Blog changes

Blog changes August 9, 2017


As you have surely noticed, this blog has a completely new look.  I knew that Patheos would be implementing a new design, but I didn’t know when.  So I was as surprised as you were to see the changes.  (And since I’m visiting in Australia,  I didn’t see them until the middle of the American night.)   First, what do you think about the new design?  Second, I want to tell you about another change in this blog.

I’ve asked the Patheos tech folks about any changes in features or functionality.  I haven’t noticed any yet.  (Have you?  If so, please report.)  I’ll pass along what I learn.

The new design makes it easier to browse through other Patheos sites and features.  The advertising looks better.  There are a few under-the-hood changes in the way I’ll do my posting.  For example, the site just puts the first 80-or-so words on the front page. Then you need to click “read more.”

Thus, I will no longer refer to material that I have placed “after the jump.”

This brings up the bigger substantive change.  The word “blog” was originally short for “weblog,” a “log” of interesting things the writer found on the “web.”  It was a mechanism for sharing various discoveries on the internet.

I kept up that basic concept.  When I found something that I thought worth the attention of you readers, I would link it and quote a big chuck of it.  I would also introduce it and usually add some thoughts of my own.  College professor that I was, I would often pose questions about it.

My goal was to get you to read the article for yourself and then discuss it.  Unlike many blogs that consider comments to be either an evil or a necessary evil, I like and encourage comments.  I am especially happy when a discussion breaks out.  Often, helpful insights emerge and I find myself learning something in the exchange.

To be sure, comments sometimes degenerate into unproductive arguments and point-scoring.  But that goes with the territory, and I have generally been slow to shut down discussion or ban people (with the exception of overt trolls and users of bad language).

So the structure of my posts was usually thoughts of my own, followed by a “read more” break, and then the quotation from the article that was the basis of the post.

But now Google tells us that their algorithm will disfavor repetitions of other articles.  So I will now just link the material I want us to discuss.  The post now will consist wholly of my own writing (though I might quote snatches as in scholarly writing).

Google also tells us that they will disfavor on search results material shorter than 300 words.

Sometimes I have posted very short items for your attention.  I might still do that sometimes, or maybe aggregate several brief topics into a longer post.  But, in general, Patheos has asked us to keep our posts on the longer side.

I had already been writing longer reactions and reflections of my own, as you can see over the last few months, so this shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.

Still, this will mean that my posts will take considerably more time to write.  (Add that to my other directive, for FaceBook’s sake, to find royalty-free illustrations for the posts, which sometimes is the most time-consuming part of the task!)

So I might be hard pressed to come up with THREE posts a day, as had been my usual norm.  Or even two.  Or sometimes even one.

But what else do I have to do?  I am retired, aren’t I?  (Sometimes I wonder.)

So I’ll do my best.  Please stay with me.

I appreciate you readers, particularly those who have been around a long time, some of whom I feel are my friends, even though I haven’t actually met you.  This blog has already been through a lot of changes over the years.  We’ll get through this one too.

I am curious what you think of the new design.

For example, the familiar Cranach seal–the crowned dragon holding the ring, from the Cranach family coat of arms that the artist used to sign his paintings–is gone.  But some of you didn’t like that image anyway.  And the lettering and title design that one of you readers came up with–Tom Herring?–is gone, though its influence remains.  I wish those were still there.

But, overall, I like the aesthetics of the new design.  Do you?

UPDATE:  In conveying your reactions to the Patheos tech people, I was told that the design is still being tweaked and the bugs are being worked out.  So I suppose we should see how it is working in a few days before delivering our summary judgments.  The new design is supposed to work better on mobile devices–where more and more people do their computing and internet surfing these days–and load faster.  Here is a video about the changes.  I am liking your comments.  I am flattered to think that this blog’s new design rises to the level of the New Coke vs. Coke Classic controversy!

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