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Reader Poll

OK, I'm not actually going to bother to set up a reader poll. Just comment here. The issue is blog format on the main page (and perhaps archive pages as well).

When I moved to the new blogging platform, the default for things like permalink, author, comments, trackback, categories, etc., was to put it at the top, right after the post title. I had it there for a while, but a few days ago, I moved it back down to the bottom of the post, where it had been for the previous six years. Does anyone have any strong feelings about it one way or the other? My thinking was that it was a cleaner post the way it always was--title, then post, then other stuff. But if people are reading and only interested in space posts, or political posts, it might be better to tell them up front (and also tell them how many have commented on it).

I guess the question is, how much information do folks want before bothering to read the post (assuming it's a long enough one for it to matter), and does that desire override the aesthetics of not interrupting the flow between title and text? And (of course) are there other issues that I haven't considered?

[Update in the late evening]

Folks, I know it's frustrating, but this is not the post in which to complain that my blog comments section crashes browsers.

First of all, it doesn't crash browsers (AFAIK). It merely times out. It always times out, whether by posting comments or posting or updating posts. That's the nature of the beast as a result of the "upgrade" to MT 4.0.

I am most painfully aware of it. That's why I warn people before they post comments about it. I'm working on it, but I don't know enough about MT to fix it, and I haven't gotten any offers from anyone who does to help.

My current thinking is that I'll put author and category at the top, because those are the things that people would like to know as an input to their evaluation as to whether to read or not. The other things (comments, trackback, Digg, Technorati, etc.) will go at the bottom, because those are things that one wants to deal with after reading the post.

Any major objections?

[Update on Saturday morning]

As to the IE6 crashing problem, I have no idea what to do about that short of not providing a link to Amazon. I'm reluctant to do that, because it's one of the few sources of income that I get to support this blog. If someone can look at the code and tell me if there's something I can fix that still allows it to work, I'll be happy to do that.

[Early afternoon update]

OK, per some good suggestions in comments, I'm going with author, date and categories at the top, so people can judge whether or not they want to read it. I'll do permalinks, comments, trackbacks and referrals at the bottom.

Still working some of the other issues.

[Late afternoon update]

For what it's worth, I just tried with IE 6.0.2800.1106, and have no problems. No crashing, and it takes me to Amazon. So there's something else going on than just IE6.


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Mark wrote:

having the stuff at the top was distinctly ODD.
Leave it at the bottom

Kathy Rages wrote:

Second the motion. I was distinctly annoyed when the comments link was at the top. I don't even know if I want to look at the comments until I've read the blog entry.

Jonathan wrote:

Leave everything as it is AND add the author's name at the top.

Rick C wrote:

I wouldn't mind having the category at the top, although I don't have a strong opinion either way. I prefer the rest at the bottom.

If you can find a way to put (for non-main-page posts) a second set of next/prev links on the bottom below the comment form, that'd be cool, too. (I've been using my pocket pc phone to read blogs lately, and this helps navigation, because then I don't have to scroll back to the top of the post after reading it and the comments.

Dave G wrote:

My vote is for category(ies) at the top, rest of the stuff down below.

Thanks for asking!

Paul Breed wrote:

Stuff at the bottom,
author at the top, category : I don't care.

My pet peeve is that all of your link colors changed and
it went from a southing blue or green tinge to and angry red tinge.

Ed Minchau wrote:

I'd just be happy if your site didn't crash internet explorer 6. I don't care if IE6 isn't a "real" browser" - it is the most-used browser in the world, which makes it the de facto standard no matter what the W3C says.

Bill Peschel wrote:

I don't use anything except the comment link, and have never searched a site by category. If the writer's good, I'llread everything.

That said, I prefer everything at the bottom. That seems to be the standard everywhere, and looks cleaner.

Steve wrote:

I like the bottom setup better, But following Ed's line, I'm having a crash out at every comment. That's using IE6, IE7, FireFox 2.0.1.??? and that new Beta 3. I even tried commenting from a different computer, on a different router, no matter what I do it goes to a page that says,
Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request

But when I check, the comment always gets posted. Go figure..

Brock wrote:

I prefer author at top, rest at bottom.

ArtD0dger wrote:

Items that frame the context of the post -- title, author, date, and category -- are helpful up front. Comments, talk backs, and social links are more natural at the end.

Longer posts that look interesting get put in my 'to read' queue, and some of them wind up as text-to-speech mp3s that I listen to in the car. In this case, it's extremely helpful to have framing information up front so you're not just launching into context-less prose when a new track starts. I'll bet disabled people who always rely on special tools wish all content was organized like this.

Ed Minchau wrote:

Rand, I'm not talking about the well-known comment bug. I am talking about your site itself. Ever since you put the Amazon thing at the top of the page, your site crashes IE6. I have to use Firefox to view your site; however I normally use IE6 for everything. If I'm in Bloglines and see something interesting that you wrote, I can't follow the link to your site, I have to open Firefox instead. I'm sure I'm not the only one having this PITA.

K wrote:

I'd like to see more pictures of hot babes and cool machinary like Rocket ships, Tanks and stuff.

Men do not live by words alone.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

Lol K ^_^

I agree with ArtD0dger on the layout.

David Summers wrote:

Just three comments:

1) Can you please make the "comments" link open a new browser like your other links do? I loved that feature of the old site! (I think you once said it was impossible, but surely that just means it takes longer!)

2) I don't have IE6 to test with, but the Amazon link currently is:

a) The map is being declared after it is used - technically it should be declared first. Shouldn't really matter, but this is IE we are talking about...

b) This could be simplified to avoid the map, since that is probably what is crashing IE - just use an link:

3) I wish I could help with the locking up browser issue... perhaps we could talk at Space Access if it isn't fixed by then. I don't use MT but I do a lot of web development - I think the most likely scenario is that the process that is posting the page starts, stores the data in the database, and then crashes while building the results page. My first thought is a permissions issue - can the web server not see something that it needs to build the page (probably a program, not data). Perhaps that could be tested by turning off everything that can be turned off on the comments post complete page?

Probably none of this helps, but at least I tried!

Anonymous wrote:

Can you please make the "comments" link open a new browser like your other links do? I loved that feature of the old site! (I think you once said it was impossible, but surely that just means it takes longer!)

I can probably do that. What I can't do (without major Perl code hacking that I don't have time for) is to make it appear in a pop-up window as it did before. But I can have it open a new tab or browser.

I don't think that it crashes while building the page, because it seems to build the page all right. It's crashing during some other post-build operation (perhaps email notification, because I'm not getting emails for approved posts).

Jason Bontrager wrote:

I like the links at the bottom of the post. As you say, it's cleaner that way.

I also liked the beige/off-yellow/parchment background of the old site better than the ultra-pure white thing you've got going now. The current set-up is kinda painful to look at.

Phil Fraering wrote:

I'd prefer all the links and catergories at the bottom, I think it's a better and cleaner layout too.

Are you taking advice on other matters related to the layout of your weblog?

Ed Minchau wrote:

Maybe it's a quirk of my computer then. Is anyone else having the problem I had with this site crashing IE6?

Anonymous wrote:

Maybe it's a quirk of my computer then. Is anyone else having the problem I had with this site crashing IE6?

Well, it's hard to believe that Amazon would put out a piece of code for their associates that would crash Internet Explorer, or if so, that they would leave it unfixed for long and not tell us to update it. I would think that there would have been some phone calls between Redmond and Seattle, at a minimum. It would probably have also made the news.

Try copying the page to a local file, deleting what you think is the offending code, and then reloading it from the edited local file, and see if you still have the problem. If not, then it's something else on my page that's crashing your browser (not that I have any idea what it would be). Since I'm not having the problem, there's no way for me to troubleshoot it for you.

Sean wrote:

I like the update to the main page, with Post title, date, author and category. Though I usually get here via RSS feed, so I mostly hit the archive pages.

My top feature request would be add category to the RSS feed so it could be filtered easier. Or separate RSS feeds by category.

Oh, and I like my free ice cream to be pistachio.

Stewart wrote:

I have to say I liked the pop-up window for comments too.It seemed more efficient for posts that only had a few comments, and the main page was on screen beneath it, so you didn't have to reload the page.

ArtD0dger wrote:

Another thought: I'm glad you've resisted the trend towards "below the fold" blogging. This is a pet peeve, and I actually find myself visiting blogs less after they adopt it. It mirrors the annoying MSM trend of doling out every article in the smallest possible increment ("click here for next word" can't be far...). I think they're trying to turn us all into lip-reading dullards.

Steve wrote:

Gad Zooks!! That's much easier on the eye.

Mac wrote:

I use IE6, never had a problem viewing the site. Of course, I have to use the back button after posting, because the site never seems to complete that step correctly.

Bryan Lovely wrote:

A note about the overall design:

Body text is in Trebuchet; post titles are in Verdana; links are in Arial. Each of these is a perfectly good font, but together they sort of jar the eye.

Personally, I'd choose Trebuchet for everything.

Gene Hatch wrote:

I vote for title, author, date and time at the top, everything else at the bottom. It's not a big deal though.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on February 22, 2008 3:23 PM.

Mystery "Solved" was the previous entry in this blog.

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