Tinker, Blogger, Soldier, Spy


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.

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67 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Yay sub-blogs! Yay off the cuff!Report

  2. Avatar Pinky says:

    I’m glad you got rid of the animated slider. I wish the Off the Cuff section was its own sub-blog, because some of those threads get really interesting. Also, I’m wondering why this comment of mine feels like it belongs on the first-world problem thread.Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to Pinky says:

      Hey, if there’s one place suited to discussing first world problems it’s the combox of a blog. Sheesh.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Erik Kain says:

        FWP: I’m not even done whining about the redesign before its redesigned again. The First World is to fast for me.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

          Hey, the circle thingy cuts me out of the picture… all that shows is the vapid blond guy.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Also… thinking that “select minority” would be a great blogging name.Report

            • Avatar roger in reply to Marchmaine says:

              I like this new clean look. Best yet. After about the seventh nested comment we are still getting the problem of one word columns.Report

              • Avatar roger in reply to roger says:

                Question… Is there still a way to copy and paste a link to a comment, or did we lose this functionally?

                After I conclusively solve a complex multi-dimensional, socio-economic problem which has been troubling humanity for centuries it is real convenient to just link back to it in future conversations.Report

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to greginak says:

          I know. I’ve never seen a site respond to complaints about its redesign. Probably because most modifications are done by outsiders, who replace miscellaneous features with other miscellaneous features, leaving the site’s owners out of the loop.Report

  3. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    Some sites allow commenters to edit their remarks until there’s been a direct response. Don’t know if that would work here.Report

  4. Avatar dexter says:

    I want to thank you and everyone else spend making this site so good and say I would appreciate it if you could number the replies with the title of the post so the readers would know if would know if they had read them all..Report

    • Avatar Erik Kain in reply to dexter says:

      I can definitely give that a shot.Report

      • Avatar switters in reply to Erik Kain says:

        Second this. I generally like to re-enter the comment sections after a significant number of new comments has been made. Including the number of comments with the title of the posts on the main page (or sub-blog) allows me to avoid having to click on each post to see the comments sections has taken off.

        Also – there is no “Older” link after the list of “Off the Cuff’s”. It be great if there was one. Or at least if I knew where to find the old ones.Report

      • Avatar dexter in reply to Erik Kain says:


  5. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    This format works for me. I’d consider adding a column on the left for Off the Cuff. It gets lost beneath the (also valuable) Gifts of Gab.

    I’ve never known an online community where comment voting did serious damage.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:


    • Avatar greginak in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’ve never really seen the need for comment voting or much of a purpose to it. But i don’t see how it would hurt much either.Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’m afraid of comment voting because that feature usually comes with a corresponding feature in which comments are ranked by how they are voted. To me, that threatens to interrupt the flow of the conversation on the thread, so people tend to respond to or see only those comments that are popular.

      On the other hand, I guess people respond to the comments they respond to regardless, and comment voting is probably not the end of all civilized life as we know it.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Pierre Corneille says:

        Well, in addition to this, the same functionality that makes it easy to give kudos with just a single click and no real effort, also makes it easy to anonymously dogpile on someone without any effort.

        If someone writes “Glyph sucks!” and then 50 people “+1” that comment…well, call me old-fashioned, but I kind of think people should have to put in the effort to tell me that I suck explicitly, with words. The personal touch still means something, you know?

        And if you’re not willing to put in the effort, yourself, to tell me I suck, then maybe you should just keep it to yourself for now.

        I’m sure there will be some future comment in which I will suck again, and you’ll have more time then to count the ways in which I suck.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

          -a googolplexReport

        • Avatar Pinky in reply to Glyph says:

          I always just assume that I suck, and then look down on people who don’t tell me that.Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Glyph says:

          I think there’s a setting (in Disqus, at least) that only lets you up-vote a comment… which seems reasonable. Disqus also lets you see who liked a comment, so that also provides helpful feedback. Sometimes a comment deserves recognition, if not further comment. Not exactly sure what this package lets you do, though.

          But, yes, I’ve never seen anything good come out of the down-voting side of things.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Downvoting doesn’t get used much on sites with decent comment sections. It amuses me that at, say, David Horowitz’s site comments like

            Actually, it’s quite well documented that Obama is a Christian

            get three digits worth of thumbs down.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to Glyph says:

          Glyph rocks.

          Now I’m expecting hundreds of +1s and a check in the mail.Report

      • It’s been interesting to watch Slashdot’s comment voting (moderation) evolve over the years. They had to do something fairly early on, since most of their top-level posts drew several hundred comments. It’s gotten complex: only registered members with moderation points can moderate, members get a small number of time-limited points at random intervals of at least several days (days when I have mod points are many fewer than days when I do), comments that are moderated down don’t disappear but are collapsed to only the author/subject info, but can be expanded by the reader. And members can lose their moderation privileges through the meta-moderation system, where other members evaluate whether a moderation point was used appropriately. Too many people decide you’re making bad decisions and you lose your privilege.

        Ordinary Times seldom seems to have enough comments per top-level post to justify the complexity of a serious voting/moderation scheme.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    This current new version does look really good btw. Take a handful of kudos out of petty cash.Report

  7. I unreservedly love this.Report

  8. Avatar Pierre Corneille says:

    I really like this most recent incarnation of the site’s format. And I want to reiterate, that despite my prior complaints, I really do like this blog.Report

  9. Avatar North says:

    I much prefer this to the previous version. I do like being able to pick out the front page posts from the sub-blog posts more clearly.Report

  10. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    Thank you for the Blogs menu, that makes things a lot easier. And the comments section is now remembering my name and email so I don’t have to enter it for every post, which is also great.

    I appreciate how responsive you guys have been to comments on the new format.Report

  11. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Looks much better–thanks! Also, count me as a vote against votes on comments. I feel like it would disrupt the natural flow of the conversation and cause plenty of trouble for little gain.Report

  12. Avatar Just Me says:

    I was looking at this site on my android phone using both the default browser and Firefox. Looks great, but….the black sides are still present in mobile and it cuts off the right side of the content area of the screen. Not sure if anyone else see’s this too. Love though that as far as I could tell the comments in mobile keep the whole word together instead of dropping down to one character per line as it indents.Report

  13. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Erik, I like these changes. FWIW, here’s my thoughts:

    1) Personally, I like an edit function which has a limited time span, like a few minutes or so, but I completely understand the merits that hitting “submit” should impose some responsibility.

    2) I think “liking” is silly. If a person likes the comment, they can write something expressing that likihood. Having it It also provides an impetus for people to write comments for reasons other than contributing to the debate.

    3) Personally, I’d like to see a different GOG section for the main page and the sub-blogs. Maybe I’m just an old grouch who fears change, but most of my time here was spent on the main page and I’d rather like to keep it that way. That distinction is hard to maintain when I have no idea which blog my comment is posting to.

    4) I think you might want to look at the threading parameters given that comments like this


    can be found at the bitter end.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

      FWIW, Still, if the shared GoG “tricks” you into commenting on subblog posts, I’d consider that a good thing.

      I liked that individual subblogs had their own GoG, so if you were on MD you only saw MD comments on the GoG there, but I see little reason to have separate ones on the FP. Lumping in comments from MD with comments from BT and comments from NaPP all because they just happen to be non-FP pages seems a bit arbitrary. I mean, you could do a separate GoG on the FP for each sub, but that’d get real silly, real fast.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazzy says:

        I like the distinction between the main page and sub-blogs, myself. And I like being able to find out who wrote what where at an easy glance. Maybe the intention is to obliterate the concept of a main page.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

      I think “liking” is silly.


  14. Avatar Will H. says:


    • Avatar Will H. in reply to Will H. says:

      I’m able to comment again now.
      So I’m going to put a little bit of thought into everything I despise about Leftists.
      I’m going to make a list– a big, long one.
      See you in a few weeks!Report

  15. Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

    This is much, much better.

    Thanks, Erik.Report

  16. Avatar zic says:

    I’m grateful the flash flash is gone. Really grateful.

    I like the new look.

    I’m pleased that the autofill name & address are back.

    I still mourn not being able to correct my spelling/grammar mistakes, but prefer to live with that then have nefarious comment editing.

    But most of all, I cannot imagine how much effort had gone into this; thank you, Erik. When you’re done tweaking, I seriously hope you’ll write here more. I miss your voice.Report

  17. Avatar Pinky says:

    Oh, and thanks for bringing back the “go directly to comments” option for an article. It’s not the biggest deal, but it is a time-saver.Report

  18. Avatar J_A says:

    I read a lot the site on my BlackBerry, and the changes have not been good:

    1. When you read the new site in the Blackberry (same with the previous iteration) the indented comments don’t scroll right, they just get shuffled to the far until all you have is a column of single letters (or long stretches of blank space when even the single letters get further intended)

    2. It is not possible to adjust the font in the BB (it used to be possible in the Old Site), and the default font is actually quite big, which means only a few words per line, making it more cumbersome to read (more frequent scrolling)

    A separate complaint that I always had (also in the Old Site) is the nested comments, which makes it difficult to go back to a post and see the new comments w/o starting again from the first comments.


  19. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    @erik-kain #140 chars!Report

  20. Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

    Are all these changes to the blog really pursuing some clear vision of improvement, or are they change for the sake of change, because there’s boredom with the old?

    Frankly, I generally find little meaningful improvement, just a different set of good and less-good aspects, and am irritated at having a learning curve thrown at me that just gets me back to something of approximately equal quality. I mean, what are you guys, Microsoft?

    That’s just my curmudgeonly two cents.Report

  21. Avatar Barry says:

    I notice that the commenting system is retaining names and e-mail addresses.

    Thank you!Report

    • Avatar Pierre Corneille in reply to Barry says:

      If there were still comment voting, I’d up-vote this comment. Alas, I’ll have to be content with a “ditto” or “+1”


  22. Avatar PPNL says:

    And just when I thought I was going to have to delete this place from my favorites. It looks better, thanks.Report