Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Site Updates (page 1 / 1)

Updating My Rating System

After writing about the awfulness of numeric rating systems, it only made sense to update my own personal rating system. With a star system, I feel compelled to rate on artistic merit rather than on personal enjoyment. After all, a numerical score should have an objective reality behind it. But sometimes I have a hard time judging artistic merit and I spend a lot of time ruminating over the "correct" rating.

What I really want is just a way to give a personal review and recommendation: did I enjoy this or not? Switching to a binary thumbs up / down system gives me the freedom to rate on my personal enjoyment and not worry as much about artistic merit. So, thumbs it is.

I am going to cheat a bit and add a second thumb for overall enthusiasm. One thumb means that the rating applies just to me and whether or not I enjoyed something. The second thumb means that I think the enjoyment (or distaste) should be universal and that I'm proactively recommending for or against something.

  • πŸ‘ I liked it
  • πŸ‘Ž I didn't like it.
  • πŸ‘πŸ‘ You should read it.
  • πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘Ž No one should read it.

Since I'll still post book reviews over on Goodreads, I'll need to map my ratings to Goodreads' star ratings. That breaks down like this. (Basically, the wishy-washy three star review is out.)

  • πŸ‘πŸ‘ = β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • πŸ‘ = β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…
  • πŸ‘Ž = β˜…β˜…
  • πŸ‘ŽπŸ‘Ž = β˜…

This entry was tagged. Review

The New Minor Thoughts

Today, I finally get to start using the new version of Minor Thoughts. I've been unhappy with my blogs for over a year now. I've been running three sites: Minor Thoughts for political discussions, a family blog for family news and updates, and DesertFlood for posts about programming, gadgets, or the tech community.

When I started working on this redesign two weeks ago, I had four goals: bring everything together, simplify things, make posts easier to find, and make the site better looking.

I was inspired by Gina Trapani's notes on short-form blogging.

If it’s a paragraph, it’s a post. Medium-sized content gets short shrift these days. Don’t go long. One or two paragraphs count. Then press publish.

Negotiate a comfort zone on two axes: personal and public, tech and everything else (feminism, musical theater, MMA, parenting, etc). 2001-era Scribbling.net was too personal, Lifehacker/Smarterware too tech. There’s something in the middle.

Simplify, simplify. No comments. (Maybe G+ or Disqus later on?) Use Markdown and Draft to write. No pages, no requiring an image every post. No categories, tags, footnotes, special post styles, pages. Virtually no plugins. Default WordPress installation with the most stripped-down theme possible.

Goal 1: Bring it all together

About a year after I started having three blogs, it stopped being fun. I didn't feel like any of the blogs fully represented who I am: the computer nerd who loves to read, enjoys watching sports, and likes to play armchair political analyst. My first goal with redesigning Minor Thoughts was to bring my blogs together, so that I could be fully "me" in just one place. Starting now, I'm going to feel free to talk about whatever's on my mind, whether or not it fits into what a specific "audience" might expect from me.

Minor Thoughts now has posts from both Minor Thoughts and DesertFlood. I also brought over pages from the family blog, so that everything related to me is here, in one place.

Goal 2: Simplify

I'm simplifying by ditching summaries. Now that I won't have to write post summaries, it should be much easier for me to get posts published. I'll probably also experiment with title-less posts. These will be quick asides, probably without tags or categories, that will be for stuff I'd normally only put on Twitter.

Goal 3: Make it easier to find

Gina is ditching her tags and categories entirely. I'm not going that far. I already tried that and didn't like it. My old design didn't show categories or tags for any posts. This kept the design simple, but I didn't like the way that it made it hard to find posts that were on the same topic.

My third goal for the redesign was to make the tags and categories visible for each post and to create indexes for each tag and each category, allowing me to browse through old posts. This used to be a multi-author site and I still enjoy reading Adam's old posts, so there's now also an author index.

The new site shows the post category at the top of each post and the post tags at the bottom of each post. This is a considered decision. While I am keeping my categories and tags, I'm also drastically simplifying them.

Categories are now for the 10,000 foot view of a what a post is. I'm using a simple rule of thumb: if I were to bring up a topic at the dinner table, how would you instinctively describe it? Am I discussing politics?, sports?, "Bible stuff"?, technology?, books? etc. This will allow you to quickly see the general topic or direction of a post and decide if you want to skip it or not.

I'm now using tags for sub-categorization of topics. This is hugely relevant to the Politics category, which still holds the majority of the blog's content. You'll now be able to browse by immigration policy, foreign policy, healthcare policy, etc.

Goal 4: Make the site better looking

I also just plain didn't like the old design. It had seemed like a good idea when I created it, but I never grew to love it. I like this new design much better. Goal achieved.

This entry was tagged. help

Critiquing "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" (Housekeeping)

Image

The question of whether I'd be able to keep up my posting schedule on this series during Christmas vacation finally resolved itself for me tonight, when I realized that no, I haven't a snowball's chance in Hell of keeping it on track. So be it known that a hiatus herein begins, hopefully concluding with a new post on the 29th.

The real kicker of this time-out, by the way, is that while I'll never able to find the time on my current schedule to post this Sunday, I did manage over the last couple days to write yesterday's post. But just before I was about to hit "Publish", I flipped through I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist and realized I made the one error from which I've struggled to abstain since beginning this series: I got ahead of the book. I mean way, way ahead of the book. I'd jumped into stuff from Chapters 13-14, to be specific. D'oh.

So after thinking it over, I decided I'll just store the post and hope I can salvage some of the hours of work I put in it when the chapters roll around.

(sigh)

Ah, well.

This entry was tagged. Philosophy

October Site Updates

And a good Saturday evening to all of you. While Adam is busy churning out the interesting and (I hope) controversial content, I've been lying lazily about. But I did manage to bestir myself long enough to make a few updates to the site. Those of you reading by RSS through Google Reader may want to pay attention to at least one of these updates.

  1. For the past few months, Google Reader has been refusing to show the full text of articles in the RSS feed. To solve that annoyance, I've changed the feed address. The old one will still work, but it won't show the full text. To view the full text, you'll want to unsubscribe from our site and re-subscribe to the new address http://feeds.feedburner.com/MinorThoughts.

  2. You know how some sites have that cool feature that lets you get notified by email when a new comment is added to a post that you commented on? Now we have that too. We also added threaded comments a little bit ago, so our comments are now twice as snazzy as they were at this time last year.

  3. And, by popular request (all one of them), we've added the name of the post's author to the top of the post. Now you can know what to expect before you start reading the article. True, this does ruin the element of surprise. But it might help you avoid mental whiplash when I finally come out of hiding and post something new.

Now, in case I don't see you, Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night!

This entry was tagged.

Been Busy Lately

I see it's been a while since I last posted. There are good reasons for that. My wife and I recently decided to buy a house and have spent a lot of time looking at houses and condos all around Madison. I've also had to finish some big projects at work and have put in an average of 50 hours a week over the past two weeks.

Jenna's last entry in the Intra Madison Immigration Debate was posted on June 9. That means I'm almost a month late responding. Yikes!

Sorry, Jenna. I do have a response, but it's not written yet. I'll do my best to post a response by the end of this weekend, but no promises. Things have been crazy lately. It looks like life is finally slowing down again, but I've been mistaken before...

This entry was tagged.

Light Blogging

I didn't post anything yesterday. I probably won't post anything today. I have several good essays in the hopper, but work commitments and personal commitments have kept me from being able to finish them. Stick around, there's definitely more to come.

This entry was tagged.

New Theme

We're now using the veryplaintxt theme by Scott. We think it gives the site a simpler, cleaner look. What do you think?

This entry was tagged.

NeoLibertarian Network

I've petitioned the Neolibertarian Network to add our new blog to the list. I've also blogrolled, for the first time, everyone else in the Neolibertarian Network. Thanks go to fellow member Josh Poulson for the code that keeps that part of the blogroll up to date. While you're over at his site, check out his puns. They're quite funny and I'm hoping to see more online soon.

This entry was tagged.