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. I noticed that the scrape was down over the weekend. It seems to be back now, but only older posts. It’s not adding new ones. The most recent on I see is from Saturday morning.

  2. Uh-oh. Brian and larK, let’s see if boosting the syndication feed from 50 to 60 will wake it up.

  3. Sorry, it may be choking on an hour or so of feed when experimentally the site was using “” as main host name rather than “” — which I think we’ve agreed is a desirable switch. NOTE: No links will break, no bookmarks will break. both have been, and will continue to be valid addresses, and go to the same place. The difference is in what your address bar will display.

  4. It had new messages this morning, up to Andrea’s at 8:24am:

    Cryptic clue

    Nothing after that. All three subsequent messages were in the thread. Not sure what to make of it.

  5. Brian, Yes, There were a couple comments in moderation, that I saw and click-approved, almost immediately upon waking. Scooping the litter boxes takes priority.

    Your observations seem correct, the scrape has moved ahead but doesn’t seem caught up. I don’t know any more about it, sorry.

  6. I never expect you to fix that sort of thing, just this is the only place to discuss it that I know of.

  7. Brian, thanks for the reassurance, but I was just muttering about the moderation system (doesn’t it know you by now?), not the concern for the scrape index. I do want to keep on top of what can be affecting it, so when larK says to try this or that setting we can follow along.

  8. Sorry guys, we continue to experience the kind of one-off problems you get when you rebuild and upgrade servers. The scheduled task to scrape the site got lost for a bit, and in all the other confusion, I let it lie for a while before coming back to it, so by the time it was running again, apparently more than 50 (or 60?) comments had been posted, so I lost the inbetween ones. Sorry about that. Never upgrade anything if you can help it…

  9. So unsurprisingly I guess Catelli 2.0 🚣🏻🚴🏻🏕 (@Catelli2Oh)’s comment was not picked up by my scraper — it is there in the rss feed, so I have to go and look if I can figure out what caused it to not be picked up — but meanwhile, I’m impressed that it failed gracefully, nothing went down, it just bypassed the troublesome input: woo-hoo!

    I guess it’s obligatory to post:

  10. Hmm, were Catelli’s emoji “simply” Unicode characters, or something more problematic?

  11. They are unicode characters. I’m assuming that’s the root of the problem, but I’m just guessing; I have to go in and look at what’s going on, but I’ve been putting it off… My main point is, something‘s failing, but it’s not particularly problematic — woo-hoo!

  12. So yeah, it was a utf-8 error — turns out our database defaulted to only have 3-byte utf-8 characters, and emojis are 4-byte, so, stupid default and recent rebuild where we obviously didn’t scrutinize every single stupid default value to see if it was a good default (which you would think would be the default…)…

  13. Glad to hear you found it!

    Personally, I’m not a big fan of emoji-laden (or otherwise unpronounceable) usernames.

  14. I do see the comment. At first I thought the post name had been truncated, because I forgot there was one just titled “F”.

  15. I got used to coming here via “” (don’t remember why). It’s not working today. Is that intentional?

  16. was an offshoot url during reorganization / construction.
    But you don’t need to deal with the whole GoDaddy… thing . Just mark

  17. Okay, I think we’re ready to once more try making “” the primary domain and “” the secondary.

    This AFAIK will not affect the validity of any saved links, saved bookmarks, or links on any web pages. Nor require you to type anything differently from how you type it now.

    What it will do is let browsers put the shorter (and more meaningful) “” in the location bar (or whatever your browser calls it), and also use that one when you do the “copy address” operation for posts and comments — maybe not for images, I’m not sure why.

    Thanks for your patience. Please report problems here and/or by email. And, y’know, do try reloading the page…

  18. Since the switch back to the “”, the site is blocked by my work’s firewall. It’s saying that the site is “categorized as high bandwidth”. I never had any problem serving up the same content from the godaddy address.

  19. Hmmm. Sorry to hear that!

    Does it still happen if you request it by the godaddy address?

  20. If I request the godaddy address, it automatically forwards to “” and is blocked.

    I work at a very large company and don’t have visibility to the rules. It might simply be blacklisted on this end and there might not be anything you can do about it.

  21. Well, thanks for your patience. We could of course revert the settings. But I’d like to pause on that for a bit, if that’s okay for you. Are you accessing the site all right from home / away from work?

  22. Oh certainly don’t change for me. I was a little curious if any other users had the same issue. I don’t have any issue on my home computer.

  23. If there’s one term I wouldn’t use to describe this site, it would be “high-bandwidth”.

  24. I have a hunch this will be disregarded and I will hold absolutely no (0%) ill-will if that’s the case, but it’s worth mentioning if it hasn’t been mentioned already:

    CIDU would be an EXCELLENT subreddit, and of course the venue is perfect for the format. It would also save a lot of site management issues. A major benefit, though possibly an irritation to some, would be that the traffic would increase by quite a bit.

    If anyone who admins this site is interested in that prospect, I’m volunteering to help out. Y’all know how to get a hold of me.

  25. David Steele, this seems to be a case where cartoonist Brooke McEldowney exercises his fondness of playing with aspects of the panels – sequencing, page layout, physical layout within the portrayed space. Here there is a spatial sequence but probably not a temporal sequence — we’re looking at successive segments, left to right along the wire. If the panels were all in one row, the wire would be one long diagonal line, sinking lower as our gaze shifts from left to right, But because they are broken into two rows (the optional panels at the top don’t quite work in here), we have a geometric echo between the two lines. Then surprise: The wire is on a taut diagonal rather than a sagging catenary because one of the strip’s lovebird couples have perched themselves on it as a swing seat!

    I can’t tell if the object(s) hanging on the line in panels 2 and 7 is supposed to be a traffic signal or something tossed up by people. But though they look similar I take them to be two different objects, in different spots. If instead, they are the same, then we get into complications like thinking that the two rows show two different times, and in between them the height of the wire has sunk and the hanging object has slid to the right. Because they have sat and pulled it down? I’ll stick with the reading of a single static moment, seen in eight spatial segments.

    Incidentally, I may not have this quite right, but AFAIK the “Site Comments” thread was meant for giving advice on how the CIDU web site should be managed or what editorial practices should be. And that one of the “Random Comments” threads would be considered the best place for observations like this one of yours.

  26. Thanks to David and Danny for asking about / commenting on that comic.
    And also to Danny and Brian for the meta-commentary procedural advice.
    Indeed we could really use some submitted “actual CIDUs”!

  27. Please see the thread for discussion of the FAQ clause that says:


    We don’t encourage artists to explain their own comics, because they’ve already had their chance to make us understand. Also, it’s more fun this way. However, when a comics-creator does drop by, please don’t invoke this principle in such a way as to make them feel unwelcome.

    Do we want to understand this as forbidding/discouraging a CIDU participant from seeking out a cartoonist’s “authorial interpretation” or answer to a puzzling aspect (say, on the cartoonist’s blog, or even their replies in a comics website comments area), and posting it here? Do we want to make that “secondhand authorial answering” issue explicit?

    Also, either for cartoonists themselves or others pasting or reporting their views, do we want to make explicit some commonsense considerations, mostly about timing and whether the authorial intervention has the effect of squelching an interesting ongoing CIDU-site discussion?

  28. Some FAQ edits, mostly “housekeeping” level
    2021-07-11 Mitch4
    (While we’re awaiting ideas for the “cartoonists commenting” one.)

    at 6:02am Eastern Time. ==> around 3:00 AM Pacific Time.

    The posts are typically CIDUs on weekdays, ==> The posts are typically CIDUs (or other interesting standalones) on weekdays
    [new sentence in that same item] ==> And Bonus postings as called for!
    [replacing] There are also sometimes other random posts at other times of the day.

  29. Regarding posting an artist’s explanation of a comic, I echo what a couple others have said. If a day or 2 has gone by, I don’t see a problem with it. When a discussion has died down, it’s kind of fun to hear the actual intent of the artist and have that “aha” moment.

  30. If you’re superstitious, note that the comment count was just now 66,666. Now spoiled of course.

  31. Note posted as comment in the Take The A Train Thread:

    For unknown reasons, some three comments for this thread, from two commenters – none of them first-time addresses – ended up not just in Pending but in Spam. That requires noticing a valid posted comment amid the chaff, un-spamming it (which puts it in Pending), and releasing it from Pending.

    WordPress does flag us to notice comments waiting in Pending, but of course the opaque Akismet spam handler does not say “I’ve got some that probably were mistakenly called Spam”. So it may take a while to get noticed and pulled out. Apologies to the commenters for those delays. And also, because “rescued” comments get sorted into the thread by the time they were originally submitted, readers who rely on the standard web page presentation (rather than email notification or WP Reader mode) are encouraged to scroll back once in a while to see if some comment has been added not-at-the-end.

    Also possibly exempt from the retro-misfiling are the RSS reader schemes, which I’m not really familiqar with.

  32. Note that on the Far Side site, the captions are not part of the image. If you did succeed in embedding, you would have to copy that also.

  33. @ Mitch4 – Re: “Testing Far Side linking
    It should be noted (for ALL future “Far Side” posts) that Larson’s website links do not have any “permanence”. If you try to access “, all you get is “Egad! That cartoon is no longer available. Try one of these instead.
    It would seem that Larson is still trying to put the Internet genie back into the bottle, which unfortunately completely devalues any attempt to include links to his website. If he just doesn’t want to be discussed outside of his own private server, then maybe CIDU should grant his request.

  34. Interesting. I was getting that “no longer available” message for the date-only format even just three days back. However, the date-plus-ordinal format seemed like a win, as it was good for longer, and also gave a page with the one comic (plus all the surrounding material of the web site) — the date-only format gives the site’s full page for the day, with usually several cartoons. (We don’t seem to have an easy way to get a link for the graphic by itself.)

    I didn’t, however check the longevity of the extended date-plus-serial format. Testing today, 2021/11/24, it was good back to

    but fails one day back, at

    (I was using 0 as the serial, as there’s always a first one.)

    So the link may be good for a little over a fortnight, although not permanently. I wonder if a warning / disclaimer to that effect would be in order.

  35. @ Mitch4 – “… link … for a little over a fortnight … I wonder if a warning … would be in order.
    It certainly wouldn’t hurt. The main problem is that after the link evaporates, it is very hard to understand any comments that anyone makes about the comic, especially when the re-direction makes it appear that the comment was directed at a completely different comic. Larson’s self-protective attitude would seem to preclude a text summary, or quoting the caption of the “intended” panel, even if copyright laws on “fair use” say otherwise. If there was a way to set up the Far Side links with an “automatic self-destruct” (like the tapes in “Mission Impossible”), that might be an alternative (leave the substance of the post, but disable the broken link after two or three weeks).

  36. What I’ve done for the one instance of this that was already in queue (I think in the next LOL collection) was (1) add a caution about the likely expiration date of the link and (2) mention the subject matter of the cartoon.

  37. Wow, he really has his head in the sand… I was checking if maybe we could link instead via the Wayback Machine of the Internet Archive and let them worry about fighting the Fair Use fight, but it seems the cartoon is wrapped up in a data package, not a simple URL (eg: data:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=’’%20viewBox=’0%200%20950%201100’%3E%3C/svg%3E ). So Internet Archive doesn’t archive it (I don’t know if they don’t actually save the picture somewhere, but this way of referring to it breaks it for them, or if the format just tricks them into not even saving the image eventually sent). Point is, The Far Side, really, really doesn’t want to use the Internet. If he were straddling the Age of the Printing Press he might reluctantly allow a book shaped object to be run off, but instead of printing images in it, he’d include a monk with the book who would show you a separate piece of paper only the monk has (that he copied hand copied himself, natch) that has the picture on it when you get to that page; eventually the monk would go home, and you’d be left with a useless book — as it SHOULD be, you godless peasant! Who knows what damage you’d do if you were allowed unfettered access to knowledge!

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