Site Comments, February 2022 Edition

This is the next 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 the submissions address, submissions dot cidu at gmail dot com. 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 369 comments, is “Random Comments, Late 2020 Edition” , and the one getting started contemporaneous with this Site Comments is “Random Comments, February 2022 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.

110 Comments

  1. Does the Contact for send email to the usual address or is putting the messages someplace?

    The existing contact form saves messages on the site. My earlier account of the five messages saved was from looking at them there.

  2. I just resent a strip with the contact form that I had e-mailed earlier today with the wrong link. I don’t see a way to include an image file on the contact form. Did I miss it?

  3. That was quick! I thought of it because I tried to submit, and submissions@cidu.info is apparently invalid, but in my email address book. (Sent again this morning.)

    Well no, that is not the right address. (It was at one time, briefly, but quite a while ago and not for long.) If you’re seeing it somewhere – besides your private address book – let us know so we can erase and replace it with the correct one.

    The correct one is

    CIDU.submissions@gmail.com

    which also appears prominently on the site, usually as a graphic. Case does not matter. There are no hyphens, just dots and an at.

  4. I just resent a strip with the contact form that I had e-mailed earlier today with the wrong link. I don’t see a way to include an image file on the contact form. Did I miss it?

    No, there is no provision for image upload; neither on the original CONTACT form page, nor the new (under testing) SUGGEST A CIDU form page. On the new SUGGEST A CIDU form there is a remark about using Postimage to upload an image and share a URL for it.

    Which one were you using for your test. Did you see the bit earlier about one going into a results page in the site and the other using email. So it’s hard to answer whether we received it.

  5. Kilby, if you mean the one that starts off This is a duplicate of a strip I submitted earlier today, but it corrects the link... Today's Macanudo confirmed Linier's fascination with penguins: >

    It was entered using the original CONTACT form page, and did make it into the form responses list on the site. It did not go into email, as that is not how the original CONTACT form is set up.

    To all following the tech side of this — Correction, I said the new SUGGEST A CIDU form page in testing sent mail instead of saving responses in site. That was incorrect; it does both.

  6. Okay, could we please get just one or two tests from non-editors of the form at

    https://cidu.info/suggest-a-cidu

    If you would, please also comment here in Site Comments that you have used the form – so we know to check for it. As currently set up, it is saving on site as well as sending by email. It has been working for me, but we should check that wasn’t just because I was logged in as an editor.

  7. Thanks, we’ve learned a few things from your tests!

    -It tells us “Sent by an unverified visitor to your site” or else “Sent by a verified WordPress.com user”

    I’ve fixed the page title but apparently the form itself has a name so the emails are saying something about “Suggest a CIDU (From blank page)”

  8. Okay, these two forms pages have been added to the “main menu” (first menu tab on left, triple-line icon). Also in the second menu (file folder icon tab) the text widget “ADDRESS FOR CONTRIBUTIONS” (with the image of the submissions address) now also has added “Also, you can use the new Suggest A CIDU form page.” with the latter part a link.

  9. Following onto the trifecta of posts originating from a “Recovered suggestion box item“, I have a couple suggestions:

    1) Instead of placing that long text designation at the beginning of the post’s title, it would be better if it were placed (only!) in the post’s “tags”. If it has to go in the title, then add it to the end, not the beginning.† The problem is that the list of “recent comments” truncates the titles, and it is therefore impossible to see which post has been commented upon by each person.

    2) How many items were hidden in that cache? Were there any others that might be postable? (Of the three that did get posted, two were repeats.)

    P.S. † – This also applies (in lesser measure) to the “Sunday Funnies”. I’ve often felt that it might be better to start those post titles with the date, to make the shortened titles distinguishable.

  10. Have there been any recent changes that might have had an effect on the default size of the comment entry frame? It used to be a lot larger, but currently it shows up with space for only one or at most two lines of text. On my desktop browser, there is a gripper icon in the lower left corner that can be used to stretch it larger, but this feature does not appear under Safari on my mobile devices. This has become fatal on my iPad, because now the frame is so small that it only shows one half of a line of text, making text entry extremely difficult, and editing impossible.

    Entering more lines than the text frame will hold produces a vertical scroll beam on my desktop, but not on the iPad’s Safari.

    Has anyone else noticed anything like this?

  11. It’s been like this for me for quite a while. Fortunately the resizer still works, but the box is never quite rightly sized, so that there is always the slightest horizontal scroll, and you can’t ever see the full width text (about 1 1/2 characters on either end get cut off). The default size of the box is also half a character high. I think this has gotten worse over time, but I haven’t really been keeping track: since I have had to start to resize the comment box, it’s all the same, so I haven’t particularly noted how badly mis-sized the initial box is.

    The cause is because this template, or maybe the underlying functionality of WordPress (ie: all templates) rewrite the simple form functions that have been in html since the very start with stupid javascript: the three field for Email, Name, and Website do not appear until you click on the textbox for the comment — it has always been thus, but at some point the sizing got screwed up. Personally, I would drop this stupid functionality for stability — just use plain old vanilla input fields and a textarea, but what do I know?

    I have also noticed irregular, ongoing changes in the font, which change the sizing, especially for the comments form.

  12. I’m atm in Firefox on my Android phone in vertical mode. Things are a little cramped but my only problem is sometimes hitting a wrong key that sends me sailing off to lands unknown. The fields fit comfortably on screen, and if I need to expand the main text input area, to some extent it dies it automatically and correctly, but I can also use that mentioned resize gripper which for me is at the bottom right corner.

  13. Thanks, Dana, I meant lower right, not lower left.

    P.S. Another new effect is that the button for “Post Comment” no longer has anything around it to show that it is a button.

  14. Just to see whether the data entry form is device or browser dependent, I attempted to comment (in the serial comma thread) from my iPhone, using Firefox instead of Safari. Since I’ve never tried that before, I expected wordpress to demand a new login. However, the advantage is that the form that includes Used-ID and e-mail also provides a larger frame for the comment. Apparently it is only the “logged in” entry form that suffers from the size problem. Unfortunately, WordPress decided to “vanish” the result.

  15. Here’s a suggestion for a sort of structured-commenting game, from Bill$dollar (aka dollarbill):

    I know, let's have a pun-fest. Nothing is out of bounds. Or just say, let's ignore the strips comments online and limit our comments to one at a time until we've had a go-round-ish, then time for the second pun from those still in the game. We could accept just plain comments without some wordplay also, by mentioning that as one of the rules for this particular comic.

    Any thoughts on how this could work? Responses here or also at Random Comments.

  16. To be perfectly honest, I really do not understand at all what the object of the structure is supposed to be, nor how it is supposed to work. Is this supposed to be for a particular comic, or in general? Which strip comments are we supposed to ignore?

    I would definitely not be in favor of instituting a new set of rules or for “turn taking” on normal CIDU posts, but the editors could always set up a special post for a designated “Pun Fest”. Since there is no way to enforce alternation with the open comment form at the end of a normal post, everyone would need to agree to make only one comment each, until the designated “Moderator” comments that the current round is ended, and a new round can then begin. The Pun-Fest “moderator” would be responsible for reporting duplicate comment infractions to the Editors, and getting them to delete the offending comment(s).

    Another method would to make the comments on the post “closed”, and the Admins could set up a separate “Submit a Pun-Fest-Comment” form. However, then somebody would have to moderate and attach each comment to the post. It seems like this is going to result in an awful lot of administrative effort, and I still don’t really see what it is supposed to achieve.

  17. P.S. Here’s a completely different suggestion for a modest improvement to the CIDU website: with all due respect to Our (hallowed) Founder, I think it’s time to weed out and/or replace the comics listed in the “Blog Roll” (near the bottom of the “folder” menu in the upper left corner). I would have no objection to retiring the entire list, but at the very least, the links to Jimmy Johnson’s blog and to Bug Martini should be eliminated: both have become unproductive orphans. Another outdated feature that could should be removed is the “Category Cloud”: many (if not most) of the items listed there are no longer relevant.

  18. I wasn’t aware there was a cloud. I never scroll down in that frame because I get my links from LarK. The only time I access the folder is to use the search.

  19. I don’t know if I would fall for “it”, there’s a better chance that I might have fallen for “her”.

  20. P.S. We may not have a whole yearful of October, but Friday the Thirteenth falls on a Thursday this month.

  21. Obviously, Flo’s answer is “no”. There were a couple of odd things about the strip as was discussed in comments. What happened to the woman’s car? Where do people even park? Note the difference in the entry from Panel 1 to Panel 5, understanding that the first one is the throwaway.

  22. Both vehicles are moving when we see them (hence the puff behind) so there could be a parking lot off-camera on the left.

    The change in the pier from the first to the last panel, though, I don’t see any way to account for other than the artist messing up (probably in the form of grabbing a preexisting throwaway panel in a rush)… usually Wiley doesn’t make such mistakes though.

  23. (Off topic / individual note)

    @Dave in Boston — I hope you are receiving our emails, about the Zits cartoon, following up on your “Suggest-a-comic Form” submission. We have been getting bounce/undeliverable messages from one or another email service along the way.

  24. Oh crud, I just used the usual posting address without thinking. It is, at this point, almost certainly not going to work. Sorry about the noise…

  25. @Dave, thanks for clarifying about the email. The upshot re the Zits cartoon is that we do want to use it, but not immediately, and maybe in an anchor post for another doesn’t-fit-CIDU kind of category.

  26. This may not be immediately apparent to some contributors, but the reason why the CIDU editors are (exceedingly) polite about acknowledging every new CIDU submission is that the reply mail also serves as a notice to the other three editors. The idea is to prevent any one comic from getting posted multiple times. This wasn’t necessary back when Bill was running the site as a one-man show, although Bill often did reply to submissions, especially when there was an “obvious” explanation as to why a particular strip did not qualify as a CIDU.

  27. Does the search feature only look at the titles of posts, and not the comments? I was trying to find the one where we ended up discussing the metric system but couldn’t find it. Changing the search to “liter” found a bunch of posts with “literally” in the title.

  28. @ Brian in StL – It searches just the post titles and any text included at the top of the post, but not the readers’ comments. To search through those, use “Search For This Textsite:cidu.info“.

  29. Kilby said: “@ Zbicyclist – [Only] after seeing that comment for the third time did I notice the virtually invisible rectangular icon in the second line. The dropbox link was cumbersome, but it did (eventually) work.”

    I couldn’t make sense of this at first, as I never saw that icon nor any Dropbox link, as Zbicyclist’s linked-in picture was all along displaying fine for me, in the regular WP browser format. Then I clicked on the image and saw Dropbox and a share message. (Though I had no reason to do that originally, as the image was there in the comment.)

    I’ll embed it via Postimage here, for those who did not previously see it. This and Kilby’s selection from the same artist are indeed interesting!

  30. @Brian in STL and @Kilby,

    (I think my previous comment, with the Anatol Kovarsky drawing, actually belonged better in a different thread. But I’ll leave it here too, for some relevance to searching in comments.)

    Brian said (here): Does the search feature only look at the titles of posts, and not the comments? I was trying to find the one where we ended up discussing the metric system but couldn’t find it. Changing the search to “liter” found a bunch of posts with “literally” in the title.

    Kilby, thanks for the general search engine (or is that specifically Google?) formulation for site-specific search. I’m afraid I still don’t get it exactly, even after your correction.

    But I wanted to point out a different site-internal resource . Watch for some email.

  31. The “site:cidu.info” works both with Google and DuckDuckGo. It limits the results to pages found at the specified URL.

  32. Erm, thanks but that part I already did understand.

    My misunderstanding was a good deal stupider. When you wrote

            “Search For This Text site:cidu.info“
    

    somehow I took “Search For This Text” as another part of the command, to be written literally. And left me wondering where to enter the text to search for! Yikes!

  33. I’m familiar with that site search method, but I still had trouble finding that message. In the usual way, that was in this week’s Meryl flood.

  34. The Veterans Day thread has been reposted, but I did not receive an email announcing that fact. Maybe that is why it has no new comments so far.

  35. Usual John, I don’t know the underlying mechanism or conditions that govern the email notifications. Evidently there is a different handling for reposts.

  36. @ Usual John – That Nov. 11th post is not “new”, it’s just been given a new date (that’s why it still has CIDU Bill’s name). Under these circumstances, I wouldn’t expect notification for a new post. As for comments, it’s still rather early (9:15 am East Coast time): give everyone time to wake up and figure out whether they have something sensible to say.

  37. One of our two iPads seems to have spontaneously forgotten that it was logged into wordpress, so it now requires a user ID and password for new comments. Contrary to my earlier expectations, this had absolutely no effect on the size of the comment entry frame, it is still about 2/3rd of the height of one line. Is there anything that the admins can do to the so-called template “theme” to enforce a minimum height for that field? I don’t know why it shrank, but it’s been this way for several months now, and it makes entering comments very difficult.

  38. Michael, I’m sorry these parts of the WP system are giving you trouble. I believe I’ve already posted screenshots of all the admin settings that have bearing on commenting, and that we’ve tried adjusting several of them.

    All I can suggest are some workarounds.

    A. You could try out the Reader mode of WP. This is not the Reader mode built into some browsers, but a separate facility provided by WP. Go to wordpress.com/read and sign in. When you find a post you want to read and maybe comment on, the post and thread of comments are presented with CSS and stylings inherent to WP Reader and not making use of the Themes and appearance of the particular WP blogs these posts are coming from.
    The up side of that is that there is uniform and readable placement of items on the page; and that you see when a comment is a reply to another comment, with a note to that effect plus indentation; and that there are “like” stars to click and visible scores based from them.
    The down sides are in some cases just the flip of the ups. Scoring “likes” is unpopular with many people. Imposing a uniform appearance robs the blogs of some of their character and individuality, and also removes the useful widgets they may have deployed on their custom sites. And it is hard to find specific older posts from blogs you follow — the Reader shows you recent posts or updates from all the WP blogs you follow. Several CIDU readers tried the Reader mode, for the indent and stars features, but left it because of the feed structure.

    That went on a while so I will leave other suggestions for separate comments.

  39. B. This is specific to Kilby, or to others who have been added as users on the admin side of the CIDU site. Instead of following comments from the main posts on the standard web browser view of the site, try accessing just the comments from either

    https://godaddyandthesquirrelmustbothdie.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?comment_status=all

    or

    https://wordpress.com/comments/all/cidu.info

    Both of these present the comments (with different appearances) from all currently active threads, in one list by reverse chronological order. One shows included graphics, the other shows the link URLs. They name the post for which the comment is in a thread, and also say what comment it is in reply to (but does not show the full text, nor use placement and indenting to show reply sequences). There is a Reply button on each listed comment, which will open up a generous-sized form textbox, with resize capabilities. Also some basic text format edit buttons (like italic or bold) so you don’t need to use Markdown nor HTML markup — one of them cutely uses the buttons to insert HTML tags into the text, the other is more WYSIWYG.

    The transparency of where you are and what you’re doing is among the up sides of using these views. Also that you are shown new comments from any thread that is still accepting comments, not just those you’ve written in and have asked for notifications. And also thus you don’t need to go clicking around to those different threads.

    The down sides include getting yourself confused about what thread some comment belongs in! Also — a big one — that you don’t see the actual post the comments are flowing from, and only the most recent comments. So in practice you need to keep another tab open with a normal browser view of the CIDU site. Another down side is that you need to get permission for these panels. Kilby, you might try them out and report back whether the “contributor” level status is sufficient.

  40. C. Kilby, you keep referring to settings like width or adjustability of comment FORMS as coming from THEME settings. I’m not at all sure that could be right. They seem more likely to come from the core WP engine.

    In any case, they aren’t in the settings interface that we have access to. If this were not hosted at WordPress.com but just used the free code distribution from wordpress.org under our own installation, then we would have access to the files for both the WP core and for downloaded/installed themes. (But with the big challenge of maintaining them, and customizing.) But we are on wp.com hosting, and access to some features is adjusted via settings screens they supply. As I mentioned, I have posted here (screenshots of) the settings having to with commenting, and some had to do with signing in, but no relation to size of textbox form elements.

    There are also some settings screens that definitely DO relate to matters the Theme controls. These are the settings panels called either Configuration or Appearance. And they provide access to things like the choice and placement of widgets in the sidebars; and the color scheme. Again, nothing having to do with the size of textbox form elements.

    Nor the widths or ratios of the different inherent columns on the blog pages. These I suppose DO come from the Theme, as Kilby notes. However, they are not in the settings panels. They would be in the code, in the installed files, and we don’t have access to those. (If we had read access, we could perhaps find the CSS giving these dimensions, and put in some override. Not available for now, however.)


    But it may be worthwhile experimenting with other themes. Not for the sake of this particular operational commenting problem, but if people think the appearance, and details of things like widget spaces, could stand a refresh, we could try out something different.

    The theme we have now is called Editor, and it does have some very nice features. Bill made a good choice! What I like about it is the tabs on the left giving a choice of two different sidebars — so we can populate them with a bunch of stuff without crowding out the main content by trying to have two sidebars showing all the time.

    But if you would like to suggest other themes, we can certainly take a look. Either by name (but these need to be available within WordPress.com, and need to be free — please don’t just pick from the huge catalogs), or by example — send link to a WP-based blog you think has a theme that could be used well here. (And if you want to be really nice and helpful, try asking the owner or author what their theme is.)

  41. The reason that Bill made a (very) good choice with the current “theme” (except that he always called it a “template”) was that he went through a very long process of testing the various options. After testing several possibilities on the live site and collecting reader opinions, it coalesced fairly quickly that what we have now was the best of the available options. (The original CIDU setup [still visible on larK’s “comment harvester”] was no longer available for selection.)

    For these reasons, I would not DREAM of re-opening that can of worms to go through that laborious process yet again. That headache would ONLY be worthwhile if we ever decide to “upgrade” to a higher “level”, but that involves finances and imposing (a little) on the Bickel family, which I also do not think is worth the trouble (neither for us nor for them).

    The primary reason that I have mentioned this data input problem (several times) is that the current situation is a definite change from the way that the form used to appear and work. I cannot say whether reason that the data entry frame shrank to less than one line is due to a side-effect of the “theme” settings, or because some sort of insidious change made by wordpress in their website engine, or even perhaps an update made by Apple to the Safari browser. All I know is that I used to see a large, comfortable frame in which the text could be entered, and that is no longer the case. The fact that Firefox produces the same mini-window is a fairly clear indication that it was probably wordpress or a theme side effect, and not just Safari.

  42. There have been updates to the WP core.
    There have not been announced updates to the Editor theme.
    Do you really think that these are then equally likely explanations?

    Not that in either case could we have them retract the changes. So how does arguing that it is one or the other begin to help your situation.

    I and others have made several suggestions on how you can avoid this problem. Are you thinking of trying one of these options? If not, why not?

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