Watch out — I have begun tinkering

After an astonishingly tinker-free summer, I have made a few changes on the blog.

Perhaps the most important is the reintroduction of the Best of page, which I hinted at a couple of months ago. This is just to attract attention to some of the notable posts I have written in the past. There is a huge number of archived posts here, so it is impossible for people to find the really good ones. Hopefully the Best of page will make it a bit easier.

The first section of the Best of page is what was there before I took it down. These are not posts that I have chosen, but posts that have attracted some kind of attention beyond what is normal. They have either been mentioned in the mainstream media, the Britblog Roundup (or a similarly prestigious blogging showcase) or used as a citation in Wikipedia. So if you’re a relatively new reader, why not check out some of these older posts?

If you scroll beyond that list, you will see something absolutely brand spanking new. After years of dithering about it, I have finally installed a post ratings plugin (WP-PostRatings).

I was looking for something a bit more like a thumbs-up / thumbs-down system, but I couldn’t find one, so we have a star ratings system (although I’m using squares because the stars look crap against the dark background). So please feel free to rate my posts as you read them — it only takes a click.

To encourage people, I have rated the posts on the front page, but I will probably step back from rating my own posts in the long term. If this system gives good results, I might place the list on the sidebar rather than in the middle of the Best of page.

The only problem with the ratings plugin is that it adds substantially to the clutter at the bottom of the post. I do make efforts to keep the clutter to a minimum in general, but I can’t think how else I can add the ratings system without cluttering it up.

I needed something better than what I had before, which was the ‘most popular posts’ list. This is calculated mostly on page views (but also things like comments and trackbacks). Unfortunately, this means that far from highlighting the best posts, it actually merely shows the posts that Google likes the most. This means that some of the posts on the list are not only not-good, but they are actually actively bad. I will keep the feature there, but it’s not a very good list.

The same goes for the ‘most commented on’ posts. Comments are great, but any threads that get more than about 15 or 20 soon descend into crazy flame wars, loon magnetism, and generally generate more heat than light. It’s probably not the side of this blog that I should be putting out there.

I have also finally got round to redesigning the 404 page. Unfortunately it is cluttered with adverts, which I’m not sure about. I can’t really be bothered getting rid of them yet, so I might just leave it as it is. But at least now it actually matches with the rest of the pages on the blog!

I still have not got round to designing a theme for people who do not like the current one (I plan to let visitors choose which they prefer between two). I might not get round to it in the end.

I probably have not stopped tinkering, because tinkering is like eating Pringles and the itch that gets worse the more you scratch it. But I thought I would just point out what I have done so far because [moment of honesty coming up] I can’t be arsed writing about anything else at the moment.

Update: I knew there was something I forgot! A few weeks back I changed the links page so that it automatically contains every blog that I read in Google Reader. So if I’m reading your blog, it’s on the links page. It’s quite good to not have to worry about updating the links manually now. The internet truly is making us a bunch of lazy bastards.

If you’re wondering how it works and want to add it to your own blog, all of the information is here.

(Incidentally, if you are wondering about Scottish political blogs, I keep most of them in a separate folder for me to concentrate on for the roundup. So many of these blogs will not appear on my links page yet, even if I read them.)


  1. Your rate this post doesn’t work well when browsing on my P990i. When scrolling down the page I moved over the first square which then via the magic of javascript rated this post 1 out of 5.