- EphBlog - http://ephblog.com -

More Technical Updates

The hard-working staff at EphBlog central is trying to improve your EphBlog experience here at our new WordPress home. Previous posts on this topic here, here and here. Special shout-out to genius intern Michael’s older brother Daniel. For a start, you should now have an automatic preview when you type a comment. Give it a try! We have also expanded the number of recent comments to 10, per reader request. For those who want all the details, below is a rough version of our current to-do list.

In terms of suggestions, I am most interested in discussion of specific WordPress themes which readers like. (WordPress themes govern the generic look and feel of a site, things like colors, font sizes, comment location and so on.) So, if you know of one that you think would work well for EphBlog, let us know in the comments. Ideally, you can link to a blog which uses that theme and which other readers can check out. Our goal is to avoid creating all sorts of special hacks of our own which we need to maintain going forward. Instead, there should be a theme whose default behavior is one that EphBlog readers like, at least on average.

Note that this list includes all sorts of unintelligible back-and-forth dialog among various people. But those who want to see how the sausage is made can look below.

1) We need a “preview” function on comments, as we had at the old site, so that people can check their comments before submitting.

Solution: Now, live preview, or user initiated? Live preview seems pretty cool.

2) Show 10 most recent comments as opposed to just the last 5.

Solution: I have a solution. However, this post shows 15 recent comments.

3) Update the FAQ on images. The answers to a question or two are based on Movable Type. Make them applicable to WordPress. Note that some of our authors are not sophisticated, so walk them through things slowly, just as the FAQ currently does. Note that there are two ways to deal with images: just point to the URL or upload yourself. If you can find a good WordPress guide to link to, just link to that, but do it cleanly, at least mentioning the two different options.

Solution: Do you mean users can upload directly to the EphBlog server? I suppose the user really just has to type

1. Open wp-includes/kses.php

2. Locate the following line:

$allowedtags = array (‘a’ => array (‘href’ => array (), ‘title’ => array ()), ‘abbr’ => array (‘title’ => array ()), ‘acronym’ => array (‘title’ => array ()), ‘b’ => array (), ‘blockquote’ => array (‘cite’ => array ()),

3. Change that line to read like so:

$allowedtags = array (‘a’ => array (‘href’ => array (), ‘title’ => array ()), ‘abbr’ => array (‘title’ => array ()), ‘acronym’ => array (‘title’ => array ()), ‘b’ => array (), ‘blockquote’ => array (‘cite’ => array ()), ‘img’ => array (‘alt’ => array (), ‘align’ => array (), ‘border’ => array (), ‘height’ => array (), ‘hspace’ => array (), ‘longdesc’ => array (), ‘vspace’ => array (), ‘src’ => array ()),

4. Save the changed file, and upload.

The above change enables commenters to use

4) I do not like the way that single quote marks (as in the Eph Blogroll and Ronit’s recent post) are curled the wrong way. They should be curled the other way. I assume that this is a function of the theme. True? Whatever causes it, we need to turn it off. (Or at least change behavior in the Blogroll. Using ` instead of ‘ does not work.

Table off

5) Our search function, while OK, is much less flexible than the old version. Check out the old one. First, it should allow one to search posts or comments or both. Second, it should allow one to sort the results in either chronological order or the reverse. Third, it would be nice if it had some basic intelligence in terms of “relevance.” For example, if I search for a term in a post title, it ough to come out on top. So, I guess that there should be three output options: relevance, chrono and reverse chrono.


* http://dancameron.org/wordpress/wordpress-plugins/search-everything-wordpress-plugin
* http://urbangiraffe.com/plugins/search-regex/
* http://urbangiraffe.com/plugins/search-unleashed/

6) We want to make the stats stuff available to any author (or administrator) without needing a separate login. Even better would be making it public to anyone. Is that possible? In general, we want everything to be available to everyone. Transparency is a good thing. [From Michael: The more serious version was actually easier to implement; you can now check blog stats by going to the dashboard and clicking the “Blog Stats” tab. It requires a separate login: the username is x and the password is x]

7) Add the different parts of the side bar from the old site to the new one. Establish static pages, as you already have for some of the options.

get old site (email on new post)

8) It is nice for me (and, potentially, others) to get an e-mail everytime a new post and/or comment appears. How can we arrange that? I get an e-mail when a comment shows up on a post written by me. But I would also like to get an e-mail when a new post appears or a comment comes in on someone else’s post.

9) Figure out how to change the default sorting order for some categories. For example, I want that Nathan Krissoff ’03 category to be sorted chronologically (oldest post first). How can I do this (ideally, easily) while other categories maintain the default order. I suspect that you will need to go to the WordPress forums for this question.

10) Organize the Eph Blogroll using whatever standard tools WordPress provides. Add a question and answer to the FAQ on how an administrator can add/edit items from the blogroll. In fact, you will be adding lots of these sorts of details to the FAQ so that other people besides me and Eric can start taking ownership of different aspects of the site.

11) Once you have the new Blogroll up, provide a replacement for Eph Planet and then a link to it in the side bar. [Eric, Michael claims that there is a WordPress plugin that is designed explicitly to replace Planet and allow us to manage the list of sites from one place.]

12) Figure out the “views” issue.

13) The links in the quotte wall are wrong since they use the old Movable Type IDs. You need to search for each item in the new installation, find it, and then fix the link. This will take some time, but try to do a couple each day.

14) There should be a way to e-mail all the authors. WordPress must keep a list of the e-mails of all the authors/administrators somewhere. Can we access that?

15) We need a “print” button on the bottom of each post to making printing easier. This should, by default, print both the entries and the comments. We do not need an option to print only the entries.

16) The formatting for the Quote Wall seems ugly. We don’t need to make this beautiful, but the font should be bigger and there should be line skips between the quotes. Add directions on the FAQ for how an administrator could add something to the Quote Wall. (I realize that this is sort of easy. Just open the page and copy and paste one of the examples. But make clear that each quote provides a link back to a page from the blog where the quote is mentioned/discussed and further links provided.)

17) Start investigating Eph News. I can’t find the entry right now, but there is a post a year ago by me (should include the string “Eph News” or “EphNews” which gives a spec for what is desired as well as comments from others about how to turn this into a reality. (This is low priority.) Basic idea, as we discussed, is that we need to search multiple sources (start with just Google News and The New York Times) for a collection of strings that we maintain as an ASCII file. Something like:

“Williams College”
“Chris Murphy” and “Congress”
“Erin Burnett”

and so on. There is an implicit or between each row. The the hits from thi search needs to be organized and displayed in some sensible fashion. (Google news does a great job of that.)

13) Is there an easy way to change the font size everywhere? See the “Stylesheet Switcher” on the lower part of the right panel at

14) The posts are not being credited to the correct authors. We will tackle this eventually, even if it requires doing all 4,000 (!) by hand. You should save a listing somewhere of all the old posts and their authors so that we can, later one, figure out a script to do this in bulk.

Comments Disabled (Open | Close)

Comments Disabled To "More Technical Updates"

#1 Comment By Diana On January 23, 2008 @ 5:08 pm

I like having the comments link at the bottom of the post. Then I read the post, get to the end, and click the link to see what other people think of it. Now, I get to the end, then have to scroll back to the top to see the comments. I don’t see the logic.

I will write a new FAQ for image posting.

#2 Comment By FROSH mom On February 4, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

There are 2 or 3 posts suddenly missing. And though I see some of the commentators listed, they aren’t accessible.

What is going on?

#3 Comment By rory On February 4, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

i don’t know. i checked wordpress to see if they were hidden or something, but they’ve been wiped. the comments are still there, but i can’t find the post.

(oh, and speaking of the post: yes, david, thug is often used as a code-word. and while one of the six may have a criminal record, that’s only one of six. you said “thugs”)

#4 Comment By FROSH mom On February 10, 2008 @ 10:12 pm

Something odd happened today.

When I posted my (now listed as 2:03) response to hwc’s 12:57 (on the Willy E blah blah post) it was directly after his (12:57) post, (which was an answer to my question). When I returned at the end of the day, there were several comments in between his and mine.

It is as if my response got lifted and then re-posted later.

Does that make any sense at all?

#5 Comment By kthomas On February 11, 2008 @ 2:46 am

It looks like non-registered commenters made posts in between (hwc’s and yours), which were then not displayed until approved by an administrator.

#6 Comment By FROSH mom On February 19, 2008 @ 4:21 pm

FYI: There are 3 to 4 copies of the same Drezner post.

Also, it is taking a very long time for EphBlog to feed onto the screen…

Just an idea: It might be handy to have a permanent “technical” category on the main screen for instant posting of problems.

#7 Comment By FROSH mom On February 19, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

This will be my 2nd attempt to post this.

There are 3 to 4 versions of the same Drezner post.

Also, the whole site is dragging…coming up and posting.

An idea: It might be handy to have a permanent “technical” category on the opening page for instant reporting of problems.

#8 Comment By Larry George On February 19, 2008 @ 6:16 pm

This is a good idea if it can be done. It would also consolidate technical comments. No one would have to go searching for them, or forward.