Blog Housekeeping

By James Kwak

As you may have noticed, we’ve been making some changes to the site recently. The main thing is that I decided we needed two sidebars in order to make it into the 21st century. I’ve been looking for a good theme that has three columns but doesn’t have dynamic page navigation (those links across the top), because we have pages that shouldn’t really be made so prominent, but I couldn’t find one. So I switched to this theme, which has three columns but also has dynamic page navigation. Now the problem is that the page navigation is buggy: right now it’s showing pages that no longer exist, pages whose titles have changed, etc., and it seems to change mysteriously from time to time. I’m hoping it will settle down in the next few days. I’ve generally been very happing with, but this is totally infuriating.

19 thoughts on “Blog Housekeeping

  1. I’ve been really happy with the “Atahualpa” WordPress theme. It’s 100% flexible and customizable with a pretty clear user interface that doesn’t require a lot of tech know-how.

  2. Your page formating and type size makes it hard to read your new web pages. Have a good look at the margins on each side of the central text that Mish Shedlock uses on his blog. Global economic analysis.

  3. I strongly prefer the original blog format. Why do you feel a need for three columns? In particular, what is the value of the column of Tweets. Looking down the list, the vast majority are just the title or a micro-summary of the blog entries, an entry that anyone on this page has probably already read. I suppose it’s good for the ego to know who is reading you, but it to me it’s wasted space that could be used to make the blog more readable.

  4. The original blog format had its advantages, and I agree that the twitter column has little value to me. To others of a certain (younger) age it may, but the twitter entries would be best relegated to the smallest font size that is still barely readable and the column width reduced by 1/3. Links has more relevance to the readership and should be above the fold, rather than at the bottom. The biggest problem with the Coraline theme you’re using is that the hyperlinks are in a font color that is too electric blue and it distracts from the main content. If you are looking for a selectable-navigation theme with customizable # and type of sidebars and widget areas, you might want to consider Suffusion. I’m working with it now and it is very flexible, configurable, and most of all reliable, heavily used, and supported. More of a framework than a theme, actually.

  5. You might want to look under Appearance -> Menus and make sure there’s a custom menu defined (in the right column) and that that menu is assigned to Primary Navigation under Theme Locations (in the left column). Otherwise, the menu will be generated based on what pages you’ve created, and that might be causing some of the weirdness you’re seeing.

  6. OK, I agree the mentions aren’t worth having, since I don’t know the Twitter API well enough to filter out the pure retweets.
    As for things like padding and type size, we use, so I don’t have much control beyond choosing a style. If font size is an issue, I recommend, in this order: an RSS client; Readability; control-= (or command-=), which most people call control-+.

  7. Kudos to you for updating your blog! It’s a challenge, but one worth taking on. If you dislike this format, you can look at what’s available at the “theme forest” site. Once there, click on word themes.
    Please do keep the twitter feed. Honestly, so many of us keep up on twitter feeds right now, it’d definitely the way to go. Blogs are become increasingly “old school” (sorry to say). If you’re up for an even more up-to-date and interactive social media venue, check out tumblr and posterous. Both allow much more interaction and are the way to go now (all free). Again, kudos for the update and hang in there – the bugs drive us all nuts but there are some terrific widgets and updates that really make things user friendly. I don’t have any issue with font size and I don’t find it at all busy. I think it’s still a relatively “quiet” site.

  8. Well I’m gonna put my 2cents in here for whatever they are worth. I do think early readers of the blog opinions’ should count for slightly more, and I am one of the blogs earliest readers and major/regular commenters. I changed my pseudonym, so that may not readily be apparent, but those with an observant eye would recognize my writing style.

    Now to make a long story even longer….. I have very strong mixed feelings on the new BaselineScenario blog format, those strong mixed feelings equate to slightly negative, but basically neutral. From a sentimental standpoint I hate anything that I love changing. But sentimental feelings do not equate to constructive criticism. Also I was one of the bloggers Mr. Kwak listed as “friends of the blog/regular commenters” on the right margin of the prior format. So from a very selfish standpoint I miss the “coolness” of having my blog as permanent links on one of the best intellectual blogs, and written by two of the better guys out there for political, economic, and Tech industry commentary. Really just a bastion of truth. BUt I know that most bloggers wouldn’t do that (give a person they didn’t know a link, only because “they”(me) have a minimal amount of civility and comment regularly) and Mr. Kwak was very kind to do it, so I can’t very well get angry or feel “shorted” because for about 2 years he extended a courtesy to me that very very few (if any) well-known bloggers would.

    My only real criticism—-I prefer long lines to read horizontally on the blog. The margins shorten the horizontal lines so my eyes have to dart back and forth more. But young people like twitter, and young people like Facebook. So I think Mr. Kwak is doing the best thing for the general audience.

    In sum: As one of the oldest readers of the blog, and one of its more prolific commenters, I’m neutral on the format change.

  9. They could probably recognize my writing because I’m the only adult who can’t figure out where to put a damned possessive apostrophe….. oh well.

  10. OK, I think I fixed the problem with the page navigation. You have to create a custom menu, populate it with the pages you want, and then force the site navigation to use your custom menu.
    But not I’m not so happy with all the white space at the top, so I’m still trolling for a better theme.

  11. Clutter degrades readibility
    Noise (bright, multicolor fonts) fatigue the eyes
    add together and I move on somewhere else
    (review Edward Tufte: “data to ink ratio”)
    keep style simple and I’ll keep reading

  12. I agree with so many of the comments and think that twitter is for twits (having given away my age and stage perhaps) or for those who flit around and read hither and yon without much thoughtful intake, though that is painting some readers with too broad a brush. At best, tweets are a menu.

    With that intro, as an artist and avid reader, first and foremost “Less is more.” The use of tags and tweets taking up so much visual space reduces the reader to staying in a shortened and vertical version of the main event. Blogs are not old school unless one is determined to change simply for the sake of. Reading the main event, the articles, becomes too choppy in such a narrow space.

    If the goal is to increase readership or make all more reader friendly, then I reference the above comment from “Jeff” and agree completely. If the new format makes readers less inclined to remain faithful and return, all efforts will have been counter-productive.

  13. I follow you on Twitter, have for a long time, so I certainly don’t need that left column. It’s a waste of space. I’m amused at the snarky remarks about “young people” using Twitter–I find it quite useful, but I’m only 84, of course.

  14. To get a larger text size hold down on Ctrl key and each time you hit the plus + key the text size will increase to return to normal hold down Ctrl key while pressing the minus key -.

  15. I really really HATE the new appearance and will be less likely to read the blog. The old site was rather handsome and the new one somehow looks less polished and I have to scroll and scroll. I agree — there’s NOTHING good about three columns.

    Oh well, I’m spending less time on the internet as I go to your site less and also to tpm less since they have their new unpleasant format.

    Buzzflash gives users a choice of formats and you can get the old one by going to “” — any way you can give us a choice?

  16. Well Spring Texan, I was going to write that I was more ambassadorial than you, not saying so directly that I HATE the new appearance, preferring the classical. However, I clicked on your link and was almost knocked off my computer chair, honestly! Never, well almost never have I seen such punch in the face chaos in living color, walls of text and links………well, you have now, in my not humble opinion, completely undermined if not cancelled your argument. And since I am here, I loved Carter Jefferson’s comment so much that I began to follow him on Twitter which I fully confess, at a full 70 celebrated by two weeks in China in October, I hardly ever check.

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