Another year, another anniversary for cvillenews.com. Since I celebrated last year by doing absolutely nothing, this year I’m partying like it’s 2005 by making some changes.
The site is still running WordPress, the software that I switched it over to two years ago now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. But now I’m using the K2 modifications to it, along with a series of plugins to provide new functionality.
It’s the major new features that I’m geeked about.
- Sideblog: In the top of the center column there’s no space for really brief blog entries that really don’t merit a full write up. Though I’m mostly interested in using this to regularly link to Charlottesville blog entries that I want to promote, I imagine I’ll end up abusing it for all sorts of things. These entries are carried in the RSS feed, too.
- Elimination of Registration: Originally, anybody could comment. But 75% of people posted as “Anonymous,” and some behaved as if they were anonymous, too, thus demonstrating John Gabriel’s now-classic theory about anonymity. This created a lousy community, and I ended up requiring registration. Now that most folks likely to read cvillenews.com are familiar with blogs, and know not to behave like feces-throwing chimps, I feel pretty good about letting people post a comment as they would to any other blog. If I end up being wrong about this then I guess I’ll just go back to how things were. I anticipate a much higher participation rate with an open commenting system. (Note that this makes the site newly subject to comment spam. If you post a comment and it doesn’t show up immediately, it’s just caught in the spam filter. Don’t worry, I’ll rescue it.)
- Flickr in the Sidebar: I’ve been wanting to make Flickr images of Charlottesville more widely available. It just annoys people when I include them in Charlottesville Blogs, so now they’ll be in the sidebar here. If you want your pictures of Charlottesville to show up in the sidebar of cvillenews.com, just post them to the Charlottesville Flickr group.
K2 provides a series of minor quality-of-life improvements to the site, too — better access to archives, improved searching, and some clever little Ajax-y elements.
Every page on the site is now ridiculously wide. But, honestly, it’s the only way that I could pack everything in. It’s structured so that you can have a narrow browser window and see the basics — the main blog entries, or make it a bit wider and see more, or make it fully 995 pixels wide and see the whole affair. I really love having the canvas at the top for a random photo to appear. At the moment I’ve just selected a dozen or so photos that I’ve taken around town that seem nice. I hope to take a bunch more photos to stick up there, and maybe get some other people to contribute images, too. (If you’re interested, it has to be 995 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. If you want a credit, put it in tastefully small white Verdana in the lower right-hand corner.) The layout is a bit goofy in some of the sidebars right now, but a few tweaks should settle that.
There’s nothing major here, but I think it’s a good step forward for the site. The more that this site is a community pastiche — such as Flickr photos and local blog entries — the happier I am.