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P8TT housekeeping update

Community/Meta

By Adam Bink

Some updates — we’ve made significant progress courtesy of our wonderful tech team.

1. Comment anchor links — noted that when you try and send a link to a specific comment, it takes you to the whole page and not the comment. This one is not feasible to fix now, because of the way IntenseDebate loads, unfortunately, and until IntenseDebate changes that, there’s no way around it, unfortunately. To get technical, the anchor link can only work after ID loads. All of the comments need to load in order to pull up the comment section and for the anchor to be able to pull up the correct comment. The load time increases as you have more comments on on the post, and will also increase if the comment that you’re linking to is a reply in a large thread. It’s possible that action to load the anchored comment is timing out during onload. Fortunately, IntenseDebate says it’s something they will work on as they continue to improve their code.

2. Commenting from mobile devices such as iPhones and having them show up on the site as people view it on desktops or laptops has been resolved, as noted previously.

3. It’s been asked whether threading can be turned on and off. It can; you simply have to click the little arrow to turn it off. Last week there was one thread with a person who opposed equality that went on for some 89 comments; at some point, for many people, it became too much to read and scroll through. Simply click the little arrow button.

4. Comment moderation, which was the biggest issue, is about resolved, as less about half a dozen comments per week are being held in moderation that should not, which is much closer to the normal rate we should have, and much better than before considering we get hundreds and hundreds of comments per week. The system will never be perfect because, well, it’s never perfect, but we’ll always keep an eye on those held in moderation and check to see if they’re spam or should be approved. But less than 1% of all comments are being accidentally moderated, which is where we should be.

5. Subscribing to comments initially is working much better now. However, We’re aware of issues subscribing to comments and receiving e-mail notifications, then halfway through a debate in the comments, the notifications start coming. Working on that now.

6. Numbered comments e.g. 1-2-3 are not possible with IntenseDebate at this time.

7. We’re aware of issues with a few people where the reply button doesn’t load for some reason. It’s only happened to a handful of people, but we’re looking into that.

So, progress on many fronts, and we’re still plugging away on others.

One more thing to add which is important. If you have a bug to report, e-mail it to prop8trial AT couragecampaign DOT org. With the hundreds of comments coming in and one full-time site admin (me) who also does full-time organizing around DOMA repeal and other campaigns, it is impossible to check and reply on every single bug. E-mail is much better because it will go to several members of our team and because that’s more regularly in front of me. Feel free to leave comments as well — especially if they are questions your fellow community members can solve — but to be 100% sure we see it, e-mail to prop8trial AT couragecampaign DOT org.

Thanks as always for your patience, and onward!

20 Comments

  • 1. Gregory in SLC  |  June 29, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Thanks Adam and team for efforts and updates!

    p.s. has anyone heard from Michelle and Cherie?

  • 2. Ann S.  |  June 29, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Thanks, Adam! Adding my wishes to hear from Michelle and Cherie, too.

  • 3. peterplumber  |  June 29, 2011 at 8:33 am

    I use IE-8 as my browser both at home & at work. At home, this site and Intense Debate work as designed. At work, we are limited in our browsing by Barracuda Web Filter. A lot of content gets blocked by Barracuda and some of the functionality of Intense Debate is lost.
    I am not asking anyone to fix this, I am simply stating a fact that may also be a part of the problem other people experience as well.

  • 4. peterplumber  |  June 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Here is that letter again:

    In the past we have encountered issues with our email notifications being
    flagged as spam by mail clients and services like gmail and yahoo (among
    others) once you receive around 50 emails. There is a time component involved
    in this as well – the more emails sent over a specific amount of time, the
    more likely that we get flagged as spam.

    We also encountered a major issue where commenters would opt-in to receive
    notifications, and then panic when they start receiving loads of emails. Often
    times they would report our emails as spam rather than unsubscribe. As a
    result, all of our email notifications would be flagged and no one would
    receive email notifications.

    That in mind, we have a limit set at 50 emails per article. Unfortunately it's
    not something that can be changed since email services would flag us as spam.

    An alternative way to subscribing would be to subscribe via RSS and that would
    allow you to view all comments through an RSS reader. That option is located
    at the top right of the comment section.

  • 5. peterplumber  |  June 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

    What they are trying to say is that at the internet community level, a host can be blacklisted as a spammer, often by sending numerous emails within a short time frame. Another way to get on this list is having too many people report your email as spam.
    IntenseDebate is saying that has happened to them, so many email clients filter email from them and either block it altogether or send it to your SPAM folder.

  • 6. Kathleen  |  June 29, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Thank you, Adam, for keeping at this and especially for taking the time to keep us posted on the current status of the issues we've encountered. Your efforts are much appreciated.

  • 7. Adam Bink  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:21 am

    You bet.

  • 8. mcc  |  June 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    "To get technical, the anchor link can only work after ID loads. All of the comments need to load in order to pull up the comment section and for the anchor to be able to pull up the correct comment. The load time increases as you have more comments on on the post, and will also increase if the comment that you’re linking to is a reply in a large thread. It’s possible that action to load the anchored comment is timing out during onload. Fortunately, IntenseDebate says it’s something they will work on as they continue to improve their code."

    Can't Javascript read the anchor? So like, after IntenseDebate finishes the loading of the comments (which its Javascript will know about) it could at that time check the anchor, see if the anchor refers to a comment they inserted into the page, and if so scroll to that location.

  • 9. JonT  |  June 29, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    Ann, in the past, it was the prop8 trial tracker site that sent out all of the comment emails.

    Now, this is being handled by ID (and their servers). P8TT has no control over those servers.

    I did try a 'hack':

    – Disable ID (I use noscript, so I can prevent it from running)
    – Then post a comment, using the original 'flat' format provided on this site without ID
    – re-enable ID

    The idea was this way I could 'trick' the P8TT site into sending all of the comment emails rather than ID.

    Didn't work though :( I got one comment email from p8tt, then no more. I've got another idea I may try later.

    ID's problem apparently is that they get marked as spammers (through no fault of their own). Apparently, large email systems like gmail (for example), will start blocking *all* email from ID, regardless of the recipient or the blog.

    It would be nice if these limits were only in place for freemailers (like yahoo and gmail) – I have my own servers so blocking would never be a problem :)

    Ideally, the best solution, if it were possible with ID, would be to let the p8tt server be responsible for sending out all the email, like it used to. I am guessing that is not really possible when using ID though.

  • 10. JonT  |  June 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Me too Adam. I whine sometimes, but I really do appreciate the work you guys are doing on these issues.

  • 11. jerimee  |  June 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Hi mcc. I'm privileged to be investigating some of these usability issues and improve the functionality of the blog.

    Your suggestion about jumping to the anchor only after IntenseDebate loads is a good one, and one we looked into it. I didn't ultimately publish a fix along those lines because I was worried about the cure being worse than the disease. The easy way to scroll to that location is to do a soft reload of the page, and reloading the page could be irritating in many other contexts.

    Another rejected idea was to load IntenseDebate before anything else on the page. Unfortunately IntenseDebate still takes long enough to load that it wasn't worth it.

    Ultimately this looks like an issue we have to wait for IntenseDebate to solve.

  • 12. jerimee  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    the best solution, if it were possible with ID, would be to let the p8tt server be responsible for sending out all the email, like it used to. I am guessing that is not really possible when using ID though.

    Oh that's worth a try! I'll look into that now and let you know.

    (I'm working for CC to improve the usability of the blog.)

  • 13. jerimee  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Still investigating this. It may not be possible, but I'm crossing my fingers.

    I'm going to turn IntDebate off for a second. I'll have it back on before 5:45 PST.

  • 14. jerimee  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    OK – turned IntDebate back on.

    I think I might be able to get the old comment subscription service back, in addition to IntDebate comment subscribe function.

    The old service worked via a link like this one:
    http://www.prop8trialtracker.com/comment-subscrip

    I don't know what SRA equals S means, but 10752 is this post's id number, so I bet all we got to do is swap out 10752 for a dynamic post id and you can subscribe post by post using the old system.

    Would this be helpful? Is it worth doing?

  • 15. JonT  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    I've just tried this (via the link you provided), got the verification email, which I went to.

    I don't know if it's working yet, but I will check.

    I could live with this (using the old method to subscribe), while using ID for the actual discussion… Is this workable?

  • 16. jerimee  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I've subscribed via both the old service and IntDebate, and I got a notification via IntDebate and not via the old system…

    Another problem with using the old system to handle subscriptions is that IntDebate, for an unknown reason, rewrite the comment anchors. So even if the old system can be made to work, it is going to send out emails with links that will take you to the right page, but not the right comment anchor.

  • 17. JonT  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    'I've subscribed via both the old service and IntDebate, and I got a notification via IntDebate and not via the old system…'

    Yep – got this message via ID, not the old system.

    Another problem with using the old system to handle subscriptions is that IntDebate, for an unknown reason, rewrite the comment anchors. So even if the old system can be made to work, it is going to send out emails with links that will take you to the right page, but not the right comment anchor.

    Yeah – thought about that too. Personally, given the choice to receive *all* comments via email, or being able to click on the comment anchor in the email… I would choose to just get all the comments and then manually search through the post myself if I want to respond to a specific comment :) But that's just me.

    As for the experiment I was going to try today:

    I created another p8tt specific login, with a different email address, disabled ID, then subscribed via the old commenting system to the other 3 posts made today. While I did receive and respond to the p8tt confirmation requests, I have not seen a single comment email from the old system so far.

    Does ID simply prevent the p8tt site's subscription function from working? How sad :(

  • 18. JonT  |  June 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Forgot to note, regarding my experiment. On the other 3 posts today (other than this one), I specifically did not subscribe via ID. Only the 'old' system. It seems like it simply is not functioning when ID is in place…?

  • 19. jerimee  |  June 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    I don't understand. Can you please email Adam and I via prop8trial AT couragecampaign DOT org so I can email you questions?

    Thanks for your help.

  • 20. JonT  |  June 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Uhm, sure… on the way…

Having technical problems? E-mail equalityontrial AT couragecampaign DOT org for assistance!