The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Website Software Changes --- Problems, Suggestions?
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I’ve just released another iteration of the website software. With luck, this will reduce some of the rendering problems people had encountered, while generating a minimal number of new problems. I’ve tested both the Desktop and Mobile versions on a wide variety of different devices, both via Google Simulator and on actual hardware, and they seem to display reasonably well, but I’m sure energetic commenters will discover some exceptions. Since there have been numerous changes in the CSS and Javascript, please refresh your browser to load the new versions of these files and allow the pages to render properly.

(1) The Mobile version should automatically display on smartphone-sized screens, as does the Desktop version on tablets, minitabs, and larger screens. Since these differing displays are entirely controlled by CSS and Javascript, this allows complete use of HTML page-caching, and users should notice substantial improvements in page-load speeds and system performance.

(2) Various users requested the ability to override these defaults and select between Desktop and Mobile versions themselves, for example on minitabs and especially large smartphones, and I have now added this as a menu option. Click the “Menu” selection towards the upper right hand of the screen and one of the options will be “Use Mobile Version” (or “Use Desktop Version”) which switches your device into the other mode, and saves the setting in a cookie.

(3) On the Mobile version, the top menu allows you to navigate between the different pages, columnists, and bloggers, and it serves the same role on the Desktop version. One or two commenters had requested a “Table of Contents” for each of the blogs, and this already exists: if you click the name of the blogger, you’ll effectively get a Table of Contents with teasers for that blog, and this works in either Mobile or Desktop formats.

(4) The layout changes on the Home page were primarily aimed at allowing space for two daily Features and also accommodating an expansion in the number of featured Columnists. However some people felt the new vertical spacing was rather claustrophobic. Therefore, I added additional vertical space in the Columnists section, and also in the standard Sidebar on all the other pages, while adjusting the fonts a little.

(5) I fully recognize that the design and layout of The Review is rather “plain vanilla” and utilitarian, especially when compared with the newer generation of webzines with visually-gripping and exciting designs. This is not entirely unintentional. Much of the content we publish is outside of the mainstream and controversial, or sometimes even “extremely controversial.” My reasoning is that if our material is often daring and discordant, there are advantages to having it presented in a generally bland and even boring visual display format, extremely explosive ideas quietly delivered in a plain brown wrapper.

(6) I’m still working on a round of significant functional changes and enhancements to the website, which should be released within another few days. Meanwhile, please feel free to use this comment thread to offer your complaints and suggestions, either regarding this various design changes or anything else with regard to The Review.

P.S. Given the overwhelming current focus of America’s national media, I was only slightly surprised to discover that yesterday’s New York Times devoted its entire Editorial Page to the importance of allowing transsexuals to openly serve in the American military, a highly unifying position that will surely soon be endorsed by nearly all of the Republican presidential candidates and the rightwing FoxNews talking-heads. It appears that aspects of a minor satire I wrote over twenty years ago are now on the verge of becoming actual reality:

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  1. Tom_R says:


    Sir, please bring back the old simpler style.

    Putting 2 pictures on the top is confusing and each is distracting when you are reading the other.

    Your webpage has become too complex and there is too much stuff on the one main page–it needs to be simplified. I suggest only 2 columns on the main page.

  2. the home page is quite wonky on my nexus 10;

    the left column has pushed the other two below itself, and all the headlines rendered twice

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  3. Ron Unz says:
    @Jeff Albertson

    Well, Google Simulator shows the Home page rendering properly on a Nexus 10.

    As I emphasized in boldface above, you need to refresh your browser to load the new CSS and Javascript files.

  4. I think this site is great, new format and all.

    I just read today’s two feature articles, both good.

    Thanks as always.

  5. roo_ster says:

    I like the look. I am big on text and content, cool toward sizzle. Also, I prefer quick-loading to pretty pictures.

    So many news/politics websites have become cumbersome and obnoxious.

    This whole web site is quite the accomplishment.

  6. Wil says:

    When I go to, Steve’s second most recent post, there is no link to the most recent post. It also doesn’t show up in the list in the right column.

  7. Just one suggestion, Mr. Unz:

    At the right hand side of the page it would be helpful were there a blank margin of, say, the width of a pencil. The present margin-less layout occasions mis-clicking on hypertext for other articles listed in the right-hand column when the visitor is merely scrolling on the vertical scroll bar at the right side of the page and the visitor’s cursor wanders into the right-hand column’s hypertext articles’ titles, resulting in the visitor being whisked involuntarily to the mis-clicked article.

    • Replies: @Auntie Analogue
  8. I’d still like a way to upvote a comment without registering a comment of my own. I realize I may be in a minority on this. Otherwise I have no trouble with the site, nor did I before!

  9. SJ says:

    The comment thread format on this site is great. This is the first format I’ve seen that strikes the correct balance between showing new comments chronologically and allowing sub-conversations within the main conversation.

    I’d only make one suggestion. I find that I read replies to comments by hovering over them, and then start reading the replies again when I scroll down to their chronological position in the thread. That feels repetitive and disrupts the flow of reading a little bit. I wonder if there’s some modification you could make- maybe when someone reads a comment reply by hovering over it, the same reply farther down the thread becomes partly grayed-out or smaller, so they instinctively pass over it.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  10. @Auntie Analogue

    Dear Mr. Unz, please disregard my earlier suggestion about adding some blank right-hand margin, as when I posted the suggestion I hadn’t taken into account that my monitor is something of a dinosaur not broad enough to display the entire Unz-dot-com page-width in which you have indeed provided a blank right-hand margin.

    Kudos to you for your excellent site design & excellent comments features.

  11. Ron Unz says:

    Thanks. Graying out comments already read via hover-mode seemed like a reasonable suggestion and easy to implement, so I went ahead and added it, at least on a trial basis. If it annoys too many people I can easily take it out again, since it’s only a single line of code.

  12. I’ve noticed much longer load times on my Motorola Charm and Blackberry Curve mobile devices when connected to WiFi, which is how I’ve always connected.

    Also, the text doesn’t wrap properly, so that once I wait for the thing to finish loading (which, as I said, now takes forever) it has a few “aftershocks” where the text jumps around once or twice before settling.

    And then I always have to zoom out slightly (maybe 20-30%?) to fit the whole line in the view, which of course makes the text smaller, and thus harder (but not impossible) to read.

    One thing I liked about the old version was that on mobile it would neatly wrap the main article I was reading to the width of my device’s screen so I could read an article by just scrolling down, but the per-writer navigation was still available on the right so I could scroll right at any time to peruse the headlines. If you can bring that back that would be fantastic.

  13. Indigene says:

    Does the use of Facebook buttons on the site mean that you give browsing information to FB?

  14. Hail says: • Website

    The old mobile version’s side menu (listing authors and their recent articles) allowed us to scan what was new across the whole gamut of Review contributors and republished authors, choosing to click what we were interested in and read instantly (the small “New!” icon helped, too). On the new mobile version, the lack of a side menu limits very much the ability to keep reading, especially of authors I don’t normally click onto. In theory I could search each author individually, but besides the question of time, there is also the question of data limits and/or non-stable WiFi, so we likely simply don’t do it.

    An easy way to see exactly what’s new for each particular day across the Review would be useful. As far as I can see, there is no way to do this on the new mobile version.

    Also, what exactly is the distinction between “blogger” and “columnist” intended to be, here?

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

    Actually, if you click the “Columnists” menu item and select “All Columnists” you’ll get something very similar to what you had in the old Sidebar. But perhaps I should add a something like a “Summary” menu option, that provides everything at a keystroke.

    In general, “columnists” publish less frequent but longer pieces than “bloggers”, averaging around once per week or so.

  16. FWIW, I liked the prior home page layout better. One featured article in the middle, Mr. Sailer at the upper left.

    Your site, however you arrange it, continues to be a very fine public service. I do find it frustrating how resistant mainstream culture is to the community of dissident intellectuals. Endless praise of inclusion, endless refusal to practice it. Please keep fighting the good fight.


  17. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I just noticed that the comments viewed “in place” as pop-ups are now shaded to reflect that they were read. What a fantastic feature, thank you so much!

    It is rather depressing that in 20+ years of web development, not a single commenting/forum platform came anywhere close to the functionality that Usenet newsreaders used to have even before the HTML and browsers were invented. (Much gratitude for the killfile equivalent, too!)

  18. I can’t get the site to serve me anything but the Mobile version, and probably a wonky rendering of it, at that. I can’t imagine that the page I’m seeing would be closer to useability if it were on a 5-inch screen.

    I love the content of your site. The pictures are nice, but I can get along without them. A text-only, no-javascript site would do fine for me. The old version was great; this new one, which resolutely refuses to give me anything other than (a probably screwed-up rendering of) the Mobile version, is infuriating.

    If you could add a URL that points to the plainest of vanilla version of the site, that would be ideal for me.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  19. Ron Unz says:
    @Intentionally Left Blank

    Have you just tried overriding the device-detection default by setting the Version to “Desktop” in the Menu/User Settings menu option near the top of the screen?

  20. @Ron Unz

    Of course. It didn’t work. I’ve tried every combination of check-boxes and options I can find on your page, allowed all scripts to run, decreased all security settings to “close your eyes and think of England” level, used both the newest and a much older version of TorBrowser… pretty much everything I can think of. No joy. The site insists on serving me the Mobile version, and I can’t convince it to do otherwise.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  21. Ron Unz says:
    @Intentionally Left Blank

    Well, that’s definitely odd. Is there any chance your software config has cookies disabled? Those version overrides in the menu are all controlled by cookies.

  22. @Ron Unz

    My config accepts cookies (there are 6 from your site [EDIT: 9 cookies after I posted this]) and I’m allowing all the scripts your site wants to run. Nothing helps. The Save/Reload javascript link doesn’t work, either. I have to reload the page manually.

    The site serves the Desktop version intermittently, maybe one random time out of 50. IOW, it works only when something breaks.


    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  23. Ron Unz says:
    @Intentionally Left Blank

    Well, it’s certainly a puzzle…

    Is one of your cookies named “UserSettings” and does it contain the string “UserVersionDesktop”? That’s how the override is stored.

    Given your problems, I’ve just added a URL-controlled override as well, but it really would be quite inconvenient to use compared to the simple cookie. Maybe I’ll also see about setting up the sort of redirect you suggested.

  24. @Ron Unz

    The only cookies are wfvt_1427671073, __utma, __utmb, __utmc, __utmt, and __utmz.

    How do I use the URL-controlled override? I don’t see anything on the page or in the source to do it. I tried appending “?UserVersion=UserVersionDesktop” to the URL, but no luck.

    Thanks so much for taking the trouble with this. That’s above & beyond.

    • Replies: @Ron Unz
  25. Ron Unz says:
    @Intentionally Left Blank

    The URL-override will be in the new version of the software I’ll probably release early tomorrow morning.

    It definitely looks like your problem is that the Desktop-override cookie is not present. It should have been created when you went to the Menu/User Settings popup window at the top and changed the Version drop-down field to “Use Desktop.” Don’t have any idea why the “UserSettings” cookie wasn’t created.

    • Replies: @gruff
  26. gruff says:
    @Ron Unz

    I too am constantly getting served the Mobile version. I will post here if I ever find a workaround.

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

    That’s unfortunate and surprising. What sort of device/browser/software config are you using?

    • Replies: @gruff
  28. gruff says:
    @Ron Unz

    That’s unfortunate and surprising. What sort of device/browser/software config are you using?

    Gateway laptop, Win 7, latest version of Chrome.

    I do run a lot of blockers that do things like block Disqus threads so it’s probably one of them, but I haven’t been able to narrow it down.

  29. gruff says:

    Got it! It was PrivacyBadger! All good now. Thanks Mr Unz. Excellent site.

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