Site Upgrades; Don’t Mind the Mess

I accidentally overhauled the technical infrastructure behind cvillenews.com over the past few hours. (It was meant to be a small fix, done late at night to avoid downtime, but one thing led to another…) I’ve upgraded from an ancient version of WordPress to the latest one, while trying to drag along many of the features that were dependent that rickety old version of WordPress. Parts of the site are going to look funny and broken-ish for a bit while I try to massage things back to how they were. Then they’ll start looking funny in new and interesting ways, as I start to make many of the improvements to the site that I’ve been unable to make for years now. Thanks for bearing with me!

9/25 Update: Oh, and it’s possible to post comments now. Because that seems like a useful feature.

26 Responses to “Site Upgrades; Don’t Mind the Mess”


  • The good news is that the site is really speedy now! That’s thanks to running the latest version of WordPress, but also because I just hadn’t touched the code behind the site in years, and never added the sort of niceties that would have made this difference a long time ago. I’m glad I finally found the excuse to get things working properly.

    I want to take this chance to thank Colin Learmonth and BNSI for hosting the site for years, for no charge at all. The way these upgrades snowballed on themselves overnight, I wound up moving the site to one of my servers that’s not at BNSI, which wasn’t my intention at all, but somehow that seemed like a good idea at two o’clock this morning. The site worked flawlessly on BNSI, always. I think I recall a few hours of downtime, once, maybe some time last year—a router exploded or something, I don’t know. With that lone exception, I’m pretty sure that the site enjoyed 100% uptime, the credit for which goes entirely to BNSI.

  • thanks for all you’ve done past and present to keep this lively community forum up and running. Any idea how many hits since it’s inception?

  • Yes, Waldo, thanks for all that you do. As the proprietor of many a WP site, I am familiar with he challenges. And the mobile edition looks great!

  • What’s your view on requiring a real name for comments? Whether a real name posted with the comment, or a real name known only to the editor, i.e. the über-Waldo?

  • What’s your view on requiring a real name for comments?

    For starters, I have no idea of what somebody’s “real name” is. If somebody provides the name of “Linda,” “Peter,” or “Jane Smith,” I don’t have the faintest idea of whether that’s really their name. So there’s no possibility of me checking. Perhaps more important, I’ve never intended for any sort of enforcement of this. If somebody wants to use pseudonym that isn’t at all name-like (e.g., “Old Observer”), I’m not liable to have anything to say about it.

    The goal of this has been to establish discourse that’s more conversational and more real. When you pin a name on somebody (“Bob”) then you get a very different image of that person than with a non-name-like pseudoynm. It’s harder to be angry at “Bob”—clearly a real live person who will bring to mind a composite of the people one knows who are named “Bob”—than it is to be angry at “Build The Parkway” or “Reversion Now.”

    This, by the way, has been something more media outlets have been enforcing via Facebook. Commenting at the Times-Dispatch’s site is now done via Facebook, meaning that your full name and photo appear next to every comment that you make after a story. Anecdotally, this leads to a pretty significant increase in the quality of discourse. I’m not real interested in that here, for the simple reason that the quality of discourse is already so very high here. This isn’t a problem that needs solving.

    Suggesting that people use their real name—first, first and last, initials, nickname, whatever—is just an encouragement to engage with others in a more communal fashion, in hopes that it might bring some benefits.

  • Any idea how many hits since it’s inception?

    I’ve got no idea. It’s been over a decade, in which time I’ve used several different methods of tracking traffic, never with an eye towards long-term data collection. I was about to start doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it would be dishonest. Traffic levels have fluctuated so much over time, depending on what’s going on in local events, that any number that I’d give you would be between speculation and fiction.

  • “The goal of this has been to establish discourse that’s more conversational and more real. When you pin a name on somebody (‘Bob’) then you get a very different image of that person than with a non-name-like pseudoynm. It’s harder to be angry at ‘Bob’—clearly a real live person who will bring to mind a composite of the people one knows who are named ‘Bob’—than it is to be angry at ‘Build The Parkway’ or ‘Reversion Now’.”

    There is no doubt you have accomplished your goal of discourse here that’s “conversational” Waldo. On that, you earn a standing ovation. However, as for trying to grab that brass ring of “more real,” your blog gives (whether mistaken or intentional) an in-reverse apppearence of seeming sensational or (perhaps) surreal.

    Please consider, sometimes it is more difficult for some folks to come up front and/or be blunt frank with others (of undoubtable identitiy) on whatever topic of the moment. So yes, Jacquie (as far as screenames could -emphasis on could- go) might be more approachable and of some actual validity than say maybe “Dredge Baby Dredge.”

    I’d be more curious to know (strictly stat interest – nothing else) how many incendiary remarks by purported “real” identities have been ignited compared to the let’s “post-bomb” replies targeted to pseudoynm so-n-so’s comments.

    I don’t know how your other readers herein see it
    but compliments to you on keeping the precarious balance between the reallies and psuedos.

  • Please consider, sometimes it is more difficult for some folks to come up front and/or be blunt frank with others (of undoubtable identitiy) on whatever topic of the moment. So yes, Jacquie (as far as screenames could -emphasis on could- go) might be more approachable and of some actual validity than say maybe “Dredge Baby Dredge.”

    That’s just one of the reasons why I have no intention of requiring the use of “real” names. (I put that word in condescension quotes because the idea of a real name is very slippery, as Google has been discovering with Google Plus, which requires a “real” name—something that they’re finding they can’t actually define with any success.) Sometimes I see people comment here who, by virtue of being anonymous, are able to provide information and frank commentary that they could never provide under their own name, and I think that’s to the greater benefit. Incidentally, I only know who such people are when they use their real e-mail address—something that I find flattering, because it shows that they trust me to maintain their pseudonymity. (Though not without good cause. :)

    I’d be more curious to know (strictly stat interest – nothing else) how many incendiary remarks by purported “real” identities have been ignited compared to the let’s “post-bomb” replies targeted to pseudoynm so-n-so’s comments.

    I wish I knew! I’ve got no numbers on that, just an overall sense that I’ve gathered from eighteen years of running online communities. I don’t mean that as an appeal to authority but, instead, as an admission of weakness. “An overall sense” is no substitute for hard numbers.

  • Waldo,

    I’m sure you’ve noticed, but there isn’t an indication of whether stories have comments…

  • The font hurt my eyes as I was not expecting it. Is this one of the things you are going to be changing back, or are we sticking with this one? I just need to know whether I should get used to it.

  • @Travis… If you look right under the headline, there is a link that says “10 comments” or whatever. It’s just not at the bottom anymore. It is a bit hard to see though.

  • The font hurt my eyes as I was not expecting it. Is this one of the things you are going to be changing back, or are we sticking with this one?

    Like the placement of the comment count indicator, this is one of those things that’s baked into the current version of the site’s template. I think that the typography is wretched. The leading is much too loose, which just makes it hard to read. The mistake I made last time around was modifying the template directly, which meant that I couldn’t upgrade to the new version without overwriting my changes. This time I’m going to take my time, make these fixes in a responsible way, and avoid winding up in an upgrade cul-de-sac.

  • While you’re making a list, the ability to move to comments at the end of a post would be good. Rather than having to scroll back to the top to get there…

  • muscle memory… thanks for the heads up Michael.

  • builditandtheywillwhine

    Would it be a huge deal to add an edit feature, like many other sites which allow editing for a couple of minutes? I don’t know if that is a difficult thing or not but it would be very nice.

  • Would it be possible to be able to post sparkly gifs inline with the comments?

    Every forum needs more sparkly gifs.

  • While you’re making a list, the ability to move to comments at the end of a post would be good. Rather than having to scroll back to the top to get there…

    I’m not following you, Barbara. Would you mind explaining a bit more?

    Would it be a huge deal to add an edit feature, like many other sites which allow editing for a couple of minutes?

    That’s something I’ve wanted to add for years, but couldn’t, and then totally forgot about. Yes, this. I’ll see if I can get a first crack at that tonight.

    Would it be possible to be able to post sparkly gifs inline with the comments?

    Dear. God.

  • Hey, that was easy! Now there’s an edit function. You can edit a comment for 5 minutes after it’s posted, or until somebody else posts, whichever comes first. The idea behind those limits is to avoid somebody writing something inflammatory, baiting somebody into responding, then editing the original to look reasonable, and thus making the other person look like a jackass. And, yes, that does happen. :)

    It’s long struck me as unfair that, if I make some embarrassing error of typing (or thought), I can go back and fix it immediately, but nobody else gets to without e-mailing me. Now everybody gets to do that.

  • builditandtheywillwhine

    Thank you very much for the change- can’t imagine that kind of response from any other blog. (cool, this was added in the new edit feature after posting)

  • I hit your home page & read a post. It’s a long post, so to read the whole thing I have to scroll the page down & the headline disappears. Having read the post, I decide that I want to comment or read the comments. At the bottom of the post I can’t get to the comments, so I have to scroll back up to the top to get there.

    So the ability to move on to the comments at the bottom of the post would be convenient.

  • The mobile version now rocks! Thanks!

  • Barbara, as a card carrying member of the Scroll Wheelers of America, I take the most deep umbrage with your disparaging comments regarding the perceived difficulty in scrolling through a page. Your heartless screed casts a pall across those of us happily scrolling hither and yon throughout the intarwebs. Perhaps you should think about all those kids in Somalia who would be more than happy just to see a pop up ad announcing that they have won an iPod, let alone have a hardware interface to access and keep track of whether or not the local Mujahadeen are actually going to finally build a bypass around the business section of Mogadishu.

    No, mam, this is America, and we are truly blessed to scroll around as we please! We are free to scroll and opine to our hearts content! Dont you forget it! God bless both vertical and horizontal scrolling, and may god continue to bless the United States of America!

    (I would add a weeping eagle faded into an american flag drenched with red white and blue glitter sparkles here but apparently Waldo has a problem with such chicanery)

  • I hit your home page & read a post. It’s a long post, so to read the whole thing I have to scroll the page down & the headline disappears. Having read the post, I decide that I want to comment or read the comments. At the bottom of the post I can’t get to the comments, so I have to scroll back up to the top to get there.

    Ah, I’ve got it—I understand what you mean. Yes, definitely, I would like to move the comment count down there, and intend to do so.

  • cvillenews.com overcame my SliceHost/Rackhost server pretty quickly—the thing went into a death spiral about thirty minutes ago. I’ve upped it from the 384 MB to the 512 MB server, which I hope will fix the problem. Otherwise, this could get expensive. :)

  • I take it, Waldo, that you have updated to a newer version of WordPress. Were you able to keep the same theme?

  • I moved to a much newer version of the same theme. But I’d modified the old version so much that I lost a bunch of the features that I liked. I’m slowing adding those back, though, so things are gradually going back to normal. I’ll be glad when I can a) simplify the sidebar again and b) get the photos back in the header.

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