Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Off Topic:

Reading some of the comments lately it occurred to me that WikiFray could use something similar to dailykos’ "open threads" where, for starters, off topic comments needn’t be qualified as off topic. I’ll give it a go, assign it a label, and try to be creative with it. At first blush, I’ll use it to highlight fray posts, happenings or currents that I otherwise wouldn’t comment on. There’s also my specialty, WikiFray tech, so I can alert everyone to changes, features and issues. So there’s that, and whatever else seems noteworthy.

Rather than trying to put together an off topic post daily (forcing it, making it a burden), I’ll just top post them when I have a few items worth highlighting. Daily (or perhaps bi-weekly), however, would be preferable I think (depending on the level of activity), so although I’m not asking anyone else to help, I do open up the “series” (Label “Off Topic”) to anyone. So, for example, if you post an Off Topic post tomorrow, and I happen to have an Off Topic post ready as well, I’ll post my off topic as a comment in reply to your Off Topic post. In this way, we can avoid more than one Off Topic top post per day.

Lastly, the idea is for you to use the opportunity to post comments on stuff that you’re thinking about or that you suspect might be of interest, but didn’t plan on devoting an entire post to. You could also use them to draw attention to happenings on your individual blogs, i.e. don’t be shy. And of course, whatever else you can think of.

So let’s see:

-You may have noticed that threeninethreesix is off the reservation. It’s an issue with blogger (and I don’t think they’d approve of how we were using it anyway), but I’ve left it largely untended to given our comment feed no longer goes through it. There was also the trackback issue the new template brought to light. I didn’t necessarily like all those links back to threeninethreesix and was considering discontinuing it anyway. For now, I’m content to let it stay broke or fix itself. Copasetic?

-sitemeter is still behaving funny. Again, I’m hoping it will fix itself. However, at some point I will address the issue if it persists.

-Not that I’m going to get in the habit of welcoming new contributors, but alexa and bacon have joined us. And speaking of contributors, who and where are mrhurley and constantine512? Anybody?

-I’ve got a few other side projects I’m working on, change being the only constant and all. One, however, that I’ve yet to give a serious go is a wiki faq for WikiFray. “A ‘wiki’?” you say. Yes, a wiki. So if any Admin wants to endeavor, the login and password are wikifray's.


august said...

Thanks for the Today's Pictures link. Works like a charm.

I've been thinking in a vague way that Doonesbury is another favorite Slate feature. The site has a Washington Post profile of Treudeau that is worth reading. The story of BD and his wound is truly moving, whatever your feelings about the war or the strip.

I don't know about the quality of BOTF or the fray in general, but my tolerance for people I find annoying has definitely gone down.

JohnMcG said...

What do you guys think of this kind of stuff? Seems like a loss of credibility to me. First of all, the group was formed to confront the threat of nuclear war, and they're basing this on climate?

I'm not a fan of Bush either, but I'm not convinced he's brought us to the edge of doomsday.

august said...

You know, I've always wondered about the doomsday clock. What I like about it is that I do think atomic scientists should have a voice in discussions of proliferation. But the clock just seems made up. It's like bad statistics.

Dawn Coyote said...

Dear Moloch: he doesn't understand you the way that we do. Ditch him and move in with us. Plus, your blog sucks. I'll send you an invite.

the Reverend Bacon said...

I like the whole "Off-Topic" idea; it appeals.

sydbristow said...


sitemeter-- I wonder if the strategy (as Wikifray host) is to renounce it altogether. As a participant (or lurker) I find (the thought of) it a bit intrusive; as a host, of course, it's quite valuable to understand the origins/habits/etc of your audience .. but is it something that Wikifray needs? Just saying, there is a trade-off (I think).

wikis: new to the wiki family: home for whistle blowers (heard an interesting radio clip on these guys yesterday)

brady/moynahan: who got the deal?

the Reverend Bacon said...


sitemeter: took me a minute to find it, which suggests it's pretty unobtrusive. Probably the sort of thing only a blogger would care about or notice, but then again don't they say that the only people who read blogs are other bloggers? (Ed: circuitous way of saying you don't care one way or another. Waste of space. Delete)

I say Moynahan (the winner), assuming it's true the whole Brady/Bundchen rumour. When you start getting associated with DiCaprio's cast-offs, you know you're on the downward slope and picking up speed. He'll still beat Manning's pasty white whiney choking ass, mind you. Pats over Colts, 31-27. Saints over Bears, 23-13. You heard it here first.

Which sort of reminds me, syd: have you seen the Raps play in person much this year? I'm curious what you think of Bargnani, how he looks in person as opposed to on the tube. I mean apart from the whole "no chin" thing. I'm growing to really hate Chuck Swirsky (sp?), btw.

alexa-blue said...

I don't think there's any controversy that in a battle of wits, Belichick beats Manning/Dungy. But this game isn't about wits. The Pats don't have the personel to hang with the Colts. Not really -- in truth, I haven't really paid much attention to either team all year, swept up as I was in the Bengals soap-opera season. People say that's it's incredibly hard to be a [insert historically powerful team from historically interesting city] fan. But it's not. Because when your team loses you go back home and you're living in Boston, or Chicago, or wherever, and there are interesting or beautiful things happening. But when the Bengals lose, the fans must return to Cincinnati (Northern Kentucky, if they're lucky). That is true suffering. Anyways, my Ouija board says Colts over pats, 31-17. Saints over Bears, big.

the Reverend Bacon said...

Indeed. My Magic 8-Ball says your Ouija Board smokes crack in the bathroom.

Brady hasn't been playing all that well ("uneven" would be the nice way of putting his performace against San Diego) -- probably too much leggy Brazilian supermodel on his mind. But Manning has been playing, predictably, even worse. He's not the "throws up in his own mouth" of playoff QBs (that's Rex Grossman, this year, since McNabb injured out), but he is the "play-the-big-man-with-your-goddamn-incessant-
audibles-and-find-a-way-to-screw-up-somehow" playoff QB.

So yeah, I can imagine the Colts pulling the upset (cough) but if so, it'll be by a Vinatieri field goal or so, not 14 points.

Anyone else care to chime in with a prediction?

symbnt said...

syd/sitemeter - I’m thinking about it, seriously, but as you know it’s a very useful tool in a variety of ways, not the least of which is alerting you when someone has linked to you. I’m also really not convinced that it’s a real issue, i.e. for better or worse, I’m identified with this blog, and since traffic counters are the norm, any concern along those lines wouldn’t be the mere existence of the sitemeter, but who has access to the sitemeter. In other words, it’s a trust issue at heart, and removing the sitemeter alone isn’t going to make someone suspicious of me any less so -- more likely to join or participate. That said, if someone can show that the sitemeter is the only thing standing in the way of a number* of fraysters joining, I’ll be happy to remove it. *Ultimately, I’d need a consensus of current contributors as to whether they were willing to give up the sitemeter in order to gain a few contributors.

TenaciousK said...

I don't think getting rid of it would accomplish anything meaningful. Anyone familiar with sitemeter(s) probably knows that for a nominal fee, you can upgrade the service and get a hidden counter anyway.

Sitemeters are ubiquitous. I just assume every site has one, whether I can see it, or not.

TenaciousK said...

FWIW - the sitemeter on Ioz's blog is public-accessible. Would being able to see the nature of data tracked be more comforting or disconcerting for people, do you think?

I think Ioz leaves his open as a demonstration of his popularity. He is tremendously popular, and doesn't need to brag about it - anyone who wants to know how popular is free to see for themselves.

symbnt said...

Re: IOZ’s sitemeter: When you set up a sitemeter the default permissions are public. It’s possible that IOZ simply never cared to check. The reason our sitemeter isn’t public (and my reasoning may be out of date) was initially, with so little traffic, a person can connect the dots pretty easily and get a better idea of what isp and related info belongs to who. The fact of the matter is, I have trust issues as well given some of our more venomous history on the fray, and so decided that short of a sitemeter that didn’t give those kinds of details (I did look for one by the way), it was better to at least limit the number of people who had access to that information. It’s a double standard for sure. I’m asking you to trust me, but there are those I wouldn’t trust. But from my perspective again, I don’t personally feel the potential contributions of those whom have serious issues with me will be missed. Nevertheless, I’m not here to rule over anyone, so like I said, I’m open with losing the sitemeter, but not with lifting permissions.

august said...

Strongly agree that sitemeter should not be made public.

I'm not opposed to getting rid of it but I do find it handy. A while back, I linked to a WaPo article, and we popped up in the "Who's Blogging" box, and I could then see about how many folks came over because of my link. The number was small enough to convince me that it wasn't really worth the special effort. But something else might be.

I have been thinking about an appropriate edit to the FAQ regarding personal information. Will post draft if I get motivated.

sydbristow said...

sitemeter: I think it would be an interesting stand to renounce it and any such tracking devices. Of course it would be an "honour system" thing, but if you put it somewhere in an "about us" I think the people you're looking to attract would believe you. Note: I wouldn't do it to get a bit more traffic (who knew!?), I'd do it if you think that little extra privacy you'd be giving your visitors is worth something. I saw IOZ's and will leave mine open (I think) as long as I keep it going.

brady-moynahan: He was getting the deal. But why? He's an A+++ star in the biggest sports enterprise in the world (guessing, maybe one of those soccer leagues does higher turnover). She's a teir-two movie star who's best days are probably behind her. He's not bad looking, she's not super ultra great looking. So I wondered why I thought that way.

predictions: like I said last week, the Pats are a very very average team (sans Brady; and yeah, including the hooded guy). They got lucky last week, but that just might lead them to think they're better than they are ... another strike. So, same comment, I don't see how they can win. Well, I do, two ways: luck again (via turnovers, maybe a big return or something); and physicality, if they just brutalize somebody early. Like a message saying, You don't really belong here with us.

Raps: Bargnani's really, really good. After I saw him I understood (fully) the TJ deal. He does things you can't teach (as they say), and he's fearless (like the really good ones). Garbo seems like a good guy but he really should be coming off the bench and playing against the other team's bench guys. He's got good instincts and feel for the game, but just a step or so slow. Parker's growing on me a bit, I didn't like him at first. Somebody called him a Doug Christie type, and that's not bad, his defense is quite good, and (like DC) he makes some really boneheaded plays with the ball. I'd give Mo starters minutes (especially at home where he shines), Nestero's not that bad in a limited capacity. TJ, hard to tell if the little jitterbug is ever going to settle down, I'm sure he will though, still young. Re me, I saw them spank Mikey and the T-Wolves, and I just today booked tix for Charlie V in early March. Saw them lay a whoopin on T-Mac last year, so looking for a perf record against our ex-guys.

zgovi -- zbigniew goes overboard; very interesting

JohnMcG said...

I suspect any website that has a nontrivial footprint has employed some type of visit trackings.

I have never been aware of a movement to boycott a partcular website due to it doing visit tracking.

I have never seen a site advertising that it does not perform visitor tracking.

In other words, if we were to forego visitor tracking for privacy concerns, we would be the first website I know of to do so. I don't think there's anything on the other side of that trade-off.

Dawn Coyote said...

Three points on sitemeter: 1) The free verions of sitemeter only provides partial IPs, and the icon must be displayed on the blog - offering both more privacy and more tranparency than other free stats trackers which provide full IPs and the option of concealment. 2) For anyone who's really concerned about their privacy, there are IP scrambling services available. We can leave it up to the user to determine their own need for privacy. 3) I like sitemeter because it gives one the opportunity to experiment with content and get immediate feedback (beyond comments).

TenaciousK said...

I guess I was thinking, consistent with what DC just said, that the information gleaned is pretty impersonal. Frankly, anyone with truly nefarious intent could snag information in a much less obvious way, I think.

I guess my only resistance to dumping it is that it's interesting to track how people are showing up [on my blog, anyway - I don't have access to the sitemeter on this one]. Well, and it's nice to have as many indications that things are working as we can (and displaying a hitcount is one public way of doing just that). And, like John, I don't really see anything on the other side of the equation, in terms of benefit.

But that's about it for my 2-cents I don't feel strongly enough about it to object, if people feel otherwise about it.

sydbristow said...

sitemeter: who at this site has access to the info (i.e. for this site)? thanks.

not meaning to suggest that it's a big deal for me, i know there's all kinds of ways to get that info, etc, etc, .. still disagree with the suggestion that there's no trade-off at all (but point already made, etc yada yada).

symbnt said...

syd: sitemeter - MsZilla, Dawn, august, JohnMcG and Elbo. I'd echo John's sentiments. Seems silly to even be discussing it, i.e. I’m tempted to think “frayster” has come to mean backwater “hick”.

august said...

Hick -- guilty, guilty, guilty.

My only point was that the wiki concept (in my imperfect understanding) implies that whatever personal information that comes to the blog will be seen by an ever growing number of people who are themselves anonymous. I don't think that this has been a problem so far, but I do think it would be wise to let the other hicks know before they sign up.

sydbristow said...

noted, thanks.

Elbo Ruum said...


I don't think that credibility is the issue here. Science has had to reassert itself in the past decade as the only true reliable source of scientific information.

Now process that a second. Yep, it boggles me too.

I believe that this concept is precisely called for in these times. If every counterforce in this country has been so successful in casting doubt about potential Earth-killing issues (regardless of what you think of the reality of those issues), then it seems to me that the scientific community, long staid, allowing the facts to speak for them, are certainly justified in sensationalism... albeit for what I believe are the right reasons.

It has long been obvious to me that facts, figures, and the ever-so-dry sciences have no resonance with average people, even if the stories they tell are dire and compelling. Apparently, you have to appeal to people in a dramatic way just to get them to look in your direction anymore.