Sidebar rescue!

Well, I seem to have managed to rescue most of my sidebar from WordPress-induced oblivion.  It’s possible I missed something, so do let me know if there’s a feature that you used before and can’t find now.

Mostly for my own amusement, I added a “Most viewed today/yesterday” area near the bottom of the sidebar.  It’s likely not as useful as the authored and chronological “greatest hits” list above it, but it might be interesting.

I’ll try not to post about the blog any more (is there anything more boring than blogging about blogging?) and I promise to tell you really, really soon what The Stupidest Thing In The World Is.  Stupider than DVD region encoding; stupider than reformatting scholarly articles for different journals, even.  Stay tuned.

20 responses to “Sidebar rescue!

  1. Have you considered going self hosted?

    By the way, are the Google ads yours or something WordPress has forced on you?

  2. What Google ads? I don’t see any.

    Can you upload a screenshot?

  3. Weird, I don’t see it now. It was between the end of the post and the beginning of the comments. It was something TV related.

  4. You know what else is pretty stupid? Sites (and emails) where people (or machines, as may be the case) set a BACKGROUND color and not a foreground (text) one. The result? Someone who has a color scheme which is a light font on a darker background (like stupid me) gets a mail from a service (like WordPress) where the background color of the mail is set to eye-blinding white (because we all know web pages really should look like ultra-bleached paper, don’t we) but the font color has been left as the default color of the viewing host — net result: white text on white background. Awesome.

    Lucky for me there are FF extensions like Stylish which let me override the braindead colorschemes of mails and sites where someone has done a half-assed job on the color side of things so I can actually read the content. And whilst I just have this kind of scheme out of preference, there are people out there who can’t actually read black text on a white background, so they have that kind of color setup so they can actually consume data at all.

    So I guess I’m saying this: if you’re going to be a style nazi (and most web designers seem to be fastidiously stuck on the fascist), then, please, for the love of the people, bother to set both foreground and background colors? At least then people can struggle through your content instead of seeing a white block with your blog avatar in the corner. Inspirational.

    BTW, please take the tone with a pinch of salt: I’m just tired of people who think accessibility doesn’t matter. I’m even more tired of people who do a half-job.

  5. I too see the Google ads, just above the line that says “This entry was posted in Metablogging.”

    Difficult to upload a screenshot from iPad, but it’s not too hard to imagine what a Adsense ad looks like :) Blue, starts with “Ads by Google”, currently pushing a digital camera. Substantially larger font size than your actual content.

    Cheers for the great writing.
    – Paul

  6. Thanks, Paul. That’s weird — I have never seen an advert like the one you describe on The Reinvigorated Programmer. Either these are new and appear only randomly, or they deliberately don’t show them to the blog owner. Is anyone else not seeing them? Does anyone out there have a Real Computer and the ability to post a screenshot?

    Your kind words are appreciated.

  7. I’m not seeing a google ad; I’ve reloaded the page a few times (at the top, and in this thread.) Perhaps the frequency/presence varies by region (I’m Canadian fwiw) or who knows what..

  8. I can see the ads too, here is a screenshot:
    http://yfrog.com/jkhc0j

  9. Daniel Binau

    I’m consistently getting the Google ad when I use IE, but consistently NOT getting it in Firefox.

    They really are quite huge and protruding compared to the actual content. My guess is you have yet another bone to pick with the kind people at WP.

  10. Daniel Binau

    By the way, now that we are badmouthing WP, has anyone noticed how their Subscribe feature is unnecessarily complicated to the point of actually discouraging you from using it?
    Not only do you have to click a link in an e-mail to confirm your subscription, but that link leads to a web page where you have to click yet again, apparently just for the hell of it.

    I see the value of guarding against abuse, but the total number of man-hours spent clicking could be significantly reduced if it was instead up to the unhappy but very few victims of abuse to actively reject the subscription.
    Or perhaps some trace of intelligence could be added to the routine – for instance, since I already subscribe to new posts on this blog as well as comments for several of the posts, it’s quite unlikely to be abuse when I apply to subscribe to yet another post in the same blog.

  11. Dude, I about flipped out when I first saw an ad at 10 Minute Astronomy. Then I checked SV-POW! and they are there, too. You just don’t see them when you are logged in to WordPress. People who aren’t logged in see them all the time, I think. I was pretty POed but in the WordPress terms of service they say that they put ads on all their blogs. You can buy out for something like $25 or 30 a year. I decided that since this had been going on without my knowledge for two and a half years and no one had ever complained, I would just leave it alone.

    Maybe I should have told you about it, though!

    BTW, I hate to steal your thunder, but the actual Stupidest Things in the World are blog commentors who can’t take a joke. On the internet. Not speaking of this post, mind, but some of recent ones…sheesh.

  12. Yeah, I took a screenshot of the ad:

    I do not have a wordpress-Account.

  13. Many thanks to all of you who’ve sent screenshots — genuinely useful. I see from three of them the adverts at least sometimes appear in Firefox, Chrome and Safari, and Daniel Binau mentioned seeing them in IE but not in Firefox. Since the adverts at least sometimes appear in all four major browsers, my guess is that what you’re seeing, Daniel, is not truly browser-specific: could it be that your Firefox instance has a logged-into-Wordpress cookie but your IE doesn’t?

    Those of you who do see adverts — so you see them in every page, or just occasionally? And when did you first see them — have they been there all along?

    How distracting are they? From the screenshots they don’t look too terrible, and though the larger-than-the-content font is offensive, it does at least serve to differentiate. They also seem at least to be for programming-related products and services rather than Cheap Meds and “dating” services. Hmmm. I’d be much happier about this if the adverts were boxed, and even more if they were in the sidebar.

  14. Replying to my own message …

    I logged out of WordPress and came back to the Sidebar rescue article, only to see … no adverts! So I checked what cookies I have on this site, was mildly shocked to see that there are about a dozen of them, and concluded that WordPress doesn’t show me adverts if I have been logged in. So I deleted them all, came back to Sidebar rescue and found … no adverts!

    I am running out of hypotheses here: how can it hide the adverts from me if it doesn’t have access to any state information that would tell it who I am? I have a static IP address — surely it can’t be hiding the adverts because the originating IP address of my requests is one that was previously logged in? That would be a bizarre thing to do, especially given the ubiquity of NATting and the consequent sharing of IP addresses, often behind many computers.

    Anyone else have any idea?

    (This is using Google Chrome 6.0.472.22 (Official Build 54852) dev on Ubuntu 9.10, by the way. I replicated the same procedure using Firefox, with the same result.)

  15. Daniel Binau

    Mike, you may be spot-on about the cookie thing. I am not formally logged in (I’m not even sure there is such a feature), but Firefox does remember my name and e-mail and provides them as defaults for new comments. IE does not.

    Perhaps this cookie gets set when you create your first subscription. As mentioned in my previous rant, WordPress has a quite complex account system to maintain subscriptions.

    I am adding this comment from IE, using a different e-mail and checking the subscription checkbox. I will post again to let you know whether this made the ads go away.

  16. Daniel Binau

    Indeed, the ads are now gone in my IE too. So there’s your explanation at least.

    I don’t know if posting a comment is sufficient to set the cookie, or you need to subscribe to something. Perhaps someone else can test this.

  17. Daniel Binau

    I posted two comments using another e-mail that I haven’t used on WP before. They are currently awaiting moderation. Their main conclusion is that it is a cookie issue, which seems to contradict your last comment.
    So I tested further – I used the “Delete all cookies” button in IE and reloaded the page, and this made the ads reappear. So I have to maintain that it’s a cookie issue, you just probably didn’t get to all of them.

    An interesting thing is that WP seemingly only needs to moderate comments from posters who haven’t posted before. This is quite annoying, since moderation can take a long time and may make one’s comment seem out of place in the discussion because of the delay.

  18. Thanks for these experiments, Daniel. I don’t at all understand why I can’t replicate them using either Netscape or Chrome, but there it is. Anyway, it seems as though the upshot is that WordPress shows comments to casual visitors, but not to people who have commented — which seems like quite a nice way of doing things, as it rewards participation.

    On each person’s first comment being held for moderation: that is actually one of several policies available under WordPress, and it’s the one I’ve chosen. Although it can occasionally be irritating to have a comment held, this scheme saves you all from a lot of spam comments while still allowing conversations to flow.

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