Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

New Contributors and Arbor Updates

17. May 2006 • Dale Winling
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Arbor Update announces some recent and upcoming changes to the site in order to improve our interface, broaden our content, and increase the usefulness of discussion on AU.

First, we welcome Guest Writers Heidi Sulzdorf, Ed Vielmetti, and Chuck Warpehoski. They will be expanding our content coverage to include, but not be limited to, food, drink and dining; technology and blogging; and peace and faith issues in the community. Veteran Brian Kerr will return to a writing and tech support role.

Second, we continue to solicit tips and introductions to local issues and events from readers via the link on the sidebar at the right. We also encourage readers to announce events using Upcoming.org, also available through a link at the right.

Third, we encourage readers to tag your flickr images with an ‘arborupdate’ tag and a Creative Commons license that will allow us to post your images to AU articles. This will help us make the site more visually appealing and may also bring more traffic to your flickr site. A Creative Commons license that uses any combination of “non-commercial use only”, “no derivatives”, and “attribution required” will allow us to link to your images easily; “share-alike” will not.

We thank you for reading and for continuing to make Arbor Update a unique and useful community resource.



  1. Chuck is the coolest! Glad to know he’s posting on your site.


       —Nancy Shore    May. 17 '06 - 04:35PM    #
  2. I’m glad that you will have specific peace and justice postings.

    I’ll rely on Chuck to keep readers up-to-date with news about local efforts to divest from the Israeli military, including the Arms Divestment Resolution which his group (ICPJ) approved a few years ago.

    They were right to approve divestment from the Israeli military.

    Now they should not be shy about promoting their divestment resolution, like they promote shutting down aid and training to the Latin American militaries.


       —Blaine    May. 17 '06 - 05:46PM    #
  3. “We also encourage readers to announce events using Upcoming.org, also available through a link at the right.”

    I created an account and added an event on Upcoming.org What is the typical lag time for a newly-added event to show up on the syndicated feed displayed on AU?


       —HD    May. 18 '06 - 03:51AM    #
  4. HD – I check upcoming a few times a week and add events to our feed, and Brandon also checks in; once the user “arborupdate” is attending or watching an event, it’ll show on our site.

    We’ve thought about changing the feed from user=arborupdate’s event listing to location=ann arbor’s event listing, but there are two problems – one is that this would make it harder to include noteworthy events that occur in Ypsi, and the other is the the A2 Comedy Showcase has each of their performers listed 6 or 8 times (for 6 or 8 appearances), which would totally swamp our feed. I usually pull in the first appearance and leave the rest out.

    If anybody with strong upcoming-fu wants to suggest a better way to set up our feed, I’m happy to listen.


       —Murph    May. 18 '06 - 04:23PM    #
  5. Ah hah. Thanks for clarification.

    I’ll just be patient then. I had been impressed that the feed was apparently automatically filtering out multiple listings of the essentially the same event. As tedious as it might be for one of you to manually vet each event that gets listed on AU by having “arborupdate” attend it, it’s good to know that it’s not easy to game the AU upcoming.org feed.


       —HD    May. 18 '06 - 04:43PM    #
  6. I’ve been doing some tinkering with the navigation bar, just for fun. Maybe it’ll make it a bit easier to follow multiple threads.

    This’d also be a good place to make feature requests or whatever. They may be ignored, or, who knows, one of us may get bored some weekend and feel like tinkering….


       —Bruce Fields    May. 19 '06 - 01:22AM    #
  7. Sweet new feature, Bruce! Promises to make it a little easier to see if anything relevant has been posted during the intermitent, but seemingly endless, Boyle/Blaine monologues.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    May. 19 '06 - 01:44AM    #
  8. OK, after 30 seconds of thought, I’m wondering if it might be better for the comment threads to be listed in the order of their most recent comment (as they are), but for the internal comments to be numbered (only in the index in the right column) in the order in which they have been received—regardless of which thread they appear in. Thus a brand new comment would appear as #1 in thread #1.

    The negative would be that an occaisional reader would not know, upon a glance, whether a comment was the first or the hundred-and-first, but regular readers could tell right away whether there was a good deal of conversation on a particular topic, and could also scroll down the right column easily picking out the five, ten, or whatever most recent comments. As an example, I can’t tell that, as I right this, that most of the comments in thread one came in after the most recent comment in thread two. All I know is that the most recent comment in thread one is more recent than any of the comments in thread two. You would also be able to see, right away, if someone was commenting on something way out of date; thread one, comment one would be #1, and comment two would be, like, #2543, while meanwhile thread two’s comments would be #’s 2-5, letting you know that that’s where the chatter is.

    Just an off the top of my head thought. I could easily be missing something.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    May. 19 '06 - 02:06AM    #
  9. w.r.t. PSD’s proposed numbering scheme which has the benefit: “You would also be able to see, right away, if someone was commenting on something way out of date;”

    I like how the juxtaposition of wildly out-of-squence numbers allows the inference that it’s a comment on an old original post. But a straightforward way to get that benefit would be to include the original top-level date-posted in a MM-DD-YY format next to the thread title in the right-hand column. That would mean giving back only a bit of the real estate gain achieved by aggregating the comments by thread (no repetition of thread title).

    On the benefit of PSD’s proposed numbering scheme w.r.t. to tracking ‘where the chatter is’, I also like how the inference follows from the numbering scheme. However, I think the real insight here is that maybe it’s valuable to have the functionality of ‘where the chatter is’ displayed per se, without requiring inference, perhaps in the form of some icon that attaches to the thread with the greatest number of comments in the last, say, 24 hours.

    Even without PSD’s proposed tweak, I think the new format represents a significant improvement over the old format.


       —HD    May. 19 '06 - 04:06AM    #
  10. Re: the new format-

    I like that comments don’t get flooded out by high-traffic discussions. I don’t like the fact that I can’t see the flooding. But if this thread consitutes a vote, I prefer Bruce’s renovations.

    I’m sure many readers will be happy to see the towering list of comments, well over 30 stories in height, reduced to managable, human-scale information packets with a 4-story limit. If only they weren’t sitting right in the middle of the greenway…

    I don’t know why AU doesn’t have a login system, but I often find it would be of use. In this case, it would be nice to be shown all the comments since my last visit. I suppose that this is only usefull for hard-core readers, but the login wouldn’t have to be a requirement, just an option.

    This way occasional and first time users wouldn’t be burdened with unnecessary info. For them I think that knowing the topics with the newest posts is most important.


       —Scott TenBrink    May. 19 '06 - 04:34AM    #
  11. Scott –
    We’ve discussed (off and on for two years, now) moving to a system like Drupal, that would allow stuff like what you’re talking about. But that would require somebody to spend a weekend migrating databases and styles and explaining to everybody else just how the heck to use it. We haven’t quite surmounted the energy barrier involved.

    p.s. +10 points for metaphor. Now, if only we had a system that tracked points…


       —Murph    May. 19 '06 - 11:54AM    #
  12. ”... the real insight here is that maybe it’s valuable to have the functionality of ‘where the chatter is’ displayed per se, without requiring inference”

    Sure.

    I’ll make a stab at that some day. I’m too lazy to test every change elsewhere first, so I might experiment on the live site; apologies in advance for any glitches, and feel free to whine about anything that doesn’t diseappear immediately….

    “Now, if only we had a system that tracked points…”

    All you need is to replace points with real units (e.g. +10 LPEs (leopold’s pint equivalents)), at which point recipients can probably be counted on to keep the score.


       —Bruce Fields    May. 19 '06 - 12:47PM    #
  13. Bruce, I like your revisions to the New Comments column a lot! And I would rather not see the kind of change that PSD suggests. I think we should keep to the idea that each article is more or less free-standing, and should not encourage the idea that somebody should try to keep track of all the comments, to all of the articles, as they are posted.


       —David Cahill    May. 19 '06 - 12:49PM    #
  14. I liked the old format for the reason that I could work backwards through the list of New Comments until I had read everything I hadn’t yet seen. Now I’ll need to check every topic (if I’m interested in it) in order to see if I’m current on it (or else remember the last number from each topic from day to day—fat chance.)

    If the current format is permanently adopted, I’d like a date of the comment next to the name. I think that that’s a little different than HD’s suggestion. It would let me see what’s new today, which is the most important bit of info. It would also indicate if the two previous comments on a topic were from way back, possibly indicating that the most recent comment is unfiltered spam.

    I do like the compactness of it.


       —Steve Bean    May. 19 '06 - 01:20PM    #
  15. “I liked the old format for the reason that I could work backwards through the list of New Comments until I had read everything I hadn’t yet seen.”

    Reading articles from most-to-least-recent makes sense to me, but within an article—well, maybe you really do prefer reading threads in reverse order, but I’d rather not.


       —Bruce Fields    May. 19 '06 - 02:02PM    #
  16. “intermitent” is not a word in English as last I recall, Parking Structure; you might be trying for “intermittent”.

    Comparing me to Blaine is hardly appropriate, especially when I have visibly disagreed with Blaine many times on this site. I prefer dialogue to monologue, as most of us do, and frequently participate in dialogue on this site and elsewhere.
       —David Boyle    May. 19 '06 - 04:53PM    #
  17. Can someone explain to me why we can’t use images tagged with a “share-alike” license?


       —Scott T.    May. 19 '06 - 05:42PM    #
  18. “Reading articles from most-to-least-recent makes sense to me, but within an article—well, maybe you really do prefer reading threads in reverse order, but I’d rather not.”

    I don’t read them in reverse order, I go to each one that has a new comment that I haven’t yet read and then scroll up to the last one I did.

    I’m catching on now that the new format allows approximately the same approach to be taken.


       —Steve Bean    May. 19 '06 - 07:43PM    #
  19. Scott, as far as I understand, Share alike locks you into a Share alike system. You can’t share your content with non Share alike sites.
    ——
    Bruce, this is beautiful!

    “Now, if only we had a system that tracked points…”

    “All you need is to replace points with real units (e.g. +10 LPEs (leopold’s pint equivalents)), at which point recipients can probably be counted on to keep the score.”


       —Mark    May. 19 '06 - 08:45PM    #
  20. “Can someone explain to me why we can’t use images tagged with a “share-alike” license?”

    If the creative commons thing on the bottom of the sidebar is meant to apply to the whole site, then I guess it’s claiming that everything on the site (including pictures displayed here?) are available under that license.

    But we can only do that if the owner of each image’s copyrights give us permission. They don’t give us that permission when they use the share-alike license, because it has additional restrictions not in this site’s license.

    You could say it was like inviting people onto somebody else’s property without asking their permission. Except that in our case, nobody’s ever likely to care very much….


       —Bruce Fields    May. 19 '06 - 11:51PM    #
  21. Cheers for the recent insertion of spacing between different events under the Local Events section.

    Also cheers for Courier (or whatever font that actually is) for post titles.


       —HD    Jul. 2 '06 - 08:38PM    #
  22. “Also cheers for Courier (or whatever font that actually is) for post titles.”

    That was an unintended side effect of a campaign to delete everything in the stylesheet that I didn’t understand. Now fixed.

    But you can campaign for the return of whatever-that-font-was if you’d like. Arguments in the form of diffs against the existing style sheet are most likely to be persuasive….


       —Bruce Fields    Jul. 4 '06 - 05:44PM    #
  23. Off-topic posts deleted; please get your own blog rather than posting the same stuff over and over.


       —Bruce Fields    Aug. 17 '06 - 08:31PM    #