So last week when our comments were down, I asked readers to email me with any questions or feedback they had about the site and any of the content we’d posted that they couldn’t comment on. I received a couple of responses, which I addressed in this post, and I ended up adding a bunch of promo stuff that I also had sitting in my email in-box.
Since our comments came back up earlier this week, we’ve gotten a few more questions about technical glitches that have been occurring, feedback on how the site was working now and some comments related to recent content and the main site. Specifically, a few people were wondering why the heck we were “hiding” the Chuck Dixon/DC news on the blog instead of putting something up on the main site. Is Newsarama trying not to piss off Paul Levitz so he’ll keep blogging with us?
(That last one I saw in the comments section of another blog, actually … as an assumption rather than a question. People tend to jump to conclusions pretty quickly).
So, since we’re still in a “transition” period with our new site in terms of working bugs out, and some of the answers to these questions might be of interest to folks who may not see them in the comments section, I figure why not start up some kind of regular feature (at least until the site is working the way it should) where I’d address people’s questions and concerns about them. And heck, as long as I’m at it, why not address other questions about the blog as well?
On the one hand, it all seems very self-referential/”meta” to me, i.e., it doesn’t really relate to comics and the like, the stuff that you guys come here to read about. On the other hand, if it helps address some of the problems people are having with the new site, then it’s probably worth it. And it’s easy enough for folks to skip over this and see what else we have posted today …
Let’s start with what should be a fairly easy one. I found this one over in the “Community” area of Newsarama proper, in response to a thread about the blog’s comments working again:
There’s one thing that the old blog@ page had that I really liked. It told you how many comments there were. Right now you can’t see how many comments there are until you click on each article. I like to scan through the blog page and see if there are any new comments, but that’s not easy to do right now.
Is there any way to add a comment count to the blog posts?
The question is from Jason Bryant, who commented here on Blog@ quite often before the site revamp, but I don’t think I’ve seen him around since the big changeover. So hopefully he’s reading this. Anyway, to answer his question, the number of comments are still shown underneath the articles on the main page, right next to the “Posted In” section under the links to Digg, Yahoo Buzz and all that stuff. I can see why he missed it, though; with all the extra crap we have down there now, the number’s easy to miss.
What I think would be great is if we could get the number of comments underneath the author’s name at the very top of the post, maybe bolded and in the same font as the author. That would make it a lot easier for people to follow the conversations. I’ll check with the Powers That Be at Imaginova to see if it’s possible.
On to the next question, from Alan Coil:
What’s with the “Your comment is awaiting moderation”?
So, what’s Alan talking about? After the comments became available again earlier this week, just about anyone who tried to post a comment didn’t see it post automatically … instead it went into our moderation queue, and they got the message that Alan got. That might lead you to believe that we’ve started moderating all comments before they were posted, which isn’t the case … it is/was a glitch.
At first I thought it had something to do with our spam filter. In the past, when it flagged something it thought was spam, it would throw that comment into the moderation queue and we’d have to tell it that the comment wasn’t spam.
But now we’re using a new spam filter, one that doesn’t even let spam “into the front door,” according to the documentation on the new plug-in the folks at Imaginova installed. So that’s probably not the issue. This is something else I’ll log with them to take a look at; it’s one of two issues we’ve had with comments since they were turned back on (the other being that we no longer get emails when someone posts a comment … which irritates some of my fellow bloggers to no end).
Odd question– why do I need to enter name and email when I’m already logged in?
I’m assuming by being “already logged in” Lemurion means he is logged into the main Newsarama site. We’re actually on a completely different system than they are, as they’ve changed to a totally new content management system and we’re still on a blogging software system called WordPress (although a newer version than we were on, which probably doesn’t mean much to our readers, but the back-end interface we use to blog has been improved).
So, while we don’t require folks to register in WordPress (which is an option we could turn on, if we wanted to have more control over comments), we do require them to enter a name and email address.
That might bring to mind another question — Why can’t our two different comment systems work together, so the blog knows who you are when you pop over here? Or, as those in the corporate IT world might say, Why isn’t there a single sign-on solution in place? Good question. One I’ve asked before, as far back as when we first launched Blog@Newsarama. And I asked a few months ago when I found out we were going to eventually have some sort of redesign. I don’t think I ever got an answer either time, and until Lemurian came along, nobody ever requested that feature anyway. If it’s something that would make your lives easier and encourage more comments, let me know and I’ll log it with the tech folks. But there are a lot of other things I’d like to see fixed/changed/added to the blog before we worry about that, to be honest.
OK, I think that’s all the technical stuff; if I missed something, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll address it, either here or in a future post. Let’s get to the juice:
From the “Chuck Dixon No Longer Working for DC” post, Simon says (heh):
This shouldn’t be a post on the blog. This is front page news that demands some kind of follow-up.
I made a smart-ass comment to this over in the comment thread, because the first part of his comment rubbed me the wrong way. For that, I apologize, because the second part of his comment is very legitimate. And it may be moot, now that the main site has posted something about Chuck Dixon, but let’s pretend they haven’t for a minute.
Let me give a little background on Blog@Newsarama, the main Newsarama site and how the two have traditionally operated. Since we first launched Blog@ back in May 2006, Matt and Michael have been pretty hands off with the blog in terms of content. The only hard rules they gave us to live by are to a) Try not to be redundant with the main site in terms of coverage, meaning if we post about something that’s already been reported on the main site, try to take a different angle, offer opinion, etc. and link back to the news on the front page and b) don’t get them sued. Thankfully, we’ve done pretty well against that second point. The first one, well … mea culpa.
I can count on one hand — actually, two fingers — the number of times they’ve had some sort of issue with something we published. And even though they catch a lot of shit for being “too close” to the comic companies at times, neither of those times involved any sort of coercion or complaints by someone in Marvel or DC’s PR or editorial departments. And we’ve hit the publish button plenty of times wondering if what we were posting would catch their eye or the eye of someone at a comics company. But no, we’ve never had any sort of mandate here at Blog@ to play softball with the “big leaguers.”
So, pretty much from an editorial standpoint, we determine what we post, we set our schedule, we hunt down news and post it as we see fit … as Kevin did in this case. So if you suspect there was some grand master plan by Matt and by us to hide this story on the blog, well … sorry, it isn’t quite as nefarious as you suspect. In fact, we’re not near that coordinated with the main site.
I had a couple more things to address, like what happened to Graeme, but I’m running low on time … so I’ll get to them either tonight or tomorrow. (Graeme probably deserves his own post anyway). In the meantime, feel free to leave any other questions here, or drop me an email, and I’ll answer them.