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« Lore Notices the Little Things The RantsCongratulations to Ed and DarkSyde »

Site Updates and Rant Notification Warning
2005.12.13 (Tue) 23:23

We wanted to make everyone aware of two upcoming site maintenance issues. First, we will be updating the look of the site; second, we will be cleaning up our old Rants, which may result in superfluous notifications going out to our subscribers.

Site Updates

While we've made some changes to site look and functionality over the past year, we have kept them to a minimum. We are now finishing up a new site design which we will roll out on Monday, December 19, at approximately 1AM. Many of the changes are cosmetic, but some will change site functionality, and we wanted to go over some of these changes before they take place.

  1. Use of PHP: We will be using PHP instead of HTML for some pages. This will not affect the Rants, but it will affect certain other pages. We are setting up redirection so that any links to old pages will lead to the new, updated pages.
  2. Score Management: In order to make management of the Score a little easier on us, we are going to be using Movable Type to house all Score entries going forward. In effect, the Score will become a blog, though comments and trackbacks will not be enabled. With this transition, the URLs of all Score pages will change, so any hard-coded links to Score entries may break; ostensibly, our redirection should take care of this.
  3. Rants Page Redesign: We are planning to display full Rants on the main Rants page instead of just the first 42 words. For longer Rants, we will continue below the fold via a link. This should make browsing our recent Rants easier as it won't necessitate clicking a permalink to get a feel for the topic.
  4. Amazon Associates: We have, at various times, talked about books and DVDs that we really enjoy. We will now be listing some of these on our sidebar via the Amazon Associates program. Since these are all products that we specifically like, we feel very comfortable doing this. As such, these links will appear on the sidebars of most of our pages (not just on the Rants). We will not provide Amazon Associates links to products that we do not endorse. So, for example, if we talk about Allison DuBois' book, we may provide the link to the Amazon page, but it will not contain our referral tag. We don't want people to buy that piece of shit, and we don't want any money if they do so via our page. However, if we cite James Randi's book Flim-Flam! to refute something that Allison says, we will include our Associates tag in the Amazon link. At the end of the day, our site is not about making money, but if we happen to earn a buck or two to help cover hosting (and other site maintenance) costs, we aren't against that either.
  5. Google Adsense: As we said, if we can defer the costs associated with maintaining the site by including these ads on our sidebar, we're willing to give it a try. We are planning to try Google Ads on our Rants pages to see if they are worth keeping. They will be pretty unobtrusive — we won't be using banners or anything overtly intrusive. Though we do have some control over which ads do or do not appear on our site, we certainly know that we will not like all of them (unlike the Amazon links which are all out choices, as discussed above). So, our question to our readers is this: should we specifically block sites that peddle bullshit? Our initial thought is that we should — we clearly do not endorse bullshit, and we don't want people using our site as a springboard to get to such sites. However, it also occurred to us that we've found some pretty funny stuff via Google Ads on web sites of critical thinkers. Skeptical sites attract bullshit ads like bees to honey — if we mention that homeopathy is crap, we can almost guarantee that ads for homeopathic remedies will appear. So should we leave them intact for the entertainment value, or should we block them as they appear? Let us know what you think.

There are many smaller and/or behind the scenes changes that we are making as well, but we wanted to call out these changes as they are the ones with the greatest impact on our readers. As always, if you find any bugs or problems after the changes take effect, please let us know either in the comments to this post, or via our Contact page.

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Rant Clean Up

As some of you know, we installed MT-Notifier back in late April. This plug-in allows people to subscribe to all of our posts and/or to the comments on specific threads. We checked off the option to only send Rant updates for new posts (and not for updates to old posts) so that we could, for example, modify a category listing or correct a typo without sending out a bothersome e-mail to all subscribers making it look like we had a new post. What we didn't know was that all of our Rants published prior to the installation of MT-Notifier would be treated as "new" when we made such minor modifications. We found this out (as did some of you, no doubt) when we tried to add a new category to some of our older posts.

The best way that we can rectify this problem is to just bite the bullet and re-save all of our entries posted before April 29, 2005. In order that each save won't generate a notification e-mail to all of our subscribers, we are going to first remove all Rant subscriptions on the night of Sunday, December 18. As a note, we will not remove subscriptions to individual comment threads, since those shouldn't elicit unwanted notifications. Once we re-save all of our old entries, we will add back all of the subscriptions that we removed. When we do this, you may get an e-mail notification saying that you have subscribed to our Rants — just ignore it if you do. When we're done, everything should work as we originally planned it to work, and notifications should only go out for posts that are actually new. So, if all goes well, there is no action needed on your part, and nothing will change.

As above, if anything seems broken after we make these changes, please let us know in the comments below, or via our Contact page.


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[  Filed under: % Two Percent Company  ]

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