Site Comments, October 2020 Edition

This is the first edition of “Site Comments”, a parallel to the “Random Comments” threads, and meant to relieve the density of commenting in those. While the Random Comments threads will continue to welcome comics-related (and semi-comics-related) topics, as well as life-in-general, this Site Comments thread is the place for suggestions / complaints / questions / musings on how this site is organized and operates. So if you have thoughts about, say, the placement of Recent Comments versus Recent Posts lists, this would be the place for that.

(That is not to say this is the only form of feedback available. Among other routes, you can write to Editors at But it is explicitly intended to funnel off site commentary from the Random Comments threads.)

This will also be a place for site managers to post questions and requests for ideas, along with operational notices like warnings of theme experimentation coming up etc., besides alerts in separate sticky posts.

At the same time as inaugurating this kind of thread, it is time for yet another rollover of the venerable Random Comments thread. The one about to close, with 650 comments, is “Random Comments, 2020 Edition” , and the one getting started contemporaneous with this Site Comments is “Random Comments, Late 2020 Edition”

Also: A list of the site’s most recent comments can be found in the left sidebar (under “folder” icon 2nd tab). A database of all the comments, compiled by larK, is here, and can also be found linked in the left sidebar menu.

And the site’s former FAQ is here, representing the unique voice and outlook of CIDU Bill. An update for current addresses and notes is now available here, and can also be found linked in the left sidebar menu.


  1. (Previous tries nothing was blocked because I was signed in like this and it apparently does not put moderators into moderation.)

  2. Still looking for Beethoven material!

    (NOT any more Peanuts though)

    Does not need to be related to birthday. Just a good comic and has something to do with Beethoven.

  3. Not to be a curmudgeon, but I don’t like the “likes”. Those who do like them are always free to use the WP interface, I just don’t think we need the additional clutter distraction here.

  4. Yeah, it leads to bad atmosphere, in my opinion. But I thought regular web users should once in a while have a glance on what it looks like thru the WP Reader interface (also does indented / threaded replies).

    I’m curious, what is the view for those using RSS feeds?

  5. My initial reaction to the “likes” was similar to Kilby’s: flibledeeflu! which caused me to consciously revisit what was bothering me. I don’t like the clutter; I bristle at the shallowness of reducing discourse to a one-dimensional inducement to laziness; and I am wary of the largely unexplored and only slowly acknowledged very negative ways that the Facebook and its ilk have changed the face of communication and social interaction. On the other hand, since I’m not on Facebook, I don’t actually have first hand experience of these alleged negatives, and it seems to me my primary reaction therefor is a visceral hostility to change of any kind, which I then try and justify to myself. And I have to be honest enough with myself to acknowledge that fear of change has been a characteristic of humans for time immemorial, especially for those humans who have been lucky enough to survive long enough to get set in their ways, ie: old farts. And reluctant as I am to admit it, I am becoming an old fart.
    So then that leads to the question of how shall I deal with this realization? Shall I discount my visceral feelings and perpetually subject myself to things that bring me discomfort? Shall I shelter in the comfort of only known things and hide more and more from society, blaming my own dysfunction on everyone else for changing without my approval? It’s a dilemma, and I don’t see any easy ways out. Live long enough, society changes out from under you, and you are suddenly through no fault of your own less and less main-stream and more and more oddball; hell, even language itself will change itself out from under you, rendering you that much less able to communicate!
    It’s a dilemma where there are no correct answers: yes, I have good reasons for bristling at a lot of the changes I see that are largely change for change’s sake, and very often (surprisingly often!) change from ignorance where there actually is a canonical better solution that the implementer of the system was clearly ignorant of. But on the other hand, even demonstrably wrong changes can lead to new dynamics that actually do lead to better systems and new ways of doing things that are better than the old — evolution often reaches plateaus of “good enough”, and the only way forward is to actually retreat from the good enough plateau, and start again in a new direction that avoids the plateau, allowing you to reach new heights.
    So what do I do? Do I insist on doing things the way I know are better, assuming for the moment that my way really is demonstrably better, and consign myself to a good enough dead end where no further progress is made? Or do I recklessly ride the cutting edge of revolution in the hopes that through the wreckage we arrive at somewhere good? And at what point do I have to become suspicious of my instinct for what is “better”, that it is not just leading me down the cul de sac to what is “familiar”?
    All of which is a really long-winded way to say I had decided not to comment at all, and see what happened. It also shows me that I would actually like a metric for seeing how these long digressions are landing, if anyone appreciates this, or if it would be better if I just kept it to myself — if only there was a way for people to “like” my post…

  6. So do I.
    I usually ignore what I dislike: I noticed the little blue stars earlier, didn’t think much of them, and dismissed them: I don’t see them anymore. 😉

  7. Also not a big fan of “likes”. Sometimes the lack leads to worse things. One forum I read didn’t enable that, so some people will quote and entire large post and put +1 at the bottom. That’s special.

  8. If someone really wants to applaud a comment, there is nothing wrong (and everything right) about saying so, just as WW did above for larK. The aspect I felt uncomfortable about was turning the conversation into a numeric race for appreciation. I get more than enough of that in the chat system I have to use at work, although there the “likes” have morphed to have a secondary meaning, roughly “I have seen your message” (or in walkie-talkie lingo: “roger/wilco”).

  9. (Limited) Call for Comics

    Cartoons with themes from The Twelve Days song

    Only one of each kind can be used.

    Doesn’t have to have the associated number, or clearly allude to the song, though that could be a plus. That is, a cartoon about drummers might work even without having them drumming or saying that there are twelve of them; but those specifics could be helpful.

    Please mail to usual address

    What we do or do not still need:

    Partridge NOT NEEDED
    Turtle doves
    French hens
    Calling birds or colley birds
    Gold rings or golden rings
    Geese, maybe laying
    Swans, maybe swimming
    Ladies, probably dancing
    Lords NOT NEEDED
    Pipers, or fifers
    Drummers, maybe drumming


    == Eds.

  10. Twelve Days:
    Update on What we do or do not still need:

    Partridge NOT NEEDED
    Turtle doves NOT NEEDED
    French hens
    Calling birds or colley birds NOT NEEDED
    Gold rings or golden rings
    Geese, maybe laying
    Swans, maybe swimming
    Ladies, probably dancing
    Lords NOT NEEDED
    Pipers, or fifers
    Drummers, maybe drumming

    Also if you know of strips which in some year have done a full or almost full sequence of jokes for the twelve days in turn, and they are in some selectable archive, let us have a link to the first or a key point, so we can consider mentioning it in notes. We are already aware of this for “Mother Goose and Grimm”.


  11. “Hey, don’t worry about it” Alert.

    I’m going to be trying out a couple brief experiments with posting / commenting / unpublishing / updating etc. The test entry might need to appear at the top of the scroll briefly at some points.

    Thanks for your indulgence.

  12. BTW, in response to an apology for big quote font,

    One alternative some of us are using is “code” designation. You can invoke it by surrounding your desired text with a matched pair of “backquote” or “backtick” characters.

    `Here is an example. When pasted below it will be in that other crisp and quasi-typewriter face.`

    Here is an example. When pasted below it will be in that other crisp and quasi-typewriter face

  13. @ Mitch – While you are experimenting, is there any chance that you could tweak the CSS entry for “blockquote” text to reduce its size to something a little more usable? Or was it a limitation of the current wordpress license that the Editors are not allowed access to the CSS file?

  14. P.S. Your comment about code text was not there when I suggested editing the CSS. Is that feature something in wordpress, or is it a result of the markdown add-on module?

  15. P.P.S. And did you add “markdown” to the moderation list, or is just a coincidence that every time I mention it, the comment ends up there?

  16. Or was it a limitation of the current wordpress license that the Editors are not allowed access to the CSS file?

    Yes, almost exactly. It’s not “access to the file” exactly, but access to a place where one can paste “Additional CSS” that will be taken on after the CSS coming from the Theme. We have tested, on another server, and pasting the CSS to enable numbered comments (as contributed by larK) worked fine, and also allowed small-scale lists.

    Another CSS matter we have discussed would be making live links a more distinct (and probably more standard, though that may just mean old-fashioned) color.

  17. (But the experimenting is not about that, it’s the effects of unpublishing and re-dating, which we discussed in email, in the dual context of annualizing some Bill posts and, less significantly, using a single thread for a growing edited post.)

  18. If you eschew the shortcut system which lets the backtick character delineate a passage to put in “code” face, you can still do that with an HTML tag.

    <code> This should appear (below) in that small typewriter-style </code>

    This should appear (here) in that small typewriter-style

  19. P.S. Your comment about code text was not there when I suggested editing the CSS. Is that feature something in wordpress, or is it a result of the markdown add-on module?

    Code text is available whether or not markdown is enabled. In another comment, I illustrate the HTML markup* for it.

    The shortcut of `using the backtick for code` is indeed one of those shortcuts that comes from markdown.
    The shortcut of using the backtick for code is indeed one of those shortcuts that comes from markdown.

    *Footnote the HTML markup is just what you would expect.

  20. BTW I did not have to escape the asterisks or do anything else special to use them for that footnote. A single asterisk does not invoke italics in markdown. It looks for paired instances.


    The “Please Ignore #1” and “Please Ignore #2” are done and gone now.

    If you are interested, it did turn out slightly trickier than I imagined, but is doable in a satisfactory way.

  22. larK index oddity:

    Hmm, to post the second day of the Twelve Days series, in the same post, as well as editing the post body I (a) changed the visible title (but not the slug) and (b) changed the publication date to today, so it would reappear at the top of the scroll for the nonce.

    Now in the scrape index, , looking for Everything by Everybody, all the comments from yesterday on this post show up first in the list, before some from other posts that actually were after these.

    Just wondering how that happens. Would it be better to skip renaming? Or is it the re-dating that’s doing it? But can’t think of a better way …

  23. The way I use LarK’s page is to do a new load, then scan down to find the latest followed link. I then go up and open in new tabs links that are above that, but not duplicates of ones I have just opened, but always the one at the top to serve as the marker for the next time. Not sure if that helps. As long as I get an un-followed link to new comments, I’m good.

  24. all the comments from yesterday on this post show up first in the list, before some from other posts that actually were after these.

    Mitch — not sure I see that — are you saying that some older comments were appearing before newer comments? The only time that happens as far as I recall right now is if a comment was in moderation. My system works by looking at the rss feed for new comments, from the bottom up — every ten minutes it reloads the rss feed, and starting from the bottom, looks to see if each comment is already in the database; if it is, it ignores it and moves to the next; if it isn’t, it adds it to the db, giving it an auto-incrementing ID. When it displays comments on my webpage, it sorts them by this ID. So, in general, this ID will act as in indicator or posting order. The only case I can think of right now where that gets violated is in the case of a comment that was in moderation: it won’t appear in its proper place in the rss feed until it gets released from moderation; at that point many subsequent posts may have already been added to my db; when it finally emerges from moderation (assuming it still makes it into the rss recent comments), my system will see it as new, and add it and give it an ID at that point, so the ID won’t reflect its original post order, but will reflect that it is new to see, and be at the head of the list, until a newer post comes along.
    I don’t know if the hack you’re employing to keep the 12 days in one thread could affect that somehow — I can’t immediately see how it would, but maybe it does something strange to the rss feed?

  25. Oh! I see what’s happening (since you did it while I was typing up my previous response):

    You are renaming the thread while older comments are still appearing on the rss thread. So, as soon as you rename the thread, I (my system) have no way to know that they are not new comments, because they have a new thread name, so I go and collect all the old comments now appearing with a new title as if they were comments, which also means that there now is a double entry in my db, one for the first thread title, one for the second thread title (possibly triple entries, actually). I could redo my scraping system that it will check by something else (comment content springs to mind, but that adds a lot of new failure points) to see if a comment is new or not. But it had been reasonable to suppose up to now that the title of the thread was that solid unchanging thing I could hang a hat on…. I suppose the most efficient way would be to parse the wordpress comment number, and store that as a separate field in my system, and then compare against that. But do I fully trust WordPress not to 1984 those numbers? I mean, you might decide to start editing your individual posts, but if I’m looking at WP id number, I wouldn’t catch those changes as a new post (and at what point would it constitute a new post?), whereas if I was checking content it would… But if I was checking content, then if someone repeated a post, I wouldn’t catch that…
    Whole new cans of worms you’re opening up here…

  26. larK, well yes it does seem to be giving slightly older comments a more recent stamp or something affecting sorting order in the search results. Here are two screenshots from a couple minutes ago, themselves separated only by a minute or so.

    In the Scrape one (top) there are one after another all from the same thread; and many of them in fact posted earlier or yesterday. In the CIDU-site one (bottom) we have the sidebar list for Recent Comments. You can see this is more like the actual recency ordering.

    The things I am doing to keep all the Twelve Days stuff in one thread is: (i) open it for editing (ii) edit but do not press Update/save; the edit includes adding some material and tags, and altering the headings including post’s Title (but not the Slug). (iii) Press Update to save edits. (iv) edit publication date in the scheduler, to about 5 minutes earlier from real-life clock time. No editing of timestamps for comments.

  27. (My previous does not reflect your previous 🙂 )

    Hmmm, I could refrain from retitling the main post. But would have to do it at least once, since it now says “Third Day” and if changed to be constant should be neutral on content. Ah well, something to deal with tomorrow …

    Thanks for looking and figuring it out! And as always, thanks for running this convenience and research tool!

  28. OK Mitch, I’ve fixed it so it’ll check against duplicates in future and not add them (so when you change the name of a thread, it won’t think the old comments are new), and I deleted the duplicates as far as I could tell for the 12 days posts, so you should be all good to go… Keep doing what you were doing.

  29. Quick check on whether WP follows the hashtag convention for typing within comment text. If I type #LOL or #Bizarro will those produce clickable links to the lists of tagged posts within this blog, as you get for clicking on the category or tag links in the top matter of a post? Does it have to be an existing tag, like a comic name #Peanuts or can it be a new ad hoc nonsense item like #dffgyytrvb ?

  30. Well, it’s far from easy and spontaneous, but existing tags have associated URLs which lead to a search results (or lookup) page. So it would be possible, though a little awkward, to click on one, copy the long-form URL, such as

    and then use that in a clickable link to that listing page.

  31. We are moving our servers to a new office today, so the index will be down for a bit (it will also not be harvesting comments until we get back online). We apologize for any inconvenience. Share and Enjoy.

  32. DingDingDing!
    * DingDingDing! *

    Okay! That makes 60,000 comments approved and appearing on this site!

    The one that went over the top was MARK IN BOSTON, comment on “The Twelve Days – Postscript 3 – icon layouts for all 12” about drumstick grips, at 5:00 PM.

    I won’t look them up right now, but CIDU Bill noted the 40,000th and 50,000th, and we thought it appropriate to continue that round-number tradition.

  33. Apparently some residue from the move I mentioned two comments up, the archive site is down, and it might be down the whole weekend; again, We Apologize For The Inconvenience.

  34. Thanks for informing us, larK, and continued thanks for the service.

    I did not this time incorporate an alert into the phrasing of the link in the sidebar menu (as was done last time). On the basis that anyone paying attention there would see it here anyway.

  35. Of course this time the outage is more severe… Have to rebuild the server, can’t give any ETA yet on when we may be back…

  36. I’m getting the LarK page now, but it doesn’t show any comments. Perhaps a problem with the RSS feed?

  37. Brian, along with you I noticed yesterday that larK’s page was back to an extent. But the queries get no results at all so far, so your hypothesis about problems with (current) RSS feed wouldn’t seem to be applicable. It looks more like no underlying data has been restored, or the connection to the database. But we do stand ready to work on RSS settings or whatever, if larK calls on us to do so.

  38. Glad it’s not just me. I’ve had to remember to check here more often to get new comments because I can’t get a big list.

  39. I’m sorry for not keeping you updated. The problem is indeed on our end. These are basically legacy servers we keep for our own amusement, and they were hit with an encryption attack, so we are working to restore data, and while we probably could reconnect the datasource, and restart the scheduled process to scrape the rss feed, we’d rather not while we work to restore the whole thing.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.

  40. So I guess we’re back… Obviously the last two weeks or however long it was won’t have had their comments scraped, but it should be collecting them from now going forward — fingers crossed!

    Let me know if you notice any abnormalities.

Comments are closed.