WordPress upgrade for Dangerous Intersection

February 12, 2008 | By | 12 Replies More

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Bear with us as we improve this site. I realize that the comments function was not working this morning. That has now been fixed. Also, posting capacity was down for awhile. Those problems have been ironed out.

We’re making lots of changes here, most of them to the backside of the site. These changes (I am told by Nick Smith, our website designer) will make our site faster and easier to use. Last night, Nick upgraded this site to the newest version of WordPress, adding dozens of new plug-ins. We now have the capacity for podcasting and we will soon have the capacity to host our own videos.  We are considering numerous other changes that will improve navigation.

There are a few features that will appear (and, perhaps, disappear) on the home page in the next couple of days. We are trying out a few things and mulling them over.

If anyone has any comments on the usability or technical issues with this site, I would really appreciate your feedback, so we can address the situation.

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Category: Technology, Web Site

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (12)

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  1. I love new gimmicks. 🙂

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    The first 4 words of related posts eats too much space on the front page.

    I'd be happy to have the related posts and their first several words on the Permalink (full post) pages.

    How about the author pictures on the Permalink pages? On the author bios?

  3. I want to keep the old banner image, it's less obtrusive than this one with the big url. And could we consider giving up moderating the comments? It would make the ongoing discussions a bit more dynamic. Maybe we would get a bit more spam here or there and some comments might be out of line, but these could be easily reported and in general I think the benefits outweigh the negative.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Proj: Nick wasn't considering a new banner image. We just stuck that image in this post to alert people that we were having some technical issues.

    On the comments: I rarely disallow a comment. This blog has been running for almost 2 years. We've received almost 8,000 legitimate comments (not spam). I would bet that I've disallowed maybe twenty, certainly no more than 50 comments during the life of the blog. Those disallowed comments constituted personal attacks, salacious comments and a few dissertations that people slapped in, long meandering works that were obviously written before the post existed. Several of those were disallowed only after one of more co-authors questioned them (after they were initially posted). Therefore, we are posting almost all of the comments we receive.

    I'd bet you'd be surprised to learn that our new anti-spam program (installed a month ago) has already snagged 6,000 spams. How many advertisements for Viagra would you like posted in our comments?

  5. Vicki Baker says:

    But Erich, that's what the anti-spam program is for – it catches those Viagra ads so they don't get posted. If you've only manually disallowed 20-50 comments and are posting almost all the comments you receive that aren't automatically caught by the spam filter, why not go ahead and dispense with moderating?

    I agree with PL that it might make discussions more dynamic.

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Vicki: I believe that I need to continue moderating comments because:

    1. The spam filters don't actually catch all the spam. There are probably about 30 spams that slip through the filters every month. I manually kick those out.

    2. The non-spam comments I've booted have sometimes been rejected because they were not on-point, they constituted personal attacks or they were arguably slanderous (and I don't want to be sued–see here for some basics on defamation law). Also, some of those rejected comments have been long meandering usually incoherent diatribes that, I guarantee, no one at this site would take the time to read.

    3. The things I've kicked out have not been close calls at all. Anyone earnestly trying to comment on a post has seen their comment published here.

    4. Where the comment is earnest, but contains something inappropriate (a personal attack, for instance), I've edited out the personal attack or I've sent it back to the commenter for a self-edit, promising to publish it, if corrected according to the comment policy.

    5. Call me a prude, but I've sometimes (maybe another 50 times, total) clipped out offensive language. I know for a fact that some children visit this blog. I can assure you, though, that words like "damn," "crap," "shit," "piss" and "fuck" don't offend me. I don't think that reading such words harms children either. But excessive use of such words can annoy readers and detract from the content of the comment. The test for me is whether the commenter is earnestly responding to the post rather than trying to draw attention to himself/herself through the use of coarse language.

    You might think that 50-100 inappropriate comments coming through would open things up for the better, but I believe that those sorts of comments can also set an inappropriate tone for other commenters. I think that 50-100 rejected non-spam comments out of 8,000 is already wide-open.

  7. I didn't say that you censor too much, Erich, but I do think that having comments appear in real time without delay will create more dynamic discussions. Compare snailmail and email. Of course you can converse with someone via regular letters, but most people probably prefer more immediate interactions, it would not always be possible here as people are not always online at the same time, but if given a choice, I assume that most will choose the quicker option. It's just something you might want to consider in respect to gaining more traffic – more real time interaction, more people who want to participate. On the other hand a blog that is fairly safe for kids to read or where comments stay on topic might also be something that a lot of people appreciate.

  8. Dan Klarmann says:

    Speaking of the eff word, some filter programs and filtered site searches might block the entire site if it finds the word too often here.

    Presently, I find it only 4 times in our responses, and once in a Word file, but what is the cut-off?

    I remember the hoo-rah over libraries blocking access to Superbowl 30 sites ("Superbowl XXX"), not to mention Dick van Dyke fan pages, because of their subscription filtering programs back in the 1990's.

    The DI spam filter is a very new addition, and needs to be broken in, taught. (As in teaching, not tightness). Eventually Erich may trust it, and scan new posts after they immediately go live rather than pre-approving them.

    I am privy to the editing process here. Erich has been doing a banner job of manually blocking spam responses. These guys are clever. I see many responses fool the filters and get into Erich's response queue. Only once did I catch him promoting a spam response. One that almost could be read as being related to the post itself (except for the link to a paid links page). Erich is not counting all of these denied spams in his "denied" count.

    Meanwhile, let's remember that this is a letter forum, not a chat room.

  9. Lax moderation is the death of a forum. I have had personal experience with good people being driven off of forums where anything goes, leaving only adolescent trolls seeking "melt-downs" and LOLZ.

    This is a tough call because we who regularly visit here generally tend to be the kind who want to limit censorship, yet someone must take responsibility for seeing that the purpose of a forum remains focused.

  10. Nobody was against moderation. Despite my desperate attempts to show people the sweet me I piss people off quite often and their replies are usually not nice. The fun stops for me when people start calling names, no, actually I draw the line when people become passive-aggressive or make insinuations, I'm somewhat sensitive about this stuff, so I usually do appreciate intervention through moderators. It gives these people a very clear signal about what is considered appropriate and what not, nevertheless I prefer post-comment moderation, not before (and I know plenty of blogs where people write about very controversial topics).

    And anyway, Vicki is on my side, that's all that counts, guys. 😀

  11. Vicki Baker says:

    Hey, I think Erich is doing a great job too, and my point is simply the same as PL's – you can moderate after the fact. (Great minds think alike, no? :D) I'm not for anything goes and no holds barred. If holding the comments is what works for our gracious host, then don't mess with it.

  12. I'd like to be able to change my avatar myself. Would that be possible to set up, too?

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