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Flutterby design

2005-12-23 21:01:42.900338+00 by Dan Lyke 18 comments

With other contributors piping in more, and the thought of taking advertising, I once again need to tackle that prickly issue of design. And even back in the first days of a few other contributors (that'd be, what, half a decade ago?) I got some "I'd like to be able to filter just to you" feedback, whereas I'm happy to get other contributors 'cause I want this to be my favorite web page.

So I've been thinking about ways to:

  • Present longer articles better. Maybe with a teaser, maybe with a click/cut.
  • Look at topics & classifications: Don't want to filter on the whole darned (and rather nebulous) current topic system, but a way to filter by contributor and by gross topic (ie: food, tech, freedom & politics, sexual culture, erotic stuff, outdoors) might be nice.
  • Integrate advertising.

If anyone has favorite sites with interesting layouts, I'd love to get ideas.

[ related topics: Flutterby Meta Consumerism and advertising Graphic Design ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-24 09:40:26.197423+00 by: meuon

"longer articles better" might equal the first paragraph, with a [more] button ala Slashdot and every other site in existence.. which provides more advertisement impression opportunities trying to gather those sticky eyeballs for vertical upsale opportunities for broader advertising revenue generation. Oh. Yeah. English: More ads per visitor.

But I'm not sure it would improve Flutterby. Flutterby is wonderfully 'old school', content is King, minimal formatting.. etc.. but it might. There are a million "high style" blogs out there. But even the basic formatting in BackupBrain.com makes it hard to read (especially the background image), and I find it amazing how well trained my brain is at ignoring the advert space on it, and everywhere else. It also seems to skim/ignore similiarly formatted space on most web sites..

It sounds like you are moving more towards the CMS I started for a sports site, and is now sitting stale and fallow at: ChattMetro.Net as a 'community news/blog site' under construction. Which, if I ever get bored, I need to flush and start over.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-24 13:49:30.421809+00 by: ziffle

I was just wondering why the text goes under the right hand side making some of the text unreadable? IE

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-24 16:34:53.112566+00 by: markd

Being the true retrogrouch that I am, I love it the way it is.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-24 18:32:08.641906+00 by: Dan Lyke

Ziffle: Yeah, IE is broken in so many ways, and you shouldn't be using it anyway for security reasons, that I've never bothered to go back and try to figure out why, at some widths, it ignores the margins by quite a few pixels. Last time I looked at this stuff I think I came to the conclusion that if I was going to keep things maintainable on the back end I needed to make a system to serve different stylesheets per browser.

Meuon and Markd: Still want to keep it fairly plain, I got enough howls of protest last time I tried to gussy it up that... well, that ain't going to happen again.

I guess it's just "evolve it and listen to the complaints"...

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-26 00:21:00.459891+00 by: Dori

But even the basic formatting in BackupBrain.com makes it hard to read (especially the background image)

I probably ought to just take this over to my place, but can you tell me more? What browser/platform/ version are you using? Would just adding a cookie to the "Show background image" checkbox give you most of what you want?

I've gotten to the point where I assume anyone reading it regularly is just looking at the RSS feed that I don't worry much about the Web site itself anymore. And I probably should.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-26 01:57:28.979504+00 by: Dan Lyke

Given the resounding silence I've heard last few times I've asked about syndication issues, or seen when syndication breaks, I'm pretty sure that while we're all blowing a lot of bandwidth on RSS, nobody's actually reading it that way.

I get far more complaints about missing services when NNTP goes down or misbehaves.

Even if I've got readers on RSS, I don't think many of 'em participate in the comment threads so, yeah, I'd be far more concerned about what your web page looks like than whether your RSS is working.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-26 02:26:47.026822+00 by: aiworks

Now hold on there regarding RSS...

I'm asking the site through the Google home page RSS reader. I guess it's hard to gauge; one hit from Google could be A LOT of people behind it.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-26 23:04:09.030482+00 by: Dori

nobody's actually reading it that way.

Well, I am. In fact, I wish I could read your comments via RSS.

If you ever have any syndication issues that I could help with, just ask.

#Comment Re: [Entry #8474] Re: made: 2005-12-26 23:31:02.385671+00 by: Unknown, from NNTP

Dori <prefersanonymity_79@flutterby.com> writes:

>    nobody's actually reading it that way.
>    Well, I am. In fact, I wish I could read your comments via RSS.

Yeah, I am too -- blog posts via RSS or NNTP, depending on where I see them first, and comments via NNTP. I have my doubts about how representative I am, however.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-27 17:18:33.956898+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

I read *everything* through RSS any more. For awhile Flutterby was the only exception because I wanted to be able to keep up with the comments, but eventually even that became too time consuming. (I touch base with comments here and there, but I haven't been reading every post to every thread.)

I don't remember why I stopped using NNTP - I liked the idea of that option at least. I should probably give it another shot, now that I've settled on a NNTP client.

I'm using Mozilla Thunderbird for both.

To what syndication issues and brokeness are you referring? I don't recall seeing anything along these lines.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-27 19:13:20.32391+00 by: Dan Lyke

So for comments via RSS: Would you like to subscribe to a feed per thread, or have a latest comments feed, or what?

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-27 20:26:51.288296+00 by: Shawn

I'm not sure. I've thought about it off and on and typically wind up coming to the conclusion that comments are just something that doesn't translate well to RSS. More likely, however, is that I just can't envision the solution.

Flutterby is the only blog where I follow the comments, so I can't point and say "like them" either.

That said, of the two options you present, I think I'd rather have a single (latest comments) subscription than one for every thread.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-27 22:41:01.349991+00 by: Dori

I'm not quite sure how Liz Lawley does her magic RSS 2.0 Full- Text + Comments feed, but it works perfectly for me in NNW.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-29 02:16:31.246723+00 by: Dan Lyke

Dori, what happens with her feed when a comment is added to an entry, especially one that's old?

I think I could set up a feed that just had the last 15 entries with the comments appended, but it seems like sometimes the active discussions end up being more than 15 entries old.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-29 09:15:49.870082+00 by: topspin

Dan, I'm experimenting with Sage with Firefox at work because of dial-up, but I still prefer to read via the web, for now. In the end, RSS or nntp will probably become more useful to me. The text + comments feed works in Sage and is quite sweet, IMO.

As for the "last 15 entries with comments appended" situation, would it be possible to allow a "hot thread" (X comments in the past 24hrs or whatever test seems appropriate to you) to live in syndication longer or return? That way a "revived" thread could "reappear" in syndication, if that's programmably possible, and a "live" thread wouldn't "scroll off" of the last 15 list. My Postgres/comment parsing/feed knowledge is less than zero so this might be incredibly outlandish to even suggest.

On the bandwidth issue, isn't real nntp FAR less bandwidth intensive than RSS for the weblog, if configured correctly? Is there some REAL reason why everyone leans to RSS and not toward real nntp syndication or was RSS just "firstest with the mostest" applications?

Further (and this is speculation and suggestion WAAAAAAY outta my league,) it seems the time is ripe for something "MIMEY" allowing nntp to stretch further and deal with weblog content/formatting efficently. I don't understand enough (and reading RFCs about MIME will give one a headache) to know whether MIME tweaking would work, but it seems "mixed content" handling is where weblog content in nntp needs attention. Again, I might be past left field in the far corner of the bullpen by even suggesting such.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-29 17:52:18.523919+00 by: Dan Lyke

It's not going to happen before the end of the weekend, but I think it'd be relatively easy to create a feed that was something like the "most recent comments" on the right hand side there. And I'll have to see about a "mainlonglong.rdf" that adds the comments to the full-text.

Aaand, if you read the NNTP[Wiki] feed with an HTML[Wiki] capable newsreader, you get links and everything.

As to why RSS[Wiki] beat NNTP[Wiki]? Lots of reasons, mostly that any fool could publish RSS[Wiki], whereas NNTP[Wiki] requires a little technical skill and forethought. Also that NNTP[Wiki] asks the user to do more configuration, where you could build a simple interface to RSS[Wiki] as a web app.

And that various weblogging luminaries pushed RSS[Wiki] hard and didn't acknowledge the existence of NNTP[Wiki]. Snide comments about that combined with the previous mention of "technical skill and forethought" are left as an exercise to the reader [grin].

#Comment Re: made: 2005-12-30 00:45:26.378158+00 by: Dori

Dori, what happens with her feed when a comment is added to an entry, especially one that's old?

I just know about what I'm seeing in NNW; I can't say what's happening internally in the RSS itself without delving deeper into it than I have time for at the moment.

What NNW shows me is the entire thread each time a new comment is added -- but the new comment shows as changed, and everything else shows as unchanged. So it's easy for me to see whether a comment has been added or changed, or several comments have been added, or the original has been edited, or whatever.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-01-03 19:09:05.808318+00 by: baylink

I've been looking into extending MediaWiki for blogging; it seems like it oughtn't be too hard to extend the DynamicPageList2 extension for it.

And it would certainly give permalinking a whole new meaning.

The only thing that looks difficult at the moment is photo gallerying.