Well, I’ve been on Big Think for about two weeks now, and I’m starting to get used to the place. It’s a different experience from my old site, no doubt about that, so this post is to follow up on some of the complaints and suggestions from the earlier open thread.
The biggest annoyance, still, is the paginated posts. Big Think’s programmers have at least provided a single-page viewing option, so I hope that’s an improvement, but I want it to be the default and will keep pressing them. As was mentioned in the comments, there’s also the Readability browser plugin.
I know that people have complained about the threading and the annoying option to show “popular” comments first, rather than new ones. At the moment, I’m not certain if these settings can be changed without affecting every site on Big Think. I’m waiting to hear back from the programmers on that one as well.
Also, there’s been a rare problem with comments disappearing. This is not of my doing; I’ve seen two or three vanish for no apparent reason. No one other than me is moderating this site, so I’m assuming it’s a glitch in Disqus. This is still under investigation and I’ll update if I find out anything more. I have an e-mail record of every comment, even if it disappears, so if your comment is lost, send me an e-mail and I’ll see that it’s reposted.
Even once these things are fixed, I know more improvements are needed. What I’d like to have is a recent-comments widget on the sidebar, a comment count listed along with the permalink for each post on the front page, and maybe a better monthly archive. Most likely, these will have to be longer-term projects.
And finally, I realize that the overall tone of the comments has changed. As I commented in an e-mail, if the old site was more like a house in a quiet residential neighborhood, the new one is more like a storefront in a crowded shopping mall. There are a lot more strangers wandering in, and yes, some of them come weighed down with the usual misconceptions about atheists and atheism. I won’t deny that this is exasperating, but in a different way, I’m pleased as well. I want my site to be a safe and friendly space for atheists, but I also want to take the atheist viewpoint to people who haven’t heard it before. In that respect, this site is ideal – it’s a target-rich environment!
To those who’ve been readers since before the move, I hope you’ll bear with me through these changes. (If you’ve seen other bugs I haven’t mentioned, feel free to point them out in the comments.) Every big change takes some getting used to, and this is no exception. But great things are coming!