Balloon Juice Site Rebuild – Sneak Peek #2

Update at 11:15

Public Service Announcement:  Due to popular UN-demand, the front page mockup displayed in this post has been cancelled.

We will not be going with the front page design in the mockup below.  Carry on.

Original Post:

Hey, everyone. WaterGirl here with a bit more information and another mockup for you from the site rebuild. Yesterday we looked at a mockup of a single thread with comments. Today is a mockup of the front page.

In case you missed yesterday’s thread, it’s called:

Balloon Juice Site Rebuild – Sneak Peek

I explained a bit about the process in Sundays site rebuild thread, so I won’t repeat myself here except to say that we’re going for here is streamlined and zippy, not flashy with a lot of bells and whistles. We still want it to feel like home, and we’re kind of excited about how it is shaping up. This is your second chance to see what it looks like so far and let us know how you feel about the design.

We are nearing the end of the design and mockup phase and we will likely be moving on to development on Wednesday. Once the programming begins, there’s not a lot of room for adding functionality or changing the look, the fonts, the overall design, etc. So this is your chance to share your thoughts in a way that could influence the outcome is right now, over the next couple of days, not once development starts or when the site goes live.

There were four basic choices for the front page:

1) what we have now on BJ, where the whole page and all the images display no matter how long the post is and how many images there are.

2) titles and one large featured image (regardless of how many images or twitter comments are in the post) and 5-7 lines of text from the post.

3) titles and 5-7 lines of text from the post, but no images, with several multiple posts appearing on the screen.

4) titles and 5-7 lines of text from the post and a thumbnail image, with several multiple posts appearing on the screen.

We saw mockups of all of them, and the site rebuild is moving forward door #4. Some things have already changed from the front page mockup below, but this should give you a rough idea of what it will look like.

What I wrote yesterday still holds:

So jump in and tell us what you really think, and don’t worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Oh, wait, this is Balloon Juice, never mind, I’m pretty sure that last part goes without saying. If you prefer to share your thoughts privately, you can send email to BJfestivus at that google mail place. Whichever way you share your thoughts, I promise we will read every word. Scratch that. I can’t speak for John, but I promise I will read every word.


192 replies
  1. 1
    TenguPhule says:

    The posts are threaded too close to the willow tree.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    The title of this post takes you to the old post.

  3. 3
    JPL says:

    @TenguPhule: True,
    but I still appreciate the effort taken by Watergirl, Bella and Steeple…

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    Can we implement an aggressive server side autocorrect?

  5. 5
    tybee says:

    i have no objections. carry on.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    Does anyone else find the fake Latin more interesting to read than our usual content?

  7. 7
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: No it doesn’t! (well, not anymore, at least)

    thanks for catching that.

  8. 8
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: I think you have to be able to read Latin for that to be the case.

  9. 9
    MazeDancer says:

    Please don’t use thumbnails.

    Please don’t use that big blob of unreadable text next to them.

    Besides being ugly and crowded, it will be uninviting and hard to read. What makes text readable? White space. Paragraph breaks.

    Instead of a blog, it will look like the “who contributed” listings of a magazine that everyone skips. Love having big pictures. Love being able to scroll through tweets.

    Do not want to have to click to do that.

    Please go with #2. Willing to beg if necessary,

  10. 10
  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    @MazeDancer: I will say that #2 was truly hideous with a big image that takes up a lot of real estate on mobile devices.

    Are you suggesting that fewer lines of text would help?

  12. 12
    Ruckus says:

    I never found Latin worth reading when I was forced to study it decades ago. I doubt seriously that it has gotten any better.

    On to more important stuff.
    Looks good, I’m imagining that this will keep some posts from filling screen upon screen of the front page, and showing more of the current posts at the same time. Which makes sense.
    If that wasn’t clear I like #4.

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    Do we really want to refer to Cole as the “Blog Owner”? Seems so late-stage capitalism.

  14. 14
    Redshift says:

    Looks okay to me. It might be nice to see mobile versions at some point. I almost always read the site on my phone these days; however, I’m more interested in how posts/comments will look on a phone, since I spend almost no time on the front page.

  15. 15
    Mart says:

    Are you going to keep the Blogroll? I like the blogroll when I pick up a device without bookmarks/favorites. (Whiny aren’t I?)

  16. 16
    WaterGirl says:

    @Plato: And 3 made the page uninteresting and uninviting.

  17. 17
    Baud says:


    Same here. Good ask.

  18. 18
    WaterGirl says:

    On my laptop, i wold see the banner and 2 front page posts and thumbnails, and I would guess 3 at most on a desktop with a pretty good sized monitor. People wouldn’t see that many titles unless they had one giant monitor.

  19. 19
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: eemom suggested Blog Lord on yesterday’s thread and I liked that.

  20. 20
    Kay says:

    Very nice, watergirl. Thanks to you and rest of the team.

  21. 21
    Kdaug says:

    Thumbnails only on front page. If you’ve got a pic put it below the fold. Common courtesy. A lot of us check in on mobile (i.e. on the toilet).

    Also, too, please quit making me re-identify myself every time I post. I’ve been around since Brick Oven Bob and the cudlips girl. Figuring out how to tag my email to an account name should be pretty basic.

  22. 22
    WaterGirl says:

    @Redshift: Yeah, I asked about that today. It’s not realistic at this point because — based on the size of the screen on the phone or the table — the website auto adjusts, so there would need to be many different mockups.

    Once the site goes into development we will get a look at that.

  23. 23
    Jackie says:

    @Redshift: @Baud: Me three!

  24. 24
    WaterGirl says:

    @Mart: Check out the thread from yesterday – there were a million questions, and they were (mostly) all answered. That one for sure. Short answer: no blogroll, longer explanation on sunday’s thread:

  25. 25
    Redshift says:

    One thing I forgot to ask about in the long ago feature request threads, but may be part of the rebuild – can the RSS feed be updated in a more timely fashion? (assuming the problem is on the blog side of things; I don’t know much about that.) That’s actually how I generally come here rather than the front page.

    Right now, if I refresh the feed in my feed reader, it shows the GoT thread as the most recent, and says it’s 30 minutes old, when according to its timestamp it’s two hours and fifteen minutes old, and there’s this new post.

  26. 26
    Baud says:

    OT. Fascinating

    The U.S. Postal Service is once again America’s favorite federal agency, winning the title in a Gallup survey for the third consecutive year.

    About three-quarters of Americans said the mailing agency is doing an excellent or good job, according to the survey, compared to just 8% who said it is doing poorly. USPS has won the highest marks each time Gallup has conducted the poll, the latest iteration of which it released on Monday.

  27. 27
    WaterGirl says:

    @Kdaug: check out yesterdays post and you will see:

    not to worry, nyms etc will be permanent again

    Also, yesterday’s post shows the mockup of a single thread with comments – this page is just the home page at

  28. 28
    WaterGirl says:

    @Redshift: I think that will all sort itself out automatically with the site rebuild. But if it doesn’t — and that would surprise me — that will get fixed.

    The RSS feed delays now make it so I just go to Cole’s twitter feed in my browser and copy the link from the threads because they are posted to his twitter feed immediately.

  29. 29
    Gin & Tonic says:

    That menu bar sort of thing across the top, from “Politics” to “ActBlue” – what’s that thing called, and will those, uh, labels, categories, tags, whatever update according to the amount of content in each, or are they fixed forever and ever? And “Topics” down on the right side, is that just a list of FP post titles, or is there another way of filling that bucket?

  30. 30
    Redshift says:

    @WaterGirl: Okay, I’ll wait. (I work in mobile software, so I could whine about wanting to see “the narrowest layout which we’ll probably get on phones but ymmv”, but I’m mostly just curious, so that’s fine.)

  31. 31
    Redshift says:

    @WaterGirl: Yeah, I’ve been keeping an eye out on Twitter lately too. Sounds good, looking forward to it!

  32. 32
    WaterGirl says:

    @MazeDancer: So I’m curious… do you actually read the BJ threads from the front page? I mean the post part, not the comment part. You don’t click on the thread title and read it there? Seriously asking.

    I think we all arrive differently, RSS feed, open tabs in browsers and you click on the right arrow for the next post, Cole’s twitter feed. Sometimes I go to the front page to see if there is a new post, since the RSS feed is so delayed these days.

    I would love to hear how the collective we all get to BJ threads.

  33. 33
    MazeDancer says:


    Would prefer #1. But was leaping to assumption that for some reason you didn’t want to keep it like it is. So was choosing a compromise. But hideous is not a good compromise.

    Visually, there is nothing massively wrong with the current look. But there must be some reason you want to change it. If you’re building strictly for phone readability, then, yes, would go with full phone width pic, title, and a teaser lead-in text.

    Thumbnails on a phone will be really hard-to-view. There is a reason every mobile site on Shopify looks exactly the same. There is a reason Twitter doesn’t use thumbnails. Not that much variation in what looks good and is easy-to-read. Def go full phone width pic. Then just make sure the text isn’t one solid bloc no matter how long it is.

    Did you take a survey of how BJ’ers read BJ? How much phone/tablet/computer. BJ skews older, so wondering if “mobile” is more tablet than phone.

    And, of course, giant appreciation for your hard work.

  34. 34
    Baud says:

    Can we use Old English font to make us look classy?

  35. 35
    MazeDancer says:


    Yes, read posts on front page. Usually on tablet. Sometimes computer.

    Maybe you need a quick SurveyMonkey survey on how people read BJ. Would be easy to do.

  36. 36
    different-church-lady says:

    If you can just make it so that Twitter doesn’t cause the position of the content go CA-CHUNK CA-CHUNK CA-CHUNK while it’s loading, I’ll agree to any look you want.

  37. 37

    @WaterGirl: I always read the posts on the front page. I only click through if I want to comment. I suspect a lot of lurkers may read that way, too. It’s also why I rarely read on my phone because only the title and a few words are on the front page and I have to click through to see photos/rest of the story.

    I often won’t even click on a “more” link unless I have time to devote to the content.

    So maybe a survey to see how the members would like to have the front page setup? Probably easier than an ugly war after it’s all said and done.

    Just my two cents.

  38. 38
    different-church-lady says:

    @Baud: I really prefer the city name in cursive.

  39. 39
    WaterGirl says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    That menu bar sort of thing across the top, from “Politics” to “ActBlue” – what’s that thing called, and will those, uh, labels, categories, tags, whatever update according to the amount of content in each, or are they fixed forever and ever? And “Topics” down on the right side, is that just a list of FP post titles, or is there another way of filling that bucket?

    Excellent questions!

    I’ll call that the category bar. the 5 on the left will be fixed, slightly different from what is on the mockup. Things move quickly! They will be static, giving peeps an idea of the range of what we talk about here.

    Left to right: Politics | Open Threads | Pet Blogging | Garden Chats | Election 2020

    Not forever and ever of course – which one would we ditch so there’s room for Impeachment?

    What’s in the box that currently holds Balloon Juice Act Blue will change. From yesterday’s thread:

    That one area on the right is something that will change according to what’s happening. If we’re doing the BJ calendar, that will open in a new tab that provides all the information about deadlines, how to send in your photos, how to order the calendar, etc.

    If we had had this feature last year, we would have put Leto’s GoFundMe up there. At hot election times, we’ll have the BJ Act Blue link.

    How do you guys feel about that?

    Topics – will be a link to a separate page with 25 primary categories. Cole wants every thread to be assigned at least one of the 25 primary categories. Once you pick one of those categories (topics) you can see (newest to oldest) all the posts under that category (topic). It won’t be thread titles – it will the the threads themselves.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Ohio Mom says:


    I more or less stopped reading LGM when they went to that format. Now I open it every other day and scroll past almost all of it. Maybe I open a post but usually not.

    I just stoped reading Booman’s Pond for the same reason. I hate it. Just let me skim the post. Don’t hide most of the text.

    What is wrong with what we have now? I thought we were promised the blog would look the same. This will not be the same look at all.

    Boy, this was a mellow harsher. I came here all excited that Arthur’s teacher Mr. Rayburn got married today to another man, and now I find out my favorite blog is going to be unrecognizable. Fa!

    P.S. For anyone who is going to miss the blogroll, I would suggest No More Mister Nice Blog’s blogroll. It’s a good selection and it gives you the title of the latest post (I think I’ve just discovered why I hate the proposed format, it turns the blog into a post-roll.)

  42. 42

    I think it makes perfect sense. People interact with the Post Office daily, so they have first hand knowledge if it’s doing a good job. Also, most people support its basic mission, so they’re likely to report that they like it if they think it’s doing a good job. That’s very different from branches like DHS or EPA, which plenty of people oppose on ideological grounds and may report greater dissatisfaction the more effectively they do what they’re tasked with doing.

  43. 43
    WaterGirl says:

    @MazeDancer: Thanks!

    “Thumbnails on a phone will be really hard-to-view.” Good point.

    From my perspective, there are flaws with all 4 options. With option 1, what we have now, I want to scream because it takes a week to scroll down through every single image on the first post, and all of the text, before I can see what the second-to-newest post might be. We wanted something more mobile friendly than that, so #1 was out.

    #2 with a big image, It still filled up the entire screen, even on my laptop. not helpful, Tried different size images in different places. square image on the left next to text. too boxy and unappealing. tried smaller rectangle image but that was bad too. rectangle rectangle rectangle. they even had me go find sites with image placements I liked. it was like sifting for gold after the gold rush was over. I did find the two column thing with two columns of threads with images and little bits of text. awful.

    #3 boring as hell.

    #4 better than all the rest.

  44. 44
    Baud says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Good. Hopefully that gives them some protection from Republicans.

  45. 45
    NotMax says:

    Well, yesterday we discussed a couple of things which you already indicated would be changed – dropping of teaser text from Recent Comments, changing ordering of elements in the credit line under the post title.

    A question – what are the up and down carets at the top intended for?

    From this mock-up, a few main things stand out. (Any bluntness not in any manner directed personally.)

    1) Your #4 option – good. The more posts showing on the front page, the better.

    2) Text of line under post title is too washed out. Barely legible; needs to be darkened or at the least be in a larger point size..

    3) Justification of text under Topics, Posts by Date and Front Pagers needs to be changed to match the placement of the text under Featured Content.

    4) Difficult to tell as it might be a result of the mock-up not being all one image but the left justification of the front page posts appears inconsistent.

    5) Might suggest changing “Featured Content” to “Featured Contributors.”

    6) Suggest ditching the little icon next to the word Politics in the header. Either all those categories highlighted in the header should have an icon or none of them, IMHO.

    7) Guess I can sort of understand having a category for Election 2020 as well as one for Politics, though it seems redundant and something which could be handled with a drop-down list for Politics.

    8) Really, really, really, really dislike the font the more I see of it. Intensely and with the heat of a bajillion supernovae. Could give a raft of reasons but shall focus on just this one: Look, for example, at the word officia. It look like it reads offcia. The kerning involving the lower case “i” is horrible and it is irremediably scrunched up against too many of the other letters when they appear adjacent to it in this font.

  46. 46
    WaterGirl says:

    @Baud: Absolutely!

  47. 47
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Fix everything; change nothing.

  48. 48


    Hopefully that gives them some protection from Republicans.

    One can hope, but the Republicans don’t seem to be terribly worried about backlash for doing unpopular things.

  49. 49
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @WaterGirl: Thanks. As long as one of those 25 primary categories is “Fuck You!” than I’m OK with this, I guess.

    And a more random request/suggestion – at least a couple of us from time to time try to post in Cyrillic characters, which a couple of years ago used to work, but now the posts either disappear or go to moderation, can’t remember which. I’m not sure how it is with other non-Latin fonts, as I’m not fluent in any languages besides those written in Latin and Cyrillic scripts, but maybe schrodinger’s cat can tell you. Anyway, I understand trying to prevent comment spam, but that aggressiveness seems excessive.

  50. 50
    Baud says:

    Maybe incorporate a sodoku widget for when it’s late and people have insomnia but no one to talk to, or for when people are talking about something boring.

  51. 51
    Mart says:

    @WaterGirl: Got to it late and when I looked at the # of comments I was too lazy to click thru and read. Sorry, I’ll try to Be Best going forward.

  52. 52
    Baud says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

     As long as one of those 25 primary categories is “Fuck You!” than I’m OK with this, I guess.

    I believe all 25 will be variations on that theme.

  53. 53
    WaterGirl says:

    @Ohio Mom: I would say that the individual threads with comments honor our attempt to keep the site very familiar. You post comments all the time – so you must be on the individual threads at least some of the time, yes?

  54. 54
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ohio Mom: I think the problem with the LGM layout is that the abstracts are too short. I wouldn’t mind that treatment if only it gave about twice as much text before clicking.

  55. 55
    debbie says:

    I basically like it, but would like to suggest slightly more space between the photo and text, and slightly shorter lines. I would also like to add my vote to yesterday’s suggestion of darker type in the block quotes.

  56. 56
    NotMax says:

    Oops, one more thought.

    If going with your #4 choice for layout, is it possible to have an “expand post” option at the bottom so that people who don’t care to don’t have to go to a separate comments page? That might assuage some of the angst expressed by others above.

  57. 57
    Plato says:


    Spoken like a true librul.

  58. 58
    WaterGirl says:

    @Mart: I hope it didn’t come off as critical when I suggested checking out yesterday’s thread. I literally replied to questions for 5 hours yesterday and my right hand started cramping at the end, so I decided it wasn’t a great idea to repeat myself.

    There are a ton of really great questions on the sunday thread so I hope folks can read at least some of it when they get the time.

  59. 59

    @different-church-lady: @Baud: it’s very unfortunate but that’s just not how embedded tweets work. You couldn’t pay me enough to try to write a workaround, personally.

  60. 60
    WaterGirl says:

    @debbie: Yep, I noted the darker type suggestion from yesterday.

    edit: I see what you mean about more space around the image.

    We have to keep in mind that this mockup is showing as about half the width of my screen, so it may actually be more white space than it appears, but I will make a note to check that.

  61. 61
    Ohio Mom says:

    I@NotMax: Yesterday I kinda skipped over your comments about the font but I just took a careful look at the latin text and I agree with you.

    On another note, I read BJ on a small iPhone. What I see looks pretty much like the desktop version I see on the rare occasions I use my laptop. But one thing these discussions have convinced me of is that the site looks very different on different phones and monitors. There are clearly many versions showing up on screens.

  62. 62

    @Baud: @WaterGirl: the Germans outlawed Fraktur for a reason, you two!

  63. 63
    NotMax says:


    There is nothing wrong with using black text. That Gutenberg guy was on to something.

  64. 64
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: I know the READ MORE button the we had there (and removed) took you to the actual thread with comments. I don’t know if it’s possible to do what you suggested by expanding. I’m guessing now but I can investigate.

  65. 65

    @Baud: Does the upgrade mean we’ll all have to learn Latin?

  66. 66
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: I don’t know what you mean in #3.

    Yes, I did the image in 4 pieces from the .pdf file. The .jpg file showed even skinnier than the .pdf so I took screen captures of the .pdf in 4 pieces. So the lining up issue is not a real issue.

  67. 67
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Yes.

  68. 68
    debbie says:


    Looking at it again, how about lowering the thumbnail to be alongside the text? That would both shorten the line length stop squishing the text below it.

  69. 69
    Mary G says:

    #4 looks like every other place on the net and I hate it. I love Balloon Juice for its white space and it just seems like this version takes way too much away. Hate thumbnails. Much prefer #2 or #1, though I know not everyone has the monster wifi I am privileged to. I come straight to Balloon Juice from a bookmark if it’s not already open. I am on phione, tablet and PC.

  70. 70

    @Baud: Obviously this means that USPS must die.

  71. 71


    I would love to hear how the collective we all get to BJ threads.

    Oh, we’re a collective; I guess Cole should be the Commissar as opposed to BlogLord then.

  72. 72
  73. 73
    Ohio Mom says:

    @different-church-lady: This is what I mean when I say there are many different versions and experiences out there.

    I don’t doubt “Twitter causes the position of the content go CA-CHUNK CA-CHUNK CA-CHUNK while it’s loading” on your device but I either haven’t noticed or it doesn’t work that way on mine.

    As a non-technical person, I find this fascinating and weird.

  74. 74
    WaterGirl says:

    To reiterate a point I tried to make yesterday…

    What we are looking at here is a composite screen capture of a .pdf image of a mockup of a blog, posted on an actual blog. Of course text will be hard to read and will look too small.

  75. 75
    WaterGirl says:

    @debbie: We tried that, too. It looked too boxy.

    I have to say I am really surprised at the number of people here who spend any time at all on the home page. That really comes as big surprise.

    Most of my focus has been on keeping the look true to BJ on the individual threads and on the top bottom and right on the front page.

    Anything we do on the front page to address the issues on mobile devices means it will be different from what we have now and some of you hate that. It’s like when your dog is sick and they could give him drug X, except they can’t because of this other condition. I could be having a slightly discouraged moment.

  76. 76

    @WaterGirl: So we’ll only be able to get to five categories via the menu bar? What about the other 20? I’m confused. What if I want to get to all the ‘On the Road’ posts(I often do to submit my OTR submissions).

  77. 77
    Aleta says:

    Featured Content
    John Cole
    David Anderson Health Insurance
    Adam Silverman Security
    Cheryl Rofer Nuclear & Nat’l Security, Science, Climate

    [Can break, so Science, Climate go on next line.]

    So: nothing after John Cole
    B/c of the vertical line after each name, it might look better to leave out the “on” each time
    Then perhaps align the Content words (as though left justified)

  78. 78
    MazeDancer says:


    But aren’t you developing two sites? A computer/tablet version and a mobile one. Which, if you use a tablet you can also access? But most people on a tablet want the computer experience.

    Not very likely to satisfy various audiences if you’re only doing one version and you’re making it a fast, no pic, phone scroll version.

  79. 79
    Ruckus says:

    Normally I read the post from the front page and click on comments to go directly to them.
    Only occasionally do I click on the title and start from there. Mainly I do this because so much of the post is on the front page. If #4 layout is chosen then it’s click title and read. With the first few lines i can see if I want to click on a post so #4 should work fine for me. And it should make the site a bit faster to load as well which should help with server load.

  80. 80

    this looks cleaner

  81. 81
    Aleta says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: @WaterGirl: I was wondering about Alain’s On the Road included as Featured Content. Cause the photos are so very good.

    If it bungles the space, ignore this of course.

  82. 82
    Redshift says:

    @Roger Moore:

    One can hope, but the Republicans don’t seem to be terribly worried about backlash for doing unpopular things.

    Yeah, their usual strategy (after trying and failing to abolish something people like) is to make it worse bit by bit so i each step is not so obvious to most people, with the goal of making people stop liking it, so they can abolish it without an outcry.

    Surprisingly, they seem to be no more competent at this strategy than they are at so many other things. If something people like is getting worse, even if they don’t know why, they want it fixed, they don’t give up on it.

  83. 83

    @MazeDancer: can’t speak to this rebuild, but almost every website these days is a single… not layout, but series of elements… that just flows differently based on the width of the screen.

  84. 84
    eemom says:

    BlogLord, dammit. I WANT BLOGLORD. I even went so far as to e-mail Cole.

  85. 85
    WaterGirl says:

    @MazeDancer: Nope. Just one version that detects screen size and adapts. You get the same functionality but it will look different.

    On my iPad, I see more like the desktop version. On my phone, I see a different version. On a smaller tablet than my iPad, you would see something else. “Different” is the wrong word. I mean things like there is no floating bar on the phone — you find the floating bar items under the hamburger thing with the 3 lines or 3 dots on the upper right hand side of the screen.

    So you truly can’t please all of the people all of the time.

  86. 86
    NotMax says:


    I don’t know what you mean in #3.</blockquote

    To expand on it, then –

    Look at the list beginning with John Cole under the header Featured Content. That list is indented to the right of the header. (And looks nifty that way.)

    Then look, for example, at the phrase "View all Balloon Juice Topics" under the header "Topics." That text is extended several spaces out to the left of the header. (And looks, well, sloppy in comparison.)

  87. 87
    NotMax says:

    My bad. Coding fix.


    I don’t know what you mean in #3.

    To expand on it, then –

    Look at the list beginning with John Cole under the header Featured Content. That list is indented to the right of the header. (And looks nifty that way.)

    Then look, for example, at the phrase “View all Balloon Juice Topics” under the header “Topics.” That text is extended several spaces out to the left of the header. (And looks, well, sloppy in comparison.)

  88. 88
    Ruckus says:

    @Gin & Tonic:
    Fuck Latin. That is all.

  89. 89
    WaterGirl says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: For the other 20 categories, you’ll click the Topics link on the right-hand side.

  90. 90

    @WaterGirl: I read top to bottom, opening tags for anything I want to see the comments on.

  91. 91
    something fabulous says:

    @MazeDancer: This seems like potentially a great idea! I do usability in my “day job” (as I still think of it) and so understanding WHY people want to engage in a particular way is the key for me– not just about liking something visually or not, but how well it supports their behavior. We have such a wide range of features about our users here– everything from age, to time zone, to mobile v desktop, to browser choice, to name only a few!– that no one solution is going to please everyone, but at least we can uncover what is really a deal breaker, because folks really cannot engage with the site anymore, v would be nice to have or avoid.

    Sorry! This is my hobby horse, so will have lots of opinions! But yes in shorter– another vote that a quick survey would be a comparatively easy and inclusive way to find out not just “eww I hate this” and “wow I love this” but also, most importantly, WHY.

  92. 92
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: Yes, I see what you mean. Yes, of course stuff like that will be fixed. We’re not proof-reading the final document before it goes to press. :-)

  93. 93
    NotMax says:


    Blog Wrangler? Jackal Herder?


  94. 94
    WaterGirl says:

    @Aleta: Yeah, the designer added the ” | ” and I have had bigger fish to fry. I agree about “on” and ” | “.

  95. 95
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @Major Major Major Major: Same. Posts with lots of images or many paragraphs can have a read more insert used more liberally.

    I thought the current site look would be kept, with better typeface and functionality, and perhaps a slightly cleaner front page. Maybe it’s a neighborhood misunderstanding, since Ohio Mom seems to have arrived at a similar mistaken impression.

  96. 96
    Ruckus says:

    As long as the content is readable and accessible most of us will adapt, probably rather rapidly. For many of us though we’ve been coming here a long time and it feels like home. Right now the refrigerator door doesn’t close all the time but most probably want that fixed and bam, they are fine. I wonder how many here have actually programed a website and realize all the trials, tribulations, possibilities, impossibilities, etc.
    IOW, we like it here, it’s familiar, we don’t want to move a thousand miles away and move into a dive.

  97. 97
    Another Scott says:

    @MazeDancer: #4 sounds kinda like what BlueVirginia uses, once you scroll down past the larger images. It kinda works – at least on the desktop (I almost never go there on my phone). On my phone, there’s only a single column (the column with “Latest from Twitter”, etc., is missing), so it seems to work there, too.

    It’s hard for me to picture how it’s going to work here without being able to play with a live version. (By that time, it is probably going to be too late to change, of course.)

    It may be hard to have a one-size-fits-all layout (one good for 4″ screens and 30″ monitors). I’m sure the web wranglers know that, but it’s hard to picture how it works from a single screen shot.

    My $0.02. (Which was probably addressed hours ago!)


  98. 98
  99. 99

    Yay! Balloon guy returns!

    … ’bout fucking time.

    Remember, if the funds run short, send up the jackal signal. I’d rather get the hat passed a few more times than scrimp on wishes/wants because the shekels ran low.

  100. 100
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Scott: We tried the look that Blue Virginia uses and that changed the look of the front page just as much as the one we have here, only it looked boxier.

  101. 101
    NotMax says:

    Wish I had screenshots of any of my defunct blogs.

    Because those was perfect.


  102. 102
    NotMax says:

    One potential problem which comes to mind with the truncation of the post on the front page is when a front pager begins his or her post with one or a series of tweets. That’s all we’ll see, rather than words from, y’know, the actual author.

  103. 103
    Amir Khalid says:

    Blog Lord sounds kind of feudal to me. I would suggest something with a post-apocalyptic ring to it, like Blog Overdog.

  104. 104
    Amir Khalid says:

    Both suggest the deployment of herding skills, whereas we jackals are about as willing to be herded as cats.

  105. 105
    NotMax says:

    @Amir Khalid

    Maybe something less martial and more cuddly?

    Mensch at the Helm?


  106. 106
    MazeDancer says:

    @Major Major Major Major: @WaterGirl:

    Not sure how you’re going to make your readership happy if the site is optimized to phone.

    Very sad that is going to happen. Means slowing down for many of us. With way too much clicking. Can’t just scroll and read.

    Have to repeat – BJ skews older. Don’t you think you should know what percentage of your readership reads on a phone and wants this big a change? I’m as surprised people don’t like scrolling the homepage as you are that’s what people enjoy.

    The little mock-up in Sunday’s post looked familiar. But now I realize that wasn’t the home page suggestion, that was only the expanded page, you have to click to read.

    Do I want Watergirl to have to suffer slow service, of course not. Do I want the BJ home page to be “list & click” as in look like a listing page I have to cumbersomely click all the time to read anything? Of course not.

    You’re saying we have to pick one. What if we pick keep the same and x % of readership suffers. What if we go with list & click and an even larger % hates it. If it turns out it’s 75% wants list and click, well, hush my mouth, I’ll adapt.

    Not sure everyone realized the new site was going to be so different. Guess we’ll adapt. Not really any choice it seems.

  107. 107
    NotMax says:

    @Amir Khalid

    How about stealing directly from Douglas Adams?

    John Cole | Mostly Harmless


  108. 108
    SG says:

    TaMara’s way is exactly how I read BJ. I read posts on the front page and click through if I want to see comments, which is not always. Every click, page change or refresh is an interruption and therefore annoying. What if the post is only two paragraphs and you show only 5-7 lines of text? I’d be clicking through for a negligible amount of text. Right now, the front-pagers have a choice of running straight to the end or breaking up a longer post. It’s just more organic, intuitive and human. So I hate #4, rigid and formulaic. I vote for #1, keep it like it is. BTW, I read BJ on an iPad in landscape mode always.

  109. 109
    WaterGirl says:

    @NotMax: Love that!

  110. 110
    NotMax says:


    I’m as surprised people don’t like scrolling the homepage as you are that’s what people enjoy.


  111. 111
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: Translating everything into French would do that too.

  112. 112
    Amir Khalid says:

    Yeah, that sounds good too.

  113. 113

    @MazeDancer: it’s not optimized for the phone. It’s designed to be viewed at all sizes, with elements in different places depending on the width of the screen. Just like basically every other website nowadays, including many you probably enjoy the design of. You can see this by changing the width of the browser window at such sites.

  114. 114
    Amir Khalid says:

    Is there any chance of geting back Recent Posts and Recent Comments, or is that still too taxing on the database server?

  115. 115
    MazeDancer says:

    @something fabulous:

    Would be good to know readership. Survey says…

  116. 116
    NotMax says:

    Once the rebuild is in place, what are we gonna do with all this spit and baling wire?


  117. 117
    WaterGirl says:

    Too busy today to shop or cook, so I just made a cinnamon sugar thing out of my last piece of bread. Decided there wasn’t enough cinnamon sugar on it so I got the shaker to add more. Grabbed the cinnamon sugar and started shaking, only it was black pepper.

    Not fair! But at least I started with a corner, so part of it was still edible.

  118. 118
    Another Scott says:

    Ok, I’ve read many more comments now.

    I understand OhioMom’s concern about too little text for each new topic being on the front page. A “list of topics” isn’t the best way to go.

    I don’t know if there should be a hard and fast rule (there doesn’t seem to be one here presently), but NotMax’s idea of having the ability to “unfold” the rest of the text in a post on the front page would be a great feature – especially on a phone. Otherwise, on a phone one would need to scroll past a bunch of text to get to the next one (if one weren’t interested in that particular thread), or one would be clicking and pointing excessively if there were too little text for each new thread on the home page.

    Some of the topics here have several screens of text and images on the front page, some are only screen or so and then a “More…” to click to get to the rest of the post and the comments. I think I generally prefer the latter, I rarely read B-J on my phone.

    In BlueVirginia’s case, there’s too little text with each topic to build my interest in things that I know too little about.

    My $0.02.

    Thanks again for your efforts.


  119. 119
  120. 120
    WaterGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: Go read yesterday’s thread, young man! Recent comments are back, but not recent posts. Won’t recent comments pretty much show you all the recent threads anyway, unless they are ghost towns? Serious question.

  121. 121
    WaterGirl says:

    @Another Scott:

    I understand OhioMom’s concern about too little text for each new topic being on the front page. A “list of topics” isn’t the best way to go.

    Just want to be sure we are speaking the same language. By “each new topic” do you mean each new BJ post/thread? Or do you mean “topic” as in “category”, such as politics or garden chats?

  122. 122
    Amir Khalid says:

    Oops, I guessed I missed that, being so weak from starvation at this time of year. ;)

  123. 123
    Mainmata says:

    @Baud: Yes, I took 4 years of Latin in my Pittsburgh high school so would appreciate some classic Caesar’s Gallic Wars instead. Most people won’t have any idea what they’re reading but I will. (My chronic argument about all the Lorem ipsum crap (which is BS :Latin and an abuse of Cicero).

  124. 124
    WaterGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: And here I am whining about my cinnamon bread. Sorry! :-)

  125. 125
    John Cole says:

    everyone relax there will be plenty of time for testing

    I knew in my gut sneak peaks were a bad idea

  126. 126
    John Cole says:


  127. 127
    WaterGirl says:

    @Amir Khalid: Well, that thread is kind of long, so it might not lend itself to being read all at once.

  128. 128
    MazeDancer says:

    @Major Major Major Major:

    But there is a difference between sites needing clicks for advertising, so they want to tease as many options as possible and a political blog like BJ.

    There is a difference between a website and a blog. In general, blogs let you scroll the front page and read the stories.

    But what you and Watergirl seem to be saying is we can’t have that. And you want it to be more like With smaller headline font.

    Many of us dd not understand there would be such a big change. Now we do.

  129. 129
    mousebumples says:

    Infrequent commenter (frequent lurker) checking in. I generally access this blog via my RSS reader. I typically click through and read the thread and a lot of the comments, but I’m usually a few hours behind the posts activity, so that’s probably a big reason for my lurker status. I’m usually accessing this from my phone (Android), but right now – for example – I’m checking in from my laptop.

    Sometimes I will view the blog from the main page, but that’s rare. Sometimes I’ll click the left or right arrows on the side of the blog, and while I have no idea if that’ll be in the next edition, I really don’t care too much either way. Plus, I’m mostly here for the content, so provided you don’t do anything terrible with the color scheme or design and turn it into a neon eyesore, I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere. Thanks for your efforts!

  130. 130
    NotMax says:

    @John Cole

    Much, very much, of the feedback has been insightful, instructive and enlightening. YMMV.

  131. 131
    Another Scott says:


    Just want to be sure we are speaking the same language. By “each new topic” do you mean each new BJ post/thread? Or do you mean “topic” as in “category”, such as politics or garden chats?

    The former. Sorry I wasn’t clear. :-)

    E.g. on the BlueVirginia front page right now:

    Interview with Sam Bleicher, Author of “The Plot to Cool the Planet”
    Climate change lowkell – May 11, 2019 0

    I had a chance to sit down Thursday with Sam Bleicher, an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., who from…

    That’s too little text to get me to want to click on it to read the rest of the post. I think OhioMom would call that kind of layout a “list of (posts)”. I understand from your comment at #100 that your number 4 isn’t the same, but it sounds like a difference of degree.

    tl;dr – Just the right amount of text with each new post is important! ;-)



  132. 132
    Larch says:

    The less text visible for each post, the less time
    I spend on a site. I loathe having to click through to read an entire post, although I get the necessity for super-long entries. But 5-7/lines? No, please, no!

    For those who like to see what all the recent posts are, I’ve seen sites use a list in a aside column— header only (in BJ’s case maybe the authoe, too); click the header to go straight to that post. A ‘recent comments’ list — maybe commentor & post header — is another very variation.

  133. 133
    Zelma says:

    I’m old. I almost always read BJ on my lap top. Sometimes on my iPad. Almost never on my iPhone. I like the Read more…function. I almost always read the comments. I want it to be as much like it is now as possible. I just don’t want the site to freeze. (Which it hasn’t been doing as much lately.)

    I’ve read all the comments on both threads and I have no idea what most of you are talking about. I was an early adopter of computers and quite good at them once upon a time. But then I retired 12 years ago so I’m stuck in the past.

    Whatever you decide, I’ll remain faithful.

  134. 134
    Anne Laurie says:

    Blog Lord is the perfect title for Cole, IMO.

    I keep the front page open and open new tabs when I want to read individual posts / comments. This is — you will no doubt be shocked — my ‘home page’ default. At least 80% of the time I read this on a desk monitor, but now I *do* occasionally use my (Galaxy 6, Google default?) phone when out & about. (Never tried commenting, much less posting, from the phone; don’t intend to learn, if I don’t have to.)

    I suspect my tweet-intensive posts are massively annoying the developers, but the thing is, it’s hard to get the twitter-collage effect without stringing together embeds, for aggregation posts. Open to suggestions about that (although SHUT UP & GO AWAY will be ignored.)

    If the developers want suggestions on how to sort out the categories, that’s one area where I feel fully qualified to volunteer!

    Which reminds me: Will there be an ‘archived’ supercategory, for those numerous examples (like Election 2012, or Bachman Turner Diaries Overdrive, or I Can No Longer Rationally Discuss the Clinton Campaign) that are useful only for historical purposes?

    Finally — I really do appreciate all the hard work you and the other testers, not to mention our new developers, are putting in on this! If we’re ever in the same meatspace, I owe you a nice lunch at the venue of your choice!

  135. 135
    planetjanet says:

    @WaterGirl: I do read the full post on the front page. I only click through when have time to read comments. But some of the extremely long posts need to be shortened by use of the “read more” link. I am looking at you, Adam. Love you, but sometimes I just need to take stock of the full range of topics before I dive in.

  136. 136
    eemom says:

    @John Cole:

    everyone relax

    You new around here?

  137. 137
    Aleta says:

    Thanks WaterGirl, Bella and Steeplejack for all the work and for the clear and even-tempered answers. It seems like no question has been papered over or treated like it’s annoying or beneath you. Which gives the impression you really know your stuff and also care about the old sense of equality on the site. I really appreciate that you’re working that way and you know keeping that good part. It feeds confidence.

  138. 138
    MazeDancer says:

    @John Cole:

    John, sneak peeks are letting us know there will be a big change to the home page. And reading the blog.

    That it will be a “list & click” site. Not a “read & scroll” site. It is good to know that big a change early as possible.

    Many of us like to read and scroll. Not have to click. But apparently, for some, it won’t load well unless it’s list & click. And slow loading is a drag.

    No amount of testing will change that basic format decision.

    Possibly, a readership survey would illuminate how people read BJ.

  139. 139
    Anne Laurie says:

    Looking at the mockup again — it’s turning the front page into a sort of expanded ‘Table of Contents’ for the blog (im)proper.

    Which may be optimal for return readers, especially those on smaller screens, but might not be so attractive for newcomers. So, we’ll just have to write better to bring newbies in, I guess!

  140. 140
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho: I know what Majorx4 is saying, it is the new look for blogs. To which I feel entitled to say (as a mom), If all the other blogs were jumping off the roof…

    The current page layout feels more conversational to me.

    The proposed one reminds me of middle school teachers giving a lesson on how to read a textbook: First, Look at the name of the chapter, then look at the section headings.

    After you’ve seen all the topics that will be discussed in this chapter, you can start reading the text.

  141. 141
    WhatsMyNym says:

    I have no problem with scolling thru the current front page on my 5″ phone, even when the posts are long. If I had to click on the posts to read or see the pics, I definitely would be skipping more posts.
    I for one like the current font, and find the new one hard to read.

  142. 142
    planetjanet says:

    The problem with the 5-7 lines of text as a preview is that it can start to feel like clickbait. You only get a taste of what is there and then you have to perform a trick to get more. I hate clickbait.

  143. 143
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    Mulling on it a bit more, 5 to 7 lines is too short to get the gist of things. Not sure what would be optimal; double that might be considered.

    The difference between an amuse-bouche (5 – 7 lines) and an appetizer (a longer, more informative extract). One is separate from and precedes a full meal, the other begins a full meal.

  144. 144
    Gin & Tonic says:

    I think the point Ohio Mom and some other may be getting at is this: The front page currently has 15 posts – I’m reading on a pretty large monitor on a desktop, and only 3-4 of those posts are of a size that fits vertically on my screen, and mostly because of authors’ design or content decisions (Betty Cracker’s GoT post where everything is intentionally “below the fold”, Alain’s On the Road, which always puts all the pics below the fold, etc.) Some posts take several screens worth of vertical. The mockup shows five posts in one screen’s worth of vertical real estate. That’s a really different experience, but maybe it’s just a question of putting all (or most) of the post “above the fold”, in which case the experience doesn’t change as much. I’d be interested to see how it looks when the posts in the mockup are 5, 6, 7 paragraphs instead of just one. Maybe then it’s more like what we have now.

  145. 145
    WaterGirl says:

    While this thread hasn’t been exactly fun, this is exactly why we do mockups and sneak peaks. It was great to find out yesterday that people like the design of the individual threads with comments, and it’s equally important to learn tonight that a lot of people actually read from the front page and that it’s not just a 5-second jumping off point.

    To me that says that it’s not accurate to think “well, it’s just the front page that will look different, but the individual threads with comments are where people spend all their time, and they stayed true to the feel of Balloon Juice, so maybe we can live with the front page looking different because nobody’s there for more than 10 seconds.”

    Sp while not fun, this has actually been helpful. Very helpful. This is exactly why we do mockups and sneak peaks.

    I think it’s fair to say that the current front page mockup will be discarded. I hope that helps everyone sleep well.

  146. 146
    Another Scott says:

    I don’t know if I’m a typical reader here, but here’s what I do.

    I read B-J on 2 Macs and a Windows machine, all running Chrome (with uBlock Origin). B-J is one of about 30 tabs in each browser. I generally read each new post and most all of the comments. Once I’m in a thread and reach the end, I use the left and right flyout buttons to check for new comments. With the delayed caching response, I often refresh each thread a couple of times even when it appears there are no new comments.

    If content hasn’t changed for a while, I’ll go up to the top of the page and hit the header image to return to the front page. From there, I’ll glance at John’s Twitter sidebar, and maybe head over to his Twitter tab in the browser (I don’t have a Twitter account).

    If I’m away from my computers for an extended time, then I may pull out my phone to look at B-J, but I rarely do more than read it because posting (especially with cut-and-paste and hand-coded HTML) is such a pain on a phone (an LG V35 (Android)).

    I agree that a survey might be informative.

    HTH a little.


  147. 147
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    @Ohio Mom: We’re just gonna have to adapt. I’d rather have a conversational feel, but that’s apparently not in fashion.

  148. 148
    eemom says:


    I’m old.


    I have no idea what most of you are talking about.


    Whatever you decide, I’ll remain faithful.

    Ditto. All I ever asked or ever will ask are (1) no nested comments and (2) not having to type the nym in every time.

    Oh, and BlogLord.

  149. 149
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Another Scott: I went over to Blue Virginia (on my phone) and yes, I would describe it as “a list of posts.”

    In the current BJ set-up, you can often tell who the post is by immediately. By the photos of course (beautiful swamp or boxer is Betty, classic wood frame house, John, etc.); if there are a lot of twitter posts, it’s Anne Laurie; David Anderson sometimes has charts; Adam tends to have looonng, wordy posts — I know to take a breath and prepare to concentrate. And so on.

    There’s no personality in the Blue Virginia headlines. Which is okay, it’s a news site (from what I gathered), not a bunch of friends chatting, catching up, teasing one another, occasionally spatting, sharing experiences, and offering encouragement, sympathy and support when life gets bumpy.

  150. 150
    WaterGirl says:

    Come on, guys. We asked for your input. Did you really think we weren’t going to listen?

    edit: see my comment at #145.

  151. 151
    Another Scott says:

    @Ohio Mom: +1


  152. 152
    Ohio Mom says:

    @WaterGirl: After this is all done, we all owe you a couple of drinks, or deserts, or foot rubs — whatever it is that you indulge.

  153. 153
    NotMax says:


    Whatever it turns out to be, I’ll be voting for the Democrat.


  154. 154
    WaterGirl says:

    @Ohio Mom: Those all sound pretty good to me. All at the same time! But for tonight I would settle for cinnamon sugar toast without black pepper on it.

  155. 155
    randy khan says:

    I’m of the view that as little change as possible from the current basic layout is ideal, so #1 is my choice.

    I won’t say that LGM’s #3-like layout has driven me away (that would be an obvious lie), but it is annoying.

  156. 156
  157. 157
    NotMax says:

    Getting back to the font for just a second, compare the ease of reading the font of “and we’re all out of bubblegum” on the mock-up with struggling through any line of similar length of the Latin (and not because it is Latin).

  158. 158
    WaterGirl says:

    @randy khan: Options 1-4 are so yesterday! :-)

    We are discarding this mockup, and options 1-4. I had better put an update at the top of the post.

  159. 159
    satby says:

    I mostly read on my Kindle fire tablet in portrait mode, so I never have all the options on the right hand side showing anyway. I like the #4 option because it’s a PITA (to me) to have only two or three posts to choose from to read. Or one looong post taking up all the real estate. But I’m apparently in the minority in wanting more of an overview to pick from.

  160. 160
    Ian R says:

    I second everything @Ohio Mom says here. The current format is so much more readable for me than any of the thumbnail+couple of lines versions.

    I generally read the whole frontpage up to where I last read, then go into the most recent thread that’s relevant to my interests to reply. I don’t even like things being below the fold with the “Read More” link now, let alone truncating them even further.

  161. 161
    Kattails says:

    @WaterGirl: just wandered in to the conversation…. I don’t have a fancy cell phone, so I do all my web viewing on a Mac w/ a decent sized screen. It’s one of my top-viewed sites so I click on the BJ icon in the drop-down menu, then just scroll through the front pages, read bits, look at the pictures, and then decide which ones I want to follow in more depth including comments. And what’s going to make me late for work or bed if it gets grabby. Pretty simplistic, but then I have a lot of viewing real estate.
    I do wish it would remember me, never does. Although I can’t remember whether I originally signed on with a lower or upper case K. Also meant for the nym to be Kattales but was in a rush to break the ice, so to speak, with a comment rather than just lurk forever.
    Also would be nice if it would return me to the comment I was reading when I followed someone’s link, rather than dropping me back at the top of the comments & having to scroll through to find the spot I sidetracked at.
    Thanks for all your work on this.
    Oh OK also, if I now am waiting out my edit time, it seems that if I return to the comments to see what’s been going on while I’m spending too much time writing, the comment gets lost. So I take a break and get some water, or open a new browser window, to get back to the thread rather than just sit it out until the edit period is over. Is this just my system, or am I doing something dumb?

  162. 162
    Ruckus says:

    @Ohio Mom:
    Great comment on what the blog is to a lot of people.
    I can see why you feel the way you do, by the way you view the post.
    I’ve noticed that a lot of people call it this place. Not the blog, not BJ but this place. That denotes a concept of ownership, which because many of us spend way too much time here some days and are protective of the place it really has a homey feel to it. I can read it either way but I can also see the other side, it feels like we belong here, it’s family. For some who may not have a lot or any family left that’s an important thing, a home, a place to vent, a place that someone will tell you to shut the hell up on occasion.

  163. 163
    NotMax says:


    return me to the comment I was reading when I followed someone’s link

    Right click on the link and choose Open in a New Tab, that way you needn’t fiddle with the back button’s finicky detriments.

  164. 164
    Ruckus says:

    And you thought you’d try something new. Or something old gone awry, it sounds more like.

  165. 165
    satby says:

    @satby: and going back to look at the front page now, I can only see TaMara’s post, then scrollscrollscroll I can see the next one, then scrollscrollscrollscrollscroll, another post… You get the idea. I have an 8 inch tablet and I spend as much time scrolling to find content to read as I do reading it. It’s a pain. Moot point it seems.

  166. 166
    Aleta says:

    Ignoring the requirements of how to make the site smooth, here’s my 2 cents about the front page. The discussion has probably gone way beyond this by now of course.

    I always liked how the FP space has been creatively used (though differently) by AL and BC, for example; they seem sensitive to the art of layout, which adds to their words. Their stuff and Tamara’s photos keep the FP visually fresh every day. They’re also aware of exactly where to put the fold. I like the way AL’s tweet flows add up to an understanding I didn’t always expect. I’d miss seeing the different post shapes from individuals on the front page. I can’t picture what it’d be like once I adjusted, whether much would be lost or just replaced.

    I appreciate that the fixed cut off (after 5-7 lines) would prevent those times when a single post needs too much scrolling to get to the one below. If possible, the opinions of the visually oriented FPers should matter I think, because of what they add.

  167. 167
    debbie says:


    It wouldn’t be boxy if there were more than 5–7 lines. If you’re keeping this format, the thumbnail should be level with the title.

  168. 168
    Jackie says:

    @WaterGirl: Thank you!

  169. 169
    stinger says:

    I always read BJ on my laptop, where it is my browser’s homepage.

    Years back, Steve Benen was for me nearly what BJ is now — a minimum daily requirement. He moved, and then moved again to a commercial site. Now Every Single Post has to be clicked to get the final paragraph or so. I’m a scroller, not a clicker, and I hardly ever go read Benen any more. It just feels like a cheat. I don’t mind clicking to read a comment thread, but for all but the really long posts, please just let me read the damn post!

  170. 170
    Aleta says:

    @WaterGirl: I’m way behind … thanks. You’re so cool. Hope it isn’t too much extrastress.

  171. 171
    WaterGirl says:

    @debbie: Not keeping this format. See my comments at #145 and #150, and the update at the top of the post.

    Tomorrow is another day!

  172. 172
    JAFD says:

    Greetings from New Jersey, where it’s almost Tuesday…

    About half the time I read BJ on an Android phone, 5″x2.75″ screen, vertical/portrait, the other half on a laptop. When I want to add a more-than-two-sentence comment I’ll go to laptop, tiny keyboard + big fingers not good. Am looking for _actual desk_, big enuf for desktop, laptop, printer, monitor, big keyboard, piles of papers….

    Usually I’ll read new posts on front page, then to comments on posts that sound interesting, in new tab if on laptop. I probably read the comments to 2/3 of posts.

    Would like a ‘topics’* (or whatever) heading for ‘Future Meetups/GetTogethers/etc…’

    Otherwise, I am an old man, who remembers Usenet at 300 baud and once had, for my eddress, a bangpath with four exclamation points before International House of No Pancakes 4 (ihnp4 = Bell Labs Indian Hill, once major Email server for Mid-Atlantic). So I will let you yoots produce the wonders of the 21st. But please keep together the people here, my friends at the ends of the intertubes.

    Thanks, and have good week. Am hoping for better weather tomorrow – forcast is ‘50% chnce rain before noon, showers after noon’ ??? Trying to get out and walk a mile a day, get back in shape.

  173. 173
    WaterGirl says:

    @Aleta: You are very kind!

    From my post last night:

    On other political blogs, there has never been a site redesign or site overhaul that I have liked; I always feel like they’ve ruined the blog. So the main goal here was to not do that.

    So of course we are going to listen. This is why we mock it up and share it before the programming starts. It’s all good.

  174. 174
    stinger says:

    @stinger: And now I’ve seen WaterGirl’s comment at #145. It’s the outcome I’d prefer, so thanks! May you sleep well too!

  175. 175
    Mart says:

    @Ohio Mom: I agree about Booman. Used to read most posts all the way through. I can’t find anything that interests me now. Maybe it is a youngs vs. olds thing.

  176. 176
    Bumper says:

    @WaterGirl: I read the posts from the front page. Please don’t shorten to the 5-7 line thing. Way back when TBogg made that change, thenThink Progress, and for me it was the beginning of the end of reading them regularly. I think showing only the first few lines changes how the post is written. It must become more click-worthy to get people to click through. It doesn’t feel as natural. For me anyway. I might still read as much as now but based on other blogs, it’s not looking likely.

  177. 177
    WaterGirl says:

    @Bumper: I hear you.

    See my comments at #145 and #150, and the update at the top of the post.

  178. 178
    Bumper says:

    Yes, just finally read it all. I was panicking about this and wanted to give input before it was too late. This is my favorite blog/community! Also, I read on an iPhone but use the desktop version, starting from front page and clicking to read comments if I have time, if that info is useful. Thank you for doing this, it’s a lot of work!

  179. 179
    NotoriousJRT says:

    @WaterGirl: FWIW, I read the post from the front page and never use the title. if I find the post interesting I either click read more to get below the fold or comments. If not, I just keep scrolling. Prob in tiny minority, but I am not enthused with the direction you’ve chosen. I cant’ really put my finger on why. Maybe it looks corporate reportish to me. But, I appreciate all that is being done, and that I do not know much (anything) about what that is and what makes content look good and readable to people who are not me.

  180. 180
    SG says:


    The less text visible for each post, the less time
    I spend on a site. I loathe having to click through to read an entire post, although I get the necessity for super-long entries. But 5-7/lines? No, please, no!

    Exactly! I just don’t have the time or inclination to click through to every damned post based on a few cryptic lines of text. It short-changes the writers and makes the whole front page look like a table of contents, as someone said above. I always felt the BJ front page was a great, inviting buffet of topics, viewpoints and thought. The #4 list-and-thumbnail is a place where I wouldn’t want to linger.

  181. 181
    something fabulous says:

    @NotMax: And this is a huge point, too! I hope and assume the designers have accounted for it and it just doesn’t show in the mocs, but the image thumbnail as seen here is always the same size and shape– I mentally just assumed that it would vary in real life if an embedded tweet v a pic of Bixby v an adjustable graph like Mayhew uses: that is, be the “real” image, like we currently have on the home page. If it’s just an icon to indicate what’s to come when opening the post, I also am beginning to agree that #4 is not the optimal choice (for me).

    Perhaps some kind of adaptable view as NotMax also suggested, or at least a much larger standard number of lines than 5-7, like say, 20, or whatever a typical short post is currently if someone were to go in and count? So home-page-based readers would be able to read some things in total without clicking through? And allowing for some variability, visually, on the homepage, more like we have currently, would up the familiarity and comfort level, and I think look more like a newspaper and less like all the sites folks are seeming not to like here. (No longer usability consultant hat on, here, now just my own preferences for this one!)

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    something fabulous says:

    @WaterGirl: the famous savory/sweet combo! It’s all the rage! :)

  183. 183
    something fabulous says:


  184. 184
    something fabulous says:

    @WaterGirl: YOU (ALL) ARE AWESOME!!! As we all, longer-timers especially know, taking unexpected feedback can be very very hard. Being so adaptable to your users/readers is a rare and valuable trait! Many, so many kudos.

  185. 185
    something fabulous says:

    @Major Major Major Major: HA! Exactement!!

    ETA: (Plus cats!)

  186. 186
    something fabulous says:

    great googly moogly: five in a row! Is that a new record?! (now six, of course!) :)

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    worn says:

    @Ohio Mom: This exactly echoes my experience with LGM. Plus they added a left sidebar ad that consistently covered a portion of the first post content. I was gobsmacked at how long that stayed unaddressed. Maybe it is still that way. Since their redesign the frequency of my visits slowly tapered off to almost never.

  188. 188
    worn says:

    @SG: Yes, yes, exactly this. Please don’t add yet more clicks to our lives.

    Off to bed now. It’s late.

  189. 189
    xjmuellerlurks says:

    If #4 allows the user to navigate to next or previous post from within the current post, it works for me. it’s like LGM or Atrios. I like that because it gets rid of the need to expand longer posts and allows access to comments without having to take a second step – If I understand the model properly.

  190. 190
    J R in WV says:


    is it possible to have an “expand post” option at the bottom so that people who don’t care to don’t have to go to a separate comments page? That might assuage some of the angst expressed by others above.

    This is a good idea. Cuts down on the data requirements for people who don’t care to download all the comments before reading the post itself. Good idea!

  191. 191
    J R in WV says:

    Long ago forgotten idea for fundamental improvement:

    Edit box should have the same HTML control buttons as the original comment tools have. Also, the timer for an edit should be reset to the original value (5 minutes seems short to me, but won’t argue much) after an edit is saved. In case you funble (sic) both the original comment AND the edit to it. I can type [blockquote] html commands, but it takes longer than clicking on a button.

  192. 192
    Mo MacArbie says:

    I lurk well behind the pack from RSS on a PC. IDGAF about the front page. Thank you for everything you’re doing, not doing, and redoing. I’d make a request for a direct cortex drip, but that might be my ISP’s bailiwick.

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