What a bunch of fuddy-duddies


Ooh, make the bad blog redesign go awaaay! Ooh, change is good if it’s a skinny black U.S. president, but bad if it’s a sans serif font on Inkless!

Poor readers. I feel for you. I really do. Well, a teeny bit.

Here’s a small guide to the new macleans.ca, based purely on my own fumbling around, because I was almost as surprised as you were to see that we’d gone live with the new format.

First, if you used to scroll through the old Blog Central, which featured blogs from everyone and nothing else, it has been recreated here. Bookmark that, I think you should. (Imagine me using my Yoda voice to say that.) If you are an Inkless Wells purist, and only want to read me me me, you should bookmark this link. (I am pleased to report it is this blog’s sixth URL since we went live, five years ago. Here at Rogers, we are always diligent about making sure my blog doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.) (UPDATE: our old favourite, http://www.macleans.ca/inklesswells now works again! See? Progress.)

But the awesome coolness of the new site (whose main, full-featured home is here) is that the whole thing is open for comments. In a very real sense, the Maclean’s 50 has been replaced by the Maclean’s Six Billion. (Seven? I keep losing count.) Say you, Sir or Madam, want to talk back to Don Drummond after reading our macleans.ca interview with the notorious TD Bank economist. Well, now you can. If you missed last week’s back-page print obituary for the wonderful Montreal jazz guitarist Nelson Symonds, you can catch up to it here, and add your own reminiscences (or, if you prefer, complain that this obit, unlike most, doesn’t feature an O. Henry surprise ending.)

Now you don’t have to be a mere spectator as you read Dear Leader Ken Whyte’s (frankly interchangeable) interviews with Julie Couillard and Margaret Atwood. Now Michael Friscolanti’s recent cover story on terrifying luncheon meats is your own personal canvas of terror and forensic pathology.

So poke around. Click on the clicks; link to the links. We are convinced that change is good. And we are going to hold our breaths until you, too, are convinced, or at least docile and uncomplaining. Well, maybe not that long. Holding our breath is hard.

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What a bunch of fuddy-duddies

  1. Wells?!!!!

    Is that you?

    I can’t find anything or anybody around here. It’s like the time I got separated from my Mom at the shopping mall when I was six. I”m lost. And I’m scared.

    Somebody hold me.

  2. I think that the commentariat may need to do some breathing exercises.. change isn’t always good.
    And what’s with the ”Strictly Quebec’ box in the bottom left corner?

  3. I prefer the new design. The old one always seemed cluttered. The main site still has this problem. I think it’s not that there’s too much on the page — Time.com, for instance, features a three-column design with almost as many boxes — but there are too many black bars and backgrounds, little banners, and features I bet a site analysis would show are rarely clicked.

    BTW, I still use the old Inkless URL: macleans.ca/inklesswells

  4. Young people these days. Never satisfied.

    Change is OK. Stability has some merit.

  5. I won’t be happy until I find where you hid the RSS feed. The old ones seem to have stopped working.

  6. Where the hell is the menu of all the bloggers?

    What’s an RSS feed?

    Change is only okay if it benefits me. This is worse than the shift from DOS to Windows on my home computer…

  7. Comments can be made on anything, now?!

    Oh, how I await the next article by Barbara Amiel!

  8. Ooh, Mike T., I didn’t think of that… is Steyn still writing?

  9. That’s a good question, Sophie.

  10. Well, Paul, whatever shape (I can sort of start making out , sometimes) this is starting to take, it’s looking like a very powerful platform. Here’s hoping the shape becomes stable enough soon.

  11. Yeah the new format is growing on me. For a while last night the blog central section was only listing headlines without any body text or authors, which was a little panic inducing. It seems to have been fixed though, so all is well.

  12. Still no purview?

  13. Oops, I meant preview.

  14. I have to say I like the layout ALOT better. The two column page is much easier to read. I think you are sacrificing some advertising space to get this clean look so kudos for that!

    I might say, though, that this is really a ‘double-letterhead’ page. One letterhead for the Magazine, One Letterhead for the Feature Article or Blog Post. I think it is not enough to use the Black menu bar to divide the letterheads visually. You still have some of the old pages and just to be helpful I just quickly created for you a comparison of your Blog Central with the black Magazine letterhead and the new Blog Central in White. What do you like better? Black or White?

    Now on the new Terms of Service that cannot be unseen in this new comment box. What is the definition of ‘stalker’ in your terms? Is MYL a stalker? Cause she posts to every new post? Or, if I would click and send you an email (oh..oh..oh…) I notice the email links are gone. Now is this the way you want things? Email is going to be regulated soon. So comments are now public, and open. Yet they will be moderated.

  15. Oh here are the two styles. Now will I be moderated for posting twice within a short time frame. For saying nothing related to anything…
    let’s see.

  16. But the awesome coolness of the new site (whose main, full-featured home is here) is that the whole thing is open for comments

    Except Potter’s blog. Let our voices be heard on the important issue of gentrification, sir!

  17. I hate the font, like the direction.

    Fortunately I can do most of my reading via feeds and suffer the font only occasionally.

  18. The list under Blog Central is so long it goes through the bottom of my computer down to the floor and I have to get out of my chair and on my hands and knees to see the names at the bottom.

  19. Truemuse – saying nothing related to anything..

  20. I like the new layout. But this:

    “But the awesome coolness of the new site (whose main, full-featured home is here) is that the whole thing is open for comments.”

    Thumbs down…way down. This reliance on user-participation as a technocratic replacement for editorial decisions and to highlight topicality (not to mention, upping the hit count) is going nowhere good. Besides, we know the contributors never even read the comments, anyway, just like professors don’t read their student assessments. Why should they put themselves through that?

  21. We read the student assessments.

  22. 50
    In honour of the Maclean’s 50 I offer a reading: Walter Abish, 99: The New Meaning. You may know that 99 was the year in which the Internet became a secured network. You may know that 99 is not divisible to a middle. The first 50 overshoots that mark.

    After we had been talking for a little less than two hours, he made it clear he didn’t want to say more: I am nearly eighty years old, and . . . I don’t want to have anything more to do with that era . . . I don’t want to think about it any more.

    The resort town is a dissappointment, too. Several rows of ugly concrete buildings line the beach for miles on end, a sprawling city that lives entirely off the tourist trade and consists of nothing but hotels and shops. It’s hard to imagine that read people lived here thirty years ago.

    And then there was her deep voice. Once I woke her up in the middle of the night, and when she woke with a start, I said, Say something!
    You idiot, she said, and fell asleep smiling. But I heard her voice, I had heard that wonderful contralto voice.

  23. No, you just want us to think you do.

  24. Um, Truemuse?

  25. The new layout is quite good. As usual, people are too quick to comment. In few days we won’t remember the old layout!

    Truemuse – ??? Are you looking for a book club?

  26. I don’t mind the new layout, and it’s rapidly growing on me, but what bugs me is the complete lack of any warning. I’m all about making things more participatory, and it’s already much more participatory over here at Macleans then at many online mags and papers, but that’s also why I’m flabbergasted that no one thought to give all of us a simple “heads up!”.

    Plenty of people come here everyday. It’s like a lounge we hang out in or something, and one day we walk in and someone’s moved all the furniture around, and painted everything, and no one thought to even mention that there was a plan to redecorate. BECAUSE we all participate, we feel somewhat vested in the place. That’s kinda the nature of letting us all participate… we feel like participants. It’s not that we expect to be consulted on the redesign, but would letting people know it’s coming be so hard? Even if we shouldn’t, we kinda expect someone to give us a heads up before turning the place upside down and shaking it.

    If anything, Macleans should be glad some people are freaking out. We freak because we care. When you redesign your whole site with no notice and no one cares… THEN you’ve got problems!

    Ohh… and PREVIEW!!!!!!!

  27. Truemuse: ?? …”For saying nothing related to anything.” – That summed it up.

  28. I don’t like the new curtains.

  29. LordK : that is a good point – why wasn’t a ‘heads up’ given?

  30. Is there somewhere we can send (constructive) comments on the new site to help Macleans make improvements and identify glitches? (First comment – the contact link at the bottom of the page doesn’t work, so I’m not sure who to contact to fix that! lol).

    The other big glitch (well “big”) is that the “jump to comments” links on the Blog Central page don’t seem to function. You can jump down to the comments from within a post itself, but not directly from the links on the central page.

  31. There are no ads in the rss feed. If you guys want some more money put some in.
    As an example, Fast Company’s rss feed has ads.

  32. How many more URLs before the design is post-1990s?

  33. You have a Yoda voice?

  34. That’s twice the new placement of the ‘subscribe’ button has made me click on it accidentally.

    You guys trying to tell me something?

  35. Powerful it is, the Yoda voice.

    LKO, our smart guys are trolling the comments in search of helpful suggestions, so if you have any more, just post them here and they’ll be seen soon enough.

  36. Pretty. I’m a professional, so that’s a technical description.

    And far, far too wide for this little sub-sub-laptop I’ve been messing with lately. But I can deal with that.

  37. Smart guys!! Over here!! Helpful suggestion!!

    For me, running Firefox 3.0.3 on Mac OS 10.5.5, with a 23″ screen & maxed browser window, the automatically opening flash pull-down menu for “Blog Central” is too long to be fully displayed, and I can’t scroll down past the visible bottom (i.e. moving the mouse to the bottom of the flash menu doesn’t scroll the browser window). Even with what I think is reduced font size the last one I get is Photo.

    I think this is related to the huge amount of unfilled space generally. Part of it’s just getting used to the non-crammed look (which I like), but it’s also a bit hard on the eyeballs to have that big white column on the right (under the tabs/comments/posts box). Unless that’s about to be filled with ads, in which case forget I said anything or better yet viva la white space.

    The tabs/comments/posts box is cool conceptually, but I have to say that right now it’s butt-ugly.

    Generally, great job! I was startled at first but I now feel all futurey, just from typing this comment. Avanti!

  38. Is there a menu that shows all the bloggers? I.e.: if I want to quickly see what ITQ, Inkless, or BTC have posted lately, is there a way I can get to each individual’s blog?

  39. This redesign is great, san serif font aside. The old layout was way too busy, had too much information – it screamed “print publication trying to adapt to the interwebs, circa 1999”. The stripped down (and wider text) look is a lot easier to read.

  40. I liked the feature on andrewcoyne.com where the comments that you hadn’t read were bolded, then dimmed after you had read them. The list of most recent comments was quite a lot longer than the four provided here now – and you could also click “more” to check back if you hadn’t visited for a while.

    I’d like to see those enhanced features here as well.

    If it was within the Realm of the Coyne , I’m sure it would also be in the repertoir of the trolling smart guys.

  41. I liked the feature on andrewcoyne.com where the comments that you hadn’t read were bolded, then dimmed after you had read them. The list of most recent comments was quite a lot longer than the four provided here now – and you could also click “more” to check back if you hadn’t visited for a while.

    I’d like to see those enhanced features here as well.

    If it was within the Realm of the Coyne , I’m sure it would also be in the repertoire of the trolling smart guys.

  42. Sean S.: if you go to the “Blog Central” menu at the top you’ll see it gives you a list of all the blogs.

  43. Thanks Jack,

    I wasn’t scrolling my screen far enough down to see the extent of the drop down menu. But as I mentioned before, I’m still adjusting to the post-DOS world of computing, in terms of interface.

  44. Ah, good point, Sean S..

    Smart guys!! – if I scroll down in the browser window so that the menus are at the very top of the window, I can indeed see all the blogs listed; but as I say I’ve got a pretty big screen, maxed browser window, etc.

    I second Dot’s comment above that the tag/comment/post box needs to have a lot more entries in it. Speaking as an obsessed person, I mean.

  45. Don’t worry. As someone who knows the Smart Guys quite well, I promise an easy to use blogroll is on its way.

  46. Jack,

    Not that the scrolling the menus thing doesn’t need to be fixed, it does, but I notice that on my Windows machine, with a mouse with a scroll wheel, the scroll wheel actually DOES let me scroll down the drop-down menu. Like you, if I scroll by moving the mouse the menu disappears before I get to the bottom (I can get to “Video” below “Photo” but there are an additional 7 items below that) but if I open the menu and scroll with my scroll wheel, it lets me scroll down to the bottom of the menu (though, if I go too fast I scroll right off the bottom of the menu and it disappears again!).

    Just FYI.

  47. Relevance. I just wanted to reflect on this experimental literature. I wondered. If I republish the work of a published author here … in this comment box …the Maclean’s Terms of Service appropriate that content as intellectual property belonging to them. So I did it. I republished selected writings from 99: A New Meaning. I chose this book because the book is made out of that idea. The author republished “99 segments by as many authors, each line, sentence or paragraph appropriated from a page bearing that same, to [him], mystically significant number 99”. Then he “omitted the names of the 18th, 19th and 20th century sources from which the segments were obtained, not wishing to add to or distract from the newly synthesized text.”

    Why did he do that? Was it legal?

    Is it illegal for me to republish him here if he did not originally name his sources? These issues of copyright are very important. With this new web interface Maclean’s is seeking writing to use as an attribute to all of their paid writing. There is something very exploitive in it. It puts the journalists in a community of comment that could lessen the quality of their writing. Its not being a book club, when you participate in a comment board. You are there as you, putting a face to your ideas, just as much as the Journalist is (in this case). Certain pitfalls could befall you if your opinion hits the wrong person the wrong way. Pseudonames are allowed. Yet if we post our opinion using a pseudoname we can’t stand by it as strongly so what we say loses relevance.

    I feel this type of inquiry is very relevant.

  48. Paul, if it makes you feel better, the RSS feed hasn’t changed, so I didn’t even notice.

  49. I remember calling the old design, ‘a bad interpretation of Le Courbusier, a run down Paris neighborhood,’ or something like that. This is much nicer, visually anyways, it’ll take a wee bit to decide on the navigation.

  50. For the Smart Guys

    Why are there no gals?

    Oh, and ditto on the preview. Maybe with a spell-check. That way I can look and feel even more dumb and ashamed of self for the inevitable speling and gramar misatkes.

    And for the next time: Profit from free labour. Set up a parallel beta site, invite us all to tool around in it and offer suggestions for tinkering BEFORE yanking away the working site like you did this week.

  51. My complaint about the new page is that the font made it look like Wells was calling us a bunch of fuddle-duddles and even a Trudeau fan probably wouldn’t want to evoke that particular image for his readers.

  52. A ha! Found it!

    For those who want a unified feed for the “Canada” related blogs (Inkless Wells, Inside the Queensway, Andrew Coyne’s Blog, etc.), put this link into your RSS reader:

    You can also do this for any subsection you like! Just append ‘/feed’ on the end pretty well anything.
    e..g The Arts & Culture Feed: http://blog.macleans.ca/category/arts-culture/feed/
    e.g. The entire web site: http://blog.macleans.ca/feed/

    Let’s hope those Smart Guys make these feed links prominent!


  53. For people that want spell check, might I suggest you download the Firefox web browser? It has built-in spell checking!

  54. Man, I Jjust realised that that *wasn’t* what he said.

  55. I don’t know if this will work with the redesign, but the nested comment section on stuffwhitepeoplelike.com is pretty good. That way flame wars between two commentators can start and end. Also tangents get trimmed. I’m just remembering trying to comment on the board during the live blogging of the debates, easier to respond to someone directly, than 10 posts 3secs later.

  56. Maybe it’s just my computer, but the font is a tad small.

    Thank you.

  57. Ahem, Dear Smart Guys,

    The new layout is growing on me, big time, now that it is mostly working. And good on you for tying in, much more strongly than I can remember, the opportunities for us freeloaders to click and send you money: to subscribe, to renew, to buy stuff.

    But about that “Special Offer” of 4 issues for a low intro price? That actually got my attention and made cheapskate MYL consider signing up? The red-font link between the blog post and the commentariat? Boomerang. Right back to the page we’re at already. If the marketing wizards are puzzled why so few Blog Central creatures have availed selves of your special offer, you will want to advise them that the special offer tease remains a deeply guarded secret.

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