Site Plans

Some may have noticed some performance issues with the site recently, as well as some down time and connectivity issues. There were at least two de-platforming efforts, but most the trouble here has been technology related. Part of the problem is the traffic, which keeps ticking up despite my best efforts. The server this site lives on is just not up to the task so it results in downtime. There’s also the problems that come with using WordPress, which is fine for what it is, but it is not without its problems in terms of reliability.

After many hassles with broken plugins and comments systems not working, I’m now committed to looking at alternatives. I have the move to a bigger, better server ready to go, but I want to do it when I do the site redesign. That way, I can work out issues with the new software before going live with it. Conversions are always full of surprises, so it is best to measure twice, covert once. The domain is not going to change, so the only change for the user will be look and feel, and I hope better performance.

With that in mind, now is the best time to solicit suggestions for features of changes in the new system. Number one on my list is a better comment system. One option I’m considering is a system with an integrated message board. This will mean commenting is for registered users only, but you can use your social media account to register. This means that the character you play on Twitter of Facebook can become your character on this site. It also means more commenting features as well as granular privileges.

Another thing I want to do is make it easier to get around corporate firewalls. What I’m learning is that many companies just block anything running WordPress. I found this out the other day, when I sent a link to a business to someone. I did not notice that the business was using WordPress for their website. My client tried to o`pen the link but his firewall blocked it. Using something like Joomla or Drupal would get around that, but there are other less complex options that may be better and require less work on my part.

Another item on my list is a better way to organize posts. I write a lot so not every post is going to be a winner, but some are clearly better than others. Organizing posts by popularity seems like a good idea. New readers can look at the greatest hits selection and see if they should stay or paddle back over to normieville. The ability sort and search by subject matter could be useful too. I have over 2300 posts now. I’ve written something about almost everything. Organizing by subject matter strikes me as useful.

With that said, the floor is now open. if anyone has suggestions, demands, desires, whatever that they would like to see in the next version, post them up. Obviously, I’m working with a limited amount of resources, so I will not be building a site to rival Facebook, but there is a lot that can be done for very little. Developing a community around the content posted here is certainly possible. Adding the ability to start a premium service, if I ever decide to go full on Dinesh D’Souza is also a possibility.

103 thoughts on “Site Plans

  1. “Developing a community around the content posted here is certainly possible.”

    Cool idea if possible.

  2. You _could_ switch to a static site generator like https://jekyllrb.com/ (Moldbug, aka Curtis Y. used this on his first iteration of Urbit.org). However he has a PhD in Computer Science. Static sites with correct caching settings cannot be beat for speed, but you have to run a compile step to actually publish the results.

    If you don’t want a static site generator, but one with a nice editor interface, wordpress is where its at. ~30% of all websites are wordpress. They’re open source, so you can’t be de-platformed as long as you can host it on a server. WordPress has a lot of momentum and it is still being actively developed.

    Your wordpress _theme_ has a great deal to do with the speed of your website. You can monkey around with different themes so it will run faster.

    There are two good wordpress plugins that speed up your site – Smush and W3 Total Cache. You may also want Yoast SEO plugin to improve your visibility.

    You may also want to change your host. I have transitioned 3 different wordpress sites from the likes of hostgator and godaddy to $5/month servers (1GB RAM, 1 core, 30GB harddisk ) on digitalocean.com . Doing this transition greatly improved the speed of these sites. These sites weren’t high traffic, but the page load speed was drastically reduced. The server you run your site on may just have too many folks on it.

    As regards comment systems, I highly recommend https://www.discourse.org/ . It is open source, so you can’t be de-platformed and it was founded by one of the founders of stackoverflow.com which at one point ran a top 100 website on exactly 1 X86 commodity server. Stackoverflow was _revolutionary_ for software engineers and I’d bet that discourse.org is awesome as well.

  3. Two excellent Unz-dot-com comments features:

    1) Commenters can create a pseudonym and use it under a fake e-mail I.D., so that commenters need not log in or do CAPTCHA each time they care to comment (this works, I think, in a somewhat different way on the Z-Blog – I’m old so I’m about as tech savvy as a sheet of looseleaf paper, so I can’t illuminate the difference in those comment sections’ workings)

    2) Let’s say I visit Unz at 10 AM and read comments, then I visit again at 8 PM and Unz conveniently shows “New Comments” highlighted in blue text, which relieves visitors of having to weed through earlier comments. This feature not only saves beaucoup time, it also makes it a lot easier for visitors to follow the entire comments’ thread. Another great feature of the Unz comments section is that it allows later commenters to REPLY to a specific earlier comment(er), albeit further down in the chronological chain of comments – but placing your cursor over the ID of the earlier commenter makes that commenter’s earlier comment pop-up in a superimposed box.

  4. Nah, just retire. You’re beginning to sound just like the geezers you complain about at National Review. Especially when you go on about respekting the whamens, opening doors and calling them Mi’ Lady. Premium service? Don’t make me laugh. Sign in using Facebook. Wait, you actually said that? Out of touch. Your comments about Roosh and the PUA movement, totally out of touch in your worlds of theory. Yup, you’re one of the Cloud People. Detached from the trenches. Sipping brandy, insisting on validity of your solutions based on a botched understanding of the current situation. You’re one of the clunker-mobiles of the right, not as popular as Ben, Jordan or Dinesh or as smart as Taleb, nor as masculine and ballsy as Roosh, nor as sharp-minded as Dalrock. BUT, you WISH you were all those things (why you try to take them down a notch). Never to be. This site is both your pinnacle and your swan song. Your site visits may be going up, but those are not the forward thinkers, they are the ones YEARS BEHIND the curve, the dust-eaters learning about this stuff for the first time, not smart enough to see it from afar, and not versed enough to be able to know when you’re gravely mistaken.

  5. Some of us eschew social media, of any stripe, so using those criteria for “registration” will exclude us from the commenters’ ranks.

    Whatever comment control methodology is employed, I’d suggest making it simple. I comment little, believing most of my opinions are probably worth less than the asking price, but when I do elect to chime in and encounter a site offering a draconian punishment scheme for commenting, my comment rate drops to zero. If that’s the goal, make the barrier as formidable as you wish; if varied opinions are preferred, it might be worthwhile to opt for a simplified control methodology.

    • If in your own words, you have so little to say, then why have the site cater to your personal preferences? Also, you might want to go back and re-read what Zman actually wrote about his ideas for using social media accounts here.

  6. Keep the minimalist look. It has worked for Drudge all these years. I hate seeing a perfectly good website screwed up with a pile of add-ons that generally reduce the pleasure of the visit. If the server side needs work I understand, but The Z Man front web page is great as is. It’s so you.

    CNN is a perfect example of website that sucks. Zerohedge comes to mind also, but at least they have interesting content.

  7. Joomla might be a good alternative. It’s very robust. I would not recommend Drupal for such a small site, and there’s a much smaller base of templates, extensions, and knowledgable users.

  8. I don’t have, and refuse to get, a Facebook account. Will your proposed changes to the comments function prevent me from contributing my invaluable opinions?

  9. I’ll just wait and see what you do, and then decide if I can adapt to it. If I can, great. If I can’t, too bad.

  10. How about wideninig the margins for both the main body of text and the comments? Wider margins means the eye can “take-in” more text per line, thus making for easier reading and less scrolling.

  11. Some thoughts on the overall structure and comment system:

    1. Don’t try to change everything at once. I know it’s tempting, but the only thing worse than trying to put out a fire is trying to put out 10 fires at the same time.

    2. The combination of comment voting, threading, and sorting can be explosively damaging to quality, especially if the default sort is by score. This is the Disqus model and it sucks, due to everyone’s primary incentive becoming either (a) being one of the first to reply, or (b) attaching their reply to another high-scoring reply. The effect is to orient the system toward a sewer of rapid-fire, trite nonsense. Besides, aren’t we mostly anti-democracy here?

    3. Comments on this site are harder to read/follow than most, due to the combination of a sub-600px total width, indentation due to threading, and wasted space on avatars which hardly anyone uses anyway. It’s pretty awful to have line-wrapping after fewer than 10 words. If you feel you must use a narrow fixed-width layout, please choose a comment system that makes better use of the available space.

    4. Get rid of comment collapsing/”read more”. Just set a reasonable maximum character length on comments. Vertical scrolling is trivial to do on just about every device, and having the blog intentionally mangle the formatting of someone’s post is another negative incentive for quality. Length is not equivalent to quality, obviously – in fact it’s often the opposite – but there’s only so much of import that a person can say in 3 lines. Don’t optimize your layout for a readership that can’t read.

    • Good comment Lance. ” a sewer of rapid-fire, trite nonsense”. That’s what I like about this forum. Quality comments and little BS. I checked out another forum today and the guy had like 500 comments. I’m like, how did he get that many? Then I read the comments and it’s a bunch of one-liner inside jokes.

  12. Hope you guys realize that to a lot of us your talking freaking Greek. I personally am so out of date that my cell phone has a rotary dial.

  13. 1) Present page design is excellent: uncluttered; legible font & type size (serif vs. sans serif: a battle none can win & none should fight)

    2) Comment upvote/downvote: yes

    3) Comment & Reply system is good, but each reply would be more informative if each comment and reply is headed or footed with a date/time group, e.g., 06OCT18-1625HRS

    3) Posts best organized chronologically (the present reverse chronological order is optimal); a keyword or a sidebar word-cloud feature would largely relieve you of having to reorganize by subject/topic

    4) Podcasts: consider using just one consistent theme music selection for podcast intro, as in the welter of the intertubes, branding helps; closing music variation is worthy and is effective if consistent with podcast theme

    5) Social media ID to log in? No, thank you. I agree with commenter Moe on that – no trail or identifier for SJW dox loons to fix upon (Unz-dot-com’s system of allowing user-determined pseudonyms is nigh perfect, and so is its feature of user-blocking of disliked commenters/trolls). CAPTCHA code is not a deal breaker

    6) On the whole: site’s present page display and other features are just fine: if they ain’t broke, don’t fix ’em.

    • “Podcasts: consider using just one consistent theme music selection for podcast intro…” I disagree. It’s kinda neat hearing what Z comes up with every week. Did you hear the intro to the last podcast? Maiden’s dual guitar lead was killer.

  14. Please no social media. I avoid them and I think many on the right do as well. How about Rails and Comfortable Mexican Sofa for a cms and commenting system?

    You could also have a match section for coffee mugs and t shirts that are obscure enough like a Masonic handshake to allow recognition only by those in the know. Might make a few extra bycks.

  15. Maybe some better categorization of your Epistles, Theory of Everything and Essential knowledge is it is easier to figure out what it there and how it is organized.

  16. I for one love the sense of community here almost as much as the content. I don’t do social media (except Gab, as it seems to be the default fallback for when the thought police finally deplatform our blogs), but the login feature here seems to get around that. If you really want to test the Libertarian “self-organizing community” thesis, it might be fun to institute a ranking system for commenters (I don’t know how this is done, or if it is a huge pain in the ass, but it’d be fun to see how that shakes out). Just please don’t go full personality cult on us, calling us “minions” or whatnot. ‘;)

  17. Mark Steyn went to a premium site for some functions. I really like him, but I have not signed up because he spends more time on TV than producing in-depth content. I would definitely sign up for premium Zman. I can’t believe the volume and quality of output. I almost feel guilty getting it for free and without ads.

  18. Perfomance? Try looking at an network adapter for the server that offloads ip processing from the cpu on the motherboard. Consolidate web pages that use multiple gifs into a single gif. Multiple gifs require multiple packets rto be sent and acknowledged.

  19. Z: “This will mean commenting is for registered users only, but you can use your social media account to register.” I knew some would freak their shit over that sentence. lol. As others said, improve it, but by God keep it simple and clean. Like it already is. Upvotes/downvotes are good. One isn’t always in the mood to type “Hey, great comment. You really stated that well.” Or “Though we’re on the same team, you’re an embecile, please die”. A simple click is useful.

  20. Zero Hedge is a commentary mess (many of those commenting are completely unhinged), but they have a nice feature. You can click on a commenter’s name, see how long he has been registered, and sample his comments. Bring a Trailer tallys upvotes next to a commenter’s name. Useful for discerning the regulars from the people parachuting in for occasional volleys of comments, but people do tend to troll for upvotes.

    • Yes. I’ve been on ZH for many years and love the way that site works. Perhaps it’s different for new people to sign up — before, it required no information.

  21. Z there are plugins that will hide that your site is using wordpress. First you gotta get rid of the /wordpress in your site design (a simple redirect for bookmarks will be needed) but then getting rid of anything hiding in the metadata like this:

    meta name=”generator” content=”WordPress 4.9.8″

    Plus all links that show up in your WP generated html that contain wp-… have to be scrubbed. good plugins will hide this for you. I also noted you have at least one plugin that has wordpress in its name that the plugins might not be able to hide when loading the styesheet.

    • Zman, you say you’ve experienced two de-platforming efforts?

      Do you have a contingency plan in the event that you (we) cannot post as you currently do? If there is a list of readers for the Dark Times I would like to be on it. I’ve never registered here but would do that in a flash if it puts me on the samizdat list. Register on Gab?

  22. Premium service? I have to choose between you and Dinesh, that is going to be difficult.
    Ok, made my choice. You.

    As long as logging in with Disqus would work, I would be happy. I am sure many here don’t have Twitter or Facebook accounts.

    It is satisfying to see the increasing influence your work here is having.

  23. Well, I would recommend the same thing I’ve been hoping for for YEARS with Derbyshire and Sailer: some kind of anthology series for binge-reading. Either organized chronologically or by topic or popularity. I tried to binge read your whole back catalog, but because of the reverse chronological order, dead links, dated shitposting, etc., it was kind of a mess.

    My recommendation: do anthologies by time periods and/or topics and/or popularity, take out the dead links and dated pieces, and convert them into downloadable epub (or similar) files so that people can throw them on their e-readers and just plow through them.

    Heck, I’d buy paper anthologies, too.
    Volume 1: “This Will Not End Well”
    Volume 2: “Hurled into the Void”
    Volume 3: “Our Thing”

    Also, I know that if you set up some tip system, I bet people would fork out. I would As my grandma didn’t quite say, “Let us save for a doxxy day.”

  24. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Square Space.

    You need a darker font with serifs for your text. I have to run your posts through Outline in order to be able to read them.

      • That in a nutshell, is why dem run institutions (or cities, or countries) always always always disintegrate over time. They are all incompetent hacks, who don’t give two shits for actually doing their jobs. It killed the CCCP and it will kill the pozzed tech and media companies.

      • rarely watch much daytime tee-vee, but yesterday Gutfeld noted the obvious: “…..Cosko, a 27-year old INTERN…..”

        Indeed.

        • he’s not an intern, he’s a “fellow” which means someone from outside of congress is paying him.

      • Similar to former National Security Council spokesperson for President Obama Tommy Vietor.
        Drove the campaign van.

    • He will never spend a day in prison. His father is a big time donor to Dems as a billionaire developer in CA.

      • Want to bet? He threatened to doxx the medical records of the senators’ children. He is going to prison, will most likely die there. Most likely his dad is going to get an IRS colonoscopy.

  25. Make sure we can also register using our Gab account.

    Many of us will help you with donations should you request it.

  26. Join Unz.com. I’ve really grown to like what they’ve done there with their commenting system.

    If not that, then WordPress + the disqus plugin.

      • I disagree — I think Unz has the best comment system on the web. It keeps everything in chronological order, so you can jump to the end to see what you’ve missed, but it still allows you to follow threads that you find interesting. Whose system do you prefer?

  27. As long as the commenting system doesn’t require a social media account, I’m good with it. I’m on Disqus, but Twitter and Facebook will never have me as a customer.

    • I’m leaning toward the idea of allowing people to create a local account here, or using a social media account like Disqus, Twitter, etc. The latter works by creating a local account here, that is uses the same user information as the Disqus account, Twitter account, etc.

      The problem with anonymous posting is it sets off spam guards. To give you an example, this site got 250K spam posts last month. All but a few were trapped, but 100% were coming in as anonymous users. Simple validation just makes it vastly simpler on my end.

      • I’m one of the anonymous readers who rarely posts because of privacy concerns. There must be a way to set up local accounts … something non-Disqus and non-FANG.

        Karl — Is this possible? Some of us are not very techy and avoid all social media, and yes, cellphones. I gave up my cell a couple years ago and have a burner.

        • Anon et als, here’s a safe way to “have” an anonymous gmail login. You have a burner phone, that is presumably not tied to your real world identity. So create a gmail account, and give that number for the confirmation code to be sent to. Hope you didn’t buy that phone with a credit card though πŸ™‚

          Another way, is to use a site like this: https://www.guerrillamail.com/
          A temporary and anonymous email account is created and used for the confirmation code. Once the gmail account is created, the temp account auto-deletes. Just be sure to never access that gmail account again πŸ™‚

          Post here if you still need help πŸ™‚

      • Wow, are you saying 250K spam comments got past the CAPTCHA? That’s dismaying, to say the least.

    • Twitter and Facebook will never have me as a customer.

      Oops. I misspoke. Twitter and Facebook will never have me as a product.

  28. I like with the voting on the comments, and yes the clean, uncomplicated look. I hate paywalls, but yeah, yours is actually one of the only podcasts I might pay for! FYI. And it would undoubtedly motivate the quality, so yes do that!

    One of the things that initially attracted me to this site was that you often talked about economics, trade policy, and money, which seems to have fallen off somewhat. I wish you would bring that back a little bit. Understandably this is difficult bc it requires specialized knowledge.

    • I probably should revisit some of those topics. Frankly, I tend to post about what U happen to be reading about at the moment. My reading habits run in cycles. I’m in a philosophy cycle at the moment.

    • Agree on the economic stuff also. I’m reading the mystery of capital right now by Hernando de Soto which I think was recommended on this site. Also I enjoy book recommendations

  29. Concerned about needing to “log-in” using social media and leaving a digital trail when commenting. Getting the Kanvanaugh treatment later in life…

    • my thoughts exactly, but that’s why i have a fake social media account specifically for this reason. maybe also an internal membership feature, so people still have to login to comment.

    • People who say this don’t seem to understand how the internet works. Your phone is a vastly greater threat to your privacy than logging into a website like this with a fake e-mail address. There’s pretty much no way anyone could possible tie your character here to you, unless you tell them. Meanwhile, your phone tracks your movements, reads and stores your calls, texts and e-mails. It’s even listening to you when you think it is turned off.

      • Yes, I am aware of that. As I said, I am a S/W engineer (40 years of experience) and am intimately familiar with the technology. Sorry to put a very fine point on it, but I know more about this, than you do. A lot more. I don’t own or use a cell phone; can you say that?

        What you are not thinking about, is that cell phone records are not accessible to employers (and neighbors) but online comments are.

        Have been on the internet since the very early 80’s. Here’s a couple of funny stories. Usenet groups were around even back then, and during the olympics, all the gaybois were cooing (online) about the male swimmer’s bodies. Back then that was kind of outre. One guy, who somehow irritated the dayz, wrote a poem called “Bicycle Pump Enema”, and the early SJW’s tried to get him fired; contacted the company he worked for. Read here: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/net.singles/ITwnymROBU0

      • Yeah, but – good lord almighty, I hate facebook and twitter with the heat of 1000 suns. I hate the people that built them, I hate the way they are being run, and I won’t use them. I’d be happy to sign up with anything else. About the only way I am allowed to give the finger to the people behind them is not to use them.

    • I’ve never logged in here, although I do so at other places complete with offsite access and burner phones. Just use your customary ID here along with a fake email address. You’ll need to input a captcha code but then you’re in.

    • I don’t use any social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and just post directly when I have a mind to. On other sites, the Disqus thing asks for my social media preference and I simply dump my comment.

  30. Zman, I am a software engineer and would be happy to help you anyway I can (gratis).

    Do you have any specific high level goals for your site, vis a vis design, features, etc?

    You list a grab bag of features, which is fine, but it isn’t clear what your overall goal is.

    ============================================================

    One thing I think would be easy to implement, and very useful, is to allow users to sort the posts by different criteria. For example, you currently list them by date, in descending order (older posts are further down in the list). You could allow sorting in the opposite order, or by number of comments, or by user assigned ratings, etc.

    Another thing I would enjoy, is a kind of “fight club for debating” in real-time — with yourself in the role of TD of course πŸ™‚ Two members are chosen to go at on a selected topic, and the crowd votes after you call time. Have multiple matches during the session, leading to an overall winner.

    Lastly, one thing Ace has done well, is create a real sense of community at his site. If that is something you want here, then look to his site for ideas πŸ™‚

    Extra lastly (damn this sloppy language I am cursed with) create a framework for the totality of your philosophy (for you are, a philosopher, even though you would probably reject that characterization) and place each post within the part of the framework it belongs to. Then someone could read all your thoughts on a particular aspect of Zedism (Zedlam?!)

    OT: would you please sing “Danny Boy” acappella, for the opening music of one of you “power hour” podcasts? I am asking for a friend…

  31. I like that you measure twice and covert once, hehe. I am sure there is a great truth in there.

    Other than that, whatever you do is fine by me, providing you keep doing it. Good luck.

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