Bil Browning

Feedback Open Thread: Your Last Chance

Filed By Bil Browning | May 29, 2011 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Site News
Tags: new site update, Rancho Bilerico, site relaunch, user input, website redesign

While it's a holiday weekend, here at Rancho Bilerico we've been huddled over our computers working intently on the site while the blue white light shines harshly over our wan faces. No, really. Y'all go outside and cavort around in the warm sunshine. We'll be ready when you get back smelling like fresh air and fun.

Everything that worked perfectly on the development site seemed to break when we flipped the design to the actual blog. Chaos ensued. So did cursing, sighing, and quite a bit of head shaking.

At the end of the first week with this new format though, we think we've solved most of the issues and squashed the bugs. In the end, I got Murray to get all the Gremlins wet and then I let the Electric Gremlin loose and he zapped the Gremlins and killed them all.

So are you still seeing things we haven't noticed? We've tweaked this and that to try and make it better based off previous comments and suggestions from Projectors. Got more suggestions or something to add to the "I want" list?

This is the place. Tell us in the comments section what you like about the new design and what you don't. Give suggestions, critiques, and/or compliments.


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I frequently have trouble opening posts on Chrome. I can see the post as normal on my reader, but when I click to open it to the direct entry, it'll tell me there's a 500 error because the header is too long.

Likewise, I've noticed that the comment box will stay covering the Preview and Submit buttons, and sometimes the "Sign in" link will be missing.

Luminum,

Try emptying your Bilerico cookies for the 500 error.

I think the Reply and Report buttons have been fixed for Internet Explorer users (seriously, who the hell uses that anymore. Yeesh!) but I'll check in on Chrome.

I've reported the problem with the comment box. Thanks for that.

Om Kalthoum | May 29, 2011 12:10 PM

Since the "Receive notification of further comments" by email has never worked for me, and you no longer provide the "new" icon next to new posts, it is really difficult to follow this site.

Om,

Send me an email privately with the address you're using to sign up for comment notifications and I'll try to see what's going on. Everyone is getting their e-mails. Is it getting caught in your spam filter for some reason? Have you looked?

Om Kalthoum | June 5, 2011 2:00 PM

Done. Thanks.

I have a policy question ... or kinda:

Does every new post appear on the home page? ... Or are there some posts that will show up under, say, the "Media" tab but never appear under the "Home" tab? ... If posts can make it into the site without showing up on the home page, then I am afraid I might miss some stuff I might read if brought to my attention via the home page.

Scanning each of six different category tags for new stuff is a good way to keep me up until sunrise ... and I won't even have the hope of a new boyfriend to show for it!

I just figured how I would handle this:

I would suggest that all the posts show up first on the home page -- but this will cause the home page posts to move down and fall off the bottom very quickly. Then the post can move to appear under the tab for the category which that post best fits within. That way, the tabs other than "Home" serve as a pre-archive list of recent-but-aging posts in that category.

How does that sound?

I gather it doesn't work that way now -- I gather that a new post appears on the home page AND under its category tab ... so that the post can appear in two locations (which can be confusing!) ... having the post appear in two places also uses up (wastes?) website "real estate" that could be used otherwise to display a larger volume of recent and near-recent content.

Finally, if you implement my suggestion above, you might also want to prepend the category onto the authorship data line (the line below the post's title -- so that it will go : category/author/date/time/comment-count) -- so that the reader will know where to find the same post a few days later.

But giving the category on the authorship data line will be needed on the home page and ONLY on the home page because when the post rolls over into its category, the category for that post becomes obvious.

Hey AJ.

Right now each post shows up on the front page under the "Recently Filed" section at the top. Editors pick the best posts to feature in the various categories or at the very top of the page. Posts can't (shouldn't while we're still learning!) be featured at the top of the main page and a category page because it would be redundant.

The two featured category posts you see on the main page are the last two of three featured posts on that category's page. If a post is marked as "politics" but isn't featured, it will still be listed in the Recently Filed section of that category's page.

Posts can be marked as pertinent for up to two main categories, but can only be featured in one.

We're doing it this way since so many folks asked for the subpages that are certain categories only. Some people just want our political coverage while others only want the movement related content. To each their own, but we still want to be able to draw attention to the best posts in those areas.

Add a command so that when someone hovers over a link (or clucks a 'quick read' button so the first paragraph pops up in a window... you can also ad an ad to that screen.

Put it on the list. Thanks Mike.

FWIW:

I like the sampling of comments; it's a good way to draw people. The new colours are livelier. And I like that people have to sign in (although I thought that you could no longer be an unregistered user?). The home page seems to have been tweaked so there is now more emphasis on the content that is produced by writers. This page at least seems a lot cleaner.

Suggestions: The site is much too busy. The banner ads, which change on the home page, are confusing (see my last comment, the last time you asked for feedback). The comments section really needs work: while there is now (I believe) a bit more space between comment blocks, discerning who said what and when is still hard to grasp. As I remarked earlier, I don't know what the rationale is for having some names appear in bold and others not. In the old version, comments were set off with colours, and the eye could make sense of that. Right now, a reader's mind is too busy asking why there are these differences. I think it's really important to keep in mind that a reader scanning a page quickly has a very different approach than a programmer/designer, who might have perfectly good reasons for highligting some names for any reason. But it's critical to keep in mind that, without distinctions that make *visual* sense, the mind's eye is not going to respond well to subtle yet obvious differences - in which case, something like seeing some names in bold and others not becomes a distraction that also distracts from the experience of reading the page. The word "flow," overused perhaps, comes to mind. FWIW, I think it's best to have the names of commenters in bold - the eye can then more quickly discern that this is a new comment (see Mike Rogers, above, for an example, as opposed to Om Khaltoum's or Luminum's names, which are in ordinary font).

And I really, really recommend returning the "new comment" feature. Without it, I'm not inclined to click on a post, even if I see that the number of comments have increased. Without it, I have to keep scrolling around to see if I can tell which ones are the new comments - as I said, I'm probably not the only one who wants notifications about new comments flooding my inbox, and liked being able to immediately see them on the page. Frankly, right now, I find the site less inviting as a result.

I see that, right now, as I type this, there is a large banner saying, "Action Alerts," and below that:

"Recent Entries Filed under Site News:

Comment of the Week: Capitalist Piggy on HIV-Neg
Feedback Open Thread: Your Last Chance
Welcome to the New Bilerico
Programming Note: The New Bilerico Launch
Comment of the Week: Yasmin Nair on Finding Freedom In Prison

feed Subscribe to The Bilerico Project | There are 6 comments, join the discussion below."

I really recommend putting this elsewhere. This may not be the right design lingo, but having all this information wedged between the post and the comments is yet another distraction for the eye and the mind. It's best, IMHO, to let the post and comments section work seamlessly together. It's also more respectful, I think, of the post to let them stay together that way. Right now, the problem here is a problem I have with the site in general - a sense that the content matters less than everything you're trying to push. I appreciate, very much, these attempts to get readers to other posts and content, of course (and note that my own name appears here, in this example!). But I'd like more integrity to the blogs themselves.

This may be purely a bug, but you have, at the end of the home page, sections titled living, media, etc. The headings for those all tend to migrate around from left to right and back again, making for a very inconsistent and confusing look.

The "Leave a comment" part still has typos that I noted earlier (first letters of sentences need to be capitalised, unless you're making a political point): "We want to know your opinion on this issue! all comments from unregistered users are held for moderation. while arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. please be respectful of others."

And lastly, I'll repeat my dubiousness about the American Independent bit. It's not TBP content, and is in fact a form of advertising for the network, is it not? I'd like to see it presented as such - unless there's some other reason for it to be there. This part, as I understand it now, makes me really uncomfortable - why is the American Independent being featured in this way? Is this an ad? A permanent guest blogger-type item?

I very much appreciate all your work on this site - as I type this, I could also be elsewhere, eating a chocolate chip brownie with mint ice cream, which I'll get to in a minute :-) And I also understand the need to generate some kind of revenue to keep the site going. But I think it's possible to do that without having the site be so busy.

Mostly, I'd say: there needs to be an inherent visual logic and consistency to everything here, which might be different from the logic that a designer has in mind, and fewer distractions from or in the posts themselves. And the changing banner ads might be a bit confusing.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Just to clarify what I meant here: "FWIW, I think it's best to have the names of commenters in bold - the eye can then more quickly discern that this is a new comment (see Mike Rogers, above, for an example, as opposed to Om Khaltoum's or Luminum's names, which are in ordinary font)."

By "new," I mean a different comment as in, differentiating between commenters." And I also mean that ALL commenters' names should be in bold font. And I still think that actual new comments should be marked as such as they appear on my page (as per the old system).

And .... that should read: "I'm probably not the only one who *doesn't want* notifications about new comments flooding my inbox, and liked being able to immediately see them on the page."

Just since the previous comment is so long, I'll tackle these two issues here. :)

1) The new comment notification is being worked on. Because it required so many cookies in the last design, we're trying to eliminate all of that for users and so it doesn't slow this design down.

2) Some people's names are bold because they're links. Those are the folks who've either signed up for an account and included a URL (you or Mike Rogers, for example) or signed in via Facebook. Those folks who signed up for an account but didn't include a URL aren't bold because there's no link there.

So if you're following the logic here, it's not that we're turning some names bold, it's that the link is making the text look bolded. Understand?

Hey Yasmin!

1) You have to be a registered user - either with us or Facebook. You can't just type in any old name to comment and wait for it to be approved by an editor.

2) The new comment notification and bold typeface are addressed in another reply on this thread.

3) The recent entries section started live on the development site as five small graphics to take you to relevant posts. (User studies show most folks will click off to another post at the point than will leave a comment, so you cater to what the users want!) We're trying to get that back to working again because it makes that section soooo much less clunky looking. I agree with you that right now it's a little awkward.

4) The migrating section headings should be fixed now. Long titles were dropping down and causing that. We adjusted the spacing between sections more.

5) The comment policy text should be fixed now. Thanks for that.

6) The American Independent is providing us with a custom LGBT-only RSS feed to share their relevant content. We're working on finding other ways to integrate some of the content between the two sites, but so far nothing's concrete.

7) Now I really want a chocolate brownie and mint chocolate chip ice cream. Thanks, Yasmin! I don't suppose you deliver to DC, do you? :)

Oh, okay, thanks.

Re: brownies etc., strangely, they are all gone (gentle burp). You guys will just have to come to Chicago now, for the next batch!

I'm still not seeing the buttons for reply and report on the comments (IE9). I'm still having a problem with a freezing cursor while writing comments. (My original comment about this on the other thread has more details about this) And once again, I'm looking for the "new" tag on the comments like others have mentioned.

I'm still looking for a link for older posts below the list of all the new articles the way it used to be in the old format. Glad to see the paragraph spacing in the comments is back.

The Reply and Report buttons should be showing for IE now.

Freezing cursor seems to just be you. No one else has reported it and I can't duplicate it.

The "new" tag is on the list of wants. Fixing the stuff like no paragraph breaks in the comments section came first. Expect it by the end of next week. The codes a little tricky since it requires cookies.

I think you should be able to see the green button for the archives after the Recently Filed stories on the front page now. The top of the archives shows the most recent two days posts right at the top.

Well, Bil, I was going to celebrate being able to see the reply button by using it to congratulate you. Funny thing, that. It doesn't work. Click, click, click - nothing, nothing, nothing. And the freezing cursor thing is annoying.

Sorry to rain on your Memorial Day parade.

Geeze. After I thought the reply button didn't work, I clicked on the comment form on the bottom to just write a new one. And after I submitted it, it did stack as a reply anyway. Sorry. I'm not sure why it didn't seem to respond, and I'm not sure why it worked after all. Oops.

You weren't signed in. It doesn't do anything if you're not. I've asked Jerame to have it drop the user down to the sign-in portion when it's clicked.

Huh. That's weird in a couple of ways. I'm pretty sure it used to do that. You'd have no notion that the reply button did anythng without that happening. But having already made comments today, I don't understand why I would have to sign in again. I just assumed I was signed in. Wouldn't it make more sense to just keep signed in for a fairly extended period?

BTW, I think it needs to be clearer where to click to sign in for comments. The colors are so close, it isn't obvious where to do it. If I wasn't already familiar with it, I might have been stymied by it.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 30, 2011 1:49 AM

Where is the 'Reply to' box stashed?

Freezing cursor, ditto.

You should be able to see the Reply button now. Thanks for reporting that bug, Bill.

You're having the freezing cursor problem too? Which browser again? Is it the same as Rory's? Please leave the details of what's happening when it occurs. We can't replicate it here.

Some of the articles are formatted incorrectly in the top header. The like and send buttons with the Facebook icon sometimes appear in the middle of the line that separates the header from the article. And if friends have "liked" the article, then part of that line appears over the first line of text from the article.

We got that on the list. Thanks Rory.

Awesome job, guys. Keep up the good work! I know you'll eventually get all them bugs under control. Thanks to everyone for helping make the site better.

Scott Burkey Scott Burkey | May 30, 2011 10:12 AM

Hello Bill. I've been reading the Project for some time, but only today signed up as a member... which leads me to one of two Gremlins I think you've missed. One is your CAPTCHA device - nasty - I had to make three attempts to get registered because I couldn't read the CAPTCHA and there is no option to reset it. I'm not overly fond of the CAPTCHA device as its been repeatedly proven flawed and relatively easy to hack... just as Google.

Second, I was forced to make a new post when I attempted to respond to Jillian on the State Department response article. When I attempted to use the "reply" mechanism the text box became overlayed with your disclaimer and the preview/submit buttons disappeared. Same problem in both Firefox 4.0.1 and IE 7. Please tell me you weren't foolish enough to redesign the site with a Microsoft-centric third party app?

As a network administrator for a financial services company, I've fought tooth-n-nail against such practices. They are notorious for causing a world of hurt, and I've found them to be no more than a wobbly crutch for an IT department too lazy to learn solid HTML skills. Other than these, I haven't run into anything - but as any gremlin-fighter knows, gremlins are like cockroaches... you see one, you got a lot more.

Hey Scott. I'll look into the captcha and see if we can't swap it out for a different one. If I have to use a captcha, I prefer the one that shows you two words from book-to-online text personally.

I'll look into the text overlay of the comment box. I'm using Firefox 5.0.5 and it's not a problem for me.

A Microsoft app? With my Apple lovin' webmaster? Hardly. :)

When I click on your picture at the top of the page here, I get a PHP error.

Interface-wise... the contrast between the page background and the boxes is little enough that I actually thought the page was all white until I increased the contrast on my monitor.

Thanks Eddie. Added the author photo to the bug list. We just fixed that darn it. Fixing something else must have broken it again. Argh!

As for contrast, thanks for pointing that out. We're working with the CSS now to make it display more clearly from browser to browser.

Scott Burkey Scott Burkey | May 30, 2011 11:19 AM

I have another suggestion... look into updating the profile apparatus. It shouldn't be necessary to re-enter your password and recovery-phrase every time you wish to update the profile. The user is already signed in, and this redundancy is not only annoying, but invites the possibility of unintentionally changing a password. I've been through that mess innumerable times in my own IT department before we finally got the Web Admin to see the light and make the changes. grrrrrr!

Hey Scott. We built it so you would have to enter the password as a security feature. But the password recovery phrase? I'll check into that. It shouldn't be happening. We don't want you to have to reset the password, just confirm it for those who stay logged in.

On my Ipod Touch, 2nd gen, Op sys 3.?, the green text falls below the green line causing the first line of black text to be unreadable. This is on Safari for ipod touch.

Since this is the right place to do it Bil I would like you to put in a separate Transsexual from transgender in your transgender and intersexed category. Now I realize that some of the pro transgender people might take offense to this but really why should they? Seriously no one is telling them that can't identify as transgender. But by leaving off the Transsexual you are telling me I have to identify as Transgender I think for obvious reasons you should understand why that is objectionable. I believe that if you allow for a separate from transgender transsexual and some effort is made to accept the fact that some of us come hell or high water aren't going to accept the Transgender label a lot of the arguing would go away. We could then work on the issues we have in common and agree to disagree on the ones we don't.

amym440 I agree with you on that they Transsexual and Transgender need to be separated as they are very different, and until we start separating them anytime were talking or writing or referring to the two, were never going to be able to fully educate the general population on the differences between the two.

I also think it would be nice to have that little icon likle we had before that said "NEW" it may it easier when following a thread to known which post you've read and which ones you haven't. You could easily and quickly scroll and see if there were any new replies....I miss that

I just realized that you have forgone any tag line whatsoever under your site banner describing Bilerico. I think that's a mistake from a marketing perspective. I know when I go to a site I'm not familiar with (usually from a link), before I read it, I like to know where it's coming from. If it doesn't say, I may or may not read the link. But even if I do read it, I'm not likely to return to the site in the future on my own.

This comment has been deleted for violation of the Terms of Service.

While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

While your account was reactivated after your previous time-outs, we've turned it off for good after this comment. We don't want your constant slurs and trouble-making. We're over it. That's the good thing about starting out fresh, we can shape the site into something better - and your nasty taunts and trollish behavior doesn't help grow the site, it stunts it.

Jaime Dunaway Jaime Dunaway | May 31, 2011 12:14 PM

Other than the missing "New" thingy, everything is fine for me. I'm getting used to the layout now and it seems to work fine with IE again too.

I would like to re-point out from other postings, one of the bigger problems is that the indent for block-quoting things (both in articles and replies) is far less obvious than it used to be. Adding a thin-line box around quotes, or the old "quote mark" you had before, or anything really, would add to the readability significantly. It should be a pretty simple style sheet change. :)

Leigh Anne | May 31, 2011 3:07 PM

Thanks for all your hard work! It's working LOTS better (for me) than the old site!

Instead of noting any problems, I'd like to add a chuckle to my favorite comment from last week: Will somebody define gender?

I'd like to close my account with Bilerico after many years of contributing comments here I've decided to take my ideas outside the gay community into the mainstream media where they will be far more effective. I used to think The Bilerico Project was a place for those who thought outside the box but it seems now you've become the box.