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Over the last week or so I’ve added quite a number of new software features to the website system, many of them related to commenting. Although most users are likely to have noticed some of them, others may have passed unobserved, so I thought I’d provide a listing and description of most of these, followed by an Open Thread for comments, suggestions, and complaints. In fact, many of these new features were originally based on user suggestions or at least modified due to the same.


New Comment Totals and Indicators

The website now displays the number of new comments added to each article since the last time you visited it, displayed in boldface next to the total number of comments; if you click this “new” number, the link takes you directly to the first new comment published since your previous visit. Furthermore, all new comments added since that visit are tinted light blue and are also marked with a small “NEW!” at the top. In addition, an added “Reply” link now takes you directly to the bottom of the comment thread, containing the Comment Reply section.


Comment Replies and Reply Threads

When a comment is produced as a reply to another comment using the “Reply” link at the bottom, an “@Person” link is automatically inserted at the top of the new comment. Clicking this link will move you directly to the original comment in question, while hovering over this link for half a second or longer will display a small text box showing the content of that original comment. Meanwhile, a similar “@Person” link is also added to the bottom of that original comment, similarly allowing users to see the text or easily navigate to all the replies to a particular comment.

The total collection of article comments connected by this sequence of various replies can be considered a single “reply thread.” Near the bottom of all such comments is a link labeled “This Thread Only” and clicking it causes all other comments to the article to be hidden so that the particular reply-thread can be read more easily. A neighboring link labeled “Hide Thread” has the opposite effect, hiding all the comments to that particular thread so that the remainder of the comments to the article can be read more easily. Once either of these links have been clicked, a new link labeled “Display All Comments” appears, which undoes these actions by displaying all the hidden comments and returning the entire comment thread to its original state.

Most website commenting system use either a sequential or a “layered” approach to their comments, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Although, The Review uses a sequential commenting approach, the intent of these various links and actions is to allow the user to temporarily simulate a layered approach to comments.


Comment Tweeting

Since certain comments may be particularly substantive and insightful, the system now allows users to conveniently Tweet out individual comments as well as main articles. At the bottom of every comment is a link labeled “Tweet.” Clicking it opens up a small popup window allowing the user to specify the text message of the Tweet, which will automatically be followed by a shortened link to the particular comment in question. Once the text message (or the default message) has been selected, clicking “Prepare Tweet” generates the corresponding Twitter button, which can then be pressed to activate Twitter and send out the Tweet.


Comments Containing YouTube links

All comments containing YouTube links now automatically generate the embedded viewable YouTube structure within the comment rather than leaving it merely as a raw link.


Selectable Names for Text Searching

At the bottom of most articles and posts is a collection of Topic and Category links, providing immediate access to other articles by the same author marked by those same Topics and Categories. More generally, the website already contains a powerful Search system, allowing all the content material to be searched and ranked based on included Text string and/or Title, optionally filtered by Date, Topic, Category, Author, and various other options. The basic Search field on the upper right corner of all pages and pressing the [+] opens the Search window to allow advanced options. As an example, here are the results for a text search on “William Buckley” restricted to Steve Sailer’s writings published from 2010 to 2012:

One difficult with using Topics is that only a very small number are assigned to a given item, and instead using the text/title search system would be much more flexible and find many more results. Therefore, I have added a “Mark Search Names” button to the Search window, and pressing it underscores all capitalized words or phrases in the current article displayed; clicking on any of these underscored terms automatically places that term in the Search text box, allowing immediate an immediate search. For example, here’s a link to a Steve Sailer post on William Buckley:

Pressing that button marks by underscore a dozen or more terms or names, one of them “John Updike.” Selecting “John Updike” and pressing Search then produces these results:


Your Suggestions and Comments

Most of the features above were either originally suggested by various commenters or were substantially modified, either stylistically or functionally, due to their critical responses. For example:

Therefore, please treat the comment thread of this Announcement as a suggestion box available for your comments, suggestions, complaints, or other reactions.

For example, one or two commenters have already said how much they liked the blue-tinting of all the new comments added to a article since one’s previous visit, while one or two other commenters have said they found the blue tint annoyingly overpowering and wanted it made much less obtrusive. Such changes are technically very easy to make once a consensus has been formed, but are probably not worth doing until then.


UPDATE on Additional Features Added

Since publishing this Announcement, I’ve added quite a number of additional features, several of them suggested in the comment thread, which also provides their detailed descriptions. These include:

(1) There’s now a URL that automatically displays a particular comment-thread in an article:

(2) All Archive and Blog pages may now be sorted by Last Comment, as well as Date, Length, and Number of Comments. Furthermore, Blog Posts may be displayed in “Extract” view as well as Post and Headline view:

(3) I’ve added an RSS option for following a particular comment-thread in an article rather than all the comments of the article or all comments in general:
(4) Authors may now “highlight” any particular comments they find particularly noteworthy.

(5) Users may select a list of commenters to skip/ignore and the body of their comments will be hidden on all comment threads (though they may be individually revealed by clicking a link).

(6) Commenters may check a box telling the system to email them any replies to their comment as they are made.

(7) Various small changes and bug fixes.

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  1. Dahlia says:

    Put me down for loving the blue tinting of the new comments.

    I’ve already employed both of the hide/highlight thread features and I *greatly* appreciate those, even more than I anticipated. So many threads spin off, some distracting, others a treasure; I think the regulars will love those.

    Website design: I love it. It’s honest with no pretense. Authentic. Looks like its creator. Straightforward, but with pleasant blues.

  2. P says:

    Paragraph breaks don’t work in comments now.

    Why is the side column on the right now as wide as the main text column? Please make it narrower. The font size seems to be too large, too.

    The site is not mobile friendly. When I open Steve’s blog in my phone, I have to scroll half way down before I can read his posts because the side column is shown before the posts.

    I like the “new comments” feature, but the blue tint and the NEW! text are a bit garish. You should make to subtler. Scott Alexander’s blog does this very neatly, designating new comments with a green frame.

    • Replies: @Dahlia
  3. P says:

    After posting a comment, there’s no indication that the system actually received the comment. There should be a confirmation text saying “comment posted” or something.

    Previously, it was possible to view and edit an already posted comment. Why was this disabled?

  4. P says:

    It seems that paragraph breaks do show up in published comments, but not in preview.

  5. Dahlia says:

    The only thing I do not care for, stylistically, is the “new” emblem; reminiscent of a comic book.

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Can you add ads to the site? It would help readers contribute to the site by clicking on ads.

    • Replies: @Old fogey
    , @Hepp
  7. Old fogey says:

    I cannot believe that anyone is actually asking that advertisements be added. One of the joys of visiting this site is not having to navigate through nasty ads.

  8. Hepp says:

    Can you add ads to the site? It would help readers contribute to the site by clicking on ads.

    No, one thing I hate about conservative inc. is how quickly they sell their user info to the highest bidder. I made the mistake of giving my email address to Breitbart once and now I’m bombarded with health secrets that will let me live to 200. Liberal sites seem to do this less often. Right now, you’ve got simple style combined with advanced technology, which comes across well. In addition to being annoying, ads take away from the intellectual gravitas of the website. If you want to contribute, just give money directly.

    • Replies: @Dahlia
    , @Anonymous
  9. Hepp says:

    By the way, why do comments have to be moderated? At the very least, some sites seem to let people who’ve posted before go around the moderating system.

  10. Dahlia says:

    Agree. Ads are déclassé.
    While I’m sure Ron and Steve are not enthusiastic about the comment voting idea, let me add it’s a terrible idea completely at odds with imaginative, risktaking, uninhibited nature of the comments. Ron’s done so much to allow users to ignore the junk and the uninteresting with ZERO cost to the iSteve commenter culture; there’s no need to introduce a competition or popularity contest.

  11. Tinting old comments might make more sense. Or using a more discreet indication.

    I have to say I have no use for most of the new comment features, except for the back-link to a comment being replied to. The forward links might occasionally be useful, but come dangerously close to a “Like/Don’t Like” indicator. The other features — Thread, Tweet — add repetitive nerdy cruft to every comment, making the whole less readable and less human. Perhaps you could hide them all behind a discreet “+” button? I quite like the simplicity of just reading text written by people, without a bunch of widgets and knobs and buttons.

    The one thing I miss from the old commenting system is the optional email notifications of new comments to the post.

  12. Two picky comments about threads:

    – the numbering changes when threads are hidden or shown: it would be best if comment numbers did not change.

    – it would be nice if a thread could be accessed by URL, something like:

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  13. Ron Unz says:

    Thanks for your suggestions, and all the others on this thread.

    (1) Unfortunately, the comment-numbering is controlled by HTML and automatically readjusts when items are hidden. However, the renumbering is obviously confusing, so now all the numbers are replaced by bullets when some comments are hidden, reappearing when comments are returned to normal. This also helps to remind people that the comments are in “thread display mode.”

    (2) Your suggestion of a URL control for thread visibility is a good one and I just implemented it. The URL would look like:

    The number must be the top comment in the thread. If the # control is incorrectly specified, the URL defaults to the normal display, and the normal display can also be restored by pressing the “Display All Comments” link.

    (3) I’d actually been thinking of adding optional Email notifications of replies to comments, and will try to build that feature, maybe later today.


    (4) The bug preventing paragraph display in Comment Preview has been fixed.

    (5) Since there has been such a sharp division of opinion on the light blue-tinting of new comments, I decided to switch to a paler blue tint, which seems much less obtrusive.

    • Replies: @European-American
  14. LA Dude says:

    Is there a way to easily sort blog posts according to ‘Last Active,’ based on comment activity, with the default setting still remaining ‘Last Published’? I assume that readers here sometimes contribute to comment threads long after they were started, and it would be nice to easily see such threads that have been effectively reactivated, assuming the blogger/admin wishes the threads to continue. This in turn raises a general question of how to facilitate the development of “long arc” comment threads spanning multiple blog posts on a common topic, which might enrich the discourse here by enabling a broader and deeper development of ideas.

  15. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Well selling user info is quite different from ads. I’m not advocating selling user info.

    The ads don’t have to be obtrusive at all. They can be on the sides and borders and easily ignored by readers.

  16. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t see how it’s déclassé. High brow magazines, newspapers, publications, etc. all have ads.

    • Replies: @Dahlia
    , @Steve Sailer
  17. Dahlia says:

    I’m thinking specifically of the turn Beitbart and the Daily Caller have taken, especially the former. When Drudge links to Breitbart especially, I don’t bother and back out ASAP.
    I just don’t like the idea of ads. I’ve been reading Steve for about 11 years and I’ve always like the intimate salon feel. It is a salon! Ads change the feel and the culture.

    Another commenter pointed out the problem with gaining wider appeal at the cost of lower quality comments… I second this concern and hope Ron and Steve continue to tread carefully. I think they’re doing a pretty good job so far.
    As an aside, the biggest change to the culture and concomitant devolution of the comment threads was Steve’s slight approval of the nascent manosphere. At one time Whiskey was the only member here, now he is a picture of poise and restraint compared to these later arrivals!
    Gregory Cochran doesn’t suffer them and I find that a breath of fresh air.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
  18. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I agree that a lot of those conservative sites have trashy ads. But the ads here could be more tasteful.

    Also I think Steve did have ads on his blog, on the side column.

  19. Bill P says:

    I think they’re doing a pretty good job so far.
    As an aside, the biggest change to the culture and concomitant devolution of the comment threads was Steve’s slight approval of the nascent manosphere. At one time Whiskey was the only member here, now he is a picture of poise and restraint compared to these later arrivals!
    Gregory Cochran doesn’t suffer them and I find that a breath of fresh air.


    Hopefully Unz doesn’t pay any attention to this advice. Steve’s exposé of the feminist-inspired UVa rape hoax was one of the finest journalistic coups of his illustrious career in blogging, and contributed a great deal to this site’s credibility. If you had your way, I suspect we would have heard nothing of it, and that would have been a big loss.

    BTW, I’m on board with much of the “manosphere,” and I’m no “late arrival” — I’ve been reading and commenting on Steve’s site since the 90s. In fact, isteve’s gender realism was an inspiration for a lot of the early manosphere writers, who send a whole lot of traffic this way via a few highly popular bloggers. But hey, what does that matter when you could listen to Dahlia and have the same massive audience as Cochran?

    As for my advice, I’m not going to whine about the content, but I would like to suggest something practical:

    Give people the option of registration under a static IP and email address, and allow them to comment unmoderated if they do so. If they violate the rules, their registration can be terminated through an IP ban, but if not they can comment in real time. It would be popular and take some of the pressure off moderators.

    • Replies: @Dahlia
  20. iffen says:

    If you won’t get rid of the ones who write the same stuff over and over (I can name name names), at least get rid of the most complete wing-nuts.

  21. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    No offense, but you just sound like a shameless deadbeat who wants free content.

  22. Dahlia says:
    @Bill P

    Manosphere devolution Exhibit A, comment above.

    Bill P, check my comments vis a vis UVA, man!

    Anyway, Anon, you’re right Steve did have Google ads and they were very unobtrusive… I’d forgotten about them!
    On the other hand, Steve loves his red solo cups so I just don’t know 😉

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  23. AshTon says:

    The site could do with a designer, but not ads.

    For comments, it would be nice to show a comment-of-the-day on the front page.

  24. Chang says:

    With the growing importance of twitter, might I suggest a non-egg icon for the official Unz Review twitter account? I actually arrive here mainly from Steve’s twitter feed. Secondarily from rss.

  25. Chang says:

    Are images allowed in comments? That can be useful. Of course, it can also be abused. But sometimes a chart or map conveys information so much better than a wall of text.

    • Replies: @Hippopotamusdrome
  26. @LA Dude

    “Is there a way to easily sort blog posts according to ‘Last Active,’ based on comment activity”

    If you had a regular forum and each blog was a topic, it wold work like that. Comments is link to its forum post.

  27. @Dahlia

    “While I’m sure Ron and Steve are not enthusiastic about the comment voting idea”

    Each person could make a list of commenters he likes. Only the votes of the people on the list count.

  28. What about a page with the aggregated comments of all a bloggers comment sections sorted by most recent.

    You click on a Show all comments link and get a page with 20 most recent comments of all blog posts aggregated. At bottom is a “more” link with next twenty.

  29. @Chang

    Images could be thumbnail with hover opening a full size..

  30. You could have a “sort by rating” link at the top. Everey comment has a rating number, and the page will be sorted with higher numbers at the top. Each comment has buttons -3 to +3 you press to rate it.

  31. You could have a button to sort posts by rating. Highest ratings at the top. Each user could subscribe to other users to be affected by their ratings and have a customised sorting.

    If a user is subscribed to only “Steve”, and a that comment is rated by Steve as +3, and three others rate it -3, that user sees a +3 rating.

    Every user has an array of other users he is subscribed to.
    Each post has an array of pairs: user id, rating.

    To generate the custom rating, loop over the users subscription array. If the user id is also in the post’s array, add the rating to the total.

    $userSubscriptionArray = array(Steve);

    $commentRatingArray = array(
    Steve => 3,
    troll_1 => -3,
    troll_2 => -3,
    troll_3 => -3);

    $totalRating = 0;
    $numberOfRaters = 0;

    foreach(usersSubscriptionArray as $subscribedUser)
    if in_array($subscribedUser, $commentRatingArray)
    $rating = $commentRatingArray[$subscribedUser];
    $totalRating = $totalRating + $rating;
    $averageRating = $totalRating / $numberOfRaters;

    // $averageRating = 3

  32. Ron Unz says:
    @LA Dude

    I added the feature you suggested allowing all Archive or Blog pages to sort their articles or posts by “Last Comment,” along with Date, Length, and Number of Comments. All of this is controlled by a Select Field at the top, and I also now allow Blogs to be displayed in “Extract” view, in which each entry displays the first 50-odd words. All these system settings are saved in temporary one-day cookies.

    I just uploaded the new version of the software to the Live server, incorporating these features plus a number of minor bug fixes.

    With luck, I should be able to add a number of additional features suggested above over the next day or so.

    • Replies: @LA Dude
  33. The NEW! marker on each post could simply be a new without all the color… people will get it.

  34. Ron Unz says:

    Somebody somewhere was asking for following particular comment-threads in an article via RSS, and I’ve just added that feature.

    Right below the Publish Comment button, there’s an RSS link that allows you to subscribe to all the comments of a given post or article. Here’s an example of the URL:

    I’ve now added a refinement that allows you to subscribe to only the comments in a particular thread of that article, for example:

    The ID number is that of the topmost comment in the particular thread, which is also used when anchoring to that comment on the page, e.g.

    Although everything seems to work, I don’t use RSS much myself, so please let me know if you encounter any problems.

    Incidentally, make sure you refresh your browser to load the new CSS and JS scripts so that the changes in the software will function properly.

  35. Harold says:

    I think the search feature should default to include titles in the text it searches. I know you can search for text in titles, but if I just search for “blogroll” in Steve Sailer’s blog, I expect entitled “Updated ISteve Blogroll” to be among the search results, but it isn’t because “blogroll” doesn’t appear in the body.

  36. Sean says:

    I like Harold’s suggestion of a feature that allowed the authors of posts to somehow “highlight comments that made good contributions, whether adding good points, asking good (pertinent) questions, or providing good criticisms. An “Author’s picks” feature.”

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  37. LA Dude says:
    @Ron Unz

    I added the feature you suggested allowing all Archive or Blog pages to sort their articles or posts by “Last Comment,” along with Date, Length, and Number of Comments.

    Thanks Ron!

  38. Ron Unz says:

    I’ve just finished uploading a new version of the software to the Live server containing a long list of new features and fixes, including several suggested above on this Open Thread:

    (1) I’ve added a feature allowing Authors to highlight particular comments, as currently indicated by a thick orange border (but very easy for me to change), and as an example have done so with two comments above.

    (2) There are always complaints about comment moderation, on all sides. Personally, I tend to moderate with a very light hand, partly because I’m too busy with other things, but some people don’t like the threads being clogged with the outpourings of commenters they regard as worthless or crazy. Therefore, I’ve now added a feature allowing individual users to prepare their own personal lists of commenters to skip and the system will hide the body of those skipped comments on all threads (though with the option of individually showing them).

    If you go to the very top of any comment thread, you’ll notice a new button called “Skip Commenters.” If you click it, you’ll get a popup window allowing to you list (one per line) those commenters whose nonsense you’d like to hide. Once specified, the text of their comments will disappear from all your threads (though still being being marked by a spaceholder). For example, if you don’t want my endless lunatic ravings to disturb you, just add “Ron Unz” to your skip list, and my stupid comments disappears from all the comment threads. Since all of this is cookie-based, each user has control over his own exclusion list.

    To some extent, (1) and (2) provide some of the benefits of comment-voting, which a number of commenters have now persuaded me is—on balance—probably a bad idea.

    (3) A couple of days ago, I added a feature allowing individuals to subscribe to the comments of a particular comment thread via RSS. I’ve now added a somewhat related feature which allows commenters to check a box telling the system to email them the text of any replies to their particular comment (the checkbox is right below the “Remember Me” checkbox). Sometimes it’s handy to know when/if someone replied to your comment without having to check through all the numerous threads. Right now, the body of the email is merely utilitarian plain text, but maybe tomorrow I’ll spend a little time making it look nicer. And don’t forget, the email goes to the one you’ve specified, which doesn’t help you much if it’s “[email protected]

    (4) Since several people were complaining that they found the small yellow/orange “NEW!” indicating new comments too garish, I’ve removed it for all new comments except those by Authors (for whom the light blue tinting indicator doesn’t apply).

    (5) Someone had complained that Text Searches didn’t include searches of the Title or Subtitle of an Article or Post, and I’ve now fixed that problem.

    (6) Someone noted that although The Review seems to be trending upward nicely on Twitter, our Twitter icon is still the default “egg,” partly because I’m totally ignorant of Twitter. So I had our graphics designer provide me with several possible icons, all much nicer looking, and I’ll probably adopt one of them within the next few days.

    (7) I’m sure people noticed that the extremely long “American Sniper” thread had about 100 comments in the middle that were entirely italicized, due to an unclosed tag. Normally, the system automatically handles comments with unclosed tags, but a combination of factors caused the problem on that thread, and as you can see, I’ve now fixed that bug:

    And remember, all these changes will only work properly after you’ve refreshed your browser (which loads the new JS and CSS files).

  39. There is some anti-social creep or 1 among several by whom iSteve’s comments are frequently polluted with irrelevant OT headlines (e.g. “Dr. Phil Called ‘Racist’ By Dr. Oz” w/ link to Upworthy). This generator of text, whether voluntary or doing it for compensation, never appends written thoughts of his own. I consider this spam, I dunno what you’d call it.

    I appreciate all y’all’s maniacal free-speech ideology and ultra-egalitarianism within comment sections but this situation makes them take longer to read, sometimes long enough they’re not worth reading (if I see a 3-digit total on a post that’s only a day old, I skip it). If you can figure out a dark-enlightened way to push the random, irrelevant comments to the basement, i.e. footer of the page, while being duly respectful to issues of HTML privilege and institutional verbalism, etc. it would be a net improvement.

    An alternative would be what the Gawker sites do– I can’t explain it succinctly but it does seem to involve some lever of moderator-influenced promotion. It might be *A LOT* of work to institute it, so my suggestion is below.

    I also realize the moderators are either a) nervous about being in charge, b) lazy about being in charge, or c) both. So just leave it up to crowdsource: if 10 people flag a comment as OT, knock it to the end. If 10 or 11 or 100 more flag it as On-T, put it back where it was. If you think that threshold is wrong, then weight it by the number of page views on the blog that week. Thank you.

    • Replies: @grey enlightenment
  40. @Scotty G. Vito

    Don’t authors moderate their own respective blogs?

  41. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Any progress on hosting ads on the site?

  42. It would be nice if we could edit our comments beyond four minutes…say, until the moderator actually approves our comment. And even after that, I’d like to be able to delete my own comments. It happens that I post the same thing twice because the feedback to the “publish comment” button is ambiguous (and Steve just goes ahead and approves both copies for some reason).

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  43. Pat Casey says:

    Completely agree that too many comments is a problem. And also that too many long comments is a problem. And too many irrelevant comments. And irrelevant long comments.

    Ron, I’ve never seen a comment section with the following principles, and if they are possible to apply the only downside I can think of is that the comments might become more popular than the bloggers, which would make it harder for Steve to get away with deriving his stuff from us. Kidding.

    First, cut the problem in half. Comments over some number of words would automatically go to the second half of the page. There could be an option to start with the long ones. And an option to view all in true order as now. But most would want to be on the default top half, which would make for more concise writing.

    Second, instead of crowd sourcing which comments are bad, rely on self-selection. Make the comment maker rank the intellectual value of their own comment. And/or make him classify it as seriouse, frivolous, off-topic, or whatever. This one could do a lot of work. The moderators would be more efficient, allowing those comments self-ranked low and/or labeled least relevant to have a free pass from being censored for admitting they belong in the ghetto, and save The Law time to keep the nice part of town nice.

    The best comments could be kept to a very exclusive class while keeping the comment section as a whole inclusive. No one would get sore if they self-ranked 5 out of 5 and they received a 4 during approval process.

    I think most people would grade their comments honestly, or learn to grade them honestly, because dividing the comments like this would presumably lead to more comments getting more replies, and regular users at least would learn where they enjoy commenting, which
    would probably be among those they can engage.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  44. Ron Unz says:
    @Pat Casey

    Although the existing comment threads certainly have their problems, mostly due to the number, length, and frequent “excitability” of comments, it’s not entirely clear to me what changes would improve rather than merely complicate the situation.

    One difficulty with fairly complex ranking proposals is that I suspect most readers would merely find them confusing, especially those that listed the comments in ordering based on something other than chronology. And how would that be made to work given the structure of reply-threads? Would responses often precede the comments they addressed?

    At the other end of the complexity scale, I just added a short note to the 5 minute Comment-Edit window, explaining how to easily delete a comment by merely removing the text and saving. And the intent of the 5 minute window is merely to quickly correct gross typos or other errors, rather than to completely republish your comment.

  45. @Ron Unz

    Thanks for all the work you’re putting into this. I find it interesting too to watch the commenting system here get tested, tweaked and improved. I wonder if adding a “like” button to comments might help cut down on the number replies with little content? People often make short posts just to give a thumbs-up to another guy, which is fine but it adds to the clutter.

    If you do add a “like” button I’d recommend you don’t add a “dislike” button at the same time; that seems to cause feuds. Same thing when it comes to recording a commenter’s total reputation points.

  46. @Dahlia

    “you’re right Steve did have Google ads and they were very unobtrusive”

    And very non-lucrative for me too.

  47. @International Jew

    “It would be nice if we could edit our comments beyond four minutes…say, until the moderator actually approves our comment. And even after that, I’d like to be able to delete my own comments. It happens that I post the same thing twice because the feedback to the “publish comment” button is ambiguous (and Steve just goes ahead and approves both copies for some reason).”

    The first suggestion is good (assuming we have decent security so somebody else can’t edit your comment). It’s no extra work for me if you edit your comment 12 times over the eight hours I’m sleeping.

    Duplicate comments are a problem, in part because it’s not always easy for me to tell the difference between duplicate comments and edited comments. If I see two comments in a row that are identical or very similar, I’ll only approve the most recent and delete the older version.

    But If I approve your comment at 1:00 am, then come back to moderating at comments at 1:15 am and much the same comment is awaiting my approval, I usually approve it after a glance to make sure you’re not trying to trick me by using editing to insert something horrible on the grounds that you likely subtly edited the wording and now it’s resubmitted for my approval. In that case, only one comment, the edited version, is published and all is well.

    But sometimes the familiar comment waiting approval isn’t a freshly edited version, it’s a duplicate, and then we end up with duplicate comments being published when I approve it.

  48. I get some not insignificant fraction of my future post topics from Off Topic links in the comments.

    And some people post random cultural artifacts like music videos or movie trailers. One prolific commenter, for example, is a devoted cinephile and he likes to broaden my awareness of world cinema. I’d like people who do that to offer more identifying information about what the link is to.

  49. One long term stylistic idea is to go back to visually distinguishing consistenly in both the blog and the comments between content and functionality using fonts. Continue to use the serif typeface for content, but consistently use one sanserif type face for functions. Some of the new functional links like Reply are in the serif typeface of the content.

    But stylistic cleanup can wait until this round of functional upgrades are over.

  50. @Anonymous

    “High brow magazines, newspapers, publications, etc. all have ads.”

    But the ads in, say, the print version of The New Yorker are mostly elegant looking and make the reader feel classy, whereas 95% of web advertising still looks cruddy. The New York Times has lately been using ads on its front page from a small number of advertisers who know how to make things look elegant on screen, like Apple and Ralph Lauren, so perhaps there’s hope in the future.

  51. One suggestion. RECRUIT GARY BRECHER NOW.

  52. @Ron Unz

    I suspect most readers would merely find them confusing

    I could be made optional, and you would have to click a button to see it.

    ordering based on something other than chronology … Would responses often precede the comments they addressed?

    Comments have links to their parent and their replies, and you can filter. You could have a reddit system and group threads together.

    You could experiment with different systems by being able to have have SQL queries on comments.

    You click a button, edit box shows, you type a query. A buttons could be assigned to common queries.

    Current system in SQL:
    SELECT comment_text FROM comments
    WHERE blog_post = Updated: New Software Features and Suggestion Open Thread

    Show only new posts since last visit:
    WHERE date > date_user_last_visited

    Hide comments with negative ratings:
    WHERE rating >= 0

    Show all posts by Sailer in the past day:
    SELECT blog_title, comment_text FROM comments
    WHERE blogger = Sailer
    AND date > current_date – 1 day

    And you can sort by rating, not in chronological order:
    WHERE rating >= 0

  53. The current comments could be kept as it is, but have a link at the top called “go to SQL comment view” which would go to another page with SQL query view. Each new comment posted would be added normally in the current system, and would also be inserted to the comment database for the SQL view page.

  54. @Ron Unz

    One difficulty with fairly complex ranking proposals is that I suspect most readers would merely find them confusing, especially those that listed the comments in ordering based on something other than chronology.

    They could be kept in order, but at the top could be the average rating number, so you could skip reading low numbers if you want. Showing rating numbers could be off by default, and need to be turned on with a button.

  55. el topo [AKA "darryl revok"] says:

    Whatever adjustment you made in the last week or so has allowed me to use this site again on my rickety old computer (previously it was taking forever to load) so thanks for that.

  56. Lot says:

    Ron, the past few days I’ve gotten this error using android chrome, latest versions of both, when clicking any post from unz/isteve

    fatal error: Unsupported operand types in /var/*****

    Does not happen with windows or android Firefox.

    [I think it should now be fixed.]

    • Replies: @Lot
  57. Grumpy says:

    Thank you for all of the attention to detail and for considering readers’ suggestions.

    Something that I just discovered:

    In posting a comment that included a long block quote, I inserted a “more” button inside the block quote, but upon publication the “more” button was dead. Is there a way to make it work inside a block quote?

  58. Wil says:

    I’ve been using the mobile mode a lot on my phone, and it’s pretty good. I have a few suggestions that would make it easier to use.

    1. Change the default zoom to encompass just the width of the main content (i.e. not including the sidebars) except for the homepage. The sidebar is nicely designed to be the same width as the content so that swiping right gives a screenful of links to bloggers and top posts.

    1a. If you don’t want to change the default zoom because, say, it makes the type too big on a tablet, then could you make it so that double-tapping anywhere in the main content column will zoom to encompass the whole column and not just the specific text clicked on, such as a quote, which now cuts off the edges of the main text in the post.

    2. The homepage itself has a weird zoom right now because the menu bar at the top is too wide because the font is too big, at least on my phone.

    3. I was going to say that the @links need to be fixed in mobile mode, but it seems you’ve done that… so, thanks!

  59. Beliavsky says:

    I request adding a “trusted commenter” feature. Steve or some other blogger can designate certain pseudonym/email combinations as trusted, and those comments will appear immediately. If those commenters abuse the privilege, they will be removed from the trusted list, and their comments will appear only after moderation.

  60. Agree…designate a trusted commenter feature

  61. Wil says:

    More suggestions:

    1. Move Columnist Archives below Bloggers.

    2. Either remove the last published article for the Columnist Archive authors, or make this to be a random article that changes weekly. For the second option, include the date the article was published in the sidebar.

  62. Dahlia says:

    (6) Commenters may check a box telling the system to email them any replies to their comment as they are made.

    This one has turned out to have some interesting effects…
    Perhaps close down comments after a certain (brief) period?

  63. David says:

    I was thinking, is making it possible to block certain commenters really a good idea? There are ones that I tend to skip over, but even then, they’re part of the environment. But start taking away certain components, and soon the commenters here are no longer sharing a particular environment. I see all sorts of downside to that.

  64. geokat62 says:

    I seem to have inadvertently disabled the comment edit function. Is there a way to enable it once again?


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