Metamorphosis tonight

Just so you know, we’re rolling out a major site redesign in the middle of the night tonight. Alex, our tech guy, is doing it in a smart way by getting it running on a shiny new server first, and then swapping in the IP address of the old one to bring it all live quickly. As with any new design, I expect gasps of horror tomorrow that it’s different — but it’s happening anyway, and productive suggestions to tweak it will be just fine. You’ll just have to adapt.

Most importantly, once we get the redesign out of the way, we’ve got a great big backlog of new additions to the roster who’ve been waiting for this obstacle to be cleared. Expect great new content to follow!


  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Thanks for the warning. Hope the launch goes smoothly.

  2. AndrewD says

    What do you mean “Tonight”? For some of us it will be the middle of the morning. Can we be told the UTC time so we know that it is a programmed change and not the revenge of the MRA’s please

  3. says

    I won’t be horrified if the design is different.

    I will be horrified if the design butchers itself in older browsers, or it causes the content to run off the right edge of the screen on non-widescreen resolutions (though the site already does the latter as it is).

  4. jaketoadie says

    One suggestion on a tweak I would like to see in the design is have the links for the previous and next articles repeated at the bottom of the article as well as the top.

  5. chigau (違う) says

    I’m hoping for a bright yellow background and lots of different fonts and colours and dancing icons.

  6. says

    I hope it’s all in upper case. I have a hearing problem.

    Also, could you put in appropriate translations for Canadians?

    Thank you from the Great White North

  7. cgm3 says

    For some reason, seeing the title of this post started the opening song from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum running through my head. Hope that’s not prophetic…

  8. Kelseigh says

    Oh, I thought you were going to turn into a giant cockroach.

    Well that’s boring.

  9. Alex says

    And on the new front page there are going to be awesome listicles, right?! Like the ones you are practising for. 10 things Richard Dawkins tweeted you will not believe. Or some such.

  10. says

    I think he’s scheduled it for a two hour period after 1am Eastern, but thinks it will only take 20 minutes.

    It’s a more responsive design, so it should be more scaleable in different sized windows.

  11. says

    AAHH! CHANGE! Change is bad. I fear change.

    *deep breath*

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing….only I will remain

    ah, better now. Carry on.

  12. yazikus says

    YOB – Ye Olde Blacksmith,

    Thanks for the calming mantra (and the chuckle)=) I too fear change!

  13. yazikus says

    They’re also doing upgrades at my local Safeway tonight. Coincidence? I think NOT!

    I hate it when they do upgrades at my local Safeway. I like it just the way it is, thank you very much. And when the manager decides to do some ‘clever’ cross-marketing by hiding the bacon in a totally not meat related aisle, well, I don’t consider it clever, I consider it malicious. I just about had a panic when I heard that the Albertsons parent company bought Safeway. I did suggest they could rename the stores SafeAlbert, though.

  14. chimera says

    PZ, Can something be done about the horrible deflated facebook head that appears next to my nym that I have tried countless times to replace and get rid of?

  15. says

    chimera #27, WordPress handles avatars through their Gravatar system, which siteowners cannot override except by getting rid of customisable Gravatars for everybody. If you’re unable to change the Gravatar tied to the email address you’re using you need to take it up with

  16. chigau (違う) says

    any minute now
    will there be a bright flash?
    will my iPad melt?
    have I had enough rum?

  17. jste says

    Ooooh, I like the new look.

    2 issues that immediately jump out though – The grey text in this here comment box? I almost can’t read what I’m typing. Also the post and preview buttons are way ugly. And, PZ, your own comments no longer have their red text and stand-out background.

  18. Galactic Fork says

    I have to second the gray text in the comment composition box. Same for the gray text in blockquoted text, though it’s not as hard to read. Still, gray text over a white background is always bad.
    Also, I just wish the links to other blogs didn’t automatically open in a new tab. I can right click to open in a new tab.
    That’s pretty much it. Otherwise, it’s a website and allows me to read stuff, so it’s doing its job.

  19. says

    Maybe I am just missing it, but is there no longer going to be a section on the left hand nav for recent posts around FtB? I found that was a great way to discover new and interesting posts, especially on blogs I do not regularly read.

  20. =8)-DX says

    I’ve never had problems with “changing” designs. But finally your sight actually has some design – the previous header with a ‘missing’ bar and waves in the background was just an insult to webdesign everywhere.

    Mostly I’m happy if the page works though, which means I have to mention that I’m missing the “next post” “previous post” links in the header. There seems to be space for them, but they’re just not displaying for me..

  21. Galactic Fork says

    SQB #(Dunno cause there are no more comment numbers):

    In IE8 (don’t ask) the content starts below the side bar.

    My main browser at work is also IE8 and it’s the same for me. I have to open Chrome instead.

  22. says

    I have to agree with Galactic Fork on two issues as well. I can open links in a new tab all on my own, I do not need help. Unless someone can come up with a really compelling reason for this behaviour I do not think it should occur, w3 recommends against it in most cases. Also, comment numbers are really nice on a blog like this. If you are not going to use threaded comments (a decision that makes me happy, for I really dislike them) then you really need an easy way to refer back to previous comments. It is not much of an issue when the average comment section is only a few comments, but that is definitely not the case here, where there can be hundreds of comments, with many of them referring to previous comments.

  23. Owlmirror says

    I hate the trend of making text in any context gray on white, and it must be opposed (and if necessary, killed with fire!!!!!!!!!)

    Comment numbers are not optional.

    Let me guess: this is probably not Comic Sans.

    Preview still does not do line breaks.

    Links (not actually a link) do finally stop showing up huge and indented in preview, but they are not properly blue.

    I endorse some changes and violently oppose others!

  24. Owlmirror says

    If you turn off page styles (in Firefox, View → Page Style → No Style), you can see the comment numbers (that is, the comments are an ordered list (<ol>) whose numbering is suppressed by the “Basic Page Style”).

    So SQB wrote comment #34, FWIW.

  25. Nes says

    The “Sponsored from around the web” ads, if your window is not wide enough, wrap around and overlap the top of the comments box, at least in Pale Moon (which is based on Firefox; I couldn’t stand that stupid Chrome-clone interface they introduced and had to find an alternative). I could make my window wider, but it already covers over half of my screen, and I’d prefer to continue being able to use the other half while browsing.

  26. says

    I agree comment numbers are something of a necessity, given the length of some of the threads we get around here.

    Galactic Fork

    I hadn’t realised the open in new tab thing was an accessibility issue. I do that myself, but will stop now that I know. Thanks for the info.


    Ah, another Pale Moon user! (same reason.)

  27. drbunsen, le savant fous says

    Comments forced into a single half-width comment are more difficult to read than page-wide comments.

    And are those nested comments I see, at Pharygula?

    Add those two factors together and you very quickly end up with the farcical one-word wide comments; ie, every comment (after a certain nesting depth) becomes a column of single words strung out down the length of the page. This is bad enough wherever nested comments are deployed, but happens twice as often (or twice as early in the nesting) when the column is half as wide as it could be.


  28. Galactic Fork says


    And are those nested comments I see, at Pharygula?

    Nested? Where?
    And I’m also unclear of what you meant by your first sentence.

  29. Jackie says

    No numbered comments and maybe it’s just me, but everything seems loading very slowly.

  30. ledasmom says

    Agree that numbered comments needed. Easier to page up and down quickly that way and not lose track, plus easier to reference.

  31. opposablethumbs says

    Echoing the plea for numbering. Preferably imposed from FTB, without our having to make changes at our respective ends? Some of us are highly technically incompetent, you know. ::iz hopeful::

    Oh, and I don’t suppose there’s any chance of having all those nice things like strikethrough etc. available as formatting buttons, as standard? (I use an add-on to make it handier (one that some kind Pharyngulite recommended ages ago) but it only has some of the requisite buttons, not all).

  32. Forbidden Snowflake says

    1. Comment numbers please (I appreciate the tip from Owlmirror, but that shouldn’t be required for shit as basic as comment numbers).
    2. Recent posts from around FTB in the sidebar please.
    3. In a mobile browser (Chrome in Android on Galaxy 3 mini) the comments look like absolute shit. The text is just half-screen wide, the left half of the screen is blank, and a quote contained within a comment is 1/4 screen wide, which basically means a column of words that’s completely unreadable because it doesn’t look like text.
    4. Also, the last ad overrides the first comment.

  33. AlexanderZ says

    Thank you, PZ for adding comment numbers!

    I too have a problem of pages loading much slower.

  34. roro80 says

    Comment numbers have disappeared into the middle of the icons for each commenter. Also, there is a left side bar that goes all the way down, with only speckled grey filling to the right of it. Then the content begins below the ending of the right column ads, and takes much longer to load. The opening page is essentially unreadable.

  35. opposablethumbs says

    Thank you Daz – very kind of you! I just had a quick read through, and I think that my usage and predilections (i.e. “Aaaagh!!! If it’s not incredibly simple – no, even simpler than that – I shall have conniptions. Many, many conniptions. Possibly while clutching pearls, reeling, writhing and fainting in coils at the same time”) mean I should probably stick with the Firefox formatting toolbar I have now, incomplete and partially non-operative though it is. Phrase Express does sound like something a lot of people around here might appreciate, though.