Let’s Get It On

By Keith Kloor | February 4, 2013 12:45 pm

Okay, don’t get any wrong ideas here.

I am just trying to set the mood for the new commenting system that I know will make our conversations flow much better.

On the subject of comment threads, I suggest folks take a few minutes to read this excellent post by Bora Zivkovic, the blog maestro at Scientific American. He reminds us:

As many of you may already know, there is this thing called a 1-9-90 rule of online participation. In any given online community, about 1% of the participants produce most of the content, another 9% participate regularly by editing (e.g., on a wiki), commenting (on blogs and articles), occasionally producing new content (in forums, etc), and the remaining 90% are ‘lurkers’ who do not publicly participate but only read (though these days, many of them participate a little more publicly, if not creatively, by “Liking”, tweeting, and otherwise sharing the content in ways that are visible to others, but without adding any thoughts of their own). The exact proportions vary from site to site, but are usually close enough to 1-9-90 for the general rule to hold.

Now it so happens that there is a cross section of readers in the 9% who regularly participate in the comments section at this blog. Because people range across the ideological spectrum, sometimes the conversation can get a little testy. I’m just as guilty as anyone. But by and large, I think we manage to keep it civil enough to keep the conversation going with a decent signal to noise ratio. Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

Now that the new commenting software is implemented, which I like very much, I’ll be much more hands-on as both participant and moderator. I can’t promise you that this will always play out to your satisfaction or in as timely a manner as you would like, but you can be sure that I will be engaged.

Thank you for being a reader, for keeping me on my toes, and for helping to make Collide-a-Scape a lively place to debate science and environmental issues. Now, back to the conversation…

UPDATE: All the comments for previous posts will be migrated over in the next 24-48 hours.

  • Joshua

    Just because I want to test out the nice addition of a comment counter (although it would be nice to see that counter on the front page).

    No formatting buttons? No ability to review posts?

    So let’s check out the ability to upload images (this is one of the images I got when I Googled Keith Kloor:

  • kkloor

    Well, Joshua, I suppose there’s always going to be some limitations. I’m happy with the upgrade.

  • Joshua

    Just giving you a hard time, Keith. And the ability to upload images offers great potential!

  • Joshua

    Interesting that the sequence of the posts doesn’t follow the sequence in which they were posted – perhaps because you will always show up as the top dog?

  • Nullius in Verba

    Hmm. I’m still trying to work out what the differences are.

    The threads are nested. That can be both good and bad – you can keep conversations separate to some degree, but it’s harder to locate the tail end of them, and they can still get fragmented when people use them intermittently.

    Comments can be ordered up, down, or by being voted up or down. And votes are the default. I’ve seen that before and I usually find it confusing, as conversations get jumbled out of order, and there is usually a limited depth to reply trees.

    There are permalinks, although it’s not obvious where they are.

    You get told of comments that go up as you type. That one’s good

    There’s some sort of automatic formatting thingy that inserts extra linebreaks for paragraphs as you type. The editor does seem a little less flaky so far.

    Yes, there’s an image upload button. I’ll have to give that a go some time.

    There’s still no number of comments on the front page. For me that’s the worst remaining issue.

    It still gives time since last comment instead of time of last comment, although the time zone thing seems to be fixed.

    So far, it hasn’t asked if I want to ‘Load more comments’. We’ll have to see if there’s still a limit.

    It’s a bit too early to tell yet. But I will be interested to see how the more hands-on Keith will work out. I was slightly alarmed at the link to Bora’s excuse-making for having cut a comment simply for linking to WUWT. He says it’s not about deleting opinions he doesn’t agree with, but it is. People stuck in one world-view do genuinely see it that way, though. It’s a fugitive and cloistered virtue, though.

    • Joshua

      Comments can be ordered up, down, or by being voted up or down

      That’s interesting. So that explains why Keith’s is at the top out of sequence. But I just found that I can vote for my own comments. hmmm. Not sure how well that’s going to work… for obvious reasons.

  • kkloor

    I asked to have it set up so the latest comment always shows up. We’re still working out the kinks and probably will for the next few days.

    • Nullius in Verba

      No doubt. Although I hope it won’t be the end of the development. I’m not complaining, just giving feedback.

      Usually, what I want to know is if comments have been posted since I last looked, and to find them quickly. Sometimes I want to read a comment thread from start to end, in order.

      Front-page ‘numbers of comments’ do the first – you just have to remember what the totals were last time you looked. With all comments in time-order the second is fairly easy – just scroll down until they stop looking familiar. And for reading a whole thread it’s easiest top to bottom.

      But without front page totals, you have to go into each page to check, and with the nested comments you have to scan every sub-thread more carefully.

      It seems designed for a different social paradigm – one where people don’t have conversations, but all make one-deep comments on the main post and maybe the odd response to a comment. It’s less interactive than what we usually have here, although perhaps more typical of big media comments. Thinking about Bora’s comments on community style – I wonder how much of it is affected by the comment interface?

  • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

    Hmm. My comment vanished. I’m taking that personally.

    Eh, not really.

    But I am going to test something:

    does this blockquote?

    • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

      Ooh. It did. Now let’s try italics and bold.

      • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

        Hot damn. Do I dare hope for superscripts? Nope.

        I did get strikethrough though.

        Can I have a squared²?

        • http://twitter.com/mem_somerville mem_somerville

          Ah, finally found the page at disqus. And now I can do this too.

  • harrywr2

    Just to test thread hi-jacking -

    We have Monbiot mourning the near death of nuclear power in the UK today…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/04/end-of-nuclear-careful-what-you-wish-for

    Is this the end? According to the Green MP Caroline Lucas, new nuclear power in this country has been “completely derailed”. She may not be wrong.

    And then the Chinese…celebrating all the profits they are going to make peddling nuclear power to the world…

    http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2013/02/05/china-planning-exports-of-cap1400-reactor-based-on-westinghouse-ap1000-030502.aspx

    By the end of the year, Chinese companies will begin international marketing of a 1,400 megawatt power reactor based largely on the Westinghouse AP1000.

    Can someone please make a list of what ‘won’t’ end up being made in China?

  • Nullius in Verba

    That was impressively fast!

    My thanks to the coders.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eli-Rabett/1444417779 Eli Rabett

    Eli eagerly looks forward to more slow walking toward Gomorrah

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Collide-a-Scape

Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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