Skepticism

COTW, and a Brief Survey!

What a week, skeptical friends! We welcomed TWO new Skepchicks into the fold: Chelsea and Karen. I’m so excited to see what they bring to the team, besides their own pure, unadulterated radness.

While we’re making changes, I thought I’d ask you all a few questions.

First, would you like nested comments? They can make it simpler to have back-and-forth replies, but newer comments won’t always then appear at the bottom of the thread, they’d appear under the comment that is being replied to.

Second, Skepchick currently has a Twitter account and a Facebook group. I feel that both are a bit underused—how can we make them better? Ditto for the newsletter sign-up you see on the side of the page. I haven’t sent any Skepchick-wide newsletters (though will probably do so soon). What would you like to see in a Skepchick newsletter? What frequency would you like?

Third, do you prefer for links from Skepchick to open in separate windows? That used to be the standard here but recently I’ve been changing my mind. I’d like to be consistent, though, so let me know what you like.

Obviously these are informal questions. Feel free to answer below or send your thoughts to us via the contact form. I’ll read them all and try to take them into consideration when tweaking the site.

On to Comment o’ the Week!

There were a number of great nominations for Comment o’ the Week. (As always, you nominate a post by clicking the arrow next to it and writing “COTW!” in your reply somewhere.)

This week’s winner was posted juuuust in time to be considered for this week’s prize. It’s the touching story of the perfect snappy comment delivered just half a decade too late:

+++

mollishkaNo Gravatar // May 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm

I’m going to answer a slightly different question. You know how sometimes after a situation you realize what you should have said? That’s the story I want to tell.

I grew up in South Carolina, and back in high school I won some sort of math-science award that led to a photo-op with our Congressional Representative, Floyd Spence. My mom went with me to his office downtown. When we walked in, he looked at us, and said something to the effect of, and I kid you not, “You brought your mother, who is a woman! And you’re a woman! I like women. All of my sons married women.” My mother and I were like guppies gasping for air. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack about six months later, depriving me of the opportunity to vote against him.

About five or six years later, I called my mom to tell her I had finally come up with the appropriate response: “Really?! I like women too! And maybe someday I’ll find one to marry as well!”

+++

Well done, Mollishka! Your prize is to choose next Wednesday’s Afternoon Inquisition, so send us your choice through the contact form.

COTW runners-up were:

Mandydax — “That spa should totally get into the male bovine excrement facial. Total Bullshit is all the rage with the new agers.”

TerrySimpson — “The reason it took God so long to do anything was because he had not created coffee.”

Merkuto — “Liquor, curry, and boobs are also worthy of reverence (I’ll take ‘things I like in my mouth’ for $500, Alex)”

Happy Friday, kids!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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50 Comments

  1. First, would you like nested comments? They can make it simpler to have back-and-forth replies, but newer comments won’t always then appear at the bottom of the thread, they’d appear under the comment that is being replied to.

    I don’t know that that is needed here. Conversation seems to go just fine the way it is, and we don’t get so many comments that it gets confusing.

    Third, do you prefer for links from Skepchick to open in separate windows?

    Most people know how to right click and open in a new window/tab, so I don’t know how necessary that is, but I also don’t think it’s a big deal if it’s an auto thing.

  2. I’d like nested comments – it just makes it easier to keep track of who’s replying to who. Not really necessary at all when there are only <20 comments, but once you get above 50, it’s a real help. Regarding links, I guess it’s handy to have it default to opening in a new tab, but most people do know how to middle click to do it themselves.

  3. @sowellfan: i wish science blogs had nested comments, so i see your point. though here it is still easier, because most people can click the little reply box and have a link appear automatically. scienceblogs doesn’t even have that.

  4. I think a 2 level deep nested comments set up might be what the doctor ordered if only to sort out the tangental conversations. Sometimes a huge wall of comments is a little overwhelming.

    I would like to see the facebook group be a little more lively. Post all the events you ladies have there, directly link to it from this site. Maybe for every story create a discussion topic in their forums for in depth conversation. The benefit of that is the topics are sorted by last posting. Just an idea.

    Personally, I prefer links to open in new tabs but some people may prefer their browsing experience to be single window/single tab.

    Either way, I think you guys are doing a fantastic job, and keep up the good work!

  5. 1. Nesting: I like nesting. I haven’t done too much of it, but I always mean to. Oh.. wait… In regards to comments why not try it out for a bit and see what the result is like?

    2. Twitter could alert us when a new blog post has gone up… so we don’t spend oodles of time clicking the “refresh” button waiting for the next AI. As for Facebook, I dunno… giving local skeptic groups a place to promote themselves might be nice and making it easier for us to connect to each other would be cool too. I would shy away from posting discussion threads for the articles though since we can do that here and I, for one, don’t want to have to read long comment chains on two sites when the likelihood of repetition would be staggering.

    3. Actually, yes. That would be cool because sometimes a link sends me to a page that send me to a page and whatnot and it would be nice if my original Skepage was still over there waiting for me.

    Oh… and mad props to all the fine COTW noms up there!

  6. Well i mean, i prefer opening in a new tab, though my browser does this anyway. I didn’t make it do that though, it was just the magic of the internet. That an i use Mozilla because they have standard preferences that i like. or magic, whatever.

  7. @Kaylia_Marie:

    I would shy away from posting discussion threads for the articles though since we can do that here and I, for one, don’t want to have to read long comment chains on two sites when the likelihood of repetition would be staggering.

    Agreed 100%.

  8. I have an unnaturally strong opinion on the open in a new window thing. It *really* bugs me when a link opens in the same window. I blame my own inability to focus. I click a link, go do something else and when I come back, if I’m not on the originating page, I get all confused and annoyed :)

  9. I prefer non-nested comments. Nesting kills the community aspect for me: fragmenting discussion, promoting repetition and confusion between different sub-threads, making it harder to respond to multiple people at once, masking the development of the conversation over time. Nope, it’s quite enough for me to have one comment thread per post.

  10. I usually right click every link anyway to open in a new tab (all hail tabbed browsing), so I’m going to be unhelpful and not care. Though I used to prefer the new window thing, but that was before tabs. I can ramble. Yay!

    On the nested comments, well… I kind of like it the way it is now.

    As for twitterface, I don’t do much with my friendface stuff either, that’s for those darn kids who keep getting on my lawn!

  11. VOTE FOR NEW WINDOW! Same window hates puppies and will eat your children! New window loves puppies and kittens equally, and follows a strict child-free diet.

    I think twitter/FB could be made better by putting the AI on them, maybe turning FB into a personal account or something.

    I like the idea of nested responses, but if there’s a response, to a response, to a response, then that could be very wide, you know we often believe the other guy has a broken opinion, so, to make sure they still have one, we share ours. But, I’ll let you guys figure out the format.

    In case there are any DC’ers out there, I think this weekend is pride.

  12. Nesting: I personally don’t like nested comments but I can understand why some people do. Could it be a user option?

    Links: Either way works for me. I usually middle-click links anyway. That opens the link in a new tab with Firefox and IE7.

  13. As an alternative to nesting, how about if the little reply arrow auto-quoted the message you’re replying to?

    On new windows: Some days I’m still on my first cup of coffee when I get to Skepchick and can forget to ‘alternate-click’ when opening a link. Mild cursing and a quick trip to the button then ensues.

  14. Don’t make links go to new windows by default; that takes the decision away from me. In every modern browser, a modified click (e.g. middle click, control-click, etc.) will make a page open in a new tab/window, and a regular click makes it open in the current window.

    Let users choose which behavior they want by leaving links without a target (e.g. open in current window by default).

  15. @infinitemonkey:

    I think twitter/FB could be made better by putting the AI on them, maybe turning FB into a personal account or something.

    Bad idea. Some of us can’t get into FB at work…
    Not that I am doing this during work hours at all.
    I mean, almost never.
    Really.

    @tiger kitty: Same here, but I’ve been getting grief from wife , friends, and siblings to at least get on FB and possibly start a blog. Sigh I have to make the time for this.

    Queen Rebecca, I will have to say that I am against the nested comments. Part of the reason why I like Skepchick, is the way the conversation flows like a steam of consciuosness; if I need to go back, I like hitting the @NAME: tag. It’s like going back in time.

    As for opening new windows? Meh. I use both FF and Chrome, and they have no problems opening a new tab.

    Oh, before I forget, Congratz to Mollishka. Nice to come in right on the edge, eh?

  16. @MiddleMan: Okay, I will confess why I avoid FB, just food for thought. My hubby is a criminal defense lawyer, and he has a team of investigators whose sole purpose in life is to troll Facebook and find shit out on people. Are you sure you know all your “friends”?

  17. Links in a new window please. Use facebook and twitter as you please, as long as I don’t have to go there to find stuff that’s not here. and I’m ambivalent about nested comments…

  18. @tiger kitty: Well, and what with your hubby’s job, I can understand wanting to be a little cautious.

    I don’t post about anything illegal (even if I partake in the green, for instance), but when it comes to the occasional shot with me and a beer, I’ll tell anyone to fuck off if they care about it. ‘course, my admin job is in a warehouse that distributes booze, so I don’t think the bosses will care so much, as long as I say I got the booze from our stores ;)

  19. re: links in a new window: I think I agree with @autotroph: — let us choose. It is really annoying to want a link to open in the same window, only to have it pop out.

    For those voting for links in a new window, just right click and hit “new window/tab”. Voila!

    Also, if you have “new window” chosen, in firefox, it’ll likely open in a new WINDOW, and not a new TAB, correct? Because that would be annoying.

  20. Nesting could be helpful and make back and forth conversations impact the general discussion less. I also see Aaron’s point and wonder if some limited daily Skepchick discussion forum might not be helpful. Nothing long lasting and never ending like JREF. Keeping everything the same would also be just fine with me.

    No time for twitter but do the Facebook so there’s my preference for energies invested. Except I hardly ever visit the Skepchick Facebook page when the real thing is so much better.

    @marilove: NJeed any help with that nex shipment??

  21. I feel obligated to mention that I’m also very against links that open in new windows. It’s considered bad practice in web design because it takes the choice out of the user’s hands. However, I don’t think anyone cares about it for that reason except other user interface geeks. So take that for what it’s worth.

  22. @James Fox: I see a problem with having an edit feature. What if you make a point, regret it, and then edit it out? Now the conversation is screwed up.

    Maybe have an edit feature that only allows you to edit for, say, 10 minutes.

  23. I am against nested comments.

    I am not sure what use a newsletter would serve. Seems like anything that needs to be written can go on the blog.

    It is probably better to have links open in the same window.

  24. Is Facebook a group or a fan page? I find that the FB groups are useless because I have to remember to go look at them – nothing automatically shows up on my news feed. (Unless I’m a total goober, which is possible.) Fan page posts show up just like Friend posts, and make it easier to keep up.

    Or, as mentioned, I’m a goober and haven’t adequately figured out FB tactics.

  25. I do really mind any of the features, so I abstain. I just wish work didn’t block skepchick.com. They seem to think it’s a porn site for some reason. I can still read the feed, just not see any pics/vids or comment without going on my iPod. :( If it’s gonna be banned for porn, at least there should be some porn, right? This comment probably won’t help convince anyone it’s not so, will it?

  26. @marilove: I like Livejournal’s feature, which lets you edit your comment up to the point that someone replies to your comment – then you’re locked out. Prevents the discussion after that point from getting disrupted by vanishing references. That works on nested comments, not sure how it would work on non-nested.

  27. PLEASE don’t force links from Skepchick to open in separate windows! I really like having full control over how the links open. If I want to keep reading the Skepchick page, then I can cmd-click (on a Mac) to open a link in a background tab; if I’m finished reading the Skepchick page, then I can regular-click to replace the page. Forcing links to open in new windows takes those options away from me. Web usability guidelines recommend against opening new windows because of that.

    Lovely blog by the way. I discovered it recently and am really enjoying it.

  28. Nested comments sound good. Seems like the way of the future anyway, we might as well get used to reading comments that way.

    I dont care if there is a new window or not.

    I would love a newsletter that highlights upcoming events and important topics. I don’t always have time to read all of the blog but would love to keep on top of all the important skepchick happenings.

  29. There are pros/cons to nested comments. Implemented correctly, they can be really useful and improve readability.

    I like links to open in new tabs/windows but upon further consideration, people bring up a good point about having the choice.

  30. I am for nested comments because they tend to help maintain topical continuity and lessen the impact of off-topic drift.

    I have no opinion on Facebnook or Twitter because I do not use either.

    I am against forced separate widnows. In such matters, usability best practices research shows (and as @Jen said, forcing new windows is considered bad practice in web design) that users are best served by having the option to make their own choices.

    Although it was not mentioned, I am against editing because there is too much temptation to be a historical revisionist.

    Although it was not mentioned, I am for rearranging the Preview and Submit buttons so that they appear thusly:

    Preview Button

    preview of text

    Submit Button

    I know I keep bringing that last point up. But, as a professional documentation specialist and sometime professional web designer, I feel it makes nothing but logical design sense. The current design is illogical, non-intuitive, and as many of us have learned through error, prone to accidental abuse.

  31. 1. Nested comments: I don’t mind either way.
    2. I don’t tend to use the Twitter/Facebook one often – I just keep track of posts via feeds.
    3. Sorry, but this one I don’t agree. From a web design point of view, forcing users to open in new windows is always a bad idea — and that’s why the “open in new window” feature will become obsolete in the future of XHTML. I personally use middle-mouse button to open in new tabs, and you can also do it with Ctrl+Click. So it’s better to give people an option than to force it.

  32. Looks like I am in the minority (it’s because I’m white, isn’t it?).

    I think links opening up in new windows are great because they’re insanely handy for the quickies and other imbedded hyperlinks. Some cites do it and some don’t, and it’s frustrating when you take a guess (or just assume) and you have to re-navigate because you guess wrong. I understand that from a “web design point of view” it may be a bit tactless, but quite frankly, this is not about web design, but user interface. If everyone disagrees with me and think that the interface can best be served by not opening up a new window, fine. I’ll accept my lumps.

    As for nested comments, I’ve always found that they can look terribly unwieldy and confusing. This is what 4chan does, and it’s a tangled mess of GTFO NOOB-FAG and ways to mess with Scientology. It always, always, always looks sloppy. And the only things I want to be sloppy are my Joes and my Seconds.

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