting (in a good way, Ed, in a good way) :)
    Plus what’s with the dinky comment box?

  13. lpetrich says

    I’d also like next and previous entries.

    I also like the division into subject categories.

    For “Race, Society, and Social Justice”, I’d like to see a broader range of skin tones, or even a full spectrum. We aren’t all honkies.

    I can’t quite figure out “Miscellaneous and Meta”.

  14. badgersdaughter says

    PLEASE stop making every click on an article or blog open a new tab. Please? I’ll bake you cookies?

  15. asonge says

    dingojack, I’m trying to reproduce this issue. Several people are complaining about it. I can’t for the life of me recreate it.

  16. says

    Can we turn off the really daft bugture of opening new tabs at every opportunity?
     
    Also Mano Singham’s bit doesn’t have comments turned on (at least for me).
     
    I’d prefer the landing page not to be so regimented: why not just have all the postings together and in the inverse order that they are posted in?Or make that an alternative setting??
     
    Also [twitch, twitch] change!!!

  17. gAytheist says

    I’ve just done a brief check of several blogs and I noticed that several of them don’t have a short biography of the author at the top left. Ed, you do, but (for example) Butterflies and Wheels doesn’t. Even the link to Ophelia’s bio is not working.

  18. says

    A few notes:

    Yes, we will bring back the next/previous links and the “jump to comments” link. They were just inadvertently overlooked.

    Yes, we will fix the “automatically open in a new window” thing on the sidebar as well. I was the one who insisted on that; my mistake.

    I’ve heard complaints about really large avatars, but I don’t see them. Please tell us what operating system and browser (including the number) that you’re using so we can try to track that down. They look fine for me.

    Some of the individual bloggers may not have added the “author bio” widget to their sidebars yet. I do not control this. There are some things that each blogger is going to have to tweak on their own blogs.

    Keep em’ coming, folks, though please focus on functionality. If you’re reduced to complaining that the comment button is ugly, that’s going to be way, way down on the list of this to fix.

  19. says

    I’m reading this on my smartphone, & I can actually read it without squinting or increasing the font size.that’s a very nice touch. My compliments to the chef.

  20. Olav says

    I am sure most of this has already been mentioned, but these are the issues as I see them:

    – Still way too many third party hosts want to push their crap (including cookies and such) into my browser. Please take a long and critical look at all the bullshit advertisers, counters, (anti-) social media, avatars et cetera. Many of them are known for unethical user tracking and data mining practices and you should not want to have anything to do with them. Thanks.
    – Advertising block “Sponsored from around the web” overlaps the start of the comments: screenshot.
    – Comment numbers not visible.
    – Comment indentation (under the username and time) is wholly unnecessary, on smaller screens (mobile) it eats up valuable horizontal space.
    – Opening links in new tabs/windows = evil. Like, really bad. People who want this behaviour can use Shift+click or whatever.

    The good:

    I like the general look of the new design. It is fresh, it is clear, it is fast, it is Responsive as is de rigueur nowadays. It does not randomly crash my Firefox on Android, as the previous thing did. With a few minor improvements it is ready for the years until the next redesign ;-)

  21. says

    My first impression is good. I see that others have raised some issues, but for a major roll-out it seems to be going well.

    A virtual glass (or perhaps a case) of his favorite beverage for Alex. I have a ton of sympathy for him. I’ve been in that position far too many times (most recently, yesterday.) A profane version of “what on earth were they thinking?” becomes a mantra.

  22. badgersdaughter says

    You ALREADY fixed the open in new tab thing? Awesome. Much applause. Very wow. :)

  23. nothere says

    I only want to say that pages load much faster and it works very well with Opera. Thats good enough for me.

  24. Pen says

    I basically like it despite a few technical glitches. I suppose you know Amazon are the evil incarnate? Although any money that’s going to FtB isn’t going to them I suppose.

  25. Pen says

    PS: I think the shopfront could use all kinds of work, but I imagine it’s not a top priority?

  26. Adam James says

    Kudos to you and PZ for giving up your prime positions at the top of the main page to make more room for other perspectives. That’s walking the walk!

  27. dingojack says

    Super large avatar thing seems to got itself under control now (avatars are now 2cm squared rather than the previous 8cm squared or so)….
    go figure (& yay!)
    :) Dingo

  28. says

    Thank you for the supreme effort and thought that is invested in providing, maintaining, and upgrading FTB. I appreciate that it’s free and that I can participate.

    Impressions:
    – Clean and clear look.
    – Too much white space, both vertically and horizontally. Wow. Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll. {ooh, after I hit preview, I saw that some of that has already been addressed! thanks!]
    – The topical organization of the front page results in a whole lot of duplication and a display that is too long to be inviting. I reallty liked the previous arrangement, where I could see at one glance the recent posts by many bloggers. The new arrangement gives disproportionate visibility to frequent posters.
    – Please restore the previous-next buttons for each post.
    – Comment numbers!
    – As another commenter noted, when viewed with IE8 (don’t ask!), the post and comments don’t show until after all the sidebars have been displayed. Scroll, scroll, scroll, just to get to the OP.
    – Thank you for jettisoning the old logo, which looked like the logo for a high school sports team.
    – The “Preview” button should be to the left of the “Post Comment” button and, ideally, should have more prominent design. As another commenter observed, a left-to-roght presentation would encourage more people to preview.
    – Ugh, when a comment gets so long that it does not fit in the little comment box, how about if the box could get bigger? That’s a standard feature on many sites.
    – And the whole text block in the comment box jumps around — I just highlighted a portion of text to make a correction, and when I moved the mouse aside so I could type, it scrolled by itself to the bottom and I had to go back in with the mouse and move the highlighted section back into view. :-( UGH, I just figured it out – when I position the cursor on any line, the comment box scrolls itself so that the line of text where the cursor is becomes the bottom line. I can’t see my entire comment as I work on it. This is OK for brief comments of eight or fewer lines, but once it exceeds eight lines, it’s very challenging. I see no way to enlarge the comment box. The entire comment is visible in preview mode.

    testing a blockquote

    Well, you asked for feedback.

    Thanks again for making this site available.

  29. Kilian Hekhuis says

    I typically found the blogs to read by their banner image on the home page. Some of them I didn’t even remembered the name of. Now there’s only their names on the frontpage (in the side bar), which makes it difficult to quickly jump to the one you want.

  30. says

    I hate to be negative, but there’s just way too much duplicated text to wade through.
    So far I’m not a believer, but I’ll keep checking in to see what changes are implemented.
    Back up and try again?

  31. Reginald Selkirk says

    Could use a little bit of tweaking. I am running FireFox 31.0 on Fedora 20.

    On the Dispatches front page (and same thing at Pharyngula) I get a mouse-over text showing when my cursor goes on the post titles – telling me exactly the same text that is in the post titles. Seems redundant and distracting.

    As I am currently viewing, the blog mast image at the top is overlaying the right portion of the new FTB logo (covering the T and 2/3 of the H). This probably has something to do with the width of my browser window; I like to have two windows side by side for cutting & pasting. I don’t think it’s your business to determine how wide my browser should be.

  32. digitalatheist says

    Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh… what I see so far doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth. Where I used to be able to look for the banners I normally read, now I’ve got to try to remember actual names of blogs, and instead of a couple of quick lines of text describing the latest posts, I have to search and search and search through ill arranged categories and hoping I don’t miss posts.

    if it works for you, so be it since it is your site. If it were me however, I would be asking for a refund with punitive damages from everyone involved. ;-)

    Have a great day. I’ll check back later when things may have gotten a bit more organized and looking a lot less like a Markov generated ad page.

  33. says

    Yeah, page loads are much faster, there was always something that would lock up for a few seconds on load (especially on mobile, maybe it was the background). All in all I like it, and I’m sure there are a few things left to tweak.

  34. roythesnake says

    I’m using a Samsung galaxy S3 and the stock browser. I can’t get the menu buttons to work.

    Otherwise, I’ll reiterate that the design works well sizing to my phone.

  35. abb3w says

    Gregory in Seattle@August 1, 2014 at 2:55 am:

    One complaint: the loss of index numbers on the comments. This will make it very difficult to respond to individuals where the blogger has turned threading off.

    Meanwhile, perhaps use times instead of numbers?

  36. Sunday Afternoon says

    Comments after viewing with Safari on ipad mini with retina display in portrait mode. This defaults to a 2-column view which can be mimicked by narrowing a desktop browser.

    I do like responsive designs, but there are trade-offs to be made in the transitions between screen widths. I think there are adjustments to be made here.

    The content column is too narrow. For example on PZ’s blog, the gumby-quotes are only one or two words per line due to the indentation. This makes things basically unreadable.

    For long pages, the right column is much longer than the left, but they are equal width so this just wastes screen space. This is compounded by no longer being able to “pinch and zoom” in mobile safari to make the text fit the screen.

    I also don’t like the list of blogs collapsing into the drop-down list. It doesn’t save any screen width, but requires more clicking to find a blog. Cool coding though, and kudos for that.

    Finally:comment box. Can’t recall if we had one before, but like the new one. And comment preview – it doesn’t seem to correctly show the text format of the final comment. Write a comment with several paragraphs separated by line breaks and preview. Can this be tweaked to show the expected line spacing between the paragraphs in the preview?

    Testing adding a link: http://www.bbc.com/news/ – Yay! this now works as expected in preview!

  37. Reginald Selkirk says

    test of blockquote
    Test of strike
    test of acronym
    What the heck is del datetime?

  38. Sunday Afternoon says

    Another thing? Any way the time displayed can respect the viewer’s time zone? Or at the very least, post the time zone of the clock being used?

  39. raven says

    I miss the about FTB box that was on the left.

    It had the recent and most active list. It saved a lot of time if one of the other bloggers had an interesting and new post.

    FTB’s is vast but my time isn’t. It isn’t a big deal but it was a feature I glanced at often and a big time saver.

  40. Sunday Afternoon says

    Eeeek – I was trying to mention the RE-SIZEABLE nature of the comment box in my first comment.

  41. Alverant says

    I’m pressed for time so if this has already been addressed, sorry.

    Can you bring back the list of the most recent posts on FTB as a whole and not just for the current blogger? This cross-blog promotion is the best way to see what’s happening on other blogs especially if they don’t post multiple times a day.

    Also I think we’ve been trained by other sites having the arrow in a menu means there’s a submenu. So in the list of FTB bloggers I think you should either have a submenu, make the greater than sign a link or replace it with an HTML style li dot.

    (One minor thing, in the css for the buttons, you may want to add some padding so the letters don’t get right up against the right edge of the button.)

  42. Trebuchet says

    We can haz edit function plz?

    Otherwise, looks nice, though I haven’t tried it on my phone yet. Good to see the “Go Ad Free” button and the return of the “Tech Issues” button.

    Please do get rid of the automatic indenting of the first line of the comments. That’s silly. Especially when the actual blog posts don’t do it.

    A useful future enhancement, for me anyway, would be the ability to find one’s own recent comments. Perhaps that’s what the little “quote balloon” icon next to “Howdy, Trebuchet” is for, but as with the old site, it doesn’t seem to actually do anything.

  43. John Horstman says

    Not a bug, but perhaps an inadvertent design change: the newer/older post links at the top have reversed order, IIRC – right takes one to older posts while left takes one to newer posts. My cultural bias causes me to expect right to take me to newer posts. If this was an intentional change, I’m sure we can adapt.

    The preview pane doesn’t match the formatting of the posts (FF 31.0 [32-bit] on Win7 Enterprise x64): the first line left indent is the same in both (aligned with the username and timestamp), but the left indent for subsequent lines (aligned with the right edge of the avatar) is present only on published comments, not in the preview. As someone else above, I prefer no left indents, but either way, matching the preview and published formats would be good.

    I like the mobile formatting quite a lot (FF for Android 31.0 on HTC One (M7) running Sense 6 v.5.03.651.3/Android 4.4.2) with the collapsed sidebar/top menus, drop-down menu of blogs, and no need to zoom. I also like the banishing of the non-functional mobile landing page; no more FtB page-load roulette!

    I do miss the listing of recent posts per blog on both my phone and desktop layouts, but I can probably get used to the category layout as an alternative.

    Left-right padding on the buttons is a good idea, as mentioned above, though probably not a high priority.

    I’m not sure if something was changed or if it’s a matter of browser implementation, but I am having no issues with the comment box (FF 31.0 [32-bit] on Win7 Enterprise x64; I haven’t tried commenting on my phone yet), as some noted above. Focus on my cursor stays exactly where it should, with the window only scrolling when I hit the end of the comment box while typing, and only scrolling one line down when that happens. Auto-expansion would bug me; I think a manually-resizable scroll box is a good call, at least when viewing on a desktop.

    Linking seems to be working properly in the preview at long last, as dingojack noted.

    Overall I like the changes so far, and the site definitely seems more responsive. Kudos to Alex; becasue my comments are likely going to be more negative than positive, I want to note that I think the new implementation is solid and that if I don’t mention something specifically, that means that I like it and/or it is working well.

  44. Melvosh says

    I’m a big fan so far. One thing that is throwing me off is the Previous and Next post links. The ones on the left now go to the Next post, the ones on the right now go to the Previous post. I’m almost positive it was the other way around before. Other than that, awesome job!

  45. flatlander100 says

    Type has gotten very small for tablet reading, and it seems I cannot spread the text by spreading thumb and index finger on my touchscreen. Any way to turn that feature– text spreading on touch screens — back on?

    Also sirry to see you’ve gone to grey on white for qoute blocks. Grey on white makes tgh small text still harder to read. Black is much clearer.

  46. John Horstman says

    One more note regarding the preview (from testing stuff with Jason a bit when he was trying to get links working, I understand that this can be a mess, and slight discrepancies between the preview and published comment may not be worth the effort to sort out): as seems to be the case in many, many internet commenting systems, the preview removes all carriage returns (line ends) after the first in sequences without intervening characters, so e.g. line spacing between paragraphs gets stripped out in the preview. They are maintained for the published comment, so it’s not a big deal, but ideally the formatting for the preview should be identical to the published comment.

  47. Sastra says

    Gregory in Seattle # ??? wrote:

    One complaint: the loss of index numbers on the comments. This will make it very difficult to respond to individuals where the blogger has turned threading off.

    I concur. Heartily.

  48. John Horstman says

    One more note regarding the preview (from testing stuff with Jason a bit when he was trying to get links working, I understand that this can be a mess, and slight discrepancies between the preview and published comment may not be worth the effort to sort out): as seems to be the case in many, many internet commenting systems, the preview removes all carriage returns (line ends) after the first in sequences without intervening characters, so e.g. line spacing between paragraphs gets stripped out in the preview.

    Quoting myself to test blockquotes. I find the grey text perfectly readable, viewing on a 1080p monitor at 102ppi (FF 31.0 [32-bit] on Win7 Enterprise x64). However, if enough people find it difficult, it may be worth considering a darker color. This typeface does use somewhat thin lines, so I can see how this might cause issues. Perhaps a slightly thicker typeface for blockquotes would help if you want to keep the grey coloring.

  49. magistramarla says

    I really, really don’t like the front page. I don’t read FTB for certain issues, so that list of issues on the front page is not useful to me.
    As others have said, I tended to use the banners on the home page to cruise through the blogs.
    I tend to read certain blogs – first Pharyngula, then Dispatches, then The Zingularity.
    After that, I would quickly cruise through the others by banner and stop to read if something interesting caught my eye.
    I’ve already found that I can use the sidebar to quickly get to my favorite blogs.
    I’m afraid that this new format will cause me to click on less, rather than more of the blogs.

  50. lldayo says

    A new Brayton picture on the front page would be nice. I’m tired of looking at that old, raggedy one. :)

    Everything else seems great to me. The load is faster and I never used the next post links anyway so that’s not even an issue for me. The index numbers on the comments is welcomed but not necessary for me as well.

  51. vereverum says

    I like it.
    It fits my navigation style. As on a pre-migration post comment yesterday, I always got the dead end portal so I set my bookmark to Dispatches and from there used the blog list on the left.
    Speaking of which, I read that after Dec 31st, Volokh Conspiracy is going behind a paywall. Not their choice.
    It’s easy to read and still provides good information; dingojack #whatever (missing number bummer) gave me an excellent site where I can learn. But you’ve already said the numbers will be back.
    My one concern was when you wrote “…that I’m really excited about…” but fortunately you only used it once. 33 years in a bureaucracy taught me that: given any change, the frequency that the forms of ‘excite’ are used in the announcement is directly proportional to the size of the coming disaster.
    But I see that using it only once is evidently OK, ’cause this change good.

  52. vereverum says

    Uh oh, just noticed that there is no back to the top of the page link at the bottom of the page.

  53. martinc says

    Interesting. I now get Comment Numbers if I am logged in, but they are not there if I am not logged in.

  54. Sunday Afternoon says

    A comment about the front page.

    The FTB logo is sitting all by itself in the banner row looking lost. How about moving this logo to the top of the left column and losing the banner area on the front page? This will get more content onto the front page.

    In the individual blogs, keeping the logo in the left column will also resolve the overlapping banner/FTB logo that I am spying with certain window widths.

  55. Melvosh says

    I now see comment numbers, and the Previous / Next links are swapped back to the way they were. You guys are doing a fantastic job!

  56. Trebuchet says

    Me at 56:

    Please do get rid of the automatic indenting of the first line of the comments. That’s silly. Especially when the actual blog posts don’t do it.

    And done! You guys are awesome. Gotta say, though, I’m still getting used to the new look at Popehat and now you’ve gone and done one also. Brain overload!

    it’s going to take a while to get used to the main page organized by subject instead of by blog. I think I liked the old way better. Any chance of an option?

  57. Raucous says

    I really don’t like the new logo. I can’t see the connection between a hand print and freethinking.

  58. vereverum says

    From the little circled ? just above the top right corner of the start of the comments:

    To learn how you can use Content.ad to drive visitors to your content

    Drive? Is that like rollin, rollin, rollin, keep them doggies rollin?

  59. Pierce R. Butler says

    Please put a Log In button on _all_ blogs here. The others (see, e.g., Singham) have an ad-hoc registration box when the user’s last log-in has expired – which will not accept the same ID the user has if registered, so a trip to one of the few blogs with a Log In button is needed, then a return and a refresh.

    And a better HTML intro/how-to.

    And what so many other people above said about an FtB-wide “Recent Posts” sidebar box – a larger one!

    Also, tear up the front page and start over again (hint: eliminate repetitions, lose the stupid and arbitrary categorization).

    Finally – chocolate ponies for everybody!

  60. Pierce R. Butler says

    Okay, comment numbering is back – quick work!

    But why aren’t the numbers highlightable/copyable along with the comments they accompany?

  61. says

    There’s good and bad in the redesign. The colour scheme is much better, but I’m not a fan of the article format.

    I choose which items to read based on the author, not the topic. I only read certain bloggers, not all of them. This new layout means I either have to scour the listed items for author names in small print, or open the named blogs on the left to see if there’s anything new. Neither is desirable.

  62. Sunday Afternoon says

    I’m writing to agree with left0ver1under in 81: I like the new template in general look/feel.

    The front page needs more thinking through. Echoing what others have suggested: how about allow readers to select among (just a few) different front pages, each with a different emphasis – some suggestions:

    by categories (as it is now),
    by blogs (as it was),
    by Active posts, recent posts – a more complete listing, building on what used to be in the sidebar.

    Make this an easy option selectable at the top AND bottom of the front page and stored in a cookie for the viewer = no need to log in to make this selection.

  63. roggg says

    I’m neutral on the look/feel of it. I like the blog list sidebar. It’s nice and succinct. I haven’t looked too closely, but it looks like you’ve trimmed some (all?) of the defunct blogs which is a very good thing.

    I hate the organization of the front page:
    – too many posts
    – same post featured multiple times (different categories)
    – category focus makes it hard to follow particular blogs or to follow “new” posts.

    For me it’s a disaster. I generally read all new content on several blogs multiple times per day, and skim all new content on all blogs (titles at least) looking for interesting posts as time allows (once per day most days). The old front page gave me everything I needed for this. Neither is easily accomplished anymore.

    I am likely to just skip the portal page and go directly to the few blogs I read regularly instead. I hope this is contrary to the intended result.

  64. Mobius says

    Overall, the new look isn’t bad, and I think being able to see posts ordered by topic is very useful.

    However, I already miss being able to scan through the various blogs and see if the ones I read regularly have a new post up. That has been a favorite feature in the past.

    Also, it seems that the “Leave a comment” link at the end of the post has been eliminated. This took you from the end of the post to the comment window without having to scan through all the other comments. I vote that it be restored (if it has indeed been eliminated and I am just missing where it is now.)

    Also a request for the site in total…

    Your blog (and some others such as Pharyngula) have a link at the end of comments…”Leave a Reply You must be logged in to post a comment.” Click on this and you are taken to the WordPress log in and then returned to the blog once logged in. Not all Freethought Blogs have this feature, such as Mano’s. His site uses a different log in link. It still goes to WordPress, but for me at least it fails to return me to Mano’s blog requiring me to use my Freethought bookmark to navigate back to Mano’s site. Is there some way to encourage other Freethought bloggers to include the same “Leave a Reply” link that you use?

  65. Raucous Indignation says

    I like that you’ve grouped new posts by subject matter. That makes finding my favorite blogs much more difficult. Could you add the option of having the blog banners on the home page like it used to be?

  66. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Looks good. My only gripe would be that it was nice being able to look at all the bloggers and see the short-list of their most recent posts. I had grown into the habit of just doing a quick visual scan of my favorite contributors to see if there was a new title that I hadn’t already read. I know, there’s probably a notification feature or it sounds like there will be a most-recent posts queue, but for some reason I preferred being able to see all the blogs at once and keep my own eyes peeled for new content. Perhaps on the left where each blog is mentioned there could be something similar like links/titles of the two most recent posts for each? Anyways, just a suggestion. I’m sure I’ll manage to find my way no matter how the format ends up. Keep up the great work. FtB is one of my first stops everyday and for much more than just rehashed, dictionary atheism.

  67. says

    The more I come back to the site through the day, the more I dislike the front page. Now I have to scan all the different subjects to see if there is a new post, and having so many duplicates under different subjects just adds to the clutter. Now if there was one general option with, say, the last twenty new posts of all the blogs regardless of subject…

  68. JPS says

    I don’t like looking for bloggers and posts organized by someone’s decision of what category a post belongs in; I’m more of a generalist.. Like Uncle Ebeneezer @86 and probably a few others (I’ve not read all the comments) I miss the front page organization by blogger. I looked for my favorites, and scan the others for something new or interesting. Yes, I can go to individual bloggers from the front page sidebar, but there’s no information there about blog content. No more useful than bookmarks in my own browsers.

    I miss the date/time stamps. Right now I can’t find the date/time of a post anywhere. Please put the date/time of the post everywhere.

    Thanks

  69. thebookofdave says

    I like your placement of tech report and ad-free subscription buttons where they can be easily spotted.

    Comment numbers are appearing, but superimposed over user avatars. So far, I have been viewing the new FtB using IE8 only.

    Thank you for resisting the urge to completely overhaul Modusoperandi. The old bugs work just fine, and the fewer features, the better.

  70. Badland says

    Reading on an iPhone 5 here. When I rotate between portrait and landscape it jumps to a new place in the thread, which is a pain in the arse but not so bad now you’ve restored comment numbers.

    And can we have the Skip to Comments option back?

    I’m still working my way around the site and working it out. Nicely done Ed and Alex

  71. sirhc58 says

    I have to agree that the new look is very clean, but I really hate having everything lumped into topics. Like others here, I cue off the individual blogs and this presentation by subject just serves to confuse me and slow me down. I know this is typical of current web design (my employer uses a similar approach, and it’s almost impossible to find anything on the website) but if you could employ a toggle to allow us to switch to the blog listings, with the illustrated headings, it would make things easier. Others have already commented on things like the irrelevant ads and numbering, so I’ll just point and exclaim “What they said!”

    It’s still one of the best sites on the web, so I’m still going to visit! :)

  72. says

    Another thought on the less-than-ideal redesign: Why is it always limited to ten items per page? Why is there no option for a hundred or another larger number? Or, why are only the blog posts searchable, not the comments? If I want to look for an older post, I don’t want to click “Next Page” a hundred times to get to it.

    The search engine only works with the bloggers’ content, it doesn’t work for comments. If I want to find old posts by certain individuals to rebut an argument, a manual search is agonizing (e.g. a certain anti-social individual who repeatedly advocates nuking muslim countries then repeatedly claims he has never said it). Bloggers have the ability to search the comments, but not the readers. Having a hundred blog posts per page or searchable comments would speed that up.

  73. chezjake says

    I just noticed another major fault with the new front page. Apparently, if a blogger does not assign one of the front page subject categories to a post, it won’t show up on the front page at all. Example: None of Ophelia’s posts since the changeover have shown up on the front page.

    Please, please, please give us a simple list of the 20 most recent posts on the front page. The subject categories are inconvenient to use and obviously incomplete.

  74. danzig says

    I like the new look. But the new front page is bad. As it is now you have to look through every category in order to find new content, many of the posts show up in multiple categories and some don’t show up at all. A listing of all blog posts in chronological order would be much better. If the list was also pageable you wouldn’t risk missing new posts if you’ve been away for a long time. You could even have an optional category filter for those that want it.

  75. scenario says

    The page looks good but I don’t see the purpose of the posts listed in the middle.

    I don’t understand what the first page is showing. Are the posts shown the most recent posts or the posts with the most activity or what? There are two columns and about a third of the posts are duplicates. About 1/2 of the posts do not change from the prior day.

    Where can I find the list of the newest posts?

    Overall, I don’t have any problem with the look but the functionality isn’t as good as the old version for how I tend to use the site. I have alway preferred function over form.

  76. dingojack says

    Scenario – Just to be absolutely clear here, you’re talking about the front page, rather than the Dispatches page, is that correct?
    Dingo

  77. colnago80 says

    Some of the blogs linked to on the sidebar are no longer applicable. For instance, Glenn Greenwald now bogs over at the Interceptand is no longer at Salon.

  78. Die Anyway says

    I vote for the next/previous links at the end of the comments. When I’m finished reading comments, I’m ready to move to the next post (or previous if I’m reading in reverse order). At the very least, a “Back to top” button. It takes 5 minutes to scroll back to the top of a Pharyngula post that has 187 comments. And, as mentioned by someone else, I can’t expand text by finger spread (on my Touchpad tablet). I’m pretty sure I used to be able to do it on FTB, but I can certainly do it on other web sites. These old eyes don’t see as well as they used to and being able to expand the print is a handy feature.
    Other than that…carry on.

  79. vereverum says

    OK, here’s a thought. To the right of or between the FtB hand block and the top advert banner place a large block with a ’24hr’ graphic on it which will take you to a page that lists the last 24hr’s posts in chronological order without regard to blog. I can browse by category or, if I want, I can go to the most recent with one click on 24hr as soon as I arrive. In addition, if I were reading on my lunch time, after work or when I got home, I’d be able to scroll down to 1:00 pm, or whenever I stopped, and start again. The best of both worlds only one click away.

  80. Sunday Afternoon says

    It has been a couple of days and while I was impressed with the sniny new toy, after actually using the thing (the front page) I am disliking it more and more for all the reasons laid out by others above.

    I now realise that my comments on the extra space beside the logo on the main page were made with the benefit of Adblock Plus in my browser. Looking at the site without blocking the ads is less pleasant. This is especially the case on my ipad mini – the front page is dominated by everything except the content. The dominance of the non-new content on my ipad mini is an active turn-off from looking for new items on the site.

  81. Suido says

    Coming in fresh on a Monday morning, this is my first look at the new layout. Seems that most early bugs picked up in the comments have been dealt with, and the whole thing is shiny and nice.

    Great job, everybody.

  82. Martin, heading for geezerhood says

    Just a few suggestions:
    1. Sign in on home page
    2. Replace current useless “by subject” home page with old “new posts by blog”.
    3. Put next/previous post links both before and after the post and after the comments.
    4. Allow multiple views of comments: at least chained and oldest first.
    5. A “reply” button for each comment: so at least the comment is prefilled with
    “In Reply to Whoknows, #99:

  83. gshelley says

    Like many others, I don’t like the grouping by subject matter – I have some blogs I read regularly, and like to be able to see easily if there is something new, and then scan through the other recent posts for each blog to see if anything looks interesting.
    I expect it will result in my reading less, and probably not at all for the blogs I only occasionally read. But I also imagine you were aware this would be the case for many readers, but felt that the popular blogs would get the largely the same traffic and that the loss from people who don’t like the new outlook would be outweighed by making the blog topic more visible and so many of the less popular blogs could see an increase in readers for some posts.

  84. says

    First thought, on the Amazon storefront: You have one of Greta’s books. You should have more of her books. Plus books from Richard, and Sikivu, and Taslima. There’s probably a few I’ve forgotten. I’d consider that to be a priority before picking books we might like from unaffiliated authors.

    Second thought, on the blogroll: You’ve removed Blag Hag, and Crommunist, and Natalie. Probably for the best but I’m going to be irrationally upset about it anyway. There’s no pleasing me.

  85. scenario says

    I have found my viewing habits have changed since the new homepage. I find that I am just reading the two most active blogs and ignoring the rest. There is no easy way to see if there are new posts and if there is activity in the comments section short of clicking on each blog one by one. Sorting by subject is useless for my viewing habits.

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