Welcome to Ordinary Times

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

176 Responses

  1. Erik Kain says:

    Testing out Disqus comments.Report

  2. MikeSchilling says:

    More testingReport

  3. meelar2 says:

    Looks great! One change I’d like to see, however, is to add an author line just below the post title. As is, when I scroll to the top of the page, I have no indication that this post is by Erik Kain–it would be nice to know who I’m reading without having to scroll down.Report

  4. Fnord says:

    I’m sure I like only being able to access the most recent posts via the animated headline image thing.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Fnord says:

      If you meant to include a “not” in there, I’m right there with ya Fnord. I think the current – and by that I mean, I guess, the active – FP posts need to be listed on the main page. Somewhere. Easily accessible. Visually.

      I also think collapsing the distinction between the main page posts and the sub-blogs in the Gifts of Gab section is problematic. On the one hand, it diminishes the ostensible importance of main-page posts. On the other, it elevates sub-blog posts to a level that may not warranted or even desirable given that those posts are often written to a relatively closed audience.

      I could go on.

      OK. I will. I think gravatars ought to be on the right so’s not to interfere with the actual text. I think the reply button ought to be much more subtle. And I think the threading is confusing, what with all the visual breaks in color and boxing. It makes the responses seem disconnected to the comment their responding too. That they’re an independent, free standing thought rather than linked to something else that was said.

      Apart from that, I love the redesign.Report

      • And I think the threading is confusing, what with all the visual breaks in color and boxing.

        Yeah, this is pretty terrible. Personally, I recommend something along the lines of Slashdot or The Oil Drum, with clear vertical markings indicating the depth, and where any particular subthread ends. In a shade of gray/black that is clearly visible.Report

        • wardsmith in reply to Michael Cain says:

          Seconded on the Oil Drum method, which I recommended about 2 years ago. Shouldn’t be that hard to figure out since Dr. Saunders’ father is one of the founders of the Oil Drum website.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Fnord says:

      The animated headline has “featured posts” which is not necessarily the most recent posts. It’s the posts that the editors choose to highlight.

      The most recent mainfeed posts are listed below, for “The League” though it may have been “Ordinary Blog” when you wrote that comment. Recent posts for the mainfeed and subblogs are presently listed to the right (they may not have been when you initially made your comment).Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        This is something the editors probably need to keep in mind. As cool as the FP animated slider for Featured Posts is – because it is so prominent & eye-catching – but if they don’t rotate those posts frequently, it may look to visitors as if there is no new site content, when there actually is.Report

  5. Tod Kelly says:

    Posting partially as a test, and partially to say how awesome everything looks.Report

  6. OG Jaybird says:

    Check, check.Report

  7. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Sexy new look… very cool.Report

  8. Patrick Cahalan says:

    Hm; I can comment, but even when I’m logged into the site it’s still asking me for an identity. Ah, I had to make one on Disquis.

    You’re getting closer, Erik.Report

  9. LeeEsq says:

    Testing, testing.Report

  10. Kazzy says:

    It’s cold and there are wolves after me!Report

  11. North says:

    I don’t like change so I’m biased against it… but it objectivly looks good.Report

    • North in reply to North says:

      Also I’ve lost my icon.. maybe Kazzy’s wolves stole em.. ugh.Report

    • George Turner in reply to North says:

      Somewhere around where you comment should be a gear symbol that brings up Disqus settings, with options along a sidebar. Under “avatar” it allows you to upload one from your computer, from the web, use your Gravatar icon, plus a couple others.

      I tried the “use gravatar” option but that didn’t work for me, so I just saved my old image and re-uploaded it directly to disqus.

  12. George Turner says:

    My ISP (Insight) just got bought out by Time Warner Cable, and a news site had a little header from TWC telling me I was seeing the “lite” version of the content and that I should set up an account with Time Warner for full bandwidth access.

    Then I clicked over to the league, the fonts and format were all wrong, and I couldn’t successfully comment. So I assumed TWC had completely screwed up what had been very reliable and trouble free Internet service. I vowed to hunt their executives down and eat their beating hearts in front of their screaming children.

    Now I found out you’re to blame!

    Well, actually I assumed that someone new had been trying to learn the ins and outs of WordPress and did one of those very bad things that bloggers occasionally do, eating their current format and bouncing them back to some archived version they had when they first started out. So I assumed “Ordinary Times” was something from the early 2000’s that became The League, and you folks were desperately trying to undo the damage.

  13. dan d says:

    i like the new look but i don’t like DisqusReport

  14. aaronthedavid says:


  15. dan d says:

    and will my old RSS feeds still workReport

  16. aaronthedavid says:

    Crimony, now i need to redo my avatarReport

  17. Stillwater says:

    Does this thing work?Report

  18. aaronthedavid says:

    and now…Report

  19. LeeEsq says:

    I like that we have a search function now though. Thanks.Report

  20. Mike Dwyer says:

    Excited to see the months of discussion come to life. Looks great so far Erik.Report

  21. 5Miriam9 says:

    Looks great although I need to figure out how to get my name back. Not sure how I feel about the new comment structure.Report

  22. TruffautFan says:

    Hey everyone! This is the poster known as NewDealer. I guess this will be my new name now!Report

  23. Chris says:

    This makes me feel old.Report

  24. TruffautFan says:

    BTW there are a lot of times when I know comments have been made in a thread but my web browser says otherwise. Not sure if this a problem or your end or mine…..Report

  25. MikeSchilling says:

    Ah, I had to click on “oldest” to get comments in the right order.Report

    • Pierre_Corneille in reply to MikeSchilling says:

      The up/down voting will probably be the hardest thing for me to get used to. It’s one of the reasons I no longer read (very often) the Volokh conspiracy. Hopefully I’ll overcome my curmudgeonliness for the sake of this site, which I value a lot more.Report

      • trumwill in reply to Pierre_Corneille says:

        How did up/down voting affect your decision to read or not read Volokh?Report

        • Hi Will,

          Sorry about not answering you for a while. (And it seems that upvoting has been downvoted by the blog formatters?…..at least I don’t see the option any more on my end.)

          At Volokh, the upvoting and downvoting seemed to make it harder to follow conversations in the threads, and in some, difficult to articulate way, seemed to change the comment culture for the worse. That said, I have other reasons for not reading Volokh as much (I’m less interested in the legal issues than I used to be, I’m not as sympathetic to the libertarian arguments of the better authors there (Volokh, Somin, Adler), and I’m turned off by the police-state friendly blogposts of some of the minor authors on that supposedly libertarian-leaning blog (I do, however, still try to read Orin Kerr whenever I can)).

          I think, however, my misgivings about upvoting or downvoting might be on par with my misgivings earlier about nested comments with sub-threads or ONE BIG THREAD. (I actually forget if the League used to have the ONE BIG THREAD format…..if it did, I certainly got over my misgivings when it changed over.)Report

  26. Kyle R. Cupp says:

    I’ve been moved. Now where is my stapler?Report

  27. Burt Likko says:

    By the way, folks, please do donate. Erik pays for this whole thing out of his own pocket and this isn’t free. The money that comes in from advertisements is a pittance compared to the hosting fees. If you think you get value out of this blog — and the content isn’t going to go down in quality with the new format and the new name — then please send a little money his way. Doesn’t have to be a lot, every little bit counts. Thanks for listening to the pledge drive and we now return to your regularly-scheduled hair-splitting about what is or is not proper libertarianism.Report

    • Erik Kain in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Thanks, Burt. Don’t worry, I will try to be like an annoying NPR drive and keep posting beggar’s posts until we have every red cent.Report

      • aaronthedavid in reply to Erik Kain says:

        A suggestion, please leave the donate tab on the page permanently, so we can find it when feeling generous, and not have to wait for the fund drive.Report

    • Pierre_Corneille in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I’ve never donated before, but I’ll try to in the next week or so, after all the wedding hubub has died down. (I’ve already arrived in Denver, and the relatives and guests are starting to arrive, too.)

      Whatever gripes I might have about the formatting (and like Greginak above, I tend to criticize new formatting and then within a few days forget what the old formatting was like), I have taken so much from this site that I don’t mind giving at least a little.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

      “…and the content isn’t going to go down in quality with the new format and the new name…”

      Speak for yourself, Likko.Report

  28. Michael Cain says:

    The biggest problem is that on Firefox, the top-level stuff is showing up in a very large font size with excess line spacing. Much larger type and much more space than I need for legibility, and I have to scroll down what seems like vast distances to go through things. On Safari the font sizes are more reasonable — although the red font used for individual post titles is still too big — but the line spacing is painfully wide. Any chance of allowing default the default font sizes and spacing?Report

    • For those who agree with me and are Firefox users, I recommend NoSquint with a zoom setting of 83% — that at least gets a reasonable amount of stuff on the screen at one time. The down side is that the text in the comment text book is smaller than is quite comfortable. Please, other than headlines, can we keep the range of text sizes used within a reasonable range? Nothing that’s too much bigger or smaller than the other stuff.Report

  29. greginak says:

    Out of respect for the history of cranky people complaining, I think i have always said i hate every time the site is changed. But in like three days i can’t remember what it looked like before. So on par so far. This must have been a lot of work. Thanks.Report

  30. Rufus F. says:

    Who’d a thunk I’d be commenting on the first day of the new site??? Looks great!Report

  31. greginak says:

    I don’t think anybody has talked about the new name in this thread. Good move. I can’t raise any crankyness over it.Report

  32. Maribou says:

    Hmm. I like it a lot more than I could’ve imagined I would. It will take me some time to settle in.Report

  33. James K says:

    Looks great Erik, I really appreciate the work you’ve put into this.Report

  34. DRS says:

    DISQUS????? Bleeping bleeping bleep. Well, that’s going to substantially reduce my time around here.

    I don’t like change, so I don’t like this. I think the lines need to be darker around the various columns and boxes – it all looks very jumbled together to me at first sight. Also: the Gab column on the right hand side has the comments mooshed together – can you put some white space between them to make them look separate? You did it with the Off the Cuff part.

    And what’s that Around the Web links part just above the comment box? “Heidi Klum’s unfortunate sunburn”? Are pop-up ads on the way?

    It all just looks so crowded and busy. And the font is small and hard to read. Don’t like, don’t like, don’t like. Change is bad. That’s why I’m a conservative.

    On the plus side: it’s good to have a search function people can actually find.
    And what’s this about a password???Report

  35. Fnord says:

    The links to comments in the sidebar don’t seem to be taking me directly to the comment in question, just to the post.Report

  36. zic says:

    Forget the small, incremental changes that don’t really get noticed over time. Just go for the big, bold, breathtaking, habit-breaking.

    I’m mourning the loss of whatever Gentleman status I might have ordinarily had. And Have just one complaint: the animation on the front page; stuff like that can trigger a seizure or migraine, a conversation dhex and I once had about those dancing emoticons. (I realize, I’m unusually sensitive, but I am not unique.)

    I’m humbled by the name chance; an hones, strong effort to be inclusive. Stunning.Report

  37. Russell Saunders says:

    I am so excited by this change, and already like the feel of telling people I’m a “contributing blogger at Ordinary Times.”Report

  38. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    I was curious about the changes. This explains much.

    Looks good at first blush.

    Oh, & an edit function! SoOoOoOoOo much better!Report

  39. Barry_D says:

    It’s really, really hard to use in an iPad – it keeps reloading, and things don’t quite seem to show up right (I was using Chrome).Report

  40. Barry_D says:

    BTW, as a general rule of thumb, when you have multi-blogger blogs, or blogs with substantial sections, navigation is always a primary concern. When I first visited this site a couple of years ago, it took me several months to figure out that it was a collection of blogs, and how to move between them.Report

  41. Reformed Republican says:

    Yay! I got to keep my name! I will have to fix my avatar later. I like the new name. I am not sure about my opinion on the new layout yet. I am sure after a week or so I will be used to it and not want anything to change, though.Report

  42. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Weird. Now it seems I can comment. But I couldn’t do it by clicking on the image in the slider and then trying to comment. That delivered me a post without any apparent comments at all.

    The only way I could get here was by clicking on Reformed Republican’s comment in the Gifts of Gab sidebar. THAT delivered me to the post with Disqus comments displayed below.

    Is this something that’s just glitchy because of the after-the-fact implementation of Disqus? Or is it always going to be this way? (Is it like this for anyone else?)Report

  43. Mark Thompson says:

    Looking good!Report

  44. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Looking things over again, it seems that the text “An Ordinary Blog” is extraneous. I know it’s supposed to be the “main” blog title, but does there even need to be one? If not, can you just drop it?

    I’d also second a slightly heavier font weight for text on the main page.Report

  45. Blaise_P says:

    Test comment:


    Sometimes when you’re not looking he just sneaks up on you. He looks like a cheap sort of flying saucer about five feet across with a snout-like megaphone apparatus in the front with two big eyes mounted like Appletons with miniature motorized frowning chrome eyebrows over them. Along the side of his disc-like body are several sets of stupid looking headers and exhaust hoses which apparently propel him and punctuate his dialogue with horrible smelling smoke rings. In the middle of his head we can see an airport wind sock and constantly twirling anemometer. The bottom of him has a landing light and three spoked wheels. In spite of all this, it is obvious that the way he really gets around is by being dangled from place to place by a union guy with a dark green shirt up in the roof who is eating a sandwich (pieces of which drop off every once in a while and lodge themselves near the hole where they put the oil in that makes the cheap smoke). He hovers into view and speaks to us thusly…

    This is the CENTRAL SCRUTINIZER…it is my responsibility to enforce all the laws that haven’t been passed yet. It is also my responsibility to alert each and every one of you to the potential consequences of various ordinary everyday activities you might be performing which could eventually lead to The Death Penalty (or affect your parents’ credit rating). Our criminal institutions are full of little creeps like you who do wrong things…and many of them were driven to these crimes by a horrible force called MUSICReport

  46. NoPublic says:

    Do Not Want. Dislike the layout, hate DISQUS with a passion. At least you can finally nest comments properly, now if you could just see just the new ones somehow with limited context that’d be almost functional.

    I’m not the target audience though, so whatevs.Report

  47. KatherineMW says:

    At the risk of sounding like one of those people who complains every time Facebook changes something, but I preferred the old site better. It’s harder to find the main-page (as opposed to sub-blog) articles this way, and the setup doesn’t show that some of the subblogs have been inactive for a long while (at least, Journeys in Alterity was until recently).

    I understand the name change, but don’t like it. Due to being aware of the literary reference implicit in “The League of Ordinary Gentlemen”, I had no issues with its appearance of male-specificness (the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen included at least one lady, anyway). I liked the multiple ideas expressed by the title: that we were ‘ordinary’ and made no claim to being the definitive experts on any issue; that we believed in a ‘gentlemanlike’, i.e. polite and courteous and thoughtful standard of discussion; plus the aforementioned literary reference.

    I don’t think the present times are ordinary – few times are – and the current title is simply less interesting than the previous one. However, if the earlier one genuinely was keeping women away from the site (which I’m skeptical on), and the name change brings more female posters and front-pagers, the name change will be worth it.Report

    • Erik Kain in reply to KatherineMW says:

      Katherine, to your points:

      1) Many women did not have a problem with the old name; some did. We have no way of knowing the full extent, but we have plenty of first-hand instances of where it’s been problematic. I liked the old name, but there were good reasons to switch.

      2) No, these aren’t ordinary times. There’s some irony at work here, and that’s intentional.

      3) I do appreciate the feedback and dissent. We didn’t expect everyone to like the change. When does everyone ever like change?Report

  48. KatherineMW says:

    As an additional note, I don’t think the topic tag for “The League” should be “US politics”. There’s a lot more range here than that.

    Oh, and while we’re changing things – is there a way that the commenting system can be changed to allow people to edit their comments?Report

  49. Russell M says:

    i dont know if i am just being stupid or what but did off-the-cuff go bye bye? if so i will mourn for the loss of the LOOG’s snack-size offerings.Report

  50. DRS says:

    I can’t find my Jacob’s Room thread. Where are non-recent posts kept? And could you please darken the lines around comments? There’s so much white space it hurts my eyes.

    I wish there had been some advance notice given.Report

  51. Veronica Dire says:

    I dunno, things *look* really great, but I hate this slideshow-ish article browser on the front page. The previous linear presentation worked, as scrolling is fast with a mouse wheel, and thus I could quickly discover which articles I wanted to read. Now it is tedious and slow and horrible. I cannot scan. I have to click and wait for some dumb special effects that are lame the first time I see them and surely will not seem less lame the 10,000th time I’ve seen them. Barf!

    Who thought that was a good idea?Report

  52. Roger says:

    I need to second Veronica’s point.

    First, I love change. Really I do.

    Second, this new format does a great job of promoting the sub blogs. Big thumbs up.

    What I really, really miss though is the ability to skim the first few paragraphs of a lead essay on the main blog to see whether it is worthy of further time. You simply do not get this from a title or subheading.

    As we fix the various minor things that a major transition requires, please do not crop the initial paragraphs of main posts. It is a big mistake, especially if we want to attract new readers.

    Anyone else agree?Report

    • DRS in reply to Roger says:

      Yes, Roger, I totally agree. I knew where to find the subblogs I found interesting and could ignore the rest. This front page gives me a headache every time I see it. I’m here for the main blog. And there’s no way to find older posts easily. I don’t always remember who originally posted something. So rather than an easy “Older Posts” button at the bottom of the page, like before, now I have to look in a variety of places.

      Did we know this was going to happen? Or is this another of the insider-only things?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to DRS says:

        There have been a handful of discussions in various comments to various posts (for example, we got into the whole issue of whether “Ordinary Gentlemen” was a deliberately exclusionary name for a website or not).

        I think that there were a bunch of folks who all knew that this was coming (but so soon?) and its inevitability made talking about it less interesting.Report

    • greginak in reply to Roger says:

      I wish we could see more recent comments. When multiple threads have active conversations the comments come fast and it seems easy to miss a piece of the conversation as it is now. Before the sub-blogs and main blog had separate areas to see the recent comments so that made it easier to keep up with busy threads.Report

      • Glyph in reply to greginak says:

        I noticed that too, and made a request to have the GoG real-estate expanded downwards so as to display more comments at a whack. Not sure if it will be possible though.Report

  53. Anne says:

    Looks great Erik! The name will take a little getting used to but I understand why the change needed to happenReport

  54. Keith Beacham (@stoicdread) says:

    I think the new design is horrible to look at and difficult to navigate. I doubt that a name change will result in increased female contribution. My experience with websites and blogs that deal in serious public policy, politics and social criticism are conspicuously devoid of female contributors. I have no way of knowing if they are readers perhaps you have data that I do not. Will the name change be more welcoming to women? Who knows… I think you will have to discuss issues that interest them. A name change is a superficial gesture and likely will only succeed in making making its creator feel good.Report

  55. Hoosegow Flask says:

    The mobile version seems to display the entire articles from the main page. You have to scroll (and scroll and scroll and scroll) passed the Jenny McCarthy article to see anything else.Report

  56. bobfuller says:

    love the interplay with regulars.
    can any libertarians weigh in on why the public cannot view the recent Warren/Cramer video? CNBC has taken down the clip, and are we better for that? Does not Warren have some rights over content? Does the ability to censor depend on deep pockets? I know I am out of place here but please send me somewhere.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to bobfuller says:

      Wait, what? Lemme google…

      Well, I’d say that this is yet another example of “real” journalism failing and I’m glad that we have independent journalists out there catching this stuff.Report

  57. Barry says:

    Testing comment functionalityReport

  58. Barry says:

    Comments still don’t retain the name and e-mail address.Report

  59. Pierre Corneille says:

    Now that I’ve played with the site some more, here are some of my observations and concerns:

    1. It’s taking a long time to load pages.

    2. There seem to be too many images or graphics, and the front page of the blog seems too “busy” for my eyes. It has an off-putting effect, at least for me.

    3. My name and email aren’t saved, so I have to sign in each time. It might be a cookie issue on my end, but this problem didn’t occur with the older site.

    4. Some posts seem to have lost their comments.

    5. Off the cuff seems to be missing. I’ve read someone above who says the off the cuff things will be in the main list of posts. But if it’s not in a side bar, it’s not really off the cuff.

    6. I agree with Roger above that it’s helpful to be able to scan a couple paragraphs of a post to know whether it’s worth reading. This is especially important because the pages take a long time to load.

    7. I recommend doing away with the “featured articles.” It’s distracting.

    8. I used to like the idea of sub-blogs being quasi-autonomous, but putting them on the front page at least gives the appearance of the sub-blogs being just another set of posts (I don’t like calling them “articles”) in the mix.

    I realize these are all complaints (and I’m one to complain regardless whenever there’s a format change), but it’s not really clear to me how much of this change was necessary all at once. Maybe it would have been better to focus on a few small changes and see how they pan out. (Or maybe not….perhaps making only small changes forecloses the possibilities of future changes….I’m pretty ignorant when it comes to computers.)Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

      I hope Erik doesn’t mind me jumping in, but these are the ones I know about:

      > 1. It’s taking a long time to load pages.

      Have you been seeing this since the redesign, or just today? There’s been something weird going on with the server today (though it seems better now), so if it’s only been bad today, it’s unrelated and may be fixed.

      > 4. Some posts seem to have lost their comments.

      When posts were moved from the sub-blogs to the main blog, the comments didn’t come with them.

      > 5. Off the cuff seems to be missing.

      Off the cuff ist kaput.Report

      • Pierre Corneille in reply to Mike Schilling says:

        Now that I’ve re-read my comment, I realize how whine-y it was (especially the passive aggressive aside about calling posts “articles”….if I want to call them “posts,” there’s nothing stopping me).

        I do want to repeat how much I enjoy this site and that I would like to donate, in the near future, at least a little to its upkeep.Report

        • Thanks, Pierre. I won’t lie, I did find some of the criticism a bit over the top at least in *tone* but I can shrug that off. It’s a sign of people enjoying something and not liking to see it changed. I hope you like this format better. Re: posts and articles, I think it just depends. We hope to get more *articles* for the featured stuff while keeping the majority of the stuff here firmly in *post* territory.Report