Blog Improvement Prioritization Input Wanted!

Bob put this as a comment, but as draft prioritization it deserves its own post.

PS Thanks to everyone who contributed to our Blog Improvement Fund.

So far as a needs priority committee is concerned, that was my virtual intent with the “What’s Wrong With this Website?” post. Some of those concerns have been addressed, and a few others added, but no real priority list was determined: this was before we knew we had a budget to work with.

So far as needed blog improvements, I’d put some of the cheap stuff up first, just to check the skill level of who I’m (“you’re”) working with, and also to get some of the cosmetic stuff out of the way. Here are my suggestions:

1) Now that we’ve fixed the Comment list topics, we’ve sacrificed our Avatars, which are also very helpful sorting and place-keeping tools. Should be a quick and easy fix, maybe involving a widget or two at most. This was the most common concern of commenters, and it’s mostly fixed.

Note to Bob.. do you mean getting avatars back on the Recent Comments widget in the right hand column? or somewhere else?

2) Improved (“same as before”) statistical and user summaries, maybe with a few add-ons. Maybe just more widgets, or cut-and-paste the old code.

3) Making the bulk of the statistical studies available to all readers (or at least registered subscribers).

4) Now something difficult — restore the older (“pre-upgrade”) posts and comments so that they properly display graphics (including stats back to Day 01) and so they can be readily searched, sorted, and displayed. Just like Google or Excel or somebody.

5) Install a functional search engine so that past posts and comments actually can be searched, sorted, and displayed. If we can get these 5 things, some basic WordPress payments, and Derek’s spa suggestion covered for anywhere near $1000, I think we will be very lucky people.

Another question for Bob. is there a difference between searching in 4 and 5 or is 4 just saying graphics should be searchable in the same way as 5?

6) Categories and Tags. Probably need to design an explanatory page for this and demonstrate its utility to us non-users. Maybe after the next fundraiser?

Other ideas?

Here’s my question to users who are not Bob.. how much do the site statistics interest you? Bob is very interested, I am not particularly interested, and it would be good to get the pulse of the rest of you.

As to categories, I think the point is to be able to find all the posts on a topic. When you do a post, you get to check off all the categories that you think apply. Since I developed them over the last 4 years, chances are that they may not mean anything to others. But if we changed improved and reorganized them (volunteers?) then we should probably recategorize all the 1800 or so posts.

7 Comments

  1. Well, we’ve been stuck on the $575 number for quite a while, so I just added $50 to get us over the hump and to have an excuse to post here as a reminder to everyone about all the good work Sharon has done in starting this blog and shouldering most of the work to keep it going. The $1000 benchmark is a reasonable one for making the types of corrections and improvements that several of us have called for in earlier discussions. Probably an annual fundraiser of this type might be a good idea — just to continue to maintain and improve the blog and mainly as a way to avoid annoying advertisements to cover upkeep charges.

    Answers to Sharon’s questions: 1) yep, I think the avatars next to Recent Comments was a very helpful way of quickly sorting through the list and determining who to follow and who to avoid when time is a factor; 2) in #4 I was saying that the missing graphics and other glitches in the earlier version should be fixed so that the Posts and Comments could be searched — and displayed — as readily as the current version, and #5 says we need a (much) better search engine — something at least along the lines of what Google was doing around the turn of the century. I’d like to be able to sort by Commenters or Posters as one example, and have more complete displays of findings as another. Like Google does (but not on their own crappy blogs, either, for some reason).

  2. Sharon and Bob

    Thank you for your work on this. When I see the action plan, I will give more consideration to making a contribution and contributing some time to this organizational efficiency effort.

    What I would like to see is listed below in priority order.

    1) Ability to edit/delete your own post within 15 minutes of making the post.

    2) Ability to sort the comments within a post according to:
    — a) Sort all comments by date and time regardless of whether they were a reply or not with a link to the comment to which they were a reply when that was the case.
    This is my preferred viewing option.
    — b) Current indentation of replies to comments within date order of original comments with no indentation.

    3) Categorization and Archives – make them much faster to peruse in newest to oldest date order by only including the title and date of the post. Otherwise, I am not to keen on categorization because we all have a different concept of what associations should be in a particular category. If we each had an .ini file to which could add our own categories and the posts associated with that then I would place it at the top of the priority list. For instance, when we changed providers, I lost my link to the post that showed # incidents and total wildfire acres burned by year. I tried to find it after everything was finally moved over but gave up (probably too quickly). If I had categorized it, it would have been as Fire Trends/History – Quick synopsis: Graph 1982-2011 Denver Post. That would get over the search problem because without it I no longer have any idea if “graph / Denver Post / 1982-2011” was used in the post so a search is catch as catch can. I’d also need the ability to remove a post from a category. But I think this is well outside of the scope of our budget. The old approach of book marking a post works great until the provider changes. If an .ini “Quick synopsis” had been available then I’d have all that I needed to do a search after the move and my memory failure. Oh well, I can do all of that with a spreadsheet – just not as conveniently but a whole lot cheaper.

    4) Statistics available to all registered subscribers.

    5) Ability to sort posts (discussion threads as opposed to comments) by the number of comments &/ Views.

    6) The ability to label or un-label a post as a personal favorite for future reference.

    7) Advanced search capabilities (+ – “” all any)

    8) Avatars back by the Comment (I had an avatar right after we move but it disappeared after one of the revisions to the view on the current provider) and by the Recent Comments.

    • Thanks, Gil: This IS the action plan. You are requesting improvements to the site — along with several of the rest of us — a topic that has been discussed for years but reached some urgency when we changed operating modes a few months ago. If you want to contribute monetarily to help make such improvements possible, that is your choice. The money is to cover basic monthly fees and to make the very types of improvements you are suggesting. To date, Sharon has covered all costs in those regards herself, but actual construction and maintenance of the blog has been done entirely by volunteers, including subscribers, moderators, posters, and commenters, such as ourselves.

      We have all put an enormous amount of time and thought into this, whether measured in hours, months, or years; individually or cumulatively. There have been numerous pleas on this blog for volunteer expertise in helping to achieve these improvements, but there doesn’t seem to be a real techie among us, or at least one with time on their hands to do such chores. So we’re stuck with paying someone who is capable to make such changes once people are in agreement as to what the changes should look like — and we all seem to be pretty much on the same page as your suggestions. I do like the 15 (or 60) minute editing or deletion privilege for all commenters, though, and think it should be added to the priority list.

      • Bob

        Good – I have been a techie but I need to know what tech language you are talking about in order to find out whether or not it is something that I can pick up pretty quickly. I am new to blogging so I really have no idea of what is involved in setting up, maintaining and modifying blogs and their procedures. Can you point me in any specific direction?

        • Gil: This is a WordPress blog and they probably use — at least to some extent — proprietary software of some type(s) or another. A WordPress tutorial or an informational blog and a couple of how-to Youtube videos would be my suggested starting point. I’ll stick around for about three acronyms, then I have to quit, so I can usually take about a paragraph or two, then have to look for something else to do. Good luck!

          • WordPress is a free, open-source platform coded in PHP. That’s about as far as my coding knowledge goes, but I have found the online WordPress codex and support forum quite helpful when tweaks are needed to the site. Some of the items in this list may be doable by a regular person who is somewhat facile with computers and coding. And who has the time to do it.

            I am also working with Sharon to identify paid coders who can help, but this is a small enough job that it may be hard to find somebody.

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