October 2, 2005

Three Minor Conveniences

Hatched by Dafydd

It suddenly occurs to me that readers here may not be aware of some of the conveniences I built into Big Lizards (mostly because of my own irritation at the inconveniences I found in other blogs). Let me mention three and a half of them.

First, if you're like me, you try to read blogs in chronological order of posting. When I go to Power Line, Captain's Quarters, or Patterico's Pontifications in the afternoon, the first thing I do is scroll downward until I see the last post I read the previous day. The post directly above that is, of course, the first post I haven't read yet.

I scroll to the top of that post, then read it all the way to its bottom. But now, to read the next post, I must scroll up again to the top of the post I just read, then past it to the top of the next post above it. That's the part I find irritating: staring at the screen while I scroll often gives me a headache, which doesn't improve my mood, already grouchy from having just awakened.

Big Lizards Convenience Number One: On this blog, you may have noticed that at the bottom of every post (except the top one, of course) is a link titled "Lizard-leap to the head of the next scroll, o wise!" If you click that link, you will magically be transported to the top of the post right above the post you just finished reading... that is, the link skips all that scrolling, letting you read the next post immediately, shortening the time you're forced to spend on this furshlugginer blog.

Had anybody noticed this before? I don't think I've seen it in any other blog, but it's really easy to do in Movable Type. I had to ask someone who knew what he was doing to tell me how to do it; but the actual coding was easy. It's probably equally easy in other blogging software.

I wish all blogs would put such a button in. I hate scrolling.

The next one is so simple, I'm amazed nobody else seems to do it. Maybe people get annoyed by it; I don't know.

When I first start reading a blogpost on a multi-author blog (like this one, or like Power Line), I like to know right away who wrote the particular post. It annoys me when the name isn't right there at the top -- as it isn't on Power Line. Now, I know those three chaps' writing styles, so I can usually figure out who wrote a particular post after a paragraph or two. But not always; and I hate scrolling down to the bottom to find out, then scrolling back up to the top to commence reading (see above).

But on the other hand, if a post is long, and if the name of the author is up at the top near the title, it's not uncommon that the substance of the post drives) the author's name out of my miniscule, reptillian brain (about the size of a grain of rice) by the time I finish reading. Then I have to scroll up to the top to remind myself who wrote it. (As you've probably deduced by now, I'm annoyed by far too many little, petty things.)

Big Lizards Convenience Number Two: On this blog, therefore, the author's name is both at the top and the bottom. Simplicity itself. It's not because we're egoists -- though I don't deny the charge -- but for convenience's sake.

Finally, try this experiment on Captain's Quarters: go to the blog; slide the slidebar about two-thirds down; scroll down until you can see the bottom of a post. Note the permalink and what it says: it tells you the time of posting, called the "timestamp."

All right, Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants... now tell me what date that post was put up! Uh-huh; you have to (sigh) scroll up -- and up -- and up, and up, and up until you finally get to a date header: September 30th, when I tried it just now. Yeesh!

Big Lizards Convenience Number Three: The permalink for every post on Big Lizards shows both the timestamp and the datestamp. Now, if you read a post here about a fast-breaking story, and the post seems hopelessly out of date, you can look at the permalink and say "oh, for Pete's sake, these scaley idiots wrote this two days ago!" Then you can roll your eyes in exasperation at lizardly laggardliness.

(A convenience I tossed in that doesn't really merit its own number is that all the categories attached to a post are listed and linked right beneath the post title; so if you're interested in the subject, and you want to search for other posts that might discuss that same subject, you can just click on one or more of the listed categories and be taken to that category's archive.)

Since I do all the XHTML programming on this site myself (being a skinflint), if any of you has a suggestion for other conveniences, please let me know in the comments. If it seems useful, and if I can figure out how to do it, I'll give it a shot.

And thanks!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 2, 2005, at the time of 2:47 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Teafran

It's interesting to me that you would want to know who has written a piece before reading it - at least that's what I think you inferred.

In any case, when I read a blog, the latest post is the one that shows up on top of the screen. I just scroll down keep reading until I find the last post I've read. Why bother to figure out who wrote it - the information, data and article is what is important, not who wrote it.

The above hissed in response by: Teafran [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2005 3:53 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


It colors how I take the post, knowing who wrote it. For example, suppose Patterico and I were writing on the same blog; and suppose one of us said it was terrible how the California legislature tried to cram same-sex marriage down our throats.

I oppose SSM; Patterico supports it. Doesn't it make a difference who posts the comment opposing the actions of the legislature? If it was I, you can dismiss it as the annoyance of a person who already opposes that policy. But if Patterico wrote it (which he did on his blog), you might pay more attention... because he supports SSM, yet even he was angry that the leg tried to do an end-run around the initiative that banned it here, Proposition 22.

Yes, it makes a difference to me who writes a post.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2005 4:16 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Schumm

Great moves all, Dafydd. I applaud your attempt to eliminate the little irritations. My bugaboo has always been the reverse order of posting. Of course, it can't be otherwise but your adjustment is a big help. Thanks.
Bill Schumm
Falmouth, Va.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Schumm [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2005 4:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: Teafran

To me, it's more important to understand what you and Patterico wrote and why you argue for or against - I may want to take a position and want to stay informed.

Casually dismissing you or Patterico because I, in theory, already "know" what the position is seems to me to be rather arrogant and dismissive of other view points or opinions.

The reason I read your opinions is because I want to know what you think and how you argue your POV. At the same time, I want to know how the Kosacks react, Patterico, etc.

I can have my own POV which may be the polar opposite of yours, for instance, but that doesn't mean that I can dismiss out of hand your opinion - I might have missed a point or angle that I hadn't considered.

The above hissed in response by: Teafran [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 2, 2005 6:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: TVMANIAC

Did notice the "post jump." Thanks, it helps.

The above hissed in response by: TVMANIAC [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2005 1:48 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

I noticed Convenience #1 on my first visit to your site, and it's much appreciated. I hadn't noticed Convenience #2 till you mentioned it but I agree with your reasoning and I'm glad to see you do what you're doing. (Polipundit, I hope you read this post.) The other two are things I've been doing on my TypePad blog from the day I started it -- I'm guessing they aren't too hard to do in Movable Type either -- and I wish more bloggers would pick up on. I've been a daily vistor to your site since the day Captain Ed announced it was here, and I'll continue to be.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2005 3:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: Wiz

I noticed the "Lizard Leap" the first day I looked at the blog, and thought about commenting on how nice it was. The comments were already pretty extended on that day, though, and dealt with different topics, and I never got around to mentioning it. It's a great feature, and much appreciated.

I'd love to see this on a number of other blogs, as well, especially ones that, like you, have long essays, or ones that (like radioblogger) post long transcripts.

The above hissed in response by: Wiz [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 4, 2005 8:05 AM

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