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July 17, 2005

An Important Announcement
Posted by Patrick at 07:51 AM * 22 comments

Memo to Jim Henley, John Scalzi, and anyone else setting out to feature posts from multiple authors on a single blog:

Put the freaking author-credit line on top of the posts.

That is all. You may resume going about your normal lives.

Comments on An Important Announcement:
#1 ::: Paul ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 11:22 AM:

Quit yer whinin'!

#2 ::: Didi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 12:03 PM:

I must say, it all looks the same in RSS. In Henley's feed, Scalzi's feed, and your feed. Author's name at the top. All very clear and organized.

We loves the RSS. It our preciousss.

#3 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 12:26 PM:

Pick pick pick pick pick pick pick.

Also, tell me how.

#4 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:07 PM:

I'm not a tech expert or anything but couldn't you just type a byline as the first line of your post? Maybe put a little bold and italic coding on either side so it looks pretty?

#5 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:30 PM:

No, no, because then the post would be signed twice and that's just silly. What I want is the piece of MT code I can jam into my style sheet that does it automatically. I'm not opposed to making the change, but I'm not going to randomly fiddle with my style sheet code to do it, since that's a fine way to mess up everything (and I'm just the sort of person to mess up everything). As Patrick clearly knows how to have MT display the byline at the top, I'm asking him how it's done.

#6 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 01:48 PM:

Of course, because silliness must be avoided at all costs! I'm just teasing, replication of data is a waste of time and why type something twice (or two hundred times) when you can type it once?

I hear you on the css coding. I did something while trying to add a copyright notice to my blog and messed it up. I haven't a clue how to fix it.

One day I'll ask my boss and he'll ask me why I haven't learned CSS yet and I'll have to remind him I'm not smart any more and then I'll have to think of something that will distract him from pestering me yet will lead to him telling me how to fix it. Oh the complexities of my world.

#7 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 02:19 PM:

John, basically, it's a matter of where "<$MTEntryAuthorNickname$>" is in your "Main Index" template, relative to "<MT Entries>". Dollars to donuts, somewhere in that template is a clump of code that determines the order and layout of your post titles, your timestamp, your links-to-comments, your body text, your extended-text-if-any, etc. By default I believe the author credit comes after the body text, but it's easy enough to move.

You may need to set up author nicknames if you haven't already. It's a design defect of MT that this can't be done for multiple authors by a single administrator; you have to log into MT "as" each author in succession, and edit the Author Profile.

#8 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 02:22 PM:

As for RSS, I'm all for it in principle but in practice I don't find it any faster or more convenient than loading up one or two dozen bookmark folders into a tabbed window in Firefox or Safari.

#9 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 02:27 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. I'll root around in the code and see how it looks.

"As for RSS, I'm all for it in principle but in practice I don't find it any faster or more convenient than loading up one or two dozen bookmark folders into a tabbed window in Firefox or Safari."

Agreed with this. Also, I just like visiting people sites. It feels friendlier than an RSS feed.

#10 ::: Andrew Pontious ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 02:37 PM:

I use RSS to see which pages to go to. I'll read the post in NetNewsWire if it's entirely in the RSS feed, but the best ones often aren't, and I don't subscribe to comments feeds. So, for instance, I always go to the Making Light page in the browser once I know there's a post.

But I like not having to go individually to 20 Web pages every day just to see that they haven't been updated. Which is what I used to do. Yay progress!

#11 ::: Didi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:39 PM:

My position is pretty much the same as Andrew's, only I have a lot more feeds (I don't use it just for blogs, but for news, ESPN, and a bunch of other stuff). I use bloglines, so I can always see what's updated.

Some blogs I visit when I see there's an update (thanks to the miracle of Firefox tabs). Here, the comments are such an important part of the content that I always visit the blog itself. For me, it boils down to this - when I didn't have RSS, or when my client software was on the fritz, I visited a fraction of the sites I visit when it works.

Knowing that I'm actually going to see new content is helpful. Also, my "things to do" memory is terrible (unlike my trivia and useless facts memory, which is excellent), and bloglines remembers which sites I like to visit for me. I like that. Generally, I like that technology augments the areas I'm not particularly good at. My phone remembers things I need to do, and my RSS remembers (and keeps track of) sites I like to visit. It works perfectly for me, though I know it isn't as effective for others.

As a blogger, I try to support RSS as much as I can. I chose a WP template with a feed for the posts, a feed for comments, a feed for each post's comments, and a feed for each category.

#12 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 03:52 PM:

Did I miss where we all needed to take a "position" on RSS? Didn't I say I'm in favor of it? Do we not offer both partial and full feeds?

I've used it in the past and I might well use it again in the future. I don't think its existence renders issues of weblog "front page" design entirely irrelevant, and I'm puzzled as to why this should become an "RSS: Good or Bad" conversation.

(Although thanks, Didi, for reminding me that we did say we'd look into providing feeds for individual ML threads. Need to get back to that.)

#13 ::: Didi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 04:22 PM:

I certainly didn't intend for it to become an "RSS: Good or Bad" conversation. Since you mentioned that you don't find it more convenient, I laid out the reasons why I find it convenient.

I'm a big fan of RSS, and sometimes get carried away with the proselytizing. If I did, I'm sorry.

I agree that it doesn't render weblog design irrelevant. I'm not sure it would even if everyone used it.

And about the possibility of individual feeds for ML threads - Yay!

#14 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 04:32 PM:

"my "things to do" memory is terrible (unlike my trivia and useless facts memory, which is excellent)"

I wish Elaine Chao's Department of Labor would stop trying to emasculate protections for labor and do something useful like solve the problem Didi shares with me.

#15 ::: John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2005, 09:19 PM:

"I'm puzzled as to why this should become an 'RSS: Good or Bad' conversation."

So we know who is who when the revolution comes, of course.

#16 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 10:18 AM:

Well, duh. That's what we have Mac vs. PC debates for.

#17 ::: Skwid ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 10:51 AM:

When The Humblest Blog went multiple contributor last month, the first thing I did was add a "Posted by " byline at the top of each entry. Of course, this caused the LJ feed to barf up duplicates of the last 15 entries, but at least everybody knows who's posting what right up front.

I still haven't been able to figure out exactly what causes LJ to do that or not, but AFAICT it only occurs on those occasions where every single entry is changed, textually, in some fashion. For example, a recent change to every extended entry didn't do it. It's not something in the RSS date metadata per entry, 'cause I'm not using that field. Any further insights would be delightful...

#18 ::: Joy Freeman ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 02:33 PM:

Having just read partway through the Bitch, Ph.D. comments about the nanny blog, I vote for putting commenters' names above their words, too.

#19 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 06:18 PM:

Aw, Patrick, no, of course not.

It's gotta be an RSS 0.9 vs RSS 1.x vs RSS 2.x vs Atom flamewar, with some gratuitous insulting of Dave Winer as a garnish, and maybe some old-timer grousing about how he got along just fine with that old Netscape Navigator feature that told you when one of your bookmarked pages had updated.

#20 ::: Barry ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2005, 06:47 PM:

The single best formatting change for blogs would be to have commenters' names on top of their posts, with a 'next post' button. That'd eliminate 90% of the nuisance of trolling, IMHO.

#21 ::: Jeff Porten ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2005, 09:02 PM:

I tried to work my name into the first paragraph of a few of my Scalzi guest posts, but honestly it felt like a bit too much horn-blowing. Or to put it another way, I'm acutely aware that I've got an audience for two more installments that I don't normally get, and I didn't want to appear like I was ostentatiously rolling the Diet Coke cans so they would be visible for the cameras.

Curious to hear, though, whether the motley crew of Scalzians are identifiable by our voices. I'd ask over there, but again, that seems like a bit too much of an ego troll. Here it's a bit safer.

#22 ::: Brian Greenberg ::: (view all by) ::: July 24, 2005, 11:43 PM:

Representative Scalzi reader here with some answers to frequently asked questions (at least in this comment thread):

1) Mentioning your name at the top of the post doesn't come across as horn-blowing. In fact, I typically assume you're doing it because Patrick asked you to.

2) I don't mind at all scrolling to the bottom for a second to find out who's writing if I'm really that interested.

3) Re: being recognizable by your voices: I can typically pick out John's writing and Jeff's writing. John's because I read so much of his stuff, and Jeff's because I know him (and read a lot of his stuff). Everyone else blends in. So my guess is, no - most people don't know who's writing just by the tone.

4) RSS: It's cool, but most of the blogs I read have new posts almost every day (Whatever, Instapundit, Buzz Machine), so RSS doesn't really save any time. I'm still looking for the equivalent tool for comment threads. For instance, if someone responds to this comment, I'd like a tool that tells me to return to it & read what people had to say. That's typically more important to me than whether there's a new post or not.

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