Category Archives: Blogging

All my thoughts, opinions, resources and help related to our favorite pastime

A resource wiki just for the Atheosphere

AR logoWould you like to have a place where all information relevant to Atheist Blogging would be gathered and constantly updated for your benefit? Well for the last few months1 me and Larro have been working exactly on such project to provide some help for Atheists, especially the bloggers but not excluding those who take a more passive look.

I conceived the idea once I noticed the large number of resources, ideas and tips that existed and the many ways that bloggers had put them to user. For example, the simple concept of a blogroll had allowed the Atheist Blogroll to exist, from which many other stuff could be based on such as a search engine in atheist blogs or optimized reading lists. Furthermore, many atheists were blogging about ways to use the various tools online, such as Technorati, Reddit, Stumbleupon and the like.

But all this information was dispersed and difficult to find, especially for people who were just joinging the game. So it would be a great idea to have a centralized place where all such information would be gathered and through crowdsourcing improved over time to be as comprehensive as possible.

Thus, the Atheist Resources project was born.

At the moment, this project is still in very early infancy and up to now it’s been mostly me and Larro who’ve been adding to it. I’ve been concentrating on the Toolkit while Larro on the Blog Directory (and the site layout). The former is to allow people to discover useful stuff for their sites while the later is to add a bit of self-management to the Atheist Blogroll and easy updating.

The project is based on the excellent DocuWiki software with a theme that approximates the Wikipedia one (I guess to make the whole thing more familiar. The wiki format should allow us to easily add, remove and update information without fear of losing it and without having to go through a difficult approval process. Everyone is welcome to join.

Of course, this won’t go anywhere fast with only just 2 people on it, so I think it’s about time that I put out the word on the Atheosphere and invite y’all to join. Strangely I’m not the first to mention this as the Jewmanist somehow discovered its existence early and blogged about it already. Unfortunately this didn’t elicit much of a response.

So what is the current functionality? Well of course it’s a wiki so you’ll be able to quickly add and edit anything. I’ve also enabled pingback functionality which means that when the AR links to a blog, it will appear (if this functionality exists – yes, I’m looking at you Blogspot) and when a blog links tot he AR, this will appear on the site as well. This way if someone writes on a topic, say, Technorati, and links to the AR, theit entry will show on the Technorati page for people looking for this information to follow.

Then there’s tags, which is something I’m hoping might become useful for sites listed on the Blogroll. Through them, one should be able to see which Atheist Blogs write about a particular subject and visit them. Along with all the information that should be present on each Blog’s listing, this should enable people to find Atheist bloggers with similar interests easily.

And that’s just the begginging. I’m hoping that with all these brillliant Freethinkers out there, we can make this something unique and useful. So I hope to see you all there.

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  1. Well, more like days of actual work, as the whole thing stayed basically idle for most of its existence []

The fastest caching combo for WordPress. Am I in a cached Nirvana?

Diagram of the basic operation of a cache
Image via Wikipedia

I hope you’ve recently noticed a significant improvement in the speed of the Division by Zer0.  I’ve done some further testing and I think I’ve discovered the perfect combination of tools which, at least for me, has made everything much snappier.

Last time I was playing around with Dreamhost’s FastCGI option1 as well as trying out a few newer caching plugins since Super Cache didn’t really play nice. Specifically I was testing Hyper Cache and DB Cache and trying to decide which one is better to keep. Well, in the end I figured out that using both is even better, and now I’m going to tell you why 🙂

Hyper Cache

This one is one serious mutha. It basically does the same thing as Super Cache but without requiring you to edit your .htaccess or other such hassle2. All you have to do is activate and go. And the results are really stunning. With it activated, I routinely get pages loading in sub-second speeds (whereas before the average was 2-6 seconds) on cached pages with very low overhead, which means I can withstand traffic spikes.

I was so impressed I spent an afternoon just reloading pages to admire how fast they loaded 🙂

Of course this plugin will not help with javascripts speed so if you have a lot of ’em, you will still notice your site taking a bit. However you should notice that the loading starts immediately and then waits for each javascript to download and run (so you’ll see the page appear in stages) instead of waiting a bit until it even starts loading (while it’s gathering prerunning the php and quering the DB). As such, if you have most of your javascripts loading at the footer (as you should), your content will appear immediately for your audience to start reading, and by the time they’re one the second sentence, the page will have finished.

My main problem was exactly that incidentally, that the content took up to 5 seconds to even appear. As long as the main text is there, I don’t mind so much how long it takes for the rest of the “bling” to load.

Another good thing about hyper cache is that it will not activate if you’re logged in to your wordpress installation. This means that in order to see the speed of your site as it appears to everyone else, you either need to use another browser (I keep a konqueror lying around just for this) or to clear your cookies. On the upside, it means that you almost always see the current version when you make non-content changes, such as editing your theme (as the cache will be automatically cleared if you make content changes.) This really helps if you like to tweak your site layout a lot.

One last (bad) thing I’ve noticed is that if I go ahead and clear all hyper cache. My site will die with an internal server error. I’ve tried this twice now. I do not know if that is because my site would die if hyper cache was not there or because once the cache is cleared, there some heavy duty function running to repopulate it or whatever. I know it happens though. I don’t have to do this anymore however so it’s not really a problem.

Overall, Hyper Cache is an absolute win for people hosting their own WordPress, especially if you’re on a shared hosting plan and even more especially if you’re using Dreamhost PS, as Super Cache is not an option.

DB Cache

This plugin takes a novel approach to caching. Whereas all the other that exist simply save the html output of your content and then serve it to avoid running PHP code each time a page is requested, DB Cache saves database query output to avoid making SQL calls to it.

This has a few significant benefits. First of all, it helps with Search Engine crawlers such as the google bot. Where a normal caching plugin really shines when a lot of people access one specific page, it actually harms you when one agent accesses a lot of pages, since you add the cache-saving to your load, on top of the normal page loading. DB cache on the other hand, by caching common Database queries, can fill exactly that hole which significantly reduces the juice you need to serve all the bots crawling you.

This is becauseeach page of your site, other than the main content and possible some post-related queries (ie similar posts), has basically the same calls. Your recent posts, your tag clouds and category lists, recent comments etc, depending on what widgets and theme you use. These generally don’t change from page to page but for a normal caching plugin on a new page, they still need to be called so that the full html page can be saved.

So by caching all these common calls, you seriously reduce the time one needs to wait on a blank screen before a page can even start loading the content. You also reduce the load when a crawler does his daily thing and you even increase the speed of the occasional visitor from a mobile. While DB cache will not give you the awesome speed hyper cache will on a single page load, it will certainly reduce your overall server’s CPU & RAM load (much more important than bandwidth and disk space for shared hosting) and make visits to uncommon pages quicker.

Another plus which I’ve discovered is when you are using Gallery2 through the wpg2 plugin. Gallery is imho a database chewer because people don’t simply see one image and then leave, but rather switch quickly among a lot of them. As a result, DB Cache is perfectly prepared to grab those common queries done through wpg2 and save them for later, increasing the overall speed.

The caching combo of ultimate speed

Until now I’ve never mixed caching plugins as they all generally worked in the same or similar way. However the distinct way these two worked gave me the impression that they wouldn’t really conflict and might actually complement each other quite well. One of them is built for serving one page to lost of visitors in a short time period, while the other is perfect for serving many pages to one visitor. So I went ahead and activated both of them at the same time

And whatdayaknow, there was no explosion 🙂

What happens at the moment is that generally, a page always has at least a few queries cached by DB Cache. You can even see the cached queries increasing with each time it’s reloaded (when bypassing hyper cache). This in turn allows a non-hypercached page to load quicker which is then saved into hyper cache for further visitors.

So currently you see the results of this experiment. I’d like to believe that my speed at the moment is quite good and others who have followed my advice have experienced similar improvements. I really hope this is the last time I have to play with caches in the future and that the current speeds are not just an illusion.

Let me know of the results if you try the same combo on your own sites.

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  1. Since disabled as it seemed to cause more problems than it solved []
  2. And removing it is simple too, unlike Super Cache []

Who knew WordPress excerpts were so useful?

Excerpt from Meshari by Gjon Buzuku.
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve always wanted to put the excerpt field provided by wordpress to some good use but I never really realized what the best way to go about it would be and/or why I should spend the time writing an extra piece of information for the post.  Until now I’ve sometimes used them for replacing the frontpage snippet in case it broke due to not properly close html code and the like but nothing more than that.

In the end, the utility of the excerpts was so obvious that I had to slap my forehead for not thinking of it myself. Thankfully, someone else not only went to the trouble of explaining why excerpts were useful but also provided links and information for the tools you can use to utilize them best.

From: The manual Excerpt in WordPress. What, why, how, tips and plugins

WordPress excerpts, which are not excerpts, make a WordPress site easier to browse and its content easier to discover. In addition, when also used as META descriptions, good excerpts bring more and better traffic from search engines.

If you’re using wordpress, especially if it’s self-hosted, this is the kind of article you should be reading right now. The insights and improvement ideas would certainly make you rethink the way you utilize this underused feature and the concice and structured way this is presented makes the whole thing easy to go through and understand. As one commenter put it

Heard a cling and a thud ?
Well, it was my awesomeness-meter crashing !

What a post. Dugg deep, very deep into something that’s insanely powerful, but not appreciated, the WP Excerpts !

As for me, I’m already going through my latest posts and adding descriptive excerpts to all. I’m not going to go back to all 3 years of blogging (almost 4 now 🙂 ) but I plan to go through the last year at least.

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Of WordPress Caches and Fast PHPs

Example of a Plug-In Framework
Image via Wikipedia

Improving the speed of this and my two other sites has always been a major issue for me. Ever since I’ve switched to WordPress I’ve never been fully satisfied with the loading time and it seems I’ve been trying since forever to improve it.  My main methods were through the use of caching plugins such a WP-Cache and later on WP-Supercache and through manual performance tweaking. For a while it seemed to have worked to a degree until again my performance started dropping without any apparent reason.

It was at this point that I jumped to the VPS offering in a desperate attempt to get a site which loads in this century. Again, for a while things looked to be working well but now and then I would get horrible site b0rks which would take me hours to troubleshoot and resolve. The latest one was the reason I discovered that WP-Supercache didn’t play nice with VPS and thus I had to find something else, or live with it in a state of half-on.

To my delight, it seems that now there are new caching plugins available which I can try. I already mentioned Hyper Cache last time and today I discovered DB Cache (h/t  diTii.com) which seems particularly promising, especially because it works not by caching the fully loaded page, but rather by caching the Database queries themselves. This is an interesting take on caching since it now can improve performance for web crawlers as well as normal users. It also provides an extra benefit to me since I’m proving a gallery through the wordpress interface, and that means that the database queries for that are also cached.

So I ditched Super Cache from all my blogs and installed DB Cache on the Division by Zer0 and the Wesnoth Journals and Hyper Cache on the ACP. It’s of course always difficult to figure out how much difference a caching plugin has done to your site. As of now, I can’t say I notice a significant difference on loading times with DB Cache, however I did notice that the number of SQL queries that are made each time the page loads have dropped from >60 to about 15 which means that there some difference.

I  have also noticed anotther thing. In the past it could take a few seconds before my site even started loading (I guess while it was running the SQL queries) but after that it would be displayed very quickly (especially if it had been supercached) whereas now, the site starts loading very quickly but it takes more time to actually finish loading the content, in effect loading in parts (first the header, then the content etc) but in a way that is much more exaggerated than before.

Another thing I also decided to do is to finally activate Fast CGI for PHP. I hadn’t done this before as it wouldn’t have made much difference when Supercache was in use but now that the code is executed every time, it seems like a good idea. There’s also the added bonus that for VPS, the Xcache opcoder is available which further improves php performance when on high load. I do not think it will make much of a difference as my problem is not one of traffic but it may come in handy for those rare reddit moments.

As of now, the performance seems comparable to SuperCache times and I am hoping that this time I will not have any more random Internal Server Errors. Unfortunately my WordPress admin panel is still quite slower than I’d like with loading times randing frmo 5 to 15 seconds or more on occasion. I honestly don’t know what I can do to fix that but at least the admin panel is not something that is used very often.

Next step will be to see if Hyper Cache is better than DB Cache and if they can both play well together for a combined improvement.

So what do you think of the current speed?

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Planet of Anarchy

Anarchism
Image by anarchosyn via Flickr

I have just joined Anarchoblogs1, a new aggregator focusing on all kinds of Anarchism (yes, even the oxymoronic “Anarcho”-Capitalism) who took over after the previous such attempt stopped being updated. This is basically the same thing as Planet Atheism but for Anarchism but further than that, the person behind it has interesting plans for the future.

As anarchism can fall anywhere from the left to the right of the political spectrum and with members all over the world (primarily outside of english speaking countries), the owner decided to create various hubs which can be separated by interests or language (initially, in the future there are plans for location specific ones etc). At the moment there’s only a few of them and I have been added to the english speaking hub.Of course, the main site displays all content from all hubs together.

I find that this separation into hubs is actually a good idea and perhaps Planet Atheism can copy it and organise Atheists to specific groups, to make the whole thing more manageable and allow the members to subscribe to only the topic that interests them.

So this is my introductory post for Anarchblogs and also a way to spread awareness to all who might have anti-authoritarian, anti-statist leanings. If you fall low on the y-axis on the political compass, then you should consider joining as well.

How come the Division by Zer0 has joined you might ask? Well, the more I read, the more I learn of how much Capitalism fails and also how much the modern state is designed to protect the interests of the wealthy. I find it impossible to avoid sliding towards the libertarian left more and more. And since lately I’ve been blogging especially much about Capitalism and Communism it seems like a good place be.

For those of you who might discover the Division by Zer0 from there, welcome and I hope you enjoy your stay. I won’t ask you to subscribe as you’re probably be seeing my writings through the aggregator, however I thought I might post a few of my older posts with Anarchism related content.

I have generally had not much presence from anarchists around here (unlike AnCaps to my dismay) so I’m hoping that this might present me with some views from a different perspective than usual.

Here’s to a brighter future and to more voices raised high.

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  1. h/t to Rad Geek – he goes into more details on this, check it out! []

It's all about you, baby

What's that thing you're pointing at me?
Image by frozenminds via Flickr

Old time readers of the Division by Zer0 (heh, riiight…) might have noticed that the site as of late has been more and more exploring subjects related to Socialism and Capitalism from various perspectives. This isn’t really a surprise as this blog has always been quite personal and the subject matter tends to follow whatever draws my interest at any point in time.

This being a personal blog (or at least that’s what I keep saying to myself) I’ve been quite surprised that I’ve managed to exceed a hundred subscribers. I assume that this is mostly because I’ve stopped writing about “boring” real life stuff so much and have a taken a more philosophical blogging style.

I can’t say that I’m not glad that at least a hundred people consider me interesting enough to follow and this is why I’ve been wondering what exactly it is that keeps you coming back. I think its impossible that there are so many of you with exactly the same interests as me so it’s certain that I often write about things you do not care about. Thus I think there’s no better way to discover what’s going on, than to ask you directly.

What  do you like and/or dislike about the Division by Zer0?

At the moment I have quite a few subjects I’m (fairly) often blogging about but I think that the ones I’m most often visit are Socialism and Criticisms of Capitalism, Free Software, Blogging, Philosophy (mostly from my own (I hope) unique perspective but some social subjects thrown in as well), Project work and finally the occasional personal stuff.

Out of these, are you returning for anything specific or do you enjoy that I switch between them often? Is there any in particular topic you don’t care to read about? Any that you prefer? Why? I like to delude myself that some people find me interesting because I’m fresh and unique compared to the rest of the atheosphere  so feel free to rain on my parade.

But what about other things? Is there anything non-topic related that you (dis)like? My writing style? My dull wit? My Greek Geek perspective? My luxurious long hair? The speed of the site (Hah!)?

So yeah, I’m curious and I hope you will take a bit to let me know. I’d mostly appreciate comments if you can spare the time but in case your busy schedule prohibits it, I’ve setup a poll to allow you to give a hint quickly (note that you can select up to two choices)

[poll id=”5″]

But I’d really much rather hear what you have to say instead.

Oh, and happy new year as well 😉

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Comment Wars Meme: Why Intense Debate is superior to Disqus

The last post on war: Thoughts, wishes, duty.....
Image by FlickrJunkie via Flickr

In recent months, outsourcing one’s blog comments to a specialized comment engine has become quite trendy for many people. Of those specialized engines, two are gathering the most publicity, Intense Debate and Disqus. I jumped onto this comments outsourcing bandwagon about half a year ago and my choice was Intense Debate Comments (IDC from now on). Not only have I not regretted at all but I’ve become such a staunch evangelist for this system that I have made quite a few converts 🙂

So what is this post about? Well, yesterday, Friar Zero asked my via email why I preferred IDC over Disqus. The simple answer is that IDC was the one I stumbled onto first, quite randomly while using the Get Satisfaction support (GSFN from now). I discovered Disqus shortly after that but since I had already taken IDC for a ride, I saw no reason to start all over again and Disqus was not also using GSFN so as weird as it sounds, that was a major reason for me at the start.

But of course that’s not a proper reason and I think it’s time for me to actually write  in detail why I preferred one over the other. And since I’m doing that, I thought I might as well make this my first meme and perhaps trigger others to explain for themselves why they use their current choice. This will hopefully create a body of opinions which might give bloggers enough information about each option from all sides of the argument, to make an informed decision.

So the rules of the Comment Wars meme are the following:

  1. Declare which system you prefer and perhaps give a short history of your decision.
  2. List the reasons of why you prefer you current system choice over the direct competitor (If you’re using IDC, your competitor is Disqus and the other way around).
  3. (Optionally) list the reasons why you prefer your current system over your blog’s default comment system (WordPress, Blogger or Typepad most likely). If you’re still using your default system, instead list the reasons why you consider it superior to both IDC and Disqus.
  4. Link to the person who tagged you for this meme.
  5. Link to any other people who are using any third-party comment system of whom you care to know why they chose as they did.  You can also link to any people who are still using the built-in comment system and you want to know why. Make sure to leave them a comment or send an email to inform them that they have been tagged.

So without further ado

Why I prefer Intense Debate over Disqus

Some Horrible Threading in Disqus
Some Horrible Threading in Disqus

1. The threading looks and works much better

The original thing that drew me to IDC was the capability to have threaded comments and this is still the thing that breaks or makes the deal for me. IDC threads simply look natural, with the little arrow pointing to the reply below, with the reply being just a tad to the right (so as to allow a lot of threading before you run out of space) and where the end result just looks natural.

On the other hand, Disqus threading, to me always looked ugly. Blocky comments which simply begun below and quite a bit indented which had the result of quickly running out of space. This became painfully obvious when I participated in a lengthy discussion through disqus and after the 13th reply, it stared becoming very annoying to continue (sample on the right)

On the contrary, in the Division by Zero, I’ve held a 30 deep-thread going without any major inconvenience. Granted, it helps that I have a variable width template (why waste screen real-estate) but it is mostly because of the way IDC conserves space and builds the thread.

It would be impossible to hold a 130-reply thread going without good layout and the fact that I did and it’s actually readable from a visitor’s point of view, is a major success.

The only thing missing (from both systems) is a way to connect a reply to the parent comment, but IDC already has the collapse thread function and I know they’re working on better solutions.

2. They seem to innovate in the correct direction

While both systems have taken a generally similar path in features, and even though IDC came later to the party, IDC seems much more full in features that Disqus. I’ve been seeing a lot of new features such as the recent ability to paginate comments in order to keep the page load fast, or the capability to keep your wordpress comments synced both ways with IDC.

I do not know what the recent innovations of Disqus have been to tell the truth as I don’t pay attention to them so I can’t really compare the relevant speed they advance. A quick look at their blog tells me they do provide a lot of good stuff as well but I get the impression that they are more interested in making more fancy features rather than strengthen and make the comments themselves as good and solid as possible.

3. Email notifications rock

By now, I’ve gotten email notifications for replies by both systems (and from builtin solutions) and I can safely say that IDC was the best for the following reasons.

  • They send a notification immediately after a reply is posted to a thread below your comment. That is, if you leave a comment and someone replies to it, you get a notification. If, after 3 days, someone replies to the reply to your comment, you are still notified, as this is continuing from a point you raised. I find this great to keep a conversation live and going1.
    On the other side, Disqus seems to send notifications only every 30 minutes or so (thus some times passes before you get informed that you got a reply, and by then you might have gone to do something else) and then you only get notifications if someone responds directly to your comment. You don’t get informed if someone continues the discussion that you started.
  • The email notification includes your response to that comment as well, so you can immediately see the context of what they are replying to. This is quite important as it’s very often that I do not remember what I was saying at the time.
  • It allows you to reply by email. Granted, so does Disqus, but not the built-in systems.

4. They are (now) owned by Automattic.

This is more of a personal preference than anything else but it really made my day when I learned about it. To clarify, Automattic are the makers of WordPress, the Blogging software the Division by Zer0 stands on and, for me, is the best you can use. That IDC is now backed by the skills and expertise of those people gives me much optimism about the future.

And since WordPress is a Free Software, you never know, perhaps we’ll be able to convince the IDC people to finally liberate their code (it’s for their own good after all 😉 )

To tell you the truth, I can foresee Disqus being acquired by WordPress’ rival in the blogging battlefield: Blogger/Blogspot, or more accurately, Google. If this happens, things will get…interesting.

5. They use Get Satisfaction and their support guys are top-notch

GSFN has become one of my favourite places to seek support and it was actually how I came to discover IDC as I explained at the start. Their support guys are still active over there and they generally provide excellent support (although a few times I did go for weeks without solution). I’ve had issues which were reported only by me actually looked by a developer to find a solution very quickly. Although some times I really felt like pulling out my luxurious hair, eventually a solution was found and the than all was right in the world again. But no matter what, very rarely will you find a support person volunteer to help you scour your blog for possible problems just to make sure that everything is ok.

Unfortunately I do not know how quick the Disqus support is but the fact that they use their own support forum generally does not make me happy.

Another big benefit of GSFN is the ability to separate ideas from other support issues and get an idea of how many other people want the same idea to happen. Quite a few of the things I’ve proposed in the past have already been implemented and the devs generally pay attention to what their userbase asks for. This counts.

6. They integrate very well with WordPress

At the moment of speaking, the IDC wordpress plugin merges very well with the platform. Not only can you manage your comments in the same way as before (bulk moderation etc), but it also gives you some extra functionality, like the ability to reply to comments from within WordPress moderation or filter by author.

I won’t claim that the plugin is perfect as I have suffered quite a bit through it (I was testing it since the alpha) but I can safely say that for most people it should work flawlessly and if you have a problem they’ll be able to fix it for you quickly 😉

And with these six points, I finish my reasons on why I prefer IDC over disqus. Very shortly now, I’m going to present…

Why I prefer IDC over WordPress’ built-in comments

1. IDC has threading

As I said, this is a deal-maker for me. While wordpress can achieve threading with plugins and the newest 2.7 has it built-in by default, in my site it never looked nice and you could not thread more than once (or the theme broke and I couldn’t fix it). IDC worked out of the box, and much much better than I could ever imagine. Indeed, I was so impressed with the Threading capabilities of IDC that I could now change my Comment policy to allow discussions to flow much better.

2. Email Notifications

While wordpress can do this with plugins again, it doesn’t do email replies.

3. I can keep my site is less bloated

WordPress can indeed handle email notifications and threading and whatnot but all of these are extra code that needs CPU power to run and on a shared hosting like mine, every little bit counts. Granted, IDC hasn’t been the fastest kid on the block until now, but recently the devs put it on a diet and with some new comment organization features, they’ve made it much faster to load.

That means I can get all these functions and anything more the developers cook up, without having to worry about updating 3- or 4 different plugins which might break each other or slowdown the site.

Resolution

In my eyes, IDC is and will remain the better choice for most people who want something superior than what comes with the box. I’m certain that the competition with Disqus will remain heated but this only benefits us all in the long run

Below you will find a poll where you can vote, as a blogger or as a commenter, which system you prefer. If you take part in the meme, feel free to link here for others so that we may get a bigger view.

[poll id=”4″]

And finally, to tag some people to get some opinions and spread this meme. I’ve tried to tag a nice spread of systems to get various opinions on this.

Anyone else who is reading this, feel free to take part as well and let us know why you chose as you did. let the Comment Wars begin!

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  1. It’s been a while since I got such a notification as I generally comment on my own blog where I get an email for everything. Last time I remember, this functionality was the case but it may have changed since []

Why providing an email when commenting here improves your experience

Curly
Image by paral_lax via Flickr

To all new commenters (of which I’ve been getting a lot recently) I would like to make a suggestion. You have probably noticed that I have a javascript based comment system1 and there’s a lot of threading going on. This is very useful for longwinded conversations where many points are discussed at once but it has the problem that it’s not as easy to find when you’ve been replied to.

The solution to that exists. When you comment, you have the option of providing your email address, which I notice that most people do not fill in, I guess because of concerns about spamming. That’s not  a problem in itself but I wanted to point out the benefit you have when you do provide it. Mainly that you get email notification about new replies to your own comments.

The way it works is this: If you’ve filled in an email address, whenever someone responds to a comment you made directly, by using the “post reply” button directly under your comment (not the one in the end of the comment list), an email is dispatched to your address informing you that someone replied to your comment and also quoting what you had said (to jolt your memory).

At this point, you can follow the provided link which takes you immediately to the new comment, so that you may reply directly, or you can reply by simply replying to the email itself (that is, no need to visit the site at all).2

The biggest advantage thus is that you can continue in the conversation without having to take any extra action by yourself like subscribing to the comment RSS or visiting repeatedly to check if any new replies have been posted. It allows makes the discussion to progress faster and more intensely (pun intended)

There is also one side benefit to providing an email address in that if there is something wrong (as was the case when the “see more replies”  link broke) I can send you a direct email to inform you that no, your comment is not lost or deleted (as many assumed) and I’m working on fixing the problem.

So that’s all, if you can, I would ask you to provide an email address so that you don’t lose track of the conversation and you can easily continue without having to scour through the comments.

I’m aware that you may have a valid concern about providing the email that I have not considered and perhaps we can find a workaround. So if you still do not wish to use it, I’d love to hear why.

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  1. Actually, you can still comment even if you have javascript deactivated, but it doesn’t thread and so you get comments very disconnected []
  2. The later option is still a bit flaky sometimes but in general it should work. []

Reddit helps you show what is best on your site

Once again reddit innovates

Now you have the ability to show all the posts of your domain which have been submitted to reddit and sort them by the best. That way new visitors have a quick way to find out what is best to read first.

Along with things like AideRSS’s top posts widget (mine you can see on the top slidebar) you can put your best content, by popular vote, to the forefront. Unfortunately AideRSS does not update as soon as I’d like so it’s good to have the alternative of reddit.

Another good addition from reddit is that you can now customise the colour of your buttons. Finally I can add it to my own webpage and have it fit. This is my classic problem with widgets in that they never fit my dark colour scheme. The Alien needs some antialiasing work I think but generally it looks good.

To tell the truth, I really wanted to the button to be on the botton right of the post so that people can use the buttons once they’re finished reading the article but there was no realistic way to do it. Putting the button after the content meant that it fell next to the similar posts and bunched them up (which I didn’t like). Using the css “position” property I could move it a couple of dozen pixels upwards to have it within the content but unfortunately the word-wrapping did not follow it and thus it just ended up obscuting the text.

If anyone has any idea on how to achieve this without having to manually put code in the content each time I’d love to hear it.

Ah, I forgot to mention that you can also put something nice in your sidebar to show others what you liked

Enjoy 😉

In case you still think blogging or wordpress is too hard…

Cerebral Palsy
Image by mtsofan via Flickr

Glenda Watson Hyatt is a severely disabled person (Cerebral Palsy) who has used blogging through WordPress to expand her social life and get an online voice. Simply WordPress has changed her life and for this she has crafted the following video1.

If a person who can only use the computer through her left thumb can find WordPress easy enough to use then certainly all of you can do it as well.

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  1. h/t Internetakias []