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Vote for change

I’ve had a complaint about the nested comment structure on the blog. I added comment nesting because I thought it would tie comments together, promoting interaction between commenters. It remains hard to tell which goes with what. On the other hand, if comments were not nested commenters would be forced to quote more. So what’s your opinion?

Nesting comments

  • Obama Conspiracy Theories should continue nesting comments. (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Obama Conspiracy Theories should stop nesting comments. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 0

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Note: I do not guarantee that the vote will be implemented.

I am also seriously considering replacing the theme (the style and layout) of the blog to something more black and white and more serious and easy to read. That will require finding a suitable theme, which is always a problem.

28 Responses to Vote for change

  1. avatar
    G May 7, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    Dr. C – I tried voting, but I don’t think your voting buttons are working correctly. I tried under both Firefox & Internet Explorer.

    Anyways, I cast my vote for keeping the nesting & the comment section that you currently have.

    Although it has its limitations and quirky flaws (such as nesting breaking down after x number of comments are reached), as a long time poster, I feel the system in place currently is better than any of the ones that you’ve tried in the past, so I’m all for keeping it.

    If the issue of being able to fix the loss of embedding could be addressed, that would be my only suggestion. (It seems to breakdown somewhere after a few hundred comments from my impression).

  2. avatar
    Don Draper May 7, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    You can never go wrong with a space-cowboys theme.

  3. avatar
    charo May 7, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    I don’t like nesting, but it’s probably just me. I don’t think I have or can contribute regularly enough for my vote to be fairly considered.

  4. avatar
    Lupin May 7, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    I vote against nesting too.

  5. avatar
    misha May 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    Annnnnd, as you can see, I’m in favor of nesting. Your buttons don’t work.

    Charo: 1 – Why did you name yourself after the woman who married Xavier Cugat?

    2 – You remarked on your impressions of me.

    -wacky sense of humor
    -high intelligence
    -anger under the surface

    I just created this poster.

    Intelligence? I tested to 140. Anger? Well, I’ve had enough anti-semitism flung in my face, and was raised by survivors, so if I come across as cynical, that’s the way I am. Besides, I come from a long line of social rebels from Russia. Strange humor? My favorite cartoonist is Charles Addams.

  6. avatar
    SFJeff May 7, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    Oddly I like the nesting, but really will take what you give us. I find your site more navigatable than most others.

  7. avatar
    Slartibartfast May 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    I vote most strongly for the chronological posting of comments – it is impossible to follow long discussions here (you can’t figure out what’s new without looking at the date stamp on each individual post). I tried to post the following on the ‘Early civics book’ thread (before I saw this thread) and it turned up in the middle of the thread. I would be much more inclined to get involved in discussions here (rather than the occasional post) if it were in any way convenient to find out what posts have been made since my last visit (such as subscription to email notification of new comments on threads). Thank you for addressing this question.


    Is it possible to disable the nesting of comments? Nesting makes it nigh impossible to follow a discussion like this – which is a shame since this is one of the best discussions that I’ve seen on this site. It seems to me that nesting is a marginal improvement for short threads and an impossible tangle for long ones. At least give us the option to view posts chronologically if that is possible.

  8. avatar
    Bob Ross May 7, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    The nesting is okay but it can get confusing. One sometimes you can’t reply to someone if the nesting is too deep then it drags the comment out of place. Chronology is a problem. I’ll find several threads in different order and its hard to follow up on comments.

  9. avatar
    charo May 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    First name origin & meaning:

    Latin: A flower

    My daughter’s name has a similar spelling, although different pronunciation: Chiara (pronounced Key ARE ah). A nice older lady used to call her Char-ah (as in CHARcoal).

    Charo seemed like just as good a screen name as any other, although the coochie-coochie persona may be problematic.

    I wasn’t judging you for who you are but as you aptly described, giving my impression. The poster for some reason makes me think of Easter Island chicks…

  10. avatar
    G May 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    Wow. Thanks for the explanation of the names.

    Chiara is a beautiful name, especially when pronounced with the hard ‘K’. Does that also mean flower or something else?

    Nice to know that charo means flower. I’m surprised my mind didn’t immediately think of the coochie-coochie latin singer/dancer who goes by that name! LOL! Maybe because she hasn’t been in the news much for the past few decades. Last I heard, she was doing her act in Las Vegas & on boat cruises.

  11. avatar
    G May 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm #

    Yeah, we’ve had pure chronology in the past and that I thought was harder to follow that what we have now.

    I still prefer the nesting. It works just fine for quite awhile. The problem only breaks down after some large number of comments and some large extent of embedded nesting, where intended nesting comments start appearing at the bottom.

    I’m not sure if that is some sort of glitch than can just be patched or not.

    I do want to make sure we keep the all comments viewable on 1 page format. I consider that much better than having to click between pages, like in the past *shudder*. The comment breakdown was even worse back then.

    I do recommend that everyone try to use the (Quote) option when they can to help make it clear what you are replying to.

    Here’s a cool hint: You don’t have to quote the entire post – just the text you want to respond to.

    First, hit the Submit Comment button. Then highlight JUST the text you want to quote and click on the (Quote) link next to the comment header. Only the text you want will be posted in the window.

    Another suggestion, maybe Doc C. can post a little section of HTML tips for quoting, bolding, underlining, etc in the Visitor’s Guide area.

  12. avatar
    Bob Ross May 7, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Aren’t there some wordpress modifications we could look into to make this a bit easier? I know html coding but I hate having to do it when posting.

  13. avatar
    PaulG May 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    My vote is for nesting. Given all the activity on this forum, I don’t see how anyone can follow the thread without nesting.

    I also have always liked the Space Cowboys theme. Failing that, Jules Verne.

  14. avatar
    charo May 7, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    The reason we named our daughter Chiara is that it is Italian for Clare, as in St. Clare. The name is probably derived from the Latin so that is probably why St Clare was given her name. Years ago we saw a movie about St Francis starring Mickey Rourke, and he pronounced the name Chiara. We loved it. Thanks for the reply.

    “I’m surprised my mind didn’t immediately think of the coochie-coochie latin singer/dancer who goes by that name!”

    I should have kept mum.

  15. avatar
    nbc May 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

    Chiara comes from the Italion
    chiaro, and is the feminine form of ‘clear’, ‘obvious’. It is also used as a common Italian name. Latin form clarus, feminine form clara

  16. avatar
    nemocapn May 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    I like the nesting except that it’s sometimes flaky as G has described. I’ve hit “Reply” to a few comments, and instead of it appearing below, my comment starts a new nest or thread. I agree with G that it happens on posts with a large number of comments. If there’s a patch to fix that, nested comments are great.

  17. avatar
    G May 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm #

    Well, the Spanish singer Charo’s real full name is:

    María Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Moquiere de les Esperades Santa Ana Romanguera y de la Najosa Rasten

    what a mouthful!

    So, now knowing that, I promise not to think of her again when I see your posts. 😉

  18. avatar
    Slartibartfast May 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    As an alternative to eliminating nesting, is it possible to enable subscription to posts? On other sites you can get new comments emailed to you. This would allow following a thread without requiring checking it periodically and scanning through the entire thing for new comments. If you want extended discussions (which I believe add to the quality of the site) then having some way for people to follow them without extraordinary effort seems necessary (or at least highly desirable). Since you have already collected this amazing trove of information on the eligibility issue it seems like discussion of the implications of the information that you’ve gathered will become a larger part of the site than the collection of new information (since new birther theories must, by necessity, only get wackier and easier to debunk).

    Thank you for at least raising and considering this issue and for the work you have done collecting all of this information. I will always consider this a top resource for debunking birther wingnuttery, but I am hoping that you make changes that will improve it as a place to discuss the eligibility issue as well.

  19. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm #

    Slartibartfast: is it possible to enable subscription to posts?

    There’s not a way to “enable it.” Perhaps there is a plug-in somewhere that does that (there are thousands of plug-ins for WordPress). I think that if you want to monitor the blog comments externally, then the best option would be the RSS feed at

    The problem that I’m struggling with is that WordPress isn’t great for a forum, which is what the commenting community here has used it for. I could install a true forum that would provide full features for discussion, but that would divorce the comments from the blog (something I really don’t want to do.)

  20. avatar
    G May 7, 2010 at 10:46 pm #

    The problem that I’m struggling with is that WordPress isn’t great for a forum, which is what the commenting community here has used it for. I could install a true forum that would provide full features for discussion, but that would divorce the comments from the blog (something I really don’t want to do.)

    Yeah, I wouldn’t want that to happen either.

  21. avatar
    Slartibartfast May 8, 2010 at 2:49 am #

    I do know that other wordpress blogs allow for subscriptions and that the subscriptions are managed through the wordpress website (unfortunately I have no idea how you get that option). I certainly understand (and agree) that you wouldn’t want to divorce the comments for the blog, I just hope you’ll be able to find some workable compromise.

  22. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 8, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Slartibartfast: other wordpress blogs allow for subscriptions

    A comment subscription plug-in has been installed. Look for the phrase “Click the “Preview” button to preview your comment here.” to know where to click. Note that you must validate your email address before you can use the feature.

  23. avatar
    Slartibartfast May 8, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Outstanding! Thank you for adding this. I look forward to being a more regular participant in discussion here.

  24. avatar
    Scientist May 9, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Doc-All questions of nesting aside, today’s foolishness by a couple of abusive posters threatens to turn a very useful and enjoyable blog into an unreadable mess.

    Allowing unlimited posting with no control over repetitive diatribes will cause intelligent people to stay away. Nor, should people be allowed to cut and paste long passages from other web sites. Posters, if asked a direct question, should respond, rather than ignoring or ducking others valid concerns. The recent abuses have made it impossible to find and respond to those comments that actually make worthwhile points (on either side).

    I respect your Christian patience and tolerance for all, but I fear that you are being taken advantage of. A few basic rules and some enforcement of those rules seems in order.

  25. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm #


    I’ve had to ban a couple of abusive posters in the past. It’s not my Christian patience that makes me reluctant to ban people so much as it is to set this blog apart from those that control the content tightly. If I set the blog to moderate everything, or even everything by a particular poster, then it puts me in the position of judging every post–whether it goes or stays. I’ve tried that and it is a very difficult and potentially corrupting thing to do, where there is a temptation to just delete troublesome ideas as well as troublesome people. My decision to ban in the past was primarily done when it appeared that the commenter was trying to hijack the discussion, and pick fights. Unfortunately, folks on both sides here are often picking fights these days.

    It’s inconsistent if I let Black Lion post material from other web sites (that I find newsworthy and probably wouldn’t see otherwise) but I prohibit John from posting material from Apuzzo.

    A lot of what I do and allow on the blog today is the result of experiments in the past doing other things that didn’t work out.

  26. avatar
    Slartibartfast May 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm #

    Dr. C

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I find it very frustrating that birther sites do everything they to stifle free debate. To me, the whole point of having discussions is to determine which ideas have their basis in fact and the law and stand up to reason. You and the other regular posters here are quite capable of dismantling the poorly thought out pretzels of birther logic that are founded on misdirection and obfuscation. A big part of the point of a site like this (to me, anyway) is to show that the information you’ve uncovered can stand up to all comers.


    As a fellow scientist, I understand your frustration with people who don’t play by the rules. In our professional lives we must rigorously follow the rules and bend over backward to try to prove ourselves wrong (in order to make sure no one else can). When someone comes into a discussion like this with an illogical argument based on misinformation, distortion or outright lies it seems incredibly unfair to me, too. But I truly believe that any rational person can immediately tell the difference in the quality of the arguments presented by the birthers vs. that of their opponents when they see them together in a venue like this. No, you’re probably not going to convince any of the birthers that they’re wrong, but inoculating the reasonable people who might otherwise be duped by birther propaganda is a worthy pursuit and one which Dr. C, yourself and many other posters here do an excellent job on.

  27. avatar
    Scientist May 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Slartibartfast- It’s not that the arguments are illogical and false (though they are) it’s that the repetitive nature makes any discussion impossible and the site verging on unreadable. There is a poster who probably has posted between 50 and 100 times today and they all say the same thing. It becomes impossible to find other comments or threads on the “Recent Comments” sidebar. And what if they posted 500 stupid comments? What would be lost by limiting their posts to some reasonable number? The content doesn’t have to be censored; that person can pick their “best” lines within those limits. If they choose unwisely, too bad for them. I have the right to argue my opinion. If I do so at 120 decibels at 3 AM, that transcends free speech and becomes a public nuisance. This person has crossed that line.

  28. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    I don’t have any way I that I know of to limit the number of comments by individual per day. It would have to be done manually.