Random Comments, 2020 Edition

Same as the Late-2019 list (which is being closed because it’s gotten too long) and the previous versions, this will be accessible indirectly from the Your Random Comments link in the left sidebar. I wish WordPress made this simpler, but then I wish a lot of things.

[Edit Oct 1, 2020 EditorM:  We’re trying placing all these Random Comments series in the left sidebar for direct access.  Let’s see how it looks and try it out.]

Please remember that this is intended for public comics-related (or comics semi-related) comments only: if you want to send me a CIDU, or a comic for some specific folder (Ewww, Oy, etc), or you want to inform me of a typo, please e-mail me at .

Also: A list of the site’s most recent comments can be found in the left sidebar. A database of all the comments, compiled by larK, is here.

And the site’s FAQ is here.


  1. @mitch — I am NOT the person espousing Trello abilities, that was someone else (can’t remember who at this point). My only contribution to the technical discussion was that it is possible — and mostly trivial with proper access — to modify the css stylesheets to tweak the current site to be more to our liking, eg: turn on numbered comments, change how quoted text appears, etc.

  2. I see Aaron’s offer as the best way to revere Bill’s legacy. If someone created a popular daily newspaper and ran it for the rest of his life, wouldn’t it be reasonable for someone else to take over and continue publishing it? Would anyone really think, “Well, that was *his* newspaper; we should start a new one, instead?”

    Bill built something a lot of people found worth in. I don’t believe it’s disrespectful to try to continue it. A living site is a better memorial than a static, dead site that no one will visit, except as a stepping stone to a successor site. And, as pointed out, someone needs to keep the site registered anyway so that advertising ghouls don’t take it over.

    No, this won’t be Bill’s site anymore. Yes, editorial policy will be different. Yes, we’ll miss Bill’s personal touches. But a newspaper or magazine can still keep its spirit when a new editor takes over. And we can keep our founder’s name on a masthead to thank the person who created this site, this idea, and this community.

  3. Re blocked in moderation:
    If someone is willing to go through them and release relevant ones, that would be great, but possibly a lot to ask. But I think that it it’s to be all or none, none is probably the better choice.

  4. I’m kinda 80-20 for a new site. I think that since we CAN presumably get a sticky homepage post on the old site saying “Bill was here, now we’re over there”, that path is cleaner. It’s not quite like the newspaper, where the returning native looks for The Daily CIDU and doesn’t even find a paper box: instead, (s)he finds a paper box with a sign saying “The paper you want is in the NEXT box”, with backstory and tribute. Best of both worlds, kinda.

  5. Hi guys,
    I have no dog in this fight. I’m in an interesting position because from my perspective, I’m an outsider and this is your space. But I’m also the one who (for now) holds the keys. I’d like to defer to a consensus of the posters here for what to do next.

    I will say that I don’t think my dad would see a takeover/continuation of the site by others as an affront. I think he would be proud to see what he built continue, even though it will obviously be different. But that’s not to say that continuing on this particular platform is the way to go; it might be easier to start fresh rather than trying to decipher everything he had set up. I’m not going to be the one running this day-to-day, and whoever is doing that should have a better idea than me whether getting the keys to this particular iteration of CIDU (and I know there have been several!) would be a help or a burden.

    What I can do now is add Mitch as an admin, and he can help evaluate what makes the most sense. I can add others too if you’d like to volunteer. I can also commit that even if you guys decide to start fresh elsewhere, I’ll do my best to find old submissions and forward them over. I’m also happy to keep this site hosted with a landing page to redirect to a new place if you guys move on – as long as the cost is actually as reasonable as people are saying, it’s really nothing.


  6. Aaron, have we said enough nice things about you, yet? I do not think it is inappropriate to say, you are clearly a credit to your father’s memory.

    I did volunteer to help admin at one point. Mitch?

  7. Hi, Aaron,

    Let me again join in with saying thanks, and appreciating your generosity and openness to this community.

    WordPress.com has a variety of plans, some of them a bit pricey and some not, plus add-ons for various things, like extra domains. (I think one or two external domains are usually included, however.) Anyway, I know the offers to share the expense expressed here earlier (and there would be many more) are quite sincere and ready.

    I would be delighted to step into an administrator setting, along with a team. Do you have our email addresses?

    Aaron, what I was saying about forwarding submitted cartoons from the GMX mailbox was not, or not exclusively, about using in the proposed new site — it could be here as well. But the idea of the request was to extract email that had submitted comics Bill never got a chance to get to, just by examining the messages in the ordinary way — if and when you have time — and forwarding in the ordinary email way (but of course including attachments in the forwards). And sending them to an address where the new editors will be looking for public submissions as well. That is to say, getting these lost CIDUs into the pipeline. (That is for the time being Editors@cidu.info )

    For everyone to consider: Can I suggest a first order of business could be simply getting daily (or at first, let’s just say periodic) postings going once again. We’re not totally ready, but also not terribly far. Thoughts on this?



  8. Besides looking to Aaron to extract some of those possible lost submissions (full disclosure: a couple of them will show up as sent in by me!), if any of you reading here had sent in something, maybe you could look in your Sent Mail folder for them, and send again. But to the new address, Editors@cidu.info .

    Winter Wallaby has already joined the editors team, in terms of looking at these submitted materials and participating in behind-the-scenes discussion of which to use in what order, how much of the sender’s comments to use, what title to give it on the blog, and what to say about it in the post along with the sender’s remarks. If there are others who would like to participate in that process, let us know.

  9. Carl, it would be great to have your voice in the administration planning and execution. I think Aaron said he was going to be doing several of these role-enrollments; but we’ll see this done in any case.

    You were already sent an invitation (or an invite, I could care less) to the secret Google Group for editors, if you are interested in joining in the process as mentioned in previous post.

  10. So, everyone, what do you think of the following short-term game plan?

    1 Get regular posting going again

    2 Get the submission address up there so we will get the new ones as people send them in.

    3 Isn’t it time to rotate and start a new Random Comments? Done as before, with the previous ones kept available (to read only) by link.

    4 Just an idea — How about having two of those Comments threads, not attached to a particular posting and not meant to have much expectation of continuity between any comment and the next? (In other words, random comments..) One of them to be like the stated original purpose of the Random Comments page, remarks on comics, sure, but also anything on your mind. “Random”. But a second one, more like Feedback Comments, for reporting problems with the site or discussing ideas for how to improve it, etc. — as a public space (with the understanding there are also private channels).

  11. All sound good to me as well.

    My own computer tech skills are essentially zero (certainly far less than CIDU Bill’s were — I don’t even do word processing in anything more complicated than Notepad), but I’d be more than happy to contribute significant amounts of money to keeping this oasis a going concern, either under the current masthead or under a new name. (With, a think, a slight preference for the former, but not complaining either way.)

  12. Mitch, I’m actually already an administrator of that Google Group. 🙂

    Can I add one item to your game plan? Create a tribute page to Bill Bickel.

  13. BTW, regarding a question from long before: I’m inclined to not bother releasing tons of old comments from moderation, since most of them are long-obsolete anyway. The only exception is that if there are condolences, tributes, and other thoughts on the “Recent News” thread, it would be nice to release those.

  14. I agree wholeheartedly with WW’s suggestion to look at the comments in moderation for condolences and tributes. There are likely a fair number of those from heretofore-lurkers and they would all go to moderation. In fact, without looking there we have no way at all of knowing if any of them are offering valuable suggestions for moving forward.

  15. Carl Fink says:

    Mitch, I’m actually already an administrator of that Google Group. 🙂

    We’ve clarified this in email.

    Can I add one item to your game plan? Create a tribute page to Bill Bickel.

    Certainly we should have one!

    It happens we did draft one on the practice server. We’re talking to Le Vieux Lapin about re-aiming the cidu.us domain to point to the practice server, so we can share a URL with the Random group without exposing more of the native address of the server. And taking suggestions regarding the text and appearance.

    Actually adding a page or equivalent to the ongoing CIDU/squirrel site (that is, here) may be easy or may be hard, since there seems to be some crazy custom HTML doing the frames and tabs setup — remember that the Random Comments thread required workarounds to renew, and Bill was saying “WordPress won’t let me change where the link in the sidebar goes!”. Well, we’ll know more when we can look.

  16. I forgot to resume the italics for the second part quoted from Carl:

    Can I add one item to your game plan? Create a tribute page to Bill Bickel.

  17. There’s another person whose input would be valuable here: “B.A.” — Even allowing for typographical variants, I cannot find anything from her in larK’s comment harvester for the past two weeks. I hope the moderation gremlin has not taken a dislike to her.

  18. woozy also hasn’t commented in several weeks. It may be moderation, but it’s also possible they decided that with Bill gone, they were done with the blog.

  19. Hi all,
    I believe Mitch is now an admin and he should be able to admin-ize others. I also went through and accepted the comments stuck in moderation; they all seemed benign. It’ll be nice to see what you all can make of this site and this community. I’ll work on getting access to the GMX email (unfortunately not currently logged in anywhere) and we can figure out what makes sense long term with respect to hosting etc. Seems like my dad was having troubles with the new WordPress templates anyway.


  20. @Mitch4:

    I already have webmail set up on my own server, as I said. The sysadmin part of setting up mail for one more domain is pretty trivial, it already does a few.

    If we do go with a hosting company and our own WordPress instance, the host company will almost certainly provide mail as well, and that would be simpler and less dependent on me, personally not getting busy or ill or something.

  21. Hi Aaron ,

    I see the emergence of all those moderated comments. What a fine thing to do!

    You say I believe Mitch is now an admin. Thank you for planning to do that! I don’t see it taking effect as of yet. In case it is unclear, my WordPress.com username is mitch4gmail and it is attached to the email address mmarks4@gmail.com

    Carl, I think Aaron’s remark about access to the GMX email is because he accurately was following the discussion here of CIDU submissions that people sent in but arrived after Bill’s passing, so never got seen or posted. The idea was, if somebody could go in and look for them, they could be extracted / forwarded out and posted going forward. But it wasn’t that new managers should take it over and continue to use it for fresh submissions. They would change the places where the address is shown to a new one. I think there is already something appropriate in hand, but thanks for your offers / suggestions. (We can talk about this in direct email.)

    Goodnight, you’all. I just stopped to check mail between waking from a bad nap on a sofa and crawling into bed for a genuine sleep.

  22. @ Mitch4 – That is truly superb that you were able to extend the link list in the left hand menu. Would it be possible to change Bill’s last subhed (about “white face masks“) to read “R.I.P. CIDU Bill Bickel“?
    P.S. What would you think about adding a link to the very first CIDU post (on the new site), to make it easier to “Read the CIDU archive from the beginning“.

  23. We have been discussing the subtitle — noting that Bill liked to change it up roughly every new month. I was suggesting something light — maybe keeping the face masks and connecting it to Halloween (no, that isn’t a concrete wording yet). But your idea might be better, indeed.

    BTW what do you (and that’s for everybody) think of closing off this thread and starting ..wait for it … TWO new ones. One the expected new Random Comments, with guideline of being at least semi-comics-related (and in our usual drift-friendly way, accepting most thoughts about life, love, language, literature, and litter). The other a new designation, called something like Site Comments and meant for discussions like this one, or feedback in general. (Not meant to exclude other modes of feedback, like email or private contact form page, but this one for community thinking.)

    ((I in fact have a draft stored for the next chapter of Random, but wanted to get clear on whether to do the Site Comments and what to say about it before publishing the next Random — so that the headnotes for these two could reference each other))

  24. Also for constructive commentary, on the alternate new server where some of us were practicing posting etc, there is a draft version of a page about Bill and background on CIDU, which could be adapted back for a post or page here. (Draft in the sense of not considered finished writing, but not in the technical sense – it is a published page)

    Actual rewritten paragraphs or sentences would be especially valuable, but “try for something a little more xyz” are okay too.


  25. Thank you for your hard work with all this.
    @Mitch4: both the tribute page and the cidu.site look fine to me. I posted a comment there but got sent to moderation.

  26. In second thought, probably there is no good reason to have ALL the previous Random Comments threads linked at the left. It is overcrowded, and the older ones can be reached other ways fairly easily, including a link in each one to the previous.

    But recently the sole Random Comments link at the left led to the next-to-latest such thread, where the headnote had a prominent link to the current one (this one). So adding this one to the list was the real point, but it makes sense to include the previous ONE. First, because that is (sort of) what people are used to getting from the menu link. And second, if there is going to be regular rollover, there will be conversations interrupted by the switch, and it would be good to have an easy way to look at the tail end of the previous thread while preparing a comment in the most recent one.

    So these can be trimmed back when the next imminent rollover is ready.

    Related question: if the 50 comment setting can be easily changed, would people prefer a different setting? Also, larK, did you say it causes problems with your scrape links?

  27. @ Mitch4 – I fully agree with your ideas for simplifying the CIDU interface.
    The links in the left menu could be reduced to:
    0) “Home”
    1) The CIDU FAQ (which will eventually need to be rewritten, but that is a problem for (much) later).
    2) “Random Comments” (no date), which should go directly to the last page of the current Random Comments thread.
    3) larK’s Comment Harvester – If the link in on the left, then it can be removed from the introduction to “Random Comments”. The same goes for the FAQ link: put it on the left, and reduce the size of the introduction.

    The list of prior “Random Comments” posts could be placed in the introduction to the current Random Comments, but it might be better to set up a separate page that lists each of the links (including the current one), and put a link to that page in the introduction(s) to each of the Random Comments posts.

  28. Related question: if the 50 comment setting can be easily changed, would people prefer a different setting? Also, larK, did you say it causes problems with your scrape links?

    I don’t believe the problem is with the scraped links, the problem is that the links are wrong to begin with (they don’t contain the proper page in them, which if you go through the trouble you can manually update so the link to the comment works). But the problem is a WordPress problem; I just collect the links as they appear in the comments RSS feed.

    If you can increase the number of recent comments available in the RSS feed (currently I think it’s the last ten..?), that would be very useful in making sure comments don’t slip between the cracks.

  29. Mitch: That looks very likely — can you up it to say 20, just so we can see if it is? As Kilby and I discovered in another thread, there are at least two rss feeds — one that shows the last x comments (that’s the one I scrape); and one that shows the last x topics or threads. Kilby was complaining that that last one had not updated to show the two new postmortem threads.
    The thing you found and showed above looks like it would up the number for all feeds, which I think would be fine; not fine would be if it only upped the count for the thread feed and not for the comment feed…
    Like I say, set it to 20, and we’ll see what happens.

  30. PS: links to the two feeds can be found on the left tab, by clicking on the folder icon, and then scrolling down past the most recent comments, past the recent posts, and past the “please send submissions to” bit. It has “RSS – Posts” and “RSS – Comments”; I scrape the latter. Let’s see what gets adjusted when you up the count to 20 in the field you showed. Could be both the RSS feeds AND their counterparts shown on the sidebar get upped, could be only the RSS feeds get upped, or less likely only the sidebar gets upped but not the RSS feeds, or even that it only ups one of the categories. Let’s do it and see…

  31. P.S. The next setting below that is

    For each post in a feed, include For each post in a feed, include
    Full text

    Your theme determines how content is displayed in browsers. Learn more about feeds.

    I just text copied and pasted , didn’t stop to screenshot. There are round choice buttons by both Full Text and Summary, and neither is filled in at the moment. The “Learn more about feeds” is a link to https://wordpress.org/support/article/wordpress-feeds/

    Should (one of) these be checked?

  32. I think that with the name of the commentator, you’d get the whole comment or its first n lines.
    I see 15 recent comments and 10 recent posts.

  33. I’d never checked this RSS-posts thing, and it does show 20 posts (going back to ‘Racked with laughter’), although not in very legible form. I wonder why the front page doesn’t offer more than 10, then.

  34. larK and Olivier, here in one piece are three settings that may be relevant to what you’re looking into.
    –Note that the middle one, “Syndication feeds show the most recent” is the one we adjusted up from 10 to 20 earlier this afternoon/
    –The bottom one, “For each post in a feed, include” is the one I remarked on earlier and pasted as text. At that time neither bubble was filled. I just now selected “Full text”. That may address something Olivier was asking about, when you said the entries seemed cut off — if indeed you were referring to the RSS feed.
    –The top one, “Blog pages show at most __10__ posts” has not been changed recently, AFAIK, and may answer a different one of Olivier’s questions. One thing I’m not seeing but thought would be around the same place is the 50 comments per display page.

    There is a quite different matter, that I’m not sure Olivier was asking about, which is the number of Recent Posts and the number of Recent Comments that display in the lists in the left sidebar. Those are settings in the “Widgets” themselves, as is the choice and sequence of bits and pieces that go in that sidebar. These are something Bill was quite familiar with, and adjusted several times in dialogue with readers who saw countervailing inconveniences to different choices. If you have more items in one list that sort of hides or delays getting down to the next lists.
    But that’s not to say it couldn’t be revisited now.
    –Also controlled right in the sidebar “widgets” is the matter larK pointed out about the two things available in the RSS links menu. I think when I looked at it yesterday it showed RSS-Comments only and I set it to also include RSS-Posts.
    –On the subject of sidebar widgets, if nobody objects I would like to put back Meta, for the sake of the Login link. We now have different people logging in and this can be a tiny convenience.


    This thread will soon have comments closed.

    There are now headnote postings for TWO new threads. They are set up to encourage separation of topics, and reduce thereby the congestion of either one.

    The new branch is called Your Site Comments and the current (inaugural) one starts from the post at https://comicsidontunderstand.com/2020/10/01/your-site-comments-october-2020-edition/ . That one will be welcoming to suggestions / complaints / questions / musings on how this site is organized and operates. Thus, much of the posting to this present Random Comments thread recently would most appropriately continued on the new Site Comments thread.

    The new rollover of Your Random Comments starts from the post at https://comicsidontunderstand.com/2020/10/01/random-comments-late-2020-edition/ . It may be able to present in a less cluttered context people’s comics-related (and semi-comics-related) thoughts, as the Random Comments idea was originally described. Given the fine tradition of thread drift, “semi-comics-related” is pretty broad,and could accommodate all sorts of your observations on life, love, language, literacy, literature, linguine, whatever.

  36. Winter Wallaby made an interesting observation, that they and probably many others don’t see the need for these periodic rollovers of Random Comments.

    I said:
    To my shame, I only recently learned about a couple of shortcuts / tricks for jumping to the last page. So I used to be one of those people clicking again and again on “newer comments”, and welcoming the rollover. Now that I know those tricks, I still am concerned for those to whom they haven’t been communicated! 🙂

    But also conceptually, I think it could be a way of signalling “Hey, new chapter”. That is, the separation of topics into two threads wouldn’t work if we just added Site Comments and left this Random Comments thread accepting new comments. People following this long technical and procedural discussion would very naturally make followups to notes here by putting them here.

  37. BTW, if you haven’t heard those tips for jumping to the last page of comments (and skipping that endless clicking on “Newer Comments”), two that I have recently learned from others here are:

    1. On the top area by the starting post for the thread, click on the comments count number — you know, the “650 comments” spot.

    2. If the device and browser you are using allows this, click into the Address or Location field to edit the URL. You want to erase all the part to the right of the date and post title. That would leave just https://godaddyandthesquirrelmustbothdie.wordpress.com/2020/01/30/random-comments-2020-edition/ and not another section giving the “comments” term and maybe a number. Just scratch those out and Enter or click reload etc.

  38. uping it to 20 is exactly what I’d hoped for — I can scrape more comments at a go, and am less likely to miss a comment when they come fast and furious and more than ten within ten minutes. I’d now advocate upping it to 50 or something nice and high like that — it doesn’t affect the sidebar presentation, and it gives me a nice buffer to scrape.

  39. Okay, as declared in Comment #647 (heh) this thread will now be closed to further comments.

    The next Your Random Comments thread headnote is at https://comicsidontunderstand.com/2020/10/01/random-comments-late-2020-edition/

    The inaugural Your Site Comments thread headnote is at https://comicsidontunderstand.com/2020/10/01/your-site-comments-october-2020-edition/

    Both of those should be appearing as links in the menu at left.

    Also a link to *this* thread will temporarily remain in that menu too (it is the indented item), for people to have a chance to consult it or catch up on unread. Try not to be disarranged too much by trying to read here but reply there 🙂



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