Boing Boing: zine, blog, and back again

Not so empty, apparently, considering how eager you seem to be to boil everything I said down to that and ignore everything else as not valuable or useful. That dismissive attitude is also not as encouraging as you seem to think.

If you think my cynicism is empty, you could defuse it by addressing the points. Honestly, if most of us were against this redesign, conceptually, not in fine details, do you see yourselves changing your minds and going back on it, despite all the work that clearly went into it that would be for nothing? If so, say so. If not, it’s worth knowing that too. It’s like I was trying to illustrate in the part you decided was worth ignoring: Information, either way, helps people decide what to do with our time. If there’s a chance we can alter the outcome, we can decide to focus on that. If there’s not, we can more quickly move on and either make the best of a bad situation by suggesting tweaks, or try to find other sites that meet our needs better. And for the record, I’d respect the site a hell of a lot more if they DID just say “It’s not going to change, except in fine details, deal with it and help us with those details,” assuming that’s the truth, and that is what your post, that I paraphrased, seemed to say. Again, if I’m incorrect, say so, it’ll do us both good. But pretending that you’re open-minded about it when you’re not doesn’t do any of us any good, nor does explicitly dismissing criticism because you think they’re looking at things with a filter of ‘empty cynicism.’

The cynicism will never be empty if you keep feeding it.

  1. I really like the features now get a lot more attention. The web needs more well-written medium/long-form articles, and focussing on those makes sense.
  2. However, it really is hard to notice the new content. I don’t know how this can be dealt with.
  3. You can dismiss it, but the criticism that teasers like the one on Maggie’s article look like click-bait are completely valid. If the features are so important, can’t you give them a little more room to describe themselves? I realized, after all this discussion, that I hadn’t click on Maggie’s article this morning, and yet I always love Maggie’s articles. Looking back, I see not that I didn’t click on it because it looks like click-bait.

(And finally, 4, there’s still a bug(?) that the Tom the Dancing Bug post never showed up on the main page.)

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You can reasonably answer “yes” to that question even if the article is a quality article. If the article doesn’t match the expectations set by the “clickbait” headline, then you were hooked. Also, if you’re reading the underlying article in order to know whether you were hooked or not, there’s a high likelyhood that you have been hooked.

There is a separate issue of “clickbait” articles which are basically thinly-disguised trolls designed to get a rise out of people so that the article gets spread around socially and gains a lot more views. But in the context of the front page, that’s clearly not the issue.


Regarding the test post just now (comments are closed there, but I think it’s applicable) Submitted with love and respect for our beloved boingboing:

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Oh, come on.

You more or less say that this current design is what we’re basically getting, with maybe some tuning added to it, but that the Good, Old Days are gone and we won’t get them back, no matter what happens. If that’s not what you meant when you wrote:

“[…] in the long run that a lot of the thoughts here will be used to refine the implementation, even if the basic concept of it is unchanged [emphasis added],”

I encourage you to say so. It certainly reads as such, and you do realise, that many of us have seen such pronouncements before, and that’s been - without fail - what they mean.

The problem simply is that what some of us want and what you want - as evinced by e.g. the present front page - are so diametrically opposite that there is no tuning that to anything that’s going to make us both happy, and I’m betting dollars to donuts it won’t be you who’s going to be left unsatisfied. It’s not empty cynicism to realise that, and to dismiss the criticisms because of that seems disingenuous to say the least.

It would be like me meeting a nice guy with whom I got along brilliantly, wanting to date him, and and then finding out that even though he liked me too, he was gay. Now we could “refine that implementation” for as long as we wanted, but as long as I wasn’t going to spontaneously grow a penis we just wouldn’t bee able to get to a place where we both would be satisfied.

And it’s not a question of “the failure of a design to communicate how it works”. (That sounds awfully lot like saying that those of us who dislike this new design just don’t “get it”. A bit patronising, don’t you think?) The design bloody well shouts at the top of its voice, I just don’t like what it’s saying and how it’s saying it.


Yeah, when I flip between the new design and it’s a no-brainer. The new design is cluttered, confusing and a drudgery.

I started actually skimming through headlines and actually understanding what I was looking at here at the old design:

I stopped myself from enjoying and then went back to the old design to compare. Yep, with the new design I feel like I’m just looking at a bunch of square, grey blobs of jumbled text. It’s a downgrade in design, usability and enjoyability. Trash it.

Here is the solution:


So it wasn’t a throwaway joke, it was something that you actually thought might happen? If so, and if that’s a real concern, then that’s a very valid criticism of BoingBoing in general (though not so much of the redesign). I’m not sure when this happened before.

I looked through the thread and saw lots of criticism, much of which I agreed with. What I didn’t do was pay a whole lot of attention to your contribution, because you came across as a crazy self-aggrandizing conspiracy theorist early on (again, if they have a real habit of moving posts that are critical out of a thread in order to hide the criticism then it’s not conspiracy theorizing, I’ve just never experienced that and it strikes me as very out-of-character). You responded to a post that was dismissive of your silly joke - if it was a silly joke - as dismissive of all criticism; or you responded to a post that was dismissive of your very serious complaint about stifling opinions on these message boards as if it were dismissive of criticisms of the design of the site.

I’ve reread your post, Rob’s reply, and our subsequent back-and-forth. If trying to hide criticism is a practice on there boards, I’d be interested in hearing about it (though it seems like we should take that to a separate thread as it is pretty far off topic for this one). Otherwise, your insistence that I have no right to speak up about your earlier posts the thread without first reading all your subsequent posts is of no interest to me.

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He sees, he knows what your are saying, and he knows he is doing ti intentionally. He has played this game pf pretending he is clueless about click bait for months now.

I completely agree. Maybe I’m getting old but too much crap on the screen and my eyes glaze over.
I find myself latching onto simplified web designs. Linear and less busy = less time spent on the website trying to figure out what content I want to read…which is probably the exact opposite of what advertisers want.

The great thing about the internet is there are always new websites that fill the void when something stops working well. Sorry BB.


I guess having visited Huffington Post and other news/blog/whatever sites, I’ve seen lots of headlines that I thought were actively trying to mislead about the content of the underlying story to get people who wouldn’t be interested in the content to click through. That’s what I’d call “clickbait.”

At any rate, I’m being pointlessly pedantic here. I’m defending Rob’s definition of Clickbait (as relating to the quality of the underlying story) as a reasonable (if not absolute) definition of the term (yours is reasonable as well, his resonates more with me). The real issue is that there is no meaningful description of the story beneath the headline and the image, and I agree with you that is a bad thing, so I should probably shut up about it.


Hey Rob, might be worthwhile to provide that full RSS link next to the “traditional reverse-chronological blog version” link in the original post. The feed most of us use changed as per OP’s objection with the redesign, and your BBS reply is the only place I was able to find the full feed again.

If you implement just one thing, at least implement a paragraph of the story under the headline. This is by far the biggest issue with your readers.
I think this issue can be quite reliably distinguished from kneejerking as useful criticism.


Have a look at some of the game of thrones/tv complaint threads, specifically here and here. Moving complaints away from threads so that they can pretend they don’t exist

That’s a feature.



God forbid that complaints be collected in a single, accessible, public location so that they may be referred to later!

Pretending they don’t exist would be easy: if we wanted to do that, we’d just delete them.

And, see, you weren’t joking. :wink:


No, sorry. Don’t like it at all. Can’t find the comics, looks like every other damn website. Too busy, too messed up. DIDN’T NEED REDESIGNING. Silly people…

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Comics will be back soon (tomorrow)

I’ll agree that a number of article headlines give the appearance of click-baiting, regardless of whether that was the intention or not. Just because you don’t see it Rob, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Or at least, that it’s perceived to be there by others. Instead of ignoring others who are saying that it is there perhaps you should give some thought as to why other people are saying that it is.

However, the real problem is the lack of any meaningful amount of information in the text body with which to decide if the article merits clicking on.

For example (and no, I won’t pick Maggie’s water article!) how about the “Going Broke in LA” piece. Apart from the headline, it features a picture of birds roosting on power lines and the text “Anonymous in LA comes to terms with the disappearance of his profession.”

So I know it is about employment problems in LA but little else. What is Anonymous’ profession? Is it relevant to me? Am I interested in it? Does the picture have any significance to the story? Why is Anonymous going broke? Can’t he get another job? Retrain?

Whilst I’ve been a bit mean with the above line of reasoning, the point remains that I don’t have enough information to decide if I might be interested in the article. A headline, a picture and a single line of text is just not enough.

I have more than enough to do in my day without second guessing an article’s merits based on insufficient information. As a result, I am more likely NOT to click on an article if I can’t understand what it is about or if it is relevant/interesting to me.

I’d be interested to see your site metrics after the new front page has been around for a week or so. I have a suspicion that a lot of people will simply use the chronological link, even though the articles there have no more information about them than on the front page. I also suspect a lot less article click-through as a result of this change.


Or from the point of view of someone to who you spoiled GoT, “let’s put all of the complaints over there so that we don’t need to address them. oh and now we have the added bonus that no one looking at the main thread sees any complaints! YAY! GO US! NO COMPLAINTS!”