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We had a makeover for our birthday

Freethoughtblogs is three years old today, and still growing (we’re adding three new blogs this weekend). To celebrate we’ve put on a fresh coat of paint, with a few changes under the hood. I think we’ve also added a few new glitches, and your party game is to find them all and tell us how to fix them.

Poke around and tell us what you think!

Comments

  1. says

    Two things:
    Comment numbers don’t show up for me. I’m not sure if this is intentional or if the problem is at my end.

    Ashley Miller’s blog doesn’t show me comments at all. Other blogs show comments just fine. It’s only a problem on that specific blog.

  2. carlie says

    Needs:
    COMMENT NUMBERS

    Also needs “recently posted around FtB” back – sometimes that’s the only way I catch cool things at the blogs I don’t read as often

    I liked the alternating white/grey for comments, helped me keep my place where I was reading

    I like the font

    Not sure about that background

    Somehow it seems that there is less space on the screen for comments, and they’re shoved further to the right than before

  3. Infophile says

    The indentation for comments seems unnecessary. There’s a lot of unused whitespace below the avater, name, and date of the comment.

  4. knowknot says

    Ditto on lack of “skip to comments.”
    Also, “sponsored from around the web” is overwriting first comment.

  5. knowknot says

    Oh… and ditto on excessive indent / whitespace. Feels kinda like reading croptexts in a Nebraska winter.

  6. OverlappingMagisteria says

    There doesn’t seem to be any “Next Post” and “Previous Post” links that go to the next/previous post of a blog (Unless they are very hidden). This makes if hard to catch up.

    I’m not a huge fan of the front page… make it harder to see if a blogger I read has updated. But it was a big redesign so I doubt you’ll change it (cause you are the FfTB hivemind that ignore all criticism!!1!11!! Or something….)

  7. knowknot says

    Problem customer here… sorry… not seeing previously mentioned alternating white / gray comments on iPad.

  8. 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 front page not to be so regimented: why not just have postings in the inverse order that they are posted in?
    Also [twitch, twitch] change!!!

  9. drbunsen, le savant fous says

    +1 on the comment column being too narrow. It could at least revert to full width below the left-side links column.

  10. says

    I’ve passed a link to this thread to Technical Alex, so he can see what you all find problematic.

    We will be tweaking. But don’t expect instant responses, the poor guy was up doing the installation at 2am, and he might need sleep now and then.

  11. Lofty says

    I need my sunnies on, too much whitespace glare. And I thought you’d be installing a formatting toolbar instead of the crappy list at the bottom. Oh well, I guess you’ll fiddle with it for a while and spend the next 3 years promising an upgrade…

  12. says

    Some display things I can fix — see the alternating white & gray comments are back? — so if it’s just a matter of playing with CSS, I have a tiny bit of power. Adding comment numbers and navigation links is going to require grander changes to the whole dang template, though.

  13. AtheistPilgrim says

    I couldn’t wait to pay the small premium for the excellent ad-free feature, however I agree with a number of the comments above and add my main complaint that I cannot enlarge the screen on my iPad. This maybe an initial bug or whatever but being shortsighted I need to this feature or I find it very difficult to read the blog, let alone type this comment.

    Also where is the sign-in feature? Maybe my shortsightedness is to blame but since I paid for my subscription I still need to click on the Get Ftb Free box to sign in and then click Ftb, then click Pharyngula to get to my favourite blog – quite a tedious process compared to the single-click icon on my iPad screen.

    Sorry for the whining. I am a long time reader since Sb days and a great fan of Ftb. Every single day I check Pharyngula at least once and generally more often, particularly to read the updated comments.

  14. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Comments are very skinny with the iPad upright. looks good when sideways.

  15. says

    On a positive note, the redesign seems to have resolved the bug where my browser closed every time I tried visiting the site. I don’t know what originally caused it, but it’s gone now. So that’s nice.

  16. kage says

    It’s certainly a hive mind! I do like the look but definitely want comment numbers and the ability to enlarge the page on my iPad – my old eyes need to some evenings.

  17. Lofty says

    PZ

    see the alternating white & gray comments are back?

    Much better thanks.
    Just playing around with the window width you can make the sidebar disappear completely if you narrow it enough. I’m currently on a 17″ laptop and the window isn’t full screen. Must try it on my 8″ travelling notebook.

  18. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

    It looks a bit nicer, and I also like the aggregation on the front page, but:

    1) Opening pages in new tabs is sooo 90s. You might force an open a new tab when linking to an off-site resource, but never when navigating to pages within a site. Sorry, but spawning tabs like this is a web design no-no today!

    2) Comment numbering would be ace.

    @Nick Johnson: Tried AdBlock Pro?

  19. says

    2 other things I noticed:

    The Tab Title only shows the title of the current post, but not the blog itself (this one is just “We had a makeover for our birthday” rather than “Pharyngula – We had a makeover for our birthday”) It’s a minor problem, but sometimes it’s important to know whose site I’m on.

    The Tab Title for the main page is “Freethought Blogs – ” You have a hanging hyphen.

  20. atheist says

    I love the new look with all the white space and muted greys. The new site banner also looks cool. It also seems to be running a tad faster than before, which is a plus. The new frontpage with its organization by topic is pretty neat, in my opinion. I like breakout by topic more than the former organization by blog, which unfortunately showed that some FTB blogs are way more active than others.

    I’m less excited about: the way it opens a new tab every time you click on a link. I wonder is there any way it can refrain from opening a new tab when you link inside FTB, but open a new tab when you link outside? Just a thought.

    Overall I’d say this looks/works really fly!

  21. says

    Lofty

    Just playing around with the window width you can make the sidebar disappear completely if you narrow it enough.

    Not sure if you’re reporting that as a bug or a good thing, so s’cuse if I’m telling you what you already know.

    That’s a feature, not a bug. Click here and play around resizing the browser window.

  22. atheist says

    Comment numbers would be nice, when you get around to it, but not strictly necessary since you can always just copy the date/time of the comment you’re replying to. I see the “recent comments” is gone. That might be nice to retrieve – again when you have time – but, if getting rid of that feature is the reason for the faster response, then don’t bother.

  23. says

    Content.ad, Quantcast, Zedo, StatCounter, Facebook crap, Google crap, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Twitter… :/
    Well, thank Eris for Ghostery.

    Also, check the W3C’s HTML validator: the site doesn’t validate.

  24. atheist says

    @atheist – 1 August 2014 at 7:33 am

    Duh, I see the Recent Comments. Never mind that.

  25. says

    The validator error about the charset only after 512 bytes is interesting. In Firefox, with view source, I see the meta charset tag in line 4, but the validator claims it’s line 9.

    Well, when I download the page with wget, I also see the meta charset tag in line 9, with a whole slew of Javascrip crap above it. Part of that is some weird Cloudfare stuff (DDoS mitigation?), which is below the charset in Firefox. But then there’s over 9000 bytes of some messy obfuscated JavaScript unholyness from NewRelic. Brrr.

  26. Nick Johnson says

    @HairyChris I don’t use adblockers because generally I think there’s an implied contract that that violates: Site X offers me free content in return for rendering the content – ads included – more or less as intended. Popup ads violate that by going out of their way to make my browser do user-hostile things I don’t want them to do.

    I think FTB is the only non-dodgy site I use that still has popup advertising – most places have realised that it’s user-hostile and deters people.

  27. mrmorse says

    Others have said this, but things are way too narrow on the iPad, and the site is disabling zooming in.

  28. soogeeoh says

    I’m curious, how do you manage to consolidate all the feedback from all the comments on all the posts on the upgrade that went up on the many blogs?

  29. twas brillig (stevem) says

    spellig errorrs here to test “post submit” editing. Sorry for this test post ;-(

  30. skasowitz says

    @Nick Johnson
    I generally stick to a similar principle as far as adblocking is concerned. I think it is actually a good way to protect yourself from malicious ads when browsing, but I whitelist any site (such as FTB) that I bookmark, subscribe to via RSS, or just regularly visit.

    That said, I will second DrMcCoy’s suggestion of Ghostery. This gives you more precise control over what gets through and what does not. The ability to let advertising (e.g. DoubleClick) through while blocking Facebook beacons is nice. But more relevant to the popups I can allow all advertising through except I specifically block Zedo, which is the only ad-server I’ve seen on this site that routinely throws up popup windows.

  31. ashl says

    It looks smarter. Apart from that I agree with the comments that this looks very bad on the iPad. The text column takes up less than half the page, any quotes within it wrap after two-three words making it extemely hard to read, and the comment width is worse.

    More generally I preferred being able to see quickly who had posted new stuff under the blogs I most read, so the new design for me makes it harder to navigate, but that is a personal preference only. The duplicate posts under the different topic types is kind of annoying, though I can see what you’re trying to do.

  32. Unidentified Remains says

    I’m excited by the redesign. Why, you might ask…

    Because I was finally able to register!

  33. Rob Grigjanis says

    The page loads a lot faster on my old clunker so I’m happy. The rest is just frills AFAIC.

  34. chigau (違う) says

    I can’t swipe to zoom on my iPad.
    In landscape the blog banner overlaps the Freethought logo.

  35. says

    Like the look overall. Still trying to figure out what the hand means in the new logo. The “previous” and “next” post titles are counterintuitively the other way round (so clicking on the left side takes you forward to more recent posts and clicking on the right takes you backwards). The donate button is huge, filling up the whole sidebar. I too would miss the FTB recent posts in the sidebar–but maybe you’re trying to encourage people to go to the front page?

  36. frog says

    Initial gut reaction on popping open on a desktop machine with large monitor: I like it. Clean and spare, but not cold.

  37. anteprepro says

    By god, when I try reading this site on my phone now, the comments are gigantic! Downside was endless, endless scrolling. Plus side was that the gravatars were much more visible than usual!

  38. billgascoyne says

    Is it just me, or is having “previous post” on the right and “next post” on the left just plain backwards?

  39. soogeeoh says

    @chigau (違う)
    In iOS if you tap the status bar at the top (where network, clock, power are shown) it attempts to scroll up.
    In the safari browser it will scroll up the viewport, but it works in apps too, unless disabled by the programmer

  40. says

    I’m sitting here with a netbook, and the new setup is a bit goofy. The main text and comments are squished into a fairly narrow column, which leads to lots of scrolling. They look to be narrower than the sidebars. I suspect this will work better on a bigger screen.

  41. soogeeoh says

    re: scrolling to top

    if the wordpress toolbar is show at top, it emulates the tap/click-to-scroll-up

  42. Menyambal says

    Not seeing a recent FTB block in the sidebar.

    The recent comments block looks jagged and hard to read. The one further up, under the tab, looks good.

    The sidebar just sems too wide, compared to the comments and posts. Maybe it’s all the whitespace.

  43. soogeeoh says

    @chigau (違う)

    I mean a black bar that shows time and power

    (I am fearing now, that your ipad is newer than the one I have access to … and that they changed things?)

  44. chigau (違う) says

    soogeeoh
    There is a bar at the top that shows power and network and such but clicking in it does nothing.

  45. opposablethumbs says

    CaitieCat, have nipped over to the other tab (on my antequated desktop, but with bigenough screen); hereby copypasta-ing your Lounge comment.

    CaitieCat, getaway driver says

    1 August 2014 at 9:30 am

    Crap, is there a recent posts button somewhere? Site is almost unnavigable on my phone. Three clicks and a drag just to be able to see that one blog has not updated? Then another click to go back and start slowly going through one by one?

    Garh. Expect to see me a lot less, that’s way too much time for way too little return.

    Much easier before: scroll down, open in new tab each blog i want to read, then work back thru recent posts, and skip ones where I don’t see new posts.

    Since I don’t choose posts by their alleged single-word topic, the default menu is utterly useless to me.

    The presentation stuff isn’t so bad on the phone, but the nav completely breaks the site for me. And presentation is a two-second fix in CSS anyway.

    Recent posts list must be readily available, maybe as a button (or better yet, a cookied preference) on the main page. Or at the very least, easily-accessible list of the individual blogs with the name or date of the most recent post visible. Not being dramatic to say I simply won’t keep spending that amount of time to read the seven or eight blogs I read regularly, will probably cut down to one or two, and visit the others I like occasionally. The rest I’ll never see.

    None of which is addressing the horrendous accessibility issues for anyone with fine motor skill or visual impairment, and probably several others I’m privileged to not know about.

    Seriously. Nav is a big issue here. :(

  46. Menyambal says

    I cannot double-tap to zoom, nor two-finger split to zoom.

    There are five little ads at the top of the comment column, but one has been kicked down to take up another row.

    Do not need indent at start of comment. Less white space in comment would be nice. Less space for gravatar and other lead material might help.

  47. says

    The “previous” and “next” post titles are counterintuitively the other way round (so clicking on the left side takes you forward to more recent posts and clicking on the right takes you backwards).

    This. It really confused me when I thought a lot of old posts disappeared.

    Plus we STILL have to go back to the top of every post to use the feature. Is it impossible to have a before and next option at the bottom of a post as well?

  48. soogeeoh says

    @chigau (違う)

    Then I don’t know why it won’t scroll to top for you, sorry

    (It’s supposed to be a standard gesture for apple devices, I don’t know what’s going on and feel bad for sending you on a goose chase)

    m (_ _) m

  49. David Marjanović says

    1) COMMENT NUMBAAAAHZ!!!
    2) The links to the previous and the next post have switched places. My webmail provider does this, and I hate it. In order to go forward in time (to the next younger post), I have to go backward on the page (to the left) – that is just wrong as long as this site uses the Latin alphabet.
    3) The indentation of the first line of each comment is annoying. Why not put name and timestamp to the right of the picture, and the comment itself under the picture?
    4) More generally, the lack of separation of name, timestamp and comment is not good. Right now they’re, as we say in German, “all in one sausage”, with no more separation than the paragraphs of a comment have from each other (an empty line).
    5) “says” is silly, especially after long names with lots of honorifics (let alone commas in them), and completely unnecessary. At least it doesn’t have a capital letter!
    6) Too much whitespace around blockquotes. Nested blockquotes soon take up a whole screen.
    7) Silly-looking, unnecessary opening quotation mark at the beginning of each blockquote (but no closing one).
    8) Still that unhelpful list of “HTML tags and attributes”, half of which don’t do anything.
    9) Pharyngula-specific: the <q> tag doesn’t make Comic Sans anymore (though it still makes useless quotation marks).

    I haven’t been to the front page in several years. I’m a Pharyngula reader, not a FtB reader. I almost only ever read posts on other FtBs when they show up in the now disappeared sidebar and happen to have an interesting headline.

    Test of the <sup> and <sub> tags, which are rather necessary for a science blog, but still aren’t in the official list: 0 0

    The donate button is huge, filling up the whole sidebar.

    That’s a feature, not a bug. The resolution is too low for that size, though – it looks blurry now!

  50. Menyambal says

    I am getting an empty space off to the right, with nothing but background in it, almost as long as the word “background”.

    Then, in the comments column, there is whitespace on each side outside the space taken up by the comment boxes, wider than needed.

    Then, in the comment boxes, there is whitespace to the left of the text that just doesn’t need to be there. (I get text to the right edge of the comment box, against the edge, even.)

    This is on an Android tablet, if that helps. Thanks.

  51. chigau (違う) says

    soogeeoh
    It actually does work but it seems to depend on where I tap.
    Which is weird.
    Maybe it’s me.

  52. David Marjanović says

    Whoa. The one empty line I put above the blockquote got blown up to three or four, and the one I put under it got blown up to almost as much.

    Plus we STILL have to go back to the top of every post to use the feature. Is it impossible to have a before and next option at the bottom of a post as well?

    On a device with a keyboard, hit the Home key… on a phone, though… :-(

  53. David Marjanović says

    I am getting an empty space off to the right, with nothing but background in it, almost as long as the word “background”.

    Much bigger for me, and on both sides, because I have a huge screen on this desktop. Apparently the width of the comment column is fixed.

  54. numerobis says

    I opened the site to see:
    http://imgur.com/9IKnmVb

    It’s a common issue with blog software, caused by a decision that forcing the user to zoom and scroll sideways is bad, so instead the website makes the content unreadable, which solves the problem by making the user go away.

    Holding the phone sideways helps, but it’s not comfortable. I want it all: a page that’s wide enough to show the quoted stuff and lets me zoom in if the font is too small. Like it used to be!

  55. chigau (違う) says

    What sort of bribes does Technical Alex like?
    I have some chocolate chip cookies…

  56. Shaun Stuart says

    The links at the top of the page for the next and previous posts seem reversed to me. To get to the next post, you click on the link on the left and to get to the previous post you click on the link on the right. But in almost all browsers, the Back button is an arrow that points to the left and the forward button is an arrow that points to the right. I’d expect the previous post to be reachable by clicking the link on the left and the next to be the link on the right.

  57. says

    Another outcry over the mobile version of the site: I gave up on reading the comments as they currently appear and tried to use the find in page tool, but comment material is invisible to it.

    So if this hasn’t been said: the indents in article and post make this almost impossible to read on my phone.
    The landscape orientation feels more like portrait, and portrait is ludicrously crowded.

    The scaling feature for website without a mobile version are just too powerful to take away from users, so much so that any attempt to replace them is effectively disfinctional.
    -ok, skeptic hat for a full couple of seconds: maybe I just don’t notice it in less text heavy sites where it works better?

  58. says

    I’m on an android device, and there’s a right sidebar’y thing that takes up something like a third of the screen with nothing in it. Also I miss quite terrible the ftb most recent / active , it was my preferred method of sailing between blogs

  59. says

    Looks good! Clean and fresh.

    Notes:

    1) I’ll chime in with another “yea” for comment numbers (please and thank you).
    2) Categorising content on the front page should make it very easy for those with delicate, easily-bruised manly feelings to avoid all that difficult grownup talk about feminism.
    3) I’ve included a third because a list of only two is barely a list at all.

  60. says

    1. Zoom ability on iPad. My eyes aren’t what they once were.
    2. Comment numbering.
    3. A link back to top located at the bottom would be nice, but “next post/previous post” links would better.
    4. Lose the indenting. It just looks weird to me, now.

    /my $.02

  61. says

    I thnk everything looks nice and comprehensible. Also, I no longer have to scroll sideways on my non-widescreen monitor. Though is it TOO narrow? There is unused space to the left and right of everything, and the blog/comment section is maybe a bit cramped O:

  62. maryoswell says

    1. Header strong and easy to read.
    2. Comment numbers essential to keep track in long discussions.
    3. Left and right margins of page seem unnecessarily wide. Could be half or less the size and enlarge the content.
    4. I think the left-hand navigation is a bit large. I know that moving between pages should be easy, but it just seems a big large based on the size of the content windows.

  63. 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 fewer, rather than more of the blogs.

  64. Matrim says

    I’ve only looked at the mobile version, mostly because I can’t find a link to disable it. The mobile version is “eh” when I can read it, and awful when I can’t (which is any time you post a block quote)

  65. soogeeoh says

    @chigau (違う)

    from the dispatches blog’s upgrade post (Welcome to the New Freethought Blogs)

    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.

  66. says

    Exactly like magistramarla said, for me. I’m glad the topic list is useful to some people, but please make it possible to avoid it. On Salon, for instance, there’s a Top Stories | Most Recent switch, which allows me to simply browse through all the posts since I last went there. Its default is Top Stories, which is useless to me, but one tap and I’m using it the way I like to.

    Now on my laptop, it’s much better, but yeah, the whitespace, the indent, the things that pretty much all the others have mentioned.

    To be fair, overall I think the look is good (barring the tweaks as noted), and the navigation on the laptop is MUCH less problematic (though again, being able to see whether the blogs have updated since I last checked would be a huge bonus). So I’ll call it 8/10 on presentation.

    But the navigation on my phone (Android 4.4, Nexus 5, btw), combined with my disability, mean I simply won’t be around as many places, and much less often, if that’s not changed. The way I usually read FTB is to go to the main page, open new tabs for the blogs I always read, and look for new posts in the sometimes-read category, to see if anything catches my interest. This all takes place on my phone, during the lie-down period I have to have after I take my meds.

    I do my reading, drop a note or two on the phone about things I want to reply to but are slow-moving threads, or not to a specific person, or the Lounge, and comment to the things that are fast-moving, urgent, or a reply to a specific comment on my phone. Then later, when I’m able to be vertical again, I check my notes on the phone and post longer comments, like this, on my laptop. Yes, I wrote that monster earlier on my phone. You can always tell, because punctuation will get missed, or capitals, which I generally obsessively correct on a proper keyboard, and there will be occasional spelling mistakes, because chubby fingers.

    Instead now, on my phone, I have to click to the Sidebar menu, then pop open the blog list, then click on the radio buttons to open the single page of a blog. Which may have no updates. Then I click back, to go back to the Sidebar menu, pop open the blog list, and click on a second radio button. There’s no option to open more than one blog (radio buttons? really? why?), no way to access the list of blogs without two taps and a loadup screen, and no way to tell if the blog has anything new anyway. There’s not even a way to access recent posts at all, that I can discover, on the phone.

    I read seven blogs regularly, and four semi-regularly, on this site. Or I did, before that became impossibly lengthy on my phone. And I have perfect vision, and good fine motor skills. If I had to try and do that with, say, Parkinsons, or with a visual impairment…well, I’d go somewhere else, frankly. I have a hard time believing this was properly validated with accessibility as a priority, and in 2014, that’s really…unfortunate, to be kind.

    As to ‘faster’, this has not yet been my experience, but I can easily give that some time to see if it’s just first-day post-traffic that’s the issue.

    Navigation – for laptop, say 7/10, maybe 6, but small issues, probably easily fixed. For mobile, well, given the way I use the site, it’s basically now broken for me, so 0/10. Am I going to have to go back to the 90s for bookmarks, themselves a pain in the ass on my phone?

  67. Menyambal says

    Okay, I just rotated screen on my tablet to portrait, and I likes it. Some better.

    The sidebar menu goes away to a tab, and the comments are wider, with less noticeable wasted space. That indent at the first paragraph is now seen to be from the gravatar picture, depending on its length.

    The wasted space is still there, it just looks less bad this way.

    Me, I don’t even look at those gravatar pics. How about losing them altogether?

  68. Georgia Sam says

    The only thing that bothers me is the loss of swipe-to-zoom on my iPad. The print is pretty small on the iPad screen, & my tired old eyes can read it more easily if I zoom in.

  69. says

    Anything that makes it HARDER for people to find new posts on other blogs is serious damage. I’ll mention that we need to make exchanging linkage between all the blogs on FtB a priority.

  70. chigau (違う) says

    I rarely use the front page but I like the new one.
    The old one had links in order of joining and I often missed posts from th newer blogs because they were waaay down at the bottom.

  71. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    I miss Recently posted on FtB and Active threads

    That’s how I always end up on blogs that aren’t Pharyngula.

  72. PatrickG says

    It’d be nice if the GET FTB AD-FREE link disappeared with all the other ads when I log in.

    I PAID FOR NO ADS DAMN IT! :)

  73. chigau (違う) says

    Yay!
    Alex is awake!
    Banner overlap is corrected and we have comment numbers.
    Thank you.

  74. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @everyone, but quoting Frog @9:00am

    Initial gut reaction on popping open on a desktop machine with large monitor: I like it. Clean and spare, but not cold.

    I find it clean and spare, but not warm. It feels decidedly less friendly. It may not be “cold” but I find your “not cold” phrasing to be revealing on its own.

    I think it would be a lot better if the grey background had at least one more grey tone to create a pattern that was subtle, but friendly.

    If this blog had a fashion or fabric emphasis, I’d suggest something paisley – which always looks good and friendly and non-monotonous, but fades into the background so easily.

    Here? Curly tentacled cephalopods could achieve almost the same effect. Maybe 6 or 8, tiled. Again, it’s just a grey-on-grey damask, a subtle background effect. If you want a standard look – and I agree that’s desirable – then you can give each blogger the option of creating an image in the same grey as their own subtle background, where FtB dictates how much contrast is allowed in the damask, etc.

    Without it, the longer threads – which are almost all of them of Pharyngula – are shooting down past the left info/link bar and into this grey space that simply isn’t friendly.

    Finally,
    FUCKING COMMENT NUMBERS

  75. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    ooops. Comment number comment was 2 minutes too late.

    Thanks, Alex!

  76. says

    It’s readable enough on my desktop PC.

    I assume this urge to scoot the monitor to the left will pass shortly.

    Is there a reason for having two “notify me of follow-up comments by email” checkboxes at the bottom?

  77. says

    I didn’t go through to see if these have been brought up, but…

    1. No good login link. I had to log in through the “Get ad free” (or whatever) link. I already get ad free, so don’t really need to go through that way.

    2. Not all posts seem to be going up on the main page.

  78. says

    I may be the only person who feels this way, but I liked the comment numbers.

    Also, I’m not sure Hershele Ostropoler can post on every blog? If you see “Hershele Ostropoler’s sockpuppet” anywhere, it’s because I couldn’t get the WordPress login to work.

  79. says

    Well, the numbers were restored while I was complaining about it (yay!), the other thing I was going to mention, the previous/next post links, was (from my perspective) fixed, and having logged in here I was logged in at B&W, where I’d run into an issue.

  80. says

    I want to be clear, by the way, that overall, I think the redesign is a generally good thing, and I’m really not being dramatic in saying I can’t be here if the nav doesn’t work better on the phone, but informational.

    I’ve done a fair bit of design myself, so I have just enough knowledge to be dangerously stupid, but I’ve done a bit more work on UI design and requirements, so these issues are familiar and apparent to me. I think it’s very easy, as a designer, to get caught up in making things smooth and attractive – which, again, generally I think is exactly what has been achieved – and to lose track that for various reasons, not everyone can use the smooth, attractive site in the way that the designer does.

    I just wanted to add that because I don’t want Alex to be quite as overwhelmed as I’m sure he’s feeling right now, with the enormous wave of feedback, largely negative-sounding, that I’m sure is happening (I’m sure because I’ve been there!). Overall, I really do think the redesign is excellent, and that I’m confident the tweaks mentioned above will be sorted quickly, as indeed we already have comment numbers back. But with an aging population (as I’m discovering myself), we get an increased incidence of disabilities that would make this much less functional as it currently is on the mobile presentation. I hope I’ve expressed that I’m not grousing out of a “this changed and now it sucks” place. :)

  81. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    It’s ugly and the front page is awful. I used to peruse it several times a day looking for new articles from my favorite bloggers but now that they’re all jumbled up into these stupid categories I think I’ll be doing that a lot less.

  82. soogeeoh says

    Trying to make comment numbers searchable might have consequences, I think, for users of assistive technology, if done on the global level

  83. robro says

    For whatever one more opinion is worth to you folks, overall it looks pretty good to me. Perhaps a bit too much red. I like red and gray (hey, I’m a Southerner), but there seems to be a lot of red.

    One nit: The black round-rect around “Post Comment” and “Preview” below the comment box are tight to the text.

  84. chigau (違う) says

    We had non-searchable numbers in a previous incarnation and it was fixed.
    I have every confidence that Alex can do it again.

  85. robro says

    Another nit: The gray comment box as no left and right margin. The white comment box probably doesn’t have it either but not so noticeable. The yellow PZ comment box does and is a little easier to read. You can see above to compare #91, #92, and #93 (PZ’s comment).

  86. David Marjanović says

    Yay, several improvements since my last comment (which now has the number 67)! ^_^

    One minor thing: blockquotes now have a light gray bar to their left – and that’s exactly the shade of the gray background of half of all posts. Making the bar darker, though somewhat redundant, might avoid any residual confusion.

  87. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Thank you, Techincal Alex for fixing the issues like comment numbers quickly.

    Overall, I like the new look. I’m counting on accessibility issues getting fixed, and then we’ll just have to get used to things looking a bit different.

  88. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    There continues to be no “### comments” link to the comment section on the blog main page/Older Posts page.

  89. JAL: Snark, Sarcasm & Bitterness says

    I like it. Of course, I’m on a big monitor (thank god, my vision is blurry enough as it) and don’t have other devices to use it on so I can’t comment on that.

    In general, I wish have a light/dark option for background would become standard online. Black is best for my issues but I know not everyone likes it.

    I’m so glad the comment numbers are back but a minor thing: they aren’t copyable. When replay I just select all and paste to get the information but the numbers don’t come. Like I said, minor and I can adjust to it but haven’t seen that mentioned yet.

    Finally updating the HTML tags information in the box below comments would be nice since it’s SO fucking annoying when people don’t blockquote.

  90. says

    Thank you for restoring comment numbers. However, they are now on top of (or under?) the avatars. :-(
    Can’t see them all, and can’t copy any of them when copying nym/date-time stamp (as I used to do previously)

    Thank you for all the hard work on this – and thank you for soliciting feedback and for responding.

  91. says

    Please, could there be no light gray text on white? Gad, it’s awful and difficult to read. Easy to read should be standard for a blog.

    Greasemonkey scripts are no longer working, so how about placing the sidebar on the right? And it would be great if someone would place the preview button first, and post second.

  92. dianne says

    The ads are pretty awful. Is there anything to be done about that? I can live with the Corbett ads, I suppose, but really don’t want to see any more “Asian women seeking husbands” ads. Could do without the woo too. Yeah, I could pay for no ads, but that wouldn’t change FTB’s sponsorship of them.

  93. carlie says

    Thank you, thank you, for the comment numbers and alternating grey/white comment boxes. Makes it so much easier to follow!

  94. Galactic Fork says

    Glad to see most of my complaints were fixed while I sleep. Maybe if I sleep enough, all the world’s troubles will be fixed!
    The only problem left for the new FTB design is what Inaji said in 119:

    Please, could there be no light gray text on white? Gad, it’s awful and difficult to read. Easy to read should be standard for a blog.

    Yeah. Gray on white in the blockquotes is bad! (Dark gray text on a lighter gray background isn’t all that super happy fun either.)

    Also, minor nitpick, on the left there’s a “recent comment” option in the little tabbed list of “recent posts,” “recent comments,” and “archives” but then later there’s another recent comment list a little lower. Seems redundant.

  95. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Unless I’m much mistaken, the flat grey background has been replaced with an unobtrusive grey-on-grey. I don’t have my glasses on right now, but it seems to be just checkerboard. Nonetheless, it’s a small enough checkerboard that the detail of it isn’t distracting, but the emotional response is simply **much** warmer and friendlier.

    Although I don’t think almost-visible cephalopods are a bad idea, this is the kind of basic background that does what it needs to do and can be used on any FtB blog.

    Well done, and quick response!

  96. consciousness razor says

    The “post comment” and “preview” buttons could afford to be a lot bigger, two or three times bigger. I like big buttons.

    Here are a few quick fixes with custom CSS:
    – Background is medium gray instead of white (with a lighter shade for left sidebar) — because the last thing I want to look at is a huge field of white screaming “#FFFFFF!!!!1!” at me. This color clashes somewhat with the bluish grays in comments/articles, but adjusting all of that’s a lot trickier. Preferably, the boxes for articles/comments would be warmer shades of gray/brown as well, to go with the reddish elements in the theme.
    – “Says” is gone after comment authors’ names. Because that’s just silly.
    – Some other adjustments for easier reading. At the moment, it’s mostly just giving blockquotes a little more space and definition with a thin border. But eventually, font sizes, margins, indentations, borders etc., need a lot of little tweaks. “Creationist”-specific stuff is looking pretty good already, except text is sort of laying on top of Gumbys instead of giving them a little space of their own.

    ——

    @-moz-document domain(freethoughtblogs.com) {
    body { background-color:#888888 !important; }
    .entry-comments { background-color:#888888 !important; }
    .widget { background-color:#999999 !important; }
    .says { display:none }
    p { font-size:18px; line-height:1.25 !important; padding:2px 2px 2px 2px !important; }
    .comment { font-size:18px !important; text-align:left !important; }
    .comment-author { font-weight:bold !important; font-size:20px !important; font-family:Verdana, sans-serif !important; padding-right:4px !important; padding-left:4px !important; background:none !important; }
    blockquote { margin:1px 1px 1px 10px !important; padding:1px 4px 1px 10px !important; border-left:3px solid #ddd; border:thin solid !important; border-color:#C8C8C8 !important; line-height:1.25 !important; font-size:13px; }
    }

  97. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Okay, bizarre coding idea.

    I spend more time on Pharyngula than any other FtB blog, though I almost always read Ed’s blog and go through long stretches where I read everything on Ophelia’s, YEMMYnisting and Black Skeptics. (then stop for a while, then start again).

    For others, especially Richard Carrier, whom I love but who posts relatively rarely, and Avicenna, “Recently blogged around FtB” has been crucial to me catching new posts and deciding if I want to read them.

    But it just occurred to me that I never use the front page, like ever. I’m here often enough that the recently blogged feature worked for me.

    But it’s true that I do go away for random periods, especially around finals. So here’s the idea:

    What if the blog roll call was programmed for rollover text where the text was the 3-5 most recent posts on that blog?

    Would it be possible to even make that rollover text clickable, or would we just decide we liked a title and click through to the blog before reading the post?

    Either way, that would be a massive improvement in navigation – at least on a computer, I don’t use a cell phone, so others will have to comment there.

    Okay, and yeah, this quote feature that uses grey text on grey? Fuck that noise. I hadn’t seen what Inaji was talking about, but now I get it. Ugh, it’s awful.

  98. gmcard says

    Having the blog-specific banners right-justified (to the right edge of the main content panel) rather than centered or left-justified (to the left edge of the main content panel) looks very strange to me. Any one else feel that way?

    But in general this update is quite good, kudos.

  99. says

    Afternoon lie-down time, so when I’ve had a chance to look at my phone, I’ll be able to say whether changes have made that possible. Not that I’m expecting it has happened or pressuring for it to happen immediately, just saying that I’ll keep an eye on it, and mention when it seems resolved in a way that works.

    Alex, great job on the updates today, you’ve done yeoman’s work so far. Sure you’ll get it sorted out. Thanks for the responsive effort.

  100. Galactic Fork says

    I also just now noticed that when blockquoted text is in one of the comments with a gray background comments, the little gray indent bar you see in the white background comments is invisible. So the blockquotes are just slightly indented lighter gray text. Not important, just seems pointless to have if you only have a 50/50 chance of it being seen in a comment.

  101. Al Dente says

    Where’s killfile? I need to killfile the “nuke Gaza ’till it glows” Frankenburger fan.

  102. says

    Galactic Fork:

    Not important, just seems pointless to have if you only have a 50/50 chance of it being seen in a comment.

    No, it is important. Just for once, could we have a visible, functional blockquote? One with a proper indent, a visible line (black) and visible text (black), with normal sized quotation marks? There is zero need to get arty with it.

  103. says

    Al Dente @ 129, all the Greasemonkey scripts have been invalidated. I don’t know if anyone will update them as necessary. I’d dearly like my killfile back too, as well as sidebar on the right and the auto de-embedder for video.

  104. Matrim says

    From Alex “The new system uses a responsive theme that reacts to your screen’s size dynamically instead of having a mobile site.”

    Ah, well…that’s troublesome. I’m pleased I got a response to my issues, but the fact I can’t disable this particular view means that I’m not really able to read FTB on my phone. And since I essentially only read FTB on my phone as I don’t generally have a lot of time on a proper computer to just read, it means I’m basically not going to be reading the site. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s a chore to do so.

    He did say they’d work on the block quote display. I hope that gets worked out.

  105. Matrim says

    Is there a way to cheat that? To make the site think I’m using a full size monitor and just let me zoom and scroll to read? Maybe some browser or something I can download for iOS?

  106. says

    PZ:

    What do people think of just a dark left bar?

    That’s what works best, a dark left bar. The box is…cumbersome.

  107. says

    Daz @ 141:

    I’d say that’s enough without bar or border.

    I like having a left bar because I’ve noticed in fast and furious threads, it makes it much easier to immediately distinguish quoted material from response material.

  108. 2kittehs says

    Happy collective birthday!

    Inaji@142, I agree, smaller font, indent and bar make it clear, and it’s a cleaner look than the box.

    (Hi, this is kittehserf from WHTM, able to log in again at last.)

  109. says

    (Hi, this is kittehserf from WHTM, able to log in again at last.)

    Kittehs! You’ve been missed. I’m glad you’re able to log in again.

  110. says

    Inaji #142

    I like having a left bar because I’ve noticed in fast and furious threads, it makes it much easier to immediately distinguish quoted material from response material.

    Aye, there is that. To be honest, I prefer the bar over the quote-thingy anyway. Having the two together though seems unaesthetic. Just my personal taste.

  111. consciousness razor says

    I just added conciousness razor’s suggested css. Yeah, not pretty. Tweaking now.

    Nope, definitely not pretty. You do what you can, with what you have.

    I forgot to mention earlier that I used Ad-block on this background image so I could change the background color (to whatever — anything but white). It may as well be deleted, as it does nothing but get in the way — and take up more space of course, like so many of these silly little widgets and gizmos.

  112. says

    Daz @ 147:

    To be honest, I prefer the bar over the quote-thingy anyway. Having the two together though seems unaesthetic.

    Same here. I’d be much happier if the quote mark was eliminated entirely. It’s not used correctly anyway, and all it does is muddle the hell out of things.

  113. chigau (違う) says

    Looking at old threads, I see we’re back to starting at number 1 on the second page.

  114. Galactic Fork says

    So the alternating colored comments and change in boxquote text is just a change to pharyngula and not a global change? Darn.

  115. dout says

    Matrim @ 133
    You can sorta “disable” the block on zooming on iOS if you do the following:

    – Open any page (this one is fine), and bookmark it
    – Edit the bookmark, change the url to be:
    javascript:document.querySelector( 'meta%5Bname=viewport%5D' ).setAttribute( 'content', 'width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=10.0, user-scalable=1');
    – Rename the bookmark to something like ‘Allow Zooming’

    Then, whenever you are on a site that thought it would be a good idea to kill the zoom, just hit that bookmark, and usually it will work again. I have run into sites where it becomes a bit more unstable, but typically it works for me.

    However, I have been successfully zooming Pharyngula on both my iPad and iPhone for the past half hour or so without using that hack. Kudos for getting that taken care of. It was my biggest complaint.

  116. dout says

    Hmm, I added a couple spaces to that javascript url so it would wrap better on the screen, but now I’m thinking it won’t work like that. Here it is again without any spacing that you can cut/paste.

    javascript:document.querySelector('meta%5Bname=viewport%5D').setAttribute('content','width=device-width,initial-scale=1.0,maximum-scale=10.0,user-scalable=1');

    Sorry!

  117. Rey Fox says

    Golly gosh, last time there was a big groundswell of demand for Times New Roman or some other sans serif font that was eventually granted. Nothing this time. Well, I know when I’ve been left behind by Progress. *sadly drags dinosaur tail out of the room*

  118. consciousness razor says

    #154 shows why we need word-wrap, like so:

    p { word-wrap:break-word !important; }

    But you should already have some stuff filed under “p {}” so just add that part to the end or whatever.

    Also, the “response” or “Leave a Reply” input box can be adjusted here:
    .comment-respond { background-color:#999999 !important; }

    I made it the same color as the sidebar for now, but it could be anything.

    No idea how to get rid of that stupid opening quote mark.

  119. Maureen Brian says

    After several million attempts I managed to get back in. Sighs of relief!!

    BUT ……. I cannot search for older posts by a word or phrase in the title. I used to do a lot of that.

  120. AMM says

    Well, I’m a dinosaur and view the site using FireFox (feh) on a version of Linux that was new when I installed it :-)

    I just started looking a few minutes ago.)

    1. the content on any page doesn’t start until below the sidebar. It’s like having pieces of your page scattered all over the floor of an airplane hangar. I hate having to page around to find anything, since every time I scroll, it takes a while for me to reorient myself. I’m sure there’s _lots_ of stuff there that I haven’t seen because I haven’t scrolled that far, or scrolled past it.

    2. Don’t like the home page. I definitely used the feature of having the latest two blog titles listed in the banner for each blog. If I’ve read the latest article, I don’t need to look at the blog. Also, I may look at a blog I don’t normally read if there’s a post with an interesting title in the blog’s front page banner section. Also: maybe I’m lazy, but I don’t always retain the name of a blog, I’m used to recognizing the picture. I find it much harder to find a blog in a bare list of names.

    3. The articles-by-category section is IMHO useless. It seems like most articles end up in several categories, sometimes in wholely inappropriate ones; some appear in practically every list. I don’t find the categories useful in any case, since there’s no correlation between what categories some blogger (or bot?) has ticked off and whether I’m going to be interested.

    4. The block numbers for older post pages are nice. Much better than the “older posts” link in teeny-tiny letters.

  121. Gorg says

    I see the tech team has enabled the zoom in/out on ipad/tablets again. Awesome! I think overall, the site looks good now (and I’m one of those ARGH CHANGE ARGH types). It seems like there’s less wasted whitespace on the mobile side as well. Aside from banishing the dangling quote my one request would be to bring back the “Skip to comment form” link at the end of articles to zoom down the page. I actually wish more websites would have a link like that.

    One other request would be to space out the links to the other FTB pages on the sidebar. On a tablet, they’re very close together and for those of us with fat fingers a bit hard to select. But that’s on the “yeah we’ll get to that someday” list.

    Thank you for not implementing any floating menu bars (please never do that please please please!) or side-swipe design on mobile!

  122. opposablethumbs says

    I am sure that there was a considerable amount of thought and discussion before deciding to put the front page emphasis on a range of subject areas rather than on the bloggers. So I don’t mean this as anything more than a 2-pence worth of opinion: I used to always look at a few specific bloggers first, and then look at the titles of the three-most-recent-posts for the others and click if I saw something that particularly caught my eye. The fact that those most-recent-posts can no longer be seen under each blogger’s name (and woe, the coloured mini-logo thingies they each had are gone too! Now I can’t find anyone!) means that the list of blogger’s names is effectively no longer any use (except for clicking on the handful I already go to all the time anyway).

    But I guess you’ll be observing the stats, and if (after a while to get used to the new layout) it has the desired effect of getting people to read more widely then it will have been worth it. If it doesn’t have that effect, though, would you consider changing back? I do wish it were possible to squeeze a quart into a pint-pot somehow and not have to have either some subject areas or some bloggers a long scroll away from the top, off in the icy wastes of the bottom of the page … which must be even more so for people reading on mobile devices.

    I can’t tell html from dog biscuits, so I have absolutely no idea whether it would be totally impossible or merely almost impossible to have (say) the bloggers’ names-and-logos, like before, but have them all showing, and when you hover over each name it gets bigger and you can see their three most recent posts (like those weird apple people used to have for their icons, no idea if they still do). I mean, to avoid anybody ever being consigned to those icy wastes. Or, of course, the same effect but using it for the new divisions into subject areas – so the headings at least are all visible at once.

    The overall look is nice – just needs more (very quietly) textured backgrounds everywhere (such as subtle cephalopods where appropriate). Thank you for all the behind-the-scenes efforts to make the site accessible to everyone!

  123. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A thank you thank you thank you to Alex for removing the thread link in everyone’s nym!

    Looks like it has moved to the time/date data.

  124. says

    Nerd:

    Looks like it has moved to the time/date data.

    That’s the same as always; after the last upgrade, every single nym showed up as hyperlinked, which was very annoying.

  125. Lofty says

    Daz @31

    That’s a feature, not a bug

    I noticed just now how the sidebar turns into a button when the window is narrowed, can’t a suitable button be made available at all screen widths? Click it and the screen goes all comments.

  126. says

    Please, no pale gray font on a pale background. I know everyone doing blog themes thinks that’s just so cool, but it seriously sucks because it’s not readable.

  127. says

    Lofty #166

    You mean have the comments fit the whole width of the page?

    There might be a javascript method of doing that, but I can’t, off the top of my head, think of an html/css method.

    Also, I seem to recall reading somewhere that many people are uncomfortable reading anything with a line length much above 600–700px on a computer screen. Summat about it meaning they have to move their head, not just their eyes, from side to side.

  128. 2kittehs says

    Inaji, 145:

    Kittehs! You’ve been missed. I’m glad you’re able to log in again.

    Aww, thanks! :)

  129. A. Noyd says

    chigau (#100)

    Can’t search by comment number, though.

    Yep, that’s bad. I search by comment number all the time. Like if I need to reread something in the OP several hundred comments into the comment thread. I’ll just remember what number I was on and use ctrl + F to get back to it. So convenient.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~

    Inaji (#163)

    A thank you thank you thank you to Alex for removing the thread link in everyone’s nym!

    Yes! And for fixing breaks and links in preview. Though, it’s going to take me a few days to stop assuming I borked my HTML when I see a normal-looking link.

  130. Menyambal says

    It is looking much better. Thanks, all.

    The quote blocks having a little bar to the left is nice, but the bar is the same color as the grey comment blocks. I can still tell which is quotes, though. Hmm, black? Checks?

  131. Lofty says

    Daz @169

    You mean have the comments fit the whole width of the page?

    Yup, it certainly isn’t an issue on my 17″ laptop but my little 8″ travel notebook would be better served by all text. I’m basically computer illiterate so a handy button would be nice.

  132. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Those red triangles next to blog names: are they meant to be functional? If they aren’t already, and I’m just user-erroring, perhaps use those as a way to expand a list to show the 5 most recent posts from that blog.

  133. Matrim says

    @ dout, 153

    It’s not so much that I can’t zoom, I can. It’s that the display is so narrow that whenever someone block quotes there are only two or three words in a line, which is annoying, and if someone block quotes inside another block quote (as PZ frequently does), it becomes a single column of words that is an aesthetic mess and a pain to read. I can zoom in or out, but it doesn’t change the layout. I want a way to trick the site into thinking my screen is wider so that it displays with more words per line (even if it’s not “optimal”) so I have an easier time reading by scrolling and/or zooming.

  134. Matrim says

    *smacks forehead* And a simple solution has presented itself. Just turn my phone to landscape. In fairness I generally hate doing that, it’s uncomfortable, but at least I can read quotes properly now.

  135. dout says

    @ Matrim

    Yes, the narrow text is problem. But I was so thrilled I got my zoom back, I let that one go. Others have mentioned that one. It is actually improved from when the site was first released. I’m hoping there’s still some improvement coming to that issue. Even on an iPad in portrait, the narrowness of the text is pretty bad even though there is ample room for it.

  136. says

    Wooo! I like the new site.

    The mobile version actually works on my Note 2 and I can zoom just fine.

    BUT can we drop the 5 little ads below the post to 4? Or make them smaller? The 5th one is getting pushed to a new row in the mobile version which is causing weird extra white space to the right side of the screen. So instead of the comments taking up the full width of my screen, which looks like the native intent, I have to zoom to get rid of that white space.

    oh. And preview on the left side please.

    And preview has stopped showing line breaks.

  137. Galactic Fork says

    Inaji:

    Please, no pale gray font on a pale background. I know everyone doing blog themes thinks that’s just so cool, but it seriously sucks because it’s not readable.

    I could have sworn it was changed earlier, at least on pharyngula. Also the little gray bar that’s invisible in the gray background comments was darker then. Not anymore. Back to being gone in the gray comments. Not sure if it reverted, or I imagined it. Anyway. I really don’t get the love for making gray on white text, either. The point is communication, so anything that makes communication harder is a step back.

    I personally prefer the boxes, but as long as it’s obviously differentiated as a blockquote, and easy to read, I’m good.

  138. says

    So happy about the ad-free ability. Got my year paid up. A button somewhere to log in quickly would be nice before the pop-ups start. :-)
    I’m happy! Good job mindless minions of FtB who made it happen.

  139. chezjake says

    I also posted this on Ed’s blog, but it’s a major problem that wants attention.

    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.

  140. David Chapman says

    Congrats on the new format, PZ. I’m not exactly blown away by it to be honest — I don’t like gray, so it’s never going to enchant me so long as FtB stays loyal to that remarkable hue; but this new gray thing looks a lot better than the old gray thing, in my opinion.
    If anyone is having trouble signing in, I was having a problem as well, it turns out that apparently the difficulty was that since the makeover, WordPress got somewhat more purist for some reason and wanted me to sign on with my original username. I had got into the habit of signing on with my nickname, which used to work well. Things are a bit more stringent with this new regime, it seems. Once I used the username I had started off with I was fine.
    Now the downside: I’m afraid my appreciation of your new visuals has been sabotaged by one of the adverts, which shows a guy suffering from a hideous skin disease, which is fairly hard to look at. This is in gross discord with the compassionate and thoughtful ethos of Pharyngula and other sites. It seems callous and objectionable to me, to insert that along with all the regular smiley-happy stuff and personal messages from Jesus Christ, etc. It wouldn’t be a problem if it was a medical charity trying to show what it was up against or something, but it appears that the sufferer is simply an exhibit. I gather that you are not in control of the advert contents, but surely there is some sort of protest that can be made in cases like this?

  141. says

    chezjake:

    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.

    Yes, I’d much rather see that than the categories we have. In addition to the problems you mentioned, there’s the problem AMM mentioned @159:

    3. The articles-by-category section is IMHO useless. It seems like most articles end up in several categories, sometimes in wholely inappropriate ones; some appear in practically every list. I don’t find the categories useful in any case, since there’s no correlation between what categories some blogger (or bot?) has ticked off and whether I’m going to be interested.

    I also worry that some bloggers who don’t update as frequently will miss out on having people peruse their blogs. Unless I missed it, I don’t see the last update from Black Skeptics on the main page. Granted, the last update was 7/15/14, so it’s not as recent as many other blogs, but aside from the link to that blog in the sidebar, there’s no representation for them among the categories on the front page.

    An additional problem might well be when Ophelia’s posts show up on the main screen. She is rather prolific at times, and I could see many of her new posts taking up various categories.

    On a different note, I wish the blockquoted material was offset just a little more (and I may be in the minority, but I liked the little bar denoting the quoted material).

  142. says

    David Chapman:

    If anyone is having trouble signing in, I was having a problem as well, it turns out that apparently the difficulty was that since the makeover, WordPress got somewhat more purist for some reason and wanted me to sign on with my original username. I had got into the habit of signing on with my nickname, which used to work well. Things are a bit more stringent with this new regime, it seems. Once I used the username I had started off with I was fine.

    What I can’t figure out is why I can’t sign on to my wordpress account to comment at FtB using my phone. I can sign on using my laptop, and the login is the same.

  143. says

    There are moves going on behind the scenes to restore the “most recent” box, and to have a section of the main page that also highlights the most recent posts. Patience!

    Also, to StevoR, who frequently makes test comments to see if I’ve somehow magically lifted his ban, and was most unseemly in his rush to see if the spam filters got hosed in the update: NO.

  144. says

    Thanks, PZ, I figured it was being worked on. I can’t really browse the site right now, but those posts will still be there when it’s sorted, and as much as I’d like to imagine they’re all waiting for me to drop my usual (ha!) pearls of wisdom in the comment threads, I’m actually pretty sure they’ll manage. :)

  145. says

    PZ:

    Also, to StevoR, who frequently makes test comments to see if I’ve somehow magically lifted his ban, and was most unseemly in his rush to see if the spam filters got hosed in the update: NO.

    Rats below, some people take persistence much too far.

  146. says

    Inaji:
    I don’t understand that persistence either.
    He knows he’s banned. Why is it so all fired important to comment on a site you’re banned from?
    It’s like the Pitters’ whining about being banned. If you’re banned, the host doesn’t want you to comment, so go somewhere else. It really isn’t that hard.

  147. says

    Tony:

    Why is it so all fired important to comment on a site you’re banned from?

    I don’t know. I imagine that StevoR doesn’t really think he was ever wrong, and thinks he must prove that, so he keeps on trying.

  148. says

    Well, and there are fresh things to reassure us that Israel is and always was on the side of the angels about. If you’ve seen any of his recent posts at Mano’s or Taslima’s places, you’d know why he’s carrying on trying. It’s desperately important to him to make us see the light on Israel, and how it’s really Hamas’ own fault that US-made Israeli planes carrying US-made Israeli munitions are blowing children apart in a US-made Israeli way. He’s…honestly, I don’t think he’s well. I’ve come to almost pity him, more than loathe him, because it must be awful to live in such a tiny world. Almost, though, because he’s the one drawing the boundaries of that world, and obviously doesn’t mind it or he’d, y’know, expand it.

    Sad, really.

  149. chezjake says

    PZ:
    Thanks for letting us know the “most recent” problem is being worked on.

    BTW, are you aware that none of your posts so far today are showing up on the front page?

  150. says

    Caitie Cat, yeah, I assumed PZ’s recent posts about Israel and shredded children had StevoR in a lather. I’m so grateful he can’t take part in them.

  151. David Marjanović says

    The wide font for names is rather ugly. It’s a Lucida font, right?

    Looking at old threads, I see we’re back to starting at number 1 on the second page.

    Oh, that’s bad.

    Kittehs! You’ve been missed. I’m glad you’re able to log in again.

    Seconded. =^_^=

    I cannot search for older posts by a word or phrase in the title.

    Ouch.

    A thank you thank you thank you to Alex for removing the thread link in everyone’s nym!

    Oh yessss.

    I imagine that StevoR doesn’t really think he was ever wrong, and thinks he must prove that, so he keeps on trying.

    Yep. He’s completely full of himself – and seems to suffer from the assumption that in every conflict there must be a good side: Hamas is evil, so he logically concludes Israel is completely blameless – proving nothing more than the fact that false assumptions lead to false conclusions. He’s a sad case.

  152. A. Noyd says

    chigau (#150)

    Looking at old threads, I see we’re back to starting at number 1 on the second page.

    Bet you whatever fix would make comment numbers searchable would fix that, too. Seem to recall that happened last time.

  153. says

    Honestly.. Too much white. The old format had clear delineations between title and content, and separation between articles. The new one.. is imho, one step away from having no formatting at all. Or, being like one of those magazines that doesn’t bother putting pictures in, or finding ads that will fit on a page, so that the next article starts, top of page, on a new blank sheet. This isn’t “letters to the editor”, its a series of discrete articles, of a sort.

  154. digitalatheist says

    Every time I land on the front page, I think I’ve mistyped that address and landed on a domain holding page. You know the ones that ask if you want to buy “ww.freethoughtblugs.cim”… except not as professional looking.

    As another commenter somewhere along the way said, I need sunglasses just to stand the glare of this.. er.. page. The front page, the thing visitors see first is a mess with the crappy topics and posts that are repeated in multiple randome categories. There is no clear discernable way to see who has posted what recently without going to there individual pages, and as has also been noted, some posts don’t even show up in the categories.

    This was badly hacked together. The best thing that can be done is to start scripting and ditch this code as fast as possible. After all, I don’t think your intent was the landing page for “ww.freethoughtblugs.cim”.

  155. chigau (違う) says

    digitalatheist #201

    This was badly hacked together. The best thing that can be done is to start scripting and ditch this code as fast as possible.

    Bless your heart.

  156. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    There is no clear discernable way to see who has posted what recently without going to there [sic] individual pages

    This part, I dislike as well.

  157. Silentbob says

    I agree with Gen (@95) that I’ll miss the ‘FTB Active’ list. Even though it suffered from considerable lag (what was active a couple of days ago) I still found it useful to discover interesting conversations that were going on around the network.

    Also, I agree with AMM (@159):

    The articles-by-category section is IMHO useless. It seems like most articles end up in several categories, sometimes in wholely inappropriate ones; some appear in practically every list. I don’t find the categories useful in any case, since there’s no correlation between what categories some blogger (or bot?) has ticked off and whether I’m going to be interested.

    I can’t see the use of the categories at all. I liked the way the old front page showed the most recent posts for each blog because it was an easy way to see at a glance if any of my favourite blogs had been updated.

    @ 192 Tony

    Weird isn’t it? He seems to have been pushing Mano Singham’s patience to the limit. It’s perplexing why he’d imagine he would be any more welcome here.

  158. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    re: blockquotes:

    I like the bar in the beginning, and it’s enough for comments on white background, but on the grey ones it’s invisible since it’s the same colour as the backgroung.
    Make it a bit darker, maybe?

  159. Great American Satan says

    It loads HELLLLLLA quicker for me. I recently switched from Chrome to Firefox because all of the background horseshit in Chrome made it butt-slow. So my browser switch might be a factor. But I doubt that’s all.

    In other things, I can’t wait to see the new blogs. And it’s nice for Natalie Reed and Crommunist’s blogs to get some proper sleep, though two questions come up: How to get to their old stuff if so desired, and did the authors actually want us to not access them? In which case, rescind the first question.

    If anyone else had the same feedback, sorry, no time to read other comments at the moment.

  160. Great American Satan says

    One thing – the font looks like random parts of it are bolded on my screen – basically about half of the strong verticals. Capital and lower-case I, lower case L, the rightmost line in capital H, the vertical in capital E, both verticals in capital N, the only one in R, etc. My guess: It’s an awkward “zoom depth” for the font on my set-up, but not sure how you can avoid stuff like that.

    Then again, I tried zooming in and out and the font still looked weird at other sizes. ???

  161. Ichthyic says

    Poke around and tell us what you think!

    I think, as always, and have previously said… that you shouldn’t use your main site as an experimental resource.

    COPY THE SITE TO A TEST SERVER (ideally a separate machine, but it’s OK to even set it up on the same one) and invite people to test it there. Then, design flaws don’t make it to your commercially valuable main site.

    this is really not rocket science, yet I see this mistake being made over and over again.

  162. loopyj says

    The black and white seems stark somehow (sorry, I’m not a designer, so I don’t have the right vocabulary to express that). The red is hard on the eyes. The left column is way too big.

  163. Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk says

    I would like to request again the ACTIVE THREADS feature – am I the only one who misses that?

  164. Silentbob says

    @ 210 Gen

    No. There was me @204 and Philip Hansen @76 but we may be a minority. :-(

  165. says

    Technical Alex has set up a test bed copy of the site where he’ll be implementing some of the fixes first. All I can do here is tweak the CSS.

    Speaking of…I’ve had one mention that they like a serif font. Everyone else seems to be fine with this sans serif thingie we’ve got going here — so I shouldn’t go back to using Georgia?

  166. chezjake says

    I’ve always found a serif font easier to read, especially in longer posts, but I can live with the current setup.

  167. J Myers (no relation) says

    so I shouldn’t go back to using Georgia?

    Wait, we actually need to ask for a serif font? This wasn’t going to just happen after some of the more pressing usability issues were addressed?

  168. digitalatheist says

    Font is fine. That mess that looks like a landing page–front page–for someone trying to sell misspelled domain names, not so much. Bad design is bad

    Possible fix would be to make the left hand column be more like the old blog, with the individual blogs there showing their most recent posts, then maybe move categories to the left and show the last few posts in each category with the requirement that the authors have to pick ONE, not 3 or 4 or 10.

  169. says

    PZ:

    Speaking of…I’ve had one mention that they like a serif font. Everyone else seems to be fine with this sans serif thingie we’ve got going here — so I shouldn’t go back to using Georgia?

    I prefer a Serif font, but I’ll go with the flow on this. I think highest consideration should go to those regulars here who have disorders such as dyslexia. Which font type is easier?

  170. says

    Inaji #217

    Oddly enough that came up in an offline conversation a few weeks back. (yeah, my life really does involve sparkling conversation about font-faces and line-spacing . Maybe I need to get out more?)

    From a sample of one dyslexic person, serif takes the vote. Little things like capital I and lower-case l…

  171. says

    Daz:

    Little things like capital I and lower-case l…

    Given how odd nyms can be, I have trouble with those myself. Okay, I’ll start the Dino chant for a Serif font. Serif, please!

  172. Great American Satan says

    Whoooooa this is unreal and bizarre. I logged in to say the problem I mentioned at #207 about the font wasn’t happening anymore, but now I realize it only happens when I’m logged in. I have no earthly idea what to make of that. Computers are fudging weird man.

  173. chigau (違う) says

    I’ll add a vote for a serif font.
    Since there are a leventybajillion choices, I don’t have a preference.
    but every character being unique, even to challenged eyes, is good.

  174. says

    Apropos of fonts, I seem to occasionally see the entire page in italics for some reason. Sometimes it loads normal at first, but then shifts to italics. The problem is irregular. Sometimes reloading the page resolves the issue. No idea what’s causing this, but it wasn’t a problem on the old site.

  175. The Mellow Monkey says

    Inaji @ 217

    I think highest consideration should go to those regulars here who have disorders such as dyslexia. Which font type is easier?

    Typefaces for dyslexia.

    The designers below found that dyslexic readers liked:

    Good ascenders and descenders,
    b, d, f, h, k, l, t, and all capitals; g, j, p, q, y.
    b and d; p and q distinguished, not mirror images.
    Different forms for capital I, lowercase l and digit 1.
    Rounded g as in handwriting. Most liked rounded a, although perhaps some felt that it may be confused with o.
    Letter-spacing, e.g. r, n together rn should not look like m,
    (if modern turns into modem when scanning or using Text to Speech.)

    Their recommendations are good. Comparing boat, Ill, and modern will make it quickly apparent how difficult someone might find that font.

  176. Menyambal says

    On my tablet, it looks like a plain grey background loads first, then the octopus loads over that. I dunno how much time the grey takes, but it maybe could be eliminated?

    The octopus is loverly, but some text goes over it with no frame or background (previous article links), which is when it gets distracting and hard to read over. Less contrast on the octo, or a frame for the text, maybe?

    Looking really good, overall. I like the new look.

  177. Suido says

    After a big weekend, this makeover is the perfect tonic to a grey Monday morning. I’ve barely scratched the surface so far, but please forward my congratulations to the IT team – the front page is shiny and brilliant. Finally.

  178. The Mellow Monkey says

    I know we’re supposed to be making suggestions and pointing out bugs, but I have to say I love the new front page. It makes it so easy to find posts I might be interested in, even if I don’t normally read that blog. This was a great redesign and I imagine the blogs with less traffic could end up getting a lot of new readers thanks to this.

  179. says

    The serif font will be a bit fussy and harder to read on the phone, but it’s a small enough issue that I wouldn’t stand in the way against it being easier for dyslexics, so put me down for serif too.

  180. carlie says

    Ok, I do NOT like the way blockquotes are rendering. In the OPs, they are clearly set off by a grey vertical line on the side of the quote, but in comments, they are showing only as slightly lighter grey text that is slightly indented. They need to be more strongly indented, or have that vertical line, or a colored text box, or something. It’s barely visible that it’s a blockquote.

  181. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I prefer a serif font – it’s a pretty strong preference.

    But I’m not going to use the site more or less based on the font.

    The illegibility of quotes on every other comment is a much bigger issue.

    Also: I suggest some subtle grey-on-grey thing that can be standardized across FtB as much better than monotone grey?

    It is delivered (I assume by Alex).

    I suggest octopods in grey on grey for Pharyngula?

    PZ delivers.

    I think someone’s going to have to determine it’s necessary to stick with sans-serif fonts just to insure no one gets the idea I’m pulling the puppet strings from Canada. Also, so my head continues to fit through my front door.

  182. 2kittehs says

    I love the new cephalopod background! For a moment I thought it was some abstract floral/ribbony look – make that a nanosecond – before realising what it is. Great job!

  183. says

    HTTPS is still broken. Is anyone even reading this? Is this going to get fixed? Or is that on the “We don’t care” list? :/

  184. says

    DrMcCoy:

    HTTPS is still broken. Is anyone even reading this? Is this going to get fixed? Or is that on the “We don’t care” list? :/

    Sorry, I’m not the savviest when it comes to stuff like this. What exactly is the problem you’re talking about (think of me as a Martian that has no idea what you’re talking about)?

  185. Galactic Fork says

    Not sure if this is the right place since this particular blog doesn’t have nested comments, but the blogs that do have them are completely broken. Can’t tell how to determine how the nesting works now. There’s no offset at all, and I suppose replies are the ones with no divider line between it and the above comment , but each of those have reply buttons too, so there’s no way to know if the one below it is a reply to the one directly above it, or the first in the nesting segment. It’s all very confusing. I’d much rather see no nesting than whatever’s going on. There isn’t even a numbering scheme that makes it clear. At brute reason, a nested comment would have a number like 3.2.7 and you’d know how it fits.

    I’ve already resolved myself to the fact that I’m going to have to highlight blockquotes to comfortably read them from now on, but this is a whole other level.

  186. says

    I can only second that. I’ve never liked nested comments, but this new version is absolutely borked. The old system was at least half-way sensible. And yes, the blockquote function still needs fixing. I’d prefer a proper indent along with a big fat line on the side and no greying out of the letters.

  187. says

    Nested comments would work fine, if they actually ***bloody worked*** like in a news reader. But, in a news reader, the “titles” of each post are in the nest, inside of a separate window, and the comment is loaded, and shown, depending on where in the nest you are. This works. It works great. It doesn’t work on a damn web page, and they know it, which is why, instead, they either a) don’t do it at all, or b) limit it to 1-2 layers deep, which invariably means that, once someone has commented to a comment, or a comments, comment, you are right back to having them stacked in the lowest nest level, in order of arrival, with absolutely no way to tell which comment was being replied to. Which is just.. bloody useless.

  188. says

    Tony, #236: Basically, connect to https://freethoughtblogs.com/ instead http://freethoughtblogs.com/ (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_Secure for implementation details), and see it not connecting at all. It tries and tries, but times out.

    With wget, it looks like this:

    $ wget --debug -v https://freethoughtblogs.com/
    Setting --verbose (verbose) to 1
    DEBUG output created by Wget 1.15 on linux-gnu.

    URI encoding = ‘UTF-8’
    --2014-08-08 14:59:17-- https://freethoughtblogs.com/
    Certificates loaded: 167
    Resolving freethoughtblogs.com (freethoughtblogs.com)... 104.28.12.31, 104.28.13.31
    Caching freethoughtblogs.com => 104.28.12.31 104.28.13.31
    Connecting to freethoughtblogs.com (freethoughtblogs.com)|104.28.12.31|:443... Closed fd 4
    failed: Connection timed out.

  189. says

    Just had a weird bug in the Brian Dunning’s justification thread. I got a subscription mail, telling me that new comments had been posted. I clicked the link and went to the thread, but the thread didn’t show the new comments, even after refreshing. I logged in and then the comments showed up.

  190. maddog1129 says

    I’ve been working with the new format for a little while now, and I have to say I still prefer the old way — list of blogs with the last couple of posts — to the new lineup of topical posts.

    Also, the comment numbers are hidden by many of the avatars, dark on dark. Can the numbers be placed somewhere consistently readable?

  191. says

    Also, the comment numbers are hidden by many of the avatars, dark on dark. Can the numbers be placed somewhere consistently readable?

    On my screen, the comment numbers are placed well to the side of the avatars. They never overlap. The problem may be with your browser, rather than the site.

  192. maddog1129 says

    @ LykeX #241, Aha, I think you are right, that is the problem with the numbers. Unfortunately, on this particular computer, nothing I can do about it as we are not allowed to update the browser. (oops, that’s LykeX @244 — cannot read the numbers!)

    New comment/question:

    1) Perhaps I’m just unfamiliar with where things are or how they work, but is there a way to search for all your own comments, or the comments of a particular commenter? Are there general search functions to find something again?

    2) One of the other things I miss about the old format is the link to the “most active/most comments” threads.

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